I had a lightbulb moment last week where I realized I cannot do everything (including, this post seems to indicate, take a non-blurry photo of a roasted vegetable dinner). I was sitting in the dining room when it happened: Like most workdays, I had my laptop open before me, streaming sunlight to my right, and, just then, I saw the neighbor working in her yard and thought how I’d like to go say hi—right as my inbox pulled in two new emails, my phone rang, I noticed dust collecting on the floorboards and my open Word document reminded me of how much left on this project there was yet to do. In that moment—that split-second moment—where so many of my honest desires, from keeping a clean house to being a productive freelancer, collided, this single thought, clear as day, hit my heart: I am just a person and I cannot do everything.
Thing is, saying there are things I cannot do is humbling. In fact, I’m not sure I want to admit it to you. When you ask me to take on a project, I want to say yes—and get it to you faster than you’d expected. When you invite me to a social event, I want to say sure—and then be charming and easy and fun. I want to meet your expectations and I want to meet mine—and the worst part is that I’m just proud enough to think I actually can. I’ll turn myself in pretzels trying to work good, love good, friend good, give good, cook good, look good, decorate good, budget good. But I can’t. Not all of it, not all of the time.
This is the sort of thing lots of people are realizing these days. Two, if not three, of the articles I cited in the last post hit at this same idea, and there are many others, too. For example, I read a fascinating, funny post recently that talked about the guilt parents experience (I can only imagine!) but then, also, it did the thing that 90% of these articles do in response to those feelings, the same thing most of us do in response to people we view as more talented or beautiful or smart or successful or cool: it poked fun/criticized parents who weren’t struggling in the same ways.
In other words, to make ourselves feel better that we aren’t accomplishing X, we dislike or belittle anyone who is.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and about how it relates to blogging and all of life. As I’ve come face-to-face with one aspect of my own inadequacy and needed a way to cope with it, I’ve felt the temptation to discount anyone who doesn’t struggle in the same way. I’ve sat in my dining room, vulnerable and imperfect, and felt unable to be happy for someone who, instead of struggling to accomplish simple daily tasks, is out there taking better photos, building a bigger blog following or, getting a book deal. I’ve felt this way because, in their victories, these successful people are reminding me of my failures. And I don’t want to be reminded of my failures. I want to do everything.
Today’s recipe is super simple. It’s roasting a bunch of vegetables in coconut oil, throwing them all together with herbs and calling it dinner. I’d like to say it’s for all of you people who read this post and relate to it and think, I can’t do everything either! Someone understands! Here’s a meal I can make!, but actually it’s for all of you, even the brilliant, talented, attractive, multitasking types who don’t need to hear how to make a roasted vegetable salad but, reading this post, might remember an even better way to make it and go do that instead.
Because, before God, I know the truth that I, in my imperfection, sometimes have days where all the stars align and the cupcakes I’ve prayed about all while mixing batter end up turning out good, causing me to Hallelujah! every time I mention them, and the to-do list Tim and I talk about actually gets done, turning me into a much nicer wife and friend; but also that I sometimes have other days, like the one last week, where I feel like everything I do is a failure and suddenly feel suspicious of anyone, anywhere, who manages to get anything done. And on both days, I want to remember that I’m just a person, and I cannot do everything, and I want to remember that your successes and failures, and my successes and failures, don’t change that at all.
I want to look at my inadequacy and inability, really look at it, not pretend it or deflect it away, and, instead of needing to take you down to my level, with my words or with my thoughts, to feel OK again, I want to openly admit that maybe you’re more successful or more pulled-together than I am. And I want to do that with love in my heart that says I’m happy for you to be because the world does not revolve around me.
Roasted Vegetable + Herb Salad
Serves four to six
As pictured just above this recipe, the leftovers from this salad are killer in leftover beef broth, the kind you make at home by boiling leftover beef bones in water for six hours or so, replenishing the water as it reduces. Tim and I ate these vegetables in that sort of broth a few Sunday afternoons ago, simply by dumping the salad in the broth and warming it on the stove, and it was one of my favorite meals all week. (Other ideas for using the salad at the bottom of the post.)
1 head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 yellow pepper
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into similar-sized florets and combine them all in a large bowl. Toss with about two tablespoons of melted coconut oil, and generously salt and pepper the mixture. Spread florets out onto baking sheet(s) in one single layer. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until crisp (and delicious!).
While the broccoli and cauliflower are baking, slice the eggplant into rounds and place on cutting board or other surface and salt. Let sit for a little while so the salt can help draw out the bitterness. Then toss eggplant pieces in the same bowl you used for the broccoli and cauliflower, adding another tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Place on baking sheet and add to oven. Eggplant slices will be done when they’re soft and golden.
Cut the grape tomatoes in half and toss with one or two tablespoons of melted coconut oil and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Place, cut-side-down on a fourth baking sheet or dish, and add to the oven. They’re done when they are wilted and golden; taste one at your own risk at this point—they’re like candy! you won’t be able to stop!
When all vegetables are roasted, quarter the eggplant; combine the broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and tomatoes together in a large bowl. Add chopped parsley and basil. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if desired.
Now you have a wonderful roasted vegetable salad that may be eaten on its own, added to broth for soup, pureed with broth or water into a bisque-style soup, layered with lettuce and cheese in tacos or added to eggs for a morning omelet or quiche.