21

Every Sunday morning after meditation I indulge in reading blog posts. I have been doing this for ten years. One of the first blogs I began to read with regularity was The Broadside by Caitlyn Kelly. She is a Canadian freelance journalist and author living in New York. She writes about her travels, her lifestyle and her apartment in ways that have me dreaming about those places. She has become a part of my Sundays just like pancakes, coffee and meditation. This week she posted the FT’s glossy magazine How to Spend It runs a 21-question survey of people whose taste and opinions they consider interesting. How to Spend It is not a periodical that I would normally read, so it was interesting to read the survey and think about the answers. I wouldn’t consider myself someone who is materialist. I am definitely about the experience, but I do enjoy functional material items. I thought I would also share because I need some fun in my life. Something that distracts from the everyday surreal reality we are all experiencing.

My personal style signifier

Something that isn’t my green pair of converse? I always have a scarf, usually wool or linen. I learned this trick from Valerie Pringle. She always traveled with one because it could be used as a blanket on a plane, head cover in foreign places, a shawl with a cocktail dress or for warmth around the neck. I have used it for all of those reasons and as a colour statement on the back of my office chair. My favourite is a blue pashmina from Jordan – a gift from my mom.

The last thing I bought and loved

My new stove that is arriving tomorrow? I think it would be my bed. It is the grey king-size button tufted monstrosity that is hard to climb into. It is pretty and comfortable. I spend half my life in it. I love it.

On my wishlist

A butler’s pantry. I have a large walk through pantry that I would love to add cupboards, a counter and a window to. One day…

The best gift I’ve given recently

The best gifts are the ones that I don’t request, they just show up unannounced and are given because the person was thinking of me. The last gift like that would have been from my daughter for my birthday. A saint candle of David Rose. It was hilarious and I light it regularly.

The best gift I have ever received

A trip celebrating my 50th birthday and new job. It was to the Wickaninnish Inn. It remains the single best vacation of my life.

In my fridge, you’ll always find

Cheese, oranges and wine.

My favorite room in my house

My deck, but that is outside my house. I guess in my house would be my bedroom. One day it will be my dinning room. It needs a makeover and I have big plans.

The last album I downloaded

I don’t download anymore, I stream. The last album I did download was Breakup by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson. It still is one of my all time favourites.

I have a serious collection of

Crystals and running medals.

An object I would never part with

The kite made by my grandpa.

An unforgettable place I’ve traveled to in the past year

Jasper Park Lodge during secret season. It was a slow year for travel but Jasper never disappoints.

The best souvenir I ever brought home

I found three sand dollars at Morro Beach. I am positive these were a gift from my grandfather. There were two old men on the beach fishing that day and we chatted about their catch. They reminded me of my grandpa and his pal Tiny. There were hundreds of sand dollars on the beach. Grandpa and I used to explore tide pools and we would find things like sand dollars. He was with me a lot on that trip. I was thinking about my three friends that I was close to during that time. The sand dollars were symbolic of those friends I had. One broke before I made it home – so did that friendship. One broke after another falling out. One remains in tact which is surprising since the last friend and I haven’t spoken in over a year. Maybe it means it isn’t done yet.

Recently I’ve been reading

Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women. It is a departure from my usual book genres but I am enjoying it none the less. It’s mostly about Anderson Cooper’s great aunt. The opulence of that time is mind boggling.

The best book I’ve read in the past year

Its a toss up. Either In Five Years by Rebecca Serle or Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening by Martha Beck. But shout out to The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani – it was creepy and took me out of my comfort zone. I have read 32 books since January. Those three stand out for me.

A recent “find”

Silk Road Spice Merchant!!!

If I could, I would collect

I am trying to declutter – I don’t think I want anything to collect.

I had a memorable meal at

Victoria and Albert’s private dinning experience and The Pointe for breakfast. Both times the food was the best thing I ever consumed.

My style icon

Billy Porter – there is no other.

My grooming staples

No.7 night cream, tooth paste and any soap from Rocky Mountain Soap company. I am a simple gal.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d have been

A Disney cleanup artist.

I can’t wait to get back to

The ocean, any one will do.

