March 19, 2017

Be Honest: Are You Really Paying Attention?

Who’s paying attention?

Not me, apparently.

Case in point: The Chicken Noodle Soup Misfortune.

It was a Thursday night around 5:45 p.m. and I was sprinting back and forth from my office to the kitchen, working a real estate transaction, finishing a chapter on my second book, while simultaneously cooking dinner and making bone broth for chicken noodle soup.

I was also checking my email, Facebook, and the blog subscription list. I was doing all of this in the compressed time period between dropping off my son at lacrosse practice, and picking up my daughter from dance.

The stove timer sounded. I leapt from my desk and dashed into the kitchen. I was so inattentive to the task at hand, that I poured the bone broth that I’d simmered for three hours down the drain.

A goldfish might not have made this mistake.

Apparently the goldfish has a longer attention span than the average human. The internet has been abuzz with this astonishing statistic. Goldfish attention span = nine seconds; human attention span = eight seconds.

I’m guilty of this.

I am conditioned to reach for my cell phone in the car at red lights, in a long check-out line at the grocery store, and even at my daughter’s dance lesson as I wait for class to end. I jump from one thing to another in a perpetual state of what’s next?

I’ve missed a lot. By always looking ahead, I’m not seeing what’s in front of me.

There’s a little voice deep inside telling me, “Stop. Absorb. Pay attention to the present. You’re rushing through your life. Heather—you’re pouring the bone broth down the drain!”

And my kids are worse. The phone is a permanent appendage, and I fear their ability to concentrate for long periods of time is in jeopardy. I’ve had to hold firm on the rule that their bedrooms after 10 p.m. are no-phone zones.

So back to the goldfish. Since I dumped the bone broth down the drain, I’ve been thinking that I need to slow down. Call me crazy, but I believe I’ve discovered the answer.

Sunday dinner.

That’s right. An instituted, forced rest period on Sunday nights for a family dinner. Everybody must be home by 5:30pm. The television is turned off. Phones are put away.

I’m loving it.

Sunday morning, I rummage through cookbooks, magazines, and online recipes looking for a twist on an old recipe, or maybe a freshnew idea. Then— and this is the best part—my husband goes to the grocery store and buys the ingredients. The afternoon is spent leisurely prepping the meal. Most Sundays, my parents join us for the meal.

It took several weeks for everybody to grow accustomed to the routine. But, I think the Sunday dinner is going to stick.The kids look forward to it. The grandparents look forward to it. I look forward to it. We joke that we’re creating a tradition.

However, I’m dead serious.

Now that I’ve got it, I’m not letting go of Sunday dinner.

My hope is that my children will carry Sunday dinner memories into their adult lives, and one day they’ll offer me a seat at their tables.

For me, the Sunday dinner ritual is part of a deliberate attempt to be present, to consider a meal, to take a bit of time to prepare it, to put away my phone, to pause, and to pay attention, to rest in the moment. And to make my kids rest there too—with their parents and grandparents—without their phones.

It’s turning out to be a beautiful thing.

I hope you’ll try it.





Author: Heather Christie

Image: Youtube

Editor: Lieselle Davidson

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