It All Makes Sense & How I WILL Reach My Pull-UP Goal

I mentioned in an earlier post that my reading list lately has been light on the fiction and heavy on the “self-help” (I did read This is Happy by Camilla Gibb . . . while I couldn’t put it down, it was decidedly NOT a happy book).

The books I have been LOVING include The Gifts of ImperfectionThe Crossroads of Should and MustThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Big Magic.

All of these books have a similar theme; that when you live the life you want as opposed to the life you feel you “should” live, you will start to feel a whole lot better.  By embracing creativity (be that in the form of art, physical pursuits, or any other pursuit that brings you joy), letting go of the idea of achieving perfection, and tidying and organizing your home in a way that brings you joy, happiness will be the inevitable outcome.

And then, yesterday, after finishing the 2nd of two of the BEST workouts I think I have ever done (and by best, I mean despite being gruelling, I had a light heart, light sprit, and a smile on my face the whole time), I came home, and while soaking in my recovery epsom salt bath, started reading The Desire Map.  And all of a sudden, IT ALL MADE SENSE.

“Small, deliberate actions inspired by your true desires create a life you love”
(The Desire Map)

For the past few weeks, as I’ve chewed through my aforementioned reading list, I’ve incorporated a variety of suggestions the authors make and made small adjustments to my, and my family’s life.  The new habits of getting all the activity bags packed on Sunday, stealing 10 minutes here and there when the kids are occupied/doing something with the Husband to get something small tidied or a little chore done, getting the kids dressed at 7am as soon as they’re done breakfast so we can have a full hour of “mommy school/together time without a mad dash/cranky mommy running around 5 minutes before we have to leave for school getting everyone ready . . . they are ALL making a MASSIVE difference in our lives.  We’re more relaxed, the kids are happier, the house is cleaner, and I feel far less anxious about everything that I’d like to get done.

Why has it been so easy to stick to all these new habits????  Because they make me FEEL good.  And from the way everyone else in the house is acting lately, I pretty confident in saying they FEEL good too.

“When you get clear on how you want to feel, the pursuit itself becomes more satisfying.  The quality of the journey and the destination begin to merge in your heart”
(The Desire Map)

Ahhhhh.  Ok.  So what I want is to feel this way every day; light, happy, full of joy, and able to focus on whatever it is that I’m doing at that moment (not worried about what I have to do next, what I haven’t done, or what I should be doing).  And if I keep up with all these little habits, I will be able to keep feeling this way; and if I keep feeling so light and happy and full of joy, it’s easy to keep up with the habits . . . I sense a virtuous cycle forming . . .

So how does this cycle back to training and my desire to be able to do pull-ups?????

Right now, I’m in what we call a “strength building phase” of training.  That means, when I go to the gym, I’m not trying to hit PR’s (Personal Records) in my lifts, or complete workouts in faster times.  I’m simply working on a variety of movements, working at a percentage of my maximal lifts, and trying to improve my technique and overall strength.  And I’m LOVING every minute of it; especially the last 2 workouts.  I haven’t questioned why I’m so happy, I’ve just been going with it.  Then I read this “Constant racing for success creates habitual and unconscious goal-setting.  We need to re-learn how to move toward our dreams-with (the) trust and well-placed devotion”.  Wait a minute . . . . that’s exactly what’s been going on in my training . . . remove the constant race for success, and replace it with trust and well-placed devotion . . . and it makes for much happier training.  Don’t get me wrong – I do love a good PR-smashing session, and these types of sessions definitely have a place in a good training plan – they just don’t have to happen EVERY time I go to the gym.

Ok then.  But I do still have goals that I REALLY want to achieve.  Is that still possible under this paradigm???  Well, Danielle LaPorte has some words of wisdom on that too:

“Feeling Good along the way doesn’t mean you do’t work your ass off to get what you want.  It means you joyously work your ass off.”
and
“When you’re connected to the greater purpose of an intention – honouring the call of your heart, not just proving yourself – and there’s peal sure in the process, you can pull off some amazing feats.”

