Weekend Reading, 10.7.18
October 7, 2018

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m sending this weekend reading out into the world from a hectic Sunday, which also happens to be an underslept Sunday. The combination of those two things means that I’m short on words, but last weekend’s post—which wasn’t short on words—did leave me with some follow up thoughts.

Two of them aren’t my thoughts. They’re impressions and observations that readers were kind and good enough to share with me. Libby wrote,

I don’t know that we are ever finished with anything. We have growth spurts and setbacks, circle back to something. I think many of us eventually get to a point where some old stuff just can’t hurt us anymore. We won’t let it. And the part that is heartening and reassuring is that we acquire ways of solving problems and dealing with things along the way so that when we find ourselves back in a bad situation that we thought we conquered, we have new ways of dealing with old problems.

What an honest, humble, and truthful expression of what it means to keep doing our work, recognizing that things may feel cyclical but they never really are. We come back to our stuff with a new perspective, or a part of us becomes tough enough that things that might have felt devastating in the past are less so. Libby’s words made me think of a favorite Pema Chödrön quotation (which I’m sure I’ve shared before, so forgive the reiteration):

We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

Of ED recovery in particular, Rebecca wrote,

For me, the most difficult — but also the most enlightening — part of the process of ‘recovery’ and ‘wellness’ has been coming to the understanding that, in fact, recovery and wellness sometimes do involve doing exactly what you describe: putting one foot in front of the other despite the struggle. It’s natural to want not to struggle, but it’s actually NOT natural NOT to struggle.

So much truth here, too. The further I move into recovery, the more I reckon with how workmanlike it can feel at times, the process of waking up and going about the business of being in my body even if the old voices are screaming at me. It’s so much less idealized than what I thought my longterm recovery experience would be, but I’m coming to appreciate how much grit it takes to face the everyday when things feel tough. And I can give myself credit for that—the quiet determination to keep on keeping on.

Right now, I’m experiencing for a second time something that I experienced as a post-bacc student. Back then, for the first time in my life, I simply didn’t have the energy to restrict. I didn’t really have the impulse or desire, either—I was pretty solid in my recovery then. But even if I’d desperately wanted to flirt with cutting back portions or becoming selective about what I would or wouldn’t eat, I actually couldn’t. Too much was at stake, and too much was being asked of me, for me to drain my own reserves of energy.

It’s the same way now. Even if love of eating didn’t keep my feet planted in recovery, the DI is demanding enough that being cavalier about nourishment isn’t an option. I need fuel, and I need food as a source of pleasure and relief, too. I’m accustomed to forgoing “control” of what I eat in the service of healing, but right now, control isn’t even an option. It’s humbling and unnerving, and it’s freeing, too.

Those are my thoughts. And speaking of the DI, it’s time to get myself ready for a new week of my work and my studies. Wishing you a good one—and here are the recipes and reads that caught my eye in the last seven days.

Recipes

Who doesn’t need a ridiculously versatile, savory sweet autumn tahini sauce?

I’m dying to make Jenn’s taco spaghetti for my next comfort food supper.

I love the contrast of tender noodles and super crispy tofu in this noodle satay dish.

These black bean jerk tacos are so simple to make. I can definitely imagine them becoming a breakfast staple for me!

And for dessert, ’tis most definitely the season for a pumpkin spice cupcake.

Reads

1. Good perspective on how our well-intentioned efforts to craft perfectly productive, perfectly full days may keep us from touching the deeper rhythms of human experience.

2. A lovely essay on what poetry can teach physicians.

3. An inspiring profile of a psychiatrist who’s trying to implement better mental health care around the world.

4. An important reminder—one that I needed this week—on how instrumental imperfection and error (aka the willingness to be “bad” at something) is to learning any new skill set.

5. Finally, track and field athlete Lauren Fleshman’s letter to her younger self has been getting a lot of attention. As soon as I read it, I understood why—so self-compassionate and so encouraging to read.

Happy Sunday, friends. This week, a favorite new, savory make-ahead breakfast option!

xo

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    6 Comments
  1. Hello Gena, I’m glad my words resonated with you 🙂 and honoured that you would quote them on your blog. I always enjoy reading your posts. Rebecca x

  2. Gena,

    Good sleep is everything isn’t it? I miss it a lot when I don’t get it. Not enough of it really colors the rest of my day.

    And those cupcakes? The frosting? Yikes! I might not share:)

    I enjoyed the letter from Lauren to her younger self. The letter writing idea is a good one. I did a mental one not long ago while trying to fall asleep. Both introspection and retrospection are really valuable tools I think.

    Go forth and conquer this week!:) Thank you for another great roundup!
    Libby

  3. Dear Gena, I love your insight that realizing you have no control over controlling your eating at this point is frreeing. That is just gold. And it’s those moments when we realize we are actually more free in a difficult situation that bring us on through. Also, I absolutely loved the article about physicians and poetry. One of the most beautiful and hopeful things I’ve read in a while, and from a young medical student to boot. I nearly teared up at the end. (And Mark Doty is one of my faves.) Thank you! xoxoxo

  4. I actually made that simple tahini sauce from Food52 the same day i saw it! Seriously delicious even with my substitute of agave for the maple (ran out of maple syrup).

    Hope that you’re able to get a good night of sleep tonight, going into the week a bit sleep deprived makes everything tougher.

  5. Very nice roundup! 🙂 I remember in a post you mentioning that you had reached a place where you didn’t love your body, but you accepted it. I just wanted to tell you that you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Life is much more enjoyable when you really love your body. I used to hate my body and I genuinely love it now. I recommend looking at some of Layla Martin’s work (you can find her videos on YouTube), as they really helped me. Thanks again for all you do and for sharing your inner life so honestly with the world. It seems to me like you’re doing a great job and are a great person. 🙂

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