When I was growing up, I always loved the idea of ‘pizza pops’ or ‘pizza pockets'. For anyone who isn’t familiar with them, they are little pockets of dough filled with pizza toppings. Not the healthiest food option, but super fun as a kid, and of course not something my mom would normally buy, so it was a treat when we got to have them.
As an adult, I have occasionally purchased pizza pops, and each time seem to forget that (1) they don’t taste as good as I remember, and (2) you will burn your tongue/roof of your mouth on the first bite if you don’t wait for it to cool off.
Again forgetting these lessons, I recently bought some ‘breakfast pockets’, which are the same idea but have egg and bacon and cheese as the filling. As with many frozen processed food items, you can either bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or cook them in the microwave for a fraction of the time. So, as many of us would do, especially in the morning rush, I put my breakfast pocket in the microwave to cook.
2 minutes later, my breakfast was ready! (And 5 seconds after that, I burned my tongue.)
As I ate my breakfast pocket, I reflected on the experience. It tasted okay. It was edible. (How’s that for a raving review?!) But actually a bit undercooked in places. Filled my stomach, so I suppose served it’s purpose, but not particularly satisfying.
Today, I thought ahead just a little bit and baked the breakfast pocket in the oven. Which didn’t actually take any additional effort, just some planning for the extra time.
As I ate today’s breakfast pocket, I similarly reflected. Still not the world’s most delectable food, but noticeably better than when cooked in the microwave. I even managed a teensy bit of patience and didn’t completely burn my tongue! Most importantly, it was striking to me how I could make a small shift in how I approached the task of cooking the breakfast pocket - i.e., just thinking ahead - and as a result could have a much better experience.
I know in the busy-ness of our day-to-day lives it is not always possible to make time to pre-heat the oven and wait for something to cook - in other words, to take the bigger picture into account and think about ways we can tweak our systems to get better results. Sometimes we just need the 2 minute microwave option - what we know works good enough for now.
But what if from time to time we take literally 5-10 minutes to look at our week and consider where we might be settling for ‘edible’ microwave results when we could have much more effective outcomes, with just a bit of foresight? Of course, this is true whether we are actually talking about food preparation or talking about our own work processes and self-care strategies. At first glance, taking some time to reflect on even small ways we can improve our processes and systems doesn’t sound quite as appealing as, say, a massage, yet this can provide us with so much value and long-lasting impact.
It’s worth the discomfort of temporarily stepping away from what feels urgent, to address what is more important. Which really is what self-care is all about.