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Chicken Soup for The Sick

Simple, Delicious and Nutritious

One of the great things about my new situation in Vegas is my husband and I work for the same show. That means we have the same schedule (for the first time in years!) and we can carpool. It’s been wonderful so far. But last week I found out there’s a big drawback to working in the same building: when there’s a cold or flu circulating, we have twice as many opportunities to catch it. And catch it we did. Within 24 hours of us both waking up and saying, “man, my allergies are terrible,” we descended into the cold-haze, that netherworld between the cold and cold medicine keeping us functional. We’ve wisely avoided the discussion of which of us might have been Patient Zero and focused on hand-washing (to avoid contaminating anything else), keeping the symptoms in check and getting as much rest as possible. Unfortunately October has been one commitment after another for both of us, and this week was no different. He had long rehearsal days for a PR event, and I had multiple rehearsals and a performance for a band I sing with (somehow my voice remained intact). Today was the first full day we’d been able to spend resting and recuperating, and we took full advantage of it: We slept, we read in bed and on the couch, and we drank tea.

You can imagine how thrilled I was to realize around mid-afternoon, in between a sneeze and a cough, that it was my turn to cook dinner. We honor our respective meal responsibilities pretty consistently, and I knew takeout wasn’t going to cut it after the crazy week we’d had. I needed to come up with something nutritious and comforting, preferably without making a trip to the grocery store. Enter the humble Whatever Soup. We had just enough fresh and leftover vegetables, along with our omnipresent stash of chicken stock, to make a convincing base. I sautéed some garlic and fresh pork sausage in the bottom of the pot for flavor and texture, then added a can of diced tomatoes, the stock, the veggies and spices, and let it simmer until the veggies were soft but not mushy. The result was delicious and comforting, and I didn’t even have expose the local grocers to my gross germs. (Bonus points for NOT being Patient Zero to an unsuspecting stranger)

Below is a loose recipe for Whatever (AKA Sick & Tired) Soup. As with most of my recipes, nearly everything is optional and/or interchangeable. Don’t sweat the details. The point is this: meals don’t have to be complex or time-consuming to be nutritious and comforting.

Colleen’s Whatever (Sick & Tired) Soup
Prep Time: 5-15 min, depending on ingredients
Cook Time: 25 min
Serves: 6-8

1-2 tbsp        Olive Oil
4-6 cloves     Garlic, chopped OR 1 small Onion, chopped
1 lb               Ground Pork, Beef, Turkey, etc (if desired)
48-64 oz       Chicken or Vegetable Stock (low-sodium if possible)
15 oz can      Diced tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4-6 cups        Chopped vegetables, any kind
2 cups           Greens or Fresh Herbs, any kind

To Make:
Heat olive oil in stock or soup pot. Sautee garlic or onion until slightly browned, then add meat if desired. When meat is done, drain if necessary, then add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, vegetables, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are at desired texture, stirring occasionally. Add greens and fresh herbs last, stirring until slightly wilted. Top with crackers, grated cheese and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.

The View from OUTSIDE the Hoop

I haven’t written. I know I should have been writing, but I didn’t. I haven’t known what to say. If I’m not hooping, how am I supposed to write a newsletter about hooping? If I’m not exercising, how can I write about living a healthy lifestyle? All of these thoughts and more have been tumbling around in my brain for months, and I think I finally have something to say about it all:

I’m living outside the hoop right now. And I’m making the best of it.

As some of you know, I sustained an injury while hooping last year. I was working on a new move and had the wrong footwear for the style. The rubber sole of my shoe caught on the floor when it should have slid across it, and I ended up sitting down with my right leg caught under my left hip. My doctor sent me for an x-ray even though I thought it was a soft tissue injury. The x-ray was inconclusive. For whatever reason, he never sent me for an MRI, and I didn’t push the issue. I went to Physical Therapy until we moved to Vegas, and when my insurance kicked in here, I went back to the doctor for evaluation and more therapy.
It’s a long story, but my first physical therapist here in Vegas ended up causing more pain – increasing amounts of it – until I could no longer attribute it to the healing process. I found a new PT, and I started seeing a massage therapist that works with dancers and athletes. Things have been improving, slowly but surely, but I have been unable to hoop or do anything approaching my normal level of activity for months now. I feel the need to explain all this because it has been my life for the past year. I’ve never had a severe injury before, and I’ve certainly never had to spend this much time recovering from it.

It sucks. The process is slow. It’s frustrating. It’s painful. And makes the rest of the normal life stresses much harder. But…I’m starting to be okay with it.

I’m finding my silver lining.

I am…HUMBLED by my body. I listen to it more closely than ever before. I rest a lot. I walk a lot to keep from getting stiff, and I stretch a little bit, when my joints aren’t hurting. I pay close attention to what I eat and when I eat it. Because I don’t have cardio to help with my moods, I’m careful about refined foods: sugar, flour, saturated fat, empty calories. Because I’m taking a lot of ibuprofen, I eat more regularly and more conscientiously. Pain has been a good teacher. I now know when I need to stop or modify a particular activity, and I’m better able to recognize that line *before* I do something to cause more pain.

(I’m going to write a post on pain pretty soon. If you have insight into chronic pain that you would like to share, please do email me)

As for the hoops. My interaction with hoops has been limited to making them, and at a much slower pace than before. I’ve had time to enjoy the process and rediscover my passion for customizing every hoop I make. I know now that I’m not a hoop factory. I never was, and I was beginning to resent the process because of the volume I had to produce, plus the extra work of transporting them to festivals every year just to turn a small profit. I just want to make hoops for one person at a time. The ones I’m making now are all one of a kind. Now I make a hoop because I’m inspired to: I like the colors, or I need something to do with my hands. I put it up for sale because I want someone else to be inspired by it. And when I FINALLY get back into my hoop, that’s what will inspire me: the flow only I can bring to MY hoop.

Hoop Well!  Live Well!

How to Make Change

Image courtesy of xe-pOr-ex / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of xe-pOr-ex / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week, we talked about how to identify the source of our need for change.  This week, let’s talk about the hardest part: actually changing our lives for the better! Obviously, we need to spend some time planning for a major change.  We want to consider every factor, from financial to emotional, and be honest about the things that might come up during the transition.  Once we’ve planned it, we want to put the plan in motion immediately, even if it’s the tiniest action.  Transfer $20 to savings for that move, eat just one extra vegetable or fruit or start looking at new jobs TODAY (not at work, lol).  It will get the ball rolling and make us feel like we’re moving toward our goals.  And once we’re moving, there’s no turning back.  Here’s how to survive a major transition: Read the rest of this entry »

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