Easing Back into Life

Alberta is heading into Stage 3 for July 1. In three weeks time and my family will be two weeks post full vaccination. My friend texted me this morning to share her vaccination news with a “Let’s do something in July!” HARD YES.

I miss friends.

Work gave the option of working from home for the whole summer and coming back after September long weekend or going in after July. I am choosing the easy commute and lunch on my deck. So work from home it is!

I am taking a day off this week to celebrate 25 years of marriage with the hubs. Not 25 years of bliss but a solid foundation of trust and comfort. I don’t trust very many people and feel safe with even less. My comfort circle is very tiny. I just counted 11 people I completely trust and feel safe with. Maybe that is a normal amount and I just have high expectations or maybe I have put myself in disappointing situations wanting to trust people who I knew would walk away with a blade between the shoulders.

Anyway…doesn’t life go by in a blink? The hubs and I went through the ordeal of reservations this morning to a local bistro that a requires 48 hour menu selection and a $100 deposit in case we change our minds. This place came highly recommended and its a new type of experience. We will be dining on the patio in a igloo – not the snow and ice type of my NWT childhood, but rather a dome to protect me from unwanted germy people. I like the idea and it is a good first step to ease me back into the idea of dining out. I really want to go to the Sugar Bowl with friends, drink beer and eat popcorn. But my anxiety won’t let me do it right away, I need to gently ease myself into those situations.

I need to ease myself into most situations. Here is the strange part, I am fine with change but I don’t like surprises. I like to know what’s coming. If you said I need to pack up and move across the country – fine, don’t spring it on me that morning, I need to hear it and adjust. I think most people are like that. It’s about mourning the things you are used to and and getting excited about new things.

Stage three is like that for me. I like being home. The idea of not being home is a little bit scary but also exciting. I need time to adjust. I am not resisting it, I am just sitting with the idea in preparation for something different. Life is not going to be the same. BUT – it will be kinda the same with some new elements, like never being able to be spontaneous again. Businesses like knowing how many people to expect. So the appointment system will remain. I like (and I am sure my doctor does too) phone call appointments for prescription renewal. I LOVE curbside pickup. I never want that to leave.

I have been back at the office one or two times a week for short periods to review things and send in invoices. It has been so nice to see people in person rather that on the video screen. I cannot image how hard it has been for new staff to start work on our team from home. It is a strange new world. But I like it.

This new world has shown me that boundaries are excellent for my mental health. Small groups make me feel safe. I can’t trust everyone so limiting that group has been excellent for my mental health. I expect travel to be very different once I begin to head out into the world next year. My first trip will be a road trip – I don’t know if air travel will be easy for me ever again. I am excited to explore my country and go places I have never been.

I want to visit an amethyst mine in northern Ontario. I want to eat poutine in Montreal. I want to dip my toes in the ocean while standing on a red beach in PEI. I want to walk around Niagara on the Lake and see what the fuss is about. I want to see an iceberg float by while they still exist. I want to walk on the cobbled streets of Quebec City.

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The second trip I want to take is also a road trip, but it will be to the USA. I feel uncomfortable about that, but I can do hard things. I want to drive to Sedona and explore energy vortexes. I want to go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival. I want to spend some time at the Gulf of Mexico and I really want to see the Florida Keys and go to Judy Blume’s book store. I want to go to Vero Beach and watch turtles.

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The third trip will be back to Tofino, BC to say hello to my friend Ocean at Chesterman Beach, visit Feather George and sleep in a room while listening to the ocean gently lulling me to sleep. Visit Zoe and eat her grape pizza and stop on the way home to pick up sugar pumpkins and maybe a case of Macintosh apples.

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Stage three can’t come soon enough. But also it can wait.

Stay healthy friends!

Healing

I have talked about the toll the pandemic has had on me. It is mostly fine but this third wave in Alberta is horrifying. Our numbers per 100,000 are the highest in the world. I am grateful I have received my first vaccine dose. The hubs and parents have theirs, my children are scheduled. It is a relief. Almost 2 million (out of four million) Albertans have received their first dose yet the numbers climb because of “freedom” fighters who host rallies and rodeos, or attend massive church services. I can’t begin to understand the way people think.

My family is filled with nurses, academic doctors and scientists. I have grown up knowing knowledge of sciences are not ‘beliefs’ but facts. Science is constantly trying to prove itself wrong – that’s how we know what the facts are. Facts keep showing up. So what I am going to tell you may seem at odds with practical science.

To heal from this chaos, I have a daily meditation practice. Twice a day I sit in silence and meditate. It has been life changing. Recently I hit the 1600 consecutive day mark. For anyone keeping track, that is four and a half years of daily practice never missing once. I am also a reiki and crystal practitioner. I often practice on myself but lately it has become too much so I called my personal practitioner and mentor for a session.

