It’s weird to look back on the trepidation with which I wrote my first few ‘Voice Of Reason’ blog posts. Anxious thoughts resisted sharing ideas which could be too personal, too indulgent, too controversial.
“Resisted” may be too soft a word. What is the word for feeling burning regret and shame the moment we are seen or heard?
Oh, yes. It’s Social Anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder is marked by an anxiety about situations where a person feels that they may be humiliated or scrutinized by others.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Healthcamh.ca
Anxiety has less power these days to prevent me from sharing my voice. Slowly, word by word, I have boosted my faith in myself. I have built up strength by being authentic, thoughtful, and compassionate. I hear Anxiety telling me I’m wrong, but I have structured this blog carefully to support my goal.
And yet, sharing my voice was not my only goal. I also strive to be brave enough and open enough to build human connections. I still want this, but…Anxiety still has power there, tearing me down for my loneliness. Kicking me off balance. I often believe I’m unworthy of connection.
Are we back to this again Am I sorry for being weak For useless, clumsy words For walking down your street?
Trying to see the good Is like trying to stop a leak I struggle within to choose Whether help is worth defeat
The world is problematic These worries aren't mine alone So why can't I imagine Picking up the phone?
I'm sorry I lost the words I'm sorry for staying home Be back when I'm okay (And I apologize for this poem)
By Robyn - 2018
This again. No matter how far I’ve come, Anxiety can kick me back down to this state: desperate, isolated, despising myself, fearful of rejection. This poem I wrote in 2018 will always describe my life.
What you may not understand about my voice is that reason, compassion, and authenticity aren’t always enough. Maybe there’s someone listening to my voice who will lend a helping hand. At the very least, there is the hope of a helping hand. Hope is always a valid reason to write.
I’m thinking about mental health today. (I’m almost always thinking about mental health.) Anyway, I am almost certain that I have two separate identities: the one that adapts to fight illness, and the innate one.
The Fighter lacks humor when anxious. Gets jumpy and clings to routine with ferocity. This identity worships efficiency. Stability.
The Fighter connects to specific music, listening on repeat, soothing and ruminating. When depressed, somehow the humor switch flicks and everything can be made funny!
I can be pretty goofy (understatement). I will always prefer deep, insightful discussions to small talk. (A curious question-asker!)
I care deeply, which is especially difficult when others don’t see that I care. Sensitive people can be strong. I tend to subvert expectations because society’s rules don’t make sense to me.
What does make sense? Being authentic. I never want to hide myself away. That’s why I talk about mental health. I’m a very hopeful person. Always, always trying for better.
Another entity in my life is Time. When illness flares, time is there too, amplifying loneliness, warping perspectives, until thoughts last decades and hope falls off the edge of the earth. (Wow. That’s dramatic!)
Where did I go?
I’m likely at home, on my couch. I’ve managed to wake, shower, dress, eat and drink. I’ll boot up the PC and take care of work emails. Breathe in, hold, breathe out.
I’m there but not there. It’s The Fighter, taking charge of routine. We’ve got this down to a science. Priorities lined up in a pretty row. Fun podcasts lined up to distract me from those thoughts while I shuffle through mundane tasks.
In the bathroom mirror, I still exist. But personality is a nonissue. We focus on immediate needs, water-drinking, email answering. I am here. (But not really.)
I have attained many strengths because of The Fighter. The stoic face I wear to the doctor’s office, for example. I like to think my innate strengths transfer, too, blending identities. Open and stoic. Strong and vulnerable.
I am introverted, but I hate when mental health takes relationships fully offline. Robyn is out of office, please direct all inquiries elsewhere. The Fighter has never been much into socializing. And I despair. Will friends wait for me?
I constantly apologize for The Fighter. How could anyone be expected to understand? I don’t even understand myself! But I am here, under it all. The anxiety. The stress. The discouragement. The coping mechanisms. The exhaustion.
Robyn The Fighter
Hi. I am here. I battle and I laugh, I nerd out over books and tv shows. And I love my routine!
I love traveling and trying new foods. Making lists and making the same meals. Coffee and Cheerios. Green tea and dark chocolate. Listening to rock music for hours.
