I was talking to my husband a couple of nights ago. I reflected on the ways that life seems to need a bit more fine-tuning for me than the average bear.
I’m enjoying it though, you know, the fine-tuning. Sitting down with my Google calendar on the cusp of a new term, and making sure there is space. Space to book in a day for oddly compelling jobs, like sorting out the crap drawer (we all have one… the random keys, Blu-Tac, tape-measure kind of drawer).
Space to swim in the river Dart or the sea down at Jacob’s Ladder. To take a flask of peppermint tea and rest by the water’s edge.
Fine-tuning this term has meant resisting the temptation to take on a few more paid hours. To recognise that Eldest has both excitement and challenges coming up as she starts high school, and she may well need her mum more. She sometimes talks about her fears of me becoming unwell at the start of a new academic year – it’s such a season of change.
But this year the change is good. It’s a change in my expectations of myself, a willingness to leave space and embrace it. Two Septembers ago I was afraid of the space, driven by a fear that – at 40 – I was pretty much at the last chance saloon in terms of finding a career.
This September I’m at peace. The work will still be there when the time is right.
A beautiful friend pointed out to me that my balance of work at the moment is a winning combination for my personality! I have space to explore my creativity through cooking & writing, there’s intellectual stimulation through being part of cutting-edge research applications, and I get periods of ‘extrovert time’ when I’m delivering training.
I’m nourished by all of these things. I’m nourished by writing recipes, translating research into everyday language and working with my co-facilitator to plan engaging, supportive training. I’m also continuing to learn to replenish my energy with time that’s just for me. Is it weird that I find watching an episode of Skins on the sofa in the daytime deeply relaxing? (Maybe it’s an attempt to prepare myself for the imminent teenage years for Eldest…)
Nashville: The Complete Soundtrack has been the accompaniment to my cooking today. Country music is so full of storytelling, and so melodic. I love being able to join in with the harmonies while I slice vegetables and select spices.
Here are a couple of really simple soups from my growing collection
Roasted veg & brown lentil soup
- 1/2 swede or celeriac
- 3 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 jar passata
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 150g brown lentils
- Chop all the root vegetables into small-medium sized chunks
- Roast with the olive oil, maple syrup and wholegrain mustard for 30 mins at 180c
- Meanwhile, simmer the lentils in the passata and stock
- Add the root vegetables to the lentils & passata and simmer for a further 10-20 mins
Red pepper, carrot and red lentil soup
- 4 carrots
- 4 red peppers
- 250g red lentils
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1200-1500ml vegetable stock, depending on how thick you like the soup
- Fry the garlic and fennel seeds in olive oil for 2-3 mins
- Add the red peppers and carrots, cut into medium sized chunks
- Add the lentils, oregano and stock
- Simmer for 30-40 mins