It’s cold today, and I don’t want to leave the house. I want to crawl into bed with the heating pad and alternate reading a book with watching NCIS reruns. “Which NCIS knockoff has the worst acting?” Hot Firefighter Husband wanted to know. And I was all, “I LOVE LL COOL J AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.”
Honestly, there’s nothing I like better than being home, unless it’s being home alone. I like straightening up after the chaos of the morning, puttering in the kitchen, wiping the countertops, and having time to scratch the pups’ ears for a minute or two. This surprises me; when I was younger, I thought of myself as the go-getter, the one who’d be traveling the world in search of the next news story. You know what really excites me now? Deciding which ingredients I’m going to include in my next batch of homemade granola. For real.
Last week, when I was railing about the difficulty of the whole SIMPLIFY process, I had been thinking a lot about granola, and how much I love granola and miss granola because it’s not paleo and how if I was going to start eating it again I would have to make it myself. So I did! THREE TIMES. It’s so much fun that I’m going to do it again tonight. What does this have to do with SIMPLIFYING? Well, exactly everything. Part of this process has been learning to focus on the present moment rather than wishing it away. Tonight I’m making spaghetti for dinner (Spaghetti squash for Husband and me. SLURP.) and instead of lamenting that it’s not already done, I’m excited about sautéing the onions, browning the sausage, and perfecting the seasonings. I AM ENJOYING DOMESTIC ENGINEERING even though I’m doing it sober (which is something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about).
You see, SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE doesn’t just refer to living with less stuff; it also means reevaluating your definition of accomplishment. I can’t work out today because of the cold – look, there’s no heat in the CrossFit gym and my fingers keep turning white – so instead I took the dog to the vet and made two doctors’ appointments. I’ll also cook dinner, go to the grocery, make some granola, do a load of laundry, and get absorbed in a new novel before bed. OH, and keep three little kids and a husband and two dogs and a fish alive and well and reasonably clean. DOUBLE-OH, and write this shit right here. You know what? That’s enough.
And that’s the hard part – forgiving myself for not saving the world today and every day. Living simply means being humble, and in a way, tamping down personal ambition. That’s not to say I don’t make a difference in the world – I think I do – but to regret that my contributions aren’t as formidable as, say, Oprah’s, is akin to saying the people in my circle aren’t important enough to be worthy of my dependable presence. Which just isn’t true.
Look, not everyone can live simply. Thank goodness there are neurosurgeons and rocket scientists and journalists* and politicians*. But most of us could do a better job of serving our world if we did a better job of managing what’s right in front us, and that means SIMPLIFYING our ideas about not only what we need, but also what we want. Twenty years ago this month, I was recently married and preparing to move to Florida. I told Husband I wanted a nice house, a dog, a plan to travel abroad, and the option to move if I didn’t like it here. I’m so much wiser now. Today all I want is a hot cup of coffee. Boom.
*Some exclusions may apply.
As a bonus, I’m providing you with my granola recipe. It’s the fraternal twin of a recipe I found on my favorite paleo blog, PaleOMG, which you should visit immediately and often if you’re even a little bit interested in clean eating. IT’S REALLY EASY, PEOPLE.
4 cups nuts – I use raw cashews, pecans, sliced almonds and walnuts in varying combos
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup dried fruit – I like chopped dates and raisins and cherries
1/4 cup chopped dried banana chips
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw local honey – please don’t use that crap that comes in a plastic teddy bear
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Pulse the nuts in a food processor until they’re cut into granola-sized pieces. This is a personal decision, and might be affected by whether you plan to eat this like cereal or just snack on it. I usually just leave the sliced almonds as they are. Pour it all in a big bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon and salt on top and mix it up.
Add the fruit and bananas, and mix it up again.
Melt the oil in the microwave in a medium bowl, then add the honey and the maple syrup and stir. Pour the sticky stuff over the dry stuff, and….Mix it. Mix it good. Get it? Like Salt-n-Pepa? Sigh.
Empty it all onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. If you’re clumsy like me, make sure the cookie sheet has edges. Use a spatula or your hands to spread it out into a single layer. Try not to keep licking it all off your fingers because that’s not helpful. Just do that once at the end.
Bake for 15 minutes; take it out, use a spatula to stir it up a little and spread it out again, then bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and carefully lift the parchment paper from the hot cookie sheet and place it someplace to cool. As it cools, every once in a while crumble it up a little with your fingers so you’ll have smaller crunchy pieces. Store it in old-fashioned mason jars so you can post pretty pictures on Pinterest. YUMMITY.