As a less-than-stellar school year wound down, we needed something positive to bond over. This little slice of magic was just the thing we needed.
Just Add Magic | 32
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This is The Good List — I’m Tsh Oxenreider.
This is a work of art.
The summer we came back from our trip around the world was a doozy. I won’t get into the minute, emotional details of why, but once we finally signed a lease on a rental house where we planned to stay for one year while we searched for more permanent digs, we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. After a year of living out of backpacks and vagabonding, it felt good to be home, even if that home was temporary.
We didn’t plan it this way, but it didn’t take long for us to start carving out regular rhythms to our days — where to put backpacks when the kids came home from school, whose turn it’d be to make dinner, Kyle dusted off his beloved tools so he could get back to woodworking once a week or so, I settled in to write my next book, and the kids started going to a nearby school. Most things in our life were good, but that last part wasn’t so much — after a year of worldschooling, it was hard to jump right into a brand new school with a traditional education model. I won’t get into the details, but I’ll just say we all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief on the last day of school when the kids could throw their backpacks on the floor and not worry about the idea of school for several months (kinda like they are right now, seeing as this is their last week of online school as I’m talking to you).
And the reason I’m building up to this is because on this last day of school, we thought it’d be fun to have a family movie night — you know, eat pizza, pop popcorn, dim the lights. And for whatever reason — probably because none of us had ever seen it — we chose this brand new series on Amazon Prime we’d never heard of called Just Add Magic. Now, at this point our youngest just finished kindergarten and our oldest finished 5th, so we were in the stage of needing to find something that was okay for little kids that didn’t also bore slightly older ones nor the parents. You know that’s a tall order, if you’re a fellow parent and you’ve scrolled all the streaming services.
Well, let me tell you — finding this series was magic for our family. Not only did it completely fit that bill of sucking us all in, but it’s a delightful story full of magic we all needed after a rough school year that followed a previous year of magic for us. Here’s the gist: 3 friends named Kelly, Darby, and Hannah find a secret cookbook in an attic, and it turns out the recipes are magical. They end up using these recipes to help solve a mystery about Kelly’s grandma, as well as other questions peppered throughout their small town. That doesn’t really do it justice because it’s got more depth than that, but you get the idea.
Now, don’t get me wrong: this is a children’s TV show. Parts of it are corny as all get out, some of the acting is wooden, and it’s from a kid’s perspective. But that’s what makes it great — it’s a really great kids’ show, and those are hard to find. These girls are young tweens and teens, and they’re not boy-crazy. They love their parents and grandparents. They love their friends and community. They care about hard work. They care about equity for others, and they have good attitudes yet are still funny at times. But it’s not saccharine-sweet either, as though everything’s great and problems are solved in 30 minutes like an 80s after school special. In other words: this show is wholesome, but in only the right way — it’s still a little spooky for some kids, it’s got a good storyline, and the small town is charming and sucks you right in.
And this is just what our family needed at the time. As a less-than-stellar school year wound down, we needed something positive to bond over. We ended up watching the entire series in one week, and we’d talk about it here and there all summer long. They eventually added more seasons, which we also watched, and ultimately wrapped up the series with these original girls and passed the baton on to a new set of kids (I presume because the actors aged out). The OG series is 4 seasons long, and it’s a delight.
And now that a somewhat-harrowing school year is winding down for us this week, I’ve been thinking about that series, and how it’s just-right for starting off summer break. It’s wholesome yet not dumbed-down, and not only have us adults been in the mood to rewatch it, but so have our now almost 10-year-old, 12-year-old, and 15-year-old (man, how time flies). So, sometime next week, we’re gonna start rewatching Just Add Magic.
I think this is a good time of year, and a just-right phase we’re all in at the moment for something like this. So if you’re in the market for a kids’ show that isn’t awful for teens or adults, you might want to try Just Add Magic. It’s cheesy, but in only the right way.
Tsh: All right, Claire, I would love to hear what is on your good list right now.
Claire: Okay, so I have this new thing that I’m doing that I’m super excited by that I think is kind of weird and it’s called cold water swimming. Do you know about it?
Tsh: Well, is it exactly what it sounds like?
