The first place that I started my journey to a more poised and polished self was at the dinner table. More specifically, it was on the floor of my living room. You see, that’s where I was eating dinner at the time and it became abundantly clear that I had a lot of room to grow in this area.
First, a little background. When I was young, my mother owned a restaurant. I hung around after school and on the weekends and so very quickly learned to keep a “restaurant pace” to everything. Steps were taken with a sense of urgency. Every movement was backed up with a verbal warning. And meals were taken at any opportunity and as quickly as possible. I even worked in restaurants and cafes myself after university and it only solidified my need and ability to eat as much as possible in as small amount of time as possible.
My friends are often amazed that I can eat a full meal in (significantly) less than twenty minutes. Time’s a wasting. There’s so much more to be done. Even if I’m no longer rushing away to go back to work, I still think there are other ways to spend my time. Which brings me to the second part of the conundrum.
I’m a multi-tasker. To a fault. So meals, especially dinner, are not just for eating. They are for eating and checking social media and reading this book and watching that one episode of SHERLOCK for the umpteenth time. “I know I just ate because it tasted good and I’m not hungry anymore, but other than that I’m not really aware of things.” This is how it was.
Most lifestyle blogs or books will tell you that it’s so important to slow down and actually notice your food. Some say it’s the key to weight loss. Others say it’s all part of a lifestyle that values table time with the family. For me, it’s about giving up busyness. Just for those small parts of the day.
For 40 Days of Poise, I gave myself the following guidelines:
- The only purchases that can be made from restaurants are drinks. Exception: When friends want to go out for food and it is a good choice for your budget and your sanity, do it.
- Dinner must be consumed at the table. No excuses.
- Unless actively communicating with someone (and it is time sensitive), put away the mobile phone.
- Television is allowed only if no one else is present and only for a small portion of the meal. Otherwise, enjoy some music.
So far, it’s working out grand. I have to be aware of my time and my appetite when menu planning. Sure, a ten-step very involved recipe would be great; but not when you’re coming home from work at 6pm and you’ll already be hungry. Control your expectations.
I’ve also had to learn to be adaptable. For example, one night the dining room table and common areas in my apartment were completely unavailable. These things happen when you live with roommates. So, I compromised. I took my dinner into my bedroom and sat at my desk. I followed the same rules that I would have followed at the dining table. Napkin in lap, posture at its best, food consumed slowly. Poise, I’m learning, often requires flexibility. Not something that I have much of. Good thing I’m cultivating it!
Later on, I’ll do a post about the things I’m eating, but let’s end here for today. For now, I encourage you to add a little polish and a little slowness to your meals. You’ll be surprised at how nice it feels.