Weekend Reading
August 16, 2020

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Way back in the day, at my old job, I was frequently teased for being a supernaturally fast email responder. I was a fast worker in general, back then. Aside from being quick to respond over email, I was a quick writer, quick to complete tasks—even the painstaking process of transmitting a book manuscript to production—and probably fast enough reader to have qualified as a speed reader, or close to it.

This is sort of funny for me to remember now, because in many ways I think I’ve become the opposite kind of worker. I still read and write quickly. But everything else seems to take me a long time.

Cooking in particular has become something I can only seem to do ploddingly if I want to do it well. Same with food photos. I’ve always been incredibly deliberate with meal suggestions and materials for my nutrition clients, but these days I spend even longer compiling them than ever. And my inbox situation at any given moment is…well. Not quite hopeless, but nothing to write home about, either 😉

I was thinking about this a lot this week. Instagram introduced reels, which are quick (15-second) videos, sort of similar to the snippets you might see on TikTok. Before I could even figure out what they were, it seemed as though most food bloggers had mastered the art of creating incredibly fun, engaging content using the new feature.

This tends to be my experience with social media. By the time I figure something out, many of the talented creators who do what I do have mastered the art of doing it really well. It’s inspiring, but it’s intimidating, too. It’s sometimes difficult to reconcile my slow adoption curve with the fact that I work in digital media, which is always changing at lightening speed.

I spent a few days this week feeling pretty down and out the things that make me slow to create and publish on various platforms. These include perfectionist tendencies (working on it), the fact that I’m quick to feel overwhelmed, intimidation, and a creative process that’s slow, for better or for worse. I remember being more fearless and oriented toward action, once upon a time. I wish I could be a little more that way now.

I spend too much time, as so many people do, comparing myself to others. I do this in spite of how inadequate it makes me feel, and in spite of the fact that it slows me down. If there’s any part of me that manages to convince myself that I’ll be more productive or better at my job as a result of self-comparison, experience proves otherwise.

Lately, at least, I’m able to make comparisons with a proportional amount of self-acknowledgment. Processing information slowly and deliberately means that I create from a grounded and thoughtful place. Being quick to overwhelm has taught me the art of maintaining boundaries and managing my energies effectively. Slowing down makes helps me to focus on, and truly appreciate, each task: each recipe, each written word, each image.

So often, the things we wish we could change about ourselves are also the home for under-appreciated and unnoticed gifts. I try to remember that, even as I push myself to grow. Wishing you both the ability to challenge yourself and the willingness to see your own strengths and special qualities in the week ahead.

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


I’m so excited to try Nicole’s vegan callaloo.

I hadn’t heard of korokke, Japanese croquettes, before I read Ellie’s recipe. Her white bean version looks delicious.

Tasty, swirly vegan blackberry muffins from Nicolette.

I can’t wait to try Jessica’s recipe for homemade vegan butter!

Finally, I love the idea of masala grilled cheese (any unusual spin on grilled cheese, really), and Shivani has a stellar recipe for it.


1. An interesting look at how Covid-19 might affect the upcoming flu season.

2. I enjoyed reading this article about the life of Mary King Ward. “Often cited as the first person ever to die in a car accident,” author Emily Willingham writes, “Mary King Ward was also one of the first successful female science popularizers, mixing religion, science, and entrepreneurial savvy to reach her 19th-century English audience from her home base of Ireland.”

3. A fascinating look at how mitochondira may play a role in mediating depression and anxiety.

4. Vox reports on the current USPS crisis and how it could impact election results (and more reporting from NPR).

5. Finally, a friend of mine sent me a link to Jacqueline Woodson’s poem “Absolute.” She said she thought I’d like it, and she was right. Maybe some of you will like it and its beautifully empowering message, too.

Have a restful afternoon and evening, everyone. Till soon.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Dear Gena, I was really moved by the introductory thoughts of this post, though I don’t quite have the words for the best entry point. If we were to compare what’s expected of us all now as bloggers in the rushing snowmelt pace of the internet, I would be way over in the eddies when it comes to traveling down that stream. In fact, if the internet were like it is now, and blogs were structured like they are now, I might not ever have written one. But because it was more slow, smaller, more congenial, and to my mind, democratic, I was acutally able to virtually meet people like Susan of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and Karina of Gluten Free Goddess, and be mentored and in effect sponsored by Susan, so I could even have my blog. I feel like I met you at that conference kind of at the tail end of that sweeter time, and I’m so glad I did because I cherish the real friendship we’ve developed as a result. I think of all of you as “keeping up” so it was an eye opener for me to realize that it’s often now too much for you ss well. I recently read an article/interview from KQED in California interviewing a community of the Sisters of Mercy in Moraga California about their way of aging, which goes against the grain of our conventional societal assumptions. One of their ways is that the person is more valuable than the talent or skill they bring to the community. It was very touching and real, and makes for a beautiful way of growing older. So I would say to the extent you show us who you are in the beautifully real ways you do it that that is a profound accomplishment which sustains us all–and I warrant it’s the truest kind of success. I was reminded of this all over again the last weekend my son and daughter-in-law were there and I found myself talking to my son about cultivating gratefulness, which led to a serendipitous out loud read to him of my post “Homage to My Hands.” I later learned my daughter-in-law was also listening from up in the loft, as the baby slept. The way they entered that world with me transformed our afternoon and helped us back to what’s really important. It wasn’t monetized, or part of a set of goals, but was organically summoned out of the heart space of the afternoon. I have a feeling that happens a lot with what you write for people and I hope you count that as part of your success. xoxo

  2. Hi Gena, such a great read – thank you. Fellow RD here, and I resonate with everything you said. I 100% suffer from procrastination related to perfectionism – I see this in a lot of other RDs also. I’m also trying “not to let perfect be the enemy of good” but it’s really really difficult. I truly appreciate how you reframed to demonstrate the strengths of who you are today. Thanks again, much needed 🙂

  3. Gena,

    Maybe I didn’t catch it but did you mention a reason why many things now take you longer to do? As I have gotten older I have noticed the same thing. There is another layer for me though in that I can only do one thing at a time (If I don’t want to burn the house down or otherwise hurt myself!) now whereas before I was a good multitasker. Reading, which I used to love, takes me an incredibly long time.

    My opinion is that aging has everything to do with this phenomenon. Instead of feeling bad about this though, (and like what I think you are describing), on good days I see it as an asset; an opportunity to say that I have this new skill of moving slowly! I like to think that I listen better and can give someone my full attention.

    Now, off to read that mitochondria article. Thank you!

    Have a good week!

    • Hi Libby,

      Aging is definitely part of it! I can’t multitask the way I used to, either. I also think part of it is mental health. I was more prone to anxiety when I was younger (a lot of that got channeled into disordered eating), whereas in my thirties I’m more prone to depression. And psychomotor slowness is one of my depression symptoms. I think there’s also a sensitivity that has come with age—I feel more easily discouraged, which prevents me from charging through or into work tasks like I used to. On the other hand, I do everything more thoughtfully. So your point about reframing things as an asset really resonates.

      Have a wonderful Monday, too 🙂

  4. Thank you for voicing what I have been thinking. It’s hard not to compare and I have been doing my fair share. And then I realized that I love cooking and writing and so that is what I’m going to continue to do even if it means I don’t have as many followers or likes. The world of social media moves too fast for me and I am ok with it. It is what it is! So thank you for helping me get there!

You might also like

I was complaining to my therapist recently about a pattern of thinking and behavior that I just can’t seem to get unstuck from. “I don’t know whether it’ll ever change,” I said, blinking back tears. “And I don’t know how to change it, or what that even looks like.” She took a pause, and then said something to the effect of, “I don’t know, either. But I can tell you that it’ll happen gradually, and in lots of very small ways.” As soon…

Happy Sunday, everyone! As always, I hope that the weekend has brought you rest and restoration. Steven’s birthday was this past week, so we had a small celebration with friends on Friday and some quiet time yesterday. Now I’m catching up on meal plans for clients and diving into these recipes and reads. First, a super simple but delightfully summery lunch idea from Ashley of Cookie Monster Cooking: summer garden veggie flatbreads. Next, I love these crispy avocado tacos with roasted radishes and…

A couple months ago, I needed to ask for an extension on a big project. The person who gave me more time said the most compassionate thing. “You can only do what you can do,” she told me. I’ve thought a lot about these words since. It was a relief to hear them, and I’m trying to say them to myself now and then. So in that spirit—a weekend pause! I’ll be back in the groove next Sunday. And some food is coming…

First, a thank you for the kind comments and wishes last week, as I was venting about hitting a wall. That mood carried right through the early part of the past week. By Tuesday evening, I felt as though I was only a few millimeters away from a good, old-fashioned meltdown. And then it was Wednesday. And there was the inauguration, and Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem, “The Hill We Climb,” and a sense of relief that was more profound than I expected it…