Solitude

I can lie in bed catatonic for hours staring into the ceiling half expecting it to open up and show me the sky. I can sit for hours staring out into the garden just watching bees and birds flit by. The last time I did this, it was the dark time and I was severely depressed. I recognize I am not depressed. I do recognized that I am mentally tired. I think we all are. We just handle it differently.

For me I go through long periods of time not talking. I look at people, I smile and nod but words don’t form as thoughts to express. This makes work hard. I was in a meeting last week and was supposed to talk about an idea I pitched. I couldn’t string together a coherent thought – or at least I couldn’t in a way that I would prefer. I just did what I was capable of in that moment. I made myself a script for my next meeting, I think its called coping. I am tired of a lot of things. The dumpster fire going on in the country to the south of us, the angry hostile way people behave when required to wear a mask, the fascists’ extremes our provincial government is taking to privatize the province and stuff money in the pockets of their pals. I am tired of people dying needlessly.

But mostly I am tired of people complaining about living.

Living is a privilege.

You have an obligation to care for yourself. My body has moved into self-care mode.

I went for a walk yesterday morning with my pal Cap. We went to three different locations looking for solitude without luck. I came home, made lunch and went to my room and closed the door. I laid on my bed in silence. I understand this is a form of meditation. Thoughts didn’t penetrate my brain. I was present. I decided to do a rotation of consciousness. This is a Reiki practice where you focus energy to every part of your body. Eyes, ears, brain, lungs, liver, ribs, knees, etc… you get the idea… on a rotational basis. This relaxes your body and is part of the Yoga Nidra practice. Your body sleeps and your brain is conscious. I recognize my body sleeps because I hear it snoring. But being in this state is like sleeping for four hours when you have just been in this state for 30 minutes. It is incredibly refreshing. I recommend this to anyone who is tired. It takes practice and having a recording or someone to talk you through it is important. Calm that monkey mind. I stayed in this state for 90 minutes. Clearly my body and mind needed the rest.

Other forms of self-care are also important. For me not watching the news, talking about dumpster fires and focusing on my surroundings is self-care. Using my diffuser with essential blends is an instant relaxation sensation. It calms my brain and releases tension from my shoulders. Baking can be a form of self care but I am too tired to do it right now so I read. Although lately, reading makes me sleepy so I listen to audio books. Hot showers and letting my hair dry naturally feels like luxury. I am grateful for the quiet in my home. Half of us are introverts and need quiet too. The stresses and strains of the world have become a bit much for all of us, so remember to take time for yourself.

I am at the part in Eat Love Pray, where the author is living in Bali. She mostly walks or rides her bike, eats and meditates. It is the holiday I fantasize about. Being alone for four months without obligations. Not giving to anyone, not taking from anyone, just being. Sleeping when I need it, being creative when the spirit moves me, answering to no one and most of all not working on a project that was forced upon me. I want this. I want autonomous solitude. Not forever, but for a little while – like a month.

What are you doing to care for your tired mind? I recommend visiting Jana Roemer on Insite Timer or her website for Yoga Nidra mediations. Hang in there friends and stay healthy.

Comfort

Reading is not a luxury for me, it is a necessity. As I age it takes longer for my eyes to focus in the morning so I can read the small font on my phone. Some mornings my eyes work after about five minutes, other mornings its hopeless. Today, it was as soon as I woke up. I knew it was going to be a good reading day.

I spent the summer reading a lot of stories that took place on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Escape and travel are my needs. Some years, I spend my summer reading memoirs or intense historical fiction. Considering the state of the world in 2020, obviously I needed some safe place to retreat to. Now that autumn has moved in, summer escapes are not really where I feel like hanging out. But I am not yet ready to forage away from escapes. Seeking comfort in books is like a soft quilt that wraps her arms around you. It protects me from the stress of work, sadness from the news or drama from relationships outside of my tight circle.

