Weekend Reading
March 10, 2024

I recently had the odd realization that I’ve barely listened to music for the past year.

I don’t mean having music on in the background in my home; that’s almost never my norm. I have to remind myself to put on a Spotify playlist when I have friends over.

With earphones, though, it’s another story. I’ve always loved listening to music with earphones on, from the time I was loading cassettes into in my Walkman through having a Discman glued to my hand through the original iPod and right up until now.

I love having the sound of a song or a piece of music reverberating gently in my ear as I take a walk or clean my apartment or settle into a train or bus ride.

Around a year ago, however, I just stopped listening.

I don’t have a good explanation for this, except that I’ve been very work-focused, and when I’m not very work-focused, I’m seeing friends. There’s less unstructured solo time in my life than there used to be.

This is positive in that I’m less isolated. But I think that there’s value in those unhurried, quiet moments that one has with oneself, too.

I also know that my stress level in the past six or so months has been high, which may also be a part of the resistance to music.

When I’m stressed, I start to make my way through life with clenched hands and gritted teeth; it becomes more difficult for me to ease up and let beauty in.

The other morning, I went to an early yoga class. I was tired and crabby and already thinking about how much I had to do that day.

There was music playing right outside the studio, and as I put my things into a locker I heard the chorus of The Beach Boys’ “I Can Hear Music” swelling around me.

“I Can Hear Music” is one of my mom’s favorite songs, which means that it’s already very special for me. But on that morning it was a sign and a reminder.

It’s a song about music, yes, but also love, and touch, and things that help us to momentarily transcend ordinary life.

“The sound of the city, baby / Seems to disappear, oh, when / I can hear music / Sweet, sweet music.”

After class, I got to thinking about the kinds of sweetness that I’ve become very far-removed from, music included.

Music and poetry, song and dance, beautiful recipes, intimate human connection—they’re all expressions of our desire not only to live, but to savor being alive.

Lines of verse and chords of music remind us to celebrate even when things are hard, because all of our moments, the hard ones included, are temporary.

So, I’ve been listening to music—sweet, sweet music—all week long.

I’ve also been reading before bed (as opposed to TV + doomscrolling) and even putting a little extra love and care into the cooking I’ve done for myself. I picked up some pretty spring tulips.

These gestures are all connected.

I don’t find it easy right now to slow down, quiet my mind, and allow myself to be with words or song. Yet I also understand the importance of creating space in my life for sweetness, and I won’t give up on that practice.

Wishing you the capacity to hear music this week, and everything that implies.

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

Recipes

1. I had a pink chicory salad last night, and it was so pretty. I’d love to make this one with vegan yogurt.

2. I saw some beautiful romanesco at the farmer’s market the other day and wondered what I’d do with it, aside from roasting it, if I got a head of it. This salad would be a good place to start.

3. I’m on a mission to make tamari almonds at home, and this recipe is going to guide me.

4. Sunday is always a good day to make a batch of meaty vegan chili.

5. These homemade, no-bake caramel bars look delicious.

Reads

1. I was touched to read the story of ICU nurse Sandra Clarke and her volunteer program, No One Dies Alone, which offers vigils to those who would otherwise be unaccompanied in their final moments.

2. A nice collection of short articles on burnout. I really like the five pieces of advice offered toward the bottom of this mini-series: tell yourself “good morning,” feel water, celebrate small wins.

3. I love any health guidance that is reality-based, rather than fantasy-based. It’s the kind of achievable, sustainable guidance that I aim to give my nutrition clients, and it’s the only kind of health guidance that I respond to myself.

Few areas of health writing are as rife with unachievable instruction as healthy sleep. This article re-writes common pieces of sleep guidance in a down-to-earth, practical way. What a relief!

4. As a dietitian who works with ARFID, among other eating disorders, I understand well that it can be hard to tell the difference between picky eating and disordered eating.

Even so, I see often how picky—or selective, or preferential—eating invokes a lot of unfair judgment.

I’ve had to gently remind parents that, so long as their kids’ picky eating isn’t causing physical, social, or psychological harm, it’s OK. In truth, it may be more of an affront to a parent’s ego than it is a risk to the child’s life.

This carries into adulthood, when picky eaters are often subject to jokes and teasing.

In any case, picky eating is a complex topic, and I think that writer Betsy Andrews tackled it with sensitivity in this article for Saveur.

5. Sort of related to today’s theme, an interesting look at what the brain is actually doing when you’re not doing anything.

Speaking of that, I’m off to give myself a little solo quiet time (maybe with music?) before having some friend time and mom time later today.

Enjoy your afternoon and evening, and I’ll be circling back soon.

xo

 

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    2 Comments
  1. Hi Gena,

    I’ve always admired your writing and the way you generously share your life experiences. Since around 2010, I’ve been an avid reader and have learned so much from you over the years. Just recently, I was reminiscing about the weeklong nutrition class you offered, possibly in collaboration with Spark, which included recipes and meal plans. I still have many of those recipes saved, and I often think back to how vibrantly healthy I felt while enjoying your creations. One dish that particularly stands out is the cashew-based dessert made with Meyer lemons – I might make it again soon! Other favorites include the nut-based cheese and walnut taco meat. Thank you once again for all that you share!

  2. I’m eating my homemade vegan broccoli mint ice cream as I am reading. Romanesco is even better because it yields a creamier ice cream.

    Here’s to life with beautiful, uplifting music.

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