So . . . I want to be able to do pull ups because I want the feeling of knowing that I’m that strong.  And the only way to get that strong is to work on it, and build that strength.  So . . . I know why I want to achieve this goal, what I need to do to achieve this goal . . . and so I trust that as I go into the gym today, I will joyously work on developing the strength I need to master those pull ups.

(Ironically, and article entitled “2 Programs to Build Up Your Pull Ups” appeared in my blog reader this morning . . . thanks Universe!)

For the Love of Traditions & My Non-Traditional Cranberry Sauce

I will freely admit that I absolutely adore good old long-standing traditions.  There’s nothing better for me than carrying on one of our family’s (too) many traditions.  Perhaps it’s my inner control freak exerting it’s will . . . or just the fact that I love the comfort that repetition brings, or the fact that as a kid, it seemed like we had very few family traditions (things always seemed to change from year to year) . . . it doesn’t really matter; I just love to repeat certain things over and over and over again.

Since the Husband and I host Thanksgiving every year, I can indulge freely in my love of traditions.  While little things have changed (we now have a “kids” table, and we smoke the chicken instead of roasting it, and I no longer create elaborate hand-made place cards), the menu and the cadence of the day have pretty much stayed the same over the last 10 years!

Ironically, it was my quest to make handmade place cards ten years ago that led me into a scrapbooking store that led to a whole lot of magic in my life including some pretty amazing friends.

But I digress.  After we eat our traditional meal, the kids will all change into skeleton jammies and we’ll take a picture of them all together on our living room sofa. This tradition started when I just had the Older one . . . I expanded it when I had the Little one (I LOVE when the kids wear matching jammies), and then just kept expanding it as more kids entered the family.  This year, though, I had a REALLY hard time finding skeleton jammies in a size that would fit the Older one.  A sign that he really is growing up.  And an indication to me that I’m not going to be able to keep ALL of my traditions alive as the kids get older.

Oh well, for today, anyway, I’m going to enjoy all the traditions that I can squeeze into this one too-short day.  And tomorrow, as we indulge in our annual post-thanksgiving leftover sandwiches, I can start in on organizing my Christmas season traditions (I may have already purchased the chocolate advent calendars for the kids along with a few sets of matching Christmas jammies).

Maybe after Christmas I can work on letting go of some of my crazy obsessions with traditions…

Now for the Cranberry Sauce part of this post.  The ONE item on our Thanksgiving menu that has never stayed the same from year to year is the cranberry sauce.  Some years we are able to pick the cranberries from the cottage.  And some years, we can’t.  Some years, I make a recipe that calls for a bag of cranberries to be dumped into a pot along with a jar of red currant jelly – you melt it all together until the cranberries burst and then cool it down and serve (sounds kinda gross, but it’s good and it does work).  And other years, I have tried different recipes.  Last year, and this year, I made the following recipe.  There are many versions of this floating around the internet.  Personally, I like cranberries, so I don’t like much else in the sauce, other than cranberries – i.e., i don’t add in spices, zest or anything else.  If that’s what you like, go nuts and add away!!!

Cranberry Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 12oz bag of cranberries

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup raw honey

Directions

  1. Dump the cranberries into a colander and pick through them; discard any little twigs or shrivelled cranberries.
  2. Place the picked-over cranberries into a small saucepan along with the orange juice and honey.
  3. Heat the mixture on medium heat for about 25minutes.  The longer you cook it, the thicker the sauce will get.  By this point, all the cranberries should have popped and the  mixture will look a nice deep “cranberry” colour.
  4. Cool, and serve.

Thankful

Today, I am overflowing with thankfulness.

What started out as a nice Thanksgiving dinner in our small condo; an excuse to get our parents together and use all the “good dishes” the Husband and I had received as wedding gifts earlier in the year has grown to a big family gathering.  Gone are the days of soft background music, adult conversation, and lingering over coffee and dessert at the table; in it’s place we’ll have the sound of 10 little feet running around the house, the happy cries of a new little baby, shrieks of delight and loads of giggles, and a playlist courtesy of Disney.  And we couldn’t be happier about the glorious chaos that it will be.