Often, I start three or four books until I find the one that holds my interest. I am not that girl that will stick with a book for the sake of finishing it. Life is too short. The day my medical team found an acoustic neuroma living in the left lobe of my brain, I learned very quickly what I like and don’t like. I say yes to awesome and no to awful. Honestly my life is a higher quality and incredibly peaceful since I made that decision. Yes to delicious wine and high quality chocolate, no to broccoli and relish. Yes to real sugar and carbs, no to cauliflower pizza crust and bunless burgers. I say YES to a captivating read or engrossing movie and I walk away if it is boring. I applied this to people and jobs including pharmacists and doctors. People and professionals need to make the cut or I walk and look for something or someone that is a better fit. As a result, my life is really good. I think this is called boundaries.

Lately I remember special characters from books I have read years ago. Like Ria in Tara Road. She is one of those characters that feels real enough to call and pop over for a cup of coffee. I reread the book and realized how much I had forgotten. I learned or paid attention to a different aspect of the story line because I am coming to it from a different perspective. I am older now with more life experience. The messages felt new. It was like reading a completely different book. I have read this book at least a dozen times, I read it three times before Oprah thought it should be a book club selection. I revisited Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. This time I looked at it from the confidant character rather than the protagonist. I first read this in 1998 when it was published. I was still in young hero mode and related to all of Judy Blume’s protagonists. Not this time. It was a lovely trip down memory lane and did two things for me, 1.) Made me curious about Martha’s Vineyard has a holiday destination and 2.) Made me think I should revisit her children and middle school genres.

The comfort I feel from books I read as a child is off the charts. My first novel reading experience without an adult assist was Charlotte’s Web. I read that to my kids when they were young. The animal conversations were chaotic and fun. I forgot about that. I liked how Charlotte made Wilbur feel safe and loved. As a mom, my relationship with Charlotte was stronger. She was some spider.

I have been looking for copies of books that are now out of print. I wish I still had them but our family culture was to trade in books so you could purchase new books or visit the library. Sadly, the library doesn’t keep all the books either. Finding Apples Every Day by Grace Richardson or Mom, the Wolf Man and Me by Norma Klein is an ongoing project for me. I scour every used bookshop I come across. So far with no luck. I still think about those characters and wonder if I would still see what I liked about it in the first place.

This morning I picked up a book I had been meaning to reread for a while. I have only read it once and that was during my dark time – depression had hit me hard. This was before I figured out about boundaries and how important that was for my peace of mind and true happiness. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert made a big impression on me. It helped me figure out some things and started my introspection to figure out things. Eat the good food, meditate daily, and surround yourself with people you love and WHO LOVE YOU BACK…not those other douches.

EAT: When I first read it, I was still deep in eating disorder mode. Yo-yo dieting in an effort to seek approval. Fuck that. I now eat to nourish me. I still find myself emotionally eating but I recognize it for what it is. The damage has been done but I accept that. My beloved Great Grandmother was round a squishy like me. She gave the best hugs and her shoulder blades never once cut me.

LOVE: When I first read it, I don’t think I knew what love was. I could say it but I didn’t really understand it. I was still doing things to get people to love me. Since then, I learned no one will love you as much as you love yourself. Sounds corny but its true. If I am not going to be good to me and treat me well, I cannot expect anyone else to (sounds a lot like boundaries). Negative self-talk stopped. The dialogue that runs through your head like a mantra… I am not….. (fill in the blank). I learned about Sankalpas – an intention you repeat until you realize it. I am kind, I am loved, I am forgiveness, I am healthy, I am valued… Fill in your own blank but make it positive. Your mind is easily tricked into thinking negatively. Show yourself loving kindness – for real. It is a life changer.

Pray: When I first read it, I had meditated occasionally, usually when I was in a bad way – like going through a divorce – I rolled my eyes at it when I read the Pray part. Who meditates every day? Who has time for that? What good does that do? Well….six years after I began reading Eat Love Pray, I meditated for real. I needed a place to let go of anger and seek peace. Today I have meditated 1379 consecutive days. I started in 2016 with a challenge to myself to go 30 days in a row. Then I expanded it to 365 days. I thought it would be hard but I looked myself in the mirror and and said “Robyn – you are worth it. Do this for yourself.” So I did. It didn’t matter that I was late, everything could wait until I took 30 minutes of me time because I was worth it. Meditation has changed everything. I am calm. I can sit in chaos and watch it with a detachment and problem solve. I am not quick to anger. I see things from a multitude of perspectives. Mostly I love the way it makes me feel. I cannot explain it other than I feel connected to everyone and everything. As if a part of me is in everything and a part of everything is in me. If you meditate you know what I mean. You enter the collective WE and are no longer alone. It took me a year of daily meditation to feel connected. Now it is like breathing. It is a knowing.

