My last year felt much like it was absorbed in the Martha Beck Coaches book project. It was on Dec. 9th, 2008, that I proposed on the Martha Beck coach forums that we try putting together a book. On Dec. 1st, 2009, after a year of writing, editing, and co-ordinating, we released Changes of the Heart. Our launch did well: we reached #29 on the Amazon Self-Help bestseller list. Better yet, the people who read it keep coming back to me to tell me how good it is. This is very gratifying to an editor's heart. One of the first commitments we made about the book is that our aim would be to help our readers. It's wonderful, after a year's labor, to have the fruit come in and see that it is good. Yes, we are helping people.
The project did take a lot out of me. I am still feeling depleted. Like many new projects, it turned out to be quite a bit bigger than I expected. There were some hurdles which I think I can reduce if I do it again.
In the meantime, ever since I completed the project, I've been finding myself thinking "All I want to do is read and write." At first, I didn't listen to this thought. I was like, "Oh, Anna, yes you're tired, and I'll fit a little more reading and writing in. But really, I need to figure out what my next project is and keep working on my business." And then my inner voice was like, "All I want to do is read and write." And I was like, "C'mon, we have to be responsible here! There's work to be done! I can't just take off weeks or months at a time and do nothing but read and write." And my inner voice was like, "All I want to do is read and write." And weeks passed, and I was still tired and not able to do as much as I usually can, and still confused about what my next project should be, and my inner voice is still going, "All I want to do is read and write."
Finally, I talked this out with one of my coaches. Who was able to point out that if I was coaching someone, and all they wanted to do was read and write, I'd recommend they read and write. Plus which, I can actually carry out my business by reading and writing.
Oh, yeah. Right. OK, I'll read and write. I feel less tired already.
Have I mentioned recently that it really rocks to have a good coach?
I did do some theme reading over the Christmas break. I read five books about food systems. They were: Wendell Berry's Bringing it to the Table, Mark Bittman's Food Matters, and The Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Rules, and In Defense of Food, all by Michael Pollan. They all have their virtues. I'd say the most well-rounded and readable one is The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's solidly researched and beautifully written. Food Rules is great for a fast reference. It offers more details and tactics for following Michael Pollan's beautiful distillation of how to eat well (both for health and pleasure):
"Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."
In the spirit of eating food, I'd like to offer this dressing recipe. This recipe contains only food, by Michael Pollan's definition. It's a fast way to make a salad more exciting.
Mustard Orange Dressing
1/4 c orange juice (about half an orange, squeezed)
1/2 c olive oil (you wouldn't use a junky one, would you? :-) )
3 T Dijon-style mustard (I like TJ's)
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
a pinch of salt (sea salt, yes?)
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. (Or, for smoother dressing, blend.)
OK, now this is great, simply drizzled over greens. But if you want to step it up, try this:
Make a salad of mixed greens. Place it on individual salad plates. Slice up one apple or pear into thin, bite-sized pieces. Toss the sliced fruit with a tablespoon of dressing, then scatter the pieces attractively over the top of the individual salads. Possibly scatter nuts or bits of bacon the same way, too. Drizzle a touch more dressing over the top and serve. (Or, family style, put the remaining dressing in a carafe, and pass it for everyone to add to their own taste.)
There you go!