Peace in – Peace out!

I know that many people have developed the habit of starting the morning with the news, whether print or digital. That habit can have some merit since you can prepare for the weather, have the latest news to discuss with colleagues, or enjoy a chuckle if you are reading the comics.  The downside is that you are also exposing yourself to all of the negativity that has accumulated in the world the night before.  Have you ever wondered how reading about murder, theft, hunger, poverty, corruption, and deceit might impact your day?

I have found that I often start my day at a full sprint.  I pop out of bed and fly through my morning performing tasks at superhero speed trying to get as many things done in as short a time as possible.  Again, this has both positive aspects as well as hazards.  When in sprint mode I can cross many things off of my to-do list and give the appearance to myself and others that I am amazingly efficient and effective.  But at what cost?  After this sprint to get things done I am usually too tired and too grumpy to enjoy the free time that I expected to have later.  Truthfully, when in that mode I suspect that I’m not all that pleasant to be around either.

At different times in my life I have made the effort to exercise first thing in the morning.  I got up very early and dedicated that time to riding my stationary bike.  Most of the time I also had some positive attitude or personal growth CD playing in the background.  The combination was fantastic.  I know other people use yoga, meditation, spiritual study, prayer, or running as a way to get their day started in the right direction.

Other times, and prior to the time change (now sunrise comes after my work day begins), I took my dogs on a short walk to get some fresh air and exercise and to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.  They felt better.  I felt better.  That feeling persisted throughout my morning at work.  Once darkness and black ice interfered with our early morning walks I began using inspirational CDs during my commute to gently lead my mind where I wanted it to go. Most mornings you will find me listening to WayneGirl with headphones in the snow Dyer, Anthony Robbins, or the Dalai Lama.  I confess that during the Christmas holiday season (starting around Halloween for me) I listen to endless hours of Christmas music instead becauase I adore it.

I am trying to be more aware of my mindset at the beginning of my day and have noticed that when I do plan for a peaceful start that I have a more peaceful day.  I can tell a difference in the way I feel about the world, myself, and the people I meet when I have made a conscious choice to start my day in this manner.  It does take some planning and intention to manage my time in the morning so that this is possible.  It is all too easy for me to just hit the floor running.  But, much like the garbage in – garbage out metaphor in computing, peace in – peace out seems to be every bit as true.

Mise en place

Are you impressed with my French?  Don’t be. Not only do I not speak French, I stink at mise en place.  I watch many cooking shows.  In fact, I’m somewhat addicted to them.  I’ve heard Alton Brown and others preach mise en place.  But do I practice it? NO!!! For example, one day I started putting together a great Tuscan Bean Soup but dumped the onions in the oil to saute long before I had even retrieved the garlic from the cupboard or the carrots from the refrigerator.

I’ve been pondering this personal deficit for a while now and it truly baffles me. I’m a person who makes lists.  My daily schedule in on an Excel spreadsheet and I dutifully remove things as they are completed. Usually the tasks are even recorded in order. The list might include thawing meat for tomorrow’s dinner, or staging the items I plan to take to the office the next day.  So my mise en place failure isn’t an inability to plan ahead.

I’m not a terribly patient person though. I can look patient, but on the inside I’m usually quite the opposite. I do find it hard to wait for the things I want or the activities I want to do. I’ve learned to cope with it though, so I can generally stay within a financial or time budget.

After reading an article about mise en place I think I may have found the answer. Mise en place can also be about attitude. If I fail to prepare my attitude or thoughts, the behavior is more erratic. I think this could be a lesson that far transcends the kitchen.

If you have a pre-cooking attitude adjuster that works for you…..please share.