This weekend is my absolute favourite weekend of the year.  I get to spend today and tomorrow in joyful preparation for this annual dinner.  I love every minute of being in the kitchen and of tidying the house (made much easier thanks to all the tidying that’s been going on here over the last few weeks).  And I love how our family can now operate like a well-oiled machine.

And as I move about the house this morning, getting set for the cooking that lies ahead, I’m able to quietly think about why it is that I feel so gloriously thankful.

I’m thankful for the Husband and how incredibly close we are; and the fact that we have found little ways to honour each other on this weekend (he sends me flowers and the pecan pie I serve is made specially for him).  I’m thankful for the kids and how excited they are to help with the preparations (how far we’ve come from the year I was 9 months pregnant with the Older one to now when he’s right beside me peeling and chopping potatoes).  And I’m thankful for all our extended family to make the journey to our house and help make this weekend so special.

Of course, there are a million more things that I am thankful for right now; I’m thankful for where I am right now in my life.  I’m thankful for my friends who make each day a little brighter, (and who have encouraged and supported me with this little adventure into blogland).  I’m thankful for the joy that I have found in the gym; in how my body can now move, the strength that I have developed, and the anticipation of the strength and movements that will come in the future, and of course, for the people that I get to spend my time in the gym with (I believe you know who you are).  And I’m thankful for the gift of the future and being able to quietly wait and see what it will bring.

I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.  And I hope you too are overflowing with thankfulness this weekend.

And if you are looking for a little something else to be thankful for . . . try this recipe for pecan pie.  I have worked with this recipe for years now.  But, due to the influence of the Coach, I modified it last year and replaced the corn syrup with maple syrup.  It worked out beautifully.  Feel free to use corn syrup if you are partial to it, but the maple syrup is better for so many reasons.  I use the America’s Test Kitchen pie dough recipe (yes, the vodka REALLY works).  But again, due to the Coach’s influence, I use only butter (so where it calls for shortening, I just add in more butter).  It seems to work fine, and I’ve had no complaints.

Brad's Pecan Pie

  • Servings: 1 12-inch pie
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 cup maple syrup

8Tbs melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

2 2/3 cups pecan halves

2Tbs bourbon

Directions

  1. While the butter is melting, put the eggs in a bowl and whisk them well.  Add in the sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and mix well.
  2. When the butter is melted, add it to the other liquid ingredients and mix well.
  3. Dump in the pecans and, using a spoon, stir so that all the pecans are coated in the liquid mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large (12″) pie plate that has been lined with pie dough.
  5. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until the centre of the pie is fairly set (the pie may jiggle a little, but it will solidify as it cools)
  6. As soon as you pull the pie out of the oven, sprinkle the bourbon over the pie.  It will sizzle and smell amazing!

*Note that this recipe can easily be halved and made in a more traditionally-sized pie plate.

**You can also sprinkle a few Enjoy Life chocolate chips on the bottom of the pie BEFORE you add in the pecan/liquid mixture if you want a really decadent dessert (I do this some years, and some years I don’t)

Imperfection, A Preventable Mistake, And Paleo Crispy Rice Squares

Every week or so, my older one has a spelling test.  They get a list of words that all follow the same grammatical rule along with a few sight words (usually these are words that have come up during the previous week that kids in the class have had trouble with).  The older one is pretty good at these “spell well’s”; he’s had great teachers along the way who have taught him how to read and spell really well, he seems to have no problem applying the grammatical rules, and yes, we do run through the words once a day to practice before the “test”.

This week, the day after his spell well, the older one and I were driving home from school together – the little one was already at an activity – and I asked him if they had got the results from their spell wells.

“Well Mom”, he said, “I got one wrong”.

WHAT.

A series of thoughts sprinted through my head: “What went wrong?”, “He knew those words”, “How did he not get them all right?”.

Despite the unpleasant tone of my inner voice, I gently asked him “What word did you not spell right?”.

“Mom”, he said, “It was the word night.  I put the “i” after the “g””.

