Adoring the Avocado

I have already written about my profound love of dark chocolate in a previous post. It seems that today I am compelled to share my complete and udder adoration of the humble avocado.ganze und halbe avocado isoliert auf weiss

There is something almost sacred about this delicious fruit. It looks so completely un-sexy on the outside with its hard and knobbly skin. However, the inside is a completely different story. The delicate green flesh is jam-packed with healthy fats, fibre and various valuable vitamins. There is just something about the smooth texture, the delicate flavour and the creaminess of an avocado that simply makes my heart sing. Even as I write I am sitting with a colourful bowl containing a chopped organic red pepper, a chopped organic avocado, some cold-pressed olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a dash of Celtic sea salt…delicious!

I have grown a little weary of my Raw Power Bars of late, so, with three beautiful, ripe avocados perched so beautifully in my fruit bowl this morning, I decided a Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie was in order. As I gathered my ingredients, the only hitch was my choice of sweetener. Due to my ongoing yeast kill protocol I am not allowed any high Glycemic Index sugars at the moment (including raw honey and maple syrup). Stevia, Coconut Nectar and Coconut Sugar are my only choices because of their very low Glycemic Index. Just to give you an idea, Maple Syrup has a G.I. of 80 whereas Coconut Nectar is 30 (very low).

So…I just swapped out the Maple Syrup in my recipe and made room for the newest wonder in my raw pantry…the wonderful and versatile Coconut Nectar! I worried that the kids might not like this recipe change but Zachary almost swallowed the spatula whole in an attempt to get all the chocolate mousse off of it…a ringing endorsement indeed.

This recipe is creamy, sweet, chocolaty and absolutely divine! And it owes all that to…you guessed it…the avocado!

And just in case you happen to have three beautiful, ripe avocados sitting in your fruit bowl, I have included the recipe below.

Enjoy!

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie

 Crust:

  • 1 cup Fine Almond Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar or Maple Syrup Powder
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Butter
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (optional)

Melt the coconut oil gently. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then slowly add the melted coconut oil. Press into a pie plate and chill for at least an hour.

 Filling:

  • 3 Large Avocados
  • ½-1 C Coconut Nectar (or Maple Syrup)
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • ½ C Coconut Butter
  • 2/3 C Raw Cocoa

Blend all ingredients together in a VitaMix or food processor. Pour into pie crust and chill until firm. Decorate with fresh raspberries if desired.

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Footprints in the Snow

I’m not going to beat around the bush…I absolutely loathe school mornings! I have been getting school children out the door for eleven years and I am just dog-tired of the whole darn thing!Mother-of-the-Year

It has taken me a while to get here but I have finally come to grips with the fact that I will never win a mother-of-the-year award due to the fact that I am a terrible parent on school mornings. I will never allow a hidden camera inside my house because I would be mortified to watch myself fall apart day after day after day. And I do promise myself every single morning that I will do better. But the planets just don’t seem to align on this one and I wallow in self-loathing as soon as the school bell rings and the last of my cherubs is turned over to the school system for six hours.

The coach in me has tried to reframe, reset, shift perspective and look on the bright side of these abhorrent mornings. Unfortunately, I simply cannot dig deep enough to find the enthusiasm required to get three profoundly reluctant children out of bed, dressed, fed and with school lunches in hand before 8:30 in the morning. And it’s not just what needs to happen before they walk out the door to their respective schools, it’s also the bickering, complaining, feet-dragging, the last minute trip forms and lost library books that make me feel like I am perilously close to blowing a gasket…every single morning!

And, seriously…how does one shoe go missing while we are sleeping? One shoe! Are there nasty little nighttime gremlins that sneak in and sabotage the daily trip out the door? One shoe was what drove me over the cliffs of insanity this morning!

I always try very hard to stop yelling before the front door opens so that the neighbours don’t wonder about the raving lunatic emerging from my house that looks remarkably like Katie Geoghegan. Some mornings the neighbours get the same earful my kids are getting and I think…oh man, my sun-shiny reputation is lost on yet another neighbour!

It was cold this morning and it had snowed last night. I felt a little chilly even in the house and wasn’t sure I felt like braving the elements for our 15 minute walk to school. My warm family van was whispering enticingly from its parking spot on the street; ‘c’mon Katie, you know you want to…why resist?’ And just as I was beginning to cave, I caught a glimpse of the sun sparkling off the fresh snow and I was lured into the winter wonderland.

