Weekend Reading, 6.30.19
June 30, 2019

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Years ago, a yoga teacher of mine said something in class that sounded obvious, but wasn’t: “when it can be easy, let it be easy.”

I’ve mentioned her words on the blog before, so in the spirit of the quotation I won’t overanalyze it. But I will tell you that her advice has helped to guide me through this period of anxiety. It’s been especially helpful in the last week.

On Sunday evening, after I vented about my overwhelm here on the blog, I spent some time thinking about what could be simplified or made easier in the week ahead. Work projects couldn’t be, but there were lots of other things that could.

I reached out to a close family friend and asked whether she could help out with some of the care-taking after my mom’s knee replacement surgery on Monday. I ordered my mom some meals from Veestro, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about food during her recuperation, and I threw in a bunch for myself, so that I can spend a little less time on cooking and meal prep during this busy stretch.

I cancelled some work calls that didn’t need to happen right away and extended the deadline for a job that had snuck up on me. I asked a peer to walk me through an assignment I’d been struggling with. I delayed making plans with friends, explaining that it would be better to catch up when my rotations were winding down. I sent emails that were shorter and more to-the-point than mine usually are; I turned in a couple projects that I gave about 80% of my effort to, but not more, trusting that they were good enough as they were.

I asked my closest friend here in the city to keep me company at the hospital on Monday; I didn’t ask for company during my mom’s last knee replacement, and it turned into an unnecessarily lonely, tense day. I spent much of it looking around the waiting room at the hospital watching partners and families band together, feeling pangs of envy and sadness. Those feelings were (and are) honest and OK. But I don’t have to go it alone all the time, either, and I’m glad that I asked my friend for a little companionship during the wait.

It’s my tendency to take charge of things and then give them my all. I’m not ashamed of this; it’s part of how I work, live, and love. But I’m learning as I get older the profound truth of the observation that no man—or woman—is an island. It takes courage and wisdom to ask for help, to choose against things being harder or more onerous than they need to be.

This past week wasn’t easy, and the week ahead won’t be, either. Things will feel challenging until my rotations are over, and my RD journey won’t stop there: there’s an RD exam to take, and then planning what comes next. One lesson I learned as a post-bacc student is that it’s easy to live in constant anticipation of an easier, smoother, less demanding moment in time, telling oneself that the business of being at peace can be delayed until then.

It really shouldn’t be, though. There are always upswings and downswings in life, including periods that feel either especially stressful or especially sweet. But very rarely do the clouds part entirely, which makes it important to cultivate calm no matter how hectic things are. I’m beginning to understand that it’s almost always possible to simplify something, to put down an unnecessary burden or two.

That’s the spirit with which I’m looking ahead to tomorrow, anyway. And I’ll continue to issue myself a gentle invitation to let go of what I can and ask for help with what I can’t. Fingers crossed. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I love broken lasagna, and I’m so intrigued by Lindsey’s tomato free version with vegan ricotta and pesto.

A great recipe for July 4th get-togethers: Sarah’s vibrant, layered bean dip.

These crispy, Indian-inspired vegetable and red lentil balls look like the perfect addition to salads, pitas, and grain bowls. You can use the Google translator function to check them out on Susann and Yannic’s page.

Lily’s oat seed crackers look like a perfect, portable snack for me as I wrap up the last few weeks of my internship, and her impassioned tribute to Joy Harjo’s work is as lovely as ever.

Finally, a perfect, all-American banana cream pie for Independence Day! Marly’s vegan version looks amazing.

Reads

1. The New York Times reports on the growth of Charley—now seventeen months old—who had a groundbreaking surgery in utero to correct spina bifida. Harrowing and inspiring.

2. Hypercholesterolemia, or clinically high levels of blood serum cholesterol, are improving but still far from ideal among American kids and teens. I like RD Keri Gans’ tips for prevention, which include increasing fiber, focusing on whole grains, and limiting fatty foods. To her suggestions for boosting omega-3 fatty acid intake, I’d offer a focus on chia, flax, hemp, walnuts, soy, and vegan DHA/EPA supplements.

3. I’m a big believer that all emotions, even those that feel most threatening, have something to teach us. I appreciate Amanda Mull’s reporting on their importance and validity.

4. Until I read this article I hadn’t given enough thought to the need for low-cost care for companion animals. I’m glad that New York City’s resources for vulnerable animals is growing.

5. Finally, happy Pride. The celebration in NYC has been inspiring so far. While I was thinking about the Pride March today and its meaning, I stumbled on Eric Kim’s article for Food52 about coming out to his parents. Kimchi fried rice plays a pivotal role in the family’s shared story—Kim is Korean American—and his compassion shines through every word.

In the spirit of compassion, connection, and celebration of who we are, happy Sunday, friends. I’ll be looping back soon with a new summer salad recipe.

xo

 

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    2 Comments
  1. Dear Gena, thank you for this post! I am getting ready to return to grocery shopping today after over a month of not being able to, and this gives me encouragement to implement some “make it easier” hacks I thought of this morning, so I can have the stamina to do all I want while I’m there. Let the ease flood in! And oh that broken lasagne, that banana cream pie! And I look forward to reading Kim’s piece in Food52, Sending gentle healing and smooth sailing to your mom and you this week during her surgery and recovery. Love you!!

  2. Gena, I am very glad to read that you are asking for help. And allowing some things to be easy, especially when things can be overwhelming. Brava, girl! I hope Mom’s surgery goes flawlessly and that you get what you need in the coming weeks. Sending love and light ❤️

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