And in that instant, all I could think was:

“Well that was a preventable mistake”.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.  Words from my childhood.  Words that I am pretty sure play on a continuous loop in my subconscious on a daily basis.  Words, that when I look at them now, on paper, make absolutely NO sense.  By definition, how can you have a preventable mistake?  And as this thought train started to pull away from the station at full speed . . . I heard from the backseat:

“Mom, I don’t always have to ______ (he used a verb here, I honestly can’t remember if it was be/get so you can fill in the blank with whatever word you prefer) perfect all the time”.

Yup, my heart broke a little at that.  I’ve never wanted or asked for perfection from my kids; in fact, my guiding parenting principle is that I want HAPPY kids.  But it would seem that maybe I’ve been expecting a little more than just “happy” from them when it comes to their school work. . .

After that, we had a long discussion about how it absolutely IS ok to make mistakes and how none of us are perfect (case in point).

(Just to clarify, I really hope this little story doesn’t make me sound like a crazed tiger mom – I try to provide a happy balanced childhood for my kids . . . really, I do . . . but schoolwork is important to me and the Husband, and we do want our kids to reach their full potential at school – so yes, we do place an emphasis on doing homework . . . and reviewing for spelling tests).

Also, on my list of preventable mistakes this week: making a paleo rice krispie bar for ladies’ night . . . (should have just stuck with the tried and true peanut butter cups)

I’m on a desperate quest to find healthy nut-free snacks that the kids can take to school.  Finding paleo recipes that don’t have nut flour in them is next to impossible.  And the attempts that I have made to create a nut-free snack have all ended in spectacular failure.

This recipe came to me from a friend; a friend that I trust when it comes to these sorts of things; and her kids LOVE it.  And to be fair, I LOVE them.  Oddly, the Husband also really liked them (making this paleo baking recipe #2 out of 1,001 that he will actually consume).  The ladies on my street did NOT LOVE them.  So, do what you will with this one . . . you might have success . . . or you might have a dud.  Either way, they take about 10 minutes to put together, and the ingredients are relatively cheap, so failure with this one doesn’t come at too steep a cost – just your reputation as a baker amongst your friends and family!  Ha!

Crispy Rice Cereal Squares

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4 cups puffed rice cereal (I used puffed kamut, which is probably my first mistake. . . but my local grocery store didn’t have puffed brown rice . . . I would use puffed brown rice if you can find it)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (here, I might also use a nut butter if you aim for actual consumption of these bars – but like I said, I was aiming for nut free)

2tsp of vanilla

Directions

  1. Prepare a 9×9″ pan by lining it with waxed paper.
  2. Melt the honey, sunflower seed butter and vanilla in a saucepan over lowish heat.  Mix this a bit while it’s melting – I used a whisk, but you could just use a spoon.
  3. Pour the cereal into a bowl.  When the butter & honey mixture is melted and well mixed, pour it over the cereal and mix it well so that all the cereal is coated with the honey/butter mixture.
  4. Transfer this mixture to the prepared ban and, using a big spoon, really press down on the mixture so that it fills the pan and there aren’t large air pockets.
  5. Put the pan in the fridge for a bit to let it set up – an hour or so should be all it takes.  Just note that these bars, unlike traditional crispy rice treats made with marshmallows, will get softer and fall apart as they come up to room temperature.  So if you send these to school with your kids, you might want to warn them that this isn’t a snack you can hold while you run wild on the playground!

Pull-Ups: A Metaphor for (my) Life

According to the dictionary, a pull-up is an exercise in which you hold onto a bar above your head and then pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.  When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem so bad.  But then there’s the reality.  You’re hanging from a bar, and without any countermovement or other kind of assistance and you need to pull your entire bodyweight up high enough for your CHIN to get over the bar.

Have you guessed yet from my tone that I’m not really a huge fan of the pull-up???  So, here’s the thing.  Pull-ups are pretty much a staple in crossfit wods (workout of the day).  In crossfit, you are allowed to “kip” your pull ups, which basically means you get to swing a little bit to generate some momentum to help you get up high enough for your chin to clear the bar.  Regardless, your chin still has to get OVER the bar.  Because of how and where I learned crossfit, pull-ups weren’t a core part of my workout regime.  So, it’s not a skill that I’ve repeatedly practiced.  And because of that, and my inability to practice them on my own, I stink at them.  Meaning, I’m lucky if I can get in one decent strict pull-up in a day.  Kipping, I can sometimes pull of miracles . . . but those days are few and FAR between . . . as in the sun, the moon and the stars all have to be in alignment for that to happen.

