A friend of mine did the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii double handed, meaning sailing with one other crew member. There are longer races, and solo, but still it’s weeks on the water covering your shift on your own. So, I couldn’t help but ask what it felt like to spend so much time alone day after day with the sun, and the stars, and the wind?
For myself, I know I would be very much changed by spending that much time at sea. I think about my recent past, and all the time I’ve had to myself. It’s been luxurious to spend my evenings reading, or writing, or out with friends. It has been years and years since I’ve had this much time to think and dream and plan. It’s been my greatest joy to have two sets of colored pencils next to my bed to highlight passages from the books I read or to plot out the next few years in pie charts segmented by quarter and color coded.
I’ve learned so much about myself in the past two years. I’ve learned to really love myself in a way I never knew was possible. There have been many ups and downs of course, but I’ve learned to stay the course no matter what happened. This is a wonderful feeling. It gives me a great deal of self trust.
I’ve learned I love maps. Or, charts as they are called in the sailing world. I love plotting a course and navigation. I’m constantly adding to my knowledge of the world.
My friend the sailor looked at me with eyes of the palest green and clear like a calm sea, and told me, “We’re all just stardust, Sydney.”
As the days go by and I watch all of the things I most hoped for come to fruition I believe it’s true.
My company Ocean SF was funded by a private angel investor last August. Because of the funding I was able to start over and build a strong foundation for the future of Ocean SF. I have a new factory in San Francisco and a local team that I am developing with. Things are moving steadily along.
In the fall I reorganized my life so I could focus more seriously on Ocean SF. Having three or four side hustles has been reduced to two. I’m now teaching language arts at the Learning Space in Lafayette. I earned my Adult Education Certification while teaching International students at UC Berkeley. Working with kids allows me to use the skills I learned at UC Berkeley and during my years of tutoring reading and teaching fifth grade literacy classes when my kids were young. I am also a certified ski instructor and taught hundreds of kids to ski at The Northstar Resort Ski School in Tahoe.
This work keeps me close to home and the things I love. My boss at the Learning Center, Sabrina is so talented and I’ve learned so much from her. No one is more passionate and committed to their work. Once again, it’s been wonderful to support another hard working entrepreneur. I also love the kids. I have fifteen students now and seeing them make steady progress and sometimes large leaps in their reading and writing skills has been incredibly rewarding.
I’m still working with Treasure Festival, and am looking forward to catching up with my friends there at the end of the month. I committed to my boss Chazz that I would stay and help him for an entire year. It’s helped me more than anyone though, because it gives me a bench mark for my own progress. I was an entirely different person when I started my first side hustle that billowy day last April. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and as a result I’ve grown a great deal.
Dedication, hard work and steady progress have been the hallmarks of this past year.
I wrote this recipe several years ago and it continues to get a lot of traffic. I’ve noticed it has been especially popular the past few months. Additionally, I was out with some friends and they told me this was their favorite soup recipe of all time. I thought it would be nice to repost it before the winter is over.
Love and blessings.
Simmering soups are great for two reasons, they make your home smell wonderful (especially when using this combination of spices) and the soup doesn’t need to be pulled out and reheated as loved ones come home.
This is almost a pantry recipe. By this I mean most of these ingredients should already be on hand. In my book Real Food for Real People I provide a list of what is needed for a well stocked pantry and it’s a good idea to have several no fail recipes that you can make without much notice (read hungry teens and friends). My favorite is Penne Pasta with Pancetta and Peas (recipe in Real Food for Real People). I almost always have these ingredients and can make dinner for 10 in about 20 minutes. For this soup, I already had frozen chicken breast, chicken stock in a box, wild rice in the pantry and a few carrots and some celery in the fridge. The only thing I typically don’t have is a little fresh cream. It’s a good idea to always have some fresh cream because it does last a long time and it’s nice if others take cream in their coffee. I also put bourbon whiskey in this! Maker’s Mark to be exact. I love a little alcohol to bring out the flavor in these ingredients. You can also use white wine or some dry sherry.