I’m the friend who cares about your stresses and emotions, hopes and passions! I never gossip. Give me a break because I’m processing a lot. But I have so much to give.
Please remember me when I am silent. I haven’t forgotten anyone. My life is just on survival mode. Soon, we’ll unpause. We’ll go for a walk, drink coffee, play a board game! When we do, you might see two identities – both survivors, both hilarious, both kind and caring.
I’m shaken. I think everyone is and that’s the natural response to a global shift. It’s disheartening, discouraging as fear stretches beyond the pandemic. There’s no “new normal” that I can see, just billions of individuals struggling to carry on. Is “normal” even necessary for a good life?
Going forward, we seem to be much more self-aware and adaptable. Are these good things? For survival, we need both hope and strategy. Get hope from helping one another. Be prepared, well-educated, and responsible. Remember, invisible things mold our collective future – threats, but also fears and broken hearts.
What does one do in ‘The Midnight Library’? Nora Seed might be the first person ever to find out!
This morning, I am listening to (loud) music. Weezer’s new album (SZNZ: Autumn). I’m taking a few moments in time to feel deep gratitide for Lucy and Mon, who read ‘The Midnight Library’ with me. What a journey!
Now that we're together We're gonna sing you a song Let these steel strings Take you home to me And let yourself be soothed By the sound of drums Climb down the stairs and out the door 'Til your feet are on the earth - The Sound Of Drums (2022) Weezer
Content warning: this post references mental health topics, indirectly (suicide) and directly (depression and anxiety). Take care.
The first thing you need to know about Nora Seed is she studied philosophy. Yeah. I can relate–I’m a deep thinker, too. It can be destructive. Secondly, she is quite lonely. And thirdly, she is creative. She used to write songs and play keyboard in a band. She used to want to write a novel. She used to imagine a lot of things.
So, what does Nora do in The Midnight Library?
Nora has been listening, and the signs are telling her the world is better off without her. It’s sad, but she’s accepting it today.
She wakes up from a sad bottle of wine to a metaphysically impossible library, stuck interminably at midnight.
Her childhood librarian (and friend) Mrs. Elm introduces Nora to a curated collection of lives, pretty on display in rows and rows. You can have any of them, she promises. Start with one.
Will Nora listen to these alternate lives? What will she learn from the many paths not taken?
‘There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of atoms in the observable universe.’ -The Midnight Library
I am intrigued by the idea of exploring a different major life choice! What if? What if we chose differently? Took a risk? Moved bravely to another country? Or invested our precious time differently? Studied writing? Learned a language? I’m listening, Matt Haig.
I don’t believe in regret. There’s no editing out the good and bad from the results. This is life. It’s a mess of mistakes and question marks. We’ll never know why some paths fell away. I see the incomparable view from the peak and I regret none of the thorn slashes, aching muscles or uncertainty.
Take a look at where you started from And where you are today You climbed mountains Swam oceans You got knocked down And kept goin' - A Little Bit Of Love (2022) Weezer
Second-guessing has become Nora Seed’s favorite passtime. What could she have done to not lose her brother’s love? She should have moved to Australia with Izzy as she’d once planned. She should have gone through with her wedding. Should, should, should. Not once does she think, what can I do to change this? And I understand. She forgets how powerful choice can be.
‘Sometimes if we fill that lack with something else the original want disappears entirely. Maybe you have a lack problem rather than a want problem. Maybe there is a life that you really want to live.’ -The Midnight Library
Nora must choose a book from The Library and give it a fair chance. Will it improve on her life? Replace it? Will it replace her with a better version of Nora Seed?
Yeah, I'm gonna be somebody else Be somebody else The opposite of me - The Opposite Of Me (2022) Weezer
When I choose a book to read, it’s an opportunity and a sacrifice. Time spent reading is time away from my everyday life. It’s a chance to glean wisdom, I suppose. Or to discover joy that I can then share with others!
4. Be inspired
Nora shares music with newly inspired folks as they buy their first guitar. For those who refresh their passion buying guitar picks and sheet music, she distributes potential joy. It’s just a dull job at a music shop.
