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.

Intuition

Painted in Waterlogue
Cap

I just wrote a complete blog post and deleted it. I am caught in that strange place of wanting to write and not wanting to share. I am in that place of solitude where I feel a change coming on.  To help facilitate this I joined a meditation challenge that encourages me to sit in silence twice a day. I am journaling the changes I notice. So far after 3 days (officially) and 5 days, because I stated earlier than the group, I am less inclined to write but I have a strong desire to draw.

As a kid, I would sit at my desk and draw for hours. I am intentionally bringing that practice back and to see what happens. I am looking for something and I think I just need to follow my intuition.

 

Grief

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I am reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It’s funny how the things you need know to show up in your life. I didn’t know I needed this and yet here we are. I have read a few of her books, I wouldn’t call myself an avid fan, but I do like some of her work. This novel has a character researching elephants and their grief. One line stuck out for me, “Elephants handle grief better than humans.” It felt like a smack across the head. One of those moments where time slows down and I honed in on that line.

Okay Universe, I am listening.

Recently-ish, a relationship that was very important to me ended. It was okay! I was in a calm peaceful place. Then I wasn’t.  The hubs and I had a conversation. What I am feeling? Is it judgement? Disappointment? Jealousy? Anger? Nope, we figured it out. It is grief. All the stages, all at once.

I am terrible at grief. I am terrible at emotions in general. I cry and then eat those feelings into numbness. When my grandpa died, I acted out in terrible ways because I didn’t let the emotions happen. The loss of important things in my life are typically not handled well. The guidance I have received in the past was ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ type of advice. Being an empath, you’d think I’d be good at processing emotions but for me it’s more of a Harry Potter/Dementor type scenario. I can feel life being sucked from me. I can now recognize what I need. Hugs and sympathy from random people are not it. I need boundaries. That includes me expressing my needs and giving in to self-care.

Elephants will stand in solidarity with their family and usually hover over the corpse of their loved one for days, only leaving for food and water. They sit in their feelings. They touch and connect with their loved ones. They cry and feel their emotions. I think I can learn from this.

It takes me a long time to get over something and I think it’s because I don’t let it sit in me. I keep pushing it away and masking it. I don’t want to take five years to get over something. I want to feel the sadness and grief and then eventually look at those memories with fondness. I want to face this head-on.  I can look at memories of my great-grandma and my grandfather with fondness now, but that took a hell of a long time. But it’s only been recent memory that a friendship break-up from five years ago has healed. Does it take that long? Would it have happened sooner if I didn’t numb myself and stick my head in the sand? I think yes.

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I am journaling about this grief because that is my process. I am not a talker. It takes someone asking a lot of questions before I will talk. I always feel lighter after the words are on the page. I can’t be the only one who takes a long time to pass through grief. What is your process?

 

 

Peace

Everyone is talking about their word of the year. A word that can be the theme for them for 2020. Something to aspire to or remind you who you are. Mine is Peace.

Definition of peace

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a state of tranquillity or quiet: such as
afreedom from civil disturbance peace and order were finally restored in the town.
ba state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom breach of the peace
2freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions I have been in perfect peace and contentment— J. H. Newman
3harmony in personal relations The sisters are at peace with each other.
4aa state or period of mutual concord between governments There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.
ba pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity offered the possibility of a negotiated peace— New York Times
5used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

at peace

in a state of concord or tranquillity The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

 

In my cube, there is a sticky note that says, “You are meant to live in peace”. I look at that when I am angry or frustrated with various scenarios. I sometimes feel rage bubbling up inside me that makes me want to lash out. It happened twice this week. Once in my personal life and once at work. Two separate times an incident happened and I filled with rage – it felt bigger than anger.  I began meditation for this very reason. I needed somewhere to put my anger. I don’t want to feel that way all the time. I took a walk, breathed deeply, and made myself a pot of tea. Both times I repeated “I am meant to live in peace.” and promptly affirmed I am not in control of other’s actions. But… BUT! But!!!!! I am in control of mine.

I need to stop looking at things that frustrate me. I cannot change others, I must accept. Image result for I am meant to live in peace

Face facts Robyn, nothing is going to change because it hasn’t thus far. Accept, move on, live in peace. Release and begin again.

I am meant to live in peace. It sounds like my new Sankalpa.

I am peace.

Happy New year friends. May 2020 bring you peace.

 

 

Ten

People apologize to me a lot. It’s weird. I think it’s because they tell me they are doing something then they don’t. I respond with a variation of “The choices we make…” I am not their mom, maid or approver of things. Your choice, your decision. Every action up until this moment was a choice and a decision. Now you either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits.

Ten years ago – ish (August 15, 2010) I started this blog. I had hit bottom. I didn’t like me. I wanted to change. I was unhappy. I hated my job. I hated how I let people make choices for me. I hated living the consequence of those actions. I loved being a tourist. I loved trying new things on vacation. I loved exploring new things on vacation. I simply loved vacations. It occurred to me that I should look at my life through the eyes of a tourist. I decided to take risks, try new things, say yes more than no and make decisions based on what felt right for me. It was my life and I was going to take back control.

So I did.

