A Year of Turning Inward

This year of 2017 has been interesting. I've made changes in how I live my life, and am very much "settling down." A direct result of this inward work is that I don't blog that often--I just haven't felt like sharing, or haven't felt like writing because that's what I do every day at work. But I do want to check in and mark the turning of the year, and recap a little bit of what 2017 has held. I'd love to hear from you too, whether in the comments here or in person!

I quit a lot of things.


I quit using Facebook. I still check occasionally for postings in groups that I'm a member of, but I no longer post on my page or read through my feed.

I quit coloring my hair. (Well, I quit asking my stylist to color it.) I want to see what my hair really looks like. Turns out it is brown with a touch of gray (kind of suits me anyway).

I quit drinking alcohol. This is a long story, but the short version is that drinking was making me feel bad about myself. I'd been struggling for several years with a deep-seated urge to stop, but it was harder than I imagined. I finally figured out the tools I needed to make it happen for longer than about a week. I quit on July 31, 2017.

I quit wearing contact lenses. (I still wear them to run, but then I take them out again.) I have a cute pair of purpley-pink glasses that go much better with who I think I am.

I quit going to therapy. This just happened a few weeks ago. Having a therapist was helpful for a time, but I'm looking forward to trying other things in 2018.

I quit subscribing to makeup kits. I love them, but I don't need all the stuff.

I also tried some new things.

I went on my first retreat. Wilder was all the things I love--writing, running, and eating good food, plus exciting challenges like meeting a personal hero (Lauren Fleshman!!!), making new friends (I am shy and seem to be getting more shy), sharing my writing out loud, and yoga. So so cool.

I visited Vancouver Island for the first time! Being half Canadian and having family living there, it was really ABOUT TIME.

I took up nail art as a hobby. Oddly, this has been a nice substitute for a glass of wine--it's calming and pointless.

I moved out of my office at work. This just happened recently, but I love changing things up sometimes and rewiring my brain as a result. I now sit with a small group of people in a bright, open spot and can actually see outside from my desk.

I tried yoga. After meeting Erin Taylor at Wilder, a yoga instructor who specializes in yoga for runners, I subscribed to her online site Jasyoga and I'm trying to keep up with it when I can. Next goal: attend a real-live class where I live.

I'm trying out Writer's Oasis. Another jewel from Wilder was working with Jennifer Louden, a marvelous writing teacher. But she's much more, offering coaching and tools for self-discovery through a weekly call and a lively website that I've been sampling for the month of December (thanks to Jen's generous offer to anyone who wanted to try it out!). So far the calls alone have been incredibly helpful and inviting, both for writing and for working on my inner self, which is something I want to do more in 2018.

Last of all. I READ 30 BOOKS!

I track my books on Goodreads, and you can see in these yearly stats that after my son's birth in 2010, my reading took a bit of a hit. (I used to read about a book a week.) But now I'm back, baby!!

30 books makes a nice grid—here is a screenshot of all of them, from Ariel Levy's The Rules Do Not Apply that I finished last Sunday, all the way back to Tad Friend's Cheerful Money that I finished in early January 2017.

It is no coincidence that only 8 of these books are by men. In fact I have only read books by women since June. I figure that men have had their say, and I'm tired of hearing it. Let someone else talk for a change, jeez!

Memoirs: Rosie Schapp, Carrie Brownstein, Debra Gwartney, Sarah Payne Stuart, Madhur Jaffrey, Patti Smith, Moira Hodgson, Anjelica Huston, Cat Marnell, Christine Vachon, Viv Albertine, Jen Agg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (actually her collected writings, not quite a memoir), Glennon Doyle Melton, Ariel Levy

Biographies: Margaret Wise Brown, Blanche Knopf

Women writing about their parents: A.M. Homes, Francine du Plessix Gray

Happy New Year to you!

Build-a-Bowl Chicken Noodle Soup

A brisk day in late autumn. The leaves fell and were raked away long ago. A few snowflakes have been spotted. A huge container of mittens and hats and scarves sits by the front door, waiting to be decanted into the Hat Basket for easy access all winter long. Jacket weather is gone but I still refuse to wear my winter coat... not yet.

It's a chicken noodle soup kind of day.

I realize that my cooking legacy to my children may not be teaching them in person in our home kitchen. It might instead be this blog. Here is where I record my recipes and tips and tricks. I hope the Internet is still working when my children want to look up what I wrote. (I love you, future-children!)

My main trick for this soup is to cook the noodles separately. This makes the soup less starchy overall, and helps the noodles stay more intact. To serve, I "build" the soup by spooning the hot liquid part over the cooked noodles, mixing them right in each bowl.


1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced or crushed
2 breasts of chicken, cubed
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 box chicken broth (32 ounces)
pinches of oregano, thyme, basil and/or sage
1/2 cup frozen green peas
6 ounces egg noodles (half of a 12-ounce bag)


1. Heat butter and olive oil together in large Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté.


2. Add cubed chicken and stir until mostly cooked (white) on all sides, about 5 minutes.

3. Add 1 clove of the minced garlic, and all of the celery. Stir together for another few minutes.

4. Add carrots and broth. Bring to a simmer.

5. Add herbs. Simmer for 20 minutes until carrot pieces have started to soften.

6. MEANWHILE, start heating a large pot of water for the egg noodles.

7. Add frozen peas to chicken soup. It can hold and simmer for as long as needed while the noodles are cooking.

8.  When noodle water boils, add salt and then noodles. Follow directions on package to cook (boil about 9-11 minutes).
9. Drain noodles in colander and toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking. Keep in colander until ready to serve (can cover with a lid).

10. Add the second garlic clove to the almost-finished soup. (This allows a fuller spectrum of garlic compounds, because the second clove will not get cooked as much.)

11. When you're ready, build each bowl by starting with a serving of noodles.

12. Ladle the soup on top and you're done!

This method lets the broth keep a consommé-like clarity, as it is not gummed up with starch from the noodles. It tastes light and veg-forward. However if you like a thicker soup, you can cook the noodles right in the soup by adding them at around Step 7 above.

This also makes great turkey soup, ideal for post-Thanksgiving. Just leave out the chicken, and instead add chunks of cooked turkey when you put in the broth.

Happy December!