a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Nov, 2013

When you’re eating an orange, eat an orange

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I wish I could remember where I heard this quote, but it’s been on my mind lately.

When you’re eating an orange, eat an orange. 

Or in this case, a mandarin.

Peeled orange on white (well, a mandarin actually)

It’s about focus.

My brain is a funny place. I feel like there’s a big merry-go-round spinning right in the middle of it. Some of the horses are on fire, and others are shrouded in mist. Some are dull – with chipping paint and sad eyes – while others are shiny and bright and ready to spring. But it’s not all GIDDY UP and go. There are abandoned cobwebs in the corners too. (Which is clearly where my purse/keys/wallet often end up).

When I wake up the horses are there, spinning, and they’re still there when I go to sleep, which is why I need to occupy my brain with fiction and Downton Abbey.  (Gah. I just read what I wrote and I may sound like a crazy person. SPINNING HORSES. But there it is.)

I feel like my brain is working overtime, and I’m trying to calm it. I don’t think I’m doing myself any favours by multitasking either. Multitasking decreases focus and chips away at my attention span. I used to think multitasking was awesome. I was so efficient! Getting so much done! Go go go! But I’ve come to realize that it’s not good. When my brain is supposed to be resting it bubbles up. And heaven forbid if I’m in a forced resting situation, like standing in line at the airport. It’s almost painful.

So what’s a gal to do?

I have to bring my focus back somehow and do one thing at a time until it is completed… and slow down that merry-go-round. Hence the orange. When I’m peeling an orange, filling up the watering can, brushing my teeth, or walking the dog, I am trying harder than ever to focus on the task at hand. It has been a challenge. When I was peeling the orange in the photo above I actually ran to grab my camera and take the photo for this blog post. Sigh. I guess it’s two steps forward and one step back, right? Please tell me I’m not alone!


9 Responses to "When you’re eating an orange, eat an orange"

1 | Ginger

November 8th, 2013 at 3:14 pm


You are certainly not alone! You have described my brain and life perfectly. My problem is that when everything starts spinning too fast I retreated and avoid…and that certainly isn’t useful!

2 | kev

November 8th, 2013 at 3:16 pm


Funny, my manager and I were just talking about all the things we do when we’re trying to get focused. My go to is cleaning the kitchen (or other parts of the house/yard) with its loading/unloading/washing of dishes, putting everything in it’s place, wiping down counters, etc.

For me, I need to perform a simple, repetitive task so my body has something to keep it occupied while my brain gets the opportunity to think and get organized. It’s how I do all my best thinking, and I’m definitely not alone.

3 | kjt

November 8th, 2013 at 3:31 pm


I completely understand, although I know even your unfocused mode is more productive than I am at my best. I’ve discovered that you can “add value” to focusing by using these everyday occurrences as joyful moments. Oh, what a beautiful orange! I’m going to drink in the fragrance! This juice popping in my mouth is wonderful…, etc.

4 | Ryan

November 8th, 2013 at 5:02 pm


There’s a podcast called the Nerdist that ends every episode with the phrase “Enjoy your burrito!” It came from a discussion about one restaurant’s awesome burritos that one of the hosts would crave for days until he went and got it, but then would worry for the last half that he was using up his enjoyment of the burrito and wasn’t sure when he’d make it back again for another.

Eventually, he just started to enjoy the burrito he was eating instead of worrying about it. The show took that idea and ran with it as an attitude toward life – enjoy what you’re doing now instead of ruining the enjoyment by worrying about the end of it or the next thing down the line.

5 | Lynn

November 8th, 2013 at 5:29 pm


I have a half-written post about this myself. This week it seemed I just couldn’t get anything done, because I was too overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I needed to do. I just need to slow down, focus on one thing at a time. Easier said than done!

6 | Schmutzie

November 8th, 2013 at 7:38 pm


I have to learn this, too. I find in the small pockets of time when I bring my focus down to doing one thing at a time, I get more done, not less. Now I just have to make it a habit I continue over the long term.

7 | Melanie

November 8th, 2013 at 11:27 pm


Totally feel this way most of time lately. I can’t decide if writing out a to-do list helps or makes me cringe at how long it is! And when I go to do one thing around the house I get distracted by another, and another. Sigh. Thanks for the reminder to (try) to focus!

8 | Katie

November 10th, 2013 at 10:15 pm


Timely post. I feel that the holiday season creates a vortex of busyness. My family with 3 kids and work is a balancing act to start with. The extra activities of the holidays really puts pressure on. So mindfulness and focus is a challenge. Lucky for me, laundry is my zen. But if the baskets start to line up, I do not feel well. My grandma talked of how she counted her blessings and loved her family as she washed and hanged and put away clothes. (Back when that was a full day job.) I think of her, and the family I am blessed with when I use my machines. I feel better when I give myself a little of that everyday. Focus and productivity in one small corner of my world.

9 | Festina Lente

November 13th, 2013 at 6:01 pm


OK, you’re not going to like this but here’s what I think. We now have more leisure time than ever before but everyone’s horses are spinning and no one has time to do things or think. What has changed? Texting? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Email? A million blog posts to read? Youtube? A person can now spend all their leisure time staring at a smartphone, computer monitor or tv. It’s really really entertaining. But our downtime is now full – overloaded. Not because we’re doing more but because we have filled it with “filler”.

An old wise woman – who was famous for doing an enormous amount of good for all kinds of folks – once told me that she forced herself to sit in a rocking chair every day and stare out into the corn fields. For 30 minutes. Every day. That she said, is when she could stop and think and when she enjoyed watching the swallows dance.

When was the last time you / we stopped to ponder? When was the last time you watched the swallows dance?

Maybe we all need a little less digital filler? Unplug for a week and see if your life changes.

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  • andrea tomkins: I'm glad you find it restful Bonnie! I didn't on that day. :)
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  • Amy: I made a no-knead version that didn't use a Dutch oven (I don't have one and didn't feel like investing in one just for that). You put a small contai

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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