Sunday, March 23, 2014

Oatmeal and the 'tired epidemic'

There is a commercial I've seen recently.

Something to do with a 'tired epidemic' in this country. It shows middle aged women and young men and old men and even kids looking run down. Ragged. Yawning. TIRED.

The solution?

Eat oatmeal for breakfast! That's why we are all tired-we aren't eating enough oatmeal for breakfast!!

Obviously.

This is the problem and the solution.

Obviously.

I have nothing against oatmeal.
But it's not going to start giving you all kinds of energy. It's just not. Especially when you slept 5 hours the night before.

When you are juggling wife(husband)/mother(father)/sister(brother)/daughter(son)/friend/employee/stranger-on-the-street-trying-to-be-kind/stranger-on-the-street-needing-kindness…..and all that those roles entail.

It's a lot.

I am exhausted. Even if I have a whole nights uninterrupted sleep. I am still tired. We have 17 things to do every day. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, making sure the posse have social interactions, making sure the posse are in activities so that they are learning skills so that they will be productive members of society, taking care of the cars, taking care of the laundry, making sure that we have time with friends, making sure we have time by ourselves. WORK. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.

And we live in Small-mountain-town, USA. Not even in Big-city, USA where there are things to worry about like traffic and if you are dressed trendy enough. Being trendy here involves making sure you have good enough snow boots.

What are we racing around for?
Is your life better because of all the things you are doing?
Is mine?
What makes a good life?

What if instead of eating oatmeal every morning to give us energy. Or instead of drinking 5 gallons of caffeine every morning just to 'get us going'.

What if we just SLOWED DOWN??

What if?

What if your life was not run by your schedule.
What if YOU ran IT?
What if you carved out the time to do the things that are really important to you and yours and FORGET the rest.

We used to have something scheduled for every morning of the week. Swim lessons, story time, play group, play dates….I felt like I was never home-always rushing to get the posse to their next thing-because this is what they need right? But what if what they need is to take their time. Because they are 2 and 3. What if they need the time to get dressed so they can learn to do it themselves. What if they need to not be rushed because waking up takes time sometimes (or EVERY SINGLE MORNING). What if I need time to make breakfast and enjoy it? To see the sun rise? To take a walk without a destination. Or take a walk with a destination but not in the hurried frenzied way of 'we-have-so-much-to-get-done'

Why do we have to get things done?
Isn't it ok to just be together?

Contrary to popular belief my worth, and by extension your worth (I'm assuming you are a human) is not tied productivity. But we are trained to think that aren't we?

In a small West African country you sit under a baobab and drink 3 cups of tea or bissop or whatever you are served for three hours chatting with old women and playing with children while the person you are looking for is fetched from a field 10km away-he walked there-when he eventually shows up, he gets to drink a cup of tea too. And then you do business.

And if your business happens to be during sieste-a sacred time of day where EVERYONE goes home to eat lunch and have a little reposer before finishing their work for the day-well you are just out of luck. You will probably be offered lunch and time to rest before business continues.

Although, you will more than likely plan your day so that you can get back to your own home before sieste. Which means you leave at 8 AM and spend the whole morning on this one thing.

This is frustrating and infuriating to a Westerner who is accustomed to making a phone call/shooting an email/meeting for a quick lunch to do business. Is is not a whole morning/whole family sitting around affair.

And while we Westerners certainly know how to make money and build businesses and all of that-maybe we can take some lessons from other cultures. The ones who purposefully build time in their day to take a long break. The ones who are closed for August as everyone goes on vacation for the entire month.
Taking one day out of the week to actually REST. To stop working.

I don't think oatmeal is going to fix this 'tired epidemic'.
I think rest is.
I think slowing down is.

I know, I know. It's easier said then done. From the time we are 2-judging by what's happening in our house-we are taught to be productive. So when we sit down for just a moment to rest we feel guilty or we feel restless 'I need to be DOING something!!! I feel lazy!'  But maybe relearning how to just BE is worth our mental health. Worth our physical health. Worth the depth of our relationships.

I want to linger over dinner with friends for a little longer.
I want to walk a little more.
I want to sit quietly without a device in my hands more frequently.

(And maybe eat a little less processed food. That's not helping anyone either)

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