When Nora examines her regrets, she notices a theme: abandoned inspiration. Why had she decided not to aim high? Olympic swimming, writing, performing with her band, pursuing glaciology (and saving the earth from global warming)- what had become of all her passion? Could she find it again and follow through?
‘To be part of nature was to be part of the will to live.’ -The Midnight Library
Music sculpts new structures from my mutable essence. When someone else is vulnerable, talented, genius and generous… sharing in the product overwhelms me with joy. It’s not a job or hobby for me. Actually, it’s bigger than me.
Lately, I find hope in my past because the future seems uncertain. I’m privileged, I know. I get paid to work with people I care about. I live with my favorite person in the world. I’m also living with black ropes constraining my movement. Anxiety. Ropes that say, “can’t, shouldn’t, and what if it hurts?”
Nora has depression. “Everyone has mental health”, she reminds her boss. But she loses her job. That’s when the path forward begins to disintegrate. What is her future? What is she good for? And truly, depression has stolen the answer from her. Her memories have warped so she can’t see how much she has survived and achieved- no, not achieved- offered to the world! The music and friendship, talent and kindness.
Corrosion in the wires Makes it hard for me to understand Part of me is curious, part of me is too afraid to ask - What Happens After You (2022) Weezer
In the space between seconds in time, Nora has the unheard of option to change everything. The question is, how will this choice affect Nora’s original self? What is she truly leaving behind in the unemployed, fiancée-less, feline-less, friendless woman, besides regret?
Matt Haig leads readers by the hand through a surreal and existential challenge. Mental health is portrayed without many clinical terms, instead feeling out truth and testing lies. ‘The Midnight Library’ is difficult at times. The constant shift from life to life, reality to reality, breaks life apart to build it up again. It feels breathless and dizzying. It feels revolutionary, as we face Nora’s fears and somehow survive.
My friends and I may be divided across the world, but our book club is a source of joy and inspiration. We are branching out from Jane Austen and other classics, this time to share in surrealism. I’m so grateful to have delved into ‘The Midnight Library’ with my two reading pals.
We often struggle and we suffer because life hurts. Yet we persevere. We have built upon our shared love of reading! What is life for if not to share? Books, music, time, truth – we share it all, because that’s what living is. That is my lesson from ‘The Midnight Library’.
Feeding on the fire Shattering those iron bars Through the sky like shooting stars Wild at Heart You got me wild at heart - Wild At Heart (2022) Weezer
When I was 4 years old, the kindergarten teacher Frank approached me on the playground. He gazed up, up, up. He smiled and said, “What are you doing up there, Robyn?”
It was a valid question. Why might a child abscond from the herd of children—the implied boundary of the play area—to ascend far above? I didn’t have the words to form a reason.
Was I scared, hiding? No. I wasn’t unhappy, perched like a monkey at the apex of a metal rainbow meant for bigger kids to swing upon. I had found distance there, softened sound. From a distance, the seeming chaos of running, swinging and shouting was reduced to an interesting, complex pattern.
A weakness is an opportunity to test and change oneself. Some say “I shouldn’t” but my favorite question is “why shouldn’t I?” Climb, try, stand up, speak up.
In middle school, I frequently isolated myself while recovering from—or preparing for—sensory overload. Why shouldn’t I be productive with that time? At the age of 13 my balance and coordination were lacking. I tripped – a lot! So, why not walk the wooden borders to the school grounds as practice? Those early mornings before the first bell, I chuckled softly when I could only manage a few steps before my feet slipped off the beam.
Eventually my balance had improved enough that the low beam was boring. Nearby, there was a sort of ladder made up of wooden beams, meant for climbing over. I thought, if I can walk a beam on the ground, I can walk one up there! Why shouldn’t I? So I did. The difficult part was standing upright once I reached the topmost beam. Slowly extending my legs, I took four momentous steps and sprung away to land evenly on my feet. And I thought with a smile, “There, that’s done.”
