Sunday, June 26, 2016


A favourite memory from my month in Paris, when I
stumbled on this Chagall ceiling during my
unplanned visit to the Opera Garnier
I am impatient.
I want to travel.
I need to travel.
So hard to wait for things to be settled.
So tired of being grounded.
So tired of scraping by.
Outwardly, all well.
Inwardly, mostly well too.
But I have moments of feeling trapped.
So tired of feeling like a foreigner in my own life.
So tired of not being able to take off on a whim.
For some time I made peace with it.
But now, I'm just tired of it. Fed up. Impatient.
At moments like this. I am holding on by a thread.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Solo Travel News - June 25, 2016

With so many solo travellers looking for affordable ways to travel, without the dreaded single supplement, I am always watching for specials. Periodically, when I have time, I summarize a few into an email to send to those who may be interested. Here is a sample:

One of amusing cruise ship related BrExit memes
Image by "Brighty", found on Bruce on Politics
Welcome to summer!

This continues to be a GREAT time to travel as a solo.

Thinking of Europe? With yesterday's news of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, we can expect prices to drop on hotels in London, as well as throughout continental Europe. Combined with the already soft cruise market in Europe, the time to travel to Europe is now!! Fabulous deals abound. Contact me if you want me to take a look for anything.


For those of you looking for a bargain, here are a few cruise deals that I see right now (CAD)... [read the rest on my cruisetravelbug blog].

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Discovering San Miguel de Allende

I am reading a book about some expats who moved to the village of San Miguel de Allende: On Mexican Time: A New Life In San Miguel.

Interesting: Toller Cranston's home in
San Miguel when he was still alive
I confess I started in the middle, when they impulsively bought a house on the last day of their stay in the remote village. I was hooked.

Now I have returned to the beginning to read their full story. At the same time, I am learning more about this charming village. I've heard of it a few times now, so I am becoming more curious... [read what I learned on my Travels with Roberta blog]

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I will write your blog posts

I am now offering my blog writing services on Fiverr.

View my services: I will write your blog posts

I currently write for and manage 2 blogs (other than my own), so it's nice to expand this work. Hoping to get travel related topics!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday morning

Here it is, my 2nd week of not working Mondays, and I am .... working. Sleepy-eyed.

It's not a big deal, as I volunteered because the office was short, but boy am I appreciating that this is no longer my schedule!

The doodle above is made up of the image below, in miniature. It's something I do on my iPad. I suppose it is a mashup, of sorts.

MashUp 1+2

My mashup of MashUp pics
It is so hard to believe that it has been more than 3 years since I have been off the rock.

Sitting on the ferry, it feels so natural, yet it also feels like a bit of a time warp. A definite prelude to what I will feel in downtown Vancouver today. As I am going to be within 2 blocks of where I last lived (7 years ago!), it will be so familiar, yet also slightly off kilter, as so many little things will have changed, let alone big ones.

I am headed over to Vancouver to see the last day of the bottom 2 floors of the big MashUp exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Late last night I happened to notice that today is the last day of the exhibit on these 2 floors, so off I go.

. . .

On the ferry home. Tired but not exhausted. Filled up with art, and the breath of Vancouver on my skin.

Vancouver wasn't as different this time, as it was when I came home from 7 months in Europe, as the city was gearing up for the Olympics. Aside from the new Compass Card for transit, it was still my Vancouver.

Lots of reflecting on missing the city. Vancouver energizes me, makes me feel alive. I could downtown again, in a heartbeat, if I could afford it. Little matter, I'm fresh into a 1-year lease on my apartment, and sick of moving. And busy building my travel business. But it makes me think.

Got myself a Vancouver Art Gallery membership again, and will be back and forth. There are still 2 floors of that exhibit to see, and I might enjoy a visit each. There are Picassos on the 4th floor I haven't seen! Then a juicy Picasso exhibit starting not long after.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Hello Monday!

Today I return to one of my favourite Mondays.

I am "off" work, meaning I am not scheduled to be in the office. I may still very well work part of the day, but I can do it at my pace, when/where I want. And this is how I'll be living my life going forward. Yeah!

I developed an affection for Mondays back when I first began working for myself. It became a day when I'd ease into my week, with no meetings, lots of free time for planning, errands, prep work, creative endeavours, and so on. I loved "my kind of Mondays" because they'd work for me, no matter what was going on for me.

If I was having a hard time getting motivated after the weekend, I'd pick up my business mail, hit Starbucks to read the paper, journal, plan my week, and so on. I would frequent several different coffee places wherever I lived, but I'd usually pick Starbucks for my Monday mornings. There was enough of a work-week buzz with people picking up their morning fix for me to catch on, and get in the flow.

