Weekend Reading, 1.7.17
January 7, 2018

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Hope everyone’s been staying warm and easing into 2018 gently.

My New Year’s Eve plans were quiet; they involved yoga and meditation at the turn of midnight, followed by bed. None of that happened. My mom and I unexpectedly spent NYE in the emergency room. It wasn’t really an emergency; we knew we were being cautious when we went for her to get checked out. But of course it was a great relief to be discharged with the assurance that everything was OK.

It was interesting to observe my own reaction to the series of events. There was some natural anxiety and fear at first. Once it became clear that things were going to be fine, some less flattering emotions were thrown into the mix, including irritation at the interruption of my plans and silly, self-indulgent speculation about whether the evening were some sort of gloomy portend of the year to come.

If I’m taking anything away from that night—aside from gratitude and relief that mom was OK—it’s the experience of perspective shift under pressure. Just as those bad-tempered emotions began to surface, I got to thinking about how lucky we were, all things considered. We were relatively certain from the start that mom would be just fine. We were lucky to be admitted quickly to a place where she could get diagnosed. She’s health insured. We were possessed of a warm place to return to later on that bitterly cold night. And—maybe most important—we had each other’s company. Each one of these facts was a blessing. It was a strange and unexpected way to ring in the new year, but things might have been worse in so many ways.

Later, the following day, I took a second to acknowledge the painful stuff that the experience brought up: fears associated with my mom getting older, being her primary caretaker, the weight of being an only child. How precious she is to me. I had a good cry, and this was an important part of processing what had happened honestly.

But in those moments when we sat side-by-side on her hospital bed, I’m glad that I didn’t let worry, fear, or negativity get the better of me. I’m glad that I was able to pause and acknowledge what we had to be grateful for, even as we sat in a moment of uncertainty.

I’ve been thinking a lot since then about adjusting to what life throws at me and receiving it all without judgment. Not new work for me, but work that I’m committed to continuing in 2018. I’m sure there will be more to say. For now, I’m grateful for my mother’s health and my own, and I wish you all health, healing, and happiness as this new year starts to take shape. Enjoy the recipes and reads today.

Recipes

New year, new favorite vegan sandwich recipe! I love this hearty vegan buffalo “chicken” sammie from Alexandra of My Vibrant Kitchen.

Sweet potato salads are so good for winter: hearty and filling, but vegetable-centric enough not to feel heavy. Wendy’s sweet potato salad with pine nuts and a tangy vinaigrette is right up my ally.

A different kind of salad, this one crunchy, refreshing, and so flavorful: Taylor’s Moroccan-inspired grated cauliflower and spinach salad.

Hetty’s whole smoked cauliflower looks and sounds stunning, but if you don’t have a smoker or grill access, she offers an option for slow roasting the cauliflower instead, then garnishing it with olives, currants, and tahini. Delicious.

A perfectly crispy, chewy, chocolate-y sweet (but refined sugar free) treat to ring in the new year: Megan’s versatile chocolate PB balls.

Reads

1. Whether because of the holidays, the lack of sun, the short days, or the introspection and solitude, winter can be a stressful time for many. Sophie has some gentle, sensitive self-care tips for those who are coping with winter stress.

2. Maria sent me this moving story about a Sacramento physician who’s starting a hospice for the homeless population in his home town, giving them the opportunity to pass on with as much dignity, care, and comfort as possible. What a touching example of compassion in action.

3. I know little about skiing, but I was really struck by this profile of alpine racer Mikaela Shiffrin and the lifestyle she’s crafted around her sport. In particular, I was impressed by how self-knowingly she’s been able to create and stand by boundaries—including prioritization of sleeping and napping and avoiding socializing that will tax her—that allow her to train and perform.

4. Most of us know that dietary fiber is associated with health benefits ranging from cholesterol lowering to reduced risk of arthritis. New research shines light on the mechanism behind these effects, which is essential an anti-inflammatory response. Very cool.

5. An interesting look at the psychology of fleeting experiences.

I’ll be back this week with a simple, flavorful chopped salad that’s packed with good stuff (protein, healthful fat, sweetness, crunch—all that) and equally good for lunchtime or hors d’oeuvres. Stay tuned!

xo

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    7 Comments
  1. Happy new year, Gena! I’ve struggled for years with the weight of dashed expectations around holiday plans or other similar events you’re looking forward to, even those that are simple. I appreciated your candor on that topic (and on all topics) and could really relate to that including your evolution in processing those experiences.

    Your recipes this week would all combine into an awesome vegan feast – they all sort of coordinate!

    As for our family, we rang in the new year quietly, with some cornbread made from your excellent simple recipe heated with maple syrup.

    Cheers to a lovely 2018.

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for what you do. I’m also really glad your Mom is okay and that you can refect on the experience and grow from it. I look forward to your Sunday posts every week. Happy New Year.

  3. I’m so glad your mom is okay and I can also resonate with the disgruntled thoughts at the way that it interrupted your plans. I tend to be gloomy and self indulgent also, so I definitely get it.

    Thank you, as always, for the round up of recipes and fascinating links – I always share them widely.

    The Mikaela Shiffrin piece was interesting to me…I can’t help but think how they would have profiled the same athlete it it had been a 22 year old man. Would we have gotten quite the description of his quads and ass? Maybe! Would the profile be as awestruck? Possibly, but I just have to wonder. My favorite part of the whole profile was this part honestly “Bug quickly learned that the path to personal happiness around Mikaela is to give yourself a break for being mortal and stand back in awe. “You have to put her in her own category,” she says. “She’s an anomaly. Most people with Mikaela’s talent just rely on their talent. That’s why, when the competition gets really serious, they fall apart.” Mikaela was different. “I knew she was going to be special, because she was going to make herself into something special.” Because while I think Shiffrin is an incredible athlete, and other people that work with single minded focus are incredible also, that’s just not how I want to roll in life.

    Looking forward to what 2018 brings!

  4. I’m so glad to hear your mom is ok, and I love your positive perspective on your New Year’s Eve. I think I would have battled with similar feelings, and your honesty, as always, is so appreciated, thought-provoking and enriching.

  5. Oh goodness, so glad to hear that your mom is doing okay. Stress and worry comes with any trip to the ER, although sometimes these are the necessary nudges we need to keep things in perspective. Your heart of gratitude is a gentle reminder for me to reevaluate my own heart. Always love the links you find and share with us. xo

  6. Gena,
    Thank you so much for the article on Mikaela Shiffrin. Skiing is not on my radar but I loved reading the article, knowing that people like this exist in the world. What a singular approach! And also thank you for mentioning about the Sacramento professor who is trying to establish hospice care for the homeless. I saw this on the news and thought it is exactly what we need more of. Sacramento has a huge problem with housing (and caring for) the homeless. Really bad. Hopefully this idea will open the door for similar solutions.

    And Lastly, I am glad your mom is OK. A crisis is never fun but as you mentioned, it can provide valuable insight.

    Stay warm and safe. Thank you again.
    Libby

  7. So glad your Mom is ok, I’m taking care of my Dad (94) it is frighting when they don’t feel well. Happy New Year Gena life is good.

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