We Must Do Lunch

We Must Do Lunch

Ahh…  lunchtime… the midday challenge of every woman, whether she is working, whether she is a Mom, whether she is both.  Why is that?  Breakfast and dinner seem to “just fall into place”, but lunch seems to be of a completely different species.

It isn’t hard to understand what the problem is.  Breakfast is at the start of the day, before the onslaught of activity and demands begin.  Dinner offers a somewhat comforting closure and denouement to a frenetic day.  But lunch!!  It comes smack in the middle of the day, right in the epicenter of, well, everything.  How does a women who is enmeshed in her work, who is straddling the many aspects of multi-tasking that her life requires, extract that magic moment when she can simply sit down and eat lunch?  Truly a dilemma!

Since we have been discussing, in previous articles, how we should pay attention and take better care of ourselves, let us first agree that mid-day nutrition is an absolute necessity.  If we are not taking care of ourselves, we cannot possibly “be there” for our families or for our work – not even for ourselves.  The machine -– i.e. our body -- needs to be re-fueled and “running on empty” won’t get us anywhere.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, obm, taught us that we should “live with the times”.  So a couple of points…  The month of Iyar, which is an acronym for the phrase, “Ani Hashem Rofecha” meaning, “I am G-d, your Healer”.  The month of Iyar gives us a special kind of energy to focus on strengthening ourselves.  In the month of Iyar, as well, is the holiday of Pesach Sheini, the second Passover, so to speak.  The point of this special day is to remind us that we always have a second chance. We can always continue working on ourselves and need never give up -- two powerful messages about taking better care of ourselves.

The month of Iyar is also in the middle of a period of time in the Jewish calendar called “S’fira” which coincides with the “counting the Omer”.  This period begins on the second night of Passover and continues until the holiday of Shavuot (the givin of the Torah).  Each week of S’fira deals with a particular facet of our character and personality, and explores the various sub-sets of that character trait.  One of the weeks, claims  the characteristic of “Yesod”, that aspect of our personality which represents “foundation” and “bonding” in our lives. 

In order to function well on a daily basis, we need a strong foundation; what is not always obvious is how to solidify that foundation.  Having a strong base is what allows us to move through our day in a purposeful manner, not feeling like the proverbial ‘leaf in the wind’.  Being rooted creates a sense of trust in ourselves and in our abilities.  This “Yesod”, (lit. foundation), according to author Rabbi Simon Jacobson, “…is a kind of affirmation that ‘I matter’, that ‘I am significant and important’… It instills confidence”.  Yesod facilitates the connection to one’s source; it is the formation of a strong bond which allows us to grow and expand.  It is from this strength that the ability to nourish and nurture oneself manifests. 

As women, many of us find it difficult to focus on ourselves.  We wonder if doing something “for me”, whatever it is, is an act of selfishness.  We are, after all, taking time away from our family, from our work.  Our natural inclination so often is to put our own needs aside and concentrate on the needs of others.  However, when we remind ourselves of the importance of the “Yesod” in our lives, it will no longer feel like an indulgence to focus on what will support our own growth.  In fact it is truly the opposite.

With the power of the month of Iyar, it becomes possible to refocus at least some attention onto our own needs.  In doing this, we can better stabilize our own foundation and from that solid place, can take care of our families and our work in a much more efficient manner.  Concretizing the foundation occurs when we take the time to nurture ourselves.

This brings us back to “lunch”…  How can we extricate ourselves from the bustle and commotion that is so common in the middle of the day?  How can we replenish our systems so we can continue with what needs to be done?

There is no argument that lunch is important.  In fact we probably provide a really good one for all the members of our family; our task now is to be just as good to ourselves.  Once again, as with breakfast, planning is important.  Finishing up our kids’ leftovers is never going to work.  In fact, more than once I’ve heard that that is how mothers get fat… by gobbling up their kids’ leftovers! 

Very little in life comes automatically.  Most everything important takes some proactive thinking.  And so it is with lunch.  Let’s break it down. Here are the 5 steps to your mid-day pick-me-up:

Step 1:  Acknowledge to yourself (yes, really!) that this meal is essential.

Step 2:  Look at your schedule and determine at which point in the broad definition of “mid-day” you can actually extricate a half-hour or so.  Give yourself that broad time span to accommodate the many (normal) changes in your schedule.

Step 3:  Think about choices for lunch in terms of what you like and what will provide you with the critical nourishment to continue through the day.  No quick fixes here! The food you choose must be whole, healthy, nutritious.  Protein is a must because it will give you that sustained boost.  This is not the time for sugar which will give you that immediate high, and just as immediate crash.  Don’t forget how filling and nourishing lots of vegetables can be.

Step 4:  Now is the hard part.  You must be proactive. If you leave the preparation to the last minute when you “must” eat, it will spell disaster. You must prepare at least the raw materials well before you need them.  This could be the night before, it could be early in the morning…  it doesn’t matter.  The important thing is to have the food ready to go when you need it.

Step 5:  Sit down, take a moment to relax and breathe, OK, now eat!

At first, it may seem like this lunch date with yourself takes much too much time and self-focus.  However, it is important to constantly remind ourselves that when we get drained, we are no longer any good to those around us.  We need to tap into that foundation which keeps us strong as often as necessary. Remember the 2nd (and 3rd and 4th) chance that Pesach Sheini gives us -- and jog your memory if need be, to not let yourself slip and skip this critical point in your day.  The reward will be that we feel so much better, and as we all know, when we feel good, every task seems easier and every demand feels lighter.  Not a bad pay-off for a small investment!


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