How was your weekend? Are you slightly sunburned, and sticky with aloe gel? Are your shoes gritty with a fine dusting of sand? I'd like to think there was excellent music (I'm thinking Bruce Springsteen and the Lumineers and some country because #mdw #america as the kids say), bare feet, and iced coffee. That you pulled your denim shorts out of the bottom drawer where they've been all winter, and ate a bowl of blueberries for breakfast, and went to bed an hour too late after drinking too much tequila and laughing so hard your abs hurt.
I had some of those things, and more in between. Cheap pink sparkling wine in a plastic beer cup. A tank top tan line. Ricotta pistachio and New Jersey rhubarb ice cream. A very long conversation with my mom on a very long car ride home, the kind that makes me think thank goodness for her (most do). Telling her a list of good things this week made me want to tell you. Because these things make me happier, fuller, wiser. They make me laugh more, and sleep better, and feel more awake. So, to remind myself, and to you if you like:
Listen when people give you advice. Even if you think you don’t need it. Even if you think it doesn’t apply to you. Be open to the idea that you can learn something new. Think back on your last five years. If someone said you’d stop changing right then, and stay just as you are, would you have wanted that? No. Consider the future as such. Being a work in progress is a good thing, it doesn’t mean you’re not complete or content. It can mean you’re doing just right in the moment. But the moment will change.
Seek out places that make you feel how small you (and your problems) are in the grand scheme of things. Go to an empty beach at sunset. Go when the day is still shimmering at its edges with summer heat. Stay until the warmth starts to melt away. Stay until you have to pull on a sweatshirt and sit next to someone, your arms just grazing.
Exercise. Even if it’s too hot out. Even if you only make it one mile into your run before you have to stop and pretend to tie your shoe three times in a row just to catch your breath. It’s cool. Walk it off. You still look fierce! A mile is one more than zero (god, my math skills are epic).
Buy yourself flowers. Preferably peonies. Then remember to change the water in the vase every morning. (This is practice for taking care of something else, like a tiny, soft puppy. Or a tiny, soft baby. Or your sourdough starter that you named Edward, which is happily bubbling away in your refrigerator, waiting to be turned into this and this and this.)
Spend the $20 on a bag of cherries, even though what the WHAT how are they so expensive. Eat them in the sun. Bring a good book. Also, wear sunscreen. You'll still get tan.
Stop checking your phone so often. No seriously. Stop it.
Make a double batch of cookies and save half of the dough. Scoop it out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze until solid, then transfer the dough balls into a freezer-safe container. They’ll keep for months, and you’ll never be more than 12 minutes from warm cookies. This is a smart move for whenever people drop by.
Another smart move: Flaky sea salt on top of cookie dough just before baking.
An even smarter move: Warm cookies cut up into slightly softened vanilla ice cream.
Adapted from Quaker Oats
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cream together the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each one. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients a little bit at a time and beat until it just comes together.
Add the oats and raisins and stir until just combined and thoroughly distributed. Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet using a 1/3- or 1/4-cup scoop. Leave a few inches between each as they will spread.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges and still quite soft in the center. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.