Claire: Kind of, but there’s science behind it. Basically the backstory is that a few years ago I read this book called The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu, and I became completely obsessed with Finland. When a work trip let me go to Finland in November, less than six months ago I was completely excited and then in love with the place and when I got there, it was cold, it was November, but I still did the classic Arctic swimming thing where you basically go to a swim center where there’s some warm pools and then there’s like a sea pool and you get in and I got in and it was absolutely freezing and you could really only stand for like five or six seconds the first time you do it but the endorphin rush afterward was amazing. Right? So I just became completely obsessed with this thing and I was like, how can I replicate this in my life in the Southern hemisphere? Right? Flash forward to coming home. I live in the Southern hemisphere in Argentina and then I sort of forgot about this and then I started reading that sometimes people do it via these cold water showers which is kind of the same idea. The concept is it’s an endorphin rush. If you go for total Arctic swimming according to this book and the author Katja Pantzer, who I ended up actually doing an interview with, because I was so interested in the book, apparently research shows that one minute or something or 30 seconds in this freezing cold Arctic water gives you the same kind of health benefits as 28 minutes of exercise.
I don’t think you can necessarily replicate that exactly in a cold shower. But I started thinking maybe you could sort of, and so since quarantine, I was just sharing with you before we got on the call today, one of the things, I live in Argentina and in quarantine, we’re actually not allowed to leave our perimeter. We’re in the suburbs and we have a yard and the idea is that you’re not actually allowed to leave your yard because you don’t need to because your dog can do his business in your yard. I can’t go on my walks, I can’t go on my runs. What am I going to do? I was like, hey, we have this pool and it’s autumn and so the pool is cold. I basically have gotten into this cold water swimming thing and it’s such an endorphin rush I cannot express.
Tsh: Okay, so how long can you stand it?
Claire: Again, I’m in autumn, in 60 degrees. The pool’s not that cold. Right? So even so, I’m not a reptile. I still get cold. When I get in the pool I say I’m going to do three laps. And this isn’t like an actual lap pool, right? It’s a backyard pool, whatever the size that is. I say I’m gonna do three laps and pretty much, by the time I do three laps, I can stay in longer and I stay in about 10 and then when I get out, I feel amazing. It’s really interesting. It totally makes me wish I was actually in the Arctic like Katja in this book, The Finnish Way, because it would be so interesting to actually do this in the winter and go in for 10 seconds and I totally believe that it could be this incredible health thing, right? That would not only help any sort of mental health symptoms, which is I guess what they often talk about, but also from a physical perspective of not even needing to go out and do other types of exercise because your heart rate is just so out there.
Tsh: When you say you feel amazing, tell me more about that. What does it feel like to you when you are done?
Claire: It feels like physically, you’re tingling and excited because you’re not cold, you feel warm as soon as you get out, but really emotionally and mentally that’s what is so amazing because you feel like you have done this hard thing. I was talking to a friend who does these cold water showers in the morning. He gets in the shower and he does the cold water thing for 30 seconds, because I was telling him that I was trying this and I was getting really into it after just about two weeks doing it. He said to me, the reason I do this every morning for 30 seconds is because I know that if I can start the day doing a hard thing, then I can get through the rest of my day no matter what else comes up. I guess to me, especially in this crazy time, we’re all in a quarantine, it is really, really working from a mental health, emotional perspective of being like, wow, I’m going to do this hard thing. I mean I get in the pool, I don’t want to do it, but I can. Then I feel really calm.
Tsh: It kind of has that eating the frog concept. If you do the hardest thing first, everything else feels a little easier the rest of the day, I guess?
Claire: Yeah, totally. That was why something else that came up is that I’ve played with when in my day does it work best to do it. I actually realize, and maybe this is true of all exercise, now that we’re at home, the reality is even if you have little kids and you have tons of stuff to do, your schedule is more flexible in terms of when you can do things. I realized in terms of this, it’s actually best to do it really in about the middle of the day when you’re getting to that afternoon slump after lunch and you just want to take a nap, whether for physical or just mental reasons because these days feel so eternal. I think the middle of the day is good. I did it last night at about 7:00 PM and it just seems like then you’re jazzed.
