Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge
This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Over the past few months as I’ve had this carnival in mind, I’ve been challenging myself to become more mindful in everyday, ‘monotonous’ tasks – things like cleaning, putting the little one to bed – even laundry – but most of all, in my cooking.
Cooking is something I’ve always enjoyed but over the past year as I’ve become both more busy than I’ve ever been and more aware of the importance of consuming real, healthy food, the act of cooking itself has become something of an obsession for me – and not always in a good way.
I have begun to develop very high ideals that frequently crash with the reality of a background of fake food and rushed dinners – all too often it just leaves me feeling disappointed and unhappy with myself when I fail.
And yet the joy of providing a truly healthy, nutrient and colour filled meal for my family is just…indescribable. It leaves me feeling so fulfilled and at peace…sometimes for days when I get on a good roll – sometimes just until the next meal.
It may seem strange to talk so of food, but in all my journey of becoming more healthful, mindful and respectful of the environment around me and the resources I consume, food has been and continues to be absolutely the biggest challenge.
This awareness of what I am doing when I provide a meal for my family began when Bean was tiny. When I made her bottles, some pride and joy just welled up in me. I would think on some level, “I am caring in one of the most basic and important ways for the dearest person to me on this earth by providing her good, safe and clean food to eat.” (I’m sure breastfeeding moms have felt similarly, if not more so)
I began, slowly but surely, to learn more and more, and to develop what I like to think of as my own personal food philosophy. I won’t go into all that here, but to repeat that it’s been at times an extremely frustrating journey. My personal mindfulness challenge in the everyday act of cooking has taken me several long steps along the path toward the goal I have in mind.
In The Organic Family Cookbook, Anni Daulter shares:
I learned how to cook at a Zen Buddhist community called Tassajara, in Carmel Valley, CA. They taught me the art of conscious community cooking, where each of us was responsible for one ingredient, and we had to put our full love and attention to it, whether it was chopping tomatoes, picking over lettuce leaves, baking, or cooking rice. That’s because it’s all sacred, every job. Bringing our presence and full awareness to our cooking and allowing our children to have special jobs in the kitchen ends up creating a community meal that is filled with love and tastes great. I have found that this lesson also translates to other aspects of our lives. The more we practice living in the moment, the more we appreciate each one.
Though it’s a bit of a different twist, the book Like Water for Chocolate puts me in a similar mindset.
What both of these express in better words than I could is the importance of consciousness and mindfulness in the kitchen. There are 4 areas in particular in which I’ve been challenging myself to this ideal:
- Purchasing. I’ve become much more conscious of the things I will buy – asking myself what effect my purchases will end up having, for good or ill, not only on my own body but on the world surrounding me. I’ve come to see and understand the power of my dollar and what it means to people, plants, animals and ecosystems. Buying organic, boycotting Nestle, looking for local, rejecting waste in extra packaging and plastic. I am FAR from perfect in all of these areas, but the more I learn the more I do challenge myself to ask those questions and consider the consequences.
- Preparation. This is the fun one for me. As much as I do enjoy cooking, it can totally suck at times to contemplate the idea of coming home (super hungry) after a long day at work and turning on the stove. What helps me the most is to really and truly pour love into the process. I admire the ingredients and consider what went into their making. I make what are (to me) amazing combinations that I am proud to serve up to my husband and daughter (and that doesn’t necessarily mean elaborate!). I chop and grind and saute and bake with attention and care and thought into how I can make the food taste its absolute best. Again, there’s no perfection here – but the more I think of cooking this way, the easier it becomes.
- Consumption. This is an area that, to my mind, we are are not doing our best in. My dream is of course the family table, with everyone sitting down together over conversation and great food. The reality is more like me on the couch feeding the little one from my plate (as she increasingly demands more, faster) with the husband at his computer desk looking at basketball stats. Oh – and our beautiful kitchen table? Absolutely covered with crap! We couldn’t eat there if we wanted to… At the moment, I try to do my best to simply appreciate the food, and remain in discussion over how we actually eat it. I do think we’ll get there eventually.
- Clean Up. This, of course, is the least fun aspect for me. But as we’ve transitioned to things like no paper plates (thus plates need to be washed often), no paper towels (have to make sure the rag bag is stocked!), cast iron skillets (have to be washed by hand and are used for almost every meal it seems), I find it’s definitely something I have to be mindful of! And there is pride in it as well – we’ve come a long way. In the end, I can remind myself how very valuable and worth it is to be able to practice these things.
There are other areas I think on - involving my family more in the entire process, finding creative recipes and new food experiences, growing my own food, etc., etc. Really, it’s quite a fertile ground for moving into deeper appreciation, consciousness and love in everyday living.
Ultimately, it’s been a blessing of a challenge – and something I will continue to strive for – even on the all too frequent days we head through the drive through or call for delivery.
I’m thankful I have the opportunity to learn and grow so much in spite of it all.
Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!
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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- The Importance of a Moment Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama reflects on the need to slow down and breathe in life instead of rushing from one moment to the next.
- Mindful Playing With My Daughters Rani at Om She Said looked at her girls and realized that more than anything they wanted her right there next to them, playing, laughing, creating, and having fun; that’s exactly what she did!
- Watch Your Words Patti at Canadian Unschooler challenges herself to make her words a reflection of her intentions.
- The Mindful Benefits of Knitting Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares how knitting has helped lift her out of depression and has given her a new form of meditation.
- Self Compassion: How Thinking About Bad Experiences Can Make You Happier and More Compassionate CJ at Imperfect Happiness challenges herself to be more compassionate…with herself.
- Calming the Home Environment by Selecting Traditional Toys Sam at Love Parenting discusses the benefits of natural toys.
- Quieting my Infernal Inner Ramblings Tree at Mom Grooves writes about her commitment to get out of her head and into the moment with her daughter and husband.
- Changing Our Everyday The Aniweda Dream is sizing up the changes they’ve made by moving across the country and looking at how to make their lives more mindful as a family.
- A Mindful Cup of Tea Amy at The Daily Muttering tells how she’s trying to regain control of her life with the chaos of 3 kids thanks to the introduction of a simple daily ritual.
- Mindful Mama Moontime Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how becoming conscious of her moon time has helped her find balance in herself as a woman, and a mama.
- Speaking to the Need Shana at Tales of Minor Interest shares how she tries to stay mindful of her preschooler’s needs.
- Going Within Amy at Anktangle describes a centering practice she’s been being more intentional about lately, and which she has come to realize is a precious gift in her life.
- Waking Up With Meditation Amy at PresenceParents shares how awakening with presence carries her through the day.
- Mindful Meditations Zoie at TouchstoneZ explores six weeks of seated meditation and discovers some things she doesn’t expect.
- Mindfulness in the Kitchen – an Everyday Challenge Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she’s been challenging herself to involve more mindfulness in everyday tasks – especially in the area of cooking for her family.