At some point in quarantine I read Emily Nunn’s The Comfort Food Diaries. I loved the premise of the book. The author, having recently gone through a series of deep personal losses, goes on a road trip to visit some of her closest friends and family around the country.
Nunn’s focus is, of course, on food. Her loved ones share their favorite comfort foods with her. In receiving these recipes and their stories, she gets the nourishment she needs in order to heal.
Much as I love reading about comfort food, my focus when I read The Comfort Food Diaries was the idea of traveling around to see one’s favorite people. The notion of doing this felt so poignant during lockdown, as I attempted to handle months of total solitude.
I told myself that, as soon as I and my loved ones were vaccinated and it was safe to travel again, I’d waste no time in taking some trips to see people who are dear to me.
My visits will probably happen in bits and pieces, rather than a road trip (if only because I have no idea how to drive). But they’re now underway.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been devoting weekends to seeing friends. It’s why I took a little time away from these weekend posts: I wanted to really be present for the visits, to soak up each and every minute.
And I did. I was in New Orleans and upstate New York, respectively. And I’ve also been taking more time catch up with friends who are in the city, fully vaccinated and reentering life, as well as friends who were gone for much of the pandemic and are now returning to NYC.
I’m now at a point where I can identify what I’ll be taking away from the pandemic year. The most important takeaway, for me, was the resolve to get out into the world more, to do more, go to more places, and interact more.
“Out of my head and into the world” has become a new motto. It isn’t mine; it’s something a friend said to me as he was encouraging me to be vocal with someone else about something important. “It can’t hurt to get all of this out of your head and into the world,” he told me.
Into the world, in this case, meant speaking. It meant articulating something to someone else and allowing a dialog to develop, rather than overthinking everything on my own.
But my friend’s words have become a new reading frame for me, a way of mindfully examining my own tendency to roll things over again and again in my mind, rather than doing, saying, acting, or experiencing.
There’s a time and a place to be contemplative, of course. But thoughtfulness and consideration aren’t challenges for me, whereas risk-taking and facing the unknown definitely are. Much as I’d like to figure everything out through thinking, I can’t.
For me, overthinking and isolation tend to go hand-in-hand. They compliment and encourage each other. If the forced isolation of coronavirus taught me anything, it’s that I want to be less isolated than I am.
A long time ago, a therapist asked me—at a moment when I was pre-contemplative about eating disorder recovery—what I wanted for myself that I couldn’t have if I also kept my ED.
There were lots of specific things I wanted. I wanted to eat at restaurants without anxiety and guilt. I wanted to eat dessert now and then without any internal anguish about the fact that it wasn’t nutritious. I wanted to not get anxious about having social plans because they’d mean I couldn’t control food. I wanted to travel without adhering to my food routines. I wanted a partner and a family, and I wanted to be healed and present for them.
But I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I blurted out “I want a bigger, fuller life.” It was the one thing I could tell her that encapsulated everything. Years later, it’s part of why I renamed this blog The Full Helping.
Getting out of my head and into the world is a gateway to that bigger and fuller life. I’m so glad I’ve had a taste of it lately. There have been belly laughs and big hugs, gazing at the Hudson River through train windows and at NYC skyscrapers from an airplane, lots of good food, the joy of being around my friends’ kids.
I’m feeling full in the best of ways: a full heart.
Happy Sunday, friends. I missed you. Here are some recipes and reads.
This sausage pasta skillet is exactly the sort of protein-rich, plant-based comfort food meal I love to make for dinner.
A vibrant white bean red pepper dip.
Jackie’s curried tofu lettuce cups are perfect for the warmer weather.
I love natto! Eager to try making it with Lisa as my guide.
I’ll take several of Holly Jade’s triple chocolate cheesecake bars, please.
1. A small green piece of sandstone holds clues about the future that might await us if we aren’t able to contain climate change.
2. A dancer’s moving meditation on adjusting to life with rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Four incarcerated people share their stories of surviving the coronavirus pandemic in prison.
4. A glimpse into the burnout and despair facing journalists who were in the trenches of pandemic coverage.
5. So fascinating: bioelectricity might be the key to limb regeneration.
Have a restful evening and a good holiday Monday, if it’s a holiday for you!
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“Out of my head and into the world.” Yep. You and me both, my friend. You and me both.