I Lost My Mind & Got a Fat Lip in the Process

//I Lost My Mind & Got a Fat Lip in the Process

I Lost My Mind & Got a Fat Lip in the Process

I don’t care what anyone says, it is not possible to multitask!

When I first bit down hard on the inside of my lip while eating I hardly noticed. I was absorbed in some other task at the same time. But when it kept happening the pain called to me and I had to pay attention.

Yes, I teach and practice and write about meditation and mindfulness. Yes, I try to be a model for my students. Yes, I am merely human, not perfect and just another student myself. Sometimes it takes a little bodily pain to snap me back into the moment and remind me to pay attention to every small moment of life, and, in this case, every small bite of food.

As a self-employed writer and teacher, and now a self-published author, I am always writing, if only in my mind. Creating ideas, characters, scenarios and plots, teasing out story lines and rewriting again and again fills my days and my imagination. I love it all. Add to that the business of writing, teaching my classes and coaching my clients, my waking life is full and dynamic. The recent decision to self-publish my fiction put me on a steep learning curve and since the monetary rewards have not yet kicked in, I took a part time office job to help pay the bills and take some of that worry off my shoulders. It is the first time I’ve worked outside of my home office for someone else in 16 years.

Overnight my life went into super drive. I had to keep doing everything I’d been doing and find 15-20 more hours in the week to step out of my routine without sacrificing my serenity and those precious, quiet, undisturbed hours I need to devote to my writing process (more about that in another post).

I don’t care what anyone says, it is not possible to multitask!

The first task that was compromised with my new schedule was eating. With no forethought I simply began to do other things while I ate: talk on the phone, prepare for a bike ride, answer emails… I quickly stopped paying attention to what I was eating, how I was eating and why I was eating. I was just shoveling food in my mouth to get it done and move on. Then I started to bite down on my lip as I was inattentively chewing. Whenever I put a forkful of food in my mouth before finishing the previous bite I’d bite down on my lip. It hurt each time.

The pain would snap me into the moment, I’d take a breath, chew mindfully for a few bites, get distracted by something else and do it again.

After a few days of this my lower lip was sore and my overbite was creating a bigger problem, causing me to bite down on that spot even when I wasn’t eating. It occurred to me that if only I had had my teeth straightened when I was younger I wouldn’t be having this problem. But I also knew that was my denial searching for an excuse and a reason to not change my behavior.

I soon realized that I was saving no significant time by eating mindlessly, I was hurting myself and giving short shrift to whatever I was doing while eating. So I slowed down, returned to eating mindfully and doing one thing at a time. And voila! my lip healed.

Maybe we can all chew gum and walk at the same time, but we cannot savor the doing of either activity or truly know what it is to do either unless we pay attention. As Buddha might say: when walking, just walk. When eating, just eat. By doing this we can be fully awake in each moment and avoid getting a fat lip.

By | 2016-10-22T08:21:16+00:00 June 14th, 2012|Expect Nothing|3 Comments


  1. Mary Lou Rosato-Caine June 26, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I have to agree; when it comes to multitasking you really are just trying to do lots of things at one time, and you can only do one thing at a time. As a wife, mom, housekeeper, illustrator and part-time library employee; what I notice is when I am in the throes of one or another of these various rolls, inevitably something’s gotta give. I just finished putting together a show of artwork to be hung at a café gallery; along with working my 15 hour job–extra hours at the library last week included, of course, also a wedding, a funeral, and a graduation– all within my two week deadline! So what gave out was the house; luckily no one ended up hospitalized because of the amount of DUST BUNNIES and the lack of nutritious food. (Fast food and snacks) I’ve tried in the past to “be it all”, yet I know that’s just not realistic. And I’ve learned along the way to accept what I can and can’t do, and prioritize when possible.

    I love your book “Find a Quiet Corner” it has always had a calming effect on me. It’s a little gem! I discovered you when I first started at my library job 11 years ago. I’m so happy to find your blog. Thanks for the twitter follow too!!!

    Best to you! Mary Lou~

    • Nancy June 26, 2012 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Thank you Mary Lou. So glad you like Quiet Corner and pleased to connect with you all these years later. Good luck with your art show. Nancy

  2. Michael Levine July 4, 2012 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Dear Nancy,
    I too have suffered from “multi-tasking”, primarily in the form of attempting to endeavor in one task physically, while “performing” another mentally. Or thinking about something in the past or in the future. I’m often rehearsing what I’m going to say to someone, re-writing what I have already said to someone, or simply fantasizing and day dreaming about anything and everything. Not eating mindfully or trying to do 2 or 3 chores at a time, is merely the tip of the ice-berg. I have had numerous accidents while skiing,cycling and doing house work as a result of this state of distraction, which is created by an emotional life of fear or anger. Fear that I don’t have enough time to do what I really like to do, fear that doing one thing at a time is not enough,and fear that the everyday tasks do not have value compared to what my ego thinks I should be doing. The anger is simply that, what ever internal conversation that is occurring that stems from resentments with people or of myself, and whatever I consider to be my short comings or failures. All of this boiling down to a simple and significant resistance to being still in the moment, facing each moment with respect and gratitude. Moments of being present to whatever life presents without judgement. Being present to those feelings of fear and anger. Truth be told, the accidents that resulted from NOT being present were in times of contentment or what I thought was “freedom”. Too much happiness or freedom presents it’s own challenges. Thanks for your illuminating messages. It’s never to late to slow down and face the moment(s).

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