Being looked down upon is incontestably stressful. As the smallest kid in kindergarten, I had had to look up at the faces of my peers. The tallest girl would pat my head and call me Fluffball. I didn’t care about being small, but somehow I knew I was missing something more important than stature—perspective.
A different perspective can be a good thing, however! I gradually realized that I was handling the ascent into adulthood differently, if not better, than some of my peers. Over the years, a handful of individuals would seek me out—vulnerable, heads hanging low—to tell me their fears and secrets. It was baffling. But I sensed I had been chosen, not for what I could say, but for what I wouldn’t say. I listened. In my world, everyone deserved notice. Somehow they knew I’d let them give voice to their pain.
There is a soothing power in removing oneself from the world. Gazing from my second story bedroom window seat, I could sway with the wind in the multitudinous branches, at home in my head.
When The Night Feels My Song
Environmental changes are especially significant for a sensitive teen. Throughout six years of Elementary school, three years of Middle school, then four years of Secondary school, kids contend with all sorts of changes. By the time I was sixteen, my family had moved into town, I’d started at my new school, and my new retreat had become music. The opposite of emotionless silence. The opposite of wind in the trees. My new bedroom had a stereo and speakers, and a ground floor window without a view.
As I struggled to acclimate, I fixated on my radio. (We 90s kids didn’t have iPods.) Losing myself in lyrics helped me deal with the alternating numbness and pain from the seemingly constant stress that had me sinking, sinking, sinking.
I was sixteen, obsessed with rock music, and finding that several hours within school walls grounded me to an uncomfortable extent. Music between classes, before and after school, and into the night could never fully return me to myself before the next day’s assault would begin anew. Anxiety held me in its grasp.
I had always found a way around weakness. What was the way around it this time? As in kindergarten, I found once again I lacked an understanding that everyone else seemed to enjoy. Was I ill-equipped for life? Why was I swimming with sardines when I was not a fish? I was angry and awed by their unity. Meanwhile, I was dying for oxygen.
The worst part of the whole experience was I had forgotten myself. Unfamiliar surroundings had distracted me so completely I forgot that I had eyes and feet and the strength to climb. I struggled in vain to follow the crowd. I forgot to ask, why shouldn’t I be happy?
To my horror, my brain could not keep up with the tenth grade classes I’d signed up for. In defeat, I met with the guidance counsellor to rework my schedule. I also quit drumming with the school band because the class had been a disorganized waste of time. I had no idea what I’d prefer to do. My options were limited, anyway. I grudgingly signed up for tenth grade Drama class.
From the raised seats of the auditorium I could survey the foreign environment. The mysteriousness of a tall-curtained stage, waxed to a gleam. A scattering of tenth graders, in various states of sociability. Maybe…maybe the next part of my story wouldn’t be so very bad.
Why shouldn’t I find friends? Why shouldn’t I perform a monologue? Why shouldn’t I enjoy ice breaking games with new people? None of the usual expectations mattered here, such as note-taking or writing tests. Unlike my teachers during their frantic lessons, an actor on the stage held the full attention of the room. That was the rule. A very good rule.
Why shouldn’t I take self-led courses through online learning? I guess if I’d never dropped courses, I’d never have been offered the option of the cool, quiet room lined with computers where I could study and take quizzes as soon as I was ready. I felt such control, and such relief that I wasn’t failing again!
The World I Love
I felt like I had suddenly woken up taller and sharper, able to see clearly how the current had nearly crushed me. As I traversed the swarming halls to the auditorium, warmth swelled in my chest. New friends grinned back at me. Here was my higher ground.
How much have I really changed since I was a tiny creature unafraid of height or weakness? In adulthood, every questioning voice triggers inevitable shame. The weight of self-doubt never fully vanishes. And yet, why shouldn’t Ibe true to myself?
My hope is that I—present day Robyn—have more in common with the girl on the playground than the teen drowning her pain. Unmasking my sensitive yet bold personality may turn out to be a lifelong process! Nevertheless, I realize that belonging feels different for each person. As I open up about my pain, there is a new hope. I find myself growing to trust, to allow others to trust me in return.
