Weekend Reading
July 7, 2024

I’ve been on a summer vacation in Portugal for the last week. As is the case with most trips, the time has flown, and I can’t believe I’ll be home soon.

It usually takes me a little while to find my bearings when I travel. I also have a track record of planning holidays that involve a few destinations and revising my plans in real time; in the case of this trip, I traded the beach time I’d planned on for more city time.

I’ve been really happy about that change, but I’m left with a feeling of wistfulness that I can remember from last summer. It’s the wish that I’d organized my time differently. How great would it be if I could have spent all of my days the places I liked most?

From the get-go, I can observe what’s wrong with this kind of thinking.

First, it ignores a fundamental lesson of travel and life, which is that we don’t know what we like or don’t like until we try it. Relationships, jobs, activities, tastes, sensations: we learn what feels good through doing, not speculating.

It’s such an alluring fantasy to think that we might bypass all the time we spend in discovery mode, but that’s not how things work. And life would be pretty monotonous if we spent all of our time basking in what we like, rather than investigating a range of experience.

Also, I notice how easily I slip into dissatisfaction and looking for problems even in the time that I’ve purposefully designated for leisure.

I’ve been aware of this tendency throughout this trip and others that I’ve taken. I’ll be in a new place, soaking up new sights and sounds and flavors, yet still dwelling on familiar worries. I cast my typical anxiety over a fresh landscape.

I won’t waste a moment of my remaining holiday time worrying about the fact that I do this. But I will approach the realization as I would a meditation practice, noticing when my mind starts scanning for problems and redirecting it back to the present moment.

As I write this post, sipping a coffee and polishing off the last few crumbs of a vegan pastel de nata, I can say with confidence that I have as little to worry about as I possibly could.

I’m going to let this be the lovely reality that it is.

My last thought as I sign off today is that I want to be able to keep having special experiences like this one. That amounts to finding smarter, more impactful ways of approaching work at home.

It’s all motivation for me to hit the ground running when I return, bringing some of the proactive, resourceful energy that I can always access while traveling to my professional life.

The key is for me to remember what I’m working for: more freedom, more enjoyment. It’s taken me a while to realize how badly I want those things for myself, to believe that I deserve them at all.

Wish I could have shared my delightful breakfast pastry with all of you today, rather than these musings, but words are what I can beam to you from where I am.

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

Recipes

1. I love the heartiness of this roasted potato lentil salad.

2. Aimee’s BBQ mushroom buns are perfect for every low-key summer gathering.

3. Love the simplicity of these hummus lettuce cups.

4. Maybe the most beautiful vegan caprese salad I’ve ever seen?

5. My baking project for July.

Reads

1. An interesting look into “a quiet revolution in the science of womanhood,” focalized on our expanding understanding of menstrual blood.

2. I haven’t yet watched season 3 of The Bear, and if spoiler alerts ruin your experiences, this LA Times article won’t be for you. But I thought it was an insightful take on one of the show’s core preoccupations, which is anxiety. Mary McNamara makes the argument that this anxiety can be specifically regarded as the anxiety that haunts adult children of alcoholics.

3. For fellow Italophiles, a guide to Italian cookbooks.

4. Always love a refresher on the healthful properties of tofu.

5. As I think about easing back into the every day this week, I realize how important it is for me to spend more time being a “tourist” at home. This is a sweet, realistic list of staycation ideas.

On that note, I’ll next check in from my regular surroundings—hopefully with some of the contentment and appreciation that I’m writing about today.

Till soon!

xo

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