So.  This fall, I announced to the Coach that I wanted to tackle the pull-up.  It was high time I learned this skill.  Enough was enough.  I was going to work on this skill until I could pull-up with the best of them.

But since then . . . I’ve done nothing about it.  Sure, I’ve done a few here and there (when I’m training with the Coach), but I haven’t put in the time, work, or effort when I’m training on my own.  It’s as if I’m hoping/waiting for the Coach to turn into some sort of Crossfit (Fairy) Godfather, wave some sort of magic wand/barbell and grant me the gift of pull-ups.

Today at the gym, there was NO hiding from pull-ups.  We were instructed to do 6 rounds of 6 pull-ups.  In my first set I did a sort of jumping pull-up.  In the second set, I tried a few strict, and then a few kipping.  Then I moved on to 6 kipping.  Then back to 3 strict, 3 kipping . . .you get the idea.  All the while I was moving from bar to bar basically trying every plausible way possible to avoid putting in the ACTUAL hard work of trying to get my chin over the bar, I was watching my training partner bang off her pull-ups like they were nothing . . . and looking good while she was doing them.  And in my head, I pitched a hissy fit.  I WANTED TO DO THAT TOO.  (and look that good while doing it).  Rest assured, I then proceeded to have a full internal dialogue about why the situation was my own damn fault.

As I drove home, and started my daily routine, I kept going back to this idea of wanting to learn pull-ups but then doing pretty much nothing abut it.  And that got me thinking about my life in general; pull-ups are just like that issue you have in your real life; the one you LOVE to complain about, but do nothing to try and actually fix it.  Sure, you might work on other areas of your life, hoping that it will somehow rub off and magically start solving your other issues.  But just like in the gym, no matter how many accessory strength movements you might work on, they will never magically provide you with the specific strength you need to get your chin over the bar.  If I’m going to succeed in mastering the pull-up, or solving any life issues, I’m going to have to buckle down, get to work, and WORK HARD.

Looks like tomorrow might be the start of a long period of sheer hard work for me.  In the gym, and in life.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is also the start of my Thanksgiving dinner preparation marathon. Because of that, and the fact that the little ones have swimming lessons after school, dinner tonight is simple: sausages and roasted cauliflower and sweet potato.  We made a double batch of banana muffins this morning before school so the kids have breakfast/snacks for the rest of the week/weekend.  All that to say, likely no more new recipes for me until after we’re through with Thanksgiving.  I’ll probably post some of my thanksgiving staples as I make my way through my cooking to-do list, though . . .

Don’t Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle

It seems like my reading list lately is made up entirely of a kind of self-help books; books urging me to live a more fearless, creative, authentic life (although I do note that Kindle categorizes most of these books under “Professional & Technical” not self-help).  Clearly, I’m searching for something; I just can’t articulate exactly what it is for which I’m searching.  An interesting conundrum.

Today after school, the kids got up from their checkers game (yeah, I know, my kids sat down, unprompted and started to play checkers – I thought I was in an alternate universe when I realized what was going on – crazy!) and joined me in the kitchen.  They both wanted to help make dinner.

And so, with my favourite 40’s era jazz playing softly in the background, the three of us chopped, minced, and diced.  It was a moment of pure magical happiness.

And that’s when I started to understand what all these authors of all these books have been talking about; when we do what we love (in this case, hanging out in kitchen, cooking, taking care of the ones that I love) and when we go about it in a way that is rooted in kindness and goodness, the magic will follow.

And so, my wish for you . . .”don’t let anyone dull your sparkle”.  Do what you love, do it with kindness (even in the face of people who doubt you or what it is you’re doing), and let the magic follow.

