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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Friday, February 10, 2012

“Help” Shouldn’t Be a Four-Letter Word

Sunrise over the Matterhorn. I took this photo in 2004 when I was teaching in Zermatt, Switzerland

Has your body ever given you a big ‘ole kick in the rear to tell you, “Hey, you’ve gotta make some changes?” Mine certainly has…over and over again because apparently, I haven’t yet learned my lesson.

A beautiful snowy day in California
I’m a recovering Do-It-Yourselfer. However, I’m not the kind of DIYer you’ll find lurking behind rows of paint or stacks of tile at a home improvement store, nor are you likely to find me fixing a leaky faucet or changing light fixtures. I’m a DIYer in the sense that I don’t like asking for help. I want things done my way, and I’ve even conditioned myself to believe that only my way is the way. Plus, somehow I’ve wired it so I feel like I should do things myself. For some reason, before my personal DIY intervention, I believed that unless I did something completely on my own—from beginning to end—I couldn’t take credit for it, or somehow I’d cheated.

There are many steps in my recovery process, and I’m only partially through them, but bit-by-bit, I’m getting there.

For a long time, I had an aversion to hiring people to help me with things like cleaning and yard work. Many years ago, however, I was having a lot of back pain, and my doctor told me I couldn’t do housework. Although I knew scrubbing the bathtub and pushing the vacuum was aggravating the disc bulge in my lower back, I couldn’t quite imagine not cleaning my own home. Plus, I prided myself on being a good housekeeper. I think at one point, I even mentioned it as one of my skills in an online dating profile (I eventually deleted it, when I realized this wasn’t particularly sexy.)

Me with a very large root vegetable I grew all-by-myself
To follow my doctor’s instructions and still have an orderly home, I realized I’d have to get someone to clean for me periodically. I found a flyer at my local natural food co-op, and hired the woman to come every two weeks. The experience was a revelation. It turns out I wasn’t nearly as good at cleaning as I’d thought. Under the magic scrubbing of this woman, my apartment was completely transformed. Who knew that countertops, showers, and toilets could shine so luminously!

Recently, my mom and I spent countless long hours working on our book about the mind-body-spirit connection to what and how we eat. Sometimes we’d get so wrapped up in it that we’d go days upon days without ever leaving the house or even setting foot on the front lawn. Two days before the book was due, guess what…my back went out. It was my body’s way of rebelling and saying, “Hey, get some help. You don’t have to do everything!” As I said, I’m a recovering DIYer, which means occasionally I slip back into my old ways. So, now confined to a recumbent position per doctor’s orders, I got someone to assist me around the house today. Everything looks and feels so much better that I can’t help but wonder how else my life will improve when I let go of control and allow others to help.

Are you like me and sometimes wait until your body yells, “Enough is enough”? It’s not always easy to realize you don’t have to do everything yourself. What actions can you take today to preempt your body from finding its own ways to get you to slow down? Consider taking a luxuriously long bath, making a plan for delegating your work, or maybe even creating a delicious dinner, simply because you deserve it.

Root vegetables from my garden

                                  Comforting Roasted Root Vegetables

As we follow the cycle of life, every season has its own energy. Traditionally, the winter is the time to pull inward and nurture yourself. It’s a time to replenish your strength and take care of your own needs, which might very well mean getting some help with all the things on your “to do” list. In the meantime, what better way to nourish your body and soul than with a warm plate of roasted root vegetables!

Serves 6

1 lb. gold potatoes (skin on), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. beets, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
10-15 sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. coarse ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

This is a rustic dish; however, the more uniform you can make the size of the vegetables (about ½-1 inch sized pieces), the more evenly they’ll roast.

Wash, peel, and cut the vegetables. Divide the cut vegetables evenly between the two baking sheets. Sprinkle with the sage, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and toss together. I find that my hands are the best tools for this.

Put in the oven and roast until the vegetables are cooked through and browned on the outside, about an hour. To help the vegetables brown evenly, I recommend rotating the pans from top to bottom halfway through and stirring the vegetables once or twice while they’re roasting.