transitioning to simple {stew recipe}

The day was set. I was ready to tell my boss that I wouldn’t be returning after maternity leave, that my heart couldn’t bear to be away from an infant who would need me. I decided how we would budget, the things we’d give up and the loans that we would probably defer. These are all consequences of starting a family “young”. I changed my opinion on family planning, openness to life, and thought that sometimes a plan is a good thing and not a desperate act of control. I thought, maybe I wasn’t ready for this?

Then he had good news, like he always does. A promotion had fallen into place, the way he promised, the same promotion I had ignored for the past month. Life couldn’t be so perfect for me, not this year. This promotion meant I could take time off from work, indefinitely, and when we {Michael, baby and I} were ready, I could return to work. The financial burdens were lifted and we had options now.

I’m not much of a crier. I cried. I cried a lot that day week. I don’t know if the tears were from relief, {hormones?} the grace of God, or from a place of complete failure. I had spent the entire year looking for a new job – something I could do at home or close to home, something I could do part-time, anything that didn’t involve an hour commute. There were countless interviews, second interviews, a few job offers and I just couldn’t find anything worth my time away from the baby. Given less than a month’s worth of time and he was able to fix the problem and prove to me that this could and would work out.

The things you learn in the first year of marriage, I could write a book about them.

Number one: Don’t be surprised to find that your answer is lying next to you.
Number two: Let him be the answer.
Number three: Allow yourself to be grateful. Allow yourself to be happy.

I know a lot of women transition from work to home everyday and my generation was brought up with this “ultimate renaissance woman” in mind that taught us to provide income to our households and keep up with the fast pace of life. Own a business, keep up at home, run marathons and eat a trendy diet. It sounds almost too good to be true. Maybe it is, but we crave it. There are three factors society has told us to live by:

Don’t settle. Love your job. Don’t lose your independence. 

What does it even mean to independent anymore? Does that mean financially independent? Wouldn’t that make you dependent on money, work, coworkers or your boss? We, as humans, are social, group gathering people. We come into this world tiny, needy and dependent on other people. Independence doesn’t really have a place in our lives. Or does it?

The thought of being home indefinitely terrifies me. I don’t know why, perhaps right now there’s not much to do at home. I think what really terrifies me is disappointing a 13-year-old girl I used to know, with glistening blue eyes and a dream to conquer the world.

What world do I conquer now? Her world?

I took a look at the graces God and fate have presented to me this past year. Mainly, the addition of two angels – our grandfathers. I thought long and hard about these two men, their joy for life, and the fact that I only knew them within their retirement years. The boring years, some may call them. My grandfather had lived as a priest, traveling the world, then became a public school teacher. After retirement, he spent his time moving around the east coast and doting on his only three granddaughters. I never heard him regret a moment he spent with us. He always had a story. He always had a hobby he was raving about, whether it was Tai Chi, bee keeping, gardening, or training his dogs. He was happy with his life at home. Michael’s granddad was a man of similar fashion, simple happiness. After retiring twice he vowed his life to his grand kids, Michael being the very first dedication. I only knew him for a few years but his stories were always full of enthusiasm, never did he start a story, “Here is truly a boring story…”

These two men, who met once at our wedding, had three common denominators: their love for life, their knack for independence, and simplicity. Independence never came from a driver’s license or income. It came from the mind, the creation self identity, how one regards oneself. It was quite simple.. and they never questioned it.

Life isn’t hard or complicated when you find your simple joys. 

Simple joys… A good recipe, buying your best friend a bacon cheeseburger when they’re sick, finding the perfect baby clothes for your niece, making friends at college, taking care of your mother when she’s old and begins to lose her mind. I miss out on plenty because I’m simply not there, 9 to 5. Perhaps slowing down will let me fully embrace these joys. Starting simple.

Here is a simple stew recipe, sent to me from my original best friend, Jess. I may have mentioned her before. We’ve been besties since 4th grade, 9-years-old. You do the math because I’ve lost count. Quite frankly, it makes me feel old when I do count up the years. She is my official-non-pregnant-pregnancy-consultant and deals with my complaints, fears and hormonal insanity on a daily basis. Thanks for the recipe, Jess! {By the way, Jess is in the middle of her own, very intentional, Whole30. Please send your thoughts and prayers of support to her journey! :-) }

Enjoy! And make some stew for the person {or people, stew is great to share} who solves your problems and keeps your world turning :-)

stew

Photo Cred to Jess

Simple Stew

4 cups kale
2 lbs boneless beef stew pieces
6 oz tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
1 medium Sweet potato diced
1 medium onion diced
2 cups diced carrots
32 oz chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes if desired
{You can add any other root veggies you like, rutabaga, cabbage and parsnips would all be good}

In a slow cooker: Layer kale then beef and season to your liking. Add tomato paste and garlic, then add all desired veggies on top. Last add chicken stock. Cover and cook on low for 6 hrs.

* For a creamier broth, add mashed avocado and/or almond milk.
* Serve alone or with roasted mashed cauliflower.

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