This January there has been not enough shredding and just enough bread. The snowpack is terrible and low but at least my kitchen is cozy-full. This makes my heart happy. While January is typically the month to espouse low-carb resolutions, green eating, and clean food, this year something deep inside me loves and wants only the pleasure of a perfect sandwich when i sneak home for lunch, a pile of bread pudding on a quiet day off, and afternoon snacks of homemade cheese jauntily set beside garlicky olives, summer-canned chutney, and a piece of crunchy toast. I feel an interesting sense of guilt towards these beautiful, homemade, albeit carb-laden choices- shouldn’t I be encouraging juice cleanses? avocado smears? smoothie overdrive? I love vegetables and exercise and want to be the kind of women who cultivates a living whole food diet and manages to eat cold healthy things in winter; but right now it is january and as usual I am drowning in stews. Braises. Pot-pies. I am snacking on yummy whole-spelt berry muffins between clinic appointments. Ensconced in faron’s lovely sourdough. The raw food from my garden consists of slug-eaten baby turnips. The kale looks sad. The seasonal choices are yams and cauliflower. I am tired of all of these things and don’t want to keep buying lettuce driven all the way from california. While calls for dietary change ring left -right -and centre, choosing warm carbs feels right in this season of slowing down, letting the quiet in, for fuelling ski-days, and soothing my poor ears from the horror that is myself learning the beginner violin.
It does make me wonder: when did healthy eating become about rules instead of instinct ? Why did bread become so loaded? When did the internet fill with encouragement to find yourself through sparsity and elimination in the darkest, loneliest month of the year? When did weight loss become about food guilt instead of fostering love of movement and spirit in our bodies? Why do we put such pressure on ourselves to make anew when its cold outside and we just want to knit? Why not set goals in July when the sun is high and one can’t help feel enough with the chance to run in the woods and float in rivers all of the time? Goals formed in those kind of moments might make more sense: july hopes are for barbecues and hiking trips not clean-photo-shoot living and the pursuit of unrealistic perfect health.
This year I am hoping to finally shed the mantra of “good enough is not good enough,” set in my overachieving little grade six heart by a well meaning childhood teacher. I was a seriously nerdy kid who loved to do things extra-well. I remember when the cut out letters of that mantra appeared on our class room board and how I was like, yep, got that. For sure. I can over-achieve not letting anything be good enough! I will win at math, studying, and life!
Ive carried that elementary school motivation around so hard now for decades that good enough really doesn’t feel good enough. Great advice for spelling review and dutifully finishing my medical charting: but crappy words for diets and life. In this vein Ive spent the last three weeks quietly miserable trying to meet my annual goals of winter austerity, chilly drinks, and the challenge to chipperly “build myself my best life.” The thing is, building my “best life” just makes me feel gross.
Why? Because the good enough best life is already here. I already built it by waking up in the morning and by being alive. The best life lives in little things- goose down duvets, braised tacos, slow cooker oatmeal mornings chatting with faron about what happened in dream world last night, and coffee in front of the wood stove. Its in the magic of night-mountain bike riding and winter-camping in the van. It’s in this most-perfect roasted chicken sandwich. Maybe instead of yet another 30-day challenge, I just need to bring on the bread.
Ps: What do you think? Are january cleanses helpful? A useful re-boot? A guilt-laden exercise? Necessary evils?