(Long) Weekend Reading, 9.2.19

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve been thinking a lot about taking responsibility lately.
For the past few weeks, the process of slowly and patiently taking
care of my responsibilities—academic, personal, business,
financial, and the tiny tasks and duties associated with everyday
living—have been a big part of staying healthy and engaged as I
weather a patch of depression. It’s not about keeping busy, which
has been my way of trying to outrun sadness in the past. It’s
about reminding myself of my own capability and efficacy, proving
to myself that I can handle things, even when it feels as though I
can’t.

The effort was challenged this past weekend. At some point in
the last five years, long weekends have become challenging for me.
Too much time spent on social media, scrolling through pictures of
my friends enjoying the time off with their partners and their
kids. Too much time wishing that life were going somewhat
differently than it is.

That I’m spending my time this way is obviously a choice, and
it’s not a great choice. I should try harder to do something
special for myself over long weekends: travel, take a staycation,
soak in culture, consider some sort of retreat. Maybe I’m making
excuses for staying stuck, but it’s felt hard to do that with the
grind of graduate school and internship in the last few years, the
financial tightening they both have created, and the fact that
I’m sort of tired of planning things on my own. (That last bit is
definitely an excuse, but it feels like a barrier when I’m
feeling it, if that makes any sense.)

I fell into the old trap of envy and dissatisfaction and
loneliness this weekend, compounded by feeling a little
cabin-feverish with studying. Things only became intensified when I
started feeling rotten about the pattern itself. Sadness,
self-pity, envy, guilt. Rinse and repeat.

I read a lot about the power and importance of self-compassion.
I’ve accessed it myself, but not often. Most of the time, it
feels like an ideal that I’ll always applaud and never quite
experience directly. Yet there are some things we recognize to be
fundamentally true even if we haven’t yet seen, heard, or felt
them, and I think that true self-compassion is one of those.

Years ago, when I was in ED recovery, I was told that life would
be richer and fuller once I’d recovered. It turned out to be the
truth, but for a long time I accepted it without having any proof
of my own. There was a long, painful stretch in which the
discomfort of recovery was a lot more prevalent than the benefits.
The familiarity and safety of my disorder felt more real than the
potential risks, while the hardships of recovery—releasing my
grip on things, watching my body change day by day—were much
louder than the whispered promises of better things to come.

I got through that time by choosing to believe that a recovered
life really would be better than a lifetime with my eating
disorder, which felt safe, yes, but had also started to choke me
with its monotony and sameness. I chose to believe it not because
smart people told me it was true, but because on some gut level I
knew that it was true, even if I hadn’t yet experienced it.
I’ll always be grateful for that leap of faith and the ways in
which it ultimately allowed me to grow.

I’ve been trying for years now to get “better” at
self-compassion, to cultivate it through journaling and self-talk.
The practices are fine; they can be helpful and they encourage
self-reflection. But these days I suspect that accepting and
forgiving and standing by myself at the moments when I feel least
worthy is going to be another one of those leaps of faith. I
don’t yet know what fierce self-compassion feels like, but I have
the strong conviction that it’s the way to be. I’m young, I’m
growing, and one of these days, if I stay open to the possibility,
I’ll know what it’s like to extend love and tolerance to
myself.

Until that happens, I can put self-compassion into practice by
treating my body kindly, sticking to habits that enhance my
well-being, and using my words—blogging, writing, journaling,
dialog in therapy—to stay truthful with myself and with others. I
can continue to patiently go about my business. Doing my best, just
as we all are.

In the spirit of gentle practices, gentle words, and gentle
thoughts, I’m wishing you a great week. Here are some recipes and
reads.

Recipes

I love baked oatmeal—in or outside of muffin cups—but I have
yet to try a chocolate version. Nolwenn is inspiring me with her
vegan
chocolate oatmeal muffins
.

I’m adding these tasty looking vegan
falafel burgers
to the many recipes I hope to make with my air
fryer at some point when I’m feeling more inspired to
experiment.

An
herby corn risotto
that’s absolutely perfect for late summer,
early fall.

I love the kick of Jackie’s creative
sriracha sesame potato salad
.

Finally, I can’t get over how pretty Kristen’s mini
blackberry kiwi galettes
are!

Reads

1. A new study
ties more plant-based protein consumption to longer life
.

2. In The New York Times, Frank Bruni
takes readers on a journey to the Greek island of Chios to get to
know mastic
, a shrub that may boast powerful medicinal
properties. Bruni is particularly interested because he’s got
optic nerve damage to one of his eyes; others believe that mastic
may be helpful for Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. I was
interested in part because I’ve used mastic in making a vegan
version of tsoureki, the traditional Greek Easter bread. In any
case, a really interesting read.

3. If you’ve read about fecal transplant but wondered how it
all works, Discover
gives us some intel
.

4. Michael Erard profiles
the work of two brothers
who are combining palliative care
expertise, linguistics, and AI to encourage clearer and more
effective conversations between doctors and people receiving
end-of-life care.

5. I’m really enjoying Bustle‘s “Breaking Up with
Perfect” series, and I was particularly touched by Sabrina
Qiao’s reflection on
how chronic illness has changed her relationship with her body

(and with a lot of other things, too). Such important reading for
those who have grappled with chronic illness, silent illness, and
illnesses that defy mainstream understanding.

Happy Labor Day, friends. I’ll be back later this week with a
delicious new dessert to celebrate the first week of September.

xo

The post (Long)
Weekend Reading, 9.2.19
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(Long) Weekend Reading, 9.2.19