Sometimes our spirit needs to be recharged.
Something was missing.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a serious rut. My calendar was filled to the brim with work events, meetings, and appointments with my kids. I love being organized and having my life scheduled. I was fitting in “self-care” activities like working out, but it still seemed as if I was missing something. During this busy spell, I thought I was maintaining my social life; I text messaged with friends and made sure to comment on their social media updates, but suddenly I realized that I hadn’t actually had a face-to-face with any of them in weeks.
I had definitely ignored a few party invitations or invites to grab coffee for the sake of my own productivity. One night I was texting a friend when I was feeling a little down and she brought up that she was also feeling stressed. Usually we would get together once a week to laugh, complain, and generally escape our day-to-day routine. That’s when the idea hit me: I NEEDED to throw a dinner party! I needed to get together with a few of my favorite people that I had put on the back burner if I was going to feel better.
For weeks and months, the self-discipline I thought was helping me be productive was actually harming not only my social life but my overall health. Recent studies have shown that people who are socially active have better overall long-term health.* Specifically, research has shown that people that have face to face contact with family and friends helps ward off depression and can boost your immune system. When I read this, it started to put the last few months in perspective.
Hosting a dinner party became an exciting idea because it gave me the opportunity to be social – but on my terms. I could set the date for when it was best for me, decide how casual the event would be, and of course, my favorite part, plan the menu. I had to be careful not to take on too big of a project. The point was to alleviate stress – not create more anxiety.
I set the date for two weeks in advance and didn’t hassle with creating formal invitations. I just called up my close friends and invited them. I decided to have the gathering outside on a warm California evening, I picked music I knew everyone would enjoy, and I started shopping for the menu ingredients.
Although I was planning ahead and doing everything I could to make this gathering a success, I was still worried. Were some of my friends upset that I hadn’t seen them in while and not show up? Did I have enough time to pull off an event my guests would appreciate? Was I making a mistake by putting too much work on myself? Questions like those popped in and out of my mind. All I could do was wait and see.
Finally, the night of the party came. I thought I would be anxious but because I was in my natural element – in the kitchen – and cooking for the people I loved, every moment was filled with joy and laughter. Guests started to trickle in and take their seats on the patio. After my hosting duties were complete, I joined the group. There was great conversation, belly laughs, and by the end of the night we even ended up dancing together! The food was both healthy and delicious, but because I got to reconnect with some of the most meaningful people in my life, my spirit was genuinely recharged after the party. And the effect lasted for days. I was out of my rut and back to being inspired, more productive, and more creative than ever.
Life of the Party
- When thinking of entertaining and planning your own party, go for quality over quantity. Huge parties might sound like a good idea, but an overwhelming guest list might make it hard to connect with any of your attendees. Start small with a handful of good friends to make sure that you, the host, get to enjoy the event as well.
- Personally, I like to start with a beautiful, cleverly-written invite. You don’t have to have it professionally printed, but take a little time to create a theme for the night. When your guests receive word of your event, it sets the mood and gets them excited about attending the party.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Make it an event you would enjoy attending by selecting a comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing room, and creating a food menu that satisfies you. Then, most likely, the guests will be happy too.
- Create the right atmosphere with great music. Whether it be live, a DJ, or the perfect Pandora playlist, keep the mood upbeat and make some room for those who want to get down and dance!
- Provide a good selection of spirits and adult beverages. Don’t scrimp here, as many of your guests might be looking for their perfect cocktail that helps them to relax a bit. And make things accessible in many areas; no one likes long bar lines.
- For larger parties, enlist a good an organized friend to help you plan and be your point person on the day of the event. Having help ensures that you have fun. As the host, your vibe is contagious so bring in assistance to make sure you maintain your sanity and a spirit of fun.
Glazed Pork Chops
- 4 pork chops (one inch thick)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 2 tsp Sriracha sauce
- Black pepper to taste
Add pork chops to a large ziplock bag.
In a large bowl, pour soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, garlic, sriracha and sesame oil.
Pour mixture onto pork chops and refrigerate for 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Remove pork chops from marinade and add to the skillet.
Cook for 5 minutes on side one.
Flip pork chops over, add in the marinade and cook for another 5 minutes.
Place skillet in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.