When I was in college, there was a big sale on those chocolate sandwich cookies. You know the ones with cream in the middle. Not only was it a great deal, but it was also the bonus size with 30% more deliciousness for free. Wahoo! That’s a deal not many tight budgeted college kids can pass up. So for the next three days I ate cookies for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks in between. Because every time I went to dip into my pantry shelf where I kept cans of soup, bread, peanut butter and cereal, cookies were the easiest and most convenient food option.
For the first day or two it was great. Easy food? Dessert for every meal? Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I was hungry. I grab a handful or two of cookies. I am no longer hungry and I have more time to finish that paper and read those chapters. Genius! Someone should market this! College Cookies!
By the third or fourth day I noticed I wasn’t quite myself. I was itchy, irritable, and couldn’t sleep. Then the inevitable happened, (but still I have to say it was a surprise to me) the cookies ran out. Even with the free 30% more, they still ran out. What? Not only did I find myself without the most convenient and sugary meal substitute I’d ever had, I was now greatly inconvenienced by the drudgery of pouring bowls of cereal and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Horror! And I had to do these demanding tasks while going through serious cookie withdrawals. And that is how I discovered that I was an addict. I could never trust myself with those delicious chocolaty cookies again.
Okay, I do eat them occasionally now but I’ve learned a little more about moderation in all things and self-control. I think.
I’m very much a person of routine. If I didn’t have people in my life that forced me into random detours, I’m pretty sure my life would be the same every day: breakfast, gym, home, shower, work, lunch, work, dinner, book, and bed. Ah, sweet serenity! But after a while, I find myself in a hole feeling itchy, irritable and stuck in a rut. My diet of easy food, that was so sweet, isn’t sustainable. Soon it isn’t even enjoyable and inevitably I hit empty. I’m forced to scramble for something new to keep me sane. Stepping out of your comfort zone successfully takes practice. It is in the moments of exploring newness with all its varied combinations and flavors that the spark of life and therefore the spark of creativity is cultivated.
A school counselor once told me that so often we think the longer we work the more we will get done, but at some point our productivity goes way down. We get tired and slow. We fall into the easy patterns of motion without thought. We just do. We actually work more efficiently (and better) when we take breaks to reenergize. What do we need to feed ourselves? A bike ride, a lunch date, a trip to an art gallery, a good read, housework, or sleep? But to make room for “recharge activities” we need to cut out some cookies from our lives. This requires change not only in our routines but also the lens through which we view life. What do you want your life to feel likes? Not all calories are created equal and people cannot live on cookies alone.
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