I blogged about most of them. I needed a way to hold myself accountable but what I didn’t yet understand was the act of writing showed me what I was thinking. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Thanks for that. Some of you have left and new people have found me along the way. Thanks for that too. This is the end of a decade of self-exploration. The past 10 years helped me reconciled what happened and opened my eyes to what I can see now.

  1. I learned that I needed to know who I am. No one knows better than me. People think they know me but they don’t. I am me. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.
  2. I like honesty. There is nothing so terrible that it can’t be fixed or at least accepted. Be honest and tell the truth. Ask for help and be gracious about it.
  3. I like gratitude. When someone does something for you, say thank you. Whether its a gift or a gesture. Say thank you. When you experience something so profound and have no words, say thank you. When you experience something so horrible you have no words, say thank you. Good and bad both teach you something. Always be grateful.
  4. I like loyalty. In my eyes, there is no greater expression of love than loyalty. You know if I am loyal to you. You also know if I don’t trust you. There are only a handful of people I am loyal to, the rest remains to be seen and the few on the outside have been removed from my circle. This ties back to knowing who I am.
  5. Which leads me to boundaries. I used to be a people pleaser. Desperately seeking love and acceptance. I love and respect me now. I have set clear boundaries and have no problem with NO. This is a fairly recent discovery. I needed to learn the other four things before I got here. Boundaries are the key to my happiness. Boundaries complete the circle of knowing who I am. So who I am?

I am empathetic, kind and smart. I know what I like and what I don’t. I am open to trying new things and I am loyal to my people. It has taken me 10 years to get here. I sometimes feel like I should regret things. Instead, I am grateful for the learnings. I no longer fear people who were cruel to me. I no longer fear being alone. I no longer fear anything really… except birds. I think I will always have an irrational fear of birds, but only those tiny birds like sparrows. Although I do like watching birds – from a safe distance. I don’t want them pecking out my eyeball, if you want to be close, that’s on you.  Yet I have a strange love for the raven. The raven symbolizes prophecy and insight. His intelligence helps him figure out solutions. We are kindred spirits. My favourite place to be is on a red chair on the west coast listening to the raven speak to me.

After reflection and examining my life, I know my actions created consequences and benefits. I wanted things to be different but I cannot change them, so I have accepted things instead. Stop saying sorry to me. I am not the keeper of forgiveness, only you are. Just like I am the only one who can forgive me.

I am moving forward into 2020 with 20/20 vision. I finally feel free.

Big Bird

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I woke up sad today. It wasn’t because I went to a party last night, nor was it because I had a nice day yesterday. All those are good things, no sadness required. After my meditation I got up made breakfast sat down to read the news and learned Big Bird died today. My daughter said, “I’m so sorry.” and that made me cry.

This summer Caroll Spinney, the original puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, announced he would not be attending any more fan expos. That was sad but understandable, the man was 86, he deserved some alone time with his wife. I reached out to him and thanked him for being there every day for me as a kid and every day for my kids. I loved Big Bird and Oscar and told him so. Not that he likely didn’t hear it every day, but he wrote me back.

Let’s pause for a moment.

CAROLL SPINNEY WROTE ME BACK.

He told me how much he appreciated the kind words and how much it meant to him when his fans said thank you. He then invited me to join his private group for fans. I was honoured. I lost my mind for about a day, but then I was back to normal just admiring the artistry of his skills. He was a master of puppetry, improv, acting, singing and was an artist/illustrator. His work touched me deeply. Related image

Spinney originated Big Bird and Oscar fifty years ago, November 10, 1969. I was two. They have been apart of my entire life. I shared my love of muppets with my kids and one day will share them with my grandkids. I remember Oscar was orange before he was green and Big Bird was 5. Apparently, Big Bird is now six.

I loved the giant size of his nest and his imaginary friend Snuffy. I also had an imaginary friend, her name was Lucy. Only Big Bird and I knew Snuffy wasn’t imaginary, neither was Lucy, but the adults in our life never believed us. This made us get each other on a level I didn’t reach with other muppets. Big Bird was special, just like me.

Big Bird, Super Grover, and Kermit were the big three for me. Grover is the last one left. Each of them made me feel as if I was important. Little five year old me that wore a cape and had imaginary friends who were real. I was included in the ragtag bunch because they embraced diversity and uniqueness. Everyone was welcome. I wish I could say that I was welcome with everyone in real life, but I can’t. I was often on the outs because of my looks, my ideas and my interests. I still have to deal with cliques, mean girls and mean boys at the age of 52. For crying out loud… people are just unbelievable in their actions and behaviour. I suppose that’s why I love the Muppets so much. Everyone was welcome and everyone was recognized for their uniqueness. They practiced kindness. This isn’t a hard concept. BE KIND.

I am grateful to Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Fran Brill and Jim Henson. Grover and Prairie Dawn are the only ones left. I am happy I was fortunate enough to have had Seasame Street as a large part of my life. As a Tribute to Caroll Spinney, they are asking for donations to be made to the Yellow Feather Fund. They support giving kids a healthy start, think of it as Seasame Street in communities.

At least original Snuffy and Big Brid are together again.

Caroll Spinney 1933 – 2019.

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