kimball_katieIn general, in my life, being conscious is of the utmost importance to me. You can read that as "conscious" = awake and functioning or "conscious" = thoughtful, and both will equally apply!

The Hero is Down

I loved detective and mystery books as a kid, and it seemed like the hero was constantly getting knocked on the head and lying unconscious on the floor. I want you to keep that image in mind - of a person lying on the floor, oblivious to the world around them - as you read this post. I feel it adequately describes the unfortunate state of too many people in our culture. How many in this country allow others - the media, the government, the grocery store ads, their own mothers - to make their decisions for them, either because they don’t care to be informed or because they opt out of their own lives? We cannot lie around with our brains turned off, unconsciously moving through our days.

Take Charge of Your Food

Think about it: We wouldn’t want to be unconscious to the taste of good food…we wouldn’t want to be unconscious on our wedding day or during a date with our significant other…we wouldn’t want to be unconscious at an important event in our child’s life. Why do we feel that it’s okay to be UNconscious as we prepare the food that will nourish all these precious people? It’s time to wake up. Get off the floor, good heroes and heroines of the kitchen! Be conscious. Be cognizant. Don’t allow the government or the popular culture to tell you what is healthy for your family without doing your own research. (Don’t worry – I can help!)

Women Have all the Dresser Drawers Open

My husband is sometimes in awe that my brain is always turned on, that I’m always thinking and so fully and completely invested in so many areas of life. It’s annoying sometimes, like when I’m trying to sleep, but I believe cognizance is one of my most important attributes. I am cognizant of what I buy, what I throw away, what I cook and how I cook it. There are, quite literally, a million different decisions that I make every day, and it is my fervent prayer that I am conscious for all of them, and that God is leading me to the right decision every time.

Action is Everything

For most people, there are many actions in life that are just that - an unthinking, habitual, action. Brains aren’t involved. For me, life is a little different. I don’t just flip a lightswitch. I don’t just turn on the water faucet. I don’t just grab a box of my husband’s favorite cereal at the store. Every action is a thought process, a conscious decision and movement that takes into account budget, environment, nutrition, and all the possible repercussions of my action.

In reality, no one JUST turns on a lightswitch. When you flip that switch, you add to your carbon footprint, you run up a certain amount on your electric bill, you use a certain amount of the lightbulb’s lifespan, and you cause electricity to be produced, consuming whatever sort of fossil fuel it takes your community to make power. Every action is part of a sequence of events affecting other people in this time and the future. Let us begin to treat life as such.

Conscious-Altering Life Changes

My consciousness changed a great deal when I became a parent. Those of you who are blessed with children can relate - suddenly every electrical outlet, every strange chemical smell, every dog running down the sidewalk gives you pause: could this harm my child? That precious, helpless life entrusted to you truly changes the way you see the world. You look at everything through the lens of a parent. The decisions you make suddenly, very clearly, affect someone other than yourself - someone you love with all your heart.

The Great Analogy

Let’s look at consciousness from the perspective of a peanut on the floor. No, I’m not going nuts myself - just bear with me and watch the progression:

A Peanut on the Floor

* I am a two-year-old boy. I see a peanut on the floor. I see a snack. I eat the peanut.
* I am an eight-year-old boy. I see a peanut on the floor. I see a reason I might get in trouble with Mom. I nudge the peanut under the couch.
* I am a teenage boy. I do not notice the peanut on the floor. What peanut? What floor?
* I am a newly married man. I see a peanut on the floor. I see a mess I ought to pick up and throw away the next time I walk that direction.
* I am a father of a new crawler. I see a peanut on the floor. I see a choking hazard. I rush over and throw the peanut away.
* I am the parent of a child with a peanut allergy. I see a peanut on the floor. I see potential death or hospitalization for my child. I rush to throw away the peanut, then conduct a thorough examination of the house for more peanut product and an inquiry of all those members of the household to determine WHO let the peanut get into the house. !!

Perspective changes consciousness. Our perspective must be that of Christian stewards, aware that every action we make has a reaction in the natural world, and every food we feed our family has a reaction in their bodies. As people who wish the best for our families and our communities, now and in the future, we must polish our lenses and begin to wake up to the reality of the peanut on the floor.

The Challenge

I would like to challenge you to begin tapping into your consciousness. Now don’t misinterpret me here - I’m not a New Age chickie telling you that I want you to listen to your inner such-and-such. I just want you to turn your brains on as you work in the kitchen.

I want you to practice the fine art of questioning, like, "How much energy did that use?" and "Why is X my habit?"

I want you to think about wants and needs, such as, "Do I really need a second helping, or do I just want one?" and "Does my body need juice for hydration, or could I just have a glass of water?"

I want you to examine your decisions and their impact on the earth, like when you’re turning on that lightswitch. I challenge you to imagine the drain on the world’s nonrenewable fossil fuels and the rising digits on your own bill.

And I want you to refine your skills of observation: How many items do you use that are disposable, for example? Are you creating unnecessary waste by cooking your favorite meal?

I don’t even want you to challenge any habits (yet) or change your actions (yet). You don’t have to do research or learn about the issues (yet). If you’re interested in being thoughtful about your kitchen actions and trying to balance good nutrition, stewardship of the earth, your time and your budget, join me at Kitchen Stewardship and that will come. First we must practice being conscious, being aware of our decisions and their possible ramifications. We must begin to think of the world as a great spider web, where every move I make quivers the line and affects a multitude of other people and systems, more than I can see with my eight little spider eyes. Or maybe I’m the fly…we’ll decide that later!

Do it NOW!

Here’s what I do want you to try:

When you are in your kitchen this week or shopping for food, give your best attempt to dig deeply into each action and decision. When you find yourself doing something out of habit or losing your consciousness, picture yourself lying unconscious on the floor. Then bust out the smelling salts, take a sniff, and get up, dear hero! Increase your awareness of the peanut on the floor. Maintain consciousness in the kitchen.

Copyright 2009 Katie Kimball

Copyright 2009 Katie Kimball