If I'd been working full-tilt, and having more trouble slowing down than getting motivated, my Monday routine would create room for me to pause, catch my breath, reflect and re-prioritize. Mondays worked because they gave me the confidence that I could ramp up my week, and manage my commitments.

As someone who resists routine, I find it interesting that I created rituals that gave me structure. At the time, I would have told you that the days was open, with no plans - and I needed it to feel that way - but in reality I'd have these things I'd like to do, places I liked to go, rituals that nourished me.

I think it was one of my secrets to being successful working for myself. And whenever I took on full-time work for a few months or years, it was the first thing I'd re-create for myself as soon as I had the opportunity to scale back my days.

So looking forward to my new form of Mondays here, at the same time I am setting up my home office again, in yet another new place (in more ways than one).

Hello Monday morning!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Discovering Pietrasanta

I first heard of Pietrasanta when I was reading about tours to Carrara, where there are marble quarries. I never really thought about visiting a quarry before, but when I think of all the amazing marble sculptures and architecture in Italy, I became intrigued. More about that later, but when I stumbled across references to Pietrasanta as "the city of sculpture" I was hooked. I wanted to learn more... [read what I learned on my Travels with Roberta blog]

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Not even crash landed, but close. The chaos continued to the end. "Just cleaning" and loose ends turned into an all-day affair, with me barely functioning. As I thought I wasn't needed - aside of picking up my sister and a few last things (we had cleaners for the big chores) - my body went into exhausted relaxation and pain Sunday night, finally letting go. We both (my body and I) got quite the shock when I learned I was needed at the house early Monday afterall... and instead of being done noon-ish, it went on until late afternoon. I think I would have been ok if I hadn't prematurely let myself feel the relief of letting go, but as it was, I was in agony. It was also a hot day, up to 24c I gather. At one point I thought I was going to pass out. With no furniture left, I retreated to the rather unpleasant garage to sit on a stair. Later in the day, I had a couple naps in the car (parked in the shade). It was an odd day, as I was needed, but also needed to keep out of the way, as my sister was directing the cleaners, and wanted to go through and pack the remaining things herself. Maybe it was harder to ok at half-pace than full tilt... Anyways, the day was a pseudo form of torture... I just wanted to throw the last things in the car, trash the rest, and just go! It's exceedingly hard to force oneself to be patient and forgiving when impatience is surging in one's veins.
While I stayed there for 6 years, my mom's home had been my sister's second home for much longer than that, and at one point there was a thought of her staying there, so it was a much bigger deal or her to leave than me. She'd also found a cool cleaner who finished with a smudging ceremony, which can't be rushed.
Anyways, barely survived, and drove away with an overfilled car, even leaving a couple things with neighbors. Gack.
But it is done.
A nice sense of closure was still there, despite my exhaustion.
Oh, and the dumpster bin was overloaded!
And today began a new phase in my life. Hmmm.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Robins, hummingbirds and moving on...

The end is near. Today the last load of straggler boxes and random stuff will get moved over, thanks to a generous neighbor. That's not the only neighbor gesture today... two are coming to disconnect appliances and haul them into our dumpster bin, along with yard stuff (part of our sale criteria).  A late ah-ha was that although the house wull be orn down, we still need to clean it. So cleaner in the morning.
Anyways, thse are the surface things.
What's important are the special moments over the past few days:
My sister, brother and I hanging out Friday, sorting, laughing, storytelling, remembering and goofing around. At one point, the big coloured dots used to organize boxes ended up on our foreheads. After the joke was done, I noticed we still all wore them for an hour or two, each in our own way, holding ono the moment, cherishing the connection.
Just being in the house ~ really so cute ~ listening to the birds, enjoying the trees, feeling mom's energy.
Enjoying the back deck my brother built with cedar from his own sawmill up the coast, sharing memories of how much mom loved it. She and I sat there many nights, drinking hot chocolate under the stars...
My sister and I watching the wee hummingbird yesterday, sitting in her nest just outside oupr front door. So tiny, so precious, so hidden, so still, so miraculous, amazing.... We will leave a note for the new owners... hopefully they can keep the tree safe until they are done with the nest.
Singing to the robin that keeps visiting, like mom would when we were kids, "Robin, Robin red breast".., which she also sang to me (Robin aka Roberta). I kerp feeling mom's presence when rhe robin is around.
Ok, time to get out the door...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Moving day #2