To get the full benefit from a reiki session, I meditate and set an intention to allow my practitioner into my energy space several days before. The day of my session she sits with a grid and energetically connects with me. (I know this sounds like woo woo to many of you – but that’s how I feel about church – its weird to me and I don’t get it – but I respect that it works for you.) She intuitively chooses crystals that connect with me. This is the grid she built:

Fluorite and amethyst were the main focus with hematite aligning everything together. When I decided to call her, I had connected with my crystals as well. I began meditating with fluorite and amethyst completely unaware she had also chosen these for me. Its not a coincidence, its what always happens when we connect energetically.

My session was via zoom because she has moved to a different part of the province and you know – there is a pandemic happening. A reiki session is similar to a massage. In this case there is no touching – obviously – when I practice I can do either touch or not – sitters preference -but touch is far more effective for me. We went through a visualization that made me cry. Then a healing process. I yawn a lot during a session as my body adjusts to the flow of energy. I also get incredibly thirsty for days afterwards and sleep deeply.

A few days post session garbage starts to purge from my system. I often get colds or something else releases. I don’t ever feel sick – my body is releasing garbage that no longer serves me. Sometimes I purge people. They just don’t fit with me and I release the connection. We then fade away from each other without any drama. This time I got a big stye in my right eye. I haven’t been anywhere to catch anything. In fact, that has been the greatest thing about the pandemic – I am never sick. Garbage is oozing out of my eye. It’s fine, not painful, just super ugly and a sticky. I am keeping it clean, using warm compresses and flushing it out as recommended. If it doesn’t heal on its own I will go see my doc on Tuesday. But its already better.

I have watched reiki sessions and witnessed people coughing up flehm or even vomiting. But other sessions have no purges and healing happens to a joint or muscle – depending on what the treatment was. My session was healing on a molecular level. It was deep and I experienced warmth. I was quite flushed when we finished.

I was also calm and felt peaceful. I could have slept for hours and if it was closer to bedtime, I would have done just that.

During this session there was a specific intention and focus. I didn’t even know I needed it until it arrived. We worked through it and now I am excited to see how it ends. I suppose I will know come June. I guess I am sharing all this because everyone heals differently. Some people need to talk, others sleep, some people go to the woods – my point is everyone finds a way to heal that works for them. Reiki and crystals are mine.

Stay healthy friends.

Big Emotions

I see a light at the end of the tunnel. My first vaccine shot happened on Thursday and I felt euphoric. Then I went home and back to work. Whomp whomp….

This past year I have felt some really big emotions and I don’t have anywhere to put them. The world is on fire and I have to pretend it is normal as I proceed with fulfilling my regular duties. Only nothing is normal and stuff feels meaningless. All of this has heightened my stress levels. I often feel like a caged animal who is afraid to leave the safety of the cage.

My meditation practice is suffering, my sleep is suffering, my body is suffering and my outlets are limiting. I realize you are all feeling the same as me in varying degrees because as much as we are similar we are also unique. Staying positive and hopeful is becoming increasingly difficult. Its been 13 months, I suppose the big emotions are normal. The mundane life I am leading is just that… mundane. I don’t find purpose or passion in anything I do lately. In an attempt to rectify that, I took myself for a walk in the woods.

Normally a walk in nature is the first thing that cures what ails me. With my trusty pal by my side, I normally come back refreshed. Except that didn’t happen either. I find it increasingly hard to find a spot that is devoid of people. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DISTANCING! I took myself to Miquelon Provincial Park thinking the river valley would be packed on a warm spring day (19C!). I wanted it quiet. I wanted to sit and hear birds, wind through the tall grass, leaves crunching beneath the feel of animals and all I heard was loud music, bad singing and shouting people. It was the farthest thing from restful. I wanted a peaceful respite from covid life.

The 40 minute drive there and back was nice. I quietly contemplated life and where I see myself in two months and even a year from from now. My answer was – not this. I have been here before. Not this is the basis for I want that. But first you have to know what you don’t want to get what you do want.

So what do I want?

  • I want my second dose at the 6 week mark – not four months down the road.
  • I want to sit in nature and hear nature.
  • I want to work on one project and give it all the love it deserves.
  • I want freedom to be spontaneous.
  • I want my values to align with everything I do
  • I want people to understand that kindness will get you everything you need.
  • I want everyone to value honesty
  • I want a life where I don’t need a vacation to escape from it.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I am looking forward to the end. How about you?

One year later

It’s been one year since everything changed for everyone on the planet. How are you all doing? I am tired, as in, I am not sleeping well. I have a lot on my mind and it wakes me up or worse, I dream about it. So I am doing my best to stay present. One of my strategies for that is to read. I have read 11 books in March (there is that 11 again). Reading keeps me absorbed in the story so I can’t think about the future. Since January, I have read 21 books. I can see thinks took a turn for the worse in Late February… so I read. I read at breakfast, lunch, after work and before bed. On the weekends I read most of the afternoon.

I read somewhere on some self-help thing that reading a book a week will change your life. I suppose it can. The more I read the faster I get. I retain a lot of it but I am only reading fiction with a couple of memoirs thrown in. I read a lot for work last year and you know what? I learned I am not that ambitious that I need to spend my down time reading for work. I have chose books from Jenna Bush’s book club, tried Reese Whitherspoons’ book club and have hated all of them except for one. Oprah’s books are often too tragic. I am trying to not be tragic so I can’t read those. I like happy.

