This whole business
of self-compassion is most definitely a practice, which (for
me, anyway) means days that come easily and days that don’t.
Yesterday was a difficult day. I forgot something relatively
important, which I should have remembered (and had set numerous
reminders to myself about), which set off a spiral of anxiety about
feeling unproductive, disorganized, etc.
This is a typical cycle for me: giving myself a break, often
because I’ve gotten sick, and then undoing a lot of the
gentleness with a subsequent panic about what hasn’t gotten done.
The inconsistency in my productivity and motivation, the cycles of
procrastination and doing, is something I’m still working
on—and I know that burnout has plenty to do with it. But enhanced
insight has yet to lessen the worry that I feel when it seems as
though I’ve fallen behind. And the DI creates more deadlines,
paperwork, and logistics than usual.
I do think I’m becoming more adept at breaking the familiar
cycle once it starts. At the heart of this is the fact that I
don’t want to waste any more time than I already have with the
exhausting business of self-blame. In the past, I suspect that
negative self-talk and self-censure was so much a part of my way of
being that I was attached to it, whether I knew it or not. I feel
very differently these days—aware that we’re all our worst
critics sometimes, conscious of the fact that all behaviors take a
while to change, but very ready to change this one.
Yesterday I spent my afternoon feeling especially rotten about
myself. It didn’t take me long to realize how much I didn’t
want the remainder of my Saturday to follow suit. I downloaded
Kristen Neff’s book, which
had been on my wish list for a while. I spent some time with it,
and with Sharon Salzberg’s introduction. Then I met up with a
friend for dinner before attending a kirtan at my yoga studio.
In spite of the fact that I’ve never been much of a
singer—not for karaoke, not even in the shower—I love kirtan. I
can’t think of too many life experiences that give me more joy
than mantra and song with my spiritual community, and last night
was no exception.
My friend and I were running late (as always), so the music had
already began when we arrived. I found a blanket and joined in the
song with something that felt a lot like glee—I haven’t been
able to practice yoga with regularity this fall, and I’ve missed
my home studio more than I realized. I didn’t know how much I was
craving the company of my fellow yogis until last night, nor did I
understand how starved I’ve felt of a sense of devotion to
something bigger than me.
I spent the next two hours singing, clapping, snapping, and
occasionally jiggling a tambourine in celebration. Celebration of
what? I don’t know—the kirtan had a new year’s theme, but I
wasn’t really thinking about the transition from last year to
this one. If anything, I was celebrating the practice of new
beginnings, which is personal and unattached to the calendar. I was
celebrating the fact that my day could have felt a certain way, and
a mere four hours later feel so differently. I’ve
been ruminating lately on the power of starting fresh with each
breath, each new moment, and last night felt like an embodiment of
Most of all, though, it was a celebration of shared voice and
song. And it reminded me that, while my practice of self-care often
looks like taking it easy, resting, giving myself the gift of
solitude, cancelling plans to take it easy, etc., that isn’t
always what’s needed. Sometimes the best medicine is for me to
step outside and choose to be with my community. I sometimes forget
what a gift it is that it’s there. We’re all stumbling and
celebrating, on our own and sometimes, if we’re really lucky,
I’m starting this new week with a sense of lightness and
gratitude—and lots of video clips of last night’s music on my
phone, which I’ll watch whenever I need to be transported back to
the feelings I felt at the kirtan in the days ahead.
I wish you some inner or outer music of your own. Here are some
recipes and reads.
I think I’ve met my next vegan breakfast
A very cozy, very easy, wintery
I love the looks of Steven’s protein-rich
Southwestern vegan posole.
Another simple meal: Aysegul’s one-pan Mexican
Finally, Sarah has created
one of the most beautiful whole roasted cauliflowers I’ve
1. On the topic of burnout, a few readers have sent me the link
this Buzzfeed article now. I’ve found it to be, just as they
did, incredibly relatable.
The article identifies a constellation of struggles, but
especially a difficulty in managing everyday tasks and errands,
that I’ve had a hard time owning up to. Why? Because the whole
issue feels incredibly embarrassing (why should so-called adulting
be so hard for me?), and because until now I understood it solely
as a symptom of my depression, when I could admit to it at all. I
may be much less alone than I think I am.
I don’t want to say too much, as the article’s worth reading
in its entirety, but I did especially love this quotation
(underscored to me by a reader and friend who was compelled by it
as I was):
But for the first time, I’m seeing myself, the parameters of
my labor, and the causes of my burnout clearly. And it doesn’t
feel like the abyss. It doesn’t feel hopeless. It’s not a
problem I can solve, but it’s a reality I can acknowledge, a
paradigm through which I can understand my actions.
A fascinating look at alpha-gal allergy—which makes people
allergic to animal meat and anything derived from an animal or its
excretions—and its link to tick bites.
This interesting article reports on biomusic, an interface that
allows for detection of anxiety or other emotions via physiological
signals. It holds special promise for researchers and caregivers
working with patients who can’t communicate through motion or
This New York Times article describes early research on the
power of expectation or belief to impact satiety and the capacity
to exercise. It’s one intriguing experiment only, and the
results—which point to belief/expectation as vying with genetics
in mediating the food/exercise-related measures—don’t mean that
genetics are unimportant.
Still, I paid attention when I read this, as it’s long been my
observation that strong beliefs and outcome expectations (for
example, the idea that one’s relationship with food is incurably
damaged) can reinforce struggle with eating and fitness.
5. It’s taken me years—and a lot of failed baking
experiments—to figure out
this critical distinction.
Speaking of Taste, the magazine has helped to make possible an
awesome ebook promotion of Power
Plates! For the next week, the Kindle version of the book is
only $2.99, which makes it a great deal. If you’ve thought about
getting the book but have been deterred by the price point, if
you’d like to explore the recipes before or without investing in
the hard copy, or if you’re a fan of cooking from your Kindle in
general, you can check the promotion out here 🙂
Happy Sunday, friends. I’ve got an awesome, healthful cookie
recipe coming your way in just a day or two!
Source: FS – All – Food and Nutrition Blogs
Weekend Reading, 1.13.18