That's right, a 2nd moving day. We weren't ready to move everything this time last week. O we are at it again. And, still, there are things not packed yet. I so do not want to end up moving carloads after today, so about to go over and go crazy trying to pack what's left.
I have to respect my sister: she is so committed to preserving family history that she is taking many boxes of family photos, letters, papers, and so on, to continue to sort and cull and divy up. Similarly with my brother. It's an immense task, and in reality cannot be rushed. Lots has been trimmed, but much remains. I am not sentimental, so don't have the same connection. I have also done so much therapy around family that I don't need things to anchor me. I have a few, of course, but they'd fit in a box.
It would be easy for me to be impatient, and be frustrated with all the stuff, but what's the point?
Granted, I will be somewhat surrounded, as my sister will be staying with me for some time... but what will be will be.
I am respectful of the history of families, and am grateful for the archivists of times past. So can understand much of it.
And so it is that the girl who downsized to a dozen boxes 7 years ago is now moving multiple truckloads of stuff. Trying to stay detached and not get overwhelmed.
Ok, enough rambling. Time to get over to the house to ready as much as I can for today's truck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The me that is me

Today, in a stationary store, I recognized myself. I felt like the me I used to be. No, not going back in time, but feeling the essence of the me that is me, in the me of me today, or in the me of me that I will be tomorrow. Or next week. On the other side of this transition.
I recognized the way I move, the way I move through my day, going from a to b as the me who is me. I didn't know what I was missing, but that was it, is it. The me that is me. 

Today I opened a journal, looking for notes on something for the move, and I found my journa entry from the night mom passed away. Oh, up, up and away, sweet momma.

I also found my journal entry from just a few days prior, when Maui rallied and started eating, on the day I thought we would need to put him down. And we deferred it. He was cuddled in my lap, and I marveled. And I wrote about how Maui taught me to never give up. That he did.

I am not giving up on finding the me that is me again, even if I'm not the same me anymore. How could I be? I am all filled up with momma love and Maui love. And even now that they no longer sit here with me, they are a big part of the me that is me.

I put a picture of Maui in my new apartment yesterday, where he can watch over me.

I no longer just have hope that this will be over, i know it will, and I can see myself on the other side. I ferl myself. There.

The me that is me feels a bit of glee!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thinking about writing retreats

I found a writing retreat in a little Italian
hill town Castiglion Fiorentino!
creative commons image bramhall/Flickr
Lately I've been mulling about for ideas to re-kickstart my creativity. As I like to write, I've started thinking about going on a writing retreat. For me, it's more about the experience and the destination, and the shared inspiration, than the structure itself, so I had fun looking at where I could go.
I ended up creating a blog post about my findings:

Travelling to write: 5 writing retreats

Here are 5 writing retreats that made me want to pack my bags... [read the rest on my Travels with Roberta blog].

Listening to suicide

Not mine, or any thoughts thereof... but reflecting on a very interesting interview on suicide on The Current. The story is around our new right to die legislation, and whether those with mental illness should be given this option. I sat in my car to listen to the end of an interview with Graeme Bayless, a rather brilliant twentysomething young man with clinical depression arguing for this option.
All this while Canada is reeling from the surge in First Nations teen suicides (the Attawapiskat suicide emergency), such a tragic situation. The panel discussing the interview, and putting it in context, offered some interesting perspectives.

What's on my mind as I am listening is my friends who have been suicidal - including what it's like to be on the other end of the phone when a friend is suicidal. I've learnt the textbook things to say, but they sound so hollow at the time, and one feels so helpless. I won't say more here, but I am thinking about these people. I was also thinking about friends and acquaintances who have taken their lives.
And the evening I supported a friend whose brother had just taken his own life. And who have I impacted, positively or negatively, when they were in such a state, unbeknownst to me.

Heavy stuff, and not what I am normally reflecting on, but it's all part of this world we live in. A reminder that we never know what is going on for someone, what their private pain is, and the difference one can play in just being there, or how we respond.

I will continue to listen to these debates and explorations, I am learning a lot, from different perspectives.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chaos and the art of moving

A favourite moment from Paris
(I began looking at my "big trip" photos today, after about 5 years)
I have been trying hard to blog daily for this month, encouraged in part by the 30 day challenge I am participating in, but I can't say it's not a stretch. It was only coincidence that this coincided with the month of the biggest most chaotic move of my life. But perhaps that is the beauty in it.

Yesterday, did the big move, although the smaller secondary move next week will turn out to be as big as the first. That's partly giving up on being entirely ready -- I fought hard against it, then wept, then surrendered -- and partly because there is so much involved. So much stuff, so many moving parts, so many old family memories to sort through, so many other people involved, so much pure junk, and so on. Not complaining (not really), just a little stunned (and aghast) to be involved in such a chaotic move that has become so overwhelming.

Yet, today is an oasis of calm for me. I am here at my new place - the same place I have been for 3 months (though initially just with a bed) - surrounded by furniture and boxes. My sister is back at mom's house, surrounded by the leftovers and the true remaining chaos (I do feel for her on that front!), while I am here, sorting out from yesterday. And this is the part of moving I enjoy.

