Goodness, time flies. One minute, you’re watching your spirit animal, a dog named Moose, leap onto the counter and take a giant bite out of the cake at your farewell party; the next, you’re living in Atlanta and it suddenly dawns on you that next week is Thanksgiving. I am currently sitting on my living room floor by the window that will soon shoulder up to my new desk (when I find a good one), and I frequently find my thoughts returning to this question I have: how on earth did I finally get here?
Imagine someone telling you to breathe in deeply and hold it, except while you wait for the cue to let it go, you become a little bit distracted. There are things like cookies and trail mix and popsicle stick jokes; yoga and barbecue and beautiful sights; family and laughter and memories. You realize you started to breathe again, little by little, but you never fully let out what you took in way, way before all of it. Unpacking for real this time has been a wonderful kind of metaphorical exhale, one that originates in the pit of the abdomen and contains every last, exhausting bit of stagnancy I didn’t even know I had been carrying.
Of course, this means that I promptly developed a strange case of the sniffles and a whammy of a tension headache that has still imprinted its spots and stripes at the base of my skull. But it also means that I have had the chance to actually examine what I’ve carried with me to my new home. Truly unpacking means you find the movie tickets you stashed in your wallet from that time you went to see Mistress America and were so absorbed in your Milk Duds that you MISSED the line that contained the title of the movie (this is who I am, guys…who wants to have a movie night so I can watch it again?). It means figuring out which shoes you want to keep by the door and which ones can hang out in the closet with the 500 secondhand books you have once more collected. It means making lists of all the stuff you need to get done, because “buy desk,” “get shelf for cookbooks,” and “consider new Brita filter” get muddled when you got a bunch of other things on your mind. And sometimes, in the midst of all of this, you find a quote you took down from Pablo Neruda that seems to represent how you feel about allowing things to form in life:
“Once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed and breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, ‘Be whole,’ and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.”
Obviously, there are many meanings at play here. But this quote got me thinking about wholeness. Sometimes, that first step toward manifesting something in your life is to state the words. Even if you aren’t quite sure of what it is you’d like to make happen; in fact, I’d venture to say that’s best. You just make that move toward what would make you feel more whole, and the pieces will sort of start to gravitate toward you. And until then, there’s always this chicken soup-stocked with colorful turmeric, warming chili, and a host of flavorful vegetables-to make you at least feel a false sense of broth-y completion.
Chicken & Vegetable Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 celery stalks, leaves removed, sliced thinly
3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with string (for easy removal)
1/2-1 tsp turmeric (as desired)
1/2 tsp chili flakes
pinch of cayenne
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, as desired
3-4 small-medium-sized yukon gold potatoes with skins on, rinsed thoroughly and sliced into 1/2-inch thick cubes
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
For serving (optional): celery leaves, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, freshly cracked black pepper
In a large, deep pot on high heat, add chicken, onion, carrots, celery and thyme sprigs and cover with 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil until chicken is cooked through. Once chicken is fully cooked (about 20 minutes), remove from broth and let stand for 5 minutes. Allowing the broth to remain boiling, strain vegetables from broth to allow broth to reduce; remove thyme. Once the broth has reduced, add turmeric, red pepper flakes, cayenne, sea salt, and pepper, then add potatoes and scallions. Meanwhile, use two forks to gently shred chicken breasts. Once potatoes are fully cooked through, return vegetables and shredded chicken to the soup and turn heat down to a simmer, about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, garnish with celery leaves, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, or my favorite: a TON freshly cracked black pepper. Keep soup covered and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.