Which of the following apply to you? Please tick as many as you like. Are you…
- having trouble focusing your attention for more than a few seconds
- finding yourself tuning out in the middle of a conversation
- likely to have many projects running simultaneously
- always in a rush and impatient
- feeling of being overwhelmed by daily life
- having difficulty in getting organized
- having problems with time management
If you are anything like me, you guiltily ticked all of the above. In fact, do you even know anybody these days who doesn’t fit this description?
But fear not – you are not suffering from some rare brain disorder. According to Key Organization Systems you are merely suffering from Modern Life Syndrome, the cumulative effect of all sorts of modern malaises. Take attention span for instance. Lots of new research suggests that our constant use of the internet is affecting our ability to concentrate. We are bombarded with information and can skip with ease from topic to topic in a matter of seconds, and it turns out this overstimulation is bad for our ability to focus on one thing for any length of time. Shocker. Our tendency to increasingly interact with people online is also making us worse at interacting with them in person, but whereas nobody knows that you are also updating your Facebook status while Skyping with a friend, it does become painfully obvious in person when you zone out halfway through their sentence. More and more of us are involved in several projects simultaneously to try and avoid FOMO (fear of missing out), a form of social anxiety that makes you constantly worry that you might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the fear is “especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, which provide constant opportunity for comparison of one’s status”. Another shocker! And then of course there is my personal favourite, Stuffocation, a brilliant term coined by the writer James Wallman to describe the feeling of drowning in your possessions. Why do I have such trouble in getting organised? Oh yes – because every day I have to fight through piles of stuff that I don’t use to find the one thing I urgently need.
But I have a dream. A dream in which both Nick and I turn off our computers and smartphones after 8pm and spend time actually having (gasp!) a conversation. Where I can read a book for an hour without the irresistible urge to check how many likes my latest Instagram post has; or even where I can spend an hour writing for my beloved blog without the urgent need to check what is happening on Facebook. Where I can turn down invitations with impunity, purely because I feel like lying on the sofa with my cats eating ice-cream rather than attending a networking function. And of course, a dream where I throw out my university notes; that pair of trousers that I loved in 2001 but have not fit into since 2004; that annoying chipped salad plate; and every single piece of the 10kg of carefully saved bubble wrap in the house. And then I serenely inhabit my clean – nay, minimalist – new dream existence, wearing clothes without droopy hems or missing buttons; sitting at a desk that is empty but for my computer, a scented candle, and a beautifully crafted pen that I can always find and that never runs out of ink; having regular long and meaningful conversations with my nearest and dearest, right after my daily hour of yoga. With a hot twentysomething male instructor who’s a dead ringer for Theo James.
It’s a dream, right, so I may as well dream big ;o)
OK, so I may never actually achieve this goal of totally simplifying my life, but the area in which I can and do keep things simple is in the kitchen. After a day of shortening my attention span by switching constantly between by day job and blogger persona, nothing is more satisfying that a simple dish for dinner – something with clear, fresh flavours and not too many ingredients. Since Nick has started growing much of our vegetable supply on his allotment, we find that the flavours are so much fuller than store-bought vegetables that it is a pity to mask them with complicated cooking techniques and sauces. So when he recently brought home some fat beetroots, I simply rubbed them with olive oil and tossed them in the oven to slowly roast, caramelise and intensify their flavours. Once they were done, they became the star of this super-simple salad that combines the earthiness of beet with the creamy saltiness of feta, all given a little flavour lift by the tangy dressing and sharp wild rocket. Simple perfection.
- Elizabeth’s roasted beetroot and raw cacao nib cupcakes
- Meeta’s roasted beet, parsnip and apple soup
- Jac’s Puy lentil, beet and mozzarella salad
- Ren’s beetroot, feta and walnut salad
- Kellie’s beetroot and cashew hummus
- Helen’s beetroot smoothie
- 1 large (or 2 smaller) beetroot
- olive oil for roasting
- 200g feta cheese
- 70g wild rocket leaves, washed
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 80ml (1/3 cup) of olive oil
- 35ml (3 Tbsp) fresh lemon juice
- 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Trim the beets, scrub them and rub all over with olive oil. Roast in an ovenproof dish in the middle of the oven for about 90 minutes or until the beets are soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Allow the beets to cool, then peel and slice into very thin slices using a sharp knife.
- Divide the beet slices between four plates and arrange them in a single layer, but overlapping like roof tiles. Crumble the feta and scatter each plate with feta and rocket leaves.
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a bottle or shaker and shake vigorously until well mixed (adjust the oil or the lemon juice quantities if you are struggling to get it to emulsify). Drizzle over each plate (any leftover salad dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a week). Serve immediately with good bread for mopping up the dressing.