What? I enjoy the aching muscles and total exhaustion? No, of course not, but I slotted today in as a transition day, to make order of the arriving chaos (which is actually pretty orderly at this point), and to recover. I must have had 3 or 4 long naps today, interspersed with moving things around, cleaning (furniture was moved with the old dust!), and getting my head around the best way to organize things.

I love this part, perhaps even more so, as it is my first place in almost 7 years, and it feels so good to have my own space, and to be able to put my stamp on it, organize it how I want it, enjoy the puttering and creativity that comes with the sorting and setting up. Literally, putting my house in order.

And, no, I did not unpack today. In my opinion, people are obsessed with unpacking. Me, today I needed rest (it has been hell), as I work tomorrow (my only day in about 3 weeks), so need to be awake and together for that. And there is more hell challenging moving to come until the end of the month until the move is complete, and the house turned over. Also, my sister will be moving in with me for the foreseeable future, so this is my 1 day alone here, just to be. So it has been, and is, golden.

There will be plenty of time for unpacking later. For now, just the opportunity to sit at my own beautiful desk for the first time in years (it got lost in the chaos of the house), situated just where I want it, looking out my own window, with flowers on my desk, looking out the sliding glass doors, and listening to the last few birds of the day chirping... all this is bliss.

Now if only I'd thought ahead to make sure I had a bottle of wine!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lost in a loss of control

Holding on by a thread this morning.

So much pressure on me to get us moved from my mom's house, but everywhere I turn to do something I can't. Stuff that is still undecided. Stuff that is being re-decided. Stuff that needs something done to it first. The decisions aren't mine, but the burden is.

I've made things "easy" for myself by not having an attachment to stuff, but it also leaves without a voice, or a way to move things forward. Packing up a house with a fragile soul is no easy journey. I actually have no problem speaking up for myself, but in this circumstance, doing so works against me. But it is sooooooo draining. It sucks my energy.

I thought I'd been doing ok, but yesterday it got to me. My frustration spilled over at the rather-dense MacDonald's drive through guy this morning, my reaction to his stupidity (he couldn't figure out the difference between oatmeal/porridge and oatmeal cookies, hilarious if i wasn't being such a bitch).

A big eyeopener for me, as it's been years since I left carnage on the souls of the poor folk who came into contact with me when I had unresolved issues bubbling below the surface (pre-therapy days, oh how obvious it is in retrospect to see that something was wrong).

 I have to apologize to that MacDonald's guy next time I drive through.

And I have to have an outlet for my frustrations before I melt down. One wrong word from me here, and that would upset the applecart to the point of an applesauce catastrophe. Ha ha.

I was near tears when I arrived here this morning, but writing has done it's trick. I have perspective. I've gotten it out. Now I'll be able to cope without my emotions spilling over.

I may still be craving for this to be over, but it's ok. Somehow it's ok.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blog consolidation

In the process of managing content for the 30 day writing challenge I am participating in, I had an ah-ha moment that will allow me to consolidate my various blogs. Hurrah!

So, for today, I spent a bit of time getting started with my new Travels With Roberta Blog.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Deep in the sorting, purging, packing process at my mom's house. Stuck in the garage and a musty old back room, surrounded by old papers, mystery boxes, useless crap... and important gems. It's a process, with lots of time to reflect and process a lifetime of memories, joys, losses, deep pain, sadness, and regrets. Putting things to rest, letting go, moving on. Interesting to find what saddens me anew, and what no longer has a hold on me.

 Back to the work, and the joys of flinging stuff into the huge bin in the driveway, each crash surprisingly satisfying.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mislaid and found

just write, just write, just write...

