Practice

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To get better at anything, you have to practice. The consistency of practice was never something I embraced. When I was learning piano, I would sightread. When I sat for a test, I relied on my memory. I had skills that would save me and get me by. My mom always said, if you put just a little effort into it, imagine how great you could be? I was thinking, why be great when lazy was easy?

I am inspired by a friend from my childhood. We are facebook friends now. We never chat on the phone, nor do we meet up when in each other’s town. I am not outgoing in my personal life and keeping great friendships takes an effort or practice. Neither of which I am all that interested in. This friend of mine is a writer. She has a desire to be a published author. Just like me. We have many things in common still and as long as I can remember I have admired her. She introduced me to music genres that were foreign to me. She taught me about sports the way I hadn’t learned before and she understands politics in a way that resonates with me. For all of these things, she made an effort to work at or at the very least, she put in enough effort to make it look like an effort. I know how that works. Do just enough to do well.

My friend from Junior High has begun blogging again. Not for me, not for you but for her. She is writing with the intent to improve her skill. I stopped blogging in a way that was meaningful to me because someone said it bothered them. So I stopped and just documented things I saw. In doing so I lost a piece of me. I use writing as a tool to sort out my thoughts and ideas. It helps me understand what I am thinking before I realize what it running through my mind.

Friday night I spoke on the phone with one of my very best friends. I learned some new things about his life and learned some new things about mine. I thought about some of the new things and found myself angry at the circumstances. Angry in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. This triggered other things in me and before I knew it, I was angry at a lot of ridiculous things. I texted him and asked rhetorically, “what is wrong with me today?” and he gave me a wonderful piece of advice. He said, “no idea. Breathe in, breathe out, and ask yourself why should what she does ruin one minute out of your day?”

Good point friend. Why indeed? She isn’t thinking about me at all. This is usually the advice I give people. It’s not often I need it given to me. But that is why friends are important. I have a few who will speak to me in a frank and honest manner. I suppose that is why I love them. I asked the universe for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I was given three. One I travel with. One I drink wine with. One I read with. I know I can call them when I need them and they will always be brutally honest with me.

During this time in history when the world is angry all the time. Places I used to go for fun are now frustrating and hurtful. It is comforting to know I have people who have my back and will talk me down from the ledge when I need it. I will continue to nurture those relationships, but more importantly, I need to write. I need to get my thoughts out. I need to continue to improve. Practice until it is easy and then practice some more because I need to do this for me.

You can expect this to be a different space. This is, after all, my blog.

The epic 50th year comes to an end

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So many people fear 50. I chose to see it as a major milestone and embrace it. I made my epic 50th year about embracing adventure. As with all things that sit before you in the future, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I had to face every day by leaning in, purging what didn’t work for me and be present in the moment. None of these things happened overnight, but they all happened. I am turning 51 on Thursday. Let me share what happened this year. If you are interested, I will be exploring these points in great detail over at my other space Still Life, it isn’t for everyone. But it might be for you.

 

  1. Embrace Change.

At the age of 49, I was desperate for change. I knew I didn’t like where I was. I felt mired in grey matter and desperately needed sunshine. I was called on my birthday and was asked to come in for a job interview. I said yes. 5 days later I interviewed. 14 days after the interview I had a job offer. 30 days after the phone call, I was sitting at my new desk completely overwhelmed trying to navigate my new job with very little direction because my employer also wanted change but wasn’t really sure what that needed to look like. 11 months later, we are still collaborating and planning for the future. It’s exciting, inspiring and exhausting.  For the first time in my career, I feel respected and valued. Never underestimate that. It has opened my world up to infinite possibilities and that feels amazing. Being valued means different things to different people. For me, it means, have someone listen to you, respect your ideas even if they are not going to work, ask for your input and is kind and supportive.

2. Take time to value yourself.

I made a promise to myself 609 days ago.  I promised myself I would take the time to meditate every day because when I did, I was calmer, kinder and felt peaceful. I sat on my chair for 609 days and sat in silence. It wasn’t easy, I have a voice that reminds me I am not enough. I had a boyfriend who validated this message. I wasn’t thin, pretty, smart, skilled…enough. He didn’t choose me so it also validated I wasn’t enough.  I heard this message echoed in ‘friends’, family, colleagues, strangers and me. I sat for 609 days repeating my Sankalpa, it began with ‘I am happy’. Once I felt happy after months of repeating my mantra, I changed it to ‘I am enough’ as I learned I was enough I changed it to ‘I am forgiving’ because I needed to forgive myself before I could forgive others. This year I am grateful. I learned to love me, let go of outer expectations and focus on my life’s purpose. Not someone else’s. So it may feel like I abandoned you and in some ways I did. You’ll be okay.