Why shouldn’t we find family in each other? Why shouldn’t I share my struggles, so others feel less alone? That’s why I am here right now. With me, you too can unmask. There are no expectations or pressures to be anything you don’t want to be. Can you feel that weight lift?
Thank you for reading! 💙 ~ Robyn the Weird
If you enjoyed this post let me know. You may also enjoy the playlist that helped inspire me. (If not, let me know which music represents your transformative experiences!) 🎶
A mental dive into a new year, without hesitation or despair.
I feel very happy.
It’s interesting how happiness seems to be the most trustworthy of emotions. Perhaps it seems unlikely to be faked or mislabeled.
Symptoms of happiness are usually accepted at face value. Conversely, a negatively-perceived emotion is accompanied by symptoms like discomfort, irritability, and of course, unhappiness – easily misread.
Whether one is feeling lonely, sad, angry or ashamed, the external symptoms appear indistinguishable from unhappiness. Does this result in a general belief that happiness is the absence of all negative emotion?
In happiness I sense far more than the absence of sadness. I feel a toughened tether of confidence in my own capacity; Confidence in both direction and adaptability; Choice and responsibility. I feel stirred up by hopes and dreams; By passion projects, and my partner in life.
I am aware of my rage and indignance; My fear response to cruel injustices which are the world’s vital organs. Fragility is fact; Yet I am happy, thrumming with purpose. I am a vessel; Within, a force for comfort, love, and valuable truth. I am a natural spring; Generous to a delirious world.
A poem by R.R.S. January 1, 2022 (Do not share poem without express permission from myself.)
I’ll never know if these heartfelt words reached someone who needed to read them. I only know how deeply I needed them today.
My natural state is musing and emotional exploration. I can remember musing about the meaning of happiness on the school-bus, on gray winter days. This is a very personal experience that I am sharing with hope. ☀️
I’m such a paradox. I happily eat the same breakfast almost every day (Cheerios and a banana). But I also adore new textures and flavors! The sense of taste is very connected to feeling safe. Comforted. Conversely, strange foods, whether subtle or strong, can draw us outside ourselves.
Your relationship with food inevitably effects every other relationship in your life. Do you chase new experiences? Do you share openly? Are you contently set in your ways? Are you afraid? Or, worst of all, have you quit caring?
I feel awful. I mean, I’m okay. But something is off in me today, and food won’t fix it. Sometimes that happens, you know? Caffeine doesn’t jolt. Breakfast won’t satiate. My head spins despite a full night of sleep. 😥
Enjoyment comes second to fuelling my lethargic legs and arms! It’s okay, on days like today, to eat what I can. In my head, I repeat: “You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t even need to stay awake. You can drive to the store and buy the things. Or not.”
I think about blending up some salsa, but “meh.”
I play some Harvest Moon in which I “bake” a “Legendary Peach Pie”.
Then I remember that scrambled eggs are a thing! I scramble up those eggs, stir and season, then throw some chopped avocado and hot sauce on top. That will do. 😂
A mild crisis 🌶
Eggs are a perfect example of how important spices are to food! Through my fragmented thoughts, I am 100% aware that without generously applied ground pepper and a light salting, these eggs will be nothing. A total non-experience! So, even though I just want my stomach to stop growling, I make that effort.
I’m 33 years old. Jordan and I were married about 13 years ago. I had my “safe foods”, of course. And Jordan had not been used to much variety, himself. One breakfast food we would both enjoy was scrambled eggs!
Only, we couldn’t cook them. In hindsight there were two problems: 1. No non-stick frying pan 2. and no idea how to season food.
Honestly, where was this lesson in home economics class? 😲
My attempts at ground beef were just as iffy. Do you know what beef tastes like without enough salt? Uh…feet. Seasoning matters!
I didn’t give up! 🌶🌶
Who needs spice?
