Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken Soup For My Soul

February 3, 2012 The Age Of Aquarius comes to a close. Neptune moves into Pisces where it has not been since 1847. I have been reading about this, curious. So many of my close friends are undergoing deep, primordial-like transformations. Pushed into the deep waters of life. Deaths, re-arranging, letting go, break-ups, career bumps, health issues. Almost no one that I know seems to be untouched as of late.

This has been a tender, tender week for me. My house is either foreclosing or being bought in short sale very soon. Another letting go. The parcel we lived on was 51 acres with three meadows. A community treasure. We were entrusted to steward the land. It was not to be, however. Building the house was a labor of love. A creation that was fully our own, down to the last detail. We designed and built the whole house with blood, sweat and tears and then finally moved in. A welcomed event, since we had spent the previous 6 years living in an old japanese tea house up the hill that offered few creature comforts and no working toilet for much of the time! But, within months, the market crashed, my husband's small business started gasping for air and we faced the struggle of how we would afford the dream. We limped along until we split up, and then it was official that the house was going. We could not afford the mortgage if we were not married. Weeks after our split I called a real estate agent. I cried when she told me that realistically our house was worth about half of what we paid for it due to the state of the housing market, and there was no way out except letting it go. Word traveled like lightening in my neighborhood and what was news and gossip to neighbors was heartbreak to me. And although my ex-husband and I now are virtually strangers to one another, we share this heartbreak equally. A home that represented beauty, socializing, community, friends, neighbors, history, tradition is moving out of our hands now. I feel sad, so sad to say goodbye to that life that was so welcoming to me. A community that was so special and lovely that to say it was a home does not even do it justice. I knew almost all of my neighbors on a first name basis, and it was  special in that we were all living in off-grid houses, homesteaders of sorts, foraging a special kind of dream where only those who wanted to live so far off the beaten path do. A wild bunch of old timers, artists, poets, scientists, writers and musicians. A new generation has started moving more into the community now,  many of them close friends who are raising families in that wild rural landscape.  And while I am happier living in my little rental house in town, surrounded by close friends, love and support, this week I struggle to let go of that big dream we set into motion that touched so many people's lives, as well as our own.  The dream that taught me what community means. What kind neighbors mean. What people can do when they come together and take care of one another. And, how life leads us in the perfect direction even though tears and sadness may try to tell me otherwise.

Today I made soup. I needed the warmth. I am tired from so much crying. This recipe has been my chicken soup standard for a while now. It takes about 15 min to put it together and about a hour to cook. I put the chicken thighs in the broth whole and shred them after cooking the soup, but before serving. Unlike most chicken soups, this has shiitake mushrooms and lemon zest to make it stand out. The combo of those two ingredients makes this taste bright and smoky at the same time. You could add onions, leeks and/or garlic if you like.

Shitake Lemon Chicken Soup

2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped shiitakes (stems removed and discarded)
1 cup chopped parsely
1 pound boneless chicken thighs (around 4 thighs)
zest of 2 lemons (I use meyer lemons when in season)
7 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup olive oil

Sautee carrots, celery, shiitakes and parsley in olive oil. Add chicken thighs and stock and cook on medium heat for an hour or more.


Becky said...

Oh Jess, the pictures brought a tear to my eye but your words carry so much strength and courage. Hold yourself tight, you are surrounded by love where ever you go. xoxoxo

cheryl said...

Jessica, I've been reading your blog for more than two years now, but have only commented here or there. Your words and posts are a treasure to me; I am simply amazed at all you are willing to share and have been deeply moved by your response to the abrupt departure from the life path you thought you were following. Your grace and strength and open vulnerability are truly inspiring and at times have given me to pause to reflect on my own life.

All this to say I am sorry to hear about this bookend to what has been such a transformative time for you. I think the idea of "home" is such a powerful metaphor for security that I can't imagine any other response more appropriate than the one your experiencing. I wish it were easier for you. I wish the cost of your new perspective wasn't so high. But I feel so honored that you've permitted us to see glimpses of this metamorphosis your experiencing, and I'm glad that you have found such a resilience deep within.

Thank you for continuing this blog, and thank you for your generosity in writing about your experiences; it is greatly valued.

Jessica said...

Becky..come over and have tea with me! Tomorrow ok? :)

Cheryl..thank you so much. I cried reading your note. It is so odd to put this all out there, but I feel better writing about it, and just trust it somehow. It is really great to hear from you. xo

Robyn said...

I've been hoping you'd return! I check in regularly, hoping to see an update. (I never commented on your blog before, but was a regular reader.) I know it's probably an odd thing to say, given the turmoil and pain you've been through recently, but...I'm thrilled to hear your unique, vulnerable voice again. I can relate to what you're going through. You are not alone. Here's what I've learned over the past tough years -- home is a feeling, not a place. Remembering that, in these rough economic times, has returned me to happiness. It's kept me from feeling shame.

You've certainly given us a community that feels homey...and I truly appreciate it. I'm thrilled to hear you're developing a new blog. I'll be reading.

Best of luck with everything.

Jessica said...

Hi Robyn..I loved hearing from you. So curious about who everyone is that is reading this blog, where you live, what life is like...but thank you for giving me feedback, encouragement, and inspiration to keep it going! xo

Jessica said... I know more about you Robyn, went to you site. We have chicago in common!

Robyn said...

AND we're both Capricorns. And bloggers. And a million more things. That's why I like reading your site so much! Funny thing is, I always wonder about my readers too...but I'm a total shy lurker when it comes to other peoples' blogs.

Jessica said...

oh man! if your a 1 on the enneagram than that would be a chart topper!

Robyn said...

Ah, no, alas we've diverged...I'm a 4!

Jessica said...

Ah! a good number to be..three of my closest friends are 4's :)

Lisa Marie said...

Thank you for this. I met you at a farmers market in Oakland, you wrote your blog address on the postcard for the finishing oils and I visited for recipes. What I didn't anticipate was the additional nutrition and yumminess I would receive from your words and willingness to share life's more challenging transitions. Thank you again for sharing. It was a good week for me to read your message as I am also in the belly of some profound changes. Also, now I have to check in with my friend for an interpretation of this new age given that I am a Pisces!

Anonymous said...

I'm making this soup tomorrow. Also soaking up your heartfelt offerings. The alchemy of food and love is so profound....

Jessica said...

Lisa Marie..yes I remember you! I will be thinking of you while your are in the belly of things shaking around in your life. Thank you...


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