I asked for an extension on a big project this week.
I’d been trying to avoid it, telling myself that an urgent deadline is a good motivator and that I could get it done if I really pushed hard.
But my ability to work in a time crunch just isn’t what it used to be. And, like many people, I’ve been having a lot of issues with productivity this year.
I know that an extension only draws out the process of completion. Still, asking for it was the right call. It was a relief. And the even greater relief came when I was told yes, extension granted.
The gentle, relaxed response of the person who I’d asked about the deadline also reminded me that things rarely turn out as badly as I expect them to.
I sometimes challenge myself, when I’m ruminating over a scary outcome, to default to the assumption that things will turn out well. It’s amazing how hard it is for me to do that. Given two possible outcomes, it’s always my tendency to imagine that the undesirable one will happen.
More and more these days, I realize that I can’t get back time that I spend worrying about the future. I also won’t get back the time I spend wrongly assuming that worst case scenarios will come to pass.
They usually don’t. And when they do, the outcome is no less painful because I spent time anticipating it.
What if things work out? What if I succeed? What if that thing I’m dreading turns out to be fun? What if the conversation I’m stressing about surprises me? What if I meet someone wonderful?
These are the questions I’m trying to ask myself lately, just as often as I ask consider the doom-and-gloom “what ifs.”
There are usually at least a few possibilities alive in any given moment. There’s something to be said for soberly acknowledging that things might not go the way we want them to. But surely there’s something very wrong with only considering the possibilities we fear.
It would have been a lovely surprise if I’d been able to make my deadline work in the first place. But, since I couldn’t, having more time to work was the next best thing. And it was surprising in its own way, a reminder that honesty pays off and that people are usually pretty understanding.
Wishing you a week of positive thinking. By that, I don’t mean a refusal to look at difficulty or disappointment.
I wish you the willingness to see that life is full of possibilities. And sometimes it’s kinder than we expect it to be.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
I’m extremely excited to veganize Jessica’s pumpkin focaccia (maple syrup in place of honey, and vegan parmesan—easy!).
I really love celery root, and I don’t cook with it often enough. Katie’s simple recipe is inspiring me.
Drooling over Isabel’s Mexican Candied Sweet Potatoes.
A bright, crispy shaved Brussels sprout salad from Amanda.
I’ve never pulled off a good vegan pecan pie. So I’ll just rely on Izy’s recipe to guide me.
1. Distressing news about the rise in Americans’ food insecurity in the time of Covid. I’ve been donating to my local faith-based food pantry, so appreciative of their mobile, outdoor pantry that’s serving hundreds of New Yorkers every morning.
2. A look, via The New York Times, at how the efficacy of Covid vaccines is being modeled. It’s sobering, but really interesting from a study design perspective.
3. A scientific answer to a question that every baker has pondered: what’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
4. I loved this look at seven women who overcame personal struggles during the pandemic.
5. I’ve never spent more time ruminating on my regrets and mistakes than I have this year. This article on self-forgiveness meant a lot to me. Maybe it’ll mean something to you, too.
I’m so happy that a lot of you are excited about my mashed potato holiday bowl. And I’ve got another, low-key holiday recipe for you tomorrow.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I don’t always enjoy cooking. Sometimes—and these times can last for weeks or even months—I really dread it. I remember saying this to a good friend who’s an accomplished cookbook author and used to work in kitchens. She could sympathize, but she told me that she never really cringes at the thought of preparing dinner in the same way that I do. I’ve spent weekends at her home, with her family, and I’ve seen this…
This week, I tried a new exercise: each night before bed, I made a quick list of the things that had given me happiness that day. It was surprisingly illuminating. I’ve done gratitude journaling before, but this was different. Whereas the list of things that I’m grateful for is usually long and unchanging (family, friends, shelter, food, health, home…and so on), the list of things that had made me happy shifted around a little from day to day. They were much more minute…
One of the things I’m enjoying most about my new neighborhood is its rich history. In spite of real estate development, a lot of historic buildings and architecture are still present, still part of the look and feel of nearby streets. In trying to take more advantage of the city in which I live, I’ve been looking up local history tours and opportunities to play tourist in my own environs. Yesterday afternoon, I took a walking tour of the crypt beneath the Basilica…
It’s been a wordy week around here, so I’m keeping it short and sweet for today’s weekend reading. But, thank you all so much for the kind support of NEDA week and for a compassionate, honest dialog about recovery and healing. It means everything. To those of you who contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, deep gratitude: today’s the last day, and while there’s still time to give, I’ve met my goal for supporting NEDA. There’s a quotation by Franz Kafka that keeps coming…
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Your thoughts on retraining our mind to expect positive outcomes as opposed to constant deference to gloomy ones were just what I needed. Thank you for sharing. You have really helped me Gena.
To Good Things,