Reading Eat Love Pray for a second time should be interesting and I hope comforting. Something that resonates with me in a “I totally get you” way.

Stay healthy friends and keep finding comfort in something meaningful for you. Most of all, be good to yourself.

Freestyle baking

I spent the week (when I wasn’t at work) processing my harvest. There is something very satisfying about seeing bags of fruit and vegetables flat packed in my freezer. Everything was orderly in my fridge freezer and that inspired me to tackle the pantry.

I have a walk-thru pantry. It was the number one reason I bought this house. Number two reason was more than one bathroom and number three reason was the view. Maybe reason number one was the view…whatever.

While in pantry, I found at least a quarter tonnne of David’s Tea, several jars of nuts and a packet of freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe’s. We don’t have TJ’s here in Canada so that was from my last trip to the USA in May 2019. I repacked the tea and found a better location for it, I sorted the baking items and spices so I had a good idea of what I had and what I needed to replenish. I put the items I needed to use up on my counter. Plus I had some raisins that were a little on the hard side. Can someone please tell me why I have two Costco size jars of cinnamon in my pantry, bags of cinnamon from the Bulk Barn and one glass jar of cinnamon. I don’t even like cinnamon. That honour belongs to my family. They are all about apple pie and cinnamon, cinnamon buns and cookies with cinnamon. I like cardamom. Not the same but similar. No I don’t like all the pumpkin flavoured things out right now. They don’t taste like pumpkin, they taste like cinnamon and nutmeg. I love pumpkin. It tastes like squash because it is squash.

I looked at these things and came up with a plan. I pulled the spiced rum from the liquor shelf and soaked the raisins for about an hour. I took the raw pecans leftover from my birthday cake and deep fried them in browned butter. I would add these to my oatmeal cookie recipe that I love.

I found some nearly expired raspberries in the fridge. They were at the ugly stage where you cook with them and refrain from adding them as a yogurt topping. I added those to the freeze dried raspberries and decided to use up the buttermilk I had and make raspberry scones. I wanted to recreate a dry jar I received as a gift from my son’s girlfriend. One of those jars where you add the dry ingredients to some butter and milk then bake. Those scones were amazing.

Then I had 6lbs of apples that I picked yesterday after work and needed to process them them. So my daughter and I sat, peeled and chopped those, laid them out on a tray and now they are freezing before I bag them. There is nothing that frustrated me more than a bag of fruit that is frozen together in one giant lump. It’s nearly impossible to do anything useful with a brick of macerated fruit or veg. I packed up the scones and tried to freeze them in my fridge freezer. Nope, that was full of rhubarb, carrots, beans, zucchini, green onions and now trays of apples. I went to my deep freezer in my pantry and yikes. Nothing was going in there, so I cleaned that out too. There was expired things int there from 2017. Maybe older. I tossed that and discovered I need to buy meat. I have one steak and some stew meat. I am good for vegetables and fruit from smoothies though! I even have frozen cubed coconut.

The scones went in the freezer along side Grandma’s date squares. The rum raisin oatmeal cookies went in the cookie jar. The daughter made an apple pie that is in the fridge. Baking has gone from a stress reliever to a creative outlet for me. I am developing my own recipes from techniques I learned this spring. I was always a cooking freestyler and rarely follow a recipe for meals. Now my creativity is flying high with baked goods. Later this week I will share my new recipes because they were delicious.

Dang I am tired. I had a full day and should sleep well tonight. Hopefully… sleep has been elusive but now that my kitchen is decluttered, perhaps I will sleep well one again.

Stay healthy everyone!

The simple life

Its been ten years since I began writing. It was one of those things that I didn’t intend to do. I started as a way to get out of my head and work through problems. I began to understand the importance of reading my thoughts. I didn’t always know what I was thinking until I wrote it down. I know that sounds strange but its a way for Myself to communicate with me.