As I go through stuff, packing up, I am finding things from my fairly recent past that I had forgotten about. Not important stuff, but articles of clothing I had bought along the way, put down, or tucked away, then promptly forgot about. I say recent, as in acquired since my trip to Europe (so in the last 7 years), but not within the last 3 years when I have been working at a regular gig where I need dress clothes. So, from sometime in the first 4 years I was back. So, to me, that's either when I first returned / came to Sidney, or when I was caregiving mom, or when mom first went into residential care. There are 2-3 years in there that are a total blur, when I became more and more overwhelmed, and I started dropping things, as I had less and less capacity. Stopped reading, stopped exercising, stopped pursuing my interests, stopped blogging, stopped writing, and eventually stopped drawing... stopped living, in many ways, just coping day to day. This was mostly during the most intense caregiving period, when I had nothing left, so to speak. Yesterday I found some tops that I must have purchased before that time, recognizable, but never worn, perhaps picked up at some point when I was out shopping (just now it occurs to me that maybe some are from my 2010 trip to New York?). I really can't connect with them, I don't know if I ever wore them, but I recognize them as mine. A couple weeks ago though, my sister found a bag containing a pair of pants I purchased shortly after mom went into care that I have absolutely no memory of. Brand new, still with tags on. It's weird that I don't remember, as I have needed black dress pants ever since, completely wearing out the couple pairs I picked up along the way. It's quite significant to have no memory of these. It's like my life was an absolute blur at that time. I'd make occasional attempts to carve out a bit of personal time for myself, and do an errand, or do something just for myself, but it wouldn't last, or it wouldn't stick. I was just as likely to park the car at the side of the road and weep. I remember doing this between respite periods - once even on the way to help mom settle into a respite stay, and calling the respite facility because I was incapable of handling the full process that day - or in the months after mom went into care, so sad and so torn up about what I'd had to do. I was so broken up by that. It brings tears to my eyes and causes my throat to catch, even just thinking about that time. I was so lost, and felt so alone, and felt soooo bad! I felt for mom so much. I couldn't even articulate what I needed for myself that was lost, all I knew is that I felt disconnected, listless, overwhelmed, burdened, and alone... while digging deep for the energy to be the one who was upbeat, the one who was managing the situation, to be up for mom, to be positive, to be encouraging, to be compassionate, to listen, to try and understand, to find ways to give her comfort when she swayed in her feelings. When she was sad, when she was mad, when she was disappointed, when she was unhappy, I felt it all, and I felt so bad. I knew I shouldn't feel guilty, but I did. I knew there wasn't another way, but that didn't make me feel any better. I was still feeling good about what I was doing, but I knew it wasn't good enough for anyone one else, so I was feeling good and bad, confident and guilty, relieved but forlorn, so disappointed in myself that I found I had a breaking point, and that it meant I couldn't do more, I felt like I let everyone down, I felt like I let mom down, I couldn't do enough, there is now way to do enough... all the while trying to put all that aside, to just be present with mom, to be her spot of joy, to connect with her, to be that tie to her life. I did well, and I didn't, sometime failing at it all. Thinking I was holding it together, then she'd tell me she wanted to run away, she didn't want to be there, why couldn't she come home, oh she went through a period when she was so mad, so frustrated, and I know she felt so hopeless, so without resources to change anything, all she wanted was the freedom to choose, and she didn't have it. I loved her so much when she struggled like this, I felt for her, I wanted to make her feel better, but of course, I couldn't. We could always break through it, both of us, to share our love, to know we were still connected, but it truly broke me heart.
I feel so much sadness and grief as I write this. I know I have a lot of pain and sadness from this time that I haven't worked out, and know I need to. I've partly been afraid to dip into it, but it's also the only way through. I know mom forgives me, and that her love never faltered, but I'm still so broken up by the experience. I've gotta process it, in order to heal.
So, is it any wonder I have no recollection of shopping for a pair of pants, then putting the bag in my cupboard? Hardly.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Etruscan Italy

Part of the Etruscan temple reconstruction
on the grounds at Villa Guilia in Rome 
Discovered an interesting 7-10 day "Tour of Etruscan Italy" in the new Italy DK EyeWitness Guide (2016, page 17). Enjoyed reading it, following the itinerary.

Beginning in Rome... [read the rest on my Travels with Roberta blog].

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Messages from technology

How is it that my laptop dies, just when I start writing again?

What does it mean when technology malfunctions?

Sometimes it's funny, ironic. Frustrating, yes, but it no longer evokes my ire. I usually just go, "wow", and wonder why. Why now?

Why in this way? Is this device truly dead, or is it just a momentary thing, causing me to pause, step away from what I'm doing, take a break, shift gears, walk away...

Sometimes it does also mean shopping for a replacement, but it seems, oddly, beside the point.

Friday, April 08, 2016

more showing up

write, just write. that's the thing to do when you want to write, but nothing comes to mind. ok.

I pause to reflect, and I almost fall asleep.

I see the face of someone experiencing great loss.

I see images from a dream last night - one with great red cabinets in a (my?) bedroom.

I crave images of a beach, to hear waves, to have nothing to do for a week or 2 or a month. maybe I will soon.

Right now, I should be at the house. Packing, purging, organizing, taking charge, getting stuff done, creating light at the end of the tunnel. And I will be soon, As soon as I get this off, I will be off. But so many aspects  of the chore are daunting. Not the task itself, but there is so much baggage, of the emotional type. One can try to put it aside, but then stuff crops up, from seeing something, from touching something, from others helping.

I have been enjoying the bliss of having a long time to get out of the house, but now is the time to act. We have plenty of time, but I want to move in such away that we have ample time and are not pressured as the last day draws near, not panicking with loose ends. And, to do that, I need to make a big dent today. I want to make a big dent today.


