I am ready

I know better, but sometimes I do it anyway.  I get busy.  Too busy to take care of myself properly.  Then I get tired.  So tired.  My thoughts move at a pace akin to limping through knee-high swamp water.  My body protests with aches and pains and little warnings that I ignore as long as I can, longer than I should.  I come home from work too late and depleted.

Something has to give, so I stop cooking.  What is normally self-nurturing and a joy and a creative outlet becomes a chore.  I cross it off my list and subsist on a bland succession of quesadillas made without love.  Some nights I pick up the spiciest Thai takeout I can find.  Of course, I have no leftovers so I buy sandwiches and Cheetos for lunch.

I feel even more tired and bloody-minded.  I complain about my job, even while I have out of work friends who would be glad to have it.  The sun comes out and I still think, “If only it was even warmer.”   My hair gets unruly.  Voices sound shriller.  The edges of my world feel a bit more jagged.

And so it goes, all week until my stomach hurts with a low constant fire that demands change.

I know I’m not the only one who does this.  We all do.  And I’d love to hear how you break the too busy to cook/too tired to care cycle.

I’ll tell you my secret: Greens.  As soon as I realize that I need to get back up on that wagon and take better care of myself, I reach for the biggest, leafiest bunch of greens I can find.  I make a big pot of beans and another one of brown rice and I return to utterly simple basics.  But the important part is the greens.  Although not a panacea (they may not cure a broken heart–pasta and butter and wine will  be needed for that), when prescribed for a crise de nerfs they are magical.  I swish and rinse and slice and sauté.  While this is going on, I calm down and get my head back in the game.

I fill a small bowl with restrained spoonfuls of rice and beans.  I top this with a generous tangled heap of the smoking hot greens and I feed myself.  I feel my vitality returning, just a little.  My eyes and heart start to clear.  It’s a process, but it begins with the elixir of greens.

I pack myself a lunch of the same and put the rest in the refrigerator.  Whatever comes next week, Je suis prest.  I am ready.

Collards with Raisins and Orange Juice

(adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry)

  • 1 bunch clean collard greens, ribs removed, and cut into very thin strips
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp hot sauce or chile paste
  • salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.  Add the collards and cook uncovered for ten minutes or until softened.  Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Remove the collards from the heat, drain, then turn them into the bowl of cold water and stir briefly to stop cooking.  Drain in a colander and press gently to remove excess water.

In a large sauté pan or wok over medium heat, sauté the garlic in oil for one minute.  Add the collards, raisins, and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute for three or four minutes, stirring frequently.  Add orange juice and hot sauce, then cook briefly—approximately 30 seconds.  Add additional salt if needed and serve.

Makes 2-3 servings


5 thoughts on “I am ready

  1. Amber Stott

    What a wonderful piece of writing! So honest, so real. You just expressed exactly how I’ve been feeling. In fact, when I start to feel this way about food, I sometimes stop eating, because I hate those joyless meals–the ones that feel forced because you’re stomach is empty, but your heart is, too. For me, weekend breakfast tends to help with the rut–starting with some long, slow time creating something for my husband so we can eat together. That connection through food is very healing to me. Thanks for this important piece of writing!! You’re so good at it!

  2. monet

    This looks lovely and I can so relate to that overwhelming feeling that you so beautifully explained. I know that last night I didn’t want to make dinner, but once I started…I felt so much better. I guess we just have to make ourselves sometimes. Thanks for sharing these greens. Delicious.

  3. Natalie

    I am glad it is not just me that lets their food go during times of tiredness and stress. I am doing just the same as you – existing on pots of pre-made mashed potato and ready meals, lunching on rubbish and snacking on huge bags of crisps. I feel unhealthy and a bowl of your beams and greens might just be the thing to drag me back into eating properly again.


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