Today is the end of week 6 since I left my full time job and I’m starting to get a little anxious. I’m starting to feel a little aimless. I feel like I should have a better structured day by now. I should be able to blog 3 times a week without a problem (believe me, I have a super long list of blog post ideas I want to share!). I should be a better cook, have a cleaner home, have a fitter body, have a handle on my inbox, have a plan for life. Should, should, should… but I don’t. Makes me want to scream (and cry) a little. Instead I’m going to embrace this discomfort and learn from it.
On January 3, 2011 I came home after work balling my eyes out. I remember this date because it was the first work day of 2011 and I woke up that morning giving myself a little pep talk about how productive I was going to be. How this year I was going to be on top of everything. I was not going to get emotional – I was going to get my work done efficiently so I could keep getting better at what I did. So I could keep growing professionally and continue climbing the corporate ladder like I knew I could. Instead, about 2 hours into the day I realized that while I had a long list of things to do, I had zero motivation to get any of them done (I would eventually… I always did!). I watched the clock all day, trying to get some things done. Waiting for a reasonable hour to strike the clock so I could finally leave. I came home crying not because my boss was mean to me (my boss was the nicest guy ever!), not because I was unhappy with the pay, but because sitting at my desk, feeling like every fiber in my body was rejecting this, felt like torture. I wanted out. But first I needed a plan.
Here is where it gets sort of tough. You often hear people say to “Follow your dream!” but for that – you first need a dream. And so I desperately started searching for it. I like fitness; I like food; I care about the environment, about organic produce and humanely raised animals. I like helping people. Where does it get me? I don’t want to be a chef, what can I do with fitness… and how the hell can I help people and still make money? Can my skills in finance be used? I read a million articles on food careers; I talked to gyms about personal training (and realized that I hate the sales part of it!), I started blogging more hoping that would open doors for me… but I didn’t know how it would. Work got busier and busier. I was getting so burnt out and uninspired that by the time I got home all I wanted to do was plop myself on the couch and eat. I was going at 100 miles an hour and yet I was no closer to finding my dream. I was sad and fat and… still dreamless.
So I decided that I needed to quit my job first. I needed to let myself get bored. I figured that if I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted, I would figure out what “whatever” actually was. The thing is – sitting here right now I’m realizing that I didn’t really follow through with my plan. I didn’t give myself permission to really do whatever. I filled my to-do list with new things I should be doing. I created a new cycle of “I have a million things to do – I’m too tired – I don’t want/don’t have time to finish them all – I feel guilty – I’m eating – I still have a million things to do”. So here I am 6 weeks later, still aimless.
So here is the “new” plan – I’m going to embrace the discomfort and use it as my guide. This morning I started writing a completely different post… that just didn’t feel right. I kept trying to force myself to write but it wasn’t working (and I refuse to publish a post that doesn’t feel right to me).
Here is what discomfort told me: I’m not a natural writer (already knew that!) so whatever my future is, writing should not be at the center of it. Working with Cooking Matters has seriously been the highlight of the last 6 weeks. I loved how active it was. Honestly I loved being away from my computer and actually interacting with people, helping them in such concrete ways. I still don’t have a plan but maybe it will become more evident through the process of elimination
To tune in, I’m officially giving myself permission to slow down. To throw away the list of “shoulds” and fill it with “wants.” This instantly reminded me of the book The Kitchen Daughter.
I read it during the New Orleans trip and loved how the main character – Ginny – had this real connection to food. How present she was during the making of each dish. How romantic it made the whole process of slowing down and cooking. I wanted to spend days getting lost in my thoughts (dream revealing thoughts?) while stirring a big pot of soup. It was only appropriate to start with Ginny’s ribollita soup (Tuscan bread soup) and share it with my family.
It didn’t take hours but it sure was comforting. It was simple yet flavorful, fresh and so homey. My dad said it was something he could see on a Sweet Basil menu (<– my family’s favorite restaurant serving incredible Italian comfort food). I need to find another soup to stir!!
Ribollita soup (serves 4-6) – recipe based on Ginna’s ribollita soup from The Kitchen Daughter
- 14oz can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
- 14oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed, leaves cut in ribbons
- salt, pepper, dried oregano to taste
- 1/2 loaf of rustic bread, cut in 1” cubes
- olive oil
- shredded parmesan cheese for serving
- In a medium pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté minced garlic until golden (not brown).
- Add chicken broth, a few shakes of dried oregano, salt, pepper, beans, tomatoes (with juices) and kale. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer until the flavors meld (I probably had my pot for an hour, while making the rest of the dinner). Adjust seasonings prior to serving.
- In the meantime, sauté bread cubes in olive oil. I had a fresh loaf of bread and enjoyed how it soaked up some oil and remained soft on the inside with a bit of a crust on the outside. You can also toast the bread cubes with a bit of olive oil if you want crunchy croutons.
- Serve the soup with croutons and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Did you ever have to work at finding a dream? What’s your favorite way to distress to reflect?
Do you have any favorite soup recipes?