Even after my worst mornings with the kids I always feel better by the time Zach and I get to the end of our block. This morning the combination of fresh snow and brilliant sun lifted my mood immediately. I am a die-hard winter lover and this morning was picture postcard perfect!calvin-and-hobbes-snow-walkers-500x312

As Zach and I walked through the park on the last leg of our school journey, we had fun making footprints in the beautiful clean slate of fresh snow. We talked about how much fun it was to have ‘first tracks’ and we agreed on our unqualified love of winter.

To my relief, we were only a few minutes late for school. I gave Zach a rushed kiss and hug and felt the almost painful tug of goodbye that I seem to feel each morning I drop him at school. It is a funny mixture of homesickness and a love so deep it actually makes my heart hurt.

As I made my way back through the park I was enchanted to retrace the journey that Zach and I had made together only moments before. His little footprints looked so cute, so random and so playful. It was as if the footprints he left behind for me assured me that, even though he had lost a shoe and I had lost my temper, all was forgotten.

I stopped for a moment and breathed in the magic of our first tracks together. And as I marveled at the complexity of family and of love, I knew for certain that those footprints would remain on my heart for the rest of my days.XO-©Poppy-Gall-2011

Hockey Night in Hamilton

It’s a big day in our family…my youngest son, Zachary, is playing his very first Select hockey game at 7:00 tonight! It felt a little like Christmas in our house this morning as Zach bounced out of bed at 5:00am. He looked at my clock and said; ‘only fourteen more hours Mommy...I just can’t wait!’

As I anticipate the excitement of this evening I can’t help but reflect on how we got here and how deeply I appreciate Simon for stalwartly supporting Zach in his flourishing passion for hockey!live-love-hockey

We were living in Dundas, Ontario when Zach was born nine years ago. We were known in Dundas as the family with the three adorable curly-haired sons. We were also somewhat of a curiosity because we were not a hockey family. In Dundas, that was unheard of. I am certain that there is something in the water in Dundas…everyone plays hockey!

Despite the teasing and the pressure, we held firm and quietly celebrated the fact that we were narrowly escaping the fate of extremely reluctant hockey parents.

I am a downhill skier. I am my happiest when I am on a cold and snowy ski hill. Weekends in the winter are for getting up early and hitting the slopes for an invigorating day of exercise, fun and family togetherness. And when the temperature starts to drop in November, I rub my hands together in gleeful anticipation of another magical ski season!

Needless to say, there has never been a yearning for the cold and damp hockey arena anywhere in my winter dreams.

Two years ago Zachary started collecting hockey cards. We got him a big binder and he spent hours poring over his collection. One week he would organize them by team. Another he would have them scattered all over his room so he could re-organize them by position. At about the same time, Zach started watching hockey with Simon and couldn’t seem to get enough of all the NHL footage on YouTube. I think what really tipped me off to Zach’s burgeoning passion was when, one morning over breakfast, Zach earnestly said to Simon; ‘Daddy, what are your fifteen favourite NHL teams?’ We all burst out laughing…fifteen favourite teams! Instead of joining in on the laughter, Simon’s endearing response was; ‘I’ll have to give that some serious thought honey and I’ll get back to you.’

And, make no mistake, Zach wanted the question answered!

It seemed that, overnight, Zach became a walking hockey encyclopedia. Every statistic, every player, and every team was stored in the hockey database of his brain…even dating back to the 60’s. Our youngest son was eating, breathing, sleeping, reading and absolutely loving hockey.

All I could think was; ‘thank goodness he doesn’t want to play hockey!’

Fifteen months ago Zach sat us down and laid his cards on the table; ‘okay guys, I need to play hockey…you need to make this happen for me.’ I could feel my stomach drop…goodbye snowy ski hills and hello cold, damp hockey arenas. Oh dear!

Simon took the request in stride and assured Zachary that he would be playing hockey that winter. Simon researched and found the team for Zach. He also let me know that I was not ‘on the hook’ for any games or any practices. I could still enjoy the ski season. It would just mean I would have two less family members to enjoy it with.