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3. Health is more important than you think, listen to your body.

Last December I had a trip planned to go to New York City. I was excited about it. In November when I sat quietly with myself I began to feel like I shouldn’t go. It began with a friend’s reaction. I started to feel sick in the pit of my stomach thinking about this trip. I cancelled the trip and immediately felt better. I learned that intuition is my greatest ally. One week later, I was in the hospital. My daughter calls it the time I died. In many ways, I did die. It was a life changing experience. I experienced an awaking. I will talk more about that experience over on my blog Still Life: Finding Peace in Chaos. But I had ignored my body until I couldn’t. Listen to yourself. Don’t let yourself down.

4. Nurture your circle

I was incredibly ill for months. I was home from work for six weeks. If I had gone to New York, I would have died. I didn’t have anyone there to help me. I would have been alone in my hotel room with cleaning staff finding my body. I spent months having tests, hanging out in doctors offices. Learning about my health and understanding what is normal and what is not. I finally have my health sorted and back on track. I feel better than I have in 20 years. Health is important. I sat in the hospital with my daughter and went through the list of people she should call if things became too much for her to manage. I have 8 people in my circle of trust and 3 were all vacationing in Europe at the time. Two others in my circle, my children, were living with me taking care of me at a time in their life when they should be focused on friends, school and fun. The other three were close by and I knew if I needed them, they would be there. Interestingly enough, my circle consists exclusively of family. I love them fiercely.

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5. Purge

I went through a phase where I wanted to know what it felt like to be in a close-knit circle of friends. I never really experienced that. I had one or two friends that I sort of felt close to when I was a kid. But I never really felt like people got me. As an adult, I wanted to experience that. I made the mistake of picking people who were fun but also had fun at other people’s expense. They were fairly focused on themselves and took from me at every turn with the exception of one. He treated me well until he didn’t. It was stressful. I didn’t know if I was speaking to the good guy or the bad guy. My values didn’t align with anything these people did for fun. Because values were misaligned, I was hurt in ways I never expected. It distroyed me. I sat for a long time asking ‘What do I need to learn from this’. I received my answer. I learned about the true meaning of friendship. I went through a purge that rid me of toxic people. I purged things. I gave away truck-loads of things. I burned things to exorcise the demons. I purged my schedule. If I didn’t see value in it, I didn’t do it. Saying good-bye and NO were the greatest gift I gave to myself.

6. Friends

I have a circle of trust – family. They come first in my life always. I have a few friends who I would do ANYTHING for. There are family and friends that do not hear from me very often anymore. My health took centre stage this year. Some people in my life are emotional vampires. As an introvert, I need alone time to recharge. Emotional vampires literally sucked the life out me. While I was recovering, there were people who kept taking from me and never once asked how I was doing. I thought about this for a while. Why do I keep nurturing this relationship? I reach-out and if the time is not convenient to them, they would swear at me, or blow me off. You would think by the age of 50 I would understand that a friend is loyal, trustworthy, KIND and dependable to the extent they are capable of. I made a list of people who I thought fit those attributes, I have two and with a new friend I made recently it may bump up to three. Friends never want to feel like they are an inconvenience. I hope I have never made my friends feel that way. Please be frank with me if I have, it was never my intent. I am at the point in my life where I need a best friend. I want honesty, loyalty, kindness, as their values. I want someone with the same interests as me. I want someone who loves deep, meaningful conversation about life, spirituality, books, and experiences. But most importantly, I want a friend who I can call up and say, ‘Something just happened, I need you.’ And they say “Yes” or they say, “I am doing this right now….I am going to call in in 15/30/4 hours so I can give you my undivided attention.” That person exists. I just haven’t found them yet or I haven’t recognized them.

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7. Purpose

I found my purpose. I found my life’s mission. The universe takes you there without you seeing it and then it hits you over the head with a brick and says – can you see it yet? I see it. In every situation I have ever been in, I have been in a position to help people by raising them up. This is my purpose. I have a unique skill that searches for the quality in someone that is special. I point it out to them and then I teach them to use it to the best of their ability. Typically it only takes kind words or encouragement to inspire someone into action. As a child, I was told I was too sensitive. Being sensitive IS NOT A BAD THING! It’s amazing. I am empathic. I can feel what others are feeling. I can see things from other people’s perspective. This is my gift and it helps me fulfil my life’s purpose. I have set this as an intention to use in every aspect of my life including work. As a species, we can do better. It is my mission to spread kindness. I am not doing this every day because people can be cruel and it wounds me then I get crabby and angry. But I try to be this every day. Try. I am getting better at it.