And if nothing else . . . try making this dish for dinner.  The Husband and I think it’s pretty magical.  Although, truth be told, it’s far better the next day for lunch.  It’s pretty much a simplified version of this recipe from Paleomg.com.  I reserve some of the cooked pork and serve that plain pork to the kids.  We usually serve this over quinoa (that I cook in bone broth) and have it with a side of broccoli.  I do also often add peas right into the sauce as it’s cooking. Oh, and this totally works with chicken breasts or thighs too!

Creamy Spicy Coconut Pork

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 pork tenderloins cut into 1″ slices and then cubed

1/2 an onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup tapioca starch or flour if you’re not worried about gluten

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce

1 can of full fat coconut milk

coconut oil for the pan

sirracha to taste

Directions

  1. Put 1-2 tbs of coconut oil in a large shallow pan and heat on medium heat.  Once the oil has melted, add in the pork and cook until the pork is cooked through.  Remove the pork from the pan and drain any accumulated liquid from the pan.
  2. Put another 1 tbs of coconut oil into the pan and once it has melted, add in the onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add in the can of coconut milk, honey and coconut aminos.  Use a whisk and stir until everything has melted and is well combined.  At this point, add in the tapioca flour or regular flour and whisk again.  As you whisk, the sauce will get thicker.  Once you have a achieved a thickness in the sauce that you like, remove the pan from the heat, add in the pork, and stir again to fully coat the pork in the sauce.

Sabotage in the Form of a Little Girl In Pink Fleece Footed Jammies

The husband and I were so prepared for the week ahead when we fell into bed last night, it was almost comical.  I’m talking prepared to the point where not only were all the meal plans, groceries, backpacks prepared . . . I may or may not have even had a spreadsheet outlining our to-dos for the week up and running on the laptop.  In fairness, this week is jam packed for us.  And come Sunday, we’re hosting our favourite dinner of the year; our annual family Thanksgiving dinner which this year we’ll see 10 adults and 6 kids seated around our table (I can’t wait!!!!)

I was so ready for this week, and feeling so confident in my ability to get all my to-do’s done during the time the kids are at school, that I opted not to get up with the Husband at 4:30 and instead enjoy a little extra quiet resting / reading time.

But at 5:00, the first call came: “Mommy . . .I’m a wake up now”.  Ahhhhh.  The little one.  Ok, I thought, she did nap on the way out to Oakville yesterday afternoon.  And she did fall asleep in the car on the way home.  Not surprising she’s up early.  I went into her room to let her know it was ok to read quietly to herself and to give her a quick peck on the forehead.  And that’s when I knew.

She was roasting.  I tried to rationalize it; she wore fleece footed jammies to bed, she’s just hot; she had an extra blanket on her bed last night, she’s just hot; she was surrounded by 1,001 stuffed animals last night, she’s just hot.  But deep down, I knew what the thermometer was going to confirm.  Fever.  Of 102.

And just like that, my plans for the day were unceremoniously chucked out the window.

As I settled her on the couch, put the tv on for her and set about trying to re-orgnaize my day, the Husband came back from the gym.  “Go” he said.  I looked confused.  “Go to the gym or go for a run.  JUST GO”.

So I did.  I threw on some gear and set out for a quick run.  Perhaps I was influenced by the FroIVning movie we watched last night; perhaps I was taking out some frustration for the fact that my day wasn’t going to go according to plan; perhaps I just wanted to beat myself up.  Regardless of the reason, I decided to do our 5k route that includes the Yonge St. hill – if you live in Toronto, you likely know the hill I’m talking about; it’s the one that runs south from the Shell station at York Mills up to the Loblaws at Yonge Blvd.

4 years ago, I walked this hill.  I walked it, hoping to get “stronger” for the surgery that awaited me.  Those walks winded me.  Especially if I walked it while pushing the little one in the stroller. But today, I RAN it.  Really RAN up that hill.  I’ve done this route before.  But I’ve never run up it like I did today.

