Weekend Reading
March 22, 2020

When I’m my yoga nidra class, my teacher sometimes invites us to imagine a personal paradise. She tells us it can be any place we like: outdoors or indoors, faraway or nearby, past or present, with others or private. The goal is never to force an image, but rather to let what comes up come up.

Week after week, the place I go when I’m asked to find a paradise of my own is my apartment. I always have a little internal laugh at this moment, because my apartment is a fifteen minute walk from the studio and the place where I spend nearly all of my time. Not much of a journey, right?

I keep waiting to see whether another place presents itself to me as my fantasy place. Maybe another city I’ve visited and loved, a memory from childhood, or some exotic sunny beach somewhere. It never happens. Week after week, when asked to find my happy place, I go home.

Maybe I need to get out more. Or maybe there’s an important lesson here. No matter how much I find to be dissatisfied with, no matter how restless and anxious and frustrated I sometimes feel with how things are going, I’m actually very contented with the everyday life that I have. I’m not always conscious of that contentment, but when I allow myself to become truly and deeply relaxed—when thinking and overthinking fall away—I unearth the joy I take in my home and its ordinary rhythms.

It seems like a good moment to remember this, since I’m home even more than usual right now. In spite of the fear and worry, in spite of the grief I feel for the world, I’m being forced to spend nearly every waking moment in a place that I love deeply. I wish I were here under different circumstances, but at least I’m here. It’s such a privilege to have that sense of safety right now, when so much else is uncertain.

When all of this craziness began, I wondered how it would feel to be on my own more than usual. Would I be lonely? Would my anxiety or depression flare up? What would it be like not to visit my mom? I’ve had moments of struggle with each of those things. Occasionally I’ve wished I were here at home with people of my own.

But these two weeks have also taught me a lot about what I have to be grateful for. A place to call home. Food in the fridge. Friends who are a text or a DM away. A mother who doesn’t mind when I check in on her incessantly, just to know she’s OK. A yoga community that has stayed intact virtually through all of this.

Most of all, the fact that I’ve created a little place for myself in the world where I feel safe. I think often of those who can’t or don’t feel safe where they are right now. I think of them, and I send them love, prayers, caring thoughts.

I keep hearing about how, when all of this is over, we’ll stop taking our physical connectedness for granted. We’ll cherish being able to gather, to celebrate, to hug, to touch. I know that’s true. I also know that, when this is behind us, physical proximity isn’t the only thing I’ll have a new appreciation for. I now do, and will continue, to have a new appreciation of the life I’m already leading. It’s the place I’d most like to be, according to my deeper consciousness 🙂

Wishing you safety and peace. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Such a vibrant, colorful, and refreshing veggie quinoa salad.

Vegan comfort food at its finest: Megan’s creamy mushroom wild rice soup.

I love my store-bought vegan meats, but this would be an excellent time to start making more of my own! Starting with Marly’s vegan chicken.

A beautiful and hearty grilled romaine caesar.

Finally, a gorgeous (as always) gluten free lemon tart with a vegan option by Alanna.

Reads

1. I’ve definitely been susceptible to panic shopping when I pick up supplies for me and my mom lately (I’ve been making contact-free deliveries to her when necessary). I liked Elaine Smookler’s compassionate tips for managing this.

2. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can practice gratitude for the yoga community right now. I liked the tips here, which extend to self-care, too.

3. Some calm places, via The New York Times.

4. An essay on quarantine in Florence from Emiko Davies, who’s one of my favorite Food52 contributors.

5. Finally, an uplifting and lovely video from the musicians of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Take care of yourselves, friends. It’s a great time for soup, and I’m going to be sharing one of my favorite soups from Power Plates tomorrow.

xo

Leave a Comment

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    3 Comments
  1. Hi gena,
    Just discovered your blog. I live the variety and balance you include here, and your writing is beautiful. I am two years into recovery from ED, and using this time in isolation to start up my own blog as a space to write and reflect. Thanks for the inspiration. Stay safe and well ❤️

    • So lovely to “meet” you, Jordan. Congrats on your recovery, and I’m glad you can take this difficult time to pause and reflect on it. Stay safe, too.

  2. Hello Gena

    Thank you so much for your Weekend Reading with your thoughts about your home! I feel the same about my paradise/home!

You might also like

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone reading has had an enjoyable weekend, and if you’ve got a holiday tomorrow, I hope you’ll spend it restfully. Steven and I are about to embark on a long day of travel as we return home from a friend’s wedding, and the following recipes and articles have been keeping me company so far. To begin, I really love Lisa’s simple recipe for Burmese fried rice. It features ginger, scallion, and peas (all things I love), and I always…

In the last few days I read both Genevieve Angelson’s Refinery29 essay on confronting her eating disorder while in quarantine, and also The New York Times‘ reporting on the current crisis as a relapse trigger for those in addiction recovery (which, not surprisingly, Angelson refers to). I’m going to issue a gentle warning for the Refinery29 article, as it contains detailed descriptions of behaviors: consider what’s appropriate for you at this moment in time before reading. My point really isn’t so much to…

Happy Sunday, friends, and happy Easter to those of you who are celebrating. It was a long and busy week here, but the weekend has brought a lot of happiness–namely, Steven’s and my two year anniversary yesterday. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since we met, both in such different places in our lives and living in DC. One move, two grad school programs, one career shift, and four semesters later, we’re still relishing the experience of living together and learning…

I learned three weeks ago that September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. As a result, I’ve wanted to say something particularly meaningful about depression, but I just haven’t known what. I can’t pretend to understand anyone else’s experience of despair. Then, a couple weeks ago, I was emailing with a reader and friend who mentioned a line of poetry from Rebecca Hazelton, quoted as an epigraph in Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, which I’m reading right now. “The world is a wonder,…