Coloring 🎨 Outside the Lines 〰

  
Sometimes you have to look back to realize how far or where you’ve come and today when I accidentally scrolled up too far in the sent photos section of WhatsApp while chatting on a family group, I landed on some old pics of my daughters and realized how much they’ve changed (mostly how my eldest has transitioned from chubby baby to opinionated little girl!) in what felt like a time and space I missed – even though I’m certain I was there pretty much all the time!

It’s in moments like this that I’m forced to have a bit of an out-of-body experience and reflect on the fact that my kids are growing up much faster than I’m able to catch-up and it’s then that I start questioning whether caught in the day-to-day grind trying to satisfy their (and my) ever morphing needs (and thank you move for making this even more intractable) I’m perhaps losing perspective and losing the delicate balance between my needs and my family’s. Despite my best efforts, it seems that every time I go through that mentally tortuous exercise (which often starts through an old cute picture!) I end up thinking the balance is tilting one way or the other more than it should and I start micro-planning solutions around this… those solutions often involve planning and slicing my time into more pieces to address all the things I and they want to do… the problem is both those lists keep on growing and I keep on thinking one of them is going to shrink to give way to the other! + hey sorry to break-it to all the second-time-around moms, the synergies of having gone through it once do have serious limits, as the second kid can be very different then the first and you may have some completely new experiences / challenges with them (for instance I never had to deal with unruly curly hair with my eldest!) Of course, despite my best planning, it seems that with so many things, not everything gets done exactly as I saw it in my planner…

Perhaps nowhere is this tension between their needs, my husband’s and mine more apparent then during the weekend, when we’ve resolved that it’s important for us to recharge both separately and together. All it takes sometimes, is one incident that creates a domino effect on all the rest of the carefully planned day and there goes the whole balance… For example, we plan a day carefully designed around a nice car ride with music, lovely brunch with friends, stroll in the park and an afternoon relaxing on the beach / going for a run… this can turn out to become a shouting fest by fussy toddler in the car seat from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (bye bye Seascrest top 40), an ‘à table’ juice fight between my usually white but then turned orange daughters at the bewildered sight of our single friends (who are likely to stay single for a while after this!), and a miracle tantrum at Dubai’s Miracle Gardens by my eldest over not finding the perfect lollipop! So much time gets wasted of course dealing with those unexpected events and even more time when we try to stick to principles. I mean obviously if I settle to their every demand (and my husband often voices the let’s save the rest of the day argument) or don’t hold them accountable to their actions, things would go faster but am I not hurting my future self there too? That day I didn’t give in and hey I missed the beach and my husband missed his run… oh well not sure I made the right choice there 😜

Of course (and perhaps that’s a blessing somehow) those self-assessment episodes only last for so long (because I only have so long before I’m interrupted by either a cute moment: “Maman regarde cette coquine dit “Tigre”; ENG: “Mom look this naughty one says “Tiger”! or a disaster “Maman cette coquine descent les escaliers toute seule! Regarde elle peut! Je lui ai ouvert la barrière! Laisse-la!; ENG: “Mom, look this naughty one is going down the stairs! Look she’s doing it by herself! I opened the gate for her! Let her do it!”… Moi 😱

I’m not sure if I’m balancing right but surprisingly as time passes I’m becoming less vulnerable to realizations that I’m actually not always balancing perfectly… it’s a sort of a gradual peace-making with my limitations or realization that my trying to control everything ultimately circles back to create even more frustrations that I lack control over. So perhaps the best balance one can achieve is to accept without frustration or too much resistance that “something’s gotta give” and that from time to time the coloring is going to go outside the lines… but that despite that your life can still be beautiful. 

 

Slow Down! You’re Eating!

In the past few months, my life has been witnessing drastic changes, mainly as a consequence of welcoming a new baby and moving to the other side of the Atlantic. While, in the balance, the changes have been very gratifying, they tagged along numerous expected and un-expected novel responsibilities that I had to squeeze into my previously busy (yet paced) routine. To say the least, it hasn’t been easy to see my organic life dissipate, as I feel I’ve been entered into an impossible turbo race with time, which has become ever more fleeting and, with the load of my responsibilities, impossible to catch up to. Despite my best efforts, things are still chaotic to my taste and so in order to keep sane I am convincing myself that a meticulously structured and slower paced routine will eventually settle in after this transition period during which I am rarely in a “be” mode, and constantly in a “do” mode.

Juggling a new baby and a toddler, adjusting to a new city, house hunting and so many other challenges left too little time for me for basic necessities like having a proper meal. So I end up either eating on the go or gobbling food like a turkey! Something that has been upsetting not only my stomach but my whole wellness and lately made me reflect again on the risks of rushing meals and eating quickly; an eating behavior I was now sharing with many many other people who slide into this habit because of the demands of their work and family, which in an ever more competitive and interconnected world can be relentless and unrealistic.

However, it’s important that people (myself included), remember that this compromise of finding the additional time one needs by taking time away from food, isn’t without its risks and should be closely re-assessed:

  • Satiety, or feeling of satisfaction, is controlled by signals between the brain and the digestive track. It’s a process that takes at least 20 minutes to take place. When we eat fast we don’t give time for this process to suppress hunger levels and we end up eating more.
  • Furthermore, eating fast often means lazy chewing and swallowing food in big chunks, which can cause poor digestion. Beside discomfort and other digestive conditions like reflux and indigestion, a poor digestion can also lead to further weight gain.
  • Finally, by speed eating we put such little time to savoring food that we get little enjoyment from our meal, which may lead us to add on during our day an unhealthy desert or snack to make-up for this.

photo 1-22

photo 2-19

In my family my sister was always the last one to finish her meal, and it drove the rest of the family crazy. Quite the opposite, I was the champion of speed eating, as I was always the first to finish. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that her slow eating was to credit for her being able to eat smaller portions and the secret to her flawless tummy. So some of us may be born slow eaters or figure out its benefits early on and don’t deviate from it easily, but for those of us who aren’t, or who are pushed more easily into speeding up our eating habit, here are some tips to start practicing Slow Eating:

Eat Slow

This month, many people are fasting in observance of Ramadan and they too should be careful with the risks of fast eating at the time of breaking their fast for the same reasons discussed above, so to them I would say: Ramadan Karim, Fast & Don’t Eat Fast Later! The key is to break your fast gradually and slowly to gauge how hungry you really are, rather than just starting to eat an industrial amount just because you now know you can and think you should because you haven’t eaten all day.