Nope, not a misspelling. Not talking about one of these cuties (but please do enjoy the eye candy!) either. Sadly.
No, what I’m talking about is shifting your perspective. It’s said that the definition of crazy is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. One of the facets of that crazy surely must be looking at something the same way over and over and expecting to see something different.
When it comes to understanding the way you live your life–and making the changes you want and/or need to make, you can never see from the bottom of the mud puddle the same thing you see at thirty thousand feet. And neither of these views presents the whole picture or the whole truth of the reality you’re living.
There’s a saying–“The map is not the territory.” Any time you’re “down in it” – in the middle of the woods of your mind–you are too busy seeing the trees to recognize that you’re in a forest. In order to do differently, you have to learn to think differently as well.
Dinner for me has been a persistent form of desperation-in-a-can (many times, that’s exactly what we ate). Even before kids, I never had the talent for having dinner on the table at five, or even having any idea of what to eat. I followed my nose…usually to take-out or fast’n’nasty because by the time I was hungry, I was desperate. This does not work when you have kids. Actually, it does not work if you have an organic digestive system not lined with Teflon and Kevlar. I’d been getting by for far too long when I finally realized that I needed to adjust the way I thought of dinner for my kids’ sakes. I was forced by circumstances to start thinking of dinner as something that had to be a destination or a goal, or else my kids would end up unhealthy, underfed (or overfed), and I would have to wear the Bad Mother badge for the rest of their shortened-through-heart-disease lives. I had to start looking at dinner as not an enemy.
Even after I stopped thinking of dinner as my old adversary, or something to be endured and ignored as much as possible, I suffered from analysis paralysis. Now that I had a different attitude–dinner is unavoidable and must be dealt with–I still didn’t know how to handle it. There were too many choices, and for me, that meant too many ways to screw up. But I was looking up from a long way down and seeing the spreading branches of all the potential dinners I had yet to burn. I coped with this through finding a few tried-and-true, you-can’t-screw-this-up recipes (usually involving chicken), which improved my situation right away. That is, until they got old. I reached a plateau the same time I found myself in a rut. You’re still dug in, but this time, in defiance of physics, you now also have far to fall.
Limited By Your Own Imagination
My limits still existed because I was limited by my habits and married to a specific process and outcome. Dinner had changed, but my habits surrounding it never did. Dinner had always involved standing around with an open fridge/pantry door half an hour before critical mass of hunger would be reached, and wondering what I could cook up before we all started eyeing each other and wondering how we’d taste. Then I was introduced to the concept of menu planning (but in a reality-based style, geared more towards the woman who doesn’t aspire to be the domestic goddess as a career focus). This wasn’t party-planning menu planning, or “I feed an army with beef I kill and render myself while canning for the zombie apocalypse” logistics with numbers similar to the actual US Army. This was more of a, “Hey, here’s something you can do one day in place of what you usually do, and see the benefits right away.” So I tried it and found that hey, if I make a list of the stuff I need for meals for a week, I will have it bought and remember why I bought it, *and* have meals.
But even then, I was still limited by the habits I’d formed. I still rushed around half an hour before eating times and dealing with half-frozen chicken. It wasn’t until I let my perspective–the angle with which I was viewing “dinner prep behavior” that I started seeing real results, real change (and a real gain in my free time while seeing a real reduction in my stress levels!). Put short, I learned to think about prepping dinner not right before eating, but once a week (hey, if I bought all the stuff I needed for dinners, why not just make them up and freeze them in bags?) and in the morning (kids are off to school and if I know I’m making X tonight, it’s a good time to defrost it now, before the second cup of coffee).
Before, I couldn’t imagine any good scenario that involved me thinking of dinner in the mornings, because the only time I ever saw that happen was in the context of my own mom who, bless her heart, worked all day to prep roasts and even then counted on us to put them in the oven at the right time. Or started cooking two and a half hours before dinner, thus ending anything else she might have been doing up to then. But experience–and broadening my imagination to include the imaginations of others–has shown me a different angle of reality.
I think of dinner in the mornings now. By the time dinner time rolls around, I’m cooking and plating up without having to rack my brains or stop in the middle because I’m out of something crucial. And for the rest of the day, I don’t have to wonder what we’ll have, or search through recipes finding something to do with a can of beans, half a box of cheesy mac, and two artichokes floating in marinade, and could we put it on crackers for more bulk. I found a solution, because I stopped looking at the same thing from the same angle.
She’s absolutely sure he’s not the marrying kind…
He’s absolutely sure she’s right…
But he’s still going to prove her wrong.