I don’t ever speak to my high school friends, rarely converse with my college friends and seldom talk with my New York City or Colorado friends. Most of my life is spent in the here and now. Yet, I can tell you when those friends have taken exciting trips, celebrated milestones or experienced tragedy.
Social media provides a live feed into the lives of acquaintances both near and far. But at times, I have to remind myself that our entire culture, including my circle of friends, is inundated with fake or inflated news. Our own online persona can become a contributor. It’s a slippery slope when we see someone else's highlight reel and compare it to our everyday lives.
A quick scroll through my feed shows that just today I had a friend from graduate school welcome her fifth baby (gulp). A bridesmaid from my wedding said goodbye to her home in Alaska in order to move inland to care for family. A co-worker’s father passed away. One of my former students was offered her first post-graduation job. And a million people took selfies on a beach somewhere. It was such an eventful day for many people.
Meanwhile, back in Charlotte, my family had a picnic lunch at a park and ran into an old friend. I napped/read under an umbrella at our local YMCA while my son played basketball and my daughter swam. We had meatballs for dinner and went to a movie. My reel is lacking highlights.
I saw a sign the other day that said, “It’s okay to be happy with a simple life.” I used to complicate and over-plan every detail of my existence. I wanted all the fireworks and confetti. Then, as I slowed down, I realized the beauty and fulfillment in simplicity. Life happens in those moments of calm silence between the big notes. I used to spend my time accumulating things and checking off accomplishments always feeling a need to have something to show for my work and my life. What evidence or proof can I collect to show people I am good at this living thing? Social media provided a platform -a digital brag book for the world to see. I could build a case for my success as a mom, teacher, wife, friend, daughter, etc. Wow, look at me just over here KILLIN’ it!
But just as we know that reality tv shows are not truly reality but doctored-up, edited versions of an alternate world, we can begin to acknowledge the fake news in our own lives. I have some beautiful, hashtag worthy days. I also have some downright deplorable days when I would rather push needles into my eyeballs than post any detail of my struggle online. Yet mostly, I have average, run of the mill type of days. Nobody wants a breakdown of my night when I throw overnight oatmeal in the Instant Pot, curl up in bed at 9 pm to read/write and fall asleep before my kids do. It is my real reel.
These unhighlighted moments are the fabric of my life. I have come to find beauty in the ordinary. There is holiness evoked when we slow down and feel grateful for each and every seemingly uneventful activity in our life. We won’t ever have this moment back again; its very uniqueness makes it priceless. In between those online posts and highlighted memories, there is the steady pulse of a beating heart, the rise and fall with each ordinary breath. The empty space is filled with laughter, tears, discussions, singing, dancing, yelling and, possibly, occasional profanity. It is unfiltered and often uneventful, but it is real. And the real trumps the fake every single time.
Real Food Recipe
In case you ever want to experience one of my ordinary days, I am including my recipe for overnight oatmeal in the Instant Pot. It is a crowd pleaser. We make it for busy mornings when we have to coach. The kids can serve themselves a warm breakfast.
Instant Pot Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal*
1 cup steel cut oats (make sure you use STEEL CUT)
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 cups water
2 apples (cored, peeled, diced)
2-3 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Grease the inside of your pot with a dab of coconut oil.
Add all the ingredients to the pot - oats, almond milk, water, apples, raw honey, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine well.
Set your Instant Pot to “Slow Cooker.” Set valve to “Release.” Lower the pressure to “LESS.” After the 4 hours, the pot will automatically switch to hold warm and keep your oatmeal warm until morning when it is ready to eat.
Serve warm straight from the pot and store leftovers in fridge. We think it reheats pretty well.
*I adapted this recipe from thefitchen.com. You should be able to make this work in a regular crockpot.