I turned 53 today. I remember when my grandpa was 54 and when my dad turned 50 and when my great grandma turned 88. I don’t remember all my birthdays but I remember a lot of them. I turned 11 on an airplane home from London. I turned 16 sitting on the steps of the Paramount theatre watching Risky Business. I turned 5 in my grandparents three season room while my auntie led party games. I turned 50 talking on the phone with an HR recruiter thinking my life was about to change and it did. My 14 birthday was spent jumping off a snag hanging over a creek in Montana and swimming with my family. My 48 birthday was at Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco eating Francis Ford Coppola’s mediocre Italian food and feeling scared about the impending future. Most birthdays I spend at the Edmonton Fringe Festival with Guys in Disguise laughing my ass off.

Each birthday I was very present. I wanted to remember every moment and for the most part I did. I spent about 8 birthdays wishing certain people would acknowledge me and I spent about 10 birthdays taking for granted those who did. Today I am not at the Fringe. It is named ‘The Fringe that never was’. Covid-19 has changed my life and made it better in many ways. I am sitting in my backyard listening to the kid down the block play his recorder. Some guy is mowing his lawn a few blocks over. Birds are signing to each other in my trees. Apples are hanging low on the tree and my cucumbers are about an inch long on the vine. My pal Cap is lounging on the lawn. The table is set up outside and cleaned for my birthday dinner from Fox Burger. The parents are coming for a visit. This will be my third socially distance visit with humans outside my family since March 15.

Ten years ago I was at the same park I was at for my 50th. It was my brother-in- law’s birthday and my sister included me. I was in the middle of a dark and deep depression before I know I was. I didn’t know what I wanted or what I needed. All I knew was that I wasn’t living it.

I began writing, taking risks and trying to figure out what was wrong with me. One reader left a comment and said, “I think you are depressed and hate your job.” I stared at that comment for a very long time. I am grateful to that reader. They were right. I went back to school, changed careers, tried out some new friends and ran a half marathon and finished it with a stress-fractured foot. I learned I was made of some tough stuff, I loved my family and I had some remarkable people in my life. I figured out my values and removed people from my life who required me to compromise them.

52 was hard. But not as hard as 42. 42 was dark. 43 was darker.

I know 53 will be what I make it.

My plans and goals for 53 are simple:

  1. Meditate every day. I have meditated every day since December 13, 2016. That equates to 1361 days. It has opened up my world and provided clarity on everything. It is the greatest gift I have ever given myself.
  2. Practice being mindful and present. It reduces stress and anxiety.
  3. I will write and finish the YA novel I am working on. It will be my fifth novel. Maybe one day I will get one of these published.
  4. I will continue to surround myself with people who bring me peace. You know who you are <3.
  5. Laugh often and hard.
  6. Tell people why I appreciate them. I started doing this about a year after I began meditating. I don’t always, but I am much better at it.
  7. Love people even though they aren’t good for me or in my life.
  8. Love me.

I went to See Oprah when she was in town and she said (I am paraphrasing) “Your 40’s are for figuring out your life. Your 50’s are for practicing your new life and your 60’s are the best you can ever imagine.”

I believe it Oprah.

Endless time

How is everyone doing? I am on day 30 of being safe at home. That is a lot of days and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. Summer festivals are dropping like dominos. My favourite ones are done so there’s that. But I am looking forward to summer anyways. With endless time on my hands, I’ve planned a couple of vegetable garden beds using insanely large plastic storage containers, I have a couple of six foot and four foot bins. The plan is to grow root vegetables, so we will see how that goes. At the side of my house I grow sweet peas, I think I will grow green peas and beans instead. I just hope the snowing will stop because I long to sit on my deck and enjoy flowers.

As it warms up I think my baking will slow down. Hot houses and hot stoves are not a good match. Meanwhile, I have been a machine with little projects. I have made green onion cakes, pasta, pizza dough, cookies and cinnamon buns. I am loving it! It has opened up new friend chats as we talk about proving dough and weighing flour. It is weird what I find fun now.

