I worried about my emotions as I returned to Geneva yesterday. I was exhausted as I stepped off the plane in Geneva after ten days of constant meetings, social events, moving from place to place, and a little thing called running a marathon. Don’t get me wrong – these 10 days were wonderful and we are so thankful we had an opportunity to see friends just 3 months after moving. Most people who are living abroad only fly back to their home country 1-2 times per year, maximum. This year, we will be back in the United States 2 times within the first 6 months of our move.
But, regardless of exhaustion, I felt like my mood when I arrived in Geneva would match the gray skies. I figured that I would find myself at home, alone, depressed about the situation after 10 fun filled days. Instead of succumbing to unhealthy thoughts or actions, I proactively worked to overcome this pending emotion and was actually able to find a healthy way to avoid it.
Instead of focusing on how much I will miss our friends or our home city of New York, I focused on making my Geneva home truly feel like a home last night. After going through emails and catching up on work for a few hours, I headed to the grocery store. I still find the grocery stores in Geneva to be a foreign and confusing proposition, unlike the friendly aisles of Publix and Whole Foods. I haven’t figured out the organization, if there is one, and therefore it makes shopping take far longer than normal. In order to make the process easier I decided that going in with a plan would allow me to organize my thoughts and also have translations readily available, in case I couldn’t find a product.
I spent 15 minutes finding a recipe ( Turkey Pumpkin Chili ), typing the ingredient list into Google translator, pushed translate and then copied the text over to an email which I sent to myself. This simple task made grocery shopping in a foreign store so much more manageable. I picked up all the produce and dairy items first, which tend to be easier. Then, using my translation list, I asked for help finding the smaller items which were hiding such as ground chicken, a few spices, and beans. Having the power of knowing the French terms made asking for help less intimidating. Having a recipe that excited me made the process of searching for items and the entire grocery shopping experience more fun as I knew it was a means to the end – a delicious and healthy home cooked dinner.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been cooking in Geneva the past few months but I haven’t been making recipes and getting creative in the kitchen. Instead I feel as if I’ve been preparing simple dishes such as a heated vegetable, protein and carbohydrate. This process left me bored and uninspired. It’s amazing what a few minutes on Pinterest can do for the soul.
Last night, cooking was my therapy. The hour I spent preparing the ingredients, simmering and constantly stirring the chili, crafting a flavorful salad, and then sitting and dining by candlelight gave me a joy I haven’t felt in ages. This unique and awkward space, complete with the wood paneling and small, dingy refrigerator and oven, felt like my happy place.
For so long, I’ve found my happiness in Geneva outside. Whether hiking in the French Alps or running along Lake Geneva this solace was something that I couldn’t find in my own home. Just in time for the gray Autumn months and bitter, cold winter months I couldn’t be happier to have rediscovered happiness in the kitchen.
Special thanks to Gena and Anne who inspired me to get back in the kitchen, one recipe at a time. If you don’t follow my recipe board on Pinterest yet, I’d love for you to join the party. I can guarantee you that a pinning party has just begun and it isn’t stopping anytime soon!