The last time we met we shared soup
This wonderful group of women who gather periodically. A series on what it means to find balance within our lives
Over the past few days, they've floated in and out of my mind as I've gone about the mundane tasks of keeping my own life on track. Playing with the pets, working, watering the plants, vacuuming, doing the laundry, working out, answering emails, writing papers, and grocery shopping. Nothing terribly exciting or important, just the ordinary work of being me
Each of us at different stages of life, none of us either young nor old, all with lives that really are good. We fill our days with our families, careers, friends, workouts, and hobbies. On the outside, each making a difference in her world, and yet ..
There's nagging guilt, a sense of inadequacy, a suspicion that maybe we are not productive enough, or successful enough, or impressive enough, or <anything> enough. At the end of the day, how can we lay our heads on our pillows and truly feel like we'd accomplished all we set out to do?
“I know that feeling .. I have it too.”
Sometimes I look back on my days, or even weeks for that matter, and feel like I have precious little to show for my time. I've barely cooked anything, much less written a meaningful blog post. I haven't made it to yoga as many times as I'd have liked, or logged enough miles at the Rec Center
I haven't done a good job keeping in touch with friends, made it to book club, or cleaned the house. Not to mention, I should be further along with that project at work, and the host of other things I've convinced myself I should have accomplished.
Not exactly the definition of a high achiever
I can't help but be in awe of the incredible women I know. They're building businesses, raising teenagers (yikes!) taking impeccable care of our pets, gracefully bowing out of a lifelong career, volunteering, thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro, writing books, caring for grandchildren, and being loving wives to their husbands
I'm proud of all of them and their accomplishments. But sometimes when I'm mopey or blue, I've found myself comparing, and admit to feeling less than.
And yet, to the women I sat with that evening, I appeared to be someone who had it together and was doing a lot, “You've got a great marriage, a website, a career, you study holistic nutrition” and then in the next breath “I'm not always doing anything, or anything that really matters”
How easy is it to compare ourselves to someone else and come up wanting. And if that wasn't enough, we'll then compare ourselves against the idyllic version of what think we should be, just for good measure
We assume everyone must have things all figured out, that we're the only ones stumbling along, questioning our choices, managing all sorts of new aches pains, worries, and fears
We talked that evening about finding balance. What it means to lay our heads on our pillows at night and tell ourselves, “Today was a good day.” Rather than, “Why in the world can't I do all of this?”
I can't help but think if we're short-changing ourselves, choosing to define success by all of the visible tasks we can check off our lists. We live in such a busy world, surrounded by people all about getting things done — a culture fueled by doing more, faster, and better.
How easily we accept the notion that action is the answer. It's not
As I think about balance in my own life, I know my spirit recharges best from a space of silence and solitude. A willingness to shift gears and move gracefully and gratefully into a state of not doing. The kind of mental quiet that allows me to reconnect with my center.
Why do we allow being quiet and doing less out in the world, to be considered less valuable because of its invisible nature?
I've begun to wonder if a new paradigm isn't in order
One that isn't focused so much on what we do, but instead how we do it. Where enough isn't defined by our over-achieving ambitions, the fast-paced demands of the world, or from comparing to others.
What if instead, we searched for balance in each of the areas of our lives with a gentle sweetness, and a little more love
A chance to re-write the next chapters of our lives with pens that tell of simpler stories, with tales of being kind, compassionate, approachable, and present. Useful however we're able, wherever we happen to be, with as little or as much time as we happen to have.
Food for thought
I read once that we as a nation didn't know we loved tomato soup until someone decided to condense it and put it in a can. At that point, it became a steady fixture in our pantries and imaginations.
For those of us who grew up loving the ready-made version, along with an extra cheesy grilled cheese sandwich by its side, don't shy away from this healthier variation. It's a good one. Crushed tomatoes bring brightness and body, cashews lend a creaminess, with roasted chickpeas providing a crunchy finish.
ps: The chickpea croutons will lose their crispness in the soup, be sure to add them just before serving
pps: Store leftover chickpeas in the freezer will help them stay crisp. To reheat, bake them at 425 deg F for five minutes or so, until they've had a chance to thaw
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~ Adapted from the Oh She Glow Cookbook | Angela Liddon
Creamy Tomato Soup With Chickpea Croutons
- Chickpea Croutons
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15 oz) can, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp coconut oil, melted, but not hot
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- Tomato Soup
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper + more as needed for taste
- ½ tsp thyme
- For serving
- fresh basil leaves
- olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Chickpea Croutons
- Preheat the over to 425° F
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.
- Place the chickpeas on the paper towels and place a couple of paper towels on top. Roll them around until any liquid on them has been absorbed. Discard the paper towels.
- Transfer the chickpeas to a large bowl and stir in the oil, oregano, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the chickpeas in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Give the pan a shake from side to side and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, watching closely, until the chickpeas are lightly charred and golden.
- Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. (The chickpeas will crisp up as they cool)
- Tomato Soup
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
- In a blender, combine the soaked cashews and the broth and blend on high speed until creamy and smooth.
- Add the garlic-onion mixture, tomatoes and their juices, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato paste and blend on high until smooth.
- Pour the tomato mixture into the saucepan in which you cooked the onions and set the pan over medium-high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, then stir in the oregano, salt, pepper, and thyme, all to taste.
- Gently simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the flavors have developed.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with ⅓ to ½ cup of the Chickpea Croutons.
- Garnish with minced fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper.