Weekend Reading
October 13, 2019

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I was at a kirtan at my home yoga studio last night, and while I always love being there, it was different this time, because the close friend and teacher whom I usually go with has moved to another city. A couple mantras in, it felt lovely but not the same without him. I texted him a photo, telling him I was thinking of him and missed him.

It’s hard for anything to dampen my spirits during Kirtan, and soon enough I was singing and tapping my foot and feeling caught up in the experience. My mind wandered to how long I’ve been practicing at my studio and how much the place means to me. Within its walls, I made my final ED recovery: I was so brittle and frail and afraid when I first started taking classes there. The community taught me how to laugh, how to give thanks, how not to take myself or my life quite so seriously.

I’ve gone to my studio on quite a few holidays or days-after-holidays, feeling lost or lonely or both. I remember going there the morning after a very rough Thanksgiving just a few years ago. My boyfriend and I were on the rocks but not yet acknowledging it, behaving icily and tense instead. When I showed up for class that Friday morning and started to practice, it hit me that things were truly not the same and probably never would be, and I started to cry. After class, when my teacher asked whether I was OK, I told her only it had been a difficult holiday. “We’re always here,” she said.

Weeks later, when the end of my relationship was a sure thing, I went to class on Christmas Eve. The teacher, one of the senior teachers at the studio, said: “we’re open today, we’ll be open tomorrow, and we’ll be open on New Year’s Eve and Day. Your family is always here.”

That was the perfect way to sum up what the community meant to me. As someone who has needed to create much of the family I have in life, through friendship and shared passions, I’ve never taken the space for granted, and I never will.

Just as I was acknowledging this, feeling quietly grateful for what I have, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the same friend and teacher I’d texted at the start of the Kirtan. He’d appeared, as if by magic, all the way from the West Coast. Turns out he’d come to town to pay a last minute visit to his (biological) family, and he’d been only a few blocks away when I reached out. We had a great big hug, I burst into tears, and then we sang our hearts out for a while.

I write often about difficult experiences, both I think it’s important for us to talk about them and because the last few years have been challenging ones for me. But just as it’s important to acknowledge that life can be hard, it’s also important to point out that life can be so sweet and so good sometimes. Along with the struggle, there are moments when we’re given just what we need at the very moment we need it. The universe, or human experience, or whatever you want to call it, can be very generous sometimes.

I’m feeling uplifted today, not just by my friend’s coincidental visit, but by my chosen family and the fact that I live in a world in which there are sacred spaces that hold us all together. It’s a beautiful morning, not too brisk, not too damp, and the breeze outside is very gentle. Before the weekend got underway I was feeling a little overwhelmed by work that needed doing this afternoon, but I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel a sense of ease. And I’m sending that ease and that peace out to all of you, too.

Happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

It’s fun to start thinking about Thanksgiving side dishes, and Ali’s blistered green beans with garlic and capers would be a fun, flavorful, and nontraditional addition to the table.

Another option would be this colorful sweet corn and baby potato salad, made with dill and basil (yum).

I’m always looking for new ways to make tofu for bowls and as a standby protein at dinners. These balsamic tomato tofu cutlets look amazing.

A beautiful and simple cauliflower leek soup.

Finally, a perfect little treat for the season: pumpkin pie truffles.

Reads

1. A resolution has passed in NYC to ban processed meet from school lunches. It could be a great, local development for animals, kids, and the environment.

2. I’m beyond impressed with this vegan baker.

3. How new technologies continue to make the world noisier.

4. I spent a lot of time becoming familiar with blood glucose monitoring methods this year, during my outpatient diabetes rotation. This article explains both new and old technologies and what they measure nicely.

5. I liked this list of emotions that help us to better experience and befriend our feelings: gratitude, empathy, hope, compassion, validation, wholeheartedness, and peace.

I’ll be back this week with a simple, but lovely dessert for fall. Till soon, friends.

xo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

    3 Comments
  1. I look forward to these posts every week and I’ve been out of town with limited Internet so I have a few to catch-up on. This one made made my heart so full and I’m going to try and keep your words about acknowledging the generosity of the universe in my mind so that I can find my moments as well. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Gena, this is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read from you. It so captures the spontaneous way a gift of the moment can lift us out of sadness, and to always trust in whatever process we are going through. It was so magical and perfect that your friend appeared in person, just as you had accepted he was far away and were sharing your heart in the moment with him about a place and activity you both love. Every bit as delicious as those pumpkin pie truffles–dessert for the soul!! love you xoxo

  3. I always look forward to your weekend reading posts, Gena, at least as much for your preamble as for the recipes and reads you share. Today I found your words incredibly well suited to Thanksgiving weekend, which it is here in Canada. Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us — as well as your recipes, of course.

You might also like

Those of you who’ve been reading for a while might remember that 2017 was the year of bread baking around here. It all started when my friend Ali published her (wonderful) cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs. I’d wanted to get serious about homemade bread baking for a long time, but everything I’d read until that point made my eyes glaze over: it was all so technical and intimidating. Ali’s peasant bread technique—which involves no kneading and almost no dirtying of hands at all, in…

Happy July 4th, everyone! I hope you have a celebratory day, filled with good company and good food. Steven and I are having a low key holiday at home this year. The avenues are quiet, the cars have all been driven away, and the city feels uncharacteristically spacious. Part of what I love about New York is its grittiness and bustle and noise, but when the city is empty over these long summer weekends I can admire it in a different way, peeking…

Toward the end of this past week, I found myself grappling with a couple of missteps—or errors, or mistakes, or whatever you’d like to call them. Small things, but substantial enough to make me feel regret. They were largely unintentional (and most of them were actually pretty impersonal, in the tune of missed deadlines), but at least two impacted other people, and I was sorry. I tried to handle the process of apologizing and moving on as gracefully as I could. One tendency…

Happy Sunday, folks. Thank you for all of the kind words and feedback during NEDA week. It’s always a pleasure to write those posts and to hear your insights. This week will have a new and different theme: I’ll be completing the SNAP food challenge. This is an assignment for my Community Nutrition class, and the purpose is to shed some light on what it feels like to live with food insecurity. I spoke more about the challenge in this post, but the…