8. Adventure

I want to experience things. What I mean is, I want to watch/read/learn/do things. I did things this year I haven’t done before. I stood in the ocean and felt it. I mean really felt it and I was overcome by emotion and sobbed my heart out. I explored Alberta’s prairie and appreciated it for what it was, and didn’t criticize it for being something it wasn’t. Prairies aren’t trying to be mountains. So I enjoyed them for being prairies. I read book genres I hadn’t explored before. I was correct in knowing I don’t need to read frightening books. Now I know for sure. I took the time to learn about First Nations Art, I always enjoyed it but now I have learned its purpose. I took big risks because no one is going to do it for you. I learned more about myself by doing this than by wishing someone would do it for me. I subscribed to a Broadway streaming channel because I love theatre and I have reconciled with myself that I am not going to New York or London to see these plays in person. I want to see them now not some day. This has brought me a surprising amount of joy. I love my city. I want other people to see what I see. I explore it and photograph it. I try different experiences and festivals. I have been all over the world and if you said to me, ‘Robyn, you can no longer travel where do you want to live out the rest of your days?’ I would answer ‘Edmonton…just let me live a bit closer to the valley’.

Happy Birthday to me. We had one hell of a year.

Grow up already

 

I was told by a former friend who broke up with me this year that I must be really immature. Wait…what?

I have friends who I spend time with ages ranging from 18-94. I always looked at that as a strength. I could fit in and have fun with people from all cross sections of life. According to this guy, it was a weakness and I should be spending time with people my own age. I guess that meant sad, drunk, middle-agers were off my list. I still think I would be considered middle age because 48 + 48 = 96. My great Grandmother lived until she was 99. Both my grandmothers are 94 and 89 respectively, chances are if all goes well, I will live at least that long.

I don’t want to restrict my friendships to those who are only 48. Have you met many 48 year olds? Some are dead boring. It is a slim demographic to choose from and gone are the days that I have anything in common with friends from high school other than we went to school together and have common memories. I cannot build a deep connection on age.

I build deep connections on commonalities.

doctor-who-river-series-8There is a side of me that is tremendously geeky. I love superheroes, science fiction and obscure pop culture. I particularly embrace the bad-ass female heroes like Black Widow, Jessica Jones, River Song and Electra. These women are strong, smart and have relationships that enhance their being, not because they need one in their life.

There is a side of me that loves Hockey. I love the smell of a puck, the coolness of the rink and the sound of the thwack when the stick hits the puck. It excites me and it depresses me. I admire fan loyalty, be true to your team! and I enjoy the energy of the crowd. The commonality of cheering for a team is one of camaraderie that is lost in other areas of my life. I love being on a winning or losing side, because we are in it together.

There is a side of me that practices the Tao of Muppets. It isn’t a mainstream religion or Kermit-two1occult practice but it teaches humanity. Every single movie, tv episode, short or ad portrays The Muppets as a group of beings who embrace the difference in others. In fact, that is what makes individuals unique. Muppets are not haters or racists they are peaceful and loving. I appreciate this attitude. I want to surround myself with others who embrace this attitude as well. Not all 48 year olds do, but lots of Millennials do. I admire that quality. I want friends who don’t try to poke holes in people who announce their sexual orientation. Who understand that trauma is just that, trauma and people who have had traumatic experiences don’t need to have someone picking at their scabs. I want to be with people who understand that Women’s Issues are hard to understand if you are a White Privileged Male. Empathy is good, criticism feels crappy. Acceptance is preferred.

25893709There is a side of me that thinks books are an opening into another realm. Quote literature and I am impressed, quote movies and I think you have a good memory but don’t expect me to follow your reference. I don’t work that way. I am a reader. I have read 20 book since January 1, 2016. That means I have not watched many movies or TV shows because I learn far more from reading than I do from watching. I think its great that you spend your free time doing what you like to do, I spend my free time reading because that is what I like to do. I love the way a line from a book will resonate with me and linger for years. I have a notebook filled with impactful quotes from books such as Steve Martin’s Shop Girl, David Leviathan’s Everyday, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Strout’s My name is Lucy Barton. I will read these over and over because they resonate with me and make me feel as if I am not alone in my thoughts. There is another person out there who is the same. Because feeling like you belong somewhere is important. It helps give your life meaning and purpose.