Ok, so I will admit, just as I was about to begin my ascent, the Beastie Boys song Sabotage came on.  For those of you that have ever worked out with me, you know that a good Beastie Boys song will get me going EVERY time.  Perfect, I thought, just the fuel I need to get me up this hill . . . I ran along, singing along, when I started to actually listen to some of the words:

“I can’t stand it, I know you planned it”

So, where am I going with all of this???  Well, for one, when I started walking that hill 4 years ago, trying to get “strong”, little did I know just how strong I would get.  While the whole tumour experience wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever gone through, I am at a point in my life where I can honestly say that it has unequivocally made me a better, happier, stronger human than I might have been without having experienced that part of my life.  Yeah, my life was sabotaged 4 years ago.  The life we had planned out was turned on it’s head and we were sent down a different, but it’s proving to be an infinitely better path . . .

And then there’s today today where my plans for the day were sabotaged . . . in the BEST way possible.  I may be missing out on an awesome workout with some new friends at an amazing new gym.  But, I have the next 7 hours stretched out ahead of me, with nothing to do but snuggle with my little one.

Thanks universe for taking a “stand” against my “plans” today.

Oh . . . and don’t worry . . . the little one and I won’t actually spend the next 7 hours on the couch snuggling . . . we have LOTS of really important things to do . . . like internet shop (Gymboree has everything on sale or $16.99 and under), do a few crafts . . . and try out a few new recipes.

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good (aka Sweet Potato Soup)

I first heard the Coach use the phrase “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” a while ago.  At the time, it was brought up in the context of a joke.  But the phrase has come up a few times since during our training sessions.

If I’m to be brutally honest, whenever I hear these words, I immediately think “good is just a stepping stone to perfection”.  In other words, I’ll take the “good” today because it means I’m headed down the road towards perfection – which is really my end goal in the gym AND in life.  (not that I can tell you what perfection in the gym AND in life looks like; I figure I’ll know it when I see it . . . I’ll let you know if I ever get there . . . Hah!).  (And yes, I DO realize how ironically imperfect a student I’m being by not listening to the lesson the Coach is earnestly trying to get through to me).

Elizabeth Gilbert just came out with her new book Big Magic.  I’ve enjoyed reading it this week, and have gleaned some valuable insights from it.  But then this morning, in a section called “Fear in High Heels”, I came across this quote:

“Perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun”.

And then this one:

“Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified”.

Oh my.

I think I have some thinking to do on how much I really want to achieve absolute perfection in my life . . .

That being said, I am quite certain that I achieved perfection with the soup I made this morning.  This is a staple in our house; a quick side that I can whip out of the freezer for the Husband and I on a busy weeknight, or just a nice weekend lunch for us . . . no, the kids don’t like it . . . and no, I don’t make them consume it.  One day they will come to realize just how fantastically perfect this soup really is though!

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1tbs fat (coconut oil, olive oil, or butter)

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups bone broth / stock

1 can full fat organic coconut milk

2tsp curry powder

Directions

  1. Melt the oil in a large pot on medium heat, and once melted, add the onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring as required, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the sweet potatoes, and stir everything well.
  3. Pour in the bone broth and cook until the sweet potatoes are really soft.
  4. Add in the coconut milk and curry powder and again stir to combine.  Let the mixture come back up to a simmer and then remove from the stove.
  5. Either let the soup cool and puree it in a blender or use an immersion blender and puree it all while it’s still hot; I vary the method I use based on how quickly I want to consume the soup.

When Life Comes Full Circle

Mels Quilt

I’m starting to really like this whole tidying up thing.  I’ve unearthed a lot, but more importantly, I’ve found space.  In particular, I’ve found space on my desk.  I have a particular fondness for a specific Ikea desk.  It’s basically a slab of melamine with four legs that get screwed in.  I particularly LOVE the version I have right now because it’s the biggest one you can get . . . which means I have lots of space to spread out and tackle any number of creative projects.

With all this new-found desk space, I decided that today, as it is “finish-it-up” Friday, I would finish up my quilt.  The brief backstory on this one is this: in the weeks after my brain surgery, as my baby girl was outgrowing the need for the million and one receiving blankets I had purchased for her, I decided to make not one, but TWO quilts out of the blankets; one for her and one for me.  I figured that as she grew up, the quilt could go with her, and she could always feel like she was wrapped up in my arms.  I also figured that as she grew up, I could snuggle into it and remember the lovely times we had when she was still a baby.

