A “Steel-Cut Oats” kind of life

I’ve been thinking lately that sometimes it’s just the littlest things that can make a person happy. Right now, for me, they truly are little things: the simple ease of a ratcheting screwdriver; the sunset at my back as I’m driving on the highway, with k.d. lang’s version of “Hallelujah” on the sound system; and steel-cut oats. The way I start off my day defines what I love about my life.

Most days, the morning ritual in this household consists of the following:

> newspapers and books for everyone in the family, which we take over an hour to read;
> a couple of fun, upbeat vids on YouTube to get us in a great mood, like this lipdub of “I Gotta Feeling”, the famous Wedding Dance, or this 80s Cutting Crew classic. Sometimes we’ll even limit ourselves to ten minutes on a really hilarious time-waster like www.thereifixedit.com. (And really, with this site, it’s easy to go over the limit.)
> a plate of fruit: apples, grapefruit, pear, and/or pineapple;
> eggs, or at least something savoury;
> sometimes homemade waffles or pancakes; and
> a pot of steel-cut oats.

I take my bowl of oats with dried mango, candied ginger, dried tangerine peel (found in select Chinese groceries), cranberries, a few drops of dark chocolate chips, and cream. The Boy likes his with ginger and chocolate, and the Girl takes hers with just brown sugar. (Beloved Husband rarely eats the oatmeal, but when he does, he splashes on a bit of maple syrup.)

What’s so special about steel-cut oats, you ask? Well, other than the fact that this oatmeal has a wonderful texture and nutty taste that’s superior to quick oats, to me, a breakfast of steel-cut oats is what slow and easy living is all about. There’s nothing instant and rushed about this food item—it’s a far cry from the heavily sugared stuff in a tear-away bag. It takes about 30 minutes to cook, with frequent stirring and tending, and then another 10 minutes to chop and prepare the various additives. It’s natural, and simple, and doesn’t have anything processed or artificial in it. The point is, if you have time for steel-cut oats in your life most days, then you’re probably living it fairly easy and stress-free.

And yes, I am reminded every day that I live a fairly easy and stress-free life. When my friends talk about how much they don’t like rushing in the morning and going to work, or how sad they are when March Break, or Christmas holidays, or their vacation, ends, I am reminded of how different my life is. It isn’t so much the work itself that they don’t like (although I do know many people who don’t enjoy their work); it’s the getting to bed at a decent time, getting up in the morning, sitting through a long commute, doing this five days a week, until they’re 65. That’s the type of life that both my husband and I have tried very hard to avoid. Our days start off slowly, lazily, and with a bit of humour and fun.

I know, I know. Life isn’t all about fun. You have to work to make money, to exist. But we like to enjoy the simple, happy things in life, as much as we can, while we are young. We’re not rich, but we’ve learned to sacrifice in the right places, in order to live comfortably and not require too many non-necessities in life. We don’t necessarily have the biggest and best of everything for ourselves and our children, but I’m happy to give all that up, for a steel-cut oats life.

I live a lucky life
Do just as I please
Go where I want to go
Believe what I want to believe . . .

Many mornings, I like to think of these lyrics by Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett. Because I do live a very lucky life.