2018: A Year of Magic

Magic

The power to make impossible things happen;
Something with special or mysterious qualities that makes one happy;
A significant or desirable quality;
Wonderful, marvellous, exciting;
Unaccountably enchanting;
Effective in producing results, especially desired ones.

Each year, for the past few years, I’ve chosen a word to accompany me through the year. Two years ago, it was Joy – because I was still figuring my way out of recovering from the tumour and I felt I needed to focus again on finding the joy in the big and little things in life.  Last year, I chose light – because I wanted to see the light, be the light, and honestly and quite simply, be light.  Along with choosing my word, I’ve dabbled in the One Little Word workshop (meaning I’ve followed along, done some of the prompts, but never actually followed through with all the prompts each month), and used my word to help me form my goals, plans, aspirations for the year.

Last year, despite my best intentions last year, the rhythm and feel of life didn’t line up at all with my word.  In fact, it almost felt like life was the opposite of what I had intended.  I tried to find the light, but it was a difficult year to see the light.  I tried to be light, but it’s hard to be light in spirit when you can’t make sense of the world around you.  And I certainly didn’t get any lighter (which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a big deal, but I won’t lie, frustrated me).  But as much as my word last year didn’t resonate with me (or maybe it did in ways I haven’t yet realized),  and at times even seemed to taunt me, I wasn’t ready to give up on this concept.

As the days in December ticked by, and my social media feeds become increasingly filled with posts on choosing a word and goal setting and New Years resolutions,  the word “Magic” kept appearing; both literally in things I was reading, and figuratively as flashes through my consciousness.  The more I thought about the word, the more I grew attached to it.  And eventually, I sat down to look up the definition.  Taken from a few different sources, I cobbled together the definition I started this post with . . . and with a definition like that, who wouldn’t want to spend a year working with this word.

And so, on January 1st, I declared (to myself, and now to you) my word for the year to be Magic.  (I also declared that I would faithfully follow through with the One Little Word class and actually complete all 12 prompts)

We may only be 12 days into this new year, but already this word is having an impact on my life.  I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But hear me out.  I’ve done lots of work in the past with gratitude.  How many times have we been told to “focus on the positive”, “make a list of things you’re grateful for”, “don’t forget to be grateful”.  But I’ve turned this process around and started to look for the magic instead of just things for which I’m grateful.  And it’s amazing how my perspective has changed.  Try it!

Never mind that it’s way more fun to look for sprinkles of magic in your life than to simply trudge through endless gratitude lists . . . .

I’m not kidding when I say one of the best parts of my day is when I sit down to journal about just one piece of magic I have found during my day.

So on that note, I wish you all a magical start to this new year, and I’m off to make a note about some magic that happened today.

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The little one and I finding a little magic recently at the most magical place on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

It Really Is a Magical Season (Or How I Did 42 Pull Ups in a Single WOD)

Today was my crossfit gym’s Christmas party.  And when I say Christmas party, I mean we did a 12 Days of Christmas WOD (workout of the day).  There may have been some paleo treats and protein shakes after we were done, but really, we were all there to do the WOD more than we were there for the party after.  For those of you who don’t know, the way this type of WOD works is that there are 12 movements – you start by doing 1 of the first movement, then you do 2 of the second movement, 1 of the first movement, then 3 of the third, 2 of the second, one of the first . . . . until you get to the 12th movement and you work your way all the way back down to the first movement.

I knew that this would be the style of the WOD today, but I didn’t know what the movements were going to be.  Which is why the first thing I did, before checking on my kids, was to check what the WOD was going to be.  And there it was . . . movement #7 . . . pull ups.  I may not be the best at math, but when it comes to WODs and how many of a movement I have to do, I can turn into an idiot savant . . . Anyway, my heart broke a little when I saw that I was going to have to do 42 pull ups.

Fast forward a few hours, I got to the gym, the countdown started, and before I knew it, I was at the round of 7 and about to jump to to the pull up bar.  I took a deep breath, jumped up, and did 7 (kipping) pull ups.  Without dropping off the bar.  Or taking a break of any kind.  7 legitimate pull ups in a row.

And then a few minutes later, I was back at the pull up bar for my 2nd set of 7 . . . and I did those too.  Without dropping off the bar.  Or taking a break of any kind.

And so it continued . . .with each round, I was able to crank out 7 decent pull ups.  And as I entered my last round, one of the coaches looked at me and simply asked “When did that happen?”.

The truth is, it happened today.  Today was a truly magical day as I got to live the results of the hard work and amazing programming the Coach has put together for me.

As I recovered from the excitement that was the workout, enjoying a protein shake and a paleo snack, I looked over at my daughter, and there she was, in her element, swinging on the rings, having the time of her life.