IMG_0579There is a side to me that enjoys fine wine. Not to drink until I cannot think, but because the taste and craftsmanship is exquisite. Understanding the process of how it became to be. Learning how it enhances the food I eat. Appreciating the beauty that it is. Sharing wine in a meaningful way brings me closer to friends who appreciate it in the same way. The relaxing way a glass of wine can define an evening is delightful.

images-7There is a side of me that loves to visit the Art Gallery. Looking at the works of people who came before me who displayed their raw emotion on the canvas in from of me moves in a way that other genres just don’t. I can feel the emotion that went into so works and I am moved to tears by others. This brings a connection that has me thinking about lives and commonalities. How the past and future collide with sameness. I love meeting people in the galleries and discussing the works of artists. Other points of view are uplifting and poignant.

There is a side of me that understands the need to run. I love the feeling it gives and the Me an my angelside benefits. I love the familiar faces you see race after race. I love the openness of my lungs after running on a cool crisp or even cold day. I love spending my time with people talking about races and events they want to do or have done. I even understand why people need running teams and need to train with others. I do not prefer this, but I sure understand this. I love the independence of running. I have never enjoyed team sports. Get me alone on a path with my pup and let my mind run free. To me this is one of the best feelings and I miss it.

There is a side of me who thinks it is important to either work in a job that makes impactful changes on the world we live in or give of your free time do make a difference. Being kind, helping others and supporting people who need a hand up will change you life in ways you can not imagine. Working with like-minded individuals on a common goal is so rewarding when it sees the light. This feeds my soul.

There is a side of me who thinks Family First needs to be a way of life. My heart breaks for children and animals who have been neglected by adults in their life who cannot do better or choose not to do better. If I could I would round up all children and animals who need to feel the hug of a loving mom and move them to a farm and hug them all the time. So in an effort or do the best I can, I rescued my puppy. I volunteer my time to support children and families. I used to work with children and families who needed support, but PTSD is a real affliction when you work with trauma cases for years. For my well being I removed myself because I could no longer see myself. I need to feel strong before I can do more. So now I work in my hobby and I volunteer where society needs me. This is a better mental health fit for me.

Looking over my list of who I am, I can honestly say these areas are not exclusive to 48 year olds. I have diverse interests and because of this, I have a diverse range of friends. I hardly think this means I am immature, quite the opposite. I am not the square peg that fits into the square hole. You might not understand this yet, but you will eventually.

 

Yuge!

I was scrolling through my feed today and came across two very different posts from women friends of long ago whom I still admire greatly.

One has always been afraid of living huge (YUGE! with a Scottish dialect) and she has found herself taking risks and trying out new things in pursuit of her dreams and goals. I am excited for her. She has so much laid out in front of her that is ripe for the picking. The other has always lived huge, not afraid of risks and trying new things. She has had to pull back and cocoon her family. Nurture them and care for them at the expense of her goals. I love this about her. Her life is intertwined with her family, therefore she is holding them close.

Both women are strong, brilliant feminists.

I have been so inspired by both these women. They have embraced the fear and made positive choices because the need is greater than the fear.

I have been licking my wounds lately. There is something so peaceful about pulling back, reflecting and taking that quiet moment before moving forward.

Fear is a powerful deterrent.

Fear is a huge obstacle.

It is getting in my way of moving forward.

I am in the processes of figuring out some things, like if the current trajectory I am on is the best for me. There are things I really like about it but currently there are things I dislike about it more. So is it worthwhile still pursuing?

That is the thing about goals. I feel the need to see them through, I hate quitting. But if it doesn’t feel right and is stressful, is it worthwhile? Will the feeling of accomplishment be worth it in the end when the people you are working with have a very different point of view? Will we meet the end goal in just a different way than we first thought? Maybe.

I miss living huge.

I have done so many amazing things and my last amazing thing put in a place where I have to pull back on the huge part. I ran out of money to do huge. By no means is money the part that gives a huge meaning to my life, it just really helped with checking off the bucket list items.

I think my problem is I do not have a goal in front of me that I feel like pursuing. That is a big deal. I have not lived with a goal in front of me for 6 years. I feel lost.

There was a time where physical goals were my focus. That has changed to some degree. I have been given the green light to pursue a 5km. Something I am not all that sure I care very much about other than it is important for my health to keep moving. I have lost my mojo towards it. I am sure it has something to do with the fear of the excruciating pressure that builds up in my brain when I do this. So for now, walking is lovely, but it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.

Education was a huge goal for me. I still think I want to go further in pursuit of Women in Leadership. But that takes cash that I cannot ask my family for.  I can always go back. This one will wait for me. Universe…when you have some spare cash laying around, throw it my way so I can go to Royal Roads please.