Speaking of fun… Beverly Clearly turned 104 on the weekend. I read a lot of her books when I was in elementary and jr. high. In grade six I read The Luckiest Girl of hers and passed it around the class for others to read. I must have read it a dozen times before I went to high school. I have thought about the characters in the story a lot over the years, so I decided to borrow it from the local library (online because the EPL is currently closed). Can I just say, I was still enthralled with this story and surprised at how well it stood up. The story takes place in the 1950’s but aside from clothing, telephones and hanging laundry, the rest felt pretty current, or at least current enough. The big takeaway is the character development and archs. I think Clearly was an under-appreciated author and was lumped into the children’s category as if that was a slight on her work. It has made me seek out other books I read way back then and see how they hold up.

I am quite impressed with 11 year old me. 11 year old me had an argument with the Mrs. Erickson, the librarian, about how I should diversify my reading repertoire and read new authors and finish what I start. I said why do I have to finish books I don’t like? I still won’t finish a bad or boring book. With the millions of great books out there, why spend time on something that won’t hold my interest? I am looking for more books from my youth like Mom, the Wolfman and me by Norma Klein and Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater to see if they can still capture my attention.

I overheard my son chatting with his girlfriend about how his parents (me and hubs) read to him and his sister every night. AND BIG BOOKS TOO! (Big books?) He mentioned some of the ones that stood out, like Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Holes by Louis Sachar and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling. We read to them long after they could read to themselves for a couple of reasons. Obviously emotional connection was the number one reason, but critical thinking had to be number two. We would discuss books at dinner and talk about why characters made certain choices or why the author did. When my kids were reading on their own, I would also read the same story so I could talk to them about what they were reading and thinking. These were some of the greatest conversations. It’s why I want to join book clubs and why I am always disappointed in the book clubs I join. People tend to want to go to book clubs for socialization. I want intellectual conversation. I don’t tend to last long especially when people don’t even read the book before the meeting.

So far I have read 11 books for the year. (It’s funny how the number 11 still shows up daily for me). My goal is 40 by December. I will likely reach that goal. But I am looking for a book that hooks me as soon as I read the first page. Any suggestions? I don’t want to have to slog through 100+ pages before I get into it. So don’t suggest those books. I like family generational epics like the Rice Mother by Rani Manicka or Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I like a good memoir too like Educated by Tara Westover or Spoiler Alert the Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello. Bonus points if it is available in the EPL (Edmonton Public Library) data base. I am in a bit of a fragile state so sad or scary really need to be left on the shelf.

Let me know what you are reading and stay healthy friends!

Magic

How is everyone doing? I am on day 19, but by the time this arrives in your inbox, it will be day 24. (Spoiler Alert* I write ahead and autopost) I am on my second cup of coffee. That alone should tell you how its going for me. I limit myself to a single cup every day. Love and care go into making that cup from heating up milk to stellar quality beans to the perfect pour. Perfect for me. Everyone has their way of making coffee and we all are particular about it. But here I am on cup number two, equally as perfect as cup number one and served in today’s mug which is Mary Poppins and the chimney sweeps dancing on the rooftops of London. What is better than one perfect cup? Two, two is better.

Normally Mary is my tea mug. When I drink from it I get a little bit of magic touching my lips. I am slightly concerned there will be a coffee aftertaste in my tea mug but fingers crossed I can banish it. I am looking for magic everywhere and fingers crossed it will arrive when I clean my mug.

I have had a few requests to see what my office looks like now that I work from home. I tell everyone I am in the basement, which is true, but it isn’t your typical basement. When we were looking for this house 20 years ago, a walkout basement was on the wish list. When we saw this one, I liked it because it didn’t back onto a mosquito nursery or a community park. I want privacy. I want to walk out my back door and into my garden without having people watching what I am doing. Which is nothing, but I want my nothings done in private. I completed my degree in the basement. I wrote four novels in this basement and I am working on the one that I think is publishable. All of this done in private. Privacy is magical.

