Weekend Reading
January 1, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

It’s now been a week since Quarantine Christmas, and I’m about to wrap up my isolation here at home. I would love to be able to say that I’m somehow enriched as a result of the experience, but I wasn’t really aiming to make the best of it. I just got through it.

Thankfully, time moved quickly in the strange, blurry week between Christmas and NYE. No sooner was I reflecting on the shift in my spirits that took place on Christmas than a very similar shift took place for the ringing in of 2022.

I’d had it with isolation when I woke up yesterday. I was completely homesick for my yoga studio. I now feel well enough for home practice, but for me, practicing at home is like eating food that I can’t taste: necessary, yet joyless.

Coincidentally, I’m also eating without tasting. I lost my smell and taste on Monday of this past week.

As I was slogging my way through home practice, I thought about a moment only one or two months ago, when I was practicing in the studio. My yoga teacher invited us to remember a time (2020) when we couldn’t gather and practice together at all.

In that moment, it occurred to me how easy it is for us to lose sight of the preciousness of everyday gifts and pleasures. Yoga is the big one, but there are also coffee shops, window shopping, the ability to text a friend and make plans to meet up for dinner at a restaurant. There are subway rides with music or reading or people watching, the hustle and bustle of crowds.

I’ve written many blog posts that express my delight in these things. But even in the wake of 2020, when isolation was mandatory for all of us, I’ve had my own moments of taking them for granted.

I’m always grateful and excited for yoga, but there are plenty of days when I just set my alarm and go, without remembering that only a year ago going wasn’t an option. And, as hugely important as food is to me—my big passion, the source of my healing, and my vocation—I rarely think about how fortunate I am to have the senses that allow me to enjoy it.

One of my favorite quotations is by Pema Chödron: “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” After the worst of the first wave of the pandemic in New York City, I was certain that I’d been given all the reminder I needed to cherish life as I know it.

Maybe it wasn’t enough. Perhaps the meaning that I can find in Quarantine Christmas is a profound appreciation of all that is, right here and right now.

I lost taste and smell with another virus years ago. Both senses were gone for nearly eight weeks, and at a certain point, I started to wonder whether they’d ever return. I’ll never forget the morning when I woke up and realized that I could both smell and taste my morning coffee. No daily ritual has ever been more memorable.

That’s just how it is when we’re reunited with something, anything, that we’ve taken for granted. As gloomy as the start of 2022 has been, I have that sensation of wonder and thankfulness to look forward to. And it can’t come soon enough.

It feels very strange to be publishing this post on a Saturday two weeks in a row, but I didn’t want to let the first day of the year go by without checking in and telling you I’m grateful for your presence. Thanks for reading and for being part of this community.

Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I rely on cashews to do just about everything, so it’s refreshing to see a vegan Caesar dressing that’s tahini based, rather than cashew-based.

I would like to dive headfirst into a plate of these vegan mushroom and cabbage pierogi.

Such a clever idea to make sheperds pie twice baked potatoes!

This vegan tofu, rice, and cheese casserole is just my kind of comfort food.

Christmas may be over, but since mine was weird, I think I’ll have to make Natalie’s festive vegan orange cranberry bundt cake in early January.

Reads

1. I’ve been blogging for a good long time, so I know all about how inspiration and the urge to write can come and go. I love how novelist Anna Pitoniak writes about this, lightly and curiously, while also taking a moment to reflect on the pandemic loneliness that has touched us all.

2. I raised a glass last night, along with countless others, to Betty White. Here’s a little bit, via the New York Times, about how her life is being celebrated.

3. If your hair seems to be falling out more than usual in these pandemic times, you’re not alone.

4. Loved Taste‘s reporting on the world of “rice sommeliers” and their quest to find the world’s best rice.

5. It seems somehow right to welcome in 2022 with Briohny Doyle’s raw, lyrical, personal essay about the personal and collective losses of the pandemic. She writes,

I’m resilient but I still feel stupid, can’t get my head around things. When this house is demolished, the land will become townhouses where affluent families will live with ocean glimpses, double glazing, air-conditioners and probably no more than a glancing concern for what was here before. I’ll be somewhere else by then of course, in some future I still can’t quite imagine.

The people that pass, pass through us. The events we survive, survive with and beyond us. Nothing is over. We reflect, act and continue from this space, in this crisis, now.

I don’t think that any of us can shake off the feeling that we’re stuck in a lingering trauma, still processing it even as we try to move on.

Yet here we are, starting a new calendar year. And while this moment feels in some ways like a continuation of 2020 and 2021, time is moving forward. Things are always changing, even when it feels as though they aren’t.

It’s my deepest, wildest hope that 2022 is going to surprise us.

Happy new year, everyone. And may all beings living be happy and free.

xo

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    2 Comments
  1. Hi Gena,

    Happy New Year to your sweet self. I hope you’re feeling better. Thxx for a year of insightful articles and perspectives and delicious recipes. Looking forward to sharing a new year in the community.

  2. This: ‘ … but for me, practicing at home is like eating food that I can’t taste: necessary, yet joyless’. It is so good to hear someone else admit this, Gena.

    My choice of exercise is different from yours (not yoga, but running and walking, as well as riding my bike to the shops) but during periods of quarantine and lockdown over the last couple of years I discovered to my surprise that my reasons for exercising are all about the joy, not the necessity. When I can’t find the joy I largely stop exercising. I hadn’t made this connection before.

    Anyway, here’s to more joy this year. (And to meals that you can taste again soon 🙂 ).

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