There were times during my 40s and 50s when I struggled with weight gain, bouts of insomnia and digestive problems. My hair was thinning, my skin tone looked uneven, and it was challenging to keep my energy level up in the middle of the day. I was driving myself hard in a competitive work environment and the distractions of a busy life left me often feeling depleted.
Desperation led me to a year long nutrition course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition that emphasized the importance of bio-individuality, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all-diet. Each of us has unique needs. I started eating whole foods that come from the ground instead of processed foods and I was cooking more at home. Yet, the biggest change in my health over many years was my growing ability to slow down. Being more mindful of the present moment enabled me to better enjoy life.
One of my great pleasures in life has been watching my adult children find their way in the world, becoming the type of people I would want to be around. They are inquisitive, open minded and kind. I’m always discovering something new about them, as was the case when I recently accompanied my son on his business trip where I learned more about myself by observing him.
We had traveled to Eastern Europe to visit some of his wine customers. After a winery tour in Slovenia, we sat down to dinner in their small, adjoining restaurant. My son encouraged me to order the five course meal with five different wine pairings. I couldn’t fathom that much food and drink, but I trusted his recommendation and we began our first course of pea flan and pork cheek at 7:30 pm.
Four hours later we were ending our meal with white and dark chocolate and grapes followed by a strong digestif. The Slavic food and wine were all new to me and delicious, but most surprising was the lightness I felt at the end of the meal. When you eat over a four hour period, your body somehow assimilates all that food, leaving you feeling satisfied, not gorged. But here’s the healing part: we sat together for four hours.
Never in my life have I spent that much time enjoying the company of another while anticipating the next bite of food or sip of wine. It was amazing. We talked about how Americans are always on the move, never seeming to slow down as so many people in Europe are want to do. I felt at ease to just be in the moment, enjoying our conversation, our silence as we explored our meal, and our ability to connect over a shared experience. It was a healing balm to my soul.