This is my workspace. It is the opposite of my workspace at my job. Here I am surrounded by things that inspire me. I have four photos of my children. A letter from Judy Blume she wrote to me (THIS IS MY MOST VALUABLE POSSESSION), I have a Club 33 pin and a box of flip art by Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. I have a working T.A.R.D.I.S. and a Toy Story kaleidoscope. I have a Tiffany blue and silver bowl my sister gave me when I graduated the second time around. I keep it filled with toys, lip balm, wireless earbuds and really good pens. I have a tiny polaroid of me and my siblings on my 51st birthday. (I worry that will be our last photo together.) I have a street made of lego and a miniature bow tie quilt made from 1930’s replica prints. The entire room is inspired by Mickey Mouse. The colours are Black, White, Red and Gold. The art on the walls are Disney animation, mostly artist sketches and Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky prints. My office is made of magic. What is more magical than Disney, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Doctor Who? Shout out to my coffee!

Magic keeps me inspired to do things.

I find magic in coincidences. Those times when you are chatting about something and suddenly it shows up in your life. Or unexpected magic like when a friend you haven’t spoken to since grade 10 messages you and says remember me? That happened Thursday. We worked together at the local ski hill and that brought back a flood of fun memories! Or when you wake up and your kids are still sleeping and your dog has taken the hubs for a walk and you get the kitchen to yourself for a whole hour to eat breakfast in silence. Or when you are reading a book and Glennon says something smart and you think YES! A MILLION TIMES YES!!!!! Or when you say yes instead of no and attend a Zoom Class and the teacher VALIDATES YOUR IDEAS!!!!! Pure Magic!

I gave up waiting for magic to happen and having expectations for things to be a certain way. Giving up was the unexpected key. Tiny little magical things happen every day, you just have to recognize them when they appear. Then be grateful you have magic in your life because THEN, more comes. It truly is magical.

Stay healthy friends!

Fear and Anxiety vs Strength and Confidence

Day 15.

15 days of working from home and pretending everything is status quo. It’s not though. I am sure it isn’t for you either. Maybe it is, I don’t know. From the look of things on social media, I suspect things are not okay for you either. I received some good news at work today and until I heard those words, I didn’t realize how much fear and anxiety I was carrying. No wonder it has been difficult to do my work or provide comfort for family and friends. This shit is hard.

I am wrestling with a lot of “you should do this..” messaging in my head. It is as if Good Robyn is fighting with Bad Robyn. I have a Good Donald Duck and Bad Donald Duck that I can wear on my shoulders. They adhere with magnets and remind me of the old cartoons with the devil whispering bad yet fun things to do in Donald’s ear. That is what has been happening in my head this week.

Good Robyn thinks I should keep busy, there is an endless pile of tasks to do from cleaning out the junk drawer to washing baseboards. She wants me to take advantage of this “extra time” everyone is talking about. Bad Robyn wants to watch Disney+, read trashy novels and let the housework pile up around her. I have been forcing myself to do extra things but to be fair, my routine isn’t all that different until the weekend.

I work a 7.5 hour day and sometimes it stretches to 8 or 8.5 hours. There is work to do, granted I am lucky because I can work from home and this helps keep me and my famjam safe and healthy. I save time on a commute and I don’t have to pack a lunch. Honestly, this is the best thing ever. I go upstairs and make lunch. Yesterday I blistered fresh tomatoes and laid them on a bed of ricotta. It was delicious. This is a lunch I can’t normally do on a work day. It isn’t a portable snack and it would get soggy. I love not scraping my windshield and sweeping off 15 cms of snow. You heard right, it is still winter here in Edmonton. March came in like a lion and out like a lion. Weather is broken but I can only focus on one bad thing at a time, sorry climate change, but don’t worry, I am still practicing single use plastic avoidance and recycling.

Evenings are pretty much the same as well, except the family makes an effort to connect before and during dinner. This is hard with 3 introverts and one extrovert. But we do it because social interaction is important and reassuring for each other. We watch tv or youtube favs and read. Sometimes we call people because keeping in touch with family and friends is also important.

Weekends for me start at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. I go upstairs and we make dinner, chat and decide on a family night movie. Well, the daughter decides because Friday is her night for media control. We only have a single tv. I know that’s odd, but that is how we roll. The basement tv is for video games. I miss adventuring and exploring. Instead I spend my weekends stress baking. We love the results of that. No butter this week, so that might be problematic but I have a pound in the freezer for just such an emergency. Bad Robyn wants to stay in bed until noon, eat garbage and read trashy novels. Good Robyn wants chores done, books colour coded, spices alphabetized and virtual dinner parties organized. Bad Robyn wants to not shower for two days and have hideous hair. She wants to cry and rage, then eat doritos. She thinks about drinking all the wine and sending hate mail to politicians. She wants to yell at people to go home and behave and do what they’re told for once in their goddamn life. She wants to say “fuck off and do it yourself” when someone asks for a favour. Good Robyn sighs and does what is expected of her…mostly.

