Weekend Reading, 8.4.19
August 4, 2019

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve had a chance to reflect on my internship experience in the last two weeks, and what stands out to me is how much of my own “stuff” I’ve been able to let go of, or work on. I’ve gotten better at taking care of myself. I’ve become firmer and clearer with boundaries. I’m communicating more directly. And, maybe best of all, I’ve come a long way in letting go of perfectionism.

I was thinking about this a lot this week, because it was a messy week, and somehow I stayed pretty unreactive. Rather than trying to fix or rework (i.e. control) what was happening, I put all of my energy into taking care of myself and waited for circumstances to pass by. It was a record setting level of calm, for me, and while I know that I’ll need to continue practicing all of this, it showed me that a different way of being is possible with attention and effort.

When I consider about my perfectionism, one thing that stands out is the faulty logic that, if I do everything “right,” bad stuff won’t happen. So far as I can see, the notion that there’s some sort of cosmic fairness that rewards good performance with safety and goodness is an illusion. It hasn’t been my experience or observation of the world that staying on good behavior all the time results in happiness, or getting what one wants, or being protected from life’s hardships.

What has proven to be true, at least so far as I can tell, is that growth—no matter how incremental or gradual—is always possible. It’s not really about fairness or reward. It’s about accepting that much less of life is within our conscious control than we like to believe, but we do have the opportunity to evolve as a result of what happens.

I know how simple this sounds, and I don’t think that the growth we do in response to our experiences is always lofty or oriented towards some sort of “betterment.” Sometimes inexplicable, painful things happen and we become more guarded, or ashamed, or cautious. But I guess my point—the idea that’s knocking around my brain lately—is that we’re always changing, whether we like it or not, and that this motion is sort of the point. Sometimes, when we look back on how and where we’ve moved, it even seems to make sense 🙂

I’ll probably always be someone who over-strives, but I’m enjoying this new ability to be passive, to accept what’s happening, to regard self-care (rather than being good at everything) as my main responsibility. A lot of the pressures and anxieties about pleasing everyone and exceeding at everything that felt real to me even a few years ago feel very far away right now.

Beneath all of this is a deepened sense of trust in life. It would have been very familiar, if not easy, to treat my DI year as yet another opportunity to “prove myself,” forcing each rotation to be what I wanted it to be. I’m so glad that I didn’t do that—that I allowed myself to accept that the year would be whatever it was. Letting go allowed me to keep coming back to the question of what I could learn, which is a lot more than I was counting on.

I wish you a week of growth, no matter what it looks like or how it shows up. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Gracie’s loaded breakfast cookies are packed with things I love, and I’d welcome them in the morning or any time of day!

Erin has a way with tofu, and her latest protein-packed creation is a tofu satay with spicy peanut sauce. Perfect for summertime grilling.

Speaking of grilling, I’m loving Taylor’s grilled cauliflower steaks with brightly colored romesco.

Lindsay’s farmers’ market pasta is the perfect way to use up the season’s bounty.

Finally, a perfect refreshing treat for beating the August heat: Sue’s beautiful watermelon kiwi popsicles.

Reads

1. Disparities in infant death rates continue to be grave in this country, according to a new study.

2. I’ve seen a few good articles lately on making a less processed diet affordable and accessible. Carrie Dennett’s latest is full of good ideas and insights (and I totally second the emphasis on frozen produce).

3. Cathy Erway takes a probing look at the cultural history of mock meats. It’s especially interesting to consider their origins given all of the current controversy over labeling!

4. A new report emphasizes the importance of plant-centric eating patterns for the sake of safeguarding the planet (CNN reports).

5. An interesting article on the way women think about their periods. It compares the growing “period positivity” movement, which encourages women to embrace their cycles as part of everyday life, with the concept of period neutrality, which may be more accommodating to the experiences of women who live with especially painful periods. As with nearly all things that relate to how we feel about our bodies, my feeling is that there’s a place for positivity, neutrality, and lots of other feelings and identifications. It depends on the person and what feels right to him or her.

We’ve had a few beautiful days here in New York: sunny, dry, summery but not sweltering. I’m about to take a little walk and soak up some of this one. Happy Sunday, friends.

xo

 

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  1. Dear Gena, what you say about so little that goes on being in our control, but us having the opportunity to evolve as a result of what happens may be simple, but it is far from simplistic–indeed it is quite profound. In fact, it prompted some thoughts that may turn into a blog post of my own, so I’ll leave it at that here for now. And thank you for the lovely article about the Buddhist tradition of mock meats. Much love–very proud of you, my dear xoxo

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