Career goals. My career is on track, I quite like what I do and the people I work with. It doesn’t keep me up at night and it is diverse enough to keep me entertained without boredom. What more could someone ask for? Oh right, a raise…. A raise would help with my lack of cash issue. But as quality of life goes, it is pretty darn great.

Family goals. I finally feel like I can worry less about my children and let them figure out their stuff. My son complained to me that I was “too chill” and I let him be too independent when he wanted to be held closer. Well, sorry? I knew independence was best for him AND me in the long run, so that is what I did. We had major bumps along the road but he is standing on his own two feet currently. Sure I will catch him if he needs me too, but right now, it is sweet relief that he is well sorted and on his way. My daughter is not too far behind, she has goals laid out before her and is in hot pursuit of them. I worry about her much less than her brother because she also communicates very well and I know what is going on with her. She is golden.

House goals. My house is in need of some TLC. Paint, flooring, furniture and a roof. I will paint it this summer. Bring it back into its former glory. Then perhaps sell it, or not. I don’t want to live in the burbs. But I am not so sure I want to live in this city either. This is where I feel restless. I feel like I am in limbo and get resistance from other members of my family when I bring up the subject of moving.

Friendship goals. I started a book club because I am searching for intellectual conversation about fictional worlds and how they relate to the world around us. This is a good substitute for the Education I am wanting. I am also on the lookout for a book club of strangers – perhaps at my local bookshop. I want to discuss books, not participate in social events. I don’t want to get too close to more people, but I want to hear what they think. This may be a tall order. People in my experience tend to get emotional and social at these kinds of events. Emotional discourse fatigues me. I have “cleaned house” of the people who have me sitting in anger. I don’t want that for my life. I want peace. I want to stop hurting every time I go do something that is supposed to be fun.  Perhaps I am not cut out for lots of people in my life. I do prefer the company of silence. But I know I am self-destructive too. When something cuts to the quick, I am dump it and fast. Maybe I need more of the same rather than different. Finding people who share the same values as me is harder than I thought. I value Loyalty, Kindness, Respect and Honesty. I give these and expect them in return. I am shocked and disgusted with the political discourse in the United States. Why is being kind and respectful such a hard thing for people?

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So this leaves me no closer with my want of HUGE. I feel like I am treading water trying to find land.

I think perhaps if I fill my life with structure the goals may manifest before me.

  • I will set aside Sunday Mornings for time with my writing. It is painful right now, I have got to the part where there is conflict and it makes me cry as I write it down. I think this is the best I have ever written so the emotional strife I am feeling is worth it.
  • I will set time aside on Saturdays to explore my world with my pup. I am a better human to live with when I ground myself in the parks of Edmonton. I will visit every River Valley Park this summer. Apparently there are 20, that is a good start. Maybe I will reinstate the traditional Family Picnic we used to do every Friday night.
  • One closet at a time. I need to simplify, I am going to purge one closet/cupboard/storage at a time until my world is free of clutter. This always makes me sleep better. I want to be minimalist where my family is not. Today I will tackle the space under the sink.

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Like it or not, I now have 3 goals laid out before me. The meditative tasks of two of them will likely help me figure out how to live large once again. Pulling back and focusing on smaller pursuits may be just what I need after my large adventure of last year. It should help with the big obstacle of fear standing in my way. Thank you my friends for being such lovely inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Chchchchanges

I have that David Bowie song in my head ….Chchchchchchanges….

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

 

As much as I hate to admit this, I will always be that girl who is seeking approval from everyone. Whether I get approval or not, I still seek it because I don’t feel like I ever get it.

When I hear people giving me support, I am not all convinced it is genuine. It doesn’t matter who it is from. If its from my mom – she says one thing, I hear another. I assume everyone is comparing me to the better/stronger/smarter/richer person they know. I worked with a man who gave me great advice about 10 years ago, he said “You have to take people at their word, take it at face value.”  Yes but – multiple meanings, undertones, knowing what people have said before in the past all add up and then you hear what they say so it becomes multi-faceted.

It gets tiring. It eats away at me.

I will never be someone else. As much as I want to or desire it because that means I am better/stronger/smarter and lets throw in prettier, that isn’t who I am. I am that same wounded little girl with terrible hair and mean friends, and when I say friends, I mean people who I would play with because I didn’t know anyone else.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

Things have changed a bit this week.

I have struggled with change. I have wrote about it before. I told you about a crossroads that I am facing. I need to make some choices if I am going to move forward.

