Boundaries seem to be a hot topic these days. They’re the subject of a lot of articles, at least once recently published book, and—at least in my experience of the algorithm—a ton of Instagram content.
This suggests that boundaries are a struggle for lots of folks, and I’m certainly one of them.
My past efforts to get better with boundaries have been focused on being vocal about it when I’m not comfortable with something.
I still have work to do there. In the last two weeks, however, my focus has shifted a bit.
Right now, my work with boundaries consists of one thing, and one thing only.
It’s a boundary that I’m trying to maintain with and for myself, which is to not do or commit to more than I’m capable of doing.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve touched on the theme in weekend reading, so apologies to anyone who’s heard it before. But there’s a very consistent and significant gap between what I think I can do/handle, versus what I actually can.
Time and time again, overcommitting gets me in trouble. It makes me burnt out and resentful. Sometimes it makes me run late for things, and if I don’t keep it in check, it ends up making me catch sick.
A couple years ago, I was making plans with a friend. “Here is my realistic timeline,” he said in reference to the day we were discussing.
I was impressed by the way he put this. It told me that he was thinking about that disjunction—one that I think we all stumble into—between our optimism about what’s possible versus the reality of what is.
I’ve been remembering his words lately. For me, this has looked like saying no to a couple social plans, which sounded fun but would just have been too much at the moment.
It has factored into my work life, too. Shortly after I moved, in part because of long summer days, I got into a habit of working till 8:30 or 9 most nights, as well as on many weekends. I’d wrap up, eat dinner late, crash, and have those same long hours on the following day.
It’s fine to do this once in a while, when one’s job demands it, but it’s not sustainable. So I’m trying to wrap up the work day closer to 6 or 7.
I’m trying to take more time for myself on weekends, too. This has meant skipping some weekend reading posts, so the patience of readers has been very appreciated.
I’m scheduling my nutrition clients a little farther apart, so that I can process each conversation fully, take detailed notes, and show up with a fresh lens for each person.
If it means that scheduling becomes a little tricky, that’s OK; my clients need me to be present and tuned in, not rushing from session to session.
In yoga, I’ve been taking it slowly and modifying a lot, to counteract my mental overwhelm. Sometimes vigorous practice feels really good when I’m anxious. It’s cathartic, a release.
And sometimes I need my practice to become very simple because life is otherwise busy or complex. That’s the case right now, and I’m grateful to have practiced long enough that I don’t worry or ask for permission when I need to slow down.
I wouldn’t call any of my efforts perfect, but I’m trying, and that’s what counts. I’m reminded that nobody else will protect my boundaries for me or make sure that I get taken care of.
That’s my job. An inside job. And it happens through adequate sleep, good nutrition, a healthy balance of social time and private time, work that’s demanding enough to give me a sense of purpose and meaning without burying me entirely.
It happens one “realistic timeline” at a time.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
These pecan pie energy balls look like such a great fall snack.
The cutest, most festive twice-baked honeynut squash.
I want to try using my air fryer tempeh nuggets in this quinoa salad!
Stuffed shells, but make them autumnal.
I know a lot of folks are focused on finding pie recipes as we head into the holidays, but I’m always thinking about vegan cake, and this black forest cake looks so good.
1. I probably won’t be cooking for Thanksgiving this year, but when I do, I too find joy in a spreadsheet.
2. Fascinating! A history of one of my favorite foods, the date.
3. A good read on the misguidedness of categorically labeling any food as “unhealthy.” The article focuses on how these judgments can turn into a form of denigrating foods that are an important part of culture and cultural expression.
More broadly, I think these judgments ignore context and patterns, which in the world of nutrition are everything. I always tell my clients that what matters a lot less than how often, how much, and with what else?
4. We’re still trying to figure out why Covid-19 hits some people so much harder than others. But DNA is giving us early clues.
5. Though it was published in 2019, I just read and loved Eric Kim’s essay on why he heads from NYC to Portland, Maine, in the winter.
Specifically, I love how Eric has made peace with the cyclical nature of depression and even found ways to soften into its rhythms. Finding a soothing routine for the tough times is best one can do.
I’ve found, as Eric has, that solo travel can help with perspective, and as my own sadness flares up lately, I’m thinking about places I might be able to go.
Portland is now on the list.
Wishing you all a week of softly-yet-strongly maintained boundaries, whatever that means to you. More recipes, soon.
Happy Monday! Yesterday was Greek Easter, so I was busy making/eating tsoureki and avgolemono, spending time with my mom, reflecting on what I have to be grateful for. The thing I’m most grateful for this week is the fact that I was reunited with my yoga community on Friday. In-person yoga is one of the things I’ve missed most in these pandemic times. I’ve done my best to stay connected to my community. My teachers went to remarkable lengths to keep us together…
I woke up thinking about Valentine’s Day a year ago today. I’d been a little mopey that morning; I love Valentine’s Day in all of its Hallmark holiday corniness, and I was longing for the presence of a special somebody in my life. My yoga teacher invited me to join some of her teacher trainees for a special part of their curriculum that evening. They’d be making garlands with fresh flowers, sharing candy, talking about Bhakti. She assured me it would be low-key…
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I probably should have thought to post something festive before today, but instead it’s coming to you in a day or two. It’s a very tasty cabbage and pasta recipe, which I hope you’ll like. I wrapped up another community rotation of my internship this past week. This rotation included a lot of group education and a little bit of counseling. In both contexts, I was touched, as I always am, to be reminded of how deeply people care…
Hi friends! I’ve had a busy, busy week here, as I try to get my new home set up and in working order. I also got to speak at The Seed conference this year for the third time in a row, as as usual, it was a total blast. My topic was “raw fusion” — how to prepare dishes that fuse raw recipe techniques with standard vegan ingredients. The dish I choose to demo was zucchini noodles with black bean, mango, and avocado salsa….
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I do agree with the ‘inside job’ nobody knows you as well as you know yourself.
Being realistic and setting boundaries,also vocalising those helps the people that love you too. It’s by no means selfish, sometimes these boundaries are needed just to function, it is hard at first but the physical and mental payoff is always justified.
Hope you find your balance Gena xox