The Pleasure of Doing Nothing

I took this picture in Interlaken, Switzerland, where I was lucky enough to be sent for a ghostwriting project. I look at this picture often when I think of pleasure... and all that it entails.

Today, I woke to an early alarm, after tossing and turning all night. I kept feeling a pressure behind my belly button – probably brought on by trying a Pilates DVD new core exercise (that and the fact that my belly is rapidly expanding).

I dressed quickly, downed some Vega and lifted shoulders/hamstrings at the gym. I thought about our Valentine’s Day – and how perfectly sweet it was. And how every single day, I continue to fall harder and more deeply in love with my husband.

Coming back, I finished my articles and tasks quickly and then had a cancelled afternoon meeting, suddenly freeing me up for the day. I looked around the condo. I didn’t feel like going out, but I didn’t feel like staying in. The word “should” kept permeating my brain, and yet I shut it out.

I should get started on my book.

I should get my taxes in order.

I should make a real list of baby items we might need.

I should gather the materials to legally change my last name before Sophie is born, as well as get a new license.

I should research new workouts.

I should update my website recipe and lifestyle section.

I should update my media page.

I should prep for my upcoming WGN radio interview with Rick Kogan.

I should really figure out how to chop off my upstairs neighbor’s feet without anyone finding out.

I should get up.

Instead, I picked up a book. Though I have read a million nonfiction books as of late, there’s nothing like getting lost in a good novel. It makes my entire day better.

I listened to the sounds of traffic outside as I read, that constant ebb and flow of humming engines the perfect background. I inhaled the crisp pages and devoured page after page. After a while, I set the book down, lifted my shirt and watched my baby move: jolting, rolling, her body pressing against my flesh and then disappearing. Is there anything more miraculous?

While this isn't as miraculous as making a baby, it comes pretty close. On a writing workshop in Paris, my friend, Jenny, and I took a bike trip through Tours, France. Beyond amazing.

I feel like women don’t really talk about their baby’s movements, but I am fixated each and every time. I sat, and I marveled. I fixed a sprouted grain bagel with organic peanut butter for a snack and licked my fingers when I was done. I paid bills. I walked to CVS. I curled up on the couch and watched her some more.

I ruminated over travels past and all the places I want to take Sophie and Alex. How I want to see their eyes light up as they take in a different world for the very first time.

I turned off the lights and sat here, completely silent – no phone or television or music as a distraction. I tried to empty my head – to still my thoughts. To do and think and be nothing but active and present in the here and now.

In our fast-paced lives, we so rarely have the pleasure of doing nothing. And while I have a task list that is a mile long, I am relishing these rare moments because I know in a few months’ time, they will be distant memories.

So often, we feel guilty if we are not productive at least 90% of the day. But why does productivity equal work? Being relaxed is productive. Taking time to breathe is productive. Unchaining yourself from the ordinary doldrums of the day – even if it’s for five minutes – is productive. Not to mention therapeutic.

It’s important to nurture ourselves with these small tokens of time.

I miss my family today, so many hundreds of miles away. I envision a house there, where I can pop over to my parents’ for dinner and meet with my two best friends for coffee. Where I can have Sophie run through the sprinkler and enjoy hot summer days being doused with a garden hose. Where Neruda can run free in a backyard, instead of being cooped up inside.

But I love the city. I love everything about it, and yet… and yet. There is always a calm that is just out of reach, and I am reaching for it, here, in my moment of silence, in my afternoon of pleasure, as I count down the hours until I pick up Alex and go and meet our friends for dinner.

How does one construct that balance between practicality and happiness? Is there a balance? Should there be?

I stretch. Neruda follows suit beside me, extending her small paws and emitting a little sigh. I stare at the dirty cup on my coffee table – filled with the contents of my afternoon shake.

If you are looking for a pick-me-up that doesn’t involve caffeine, this is your best bet.

Happy relaxing.