Tsh: I’ve been working out at different times of day now because of quarantine. I used to work out in the morning and that’s still my preference probably, but that just isn’t reality anymore with all my kids at home now. I’ve done midday and evening workouts as well. And I totally do not like late-night workouts because I can’t fall asleep. But that mid-day thing, it’s been surprising to me how much I like it. I think I still like morning, but I like mid-day more than I thought I would because my brain turns to mush anyway. I don’t get a lot of work done regardless. It’s like I need to go on a walk, I need to just leave the desk for a while before I come back. I’ll bet you it’s that same idea there. I don’t know if I could take, I mean we don’t have a pool but a mid-day cold shower for a minute maybe? I don’t know. That’s interesting.
Claire: I think you could, I don’t know if you’d like it, but you’d probably like it more than you thought.
Tsh: I saw a YouTuber talk about, he did this thing last year where he did 12 months of hard things and he tried different, almost more like what do all these smart people say is good for you and one of them was cold showers and so he did a month of cold showers and I was fascinated. He talked about basically by the end he hated it so much and he never wanted to do it again. But I don’t hate cooler showers for the reasons that sound a bit like what you’re getting at. I don’t know. I could see even just doing it a little at a time even if it’s like the first 10 to 20 seconds of a shower and then warming it up. I don’t know. I’m intrigued. This is interesting to me. I would have never thought of this.
Claire: I think I would say that the problem with the guy that did the cold shower for a month and ended up not liking it is that he was taking out something pleasurable from his life, which I think a warm shower is typically something we all think of as like a pleasurable thing. I think for me what this does is it doesn’t take that away from me. I did something that I can even check it off my to-do list each day to feel even better about having done it right. But it doesn’t take away something that, especially in quarantine, especially with kids, I really look forward to having a shower by myself.
Tsh: It’s funny, I was just talking with Anne Bogel, our mutual friend and she was sharing about how she’s been working out more than usual with quarantine because she thinks of it as introvert time instead of just this adulting, we should do this. It’s a treat because it’s a chance for her to do something without all the people in her life around her and it almost feels like that. If you can flip the script and thinking of this as a treat without taking away, like you said, the warm shower, then we might be more likely to do it because we’re not doing this because it’s good for us. We’re doing it because it actually feels good. You know what I mean?
Claire: Totally. That’s funny you say that about the working out because we just got a big trampoline yesterday, it was delivered finally and after a two-week delay, we decided to get it during the quarantine and one of my kids this morning, I have a three-year-old who went out on it and was by himself and didn’t want anyone else to come out on it and he just wanted to be by himself on the trampoline for half an hour. I had the thought of like, oh my gosh, he is an introvert because it’s a space outside the house where you can get away from everyone.
Tsh: I think there’s something really valid to that. If people are listening, thinking, yeah, no thanks, cold shower, but maybe they think cold shower buy myself, a thing to do without children around me, then it’s worth it. I love this. This is really good, Claire. I’m glad you shared this one.
Claire: Yeah, no problem. I would love to hear if people try it. But again, I do think the key is not taking away your otherwise wonderful not shower.
Tsh: I’m going to try this. My husband will laugh at me because he knows I like cold showers and he hates them. We’ve got a new little dare challenge, a thing to do.
Thank you to Claire for chatting with me from Argentina — she’s a smart cookie and the author of several books, and I’m sure she’s working on another one because she always is. A little reminder from last week, in case you missed it, that I’ve got a new four-part audio workshop out called Create Your Rule of Life workshop — it comes with a downloadable guidebook, and the price is pay-what-you-can. Yep, I want you to name your price. You can find it at thegoodlistshow.com/rule, or in the show notes of this episode. And another little reminder that if you haven’t yet, to sign up for my free weekly email called 5 Quick Things, where I share 5 things I either created or loved from the week. Go to fivequickthings.email to sign up, and you’ll get the next weekly email that goes out on Friday mornings.
I’m on twitter @tsh and sometimes on IG @tshoxenreider, and you can also find a transcript and the show notes of this episode, and all episodes, at thegoodlistshow.com.
Leave me a voicemail or send me a voice recording to tell me one thing that’s currently on your Good List. Either leave a voicemail at (401) 684-GOOD or record your voice and email the voice file to email@example.com, and we may feature it here on the show.
Thanks to Claire for sharing with us what’s on her Good List. Music for the show is by Kevin MacLeod, and thanks, as always, to Caroline TeSelle and Kyle Oxenreider for their help, as well as my furry intern, Ginny. I’m Tsh Oxenreider, and I’ll be back with you soon — thanks for listening to The Good List.