Friday, March 29, 2013

Today's Menu: Stress-free Soup

With all the progress I have made since the start of the year, I thought my health would be at its peak when spring came along. The birds started singing and the weather began to warm (as far as strange Virginia weather is concerned), and I thought it meant that I had it all together.

But health isn’t like that. It isn’t some commodity you need to only focus on once and you’re good for life. It’s a lifetime responsibility, and one you should never take lightly. So when school resumed from Spring Break, I found it harder and harder to do my daily responsibilities. I slept whenever I could, and all my plans for my mornings were left undone as I nestled further underneath my warm quilts and blankets.

It was heartbreaking to see that weeks had passed without a single recipe written down and plans with friends cancelled because I was so tired. Frustration seeped in to my otherwise bubbly demeanor when I saw my winter troubles reappear. I admonished myself for not having the capacity to handle nine credit hours of school, plus work, plus climbing, plus a social life of some description. The stress was getting to be too much.

This likely started with an old acquaintance of mine dying in February, and I spent the majority of March padding along in morose reflection. Death and dying, school and career possibilities, old relationships and new loves… this was my mindset. Perhaps that was why I chose to either push myself beyond exhaustion with sixteen- (sometimes eighteen) hour days with less than six hours of sleep or nap when I had the free time. I didn’t want to think about the building emotions whose intensity I couldn’t discern. I didn’t want to think about anything other than my obligations to other people; and as I result I forgot who I was and why I do what I do. Among other things, Meals with Morri was terribly neglected.

I didn’t think J’s death would affect me as much as it did. At most we were friendly acquaintances a couple summers ago who shared amazing conversations about identity, gender, and love. When I learned he had died, I felt a part of my Universe shift. Everyone who has ever passed through your life matters, no matter the time or the impact. Everyone matters, and I frantically tried to make everything equally important. A month later, I officially crashed and was so burnt out from the self-inflicted stress I carried. I spent all of yesterday in bed, leaving work after an hour, with school and social plans discarded. I slept and I dreamed and I recharged, three things I hope to never take advantage of ever again.

This soup is the kind of food everyone should have when life seems too real and you need a mental health day. It isn't the prettiest of soups, true, but it is perfect to sip on in bed while you catch up on your reading or on the couch as you watch uplifting comedies. Better yet, have it with the people you love at the dinner table, reflecting upon one of  life’s greatest lessons: 

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be alive.” (Mama Dazz)

Creamy Celery Soup

24 Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
450 g Sliced leeks
4 (536 g) Red potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 Garlic cloves
2 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Cracked pepper
Pinch of rosemary powder
Dash of nutmeg

In a large pot or pressure cooker, combine all of the ingredients and pour water just an inch below the line of vegetables (more or less, depending on your preference of soup thickness).
Cover the pot and place on medium heat to cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until all of the vegetables have softened.
Turn off the heat and use an emulsion blender to puree the ingredients smooth. (Should it be too thick for your taste, add a little water at a time and place on medium heat until at the desired consistency.)
Pour into bowls/mugs and serve hot.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.

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