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Grief swirls

Mom, cousin Heather, Carol Leigh
Grief swirls. Grief swirls in and out of my days. It comes and goes. I do ok, then something reminds me. This week it was the sad passing of a colleague's spouse, expected at some point I understand, after a long battle with cancer. My heart goes out to her. Then, there it is, my still incredible grief at the loss of my sister Carol. Fuck cancer. I still miss her so much, can't imagine my life without her in it, yet struck by how I've moved on, ache less... yet still. Yesterday I was reflective, yet this morning, as I write this, the tears come. I miss you sweet Carol Leigh.
Dozing this morning, there was a story on the radio about the level of care in residential care facilities in BC, and continuity of care from caregivers. In my half-awake state, my subconscious grabs at memories, attaches to mom, and I half-wake up thinking she is still alive, that I could go see her. There was this image of her, in her care facility, where they took such great care of her, and it seemed so real. It was real. But it's not. It's not today. I miss you my sweet mom.
So, grief swirls, in and out, weak and strong, hidden and omni-present...
I am so grateful that I have long understood that grief is a process, that we all experience it differently, not to judge it, just to be with it, process it, respect it, even embrace it. Resisting it just hurts more.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Showing up

Sometimes writing is inspired. Sometimes it's just the discipline of showing up. Today is the latter.

I have wondered about blogging vs journaling for this kind of writing, as it's not structured, I don't really have anything to say to anyone else but me... but I also don't know what brilliance will show up once I get started. And I'm an open book. I figure I'll bore the hell out of 99% of people who come across my random reflections, and the other 1%: you have interesting interests!

Monday, April 04, 2016

I am terrified of my tv

I got the keys to my new place at the beginning of February, and had the Shaw package set up within days, so that I would have internet, but it was a month or so until I brought my tv over, but never hooked it up. Finally did that yesterday. Works great. But it does scare me.

I have had this love/hate relationship with tv most of my adult life, going long stretches without owning one, but also going long stretches where it has sucked me in, and I've spent days watching mindless crap. While I came to understand those periods as just part of vegging and rebooting, I have found other ways when I'm without a tv.

Last night I sat down to watch some tv with my dinner, then curled up on my red couch (!) to finish the show, and sure enough I was there for hours. Bleh! Yes, I was relaxed, but I also missed an evening of podcasts and drawing or puzzles.

Restraint shall be needed.

Now, I am going to go make myself a cup of coffee, and sit in the sun on my deck. This is one of several days off I am taking to facilitate the move, but there is no sense going anywhere too fast.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Identity and home

I maintained a daily writing habit, for the most part,
throughout my 7 months in Europe
I am surprised to find so much of my identity wrapped up in my home, where I live, but maybe I shouldn't be.

One of my big learnings while I was away for an extended period in Europe, and had no "home" to go back to (I had given up my apartment and given away almost everything in it, aside from a dozen or so boxes), was that I am my home. Wherever I am, that is my home.

I did have a certain discomfort from realizing I was "home-less" - I remember being teary when I shared my revelation with my host Mabel, who I stayed with in Barcelona - and being a bit shocked. After all, I had planned this, and it had been very intentional.

There was some value in my discomfort, as it helped me look within, and explore all the aspects of home in order to reach the place of "I am my home, wherever I am is home".

It actually didn't take me all that long to figure that one out, and the feeling stayed with me, without swaying, through the rest of my travels. I remember meeting a few other long term travellers and recognizing the stillness and sense of self in those who were clearly grounded, no matter where they were.

It also stayed with me during my first few months back in Vancouver, staying in sublet apartments. I think, in part, it came from living small, mostly with just my bag on wheels from my trip, just a few things, everything of which could be gathered up in an hour, all which would fit back into place in my bag. The way I moved ~ meaning they way I felt when I was walking out in the world, but I suppose I also mean how I relocated from one spot to another. I was a self-contained unit.

It's not something I'd thought that much about since, and I did carry that feeling with me, at least for awhile, when I first move do the island to live with mom.

Now, here I am, 6 years later, placing an object here or there in my new apartment, and feeling a sense of self returning to me that I hadn't felt for a very long time. A sense of identity. I can look at my space, and know it is mine. It is my home. It has my mark on it. It's also time alone, and my own space. Actually, it's largely that, I think, but the signs of this new life taking shape around me give me comfort, give me ease.

I was very comfortable at my mom's house, and certainly appreciated all her home gave to me, both with her, and since. I remembering her saying to me, not long after I helped her move into residential care, "Would you like to live in my little house?" she offered. "Yes, mom, I'd love to, thank you," I said, weeping inside, torn apart by the whole situation, but touched and grateful.

But I also got a little lost there [understatement alert]. It was her space, it was my sister's space, it was family space, and I was staying there. Gratefully staying there. But I was always a little out of place. I had spent 30+ years living alone, in a space that I created myself. I knew who I was in my own space. I was disoriented living elsewhere.

I have also come to realize that living with others is so foreign to me, that I need/crave/want to live alone, to have my own place. It helps me be me. A lifetime of living alone gives me this knowledge, and when I was crumbling, it was holding out for this that gave me hope for getting myself back on track, getting grounded again.

