What does “enough” mean to you? In what ways do we press ourselves when we’ve already done enough? When we own enough? When we have (more than) enough to do? When we are already...enough?
The recent publication of Shauna M. Ahern’s extraordinary new memoir, Enough: Notes From a Woman Who Has Finally Found It caused me to take a deep dive into the concept of enough, which can involve quite a lot more than you might imagine!
I read the book on the plane on my way to visit my dear mom on the occasion of her 86th birthday (Happy birthday, Ma!).
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy since I have been following Shauna’s writing from her Gluten-Free Girl days up to the present, in which she has established herself as an original and remarkable essayist. Along the way she had a TIA (transient ischemic attack, a stroke that lasts only a few minutes) and it made her reflect on her life and how she was living it.
Can anyone relate to that? We’ve all had something that has led us to re-evaluate or draw a boundary. We’ve said, something’s got to give. Or maybe we’ve outgrown certain things.
Drawing a boundary can allow us to open up and find something more nourishing.
In Shauna’s case, she discovered some real pearls, shifting and changing her lifestyle for the better. One of the things that she does is to let go of a persona that she had created from a very authentic place when she discovered she was celiac years go. She was one of the very first people to write about that and create culinary solutions for gluten-free people. She built a tremendous following before it was even fashionable. She and her husband Danny ventured into a business with a whole line of breads and flours...and discovered it was enough! She hated it. She is a writer, not a food manufacturer!
I can relate.
We all have roads we can choose. During my career in the food world there were a lot of different roads I could have taken, some I was even tempted to take; but not all were the right roads for me. You learn as you travel that some roads are not taking you to a place that connects with your heart, after all.
Shauna was very brave and strong to see that she wasn’t the Gluten-Free Girl anymore and to seek who she is now. She noticed how important the day-to-day connections in her community were, how nourishing and fulfilling. How important those real-life community connections are for us all! We benefit deeply from connecting in person with people, especially during stressful times.
And a heads up about her book, Enough: Shauna’s not only recovering from a TIA but taking a deep dive into a traumatic childhood. Again, very brave—and important in setting the stage for her personal evolution.
The golden thread in the book is really the golden thread for our lives. “Enough” can become a strong word, an empowering word! Enough can mean “stop!” Then you can go in a different direction. But it can also create space, in which you can see what else is out there in the world. You might realize, I have too many books! Too many appointments!
The question for all of us is when to say that? It may not be easy. Personally, I think it’s much harder for women to say enough. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think men are more compartmentalized. Women are the nourishers. We’re the collaborators. But I think we can have permission to say enough.
Enough can mean simplicity, clearing out things, clarity—opening up some space and breathing room! Enough may also mean I need some help. Enough may mean I need to take care of myself a little more, and I’m not sure how that looks. Enough may mean I need to spend more time in my community. Enough may mean I’m hearing too much negative news and I need to stop.
If you’re always striving for more, what would happen if you said, I have enough. Or, I’m enough! Or, I have achieved enough! I remember when I said, I have written enough cookbooks! 6 was enough.
What happens when we say enough? We actually leave room in our lives for the unexpected, for the magic to appear.
What is your enough?
Find Shauna M. Ahern on Instagram @shaunamahern
Search the hashtag #enoughthebook
Order the book Enough: Notes From A Woman Who Has Finally Found It
Heads up: holidays approaching!
We’re coming up on the holidays, where it’s all about family. People are pulling on our time. Perhaps think about it ahead of time: when is it enough? How much are we going to angst about what we put on the table and who’s sitting next to who? It tends to be a very stressful time of year. How many different ways are there to brine the turkey? Oh, this person doesn’t like this…
It might be time to say, enough already! To think about letting go of the usual and turning these holidays into meaningful interactions. How many dishes do we really need to have on the table? What are our benchmarks? When is enough? You’re drawing a line in the sand.
“Enough” is not a bad word. I’ve had enough food. I’ve had enough politics as the table. Setting boundaries frees you up to bring your best self or find the juicy bits. And to enjoy your own cooking! Not to do as much. Make what you want to make. What’s your schedule look like and what is feasible?
If I never make another turkey in my life, it won’t be too soon. :) I used to put so much anxiety into that bird! That’s MY enough. Now I’m leaving time and space for the things I really enjoy.
Seasonal favorites for success every time!
How about an easy, peasy soup hack for utterly delicious soup during the busy holidays? My Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut and Lime really fills the bill. :)
Here I’ve paired kale with an autumn favorite, delicata squash, along with garlic, red pepper flakes, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to create a dish that’s both a delight to the eyes and the taste buds. The chopped roasted hazelnuts take the entire concoction completely over the top. It’s ablaze with flavor and should leave you burning for more.
My husband Gregg is a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool meat-eater and he went absolutely ga-ga over this recipe. It could be because it’s colorful or comes in its own bowl, but I really think it’s because the hearty taste of this delish dish elicits a comfort food response. :)
A favorite seasonal treat, these Sweet Potato bars remind me of a healthier version of the lemon bars I used to make as a kid (remember those?). But these are so nutrient-dense it doesn’t take much to feel completely satiated, and the tastes are so delightful that you’re blissfully aware of every bite.