To do this I need to trust what people tell me is true. And quite frankly I just don’t. Lie to me on a regular basis and I am thinking you want me to be better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier because you hide something from me. I assume it has to do with me ( because I have a huge ego and its always about me – I am rolling my eyes. I am super insecure and overconfident all at the same time) because as Miss Mimi says, “Lies take away people’s dignity.” I clearly am not important enough in your life to trust me with your truths. Therefore I am not better/stronger/smarter/richer/prettier.  I will never be as successful as my sister – not that it matters to me or her, although I do covet her deck and her red appliances. I will never be the top executive of the company I work for because  – who wants the headache? I will never be that gorgeous fit woman because it take time and effort to look like that and I have children, a job and interests that expand my brain, not my muscles. I know it is possible to have both, but then I give up time and my time is valuable to me. My body has never looked like that, so the work involved to get there is more than I am willing to put in.But it feels like I am expected to be that way.  I have to be enough at some point and if I am not I need to move on.

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There is something about me that has people I don’t know very well tell me things about people I care deeply about. I suspect these gossips do this for a couple of reasons. None of which is in my best interest. So I purged my friends list and blocked all of those who say things, truth or not, just to be hurtful. I don’t need that kind of negative stuff in my life, I can create enough of my own drama thank you very much. I finally got rid of the mean fake friends.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

The changes I made brought me to a strange peaceful centre. I have turned inward and focus on my immediate surroundings. I have slept through the night since I made this decision. That alone tells me I did the right thing. That Precarious Gait said something that resonates with me – [who are we kidding, she always speaks things that resonates with me. I wish she was my neighbour so I could pop into her kitchen and cry my eyes out and she would pour me a coffee and say – I know EXACTLY what you mean.] She said when you talk about something with out crying that means you have finally healed.

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Can I have an Amen?

I have stopped crying when I tell my story.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Does that mean I have closed the door on that chapter of my life?

No, but the door has been renovated. It doesn’t have swing hinges on it anymore for easy access. There is a really nice doorbell you have to press. Then please speak clearly into the intercom so I can understand your intent before I let you in. I am much more careful with myself now. I can’t listen to my heart because its really stupid and my brain does not let me down …ever. I am being smart about my choices.

I need to be smart about work, friends, and choices. What I want and what is attainable is very different currently. I can no longer expect something because I want it to be true. I need to do the best with what I have and then maybe one day, it can be what I want. For now it is enough…just like me.

When it stops being enough, its time to move on.

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Changes have helped me lick my wounds. All the changes I have made in my life up until this moment have expanded my knowledge and have me looking at things with a new perspective. I regret nothing. I look at my daughter and wish I was more like her when I was her age, but I am more like her now that I am my age. She has taught me lots. Although people say the opposite is true.

At any rate, “Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man”

Or embrace the fact that I am Christmas Lights and not Flowers.

Acoustic Neuroma Chronicles: Fatigue

What-is-Adrenal-FatigueI am meeting with my Neurologist today. This always gives me anxiety. He is a nice man, he is apparently really great at what he does, he could be more on point with respecting his patients time but professional men in my experience, often disregard people’s time because only they are busy. No one could possibly understand the business of their life because we are not them. Fair enough. But I can assure you, everyone is busy and everyone is AS IMPORTANT as any professional.

But I digress…

I spent the last month  – closer to six weeks in a fairly intensive work related event. For the most part, I really enjoy what I do. Stress wears me out as it does with everyone else. This past Saturday had me on site from 5:30 AM – Midnight. That was a really long day for everyone. It was an amazing day and we had great success but I was super tired.

There is something that I have a hard time separating. My age + fatigue = slow recovery. This makes sense to me. I am closer to 50 than I like to think. I can hear my grandpa now “Holy S*** you are old.” My reply was always I am not the one with the granddaughter who is 18, 35, 40….50 (insert appropriate age). We laugh but its creeping up on me. I made changes to the way I will handle, plan and execute next years event. I am not the 30 something man who did the event last year so I need to make accommodations. As I told my crew often with cheeky overtones – I am an OLD LADY! So clearly age has something to do with fatigue.

But I have a condition that makes me fatigue easier that what I believe is the norm. I have adjusted my diet to accommodate this – good bye sugar, you were really bringing me down!  I feel so much better and sleep better and feel energized. But when everyone on my team – older and younger can bounce back quicker than me from Saturday, that makes me think it isn’t just my age. It could be the level of stress I took on, but honestly? I have always been able to manage large stressful situations.

For the first time in my life, I needed to leave my desk this week and have a nap. I felt drugged. I needed sleep. I could have slept in my chair but I went to my car, pushed my seat back and slept for an hour. I woke up, went back to work and by 8:00 PM I had crawled into my bed and slept another 9 hours after having an hour nap when I got home. This was 2 days ago. I now feel awesome again, like my old self.

