Susan R. Johnson MD
There has to be some advantage to
commuting. Every other Friday I commute to the Bay Area to take my son to visit
his father. As I drive back late Friday night there is a lot of time for
thinking and reflection and sometimes listening to a book on tape or CD. Two
weeks ago I listened to Stephen Covey's book called "First things
First". He said there are four different quadrants or categories of how we
spend our time, and how we choose to spend our time depends on whether we
perceive something as "Urgent" or "Not Urgent" and
"Important (essential)" or "Not Important
First we have the Urgent and Important
quadrant. Spending time in this space is easy to figure out. There may occur a
sudden illness in a family member or an injury that requires a trip to the
emergency room. We may have neglected our marriage and now it is in crisis. Our
child may be having tremendous difficulties in school or there is some
financial catastrophe at our workplace. This category is easy to recognize and
often requires our immediate response.
The next space or quadrant is often a
place where we spend too much time and energy. This is the Urgent but Not
Essential category. This is where other people are telling us what is urgent to
them, and we are running around trying to meet their needs. In this category,
we are spending our time and energy doing things that someone else, and not we,
think are essential. This can happen at the work place, in our home life, or in
the community. If we stay in this category too long, we can experience burn
out, exhaustion, and loss of our spark for living.
Then there is the "Not Urgent and
Not Important" third category. This is the place we often go when we are
exhausted, and we want to vegetate and escape the stresses of our world. It
might be to drink a lot of alcohol, play violent video games, or just watch a
pointless movie or television show. The activities we do in this category do
not nourish our body, soul, or spirit. They don't reflect goodness, truth, or
beauty. We do them just to escape our life. Often when our life is filled with
the non-essential, when we can't find meaning, we find ourselves spending too
much time in this wasteland.
Finally, the fourth area in our life
where we can choose to spend our time is the "Not Urgent but
Important" category. This is actually an important area to spend our time,
and yet we hardly find the time to be here at all. This is where we really
nourish our relationships with ourself, with our children, with our partner,
with our friends, with our community, and with the Divine. Taking time to go on
a walk, visit a friend, play catch with our child, go dancing, sing in a choir,
plant a garden, meditate, paint, sculpt, or read inspirational poetry. Because
these activities aren't "Urgent", we often neglect this category, put
things off, until something catastrophic happens like we get ill or a
relationship falls apart. When that happens, we finally do spend the time
because the situation has transported itself to the "Urgent and Important"
category. Unfortunately, we then have the monumental task of healing a
relationship (to ourself, our partner, our child, the Divine) that has
experienced many years of neglect.
So how do we sort out what is important
or what is essential in our life? Steven Covey talks about always holding up a
vision for one's life, and having separate visions for the well being of our
body, our soul, and our spirit. A vision for our physical body may be to do
specific things that keep our body healthy such as exercising, eating
nourishing foods, and getting plenty of rest. A vision for our soul may include
ways of loving ourselves and learning how to love and give to others. A vision
for our spirit may have to do with our specific destiny or path, our purpose
for living. So all one needs to do is spend time looking at the visions one has
for body, soul and spirit, and this will help clarify our goals and guide us to
those essential and most important activities in our life.
We can often spend one moment in time
that satisfies several visions at once. For example, to go with a good friend
to a movie, like "What The Bleep Do We Know ..." , may satisfy both soul and
spiritual needs. In addition, if we happen to walk several blocks to get to the
theatre and share a nutritious meal together before the show, then we have also
satisfied some physical needs.
Once we have a sense of our own vision,
those places in our lives where we want to express love, then we will know how
to more effectively use our time. Long ago sages would travel to very isolated
and far away places to get connected with their Spirit. In our lifetime, it is
not so much the specific places we go to that matter, but rather it is how we
spend our time and whether we can remain fully present in those moments.
Cynthia Lair is the author of the cookbook "Feeding the Whole Family," and a faculty member at Bastyr University where she directs their culinary degree program. She studied nutrition in New York City, paying her tuition bills with money she made as an actress. Shortly after moving to Seattle, Cynthia enrolled her daughter in a Waldorf kindergarten. Her ten year interface with Waldorf education helped shape Cynthia's views on the importance of family meals and healthful food for children. Cynthia's acting and culinary passions have finally merged in her online show at CookusInterruptus.com where she shows viewers "how to cook fresh, local, organic whole foods despite life's interruptions."
Here are some suggestions for caretakers who pack lunch regularly for children.
o Make a lunch box chart (a sample is printed below). If your child is five or older, let them help plan and make the chart. Children are more likely to eat the food if they have helped plan the menu. Renew the chart as the seasons change. Post your chart for easy reference.
o Include one item in the lunch box that is a “growing food” (a protein source). Choose either a vegetarian protein combination like whole grains with beans or nuts or include some animal protein.
o Always give your child something fresh (fruit or vegetable) with in their lunch box. This adds vitamins, minerals, and enzymes!
o Though many food companies make convenient happy-looking foods for lunches remember to be discerning and read labels. Avoid giving young bodies foods with additives, preservatives, food coloring, cheap oils and non-nutritious sweeteners (i.e. corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, splenda, sucralose).
o Rather than packing juice, tuck in a small container of fruity herbal tea or sparkling water. This helps to avoid children drinking their meal and discarding the real food their body needs.
o For an earth-friendly lunch box, use a bright-colored cloth napkin and silverware instead of wasteful paper and plastic.
o On days where you feel like adding something extra, add a fresh flower, a poem, a neat rock or crystal, a jingle bell, a cartoon, a finger puppet or a note from you instead of candy.
o If your child’s school is open to the idea, consider having “Hot Soup Fridays” where parents bring in enough hot soup and bread for the whole class on a rotating basis. This is especially nice on cold days where warm food can be so satisfying.
You and your child can use the chart to plan some favorite combinations. Post your chart for easy reference.