Power Shake

Ingredients:

1 scoop VEGA Whole Food optimizer or 1 scoop hemp protein

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)

1 handful power greens (kale, spinach, baby chard)

1-2 Tbs. superseed, superfruit and superfood blend (optional)

1 packet chlorella

1-2 tsp. natural cocoa

slivered nuts for topping, optional

1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Sprinkle with nuts on top, if desired. Enjoy!

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16 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Doing Nothing

  1. Okay I just stumbled upon this site and I am in love! Not only is it totally relevant to my life (I’m pregnant) but I just read Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven and want to go vegan, but don’t know where to start. It’s a bit overwhelming.

    Not to mention your photos of Europe just made me want to get on a plane. I know what my hubby and I are planning post baby!

    And the food – your recipes look so easy and delicious!

    • Allie, how sweet! First of all, congrats on your pregnancy! How far along are you?

      Going vegan can seem overwhelming and limiting, but in fact, it’s easier, cheaper and limitless. You just have to figure out what works for you and your lifestyle. If you’re interested in letting me help you with food, just let me know!

      While I love so many vegetarian and vegan recipes, I find that I won’t touch them if they have 30 ingredients or take more than 20 or 30 minutes to make. So, my husband and I have found what works best for us. Let me know if you try any of them!

      • Are you kidding? You can help me with food? I would LOVE that! I’m just trying to figure it all out, but I’m getting overwhelmed.

        I’m 12 weeks pregnant, so I have a long way to go, but I think if I can incorporate healthier food then I am on the right path to a healthy me and healthy baby.

        I love thinking about this way of eating as limitless. You’re right. Okay, send me your contact info. I am excited!

  2. Love!!! I’m trying that shake this afternoon (though I don’t have a few of those ingredients). I’m assuming you can get most of that at Whole Foods?

    • Yes! The superseed, superfruit and superfood blends are all there (though a bit pricey). You can get chlorella there as well, though if you use VEGA, it already has chlorella in it, as well as most other superfood ingredients. However, I learned that they are discontinuing my shake (I am devastated), so if you opt for hemp, just throw in those other fun ingredients!

      Enjoy!

    • Hi, Tim! Chlorella is known as a “perfect” whole food. It’s a complete protein, contains all the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and the major minerals (with zinc and iron in amounts large enough to be considered supplementary). It helps immune function, improves digestion, detoxifies the body, accelerates healing, protects against radiation, relieves arthritis… the list goes on!

      If you ever try Vega, it actually has chlorella in it, which is great, as it can be a bit pricey on its own (around $30 for 10 individual packets). Just do a little research and try it out!

  3. Ooooh definitely yes to the art of doing nothing, something i need to learn to do more and relax about :)

    I rarely catch juanito’s movements on my belly, either i am not quick enough at looking or there is too much fat separating us for me to see, but i can definitely feel him/her.
    I will respond to your email soon, i’m at the hospital right now, they are running late for my appointment, what a pain…

      • I have to send you a pic i took yesterday you are going to laugh at the size of the belly… And to think there are 11 weeks left ! But it makes me happy because i want a big chubby baby, not a prawn as we like to call small babies in France ;)
        I really want to get chlorella, along with spirulina, maca, hemp seeds and ground flax seeds… I have a long list of superfood for my morning smoothie but they are so expensive over here!
        I need to go to the states, i’m just scared to get into trouble at the border with all those powders ;)

  4. You MUST send me a pic, because I don’t believe you! At least you only have 11 to go!!! I want a nice-sized healthy baby as well. At the rate she’s growing, I don’t think that will be an issue!

    I hate that all those superfoods are so expensive (they are here as well). That’s why I love Vega, just because it already has all of those things in it. But it’s pricey as well!

    Send me a pic with your email!

    Oh, and if you have time, read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/one-two-three_b_1243884.html

    So good!

    • That article was beautiful… Thanks for sharing it. How can people express so beautifully, feelings that must be so hard to explain?

      • Wasn’t it? I think that’s the task of a parent – to try and put into words all the feelings that seem singular, but are actually universal. I can’t wait to have my own set of thoughts and feelings to share once Sophie is here! :)

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