Weekend Reading
April 28, 2024

A few weeks ago I wrote about practicing yoga with Nancy Gilgoff, who passed away on March 22nd.

Last Sunday, I did my first led primary series in months.

I’m no stranger to intermittent ashtanga practice. It’s actually my norm to practice the primary series sporadically.

This is probably misguided; I’m not sure that ashtanga is designed for dabbling.

But it suits me. I have other practices that feel good on an every day basis. After a few months I inevitably crave the primary series and return to it like somebody visiting her childhood home.

That’s how led primary feels in my body: it feels like coming home.

In the way of many homecomings, it’s not an uncomplicated return. Because I don’t do the sequence all the time anymore, my reintroductions can be frustrating and hard.

Given how long it had been, I was ready for my primary practice to be especially bumpy last weekend. I dragged my feet in signing up for it, then used a lot of unnecessary mental energy worrying about whether I’d be too stiff, too sort, too tired, etc.

Much to my surprise, the seventy-five minutes were surprisingly effortless. I was aware of the fact that I hadn’t done certain postures in a while, but there was a lightness and fluidity that I wasn’t expecting.

Even the process of getting centered was easy. When I showed up at my studio, the instructor was playing the harmonium as students entered the room. She was chanting the Hanuman Chalisa. I joined in, the words returning to me like a muscle memory.

I spend so much time bracing myself for things to be difficult and painful. Sometimes they are, though my worry rarely makes me better able to deal with it. For better or worse, worry isn’t preparation.

And sometimes, once in a while, much to my surprise, and against all odds, a thing that I expect to be really hard is shockingly, sweetly straightforward.

There are a lot of other things that didn’t not feel especially easy or straightforward this past week. But that time on my mat and in my body defied my expectations.

I’ll let it serve as a reminder that I’m actually pretty bad at predicting how things will go. “We’re not very good forecasters,” a therapist once told me, and it’s true.

I’m wishing you the wisdom to enter this new week with an open mind and a calm, clear heart. I’ll be right there alongside you.

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

Recipes

1. Creamless creamed corn? Kevin Gillespie’s recipe looks genius.

2. Love the looks of Lisa’s kimbap with tofu.

3. I posted about buffalo wraps yesterday, so it feels appropriate to be linking to vegan buffalo cauliflower—a viral recipe that I’ve actually never tried—today. Nora’s version couldn’t look any more perfect.

4. Chickpeas, new potatoes, asparagus, and William Carlos Williams—Susan may have published this recipe some time ago, but I’m here for it right now.

5. Vegan lemon mousse feels like the right dessert for the season.

Reads

1. I so love this article about certified wildlife rehabbers in New York City, who help to shelter and rehabilitate pigeons, opossums, squirrels, and other creatures who call the urban jungle their home. Benji Jones writes,

“As I spent time with rehabbers, I began to see their perspective. They view these species not as pests but as part of nature — as part of the New York City ecosystem. As part of their home. These animals belong here, rehabbers told me, just as much as we do. And they don’t deserve the harm that humans so often inflict on them, whether deliberately or not.”

2. This article on Omega-3s and childhood development might be of interest to those of you who are expecting or parenting little ones. It suggests that DHA supplementation might be advisable for vegan moms to be.

My recommendation is a bit more forceful and aligns with Jack Norris’, which is summed up here: 300-600 mg of DHA daily from an algae-based source.

3. Jonathon Keats reflects on the relationship between horology—that’s the name for timekeeping, which is something that I didn’t know until I read the article—and climate change.

4. “Why silence is not the absence of noise but its contrary twin.” This article is a sensitive, probing inquiry into silence in its many forms.

5. Cole Kazdin offers a real and relatable perspective on the concept of “full recovery” from ED.

I put the term in quotes not because I doubt its realness but because I think it can be misleading. I tell my clients all the time that full recovery is possible, and it also doesn’t guarantee that you’ll live life as though you’d never had an eating disorder.

For many, recovery is practice that becomes easier and more reflexive with time, yet may never be involuntary, or may not be involuntary for a long time.

Kazdin writes,

I had been determined to ace my recovery (sadly, they do not give out grades), not fully appreciating that perfectionism and black-and-white thinking are traits shared by many people with eating disorders.

I can relate, and I’m sure that many reading today can, too.

I’ve actually come to find meaning and beauty in the fact that my recovery, while no longer an effort, isn’t involuntary, either. Embracing recovery as a lifelong practice makes me cherish it all the more.

With lots of love and respect for every practice than shapes our lives, I’m signing off so that I can enjoy a beautiful Sunday in NYC.

Wishing you a restful afternoon.

xo

 

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    3 Comments
  1. I’m interested in your comment abot ‘full recovery’, Gena. After I got over the worst of my ED, I thought I would never completely ‘ace’ my recovery. I thought, as you say here, that recovery would always need to remain an active, conscious process for me. But I did actually fully recover in the end, after more than 15 years of needing to practise my recovery consciously. It just happened very incrementally over those years until I got to the point where I haven’t had any ED symptoms at all for many years now. I think sometimes that we forget how slow the recovery process can be, but I can honestly say thst full recovery is possible for some of us. (That doesn’t mean we won’t go on to experience depression/anxiety/other issues in our lives, of course. But that can be the case for people who haven’t had an ED either.) xo

    • Hey Rebecca! This is a thoughtful reflection, and I didn’t mean to suggest that I don’t believe that full recovery is possible—I do, and I’m lucky to live in that space and witness others living there. As you say, the path to get there can be much longer than we think, and maybe that’s what the author of that article was gesturing at. While I don’t experience ED symptoms anymore, I do take care to “protect” my recovery with a strong support system, prioritizing my nourishment, gravitating towards other people who love and celebrate food. These choices come naturally to me, and I am also aware of the fact that they safeguard my recovery. Maybe that’s someplace in between conscious and unconscious—or maybe it’s an expression of a larger capacity to care for mental health, which recovery gave me a roadmap for.

      • Hello Gena,
        Thank you for taking the time to reply <3. I like your idea of 'protecting' your recovery. I do the same thing, I think, though I hadn't given it that name – I celebrate food, bake cakes frequently, choose to work part-time instead of full-time because it helps me stay mentally healthy, and exercise for pleasure and enjoyment but never out of guilt or to punish myself. (The exercise thing took a while to achieve, but I got there.)
        I wish that medical professionals treating people with EDs recognised and acknowledged how long it takes some of us to recover, even when we 'look' well. I spent so many years after I'd 'recovered' thinking that the awful ED chatter and noise inside my head was something I would have to spend the rest of my life forcibly dialling down and/or ignoring. If I had known that it would eventually die away completely, it would have made me more optimistic, I think, and it would have made me feel kinder to myself.
        Thank you again for the space you occupy here, which I know is important to so many readers.
        R xo

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