I woke up this morning feeling so very isolated from the world. I had to remind myself to look for the little joys. Savor the moment, harness the stillness of early morning homelife, enjoy the first moments of wakefulness in my snuggly children, my coffee-sipping, sleepy-eyed husband. As I sliced into our fresh-baked rosemary soda bread (a special gift from my mother-in-law), toasted it, slathered it in avocado, basil, salt, and pepper, I paused. I was struck with a thought: A sampling of the best glories of the globe were here in our kitchen.
Stuck in quarantine with the rest of humanity, it’s hard to feel connected. And if, like us, you’ve got a hearty sense of wanderlust in your veins, not being able to travel is getting under your skin.
(Check on your travel-addicted friends. We are not okay.)
But here I am in my own kitchen, struck with the thought that our family IS connected to the rest of this glorious world, right here in our own home. Soda bread, while first used by early Native Americans, who used pearl ash to leaven their bread, was later discovered by the Irish, who gave it its international reputation. Basil has its earliest roots in India and China, and for me it almost always invokes visions of the arid Mediterranean climate and rich red Italian wines. My avocado reminds me of my childhood years in Southern California, the endless avocado and citrus orchards flavoring the air around me.
Have you ever thought of how much of the globe is represented in your own home, enhancing your family life with rich depth and flavor? That game of Chinese checkers the kids love so much? That gorgeous hand-woven rug from Turkey in your living room, perhaps?
So here’s a little wellness activity for you to try at home, and even share with your kids. It’s an activity that helps your family pause and be thankful for, and even connected to, that great big world outside your four walls.
First, treat yourself to doing this meditation on your own, perhaps in the quiet before the kids wake up. Take a look around you. Wander the rooms of your house a bit. This is an exercise in awareness. Now bear with me here -- this may feel foreign. But enjoy the moment of the pause, and see if it doesn’t make you feel more connected to, more grounded in, the world around you.
As you wander your house, touch and acknowledge the items that have come from afar or have been inspired by exotic locales around the world. As you touch them, feel the depth of your connectedness with the world, and give thanks. What feelings or images does each item evoke, as you envision its origins? Perhaps take a moment to silently thank the people who made or inspired each item, or say a prayer of blessing for them, and acknowledge how they have beautified your daily life.
Soon, invite the kids to join you in this little exercise. First model it for them, then turn it into a treasure hunt. Challenge them to find the following:
When they’ve gathered their treasures, ask them to hold each item one at a time, and tell what makes it special to them. What memories does it evoke? What far away lands does it make them think of? Perhaps scroll through google images from that part of the world, make a conversation around them.
As they hold each item, ask them questions that awaken their five senses:
What does it feel like?
What does it taste like? What’s your favorite food from that part of the world?
Close your eyes and think of the place from whence this came -- what do you hear?
Imagine yourself there -- what does it smell like? The salty ocean? The spicy pines? Exotic street food?
Imagine yourself there -- what do you see? Or what was the coolest thing you saw when you visited?
The benefits of this exercise, to both you and your kids, are four-fold.
It builds a practice of enjoying the present moment.
It encourages thankfulness -- for experiences, for diversity, for the peoples of the world.
It awakens the imagination.
It can ease the feeling of isolation that comes with quarantine.
As I nibble my breakfast in the quiet wee hours, it evokes memories of far-off friends, visions of new travels, and gratefulness for the beautiful world around me. Whether you have traveled the globe or stayed close to home, the world, indeed, is not only at your doorstep but at your very hearth, and it enriches your daily life. Enjoy!