My top three reads for the first Q of 2021

  1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kid
  3. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I am still baking on the regular. I just haven’t written about it lately. I made a three layer birthday funfetti cake with extra sprinkles. I made some ginger krinkles – the same ones you can buy at the Duchess and I am planning out Hot Cross Buns for Easter. I don’t celebrate Easter but I really like Hot Cross Buns and Cadbury Cream Eggs, so those will happen as a treat for me.

Treat for me.

I just realized I haven’t been doing any thing nice for me. Maybe that’s why I am feeling so crappy with the stress living in my head.

I did one thing that was fun and for me. I went downtown to the Downtown Spark Festival and saw Fantastic Planet. I love public art installations. This one was fun and interesting – I will do a post on the entire happenings including those cute chickadees and the rabbits at Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) but I need to get there first.

May be an image of standing, sculpture and outdoors

Soon I expect to hear I can make an appointment for my vaccination. I fall under 2b – those high-risk non-senior adults. I am looking forward to it because I miss stuff. Like visiting Vancouver in the spring, or the mountains in the fall. Most of all I miss brunch.

Brunch… It’s a stupid name that means delicious. The hubs and I take the bottle return money and put it in our brunch jar. So far we have enough saved for a dozen brunches. Soon I will be able to take my brunch money and have it pay for a trip to Tofino for brunch at the Point. Oh man! I miss Tofino. Surprisingly, I don’t miss Disneyland.

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I think the first places I will visit will be Tofino, Vancouver and then head east as far as St. John’s. I also want to meet up with friends at the Sugarbowl. Just have a giant takeover of the patio in the height of summer, drinking beer and eating their popcorn. It’s funny that you don’t realize what you miss until its gone.

The Sugarbowl Cafe | Alberta Canada

As I wait for my turn for the vaccine, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. The anticipation of a new found freedom (ironically as we head into the third wave…) I want long summer nights on patios with friends laughing. Not talking about serious stuff. Just fun stupid stuff. I want to go swimming. I miss swimming. I want to listen to music and watch theatre in the park or even inside. I want to hug family.

Realistically I know this isn’t going to happen in 2021, but 2022 will have no excuse. Get your vaccine because its science and because you should do nice things for others but most of all you.

Stay healthy friends.

Silence

Have you ever sat in a room or outside and heard absolutely nothing? I have a couple of times. Once was at my acreage after a heavy snowfall. It was below -30 so the snow takes on a dense quality. I was waiting for my ride so I sat on the half log wall and waited. I was dressed in a one piece snow suit and felt relatively toasty warm. It was getting dark so the birds had stopped any chattering. There is a smell and sound to dense snow. It seems to absorb sound. It was perfect silence.

The other time I was walking through a forest in northern Scotland. Pine or spruce, I can’t remember. The needles had fallen off every tree. I had never seen a completely dead forest before. No birds, no animals no other trees or plants. Just a deep floor of needles and bare trees that seemed to go on for miles. It had the same sound as the cold winter evening I experienced. Dense and complete silence. Only this felt spooky. I could feel the death. In Winter I feel the hibernation. Here I felt death.

After spending months with my family, my son said, “No offence, but I am introverting hard and would like you all to go away for a holiday.” Me too, but the places I would prefer to go have just had large outbreaks. The second wave has come and I don’t trust others enough not to share the virus. So I stay home.

I needed to go into work for a meeting on Friday. I have been back to work five times since March 17. The place is like a ghost town. My employer has graciously allowed me to stay home because I am high risk. But this past week everyone was sent home again as a preemptive attempt to protect employees and their families. It has been decades since I worked for an employer who cared this much. It is comforting and feels a bit like loyalty. Something I haven’t felt in decades. At any rate, this place was silent. Almost as silent as the spooky forest. It felt eerie without anyone there. Then I had my meeting and I was loud as usual and disturbed the only four people on the floor. It was too quiet anyways. I drove home in the silence of my car. I didn’t listen to anything. I needed silence.

I miss silence.

I am surrounded by my family – which is great – but also not great. I miss having the house to myself.

In June I was supposed to go to a meditation retreat. I really feel like I missed out on some me time by not going. My next vacation is in November. Obviously I am not going anywhere. (Sorry son of mine). I think I will plan a mediation retreat in the sanctuary of my bedroom. Spend a day or two in silence. Honestly that sounds as good as winning the lottery. Spending the balance of the week reading and writing, sounds like an actual mental retreat. After 8 months of high stress I think I need it. I bet you do too. Bubble baths, good books, meditation, and maybe a day to bundle up and sit outside in the dense snow.

It sounds like self-care. Something I bet we all need even though self-care for you might look different, you still deserve it. Be good to yourselves and stay healthy. I am rooting for you. Try silence and see what you think.

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!