By Mary Ann O’Neil

Determined to eat healthy after a week’s vacation,  I stocked my refrigerator full of fresh vegetables, Greek-style yogurt, and other healthy foods.   I prepared a large pot of Ratatouille, a vegetable stew of sorts.  The pot was  full to the brim with diced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red and green peppers, onions, and green beans and brocoli simmering in diced tomatoes with a touch of white wine.   Initially, I turned the burner up high as I heated the olive oil and added fresh oregano, basil and bay leaf.  As soon as I  added the vegetables and diced tomatoes, I turned the burner down and allowed the ratatouille to simmer for many hours.  One thing I like about this recipe other than the fact that it is both healthy and delicious, is that it is a one-pot/”one-burner” deal.

One-burner meals are grossly underrated–only one pot to watch, stir, serve from and clean, and one stove-top burner to wipe afterwards.   Ratatouille is a one-burner meal.  But I must admit while I was happy with the efficiency of the one-burner meal, I became keenly aware of the other four unused burners. My stove top offers 5 burners, and yet I was only using one.  Hmmmmm, my life is like that occasionally– I function sometimes in a limited-performance kind of way.

I am certain my happiness depends on my being fully engaged in living, using all my personal ” burners.”   I have defined my personal best as   being productive, learning, eating healthy, giving to others, being physically active, creative, spiritual and entertaining.   When I am doing all of those things, using all my personal “burners”,  I am at my happiest and feel good about myself. And when I am happy, my world is a great place. When I am not, I have blocks of time that just fade and are unaccounted for, I experience boredom, eat foods that are not good for me, and/orI  lose myself in several hours of Words with Friends.

In my review of last  week, I realized I had not used “all my burners”.  What I did do was a lot of the physical  things to keep me mentally and physically in shape.   And of course I worked on my writing, to meet  the creative need I have.   What I didn’t do was  give to others, entertain, eat healthy, or engage in the spiritual side of me.

Personal success is an individual thing and something worth defining and occasionally re-defining for ourselves.   Consider defining your “personal best” and determining what you need to do every day to get there and maintain it.

I am not talking about reaching a perfect state, but rather one that you want to be living, one that you love living, and one that is reflected  in what you say and do.   Without a conscious effort to be at our best, we merely respond to the demands of our day, without ever taking charge of it. Rather than controlling our lives internally, we are externally controlled and monitored, meeting  the needs of others and ignoring our own,  and as a result, not feeling happy or fulfilled.

Defining your personal best will highlight how many “burners” you have, and encourage you to use them all, every day.

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