This fatigue I speak of reminds me of being pregnant. I would be talking in the car, and the next moment I wake up to my husband taking my pulse because I fell asleep. I am THAT TIRED.

I used to be that girl who stayed up late because I come alive after 10 PM. I am most creative and I feel amazing late at night. I am now that girl who is in bed by 9 and sound asleep by 10. The old lady shuffle at 48. I know this is common – but am I more tired than other women my age? Or is this extreme fatigue a symptom of my neuroma? I know fatigue is listed among other charming side effects. So today, my doctor and I will have a chat. A good long one about managing my fatigue and other issues I am experiencing. I am awake and then I am not. I do get increasingly more tired when my pressure headaches are more intense, that makes sense to me. My body shutting down to heal itself. So I guess I will find out soon.

And I lost my sweater… but memory loss is another topic of another time.

 

 

Robyn Engel, Author

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When I was little I was a story creator. Not a teller, not a writer, a story creator. My imagination conjured up events so amazing they needed to be acted out. Danger Girl was born.

When I was a teacher, I was a story teller. I could conjure up amazing images and have my students mesmerized about bad birthday cats and the trouble they got into. I was a story teller. The Birthday Cat was born.

When I became broken, I created through fibre arts. It helped to heal me but it wasn’t enough. The fibre arts got left behind but filled my home with a multitude of quits. Star Gazer was born.

When I was healing myself I became a writer and wrote long epic tales about my childhood. Then they became a collection of short stories. It was my first book or collection. It sits in my memory stick waiting for me to do something with it. I just might keep them as short stories or turn them into a picture book adventure series. These will wait until I am ready.

When I felt stronger and more sure of who I am, I wrote a book about a woman who might have been me who was married to a man who might have been my ex-husband. It is raw, ugly and angry. I don’t think it is finished. It sits in my memory stick waiting for me to bring it out of its raw state and love it enough to make it a novel. I am not ready yet to give it the love it deserves. So it waits.

When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, I wrote a story about a women and her mother and their relationship. They explore changing health and deep family ties and a strong love for each other in spite of their differences. It might also be me but it is also other strong women I know. It sits waiting to come alive. The beginning and the end is finished the middle is working its way to complete. It has a life of its own. This one will be great. This one will try to be published. This one is my opus.

Today I finished a story 76 pages long with 38080 words. It needs to be edited and possibly have rewrites. It is raw and emotional and is for my friend who did an amazing thing. I gave it to him to do with what he wants. It might become more and it might not. Either way, I told the story.

I may not be a published author, but I have now written 3 books, 2 are novels and one is a collection of short stories. The fourth book will be along shortly. I think this makes me an author. An author is broadly defined as “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work and can also be described as a writer.

I amaze myself. I was never one who finished things or completed goals. I always too frighten to complete anything of meaning. I continue to doubt and sabotage myself in an effort to feel like a failure or something less than my potential. Yet there is something lately that pulls me forward and doesn’t allow me to quit. I have created something more than I ever have before. I have created something that goes deeper for me. I may be a lot of unpleasant things.

But today I am an author.

 

Like a Boss

My Parents came home yesterday. They sold everything and left for Europe for an undetermined amount of time. They aren’t really home, they are visiting.

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I hadn’t spoke to them in 106 days. Apparently I am bad at email. My sister emailed my parents 104 times. That is 1 for everyday they were away except for the 2 she was on the plane to England and didn’t email them because she was sitting beside them.

Apparently that makes me a bad daughter.

I’m better at texting.

This was the first time since the ‘DARK TIMES’ that I had been separated from my parents.

  1. Yes I am 47 years old
  2. No it doesn’t make me an insecure baby
  3. I do not have a dysfunctional relationship with my parents
  4. we just actually like each other.

I haven’t felt like crying so much since my parents left in July, 106 days ago.

I called my dad this morning and I instantly cried. Damn I missed them. It’s not even like I am the favourite child. That would be the sister. And rightly so, she takes care of them in ways I just don’t. Then the next favourite would be the brother. He is dependant on them in ways I am not. As a mom, I know there isn’t a favourite, they just like each of us for different reasons. I happen to be the most independent of the lot. I keep to myself, hold my problems in and try not to worry anyone. I took care of everyone when I was younger, now I let my sister do it because she loves it, I just did it out of a sense of obligation. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself and my offspring. I have learned a long hard lesson about self-care that I need to be cognizant of. People call it selfishness, I call call it survival. I always seem to be on the brink of disaster and I manage to hold it off.

That gets exhausting and it is exhausting talking about it.