As a mom and a responsible citizen, it’s a fine line between doing what I want and what I need. I am beginning the practice of Saturday is for Bad Robyn and Sunday is for Good Robyn. Weeknights after 7:00 p.m. Bad Robyn is going to rule the roost because Good Robyn holds the fort all damn day.

I think the key to getting through this new normal is being kind to ourselves. Stir crazy is normal. Sadness is normal. Happiness is normal. Fear is normal. Confidence is normal. The point is, no matter what you are feeling it’s all okay. Do what you need to do to get by. Just like you do in regular life. We do what we need to do, it just feels a little different.

Hang in there friends. We’ve got this. And maybe, just maybe, we will come out of this better for experiencing it.

Simple things

Well how are you all doing? I think you extroverts are struggling more than us introverts, sorry about that. I have a few group chats happening with various friends, one friend is hosting a dinner party for all of us to cozy on up to Zoom while we munch away on our dinner and drink wine. I am less inclined to want to chat and visit but I know it’s important to my pals who need the conversation to keep them energized.

I have been home for nine days with the hubs, my two adult kids and my pal Cap. We connect over meals and have long newsy chats after work while dinner is being made. I like this scenario. It reminds me of staying home with the kids when they were small. I make sure I check on my parents regularly and that keeps me up to date with the sibs. I am not adventuring other than going outside at noon with Cap and going for a quiet walk in the neighbourhood so it feels like I have been away for along time. It’s only nine days yet it seems like I have endless time to do things. How is it possible that days are longer and minutes are 5x longer than last week? Why do I have so much energy?

Well, limiting human contact is energizing for me. I am not tired from the daily buzz and conversation at work. When I ‘come home’ after work (walk upstairs) I feel like I have enough energy to do a million things. I visit with the famjam, I try out new recipes (I made fresh pasta on the weekend). I am reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle (read this book especially if you are trying to find your way). I am watching Belgravia, Julian Fellowes’ new series (I like it!) I am doing art. I am writing. I am also sleeping like the dead! I go to bed at 10 and sleep until 7 now. That is a minimum of 8 hours sleep.

It isn’t all good though. When a fellow at work asked how I am doing I replied, “Living the dream in between panic attacks”. It is a scary time and it frustrates me that many people aren’t taking this seriously. I personally know three people who are showing moderate to severe symptoms and one is in hospital with Covid-19 pneumonia. We don’t know if he will be okay. I worry about my family and what if they pass it on to my mom or me? Then what? I did learn a valuable lesson in January when I was grieving. I learned to feel all the emotions and not stuff them into your socks. So I felt all those emotions from fear to anger, sadness and pain. It comes back around to joy and happiness. I pay attention to little things and laugh out loud at them. Kermit dancing to Stevie Nicks is one of those joys. My son’s gallows humour is another. My daughter is hilarious and is sharing stories she is writing for school. She will be a great writer one day. My dog plays tricks on me then laughs. His laugh is all it takes to lift my spirits.

I cobbled together enough ingredients to make the next Basically Baking challenge! I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying that! I have learned so much from it. Food has become a simple pleasure. We are mindful of waste and are even collecting veg scraps to make broth with. I wish it was warm enough to sit on my deck. It keeps snowing so that won’t be for a while but going for walks alone in the woods works just as well. Lynden my tree and I have been communing. The energy transfer is intense and I love every second of it. Of course I still meditate every day, now twice a day, today was 1120th consecutive day of meditation. Without it…I don’t want to think about the state of my mental health. I crave it every day.

I realized it is the little things that get me through. I think after this I won’t go back to big splashy things. I think the simple way is better for me, my mental health and my soul. Just a reminder if you need a place to go when things get to be too much, hang out for a while at the Edmonton Tourist Community. There are some lovely people there.

Stay healthy friends.