Fast forward 4 years . . . her quilt has been done for about a year now.  Mine is unfinished.  So off I went this morning to the sewing store to pick up some pink flannelette fabric for the back of the quilt.  Me being me, I got into a discussion with the owner of the store that led to a discussion about wedding dresses that turned into a conversation about changing body size, and from there it was a hop skip and a jump to the topic of tumours.

Turns out, one of the other store patrons, also a mom of young kids, is also a brain tumour patient.  Her tumour was gone.  But now it’s back.

Here’s where I follow another train of thought for a moment . . . about 8 years ago, I met this fantastic lady in a scrapbooking store.  We got to talking about infertility, she shared her stories with me, and her words gave me a whole lot of comfort during a pretty challenging time in my life.  The next time I went into the scrapbooking store, the owner of that shop handed me a piece of paper with some phone numbers written on it; the lady had taken the time to write down contact information so that she could help me more.  I still have that piece of paper; its a reminder to me of how helpful virtual strangers can be, and how acts of kindness, no matter how small, can have a profound effect on others.  (As fate would have it, I would run into that lady 4 years later; she’s the french teacher at my kids’ school.  She’s now taught my son and is currently teaching my daughter.)

But I digress . . . today it was my turn.  I took out a piece of paper at the sewing store, wrote down my name and email address.  And asked the owner to pass it on in the event that the other mom ever wants to talk.  And just like that, a part of my life has come full circle.

Peace Points, Tidying, and the Chaos of Young Kids

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At the end of each of my Wednesday Crossfit classes, the coach dims the lights in the gym, puts on a 4 minute long song, and tells us all to lie down, stretch, and enjoy our 4 minute long “peace point”.  When the four minutes are up, class is officially over, the gym lights snap back on, and we’re free to go about our day . . . although we are sent out into the world with a reminder to find a few more “peace points” during the day.

While I am capable (sort of) of handling 4 minutes of quiet in a gym doing absolutely nothing, the idea that I could replicate that in my house, DURING THE DAY seems preposterous.  Not when there’s so much to do . . .

Which leads me back to the concept of tidying.  I have been diligently plugging away on my tidying project.  I’ve been waking up with the Husband at 4:30, and in the hour or so I have before I hear the “pitter patter” of the older one’s feet fly down the stairs, in that quiet time when I know there will be no phone calls, no emails, no one requesting my attention, I can slowly chip away at the stuff of life that we’ve acquired since having kids.  I’ve been good, and really looked at each item that passes through my hands, and considered the joy it has brought me, currently adds to my life, and what joy it may bring me in the years to come.  And though this method, LOTS has gone out (there was some added incentive this week as it was a garbage week for us, not recycling, so I knew everything I got rid of would be truly gone!).

But then life happens.  Take yesterday afternoon.  The older one needed my undivided attention once we got home from school & swimming lessons – so in we all came through the front door; 2 backpacks, 2 gym bags, 2 swim bags, 1 bag of new uniform supplies, and some assorted artwork got dumped inside the front hall.  3 jackets, 3 pairs of shoes, and some socks were removed and unceremoniously deposited in and around the general location where they should be placed.

One thing lead to another, quiet time with one lead straight into dinner for the little ones, which lead into bath and bedtime, which lead into dinner for the adults, a quick clean up of the kitchen, and a joyous collapse into bed.

And thus, I awoke this morning to a front hall overflowing with “stuff” . . . and to resuming the tidying process all over again . . .

I am starting to come to the conclusion that my role of Chief Tidier isn’t going to come to an end anytime soon.  And rather than drive myself mad on this treadmill of tidying, I should learn to love some of the chaos, accept that my house isn’t going to be the home I envision (neat, clean, tidy) all the time, and I should really carve out a few moments for a few “peace points” during my day.

But then . . .I look down at the dining room floor and notice that there are about a million perler/melting beads scattered across the floor that really should be picked up . . . .

PS . . . I will add that this craft has occupied BOTH kids for about 30minute stretches each morning this week.  I found some great free patterns and I’ve promised the kids we can turn their designs into magnets . . .

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