We think of soup as comforting. When we're sick, it makes us feel better. When it's cold, it makes us warm. But for me the essential ingredient is hope.

 In 2013, I was living in my brother's 400 square foot apartment in New York City.  I had just left a job at The Big Bang Theory in hopes of finding similar work close to my family. I couldn't get a job for the life of me, never mind one on a hit show approaching it's 300th episode.  I was also mourning the loss of a good friend, mending a broken heart, and just trying to find my way.  I fell into a depression I couldn't come out of.  Normally when I get sad or feel like life has beaten me down, I find a hobby.  I run a marathon, I put on a play.  I keep moving.  But for some reason, something had a hold on me. I also kept having these weird symptoms: leg pain, migraines...things I completely blew off because I had no idea I was sick.  I remember running the loop in Central Park and thinking "Man, I must not be used to walking so much because this is like running through cement."  I was literally and figuratively stuck.

Ultimately I landed a corporate creative job, if that’s even a thing. I was bored out of my mind  and as useless as a chocolate teapot.  So, I would distract myself by looking at pictures my friend Dave posted.  He took the most amazing pictures of landscapes and mountains, boat trips, skiing, biking... It gave me hope.  Hope that I would become unstuck,  be more active outside, travel... 

I counted how many paychecks it would take for me to actually accomplish this goal and my cement legs just felt heavier and heavier.  And then, LA called. I was asked to come back and work in TV.  Excited about a decent paycheck and seeing the sun, I packed my things and went back.

A month later, I collapsed.

I don't want to get into the details of my treatment and the labs - the poking, the prodding, your body becoming not your own.  The diet restrictions, the isolation from friends, the asking for help after feeling like you were so close to conquering the world on your own...  Those are all separate stories.  This story is about hope and finding it in the smallest of places.  I spent nearly four years on a couch, in hospitals, in treatment rooms and I truly can't pinpoint the day I started to feel better. I know that I promised my mom if I continued to work, I would feed myself.   I know that cooking soup became a necessity for me as I could cook it in batches and freeze.   I know that when my friend Teddi started to ask me to cook for her, it gave me focus.  It gave me energy. 

It gave me hope.

I went from not being able to stand for long periods of time to being able to cook for eight hours a day.  I don't know how that happened and it still amazes me today that I'm here.  A few months ago, my friends were heading to visit Dave and I asked if I could join. Working in TV for the last fifteen yrs, I found vacations were few and far between because I never knew what my schedule would be like.  Soup had given me a free weekend. So, I went. I mean I hadn't traveled in seven years.  Not one vacation for myself.  Not one trip that didn't involve doctors, in seven years. In fact, my cardiologist had a list of warnings for me before I went on that trip but I kept them to myself because I didn't want anything to ruin this weekend.  My intent was to relax.  To cook for my friends.  To maybe have a nice dinner.  They invited me to ski, - something I grew up doing.  Something I felt I was good at at one point in my life.  I debated.  Could my body hold up?  Would I crash? Would the elevation affect my heart?  I said fuck it.  I went.  The four us get on the third ski lift to the top of the mountain.  I've already been smiling like a jackass for what seems like ten hours.  I was doing it, I was skiing!  My body was agreeing with me.  I was nervous about going to the top of the mountain, the elevation, the warning.  And then I look to the left of me and I realize...

I'm in one of Dave's pictures.  I made it.

I'm not someone who has the answers to life.  I can barely meditate or hold a pose for too long in yoga.  I'm not good with affirmations and always awkward around a compliment.  I am a stress ball who never likes to sit around.  I get anxious. I get worried. I have fear. But  I do believe in hope.  I believe that we need things to hold on to.  I believe that sometimes they can be the smallest of things.  I love to cook.  I love to cook my soups.  I love when it makes people happy.  I also love finding hope in all aspects of our lives.  For me, it was Dave's pictures that made me want to find a focus so that I could travel more.  To see pretty things.  To get me out of a rut.  Ironically, it was soup that saved me.  It was soup that allowed me to travel.  It was soup that ultimately kept me hopeful.  

So I'm asking you, #wheredoyousoup?  What gives you hope?   Whether it's Lyme disease, weight loss goals, post partum, unemployment, break ups, make ups... We all need our own soup story, and we'd love to hear yours.  So tell us your story!

Send us your pics. Each month we'll share a special #wheredoyousoup picture & story from our soup community! For each story we choose to repost, we'll provide 50% off your order of up to ten soups. To enter, post your #wheredoyousoup pics, tell us your story, and tag @gracefully_fed.  Keep checking back here for when we announce the winner next month. 

Hope to hear from you soon.

With love,

Traci (Grace to a select few)

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