When Zach started playing hockey just over a year ago he looked like a newborn colt. His ankles were wobbly, he had no idea how to stop once he got going on the ice and his stick handling was almost non-existent. What he did have was confidence and an enthusiasm for the game that knocked our socks off. He never got discouraged and, week by week, he learned how to play hockey. And I am proud to report that I made it to about 60% of his games.

For Zach’s birthday last April my mom and dad gave him Bauer Hockey Blades. Zach spent every waking moment of this past spring and summer on those blades and logged hundreds of hours playing road hockey with Simon, his brothers and the neighbourhood kids.

Even though it was swelteringly hot, Zach was still eating, sleeping and breathing hockey. Oh, and did I mention he played 3-on-3 summer hockey as well? Hockey in the summer? Oh yes, we were now a full-fledged hockey family!

It seems that all the hours of summer hockey, blading and street hockey paid off. When Zach got on the ice six weeks ago for his house league hockey team, it seemed as if the butterfly had emerged from his cocoon. Zach was graceful, talented and fiercely confident. Gone were the wobbly ankles of a year before. Zach truly looked like a hockey player and I’m not sure who was more excited about it, Simon or Zach. Simon was so proud of Zach that after every practice I would get a blow-by-blow of what Zach did that day.

It was days into house league when Zach announced that he wanted to try out for the Select Team. Needless to say, Simon was 100% supportive and they talked very frankly about the fact that Zach had only been playing a year (where most of the other kids had been playing four or five) but would certainly benefit from the tryouts if nothing else. Zach was bound and bent that he was going to make that team and, much to our surprise and delight, two weeks ago he got a call from the coach offering him a spot! Because the coach saw so much potential in Zachary, he offered him the opportunity to share a spot with another young boy. Which means that Zach gets to practice with the team and play every other game.

And so, after only one year of hockey, Zach’s passion, drive and enthusiasm have brought him to this exciting night. My stomach is filled with excited butterflies as I anticipate watching our little hockey player suit up and hit the ice with that 100-watt grin lighting up the arena!

It seems that the reluctant hockey mom is just a wee bit proud, wouldn’t you say? And she is deeply appreciative of the hockey dad who makes it all possible!

Watch out NHL…here they come…!!!!!NHL

Buddy Lytton

Every year, as November rolls around we find ourselves surrounded by multitudes of Movember mustache-wearing men. As I rode in on the GoTrain this morning I felt like I was surrounded by cops, porn stars and Ron Burgundy look-alikes!

stay-classy-ron-burgundy

Now, don’t get me wrong…I have tremendous respect and admiration for the Movember Campaign. I just think the mustaches are hilarious!

As I walked through the Toronto PATH on the way to my workshop I started to giggle. So many cheesy mustaches everywhere. It reminded me of a silly game my younger brother used to play; What is Your Porn Star Name? You take the name of your first pet and the name of the street you grew up on and…voilà…that’s your porn star name.

Well…our first pet was Buddy and we grew up on Lytton Boulevard so…Buddy Lytton it is. As I walked the PATH I was dying to canvass all these mustache-wearing men to discover their seedier alter egos.

No…I did not. I was on my way to lead a very professional workshop at a very conservative Canadian institution. It was not the time for such antics!

Here are some of my favourites…apart from Buddy Lytton, of course!

Whiskey Featherstone
Tinkerbelle Madison
Brownie Marsh
Bunny Flowers
Ranger Parkside
Frosty Greenberry
Skipper Ledgewood

Every Day I Write the Book

I put my first blog, Open Secret, on hold two years ago. I felt like I had exhausted what I wanted to say and I had closed a chapter in my life and in Michael’s. At the time, I felt the pull of something new that wanted to be written and I couldn’t wait to get started.Write a Book

I wanted to write a book.

For the first few months I felt kind of relieved that Open Secret wasn’t constantly badgering me to post. I gave myself a much-deserved holiday from writing and accomplished very little on my new project apart from a quick chapter sketch. I told myself that I was letting the idea ‘gestate’ and did not want to rush into birthing my book too soon.

About the time that Open Secret went on hold, my coaching business picked up speed and I stepped into the challenge, success, abundance and prosperity that I had been longing for professionally. As a result, all my creativity went into my work. I designed and delivered workshops, coached executives and individuals and continued to tend to my growing business. And, frankly, for a while that was all I could manage.

