I went to New Orleans a few years ago and it was an amazing trip. I hold it up as my gold standard of vacations because I felt so relaxed and happy on the trip, so I was able to take advantage of all the city had to offer, and it was all thanks to a delicious sandwich.
What was most special about this sandwich was how much my hubby & I were looking forward to it. We’re self-proclaimed foodies and were visiting New Orleans during a food festival, so we looked up some of the local cuisine. We were particularly taken by the muffuletta, a sandwich with layers of salami, mozzarella, ham, mortadella, and provolone and marinated olive salad on a muffuletta loaf, which is basically lighter version of foccacia bread. The city was hot & humid. We were disorganized but ambitious and sometimes we’d collapse after overextending ourselves sightseeing and bemoan the things that we weren’t doing on our vacation. We weren’t taking advantage of every moment on the trip! This was our only vacation this year and it cost lot of money & we were waaaaaasting it!
I had thoughts like this when I was pregnant and again when I my son was a few months old (& I still have them now, the little guy changes all the time). “This is my last few days before I’m a mother, or before he can walk (or any of the other things that change about babies) & I’m waaaaaasting it!” People kept telling me to savor this time, and I knew it was a beautifully rare time.
What I know now is that most of your life is a beautifully rare time. When you have a baby, you realize how quickly time is moving because their little bodies and faces change and is that you realize that the time is fleeting, when in reality all time is fleeting.
My time as a newlywed in New Orleans will never happen again and neither will my time as a college freshman living in a dorm room. One of the many gifts my son has given me is opening my eyes to how special and fleeting any moment of my life are – watching him grow and the moments before he came along and the quiet moments I take for myself when I want a break.
It’s silly, but we fall into this trap…
…spending time worrying that we are wasting time or not making the most of some time. I was just talking to my friend who was stressing about her daughter’s first birthday party and how big to make it. She said “but she’ll only turn 1 once!” And that is true. She’ll also only turn 2 once, and 3 once, and 4 once… and she probably won’t remember any of those birthdays as an adult. You will only turn 33 once, and you didn’t even take the day off of work.
It’s not a matter of not falling into the trap, because we all do.
It’s matter of how quickly you can get out of it and go back to enjoying without worrying about if you’re savoring it “enough”.
While trying to get my travel buddy to pull himself off the park bench pity party he was stuck in I tried baiting him with different things we could go do that afternoon if he would just rally with me. “We could go to the aquarium, go on a carriage ride through the French Quarter, go on a swamp tour and see an alligator, or have a muffuletta.” Muffuletta stuck because we were looking forward to it & although it was new to us, we knew quite a bit about it, enough that we could visualize the experience. The sandwich was such a simple and visceral image. I could imagine what it would be like to take a carriage ride, but it’s a long experience, not like the single uncomplicated moment that you bite into a sandwich. I could just say the word and I could see in his face that he was transported to the positive, hopeful and ready to enjoy the experience mindset when we planned the trip. It was a refresh on his attitude & mindset.
There is SO MUCH to look forward to about your next experiences. So much to look forward to about the rest of your pregnancy (the kicking, the ultrasounds, the fact that you are magically growing a human being!!!). So much to look forward to about the birth (Yes, really, even if you’re dreading it. It’s the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced and it ends with your first moments holding the little baby that you’ve been waiting for all these months). And so, SO, much about the rest of your lives together: the cuddling, the first steps, the birthday parties, the walks to the park.
So…. what can be your muffuletta?
What are you looking forward to? What can you viscerally feel when you say the words in your head?
I had pretty developed ideas of my son as a little boy playing fetch with our dog, but that’s not a great foothold for mindset refresh since I will be waiting years for that to happen. What ended up being a great mindset refresh for me was imagining 5 teeny tiny fingers closing around my index finger. When I stop and give my brain 2 seconds to close in on that thought I can actually feel the tiny fingers grasping my finger one by one. If I need to, I can slowly close my own fist finger by finger and participate in my imagination. Tell us in the comments below… what is your muffuletta? What experience can you imagine so vividly that will transport you to more open, relaxed, peaceful or happy part of your mind. If you enjoyed this post, subscribe and never miss a thing 😉