So I was cruising for the finish line. I’d worked. Taught classes. Pitched articles. Visited my in-laws and extended family for holidays and emergencies, checked on my upstate house. I had 5 days to work hard at the day job, teach more classes and get everything organized and packed and set up so nothing fell down around my ears while I was away with family in Mexico when…BAM, the flu. Or something very like it. Yeah. That kind of knee-capped me.
In fact, I refused to believe it. I went in to teach and work anyway. And about 3 hours into my day it finally hit me, I could not sit up any longer. That’s how disconnected I was from the reality of what was going on. How focused I was on that “finish line,” I didn’t even realize I literally could not sit up.
Arriving near home, I dissolved into tears half a block from the door, where husband found me and dragged me inside. And that’s all she wrote for the next five days. When I emerged from the fevers, and the fog lifted slightly on the morning of my flight to Mexico, I dumped my storage containers of summer clothes into a gigantic suitcase, showered off the ‘ick’, grabbed a banana and called a cab, hoping nothing dire had happened and that I hadn’t missed putting out any deadly fires.
And you know what? I hadn’t. Somehow work had survived without me. My clothes were in a bag (if far too many of them) and I made my flight. What more was necessary?
That’s the thing. There always seem to be about a million things that MUST get done. A bikini wax would have been nice, but yeah, the razor works. I could have packed better. I could have cleaned the house and checked the mail for urgent bills. I really WISH I’d been able to work and teach my classes. Those things are truly important. But if they’re not possible, well sometimes that happens I guess, and sometimes it feels like the agonizing and worry over what I do or do not get done makes life harder, rather than the actual lack of cranking through my to-do list.
Interestingly, I arrived on vacation with not a care in the world. Truth be told I was too tired and wrung out to worry. And hence the trip was even more relaxing. I did not even try to figure out how to ‘catch up’ or ‘put out fires,’ I just sat in the sun, ate good food and slept long and hard. Apparently what I needed.
There was some of this:
A little of this:
We sat around:
We found these:
We ate. We swam. We walked. We sat around. We laughed. We ate more. We slept. We teased each other and attempted to keep a straight face while posing.
And that was pretty much that.
Not that I recommend a flu as vacation prep. No sirreee. Stay away, friends. But there are life lessons in every drama. I think I relaxed my mind more on this vacation than on almost any other. I reveled in the fact that we didn’t have internet/cell connectivity for most of every day. And even though we did have wifi in the vacation rental (at one corner of the front room) I didn’t seek it out every second I could. And as a result I came home feeling more refreshed than after any other 7-day trip, or even last year’s 3-week visit to India.
Aha. What can I learn from this? Do what I can. Let go of what I can’t. Move on. Do not waste mental space on the ‘extras’. Ok, well that’s a lofty goal. Let’s see how long it lasts.
Meanwhile, I’ve been embracing easy evening meals, in the same vein. Yes, I want to experiment and bring you new recipes. No, I don’t have time while I catch up from said flu and vacation. Here’s what I’ve been doing (along with a bit of organic takeout). I hope it inspires you to simplify!
When I’m strapped for time and want an easy meal, I usually turn to roasted veggies. This is particularly easy right now, while asparagus is so fresh and plentiful, local and not too expensive. I think I ate asparagus 5 days out of 7 this week. Roasting is so easy. All it requires is that you turn on the oven and drizzle a little olive oil. And while the veggies are roasting away in there you can wash last night’s dinner plates. Yes, I expect they’re still in the sink. No judgement here.
Preheat oven to 425 or 450 (depending on how fast you want to get to dinner)
Wash and dry veggies (such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower, my current non-starchy faves, brussels sprouts too!)
Drizzle veggies with olive oil
Roast for 7-15 minutes, depending on the veggie. I like my asparagus bright green and not too soggy. Broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower take longer. If I am in a hurry I will brown them on the oven floor, to give them the pizza-stone searing effect.
Here are some of my favorite pairings:
Roasted non-starchy veggies with a roasted sweet potato slathered in coconut butter or oil
Roasted non-starchy veggies with a fish filet, grilled or roasted in parchment paper at the same time
Roasted non-starchy veggies with roasted maitake mushrooms and a fried egg or two, or a frittata
Roasted non-starchy veggies with warm quinoa and sesame seeds, olive oil and avocado wedges (PS, you can make the quinoa in advance, enough for the whole week, and just reheat it with different mix-ins or serve it cold as a salad too)
The asparagus sweet potato combo seem to keep reappearing, because I generally roast a bunch of sweet potatoes at the same time, then reheat them in the 7 minutes it takes to cook my asparagus. Fill the ‘tater with coconut butter, an egg, black beans, sautéed garlic and mushrooms, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, or whatever your heart desires, keeping the them of “simple” and “no fuss.”
What are your favorite easy spring eats? More than good food I value good conversation so share your thoughts in the comments!
And yeah, this last photo is just to rub it in.