The incredible view I had when writing during my month in Athens

And here I find myself, full circle, back to reflecting on home, and where did that feeling go, that feeling of "I am my home, wherever I am". How did I lose that? Was it that fragile? Wasn't that true? What happened to me? How did I become so lost?

I know much of the answer, of course, having reached a breaking point, having become totally overwhelmed without relief, going through the motions (or not), then grief, and pain, and feeling stuck, not recognizing myself, never feeling myself, never feeling relaxed, never feeling quite right again. I'm not complaining or regretting anything, just trying to understand.

Trying to understand why being able to hang a little orange string of mirrors on my living room curtain rod gives me such satisfaction.

It's funny, I thought I was just as likely to take off and travel for another extended period when mom's house sold, so that's a bit of why I'm surprised to find myself nesting. I have almost felt inclined to resist it ~ because I don't want to become so tied down that I can't/won't travel ~ but that's silly. I can always pack up and go, or make a change.

Maybe I am discovering that I am right where I need to be (surprise, surprise), and that my home is going to be part of finding my sense of self again. This new sense of self, as 7 years have passed, and I need to pause.

In terms of writing, and this day 3 post of my 30 day challenge, I am over the moon with delight that I found a way back to writing. Already I am more whole. I stopped writing sometime into my first year at mom's I think. I am home, I am home, I am home...

Saturday, April 02, 2016


Sky. I see sky from my new bedroom window. And it makes me happy. A great big expansive sky. Right now I am bathed in morning sunlight. Some of the best sky ever here, even when the weather is dull. Ok, the sun just moved a fraction (or did a cloud move away?), and I have to adjust my position in bed in order to still see my iPad. Nice problem to have.

At mom's house, I had lots to enjoy out my window, with a little red maple that was sooo red. And the glorious huge fir trees, with branches the size of small cities, that would sway, and wave, and bounce, and sway some more in the wind. And a nice patch of sky too.

Loved that window, but love my big-bright-sky window too. I've had many great skies in my various apartment, but as a former city dweller, there were always other buildings around.


Yesterday I signed up for a 30 day challenge that involves writing every day, so my posts may go up without an image initially, to stay on track, but I will come back to add those in. I am looking forward to kickstarting a regular writing habit again.

 Wish me luck!

Friday, April 01, 2016

My best April Fool's joke ever

I can't tell a joke. I think it's probably because I don't lie, can't really, I don't have a poker face. How I feel about what I am saying is written all over my face (or so I'm told). When I attempt to tease someone or play a trick with a little white lie, it's like I'm breaking in to reveal the truth before the words are out of my mouth.
So, April Fool Day is something I can enjoy all around me, but I can rarely intentionally participate in - unless you count switching sugar/salt and sewing together jacket sleeves (my mom's trick from childhood).
So it was when, in 2010, I pulled one over on my sister. Freshly back from Europe, I was living temporarily in a furnished apartment in downtown Vancouver, and feeling carefree and open as to what the next stage of my life would bring. Feeling emboldened by the positive outcome of several cases of recent risktaking, I had an idea, acted on a whim, and phoned my sister.
I owe my success to the fact that she couldn't see my face, and I was able to walk around to quiet any urge I had to break the spell. That, and the fact I wasn't known for trickery.
"OMG, I can't believe what I just did!!!!!!"
"What?" "I cut my hair! Really short!!!" "How short?!" "I shaved my head!!!!!" "Whaat? You did what!!?!" "I didn't mean to! It just happened!" "How does that just happen!?!?!" OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!" "Oh my." "Oh shit (shrieking!), I can't believe I did that!" "What happened?" "You know I've been dying to cut my hair, so I walked into a place on Davie Street and they fit me in right away. I said I wanted it short!" "You got more than short!!!"" I know, I didn't mean to. But when I saw the razor, I said, just shave it all off! I guess that's not so strange of a request around here, so after asking a couple of times if I was sure (I said I was), she went ahead, and in a flash it was over. Done! Just like that! It doesn't take that long when they don't have to fuss. And I walked out with a bald head! Freaky!!! OMG. It feels so strange...." "Oh my goodness. Well, I am sure they did a good job." "I probably look like a freak!" "Oh no, I'm sure you look good, you have a nice shaped head." "I do?" "Oh, yes, I've always thought so." "Weird, I've never thought of the shape of my head." "Well, I guess you will now." "Guess so. LOL. What about jobs, how am I going to get a job!?!?" "You'll fit right in there!" "Gack! Maybe, but what if it's a corporate job?!? "Maybe you can get a wig." "OMG! Oh shit, what have I done?!?" "Oh my goodness." "It's ok though, it'll grow back, it'll just be very short." "It'll probably grow back patchy, you'll need to get it trimmed a lot." "I will?" "If not, then you will look a little, strange..." "OMG OMG...."
Or something like that. In the end, I was able to string her along for about 15 minutes, and it was a blast. I was so PROUD of myself. Sooo much fun. It took that long for her to process it all, before she made the connection.
... "Wait, what's the date... Is this April 1st? Is this April Fool's? ...." And finally, I fessed up.
HA HA!!!! We've laughed about it every year since then. And I still get so much joy from such a simple prank!
I wonder what I might get up to this year....

