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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From “To Do” to “To Done”

Blessings come in many disguises. Last week I fell inexplicably ill. I’d been working long hours and spending a great deal of time at my computer while juggling a number of projects that pulled me in many directions at once. I started to have dizzy spells and see strange geometric patterns in my periphery vision. At one point I even fell over because the ground beneath me seemed so unsteady, and waves of nausea rolled over me sporadically.

It turns out I was having an intense migraine aura headache. Unable to walk without the possibility of toppling over was scary and not being able to do anything on my “to do” list was frustrating. Once I learned what was making me feel so poorly, however, I was able to take action both in healing myself and in finding a strategy to cross stuff off the aforementioned “to do” list.

Thinking hard
This experience reminded me of a valuable lesson. Not everything we think we have to do is necessary or essential. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and forget the big picture. It’s also easy to spend too much time on the things that seem important while overlooking the things that are important.

As a result of feeling sick, I wasn’t going to be able to do everything in the way that I‘d planned. My doctor had suggested I take a break from the computer, which seemed impossible since nearly everything I had to do was online, but the word “prioritize” kept popping into my head. I don’t easily give up control. No way! But I realized that in order to get from point A to point B, I was going to have to adjust my plan, and I would need to ask for help. Most things, it turns out, can be postponed, ignored, or done by someone else. The few things that didn’t fall into those three categories, I had to do, but at least by then my list was much shorter.

Years ago my mom taught me a game called, “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” When you’re nervous or stressed about something, think of the worst possible scenario. Usually the worst that could happen isn’t actually that bad. What would be the worst that would happen if I didn’t respond to all the e-mail in my inbox? What if I didn’t put the trash out for collection? I had plans to go to a gala and what if I didn’t get a pedicure and everyone saw my chipped nail polish? What if I didn’t clean my chicken coop? What if I postponed some of my work until later? Playing the “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” game was a useful tool in prioritizing and organizing my “to do” list.

I ended up doing all the essential office and housework and devised strategies for the rest. Suddenly, I realized that a lot of what had taken on such significance in my mind wasn’t quite as important as I had imagined. The blessing was that I was reminded to slow down, take a deep breath, and prioritize.

What in your life can you delete from your “to do” list? What can you postpone? And what can you ask or hire someone else to do?


Mango Salsa

No matter what’s going on in my life, whether I’m feeling sick, sad, stressed, or over-the-moon happy, I always try to make time to treat myself to good food prepared with love and fresh ingredients. I make eating well a priority, and it almost always trumps anything else on my “to do” list.

Tomatoes are at their peak right now. This is a great time to make fresh salsa and stretch out summer a tad bit longer. This salsa recipe is so easy that it will be “to done” before you know it. Put it on a warm corn tortilla with lettuce and sautéed wild shrimp and you have a quick, healthy, and delicious dinner.


2 cups diced mango (from one large mango)*
2 cups diced Roma tomatoes, seeds removed (from about 5 tomatoes)
1 cup chopped white onion (from ½ a large onion)
¾ finely diced cilantro (from one bunch)
1 Serrano pepper finely diced (optional)**
3 tbs. fresh lime juice (from 2-4 limes depending on their juiciness)
salt

*If you can’t find mango, substitute peaches (peel them first). Delicious late harvest peaches are still available.
**Serrano peppers are spicy. Add the pepper bit by bit until you reach your desired spiciness. I like spice, so I usually add the whole pepper, which is about 1 tbs.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the mango, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and Serrano pepper. Toss with the lime juice and salt, and enjoy! This salsa is so good, I often eat it with a spoon like soup, but it’s also great with tortilla chips, fish tacos, or anything else you can dream of.


Mango salsa with wild shrimp, black bean purée, and romaine lettuce

Mango salsa with cumin-scented charbroiled steak