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New Year, Big Changes

by christina posted January 14, 2013 category christina, cooking, self-employment

2013 has come with big changes. On January 4, 2013, I left my job in the corporate world. For the past 5-and-a-half years, I have worked in that world, with three different jobs in two different states. I used to emphatically declare I was not a career-driven person since I never once had an inkling of yes, I want to do this for the rest of my life. In fact, in most of my jobs, I felt deep tension between Working Christina and Non-working Christina.

Between the hours of 8-5, I felt like a shadow of myself. Every day, I pulled into the parking lot and felt a part of myself crumbling away. I got used to that feeling, knowing once Monday morning rolled around, I’d leave myself and my interests, passions, unique skill set, and personality in the car.

At first, when I started working post-college, I didn’t see this as a problem. I thought, Well, this must be what it’s like to go to work. And, for many people, it is. Work is work; play is play. There’s a tremendous amount of individuals who thrive in that type of distinction, but over time, and especially in the past year, I’ve found my personality and desires are not conducive to that way of thinking. I wanted my work to feed into my passions and vice versa; I wanted to be excited about working, to integrate Working Christina into Non-Working Christina.

The tension between my two selves eventually became to great for me to live in. I knew I had terrific colleagues, a stable income, and solid benefits, but the pull of marrying my interests to my work life was magnetic. You see, I finally knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to write, and I wanted to do it all day long. After creating this blog, I realized the act of stringing words together was one of the few things in this world that made sense to me. While I was writing, time flew by; I spent hours mulling over the best way to phrase the thoughts that were clattering around in my head, and I loved it.

My husband and I started talking about what it would look like for me to write. I set up meetings with every freelance writer I knew of in Nashville. Over lattes at Crema, ice cream at Jeni’s, tea at Ugly Mugs, lunches at West End Cafe, and meetings at Whole Foods, I began learning about this business of freelance writing, the life of the self-employed. After each meeting, I felt my confidence and desire deepen in immeasurable ways.

In a sense, I was working two jobs. It was invigorating, but also discouraging. I felt that although I was pouring my heart into launching my writing career, I simply did not have enough time to do it well. I am aware of the theory that if you love something enough, the lack of sleep, energy, or personal time will not matter at all. I am also acutely conscious of this: I don’t do well on little sleep, low energy, or lack of personal time. Finally, one Sunday evening, Zach and I were sitting on the couch in our guest room. I was spent, completely. He looked at me and said, I think you need to resign from your job.

This decision came after months and months of prayer, financial planning, and tears of both frustration and joy, fear and relief. We both knew I would eventually walk away from the corporate world, but the timing never seemed right. That Sunday night, we realized a leap of faith would feel risky, no matter what. So, we leaped.

Today marks my second week as a freelance writer. It has its own set of challenges, and I am learning every day how I’d like to structure my days. It’s been a delicate balance of knowing when to keep working and when to walk away for a while; when to let myself sleep until 8am, and when to get up when the stars are still visible. There is freedom and joy in this new job, this new way of living. Financial stability, though lucrative, is not mine to hold anymore. Instead, I am living in the faith that our daily bread will always be provided, just as in the past. Our needs will not go unnoticed. Our lives will continue to burst at the seams with blessings; the basil growing on my windowsill, the comfort of warm soup on a cold day, the winter pansies showing off their vibrant faces mid-January.

This enchilada soup is, quite simply, the best. I’ve made it twice in the past three days and both times, have savored every single bite. The recipe is from the ever-poignant Shanna Mallon, creative voice behind the Food Loves Writing blog. This soup did not disappoint, and was the perfect accompaniment to cornbread and pomegranate salad. I even topped it with leftover pulled pork for a meal, and it was heavenly. If making this soup is the only thing you do in 2013, you won’t be sorry.

I adapted the recipe just slightly, using chicken broth, adding a bit more spice, forgetting to add milk, and pouring in a bit of frozen corn. The second time I made it, I used up leftover tiny bell peppers, since I didn’t want to change out of sweatpants to go to Kroger. You can easily adapt this recipe for vegans or carnivores. Just don’t forget the avocado in the bottom of your bowl.

Enchilada Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup organic strained tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable, to vegan-ize)
1/2 cup water
5 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup  milk (or none, to vegan-ize)
2 avocados, diced (place 1/2 avocado on each bowl)
Chopped cilantro, to garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil, adding the diced onion and red pepper. Cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and spices (cumin, salt, chili powder, oregano, cayenne) and saute another few minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth and water; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add torn tortilla pieces.

Let soup cook and reduce for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the milk if desired and adjust seasonings to taste. 5 minutes before serving, pour in the frozen corn. Place avocado in the bottom of soup bowls, top with soup and garnish with cilantro. Be sure to scoop up avocado in each bite.

15 Responses to New Year, Big Changes

  1. Congrats on taking such a big leap! I’ve often struggled to balance my passion for food and writing with my career in an unrelated field. It’s certainly not an easy road. For me, a good attitute always helps (though it’s easier said than done while I’m in traffic on my commute home.) Best of luck as you move forward in freelancing!

    • Why, thank you Nicole. It’s certainly a leap, but one full of so much joy! I peeked at your site: beautifully written, equally stunning imagery.

  2. You are a very good writer, Christina. Not just saying that. Why would I? I don’t even really know you. haha. I do believe that trust is our gift back to God. Good for you for taking the leap!

  3. Way to go girls! Love the blog – especially the photos – they are beautiful! Keep it up! Wishing you much joy in blogging :)

    • Your words are so complimentary, Joni, especially given your incredible skill with photography…
      : )

  4. Another great article.

  5. [...] her settled home while she gives a recipe for cauliflower cheese; like a newly self-employed writer wrestling with the beginnings of freelance life while she sips enchilada soup. There’s nothing wrong with cookbooky blogs (any more than [...]

  6. Christina – although I really miss seeing you, I’m so excited about your new adventure! And I am glad I can keep up with you through this blog. Would love to meet you for lunch sometime soon…

    • I miss seeing you, Audrey. I’m going to have to buy myself a bag of dark chocolate : ) Yes, let’s get lunch sometime! Maybe next month, once I’m more settled into a routine?

  7. congrats on the leap!!! all of your meetings made me hungry for nashville. it’s been 3 1/2 years since we moved from there to philly, and i still miss that city. i think i’m going to pack myself in nicole’s suitcase when she comes to visit next. =)

    • Thanks, Danielle. Nicole has told me about you; when I visit Philly next time, we’ll need to meet up. And, if you make it into Nicole’s suitcase, I’d love to meet you. :)

  8. Just found your blog. Congratulations on your move. I am a freelance writer and cannot recommend the resource Freelance Success (you’ll find a link to it via Google) enough. And books by Kelly James-Enger. Both of those have helped me be financially successful. Best to you and I absolutely love your blog.

    • Thanks, Jean. I will definitely be looking into the resources you’ve suggested. As a newbie, I accept any and all pieces of advice. :) If you have any more advice as a new freelance writer, feel free to email me!

  9. [...] marks Day Ten of my plunge into the freelance writing world, and it’s been an adjustment, to say the least. This handful of days has been full of many [...]