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bored with my blog

Bleh, bored with my blog,, it's lost meaning for me. How strange, it used to be an extension of me.

Maybe it's a reflection of me, and my tired and slightly bored soul. How does that happen? How does that happen to an eternal optimist, who feels one's identity is all about being .... what ? I am far enough from it all that I can't describe what it really is, that thing, that thing that is me.

As if it wasn't necessary to state the obvious, maybe I'm changing at the core in more ways than I knew.

I feel like I am in an eternal limbo, although that is largely of my own making. Out of sync with my environment and my focus, it seems like have I have just checked out, rather than adapt.

Or is that really true? Or is this just the fog of adapting, or readjusting, of realigning a life, even when I wasn't thinking I needed it, or wanted it. But maybe we don't choose. Drop the maybe. Life happens. Shit happens. Love happens. Loss happens. Being beyond broke happens. Being misunderstood happens... but when have I ever felt understood? And when did I start trying to be, or caring if I was?

Lack of validation happens, so what's new. That's life.

There are lots of people who wander through life, colliding with circumstances, spewing bits of their story here or there, hoping someone will listen, will understand, will care, will say I hear you, will see you, will let you feel heard, let you feel understood, let you relax, and just be. Of course, they don't find it, because with a few rare exceptions (are there really soulmates?!), we can only get the real validation we need from within.

I know all this, but somehow I have gotten out of sync enough with myself that I didn't recognize it happening to me. By me. Like a bull in a china shop. Crash, crash, hear me, see me, understand me, fuck. What shit. It's all important, but I can't get it from others, I can only find it in myself.

This won't be the only time in my life when things will shift in ways I don't expect, but I need to find a way to keep centred in my core when I don't have all those things that make it "easy" for me to stay grounded. I once thought that was my home. And perhaps it is. After 6 years without my own place, I can see the me before and after, and I don't really recognize my spirit. I've had lots of richnesses added on, but the core is frayed and floppy.

When I was in Europe, after I had been there about a month, and realized I was "home-less", and after a few days of figuring out what that meant, I thought I figured it out. That who I am goes with me, and my home is wherever I am, my home is within me. That I can be anywhere and, given just a little bit of my 'stuff" (virtually none), I am home.

So, what happened?

I think I got lazy. I think I took it for granted. I think I didn't work at it. I think I didn't think I had to.

So when I 'let myself go', or immersed myself in other worlds and occupations (such as caring for my mom), I just dropped my spiritual practice, caring for my spirit, doing things that nourish my soul.

Hell, I hit so many periods where I could barely keep my head above water, crawl my way out of overwhelming moments, that it was a all I could do was find myself enough space to relax, who was thinking about restore?

It's not about what happened to me (someone recently told me that 'hard done by' didn't fit me - no kidding! definitely not how I feel.. but interesting to hear that that's how I was being misinterpreted). ... it's about how I keep my centre, whatever life throws my way, or whatever I pursue.

Or how I have to do to maintain that.

Or what I have to do to find my way back when I drift.

I feel like I am coming out of a fog (ok, I typo'd that as "bog" - how Freudian!)...

Won't be surprised to find myself changed, not the same person I am getting back to. But whatever it is, whatever me is emerging, it needs space. And tending.

Bored.. an interesting word. I  always felt too interested in life to be bored, now am I just boring?

Shit, that would just be boring. No way!

Hmmmm... wonder what this means for where I will take my blog. It needs reinventing just as I seem to need the same.


Friday, February 19, 2016

The iconic bar visit

Today I learned about this bar, and decided I want to visit it:
The Library, in the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan, is a two level library with fully curated volumes that cover everything from the history of New York to the history of classic cocktails. 
It is #3 on this list: Welcome to the World of Library Bars (there are some other neat ones too)
Post script: this one fooled me. It's in a new hotel, they filled it with old stuff. Still interesting, but hardly iconic - yet!

I have sought out and visited a few iconic and historic bars in my travels, and have found the experiences to be memorable. And definitely worth the effort:

Here are my blog posts about a few:

Harry's Bar in Venice, where they invented the Bellini.

The Campbell Apartment (in Grand Central Station) in New York City, which is in Grand Central Station.

A little less intentional, and not even named in my blog post about it, was my birthday in Le Jules Verne in Paris.