Weekend Reading
December 29, 2019

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m sure I say this every single year, but I’m amazed that this one is about to be over. 2019 flew by.

Technically speaking, a lot happened this year. I finished ten years of grad school, wrapped up my internship, and became a dietitian, all of which are important milestones that I worked hard for.

In many ways, though, not a lot seems to have happened this year. I had the idea that passing the RD exam in September and being free of school might somehow bring about an avalanche of new things, but it didn’t, not really. Everyday life is carrying on in a familiar way. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve stayed stuck in a lot of patterns that I was hoping to work on this year.

I’m in an odd place right now: I’ve never been more aware of work that I need to do or more conscious of my responsibility for my own life. At the same time, I’ve never been more at peace with who and what I am. There’s a lot that I’d like to challenge myself with in 2020, but I’m not feeling self-loathing or self-critical. The peaceful coexistence of self-work and self-acceptance is very new to me, and I recognize it as one of many major, subtle, and completely internal shifts that happened this past year.

There have been others. My anxiety was lousy over the holidays, but for the most part this was a year in which anxiety was well-managed and self-soothing pretty effective. I learned how to invest and apply my energy with more thoughtfulness and intelligence than I have in the past. I got better with boundaries. I had some hard lessons in what it means to stand by one’s own truth, and I also learned that doing so is, to paraphrase from a friend, the most deeply respectful choice.

I haven’t wasted time on self-punishment, self-flagellation, or punitive reliving of my actions and words and decisions in a very long time. That never moved me forward in the past, and it won’t now. I’ve stopped over-apologizing, over-justifying, and over-explaining myself, which is all about me and not at all about mindfulness toward other people (in fact, it’s a habit that makes people uncomfortable, for good reason).

There are things about my life that I’d like to change, but I’m not blaming other people or myself for anything right now. I’m focusing calmly on the present moment and hopefully on the future. This, too, feels like growth.

I know that I wanted to accomplish more and push myself harder this fall, but I’m trusting in the fact that, if I didn’t, it’s probably because I couldn’t. We are where we are at any given moment, and I’m getting better at trusting that where we are is where we need to be. I got a book for Christmas on zen and the “art of happiness,” and it asked me to consider what it would be like to believe that everything that has happened to me was for the greatest possible good.

I’m not sure I do believe that, but I’m interested in exploring what it would feel like to believe it, to accept each moment with trust. I’ll let you know how it goes in 2020 🙂

Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

This spicy, curried lentil soup looks so vibrant and flavorful.

These vegan mushroom tarts would make for an elegant NYE appetizer!

Sher’s Tuscan tomato kale soup with white beans is just my kind of winter food.

Since I seem to be on a soup kick this week, another: a hearty, vegan lasagna soup.

Peanut butter blossoms were one of my favorite holiday cookies growing up. I love Tess’ vegan and gluten-free version.

Reads

1. Interesting new insights into how early humans may have domesticated themselves (and the genetic underpinnings of that development).

2. I was fascinated and sort of frightened to read about the new frontier of deep sea mining—an enterprise and a part of the earth’s surface I’d never really considered before.

3. A wonderful piece of reporting about a massive Canadian fossil trove and what it might imply about life on this planet. I love reporter Sarah Kaplan’s closing lines:

Humans are the first species with not just the power to alter the planet on a geologic scale but also the capacity to predict the consequences. We understand the connection between our actions and each of Earth’s possible futures.

What a profound responsibility that is. What a beautiful gift.

4. If you’re interested in some end-of-year reading, Nature rounds up some of the science news that shaped 2019.

5. Finally, a sweet New York Times profile of a couple that’s been reunited after 63 years.

I’ll be checking in with a recipe post early this week, but I still want to use today’s post as an opportunity to wish everybody a peaceful, joyful new year. May it offer up lots of blessings in lots of ways, for all of us. And may all beings living be happy and free.

xo

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    2 Comments
  1. Gena,

    Happy New Year to you! Thank you so much for your posts this year especially amidst all that you were involved with.

    I stuck on two things that you mentioned above. The first was when you wrote that you expected lots of things to happen once you graduated. The second had to do with internal shifts that you experienced this year. It’s probably because I have read several books about evolution recently but I can’t help but think about the length of time it takes for noticeable change, for incremental change, and for layered change (many changes that occur together) to happen. If you scale that all back to a human level (and just sort of generalize) it seems natural to me that things take awhile; that one experience, even if it is a big one, may not produce a noticeable change right away (unless you are a dinosaur and the asteroid has hit!). I think it is actually a succession of experiences, not often related and not all at once, that produce changes that are subtle but noticeable. It’s up to us to connect the dots. Your comments reminded me of when my mom died. I didn’t feel any difference immediately (you would expect too, right?). But after 5+ years I am still learning how her passing has changed me (and my understanding of her). It’s a fluid kind of change, if that makes sense.

    Anyway, thank you, the post made me think. Hope that the new year gets off to a good start for you.
    Thanks,
    Libby

  2. Another elegantly written post, Gena. I always look forward to your Sunday night posts. Simple. Direct. Wishing you the happiest of New Year’s and reading more about you. You are a Light that makes the world a better place.

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