So, I didn’t write about it. Mom didn’t get to hear about my days or the weariness in my bones, or the times I felt like I was a total an utter failure. As a mom, I know she wanted to hear those things….but I don’t do that. I don’t share. It’s easier to stamp the feelings down and swallow them.

After lunch, I packed up the FamJam and we drove out to my Grandmothers where my sister and my parents are currently living while my sister’s home is – for lack of a better word – being finish. My parents will have a home base/in-law suite where they can have a home base while they travel the world being gypsy hobos.

I walked up the steps to the house and right into the arms of my daddy. I cried inside where no one saw. I stuffed the tears away because I didn’t want to be teased or have my emotions get in the way for visiting. I didn’t want it to be about me. I wasn’t the one who left. I wanted to hear about them.

We stayed all afternoon and caught up on their zany adventures. I learned a lot of things about my parents.

MOM: The Woman who faced her fears until Hell Froze Over

  1. She went topless on the Mediterranean (My mom has always been modest to the point almost to the level of Prudish)
  2. She drank beer AND Scotch (Alcohol always scared her and for good reason)
  3. She smoked a cigar
  4. She likes my dad – and not because he is her husband. They spent 106 days together ALONE and enjoyed their time together. They have been a couple since they were 14. Liking each other is an important part of that.

DAD: The Man who doesn’t give a crap about what people think

  1. He sat on a bus tour and gave people hell for being late – they never showed up late again (Who else has the balls to call people on their shit?)
  2. He naps whenever he damn well feels like it…and like a boss (In Kensington Palace he was bored, so he laid down on the sofa and slept…in the palace… In London)
  3. If he thinks something is outrageous, he says so. (I always thought I took after my mom, but really, I am like my dad. People annoy me and I call them on it. Just like he does. I also expect people to call me on my shit – I respect them if they do. I think they are weak if they don’t)
  4. He likes my mom. They laugh together and have a good time. He lets her baby him and he humours her by letting her plan everything. Compromise is important.

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I also learned my siblings and I are more alike than we are different.

My sister wore a fancy hat on the plan home because she didn’t have a hatbox. She owned it like a boss. It wasn’t that much different from the time she wore a Sombrero home from Mexico because how else would you get it home?

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I am pretty much the same. I have learned that life is too short to waste time doing what bores you or is annoying or out of obligation. I am busy. I have very little time for my family. They come first. Everything else second. Don’t like? I’m cool with that. I cannot please the world.

As my dad is known to say, “If someone doesn’t like it, they can go down the street to find something they do like. Don’t break your neck trying to please because only you and your family matter in the end anyways.”

Amen Dad.

Welcome home, I’ve stopped crying now, so maybe we can hang out later.

#MoreLoveLetters

123-broken-hearts-14300882-564-605Today was one of those days where a trigger happened and I was suddenly thrusted back to a time and place where my heart was broken and oozing all over the place.

I hate it when it happens.

It usually is a song or a smell that will be a trigger for me.  90% of the time I push it out of my mind, but today was hard. I actually cried in the car all the way to work. It’s weird how something that happened years ago still affects me like it happened this morning.

I posted this on Facebook today :

Why is it that broken hearts never really heal?

And this was the response I received from a running teammate and rapidly becoming great friend:

Crumple a piece of paper… open it…
You can flatten it out but it will never be the same.
Forever changed… like the heart… hugs

BAM – she nailed it. I am sure I will never be the same. Not that the same was better. I have grown, gained wisdom and learned a lot from that experience. Yet the pain still lingers just beneath the surface. One false move and the tears can leak at any moment. Not true, it usually is masked or forgotten…until the trigger.

A dear friend asked me if I was ok. I guess so, in the sense that I don’t think I will ever be okay, just different. IT was an incredibly sad day for me. People looked at me and knew something was wrong with me, but were kind enough to let it pass. My Pup has stuck to me like glue.

Then I went to work this afternoon.

All was fine…sort of…I had work to keep me focused. Then it was my dinner break.

I had to head out of the shop and walk several blocks to my car because the lot was full. So I had to walk a different path than I normally do. That was when I discovered this envelope sitting by itself on the ledge of a window saying READ ME.

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I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland having to make a decision. Do I pick it up? Is it for me? Did someone drop it?

My first thought was ‘it might be a secret’ for Post Secret! COOOOOOL!

I decided to pick it up and open it.

Then I read this:

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Could there be a better message intended for me? I think not. It arrived at the very moment I need it. Thanks A!

Tears stopped, smile grew big, and I felt better.

It is amazing what happens with random kindness. Perfect.

#moreloveletters

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