At many points over the years my cooking skills have taken dramatic leaps forward! For example, actually salting the beef and buying that non-stick skillet! And then, there was the realization that I could no longer depend on spice mixes from the grocery store. See, in many of those mixes, staple ingredients are garlic and onion powder. These are yikes for my IBS. No, thanks. 😑
So I invented my own “taco seasoning mix”, specifically established to enliven the taste of ground beef! I started with, yes, salt. Ground black pepper was also very important for the “bite” required! What else? I had recently discovered cumin, and I added paprika too, for good measure (and for the color!) Now, to concoct the perfect blend.
It was… delicious! On that very day I discovered an intuition in the kitchen I had never felt before. This was a few years before I progressed to hot sauce, but it was the very beginning of my true relationship with spice. ☺️
Jordan and I have both progressed over the years to appreciate new and exciting seasonings and sauces—but those are many other stories.
Handle your spice 🌶🌶🌶
We recently discovered air fryers, so chicken wings are now a crucial (and spicy) part of our lives! 😋
I’ve learned a lot about myself through day-to-day cooking. I’ve learned that avocados are frenemies. I’ve learned that all vegetables taste good if you don’t over-cook or under-season ‘em. And I’ve learned that I am willing to handle raw chicken…if the resulting dish packs a little heat!
I feel this message about eating can’t be emphasized enough: we are meant to love food! Everything that matters is linked to eating: community and family, performance and endurance, adventure and culture.
Allow yourself to look for the spice in your life. You deserve more than bottled sweetness with a pithy brand name! Demand everything from food—and from life.
It’s Sunday morning and I want pancakes. With strawberries. Yum, and coffee! I can feel fireworks in my brain just thinking about breakfast! It is sweet, satisfying, stress-free deliciousness.
In the past I couldn’t always enjoy breakfast. I guess that’s why I appreciate it now more than any other meal! It has been a long road to where I am now.
Eating, or Not
I didn’t have many “safe foods” as a teenager. See, when most food bloats you up like a balloon, it’s just not in your best interest to eat before going out into public!
One option I could work with was plain oatmeal (with no milk). That’s about it. Sugary foods made me feel terrible on the long bus ride to school. So, as my siblings downed cereal or a meal replacement shake, I microwaved oats and forced them down.
Fast-forward ten years or so and I was still suffering. Worse, I was limited to a narrow diet called a “cleanse” to “detox the gut environment”. I hated food. I hated mornings. I hated being in my body.
Food that feels good should taste good
At least this horrible cleanse introduced me to a new concept: protein for breakfast. Specifically, eggs and vegetables. At this point I honestly didn’t much care about taste. Even so, I desperately needed a reprieve from the same old flavors.
My salvation was found in a quinoa and berry bowl! Some days this was my breakfast and lunch. I loved the berries. The quinoa could be made in batches and taken to work for lunch. Best of all, it seemed to appease my turbulent innards. The combination of fibre, protein, fat and a dash of cinnamon – well, it tasted like hope!
These days, “cleanses” and “diets” are long, long past. Good riddance! I no longer dread breakfast. Still, eggs and oatmeal can be a little dull. Enter my next new breakfast breakthrough!
Sweet Strawberry Life
It’s Sunday morning and I want pancakes. Wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free pancakes. Impossible? Nope! I found this on Pinterest of all places! Pinterest pancakes. ❤️
When a dainty breakfast won’t cut it, this miracle of a meal takes under 10 minutes, smells amazing and pairs beautifully with every topping: fruit, nut butter, chocolate, cinnamon, or berries and vanilla!
Has anyone else out there had an epiphany about something so common as breakfast? Have you felt the excitement of discovering the perfect low-cost recipe? Ever been awakened to the lies of diet culture and felt truly free?
As for me, it has been rare to scent sweetness in the air knowing that smell was for me. Bakeries? Not for me. Breakfast bars were never for me. Party food? No, again. This single recipe freed me. I became aware of hope and possibility!
Although self-care is a popular term these days, the road is long to freedom from all the ingrained beliefs about healthy living. It was only a few years ago I taught myself that I deserve deliciousness every single day. Who knows what I’ll be determined to deserve next!
It is the first week of September 2021 and I really want to write something! September is my favorite month of the year. I’m not a fan of summer, to be honest. Autumn is a glorious relief! 🍁
Problem: I have plenty of ideas for blog posts, but none that I really want to delve into right now. I poured a lot of myself into my last few blog posts and I might still be recovering emotionally.
