February 2018 was totally nuts for me. In addition to 12 midterms, I was driving a lot for different Nutra-Intuition meetings, shoveling myself out of more than a foot of snow, and then wringing my life dry after the Midwest flooded when it all melted.
The interesting thing is that I didn’t notice how crazy busy I was until a few days ago when I was hanging out with some friends/family. We’d just finished dinner and were cleaning up a bit, and I saw a yellow pepper in their fridge. I suddenly had the strangest thought: “Wow, I wish I had the time to buy peppers. And then bring them home, and slice them up. And then just sit down and eat them.”
Being so on-the-go the past couple weeks meant my meals consisted mostly of pre-sliced celery (which doesn’t go bad if I don’t eat it in a few days,) along with microwave-ready soups and casseroles that I’d dug out of the back of my freezer. When I had the time to pull out my crock pot, I’d chop and throw randomness inside before running out the door in the morning, wolf it down when I got home from school, and then be leaving again for appointments, bible study, or night classes. I definitely wasn’t taking any extra time to slice yellow peppers. Which makes me a little sad.
Part of being mindful means being okay with slowing down and finding restful moments amid the everyday flow of life. It means checking in with ourselves, and at the same time connecting with our environment (and our food.) Mindfulness means paying attention to how we think and feel, embracing the process of life, and being present. Chopping vegetables is kind of cathartic for me, but not if I’m checked out, preoccupied by other things on my calendar, and in a high-stress, hyper-focused state. At the end of the day, caring for myself is a more important use of my time than checking everything else off my list. If I don’t slow down and pay attention to the present moment, my life will pass me by.
Yes, being in medical school is stressful. There are weeks when studying has to trump going out with friends, and nights when I don’t get enough sleep. But there are also weeks when I have more free time, so the “craziness” doesn’t need to be my status quo. March is a bit lighter in terms of my work load. So instead of seizing every opportunity to pack my schedule with productivity, my goal is going to be to slow down, invest in the important people in my life, and take time to do mindless things — like chop peppers.
When I had my yellow-pepper “aha!” moment the other day, I joked that I was going to go buy every pepper in the store, bring them home, and then just chop veg for hours. But now, the more I think about it, that doesn’t seem like such a bad idea…