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:
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.
Practice being mindful and present. It reduces stress and anxiety.
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.
I will continue to surround myself with people who bring me peace. You know who you are <3.
Laugh often and hard.
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.
Love people even though they aren’t good for me or in my life.
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.”
It’s been a while since I have been here. All is well and I hope things are moving along for you too. I have fallen into an easy routine of sleep, eat, work. Not much has changed except I don’t go out. I have driven three times this month. Three. Very strange for a gal who used to commute daily to and from work and then travel to some piece of solitude in a forest somewhere with my dog. I went to a nursery for a curbside pickup, I scouted some green space locations for work, twice. That is all. It feels foreign to operate my vehicle. I long for the day when I can go on a road trip and sit in solitude again.
My baking obsession has made way for my garden obsession. I made babka on the weekend and I feel solid on my bread skills. I know what to look for in yeast, textures and slowly getting the hang of proving. I am not an expert but past Robyn can sure learn a lot from present Robyn.
I have been drawn to Pacific Trail documentaries. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed years ago and have always thought that type of quest would be good for me. When I drove from Edmonton to Big Sur, I spent enough alone time to figure things out and learn what makes me tick. What I didn’t do was act on those gut instincts. I suppose it’s all a process. I wasn’t brave enough then, but I am now. I finally acted on some of those inner voice lessons. After watching a few of those Pacific Crest Trail documentaries, I learned a few things:
I like a comfortable bed and find tenting exhausting. Sure there was a time when finances prevented me from comfort camping in a hotel and I enjoyed the stars and wilderness and loud nature quiet, but sleeping on the ground or in a trailer is not my thing anymore. I’d rather be in a cottage with a front step that overlooks nature.
Self exploration is a gift. It can be found through meditation, walking in nature or just sitting alone. You don’t need to walk 2668 miles from Mexico to Canada to to learn about yourself. But it can teach you what you are made of.
I have spent enough alone time with myself to learn I need more alone time. I cry deeply and it cleanses something within me. It happened on a rock watching whales at Devil’s Slide, standing in the ocean at Chesterman Beach, paddling down the river at Saunders, poking my finger in a bullet hole on a church in Freudenstadt, lying in a hospital with kidney (almost)failure. Each time there was an awareness that I was part of something bigger than myself.
The world isn’t going to go back to the way things were. A new way will happen and no one knows what it is yet. Accepting new things will ease transition.
Living simply is easy and restful. Those people on the Pacific Crest Trail learned that by mile 1500. You don’t need much. I don’t think my family needs multiple cars. If we move somewhere more urban we won’t need any. If we move back into nature we will need a couple. I am leaning towards a more urban life where I can walk to nature, the market or the grocery store, the library and (this is where I am trying to think of what else I need but am stumbling) but I will have to drive to work unless they let me work from home forever.
Making food with your own hands is satisfying and meaningful. We ate out once in two months. Was it worth it? No. The food we make is so delicious. We waste less and plan more. We also snack less – or I do, I can’t speak for my family. I make delicious baked goods and we sample that once a day rather than eat like we will never see food again. When I do for myself, I feel comfort in knowing what is in my meal. Simple. Fresh tastes amazing. The green onions on my growing table taste so good in rice, eggs and on sandwiches. I grow it and cook it and eat it. Simple food is satisfying, I can’t think of another word that works better.
I suppose I am consoling myself that my vacation has been cancelled and I won’t be traveling out of the country for a very long time. I live a simpler life now and decided to take a vacation in my back yard where I will stand in my garden and let tears cleanse me. Being alone in peaceful silence or loud neighbourhoods will have to be enough this year. I have enough fire wood to sit under the stars and the aurora borealis and poke the coals to enjoy a favourite pastime. Not having disappointments or drama or big expenses won’t be missed this year. A simple vacation is what I need this year.