Finish Chewing Before Filling Your Fork: A lesson in decluttering

food on forks

It was in an article about the Queen of England that I read about this habit. She takes a small amount of food into her mouth, puts down her fork and chews completely before loading her fork for another bite. As someone who approached every meal as if it were a speed-eating contest … I was interested in the idea of slowing down and dining more like royalty, less like a wild dog. I quickly (haha see what I did there?) followed the Queen’s example, and found I enjoyed my food much more when I savoured it one small mouthful at a time. (This post is not actually about eating habits, but as a side note: With the help of a charming little book called “How to Eat” by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, I further grew my eating habits to become almost meditative – highly recommend it.)

The lesson about eating had a big impact on the rest of my life too. I noticed that I was always gathering up new things before I’d finished chewing what I had. I bought books as though I were building a library. I gathered up scads of cheap yarn to go with the reams of crochet patterns I was always adding to a pinterest board. And surfing the internet. Well. There are always so many awesome ideas out there, I had to explore them all. It was my bookmarks list that put me over the edge, when I realized I had overwhelming indigestion from all the information I was trying to digest as I crammed more and more in. I was setting up a new computer and was asked about importing bookmarks. I had so many folders within folders and random sites, I spend an hour just trying to make sense of the mess, never mind actually read any of the information on any of the sites. I deleted them all. All. And my life’s been immeasurably better for it!

Stop shopping for new things and new ideas. Use what you have. Do not buy or borrow any new books until you’ve read the ones you have. You may find you have some that you aren’t actually interested in reading after all – give them away or sell them, someone else is ready to read them right now, and you’re not. And from now on, finish the one you’re reading before getting a new one. When you get that new one, you know you will read it right away because you’re picking one you’re interested in right in that moment. Marie Kondo explains this well in her book.

The thing with the books, and yarn, and everything else, was that I spent so much time gathering it, managing it, and searching through it, only to find that I rarely had what I wanted at the time. I often ended up getting something new anyway.

I deleted most of my pinterest boards and similar ‘storage of ideas’ sites and folders too. I keep a couple, to gather up ideas around one or two specific projects that I’m actively working on at a time. When the projects are done, I delete them. When I’m going to start a project, it’s easy to find great information, and it’s more relevant information because I’m actually using it right away.

Back to food. I love cooking (this is new – I didn’t used to have time to love cooking, now I savour the process, the simple tasks of chopping and stirring, the smells and tastes and textures, mmmm.) I was tempted to gather up ALL THE RECIPES but I’d learned from royalty, and when I see a new recipe I want to try, I either plan and make it within the next few days, or I don’t save the recipe. I don’t have any recipes sitting around that I haven’t tried – when I’m done chewing on the ones I do have, I pick up my fork and load it with a new one 🙂



The Year Of… ?

A favourite habit of mine is naming my day / week / year – giving each one a theme or a focus. I’ll have a day of Ideas or week of Calm, and picking the name makes me smile, even when my teenagers roll their eyes at me repeating the really good ones way too often. Sometimes it’s just fun to say the word – when I first made focaccia it seemed like a miracle to have this yummy bread appear from scratch in my kitchen, so the next weekend I had another Day of Focaccia. Try not to smile when you say that out loud a few times, it’s impossible.

Naming a whole year takes a bit more reflection since it’s so much more of a commitment!

In December 2015, I declared (to myself and my journal) that 2016 would be a year of Celebration and Simplicity, and it was. Having two themes was a bit much though, especially since one of them was Simplicity… so I decluttered down to one theme for 2017. It was The Year of Adventure, and what *spectacular* adventures they were!!

I was confident about my theme for 2018: Serenity. I’d learned so much about intentional, peaceful living and had (on one of my adventures) held a ceremony to release things from my past that weren’t of any help to me anymore. I was feeling very calm and thought it wise to take a break from all the adventures.

One lesson I am forever learning is that I can’t predict the future. Life is full of gloriously unexpected events and 2018 turned out to be a year of love, serene at times but far more of a roller coaster ride than 2017-Karen foresaw.

So, 2019? I’m aiming for The Year of Wisdom, bringing together all the ideas and work I’ve done and sharing it with others. Does that seem pretentious though? There will always be so much to learn and so many ways to grow, will I ever truly feel wise? Maybe it will be the year of Magic. I do think of all the great ideas as magic lessons… so that might be it. We’ll see what I decide on New Year’s Eve – I’ll put off the commitment till the last possible moment 🙂

[Updated Dec 10, I can always trust that the answer will come to me – 2019 will most definitely be the Year of Wonder! The wonder of possibilities.]

While it’s still 2018, I’m going to enjoy a serene cup of coffee and a good book.