Looks like I have a new goal now . . . learning a muscle up before she does!

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Fairy Godmothers (sort of)

The post today was going to be about crossfit (shocking) complete with a Rich Froning analogy (even more shocking).  But when I sat down to write, iPhoto was open with Disney pictures from our trip, which I of course, started to look through, which got me to the Fairy Godmother photo, which got me to look up all the other Fairy Godmother photos from our other trips (honestly, I wanted to see how my body had changed over the last 5 years . . . really mature, I know, but logical in the context of some of my discussions today), which got me to here . . . .

Yup.  A post on Fairy Godmothers.  Well, sort of.

As popular as the idea of a fairy godmother is, Cinderella is pretty much the only story with such a character (yes, there were fairies in Sleeping Beauty, but they are nothing like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella).  Clearly then, the idea that a magical being can pop out of nowhere, pull you out of wherever it is that you’re stuck and completely change your life for the better is a narrative with wide appeal across generations.

There have definitely been times in my life when I’ve wished for a fairy godmother to come along and “magic” me out of a situation . . . or at least “magic” me some new shoes.  But as I reexamined the story of Cinderella again, something became apparent to me after reading this quote:

“Even miracles take a little time”

Cinderella had to put in years of hard work before her Fairy Godmother appeared.  Perhaps we too need to put in the work before fate/the universe rewards us with some magic of our own.

And then there is this quote:

“The magic will only last so long”

Right. So hard work = a little bit of magic, more hard work = a little bit more magic, and so on . . .

Which leads me to my favourite quote about fairy godmothers

“I became my own fairy godmother”
–Amy Schumer

On that note (and while I contemplate why one of my lowest marks in undergrad was in a Children’s Lit course), I will leave you with one of the recipes that I made yesterday that was really quite delightful . . . super easy lemon curd.  I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s good and I’m working on ways to use it up now . . . more on that later!

Lemon Curd

  • Servings: 2 cups (approx)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

zest from 1 lemon

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup raw honey

3 eggs

6tbs coconut oil

Directions

  1. In a saucepan set on medium heat, add the eggs, honey and lemon zest.  Whisk constantly until the mixture turns paler and thickens slightly. Be careful not to set the heat too high or to stop whisking or you may end up with scrambled eggs!  A little bit of cooked egg is ok, you can strain it out at the end!
  2. At this point, add in the lemon juice and coconut oil.  Keep whisking well and watch as the mixture will turn a very pale yellow and will thicken nicely.  It may even start to bubble.  Once it has reached a thickness that you deem appropriate, pull the pan off the heat and strain the mixture through a fine metal sieve.
  3. Store the curd in a mason jar in the fridge.  Use as you wish!

 

There is Magic in Focusing on How You Want to Feel

Ok.  I mentioned last week that I want to feel light, happy and full of joy.  And according to Danielle Laporte, the way to do this is to focus on doing those things that make me feel that way, and I will end up feeling that way.  So, instead of making mental and physical to-do lists in the morning, I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do in each day to make me feel the way I aspire to feel.

Interestingly, I’ve found a LOT of my to-do list items are still getting done.  But, the intention behind ticking these chores off the to-do list is far different; and the way I feel after I’m done is way different too.  I actually smiled through (most) of the garage clean up/out this weekend.

But the biggest place I’ve noticed a difference in the last week is in the gym.  Right now, I’m not focused on specific goals.  Instead, I’m focused on improving my technique and getting stronger overall.  And yes, I’m focused on trying to learn pull-ups.  But unlike any of the other times I’ve tried to force myself into becoming some sort of pull-up phenom, I’ve crashed and burned spectacularly (i.e. “over-planning” never worked).

This time around, I’ve spent the last week just trying to get a little bit stronger each day.  Yes, I’ve been doing pull-ups every day, but without too much planning, forethought or desire for set outcomes.  And on Friday, I did manage to eek out one strict pull-up.  But that was it, and I was content to celebrate the small win, and move on with more practice.

Today, I had a few minutes to spare in the gym, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in a few pull-ups as my practice for the day.  I jumped up to the highest pull-up bar, so there was no way for me to cheat the movement, and . . . .I gave a mighty pull . . . and my chin made it over the bar.  In my excitement, I dropped off the bar, and did a little happy dance.  But then, I jumped back up, and did it a second time . . . . and a third. . . . and a fourth . . . . and a fifth.

Five strict pull-ups.  In one day.  MAGIC.

I feel good.  Really good.  And strong.  And like I want to keep working hard to feel good.  And strong.

I’m going to take this as a lesson learned; that focusing on what makes me feel good can lead to some pretty magical moments; in life, and in the gym.  And I’m curious to see where this will lead me as I continue to try and focus on how I want to feel, and doing the things that make me feel that way.

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.

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