Weekend Reading
June 4, 2023

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

As I mentioned last Sunday, I’ve had some thought-provoking, deep exchanges with new acquaintances lately.

One of these was a few weeks ago. I got on the topic of age with a woman whom I’d recently met.

According to her, we each live many lives. She told me that she’s living one of her early lives.

Her eighteen-year-old daughter, on the other hand, has lived a great many lives before this one.

It was a very novel outlook for me. Yet the woman I was conversing with spoke about all of it quite casually. This is how she understands life—or lives—to work.

She sized me up after a few minutes of conversation, and she told me that she’s sure I’m on one of my early lives.

I made some self-deprecating joke about how I probably give that impression from immaturity.

“No,” the woman replied. “You just have a young spirit. It’s the same with me.”

She did seem to have a young spirit. There was so much wonder in the way she spoke. It was a lovely and disarming part of her way of being.

After the conversation, I wondered about how it would be to look at life the way my new acquaintance does.

How would it feel if I was certain that I had more lives ahead of me?

I thought about the incredible hatred I so often feel toward myself for not being further along, whatever that means, in the life that I’m living.

I open my eyes on so many mornings and take a critical self-inventory of where I am and am not.

Some of the self-rebuke is focused on material success. This isn’t the measure of a life well-lived, I know, but material insecurities are hard to avoid.

Most of my self-blame clings to interpersonal empty spaces, to the family and partner I always hoped to be connected to during this time in my life. I’m hopeful yet, but there’s a lot of grief.

Sometimes I just feel immature. I’m still so bewildered by life, prone to making messes. Lately I yearn poignantly for my mom’s reassurance, more than I have in years.

Does everyone feel this vulnerable and lost in midlife?

My therapist once told me that circumstances of my early life had forced me to be “very young and very old at the same time.”

It was a relief. For the first time, it occurred to me that the qualities I tend to blame myself for might have simply been inevitable.

What if there were more human lifetimes than this one?

What if the youthfulness that I find so unforgivable in myself sometimes was simply a reflection of this life being an early, rather than a late, practice run?

What would it be like to know that there were many more practice runs ahead?

On the day of that conversation, I allowed myself to believe it, just for a moment, because it seemed like such a beautiful thing to believe.

Here’s what I know: it’s Sunday, and there’s a new week ahead of us. We’ll all have chances to practice this thing called humanness with the start of each new day.

Let’s make the best of it.

Speaking of lifetimes, I’ve got a birthday coming up this week.

What I want for my birthday this year is to not think very much about my birthday, aside from having a good reason to make my favorite vegan vanilla cake.

That includes not wanting to write a birthday post. Writing them was a worthy ritual for a decade, but it’s time to leave them behind. At least for a while.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I’m in love with the simplicity of Judy’s Shanghai scallion oil noodles.

Speaking of simplicity, a perfect pea purée for springtime.

Marly’s zucchini boatszucchini boats will definitely appear in some of my summertime dinner menus!

I love bulgur—it’s one of my favorite grains for sure—and Elizabeth’s bulgur salad with pine nuts and raisins is perfect.

Why hello, June! Ready to dive into the first month of summer with Britt’s vegan chipwiches.

Reads

1. This article is from 2019, but new to me. It’s an interesting take on the difficulties of studying, or even defining, pain.

2. The first compelling article that I’ve read about the “nose-brain connection,” or the link between mental health and allergies.

3. “Turner’s most revolutionary act was to choose herself”: a great reflection on the legacy that Tina Turner created for black women.

4. A short history of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which paved the way for future reality cooking shows and competitions.

5. An interesting look at how a little bit of silence can help kids to develop and grow.

Have a restful Sunday evening. And please know that there’s no greater gift than to enter a new year of life with connectedness.

Connection to this community, to you, is a huge part of that.

xo

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  1. I’m wishing you a happy birthday, Gena. But more than that, I hope the coming year brings you more inner peace, contentedness and self-love. I will also be turning 41 this summer. I, too, faced trauma in childhood, currently have no partner or family, and feel immense grief over what my life has been and continues to be. I don’t have any words of wisdom or anything like that. I just want you to know you aren’t the only one facing such circumstances. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in this space.

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