Life Lessons from the Flying Trapeze; Citrus Maple Salmon; and Black Bean, Corn, & Quinoa Salad

or: Five things I learned from being terrified for 2 hours straight

Flying Trapeze

1. Feel the fear. Do it anyway. Looking down from a two-story platform and knowing that, in a few seconds, you’re going to jump off of it is never not scary. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Sometimes it’s okay to pay $50 to be terrified for two hours straight.

2. Be in the moment, feel your body, turn off your mind. Once you start thinking, you hesitate, and once you hesitate, you lose momentum, which is important because one of the most crucial things to remember when you’re swinging from a bar is…

3. Don’t fight momentum. Momentum will carry your legs up over the bar and momentum will swing your hands back after you’ve let go. Let it do the work for you. If you fight momentum, it’ll all be much harder. In other words, go with the flow. (Gotta love Newton’s first law of motion!)

4. Believe that you are strong. At first I didn’t think I had the abs to pull my legs over the bar or the power to hang on once I got them there. Refrigerator Moments or no, I didn’t believe in my own strength and that held me back. Once I stopped doubting myself, everything got much easier.

5. Let yourself be caught. Flying into someone’s arms, trusting completely that they’ll be there, and being supported entirely by their strength was the most amazing feeling I had in those two hours. A metaphor for life and relationships, perhaps? That’s something this perpetually single girl will have to mull over for a while.

So yes, that is me up there completing a catch during the flying trapeze lesson I took over 4th of July weekend. Now, I’m not someone who does a lot of “risky” things. For someone as cerebral as I am, flying trapeze was particularly hard – feeling but not thinking, doing without deliberating. I’m not especially athletic, and I never took gymnastics as a girl, so getting up on a 2-story platform and swinging into the air was quite a departure for me. I was totally out of my element. I was scared the entire time and couldn’t even let go of the bar the first time I managed to get my knees up over it. It was like my rational brain – who knew there was a big net and I was harnessed and completely safe – was playing chess with my irrational brain – who could do little more than go, “AAAAAHHHHHH!” It was a major battle in trusting and believing and surrendering, but it was a battle I won because I got up on that platform every time it was my turn, I grabbed the bar, and I jumped off. I did it. And the feeling of completing that catch at the end made it all worthwhile.

Citrus & Maple Salmon

Citrus Maple Salmon

After I walked back home from the trapeze lesson, showered, and thoroughly hyperventilated, I headed out to Whole Foods to pick up the ingredients for this salmon recipe I found in Oxygen magazine. It’s quite similar to the Salmon en Papillote I made a few weeks ago, but with a sweet twist owing to orange and maple. When I made this I decided to spice it up by adding a little chipotle powder with the salt and pepper, but I ended up not really liking that and wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish in the end, but that’s mostly because it was too sweet for me. I am, and always will be, a salty kind of girl. That said, those of you who like things on the sweeter side should find this enjoyable.

This, along with the salad below, a cold glass of seltzer with lime, and a disc of True Blood was the perfect, tranquil way to end a, shall we say, exhilarating day.

The original recipe was developed for the grill. As I live in an apartment with no outside to call my own, I adapted it for the oven.

1 pound boneless salmon fillet with skin
¼ cup maple syrup
2 oranges
salt and black pepper

Zest and juice 1 orange. Combine with the maple syrup in a shallow dish and add salmon, flesh side down. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Remove salmon from marinade and place skin side down on a large piece of foil. Pour some of the marinade over the salmon and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Cut the second orange into thin slices and arrange them over the top of the salmon. Fold up the sides of the aluminum foil to seal in a pouch.

Cook at 400º for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily.

Makes 4 servings.

Black Bean, Corn, & Quinoa Salad
To go with the salmon, I made this super easy, super tasty, super healthy salad. It’s perfect for staving off the pounds so you can keep your bikini (or, in my case, flying harness) figure. I got the basic black bean salad recipe from Joy of Cooking, then decided to add quinoa and parsley (because cilantro is evil!). Add whatever fresh ingredients you like or have on hand to suit your own tastes.

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
kernels from 2 ears of corn
12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ red onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper

Whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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