Weekend Reading
July 31, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

All week long, friends and fellow yogis have been asking me how unpacking is going. I laugh and say that it’s not going. It’s not going anywhere.

Actually, I’m in much the same position that I was last Sunday when I wrote this weekly post. I’m sleeping on a mattress that’s on the floor. My sheets have been thrown on top of said mattress, sans hospital corners or even tucked edges.

My mountain of unpacked boxes has barely budged. My initial goal was to unpack two boxes daily. The average rate has been 1 box every two days.

The thing I’ve realized is that it’s all fine: the mess, the delays, the disjunction between what I thought I’d have done and what I’ve actually accomplished. It’s fine.

Of course, the part of me that would like to be a somewhat organized person is wincing. It would be great if I were making my way steadily through the chaos, clearing space and finding places for things. But it was more of a priority for me to work a full week than it was to unpack quickly.

I keep reminding myself that there’s no rush. No one is here to see the messy space, except for me. There is no other witness.

I met up with a friend yesterday and told her all of this. She seemed delighted. “You’re living like a twenty-something,” she said. “How fun!”

I actually am living that way, and in my new building, I happen to be surrounded by twenty-somethings, with all of their lovely, vibrant, open energy.

In actuality, I’m being much more freewheeling and messy now than I ever would have let myself be as a twenty-five-year-old.

Back then, I was too close to anorexia to tolerate any significant amount of disorder. My identity was still so wrapped up in the idea of control and discipline, in an exceedingly pleasant and polished presentation.

I had a lot of fun in my twenties, as most people do, and I made some of the customary mistakes. But I don’t remember ever feeling like a total mess in the way that I frequently do now.

How funny it is to feel that way, and yet to also be so basically OK.

As soon as I found my coffee maker and a single box of clothes this week, I knew that I’d be fine. I don’t need an orderly space, or anything that order represents, in order to be me. (I’d like to find my one and only lamp, but that’s another story.)

I can’t help but think about recovery tonight. I remember what it was like to be a self-professed Type A person, trying to make sense of my changing body, greatly increased food intake, suddenly permissive food choices and lack of food boundaries.

I felt obliterated by the process. It would be a while before that feeling went away.

My thirties got rid of any remaining, rigid self-identifications that I had. I’ve gotten  accustomed to feeling lost, which means that my current state of chaos and transition isn’t much of a disruption.

There’s a very particular kind of freedom that you feel when things fall apart. These periods are usually circumscribed by something unexpected and challenging happening: a big breakup, a financial change, a sudden redirection of life plans.

I’ve greeted most of these periods with a sense of devastation and rage. Yet they’ve always shown me how able I am to survive.

This move has showed me how little I really need to get by. I’d like to do more than get by, of course, but I don’t mind being reminded of my basic solidity. I especially don’t mind the reminder that I’m not entirely who I thought I was.

In my mind, I’m this person who needs a certain kind of harmonious domestic space in order to feel grounded. But I can apparently do without one, at least for a while. Life is transitory and extremely messy at the moment, and I’m rolling with it.

I wish you a week that gives you at least one great surprise about who you are versus who you thought you were. An illuminating, refreshing, and encouraging surprise.

Happy Sunday, friends. I didn’t round up any recipes or reads this week, and I’m still grateful—so, so grateful—for your patience with that fact as I get settled.

More soon,





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Gena, I love this post! You know, I do the same thing on a much smaller scale, with big grocery orders. I do put all the stuff that goes in the fridge and freezer away usually, but sometime I lay some of the produce out on a table and just let it sit. Sometimes the things that are dry goods sit in the bag an extra day or two. Sometimes that bags don’t get folded up until another day after that. At each stage, though, i’m totally ready to attend to it. And I’m fine with the slow transition. This is one of the beauties of living alone (or without a human, anyway, who care or doesn’t care about grocery order put away timing). There’s such a sense of freedom in this post, being okay, more than okay really, laughing even, about not being done or who you once expected yourself to be or identified with being. Welcome HOME! love you xoxo

  2. Hi Gena! I’m glad you’re still checking in on the weekends even without the links. I turned 30 recently and honestly my 20s felt mostly like a mess and in a way the beginning of my 30s still do. We are where we are and surviving! Good luck as you continue to take as much time as you want/need to settle in to your new place.

You might also like

Through my yoga and mindfulness practice, I’ve been introduced to the concept of maitrī. Maitrī is part of the brahmavihārā, a series of virtues and attendant practices that can help us to cultivate joy, well-being, and maybe even enlightenment.  Maitrī is similar to metta, which I’ve written about before; in fact, it’s another word for the same concept. Maitrī is a Sanskrit word, while metta is a Pali word. Both can be translated, most simply, as loving-kindness. Loving-kindness, yes. But there are lots…

This year has been more extroverted than I’m used to, but also more solitary. On the one hand, I’ve been in busy workplace environments each day, constantly exposed to new colleagues and new patients. This is a far cry from the quiet, work-from-home life that I’ve been living as a self-employed graduate student for the last many years. It’s been invigorating at times, draining at others; if nothing else, a big adjustment. On the other hand, I haven’t had the energy to spend…

A little tidbit from yesterday: I got on the phone with a friend at some point during the day. At the end of our call, she asked if I wanted to join her as she walked her dog (she lives close by). I told her no; I had just taken a walk, and I had more work to do. After we hung up, I stared at my apartment and my kitchen counter covered in ingredients. I wanted to work, but I felt resistance…

You know those moments when a bunch of signs seem to show up at once, all pointing toward the same thing? It’s World Mental Health Day, and this morning I posted something on Instagram about my ongoing effort to live in the present. This summer I told a friend of mine that, for the first time in my life, my main priority was to have good days and good memories. I meant two things when I said this. The first is that I’ve…