Below is the recipe I started with. It is so important to learn to adapt recipes to your personal tastes. I like deep complex flavors, so I added some complimentary spices that I personally love. I don’t like to put flour in my soups because I don’t like them that thick. I find organic ingredients make a big difference in a soup as opposed to a cookie (e.g. an Oreo tastes great even if not organic). I also love carrots, but celery not so much. And, I can NEVER make anything without some fresh garlic. Because of the kids (now teens) I used a wild rice medley. A pure wild rice would provide an unfamiliar color contrast to the soup that I knew the kids wouldn’t like. Most kids like white starches making the medley a nice compromise.
Experimenting last winter with flavors I found I loved dried tarragon in most anything. I also like my onion almost nonexistent. I know it adds great flavor, but I never want to see it in a soup, so I dice onions very small. When I read this recipe I thought it might be a little bland for my tastes, but by using just a small amount of dried spices like tarragon, paprika and curry I was able to pump up the flavor. The fresh garlic and whiskey didn’t hurt either.
Sydney’s Chicken, Whiskey & Wild Rice Soup
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 celery stocks rinsed and chopped into small pieces
4 carrots cut into small pieces
2 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic
1 small onion diced fine
2 lbs. chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon each salt and white pepper
2 quarts organic chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup wild rice medley (combination of brown and wild rice)
1 cup fresh whipping cream
Melt the butter in a large soup pot or deep dutch oven and add celery, carrots, garlic and onion. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes and then add the raw chicken, fresh thyme, tarragon, paprika, curry and salt and pepper. Stir well and cook until chicken turns white and then add the whiskey and cook for anther 2 minutes. Ingredients should be well incorporated. Add the broth and water and bring to a soft boil then add the rice. Reduce heat and allow to simmer as long as you can stand it (1-2 hours). Add the cup of fresh cream and allow to heat through before serving.
The fog rolls in from the San Francisco Bay and hangs like a shroud around my home in the hills to the East. I look out the window and can see the silvery green of the olive trees in my front yard, but not even an outline of the houses across the street. The entire neighborhood is wrapped in a cool white blanket.
I’m sitting in bed on a Thursday morning drinking my French roast coffee from a large white mug. I’m reading the news, my email and checking my analytics. I feel safe and peaceful here. I know I am watched over by the spirit of Lorraine Source who lived here before me for three decades. When we bought the house there were six quit claims in the loan file at the title company. She lived here with her six husbands quite obviously taking shit from no one. A woman ahead of her time.
On that day I was pregnant with my second daughter and had my white haired sixteen month old in tow.
From the moment I saw the house I fell in love with it. Classic and traditional; not too big, not too small. A place I could live forever.
Comforting in every way. With two furnaces, upstairs and down, the entire house is quickly warm even on the coldest of days. The rooms are graceful and full of natural light. Once inside it feels like a warm hug. I know that I can live here as long as I want to. That is a done deal. The question that remains is do I want to?
At the purchase I imagined I would host my grandchildren here. My girls would come home and sleep in their childhood rooms with their husbands and their babies beside them in the same bassinet they slept in. In the summer they would play in the pool like they did when they were little. We would have music playing and burgers on the grill and cold lemonade. Shrieks of laughter would float across the creek and happiness would prevail.
The same is true for the Tahoe house. In winter, we would all be together like we always are. My future grandchildren occupying the bunk room with the snow flake pillows and four matching bear quilts on each bed.
The future that awaits me now is decidedly different. Although, we are happy and stable, there are big changes ahead. My daughter will be in college next year. I will be running Ocean SF, but from where?
My company gives me what I’ve always wanted which is an ability to drive change. This is ironic as now I am facing changes on every level of my personal life. As open as I am to moving both physically and figuratively I still resist. It feels entirely distracting to move households and that is the deciding factor at the moment. On this foggy Thursday it’s a time of contrasts; the peacefulness of my quiet home against the backdrop of exhilarating new beginnings.
I’ve dedicated my life to positive growth. I’ve refused to accept anything less than forward motion. I’ve never backed down from anything or anyone. I never let fear hold me back.
I think the trick now is not to let go, but to be willing to let go. The future I thought I would have has altered, but I am open and prepared to adapt. And, as Darwin’s theories proved, to adapt is to thrive.
After all, that’s what my predecessor did. She sold the house, moved to Arizona and got married again.