Looking back on my non-writing phase I realize that even when I wasn’t physically writing I was always writing in my head. I was interpreting my day-to-day life through my writer’s lens and feeling short pieces of writing perpetually taking shape in my head. I just wasn’t taking the time to actually write them down. I realize now that I fell in love with observing life and was capturing it in my head the same way that a photographer would capture a moment with their camera. I was observing snapshots in my imagination.

So I guess I never really did stop writing.

Starting to blog again feels like a rebirth. It feels like coming home. It feels absolutely magnificent! I have reawakened to the simple fact that I am a writer and I absolutely love to write.I Love Blogging

Here’s the thing I’ve realized though; I love to write about the everyday. I love to write informally, as if I am having a conversation. I know I am probably an editor’s worst nightmare but my most vulnerable and transparent writing can only be written in my own voice. It seems that as soon as I put limitations on myself (like…’today I am writing my book…’ or ‘the grammar is awkward here…’) I lose the inspiration and the magic. I lose the fun.

So, for now, 365 Radical Acts is just what the doctor ordered. And will I ever get to the writing of that book? I just don’t know and, frankly, at this point, it really doesn’t matter. I’m having way to much fun to care!

Thanks for reading!

Quiet

I need quiet. I crave quiet. I simply cannot survive without quiet.

I am an introvert. I used to hide the fact that I needed time alone to recharge. I used to think it made me less-than or weak somehow to need to pull away from people, especially people I loved deeply, to restore my energy. I have come a long way in accepting who I am and have fully embraced my introversion. There is no longer a feeling of shame in my need for the solitary recharging of my battery. And I am very proud to count myself among the introvert population.introvert-vs-extrovert

After a busy, social and demanding weekend of doctor’s visits, hockey and a sick child, I am tired and I need quiet. I cannot always find it in the boisterous and largely extroverted family in which I find myself. But on days when I feel run down and tired, I have no choice but to seek it out and lean into the gentle stillness and the quiet as much as I can. And with a day of no client meetings, workshops, phone calls or coaching, I have curled myself up on the couch to tend to the quieter aspects of my business. And the fact that I can do it with a flickering beeswax candle, a hot water bottle and a cup of tea makes it just that much more restorative.

I don’t seem to have much to give to my writing today. I do, however, feel a deep longing to reach out to all my fellow introverts. And if you have not already come across it, to recommend Susan Cain’s book; ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ and her Ted Talk; The Power of Introverts.susan-cain-quiet

In closing, I wish you all the peace, quiet and stillness that your gentle soul is seeking on this final Monday in November.

Solitude matters. And for some people it is the air that they breathe.’ – Susan Cain

The Raveled Sleeve of the Spirit

We had our first enchanting taste of winter yesterday! The temperature dropped well below zero and we marveled at some dramatic snow squalls swirling outside the window.I Love Winter

I absolutely love winter! I love the crisp air, the brilliant blue skies, the snow, the storms, the skiing, the tobogganing, the skating, the playing, the rosy cheeks and the joy!

I love the bulk of my winter clothes and braving the elements to enjoy winter play. I love feeling as if I am 10 years old again. And I absolutely love the exuberance I feel outdoors in the wintertime!

As much as I love the playing, the snow angels, the tobogganing and the downhill skiing, winter is also about the slowing down. It is a time for cuddling up at home and eating delicious and nurturing food. It is a time for lazy weekend mornings and late breakfasts. It is a time for exuberant activity followed by deep rest. It is a time for reading, for candles, for crackling fires and for warmth. And with darkness falling so early, it is a time for gathering the family inside the inviting welcome of home.

Winter is a time of energetic hibernation. Of knitting up the raveled sleeve of the spirit. It feels as if winter comes with permission to slow down and to rest. The other seasons seem to demand that we jump in and enjoy all that the outside has to offer. Winter beckons us out and then gently nudges us back inside for creamy hot chocolate and our coziest clothes.

When springtime arrives and begins to spread her warmth and her abundance, I am always ready to emerge from my cozy winter’s hibernation. I feel refreshed and healed and I am ready to leap back into long days, warm nights, bike rides, baseball in the park, street hockey, swimming and long walks.

But for now I will lean in and surrender to the short days, the long nights, the darkness, the cold and the blustery snow. And…I will wait impatiently for that very first winter storm!Winter