Last week I caught a cold. I used my CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) toolkit to manage the anxiety over feeling ill (and getting worse). My doctor recommended a test for the COVID-19 virus and I tested negative a day and a half later. Whew!
I talked to my therapist on the phone for the first time in a couple years. I just needed to hear someone acknowledge all the internal work I’d been doing. I try to self-encourage, but there’s no replacement for the real thing: encouragement from someone who knows me well and can see how far I’ve come. 😊
Currently, my favorite way to get out of the house is to download a podcast to fit my mood and take a walk around the block! If it’s cloudy, I’ll go out for sure. If it’s sunny… well, maybe with a little sunblock and baseball cap and sunglasses I’ll feel safe to venture out.
I’ve been working on expanding my ideas of nutrition and “safe” food. For example, I love Ketchup! But, anytime I eat it, a string of thoughts disparage my choice: “You don’t need Ketchup. You know it’s mostly sugar. And high fructose. If you get gut pain, it’s your fault for adding Ketchup!” Who could enjoy a meal with that voice in their head? 😝
I recently learned that it’s actually detrimental to cut a food type from the diet, especially if it’s a broad group like fructose (a FODMAP type). So, fructose-containing Ketchup, you are now an important and valued part of Robyn’s meal plan! I also like to mix Ketchup with hot sauce for a spicier hybrid, or with soy sauce for a saltier option.
I hope that one day I will write poetry as powerful as Imagine Dragons! Their new album was released just in time to carry me through. Because I feel sad, I need music to remind me who I am at my core. Because I am preoccupied, I need to sit here and feel safe.
I have been thinking about getting my electronic drum kit back from my dad who borrowed it a while back, before we moved. Writing The Unmasking Of Robyn the Weird took me back to times when drumming was the only secure point in my universe. I want that again. Plus, Jordan has always loved that I’m a drummer! 🎶
Right now I am camped out on my cozy couch, with Spotify, Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope for Nintendo Switch, and Sweet Magnolias (that’s a great binge-watch, btw)! It is a safe space.
However, from my current perspective, ideas for the future seem way too distant. My future looks like nature walks with my husband Jordan, visiting nieces and nephews, and trips to the movie theatre. How can we have faith that the future is on its way, when the present feels so very stagnant and dreary? I don’t know, friends. I don’t know.
Okay, first of all, I have set spiritual goals! I’m really excited to build a new prayer routine and read the bible, meditating on our loving creator. Nothing can warm my entire being like joining a Zoom call and recognizing that we’ve all shown up as a congregation to worship God and to support one another! ❤️
I’ve been reading just fantastic books lately! Young adult adventures, with happy(ish) endings, and imaginative fantasy worlds! The latest has been The Tethering by Megan O’Russell! Book two, The Siren’s Realm had the desperate sweetness of J.K. Rowling’s Prisoner Of Azkaban. I know, because I had to stop a while – you don’t move on to Goblet of Fire without a breather, am I right?
For autumn, I am excited about rainy days watching You’ve Got Mail and Gilmore Girls. Maybe taking walks with friends. Maybe new dinner recipes. The next book on my Kindle, the latest podcast episode, and the next Friday book club discussion!
I really, really want to be okay. I want you all—friends and family and anyone out there in Internet-land—to be okay. For now, okay could be enough. It’s not forever, and someday we’ll even be wonderful again!
Do you ever ponder over how Christmas seems to have changed since childhood? Some of us live farther away now. Our unique priorities, beliefs and lifestyles have us feeling even further apart than the distance ever could. We have separate communities and friend groups. And yet, I feel more and more connected to you, my family. The strangeness of this year, at the conclusion of 2020, highlights what’s important and what’s hopeful in days to come.
Although I was never really a Christmas person, that doesn’t mean I am without nostalgia for the “season of giving”. Every year I look back on my life, appreciating the many experiences that have made me who I am. I wonder how my family and friends have changed? How might they have translated their own life experiences into something beautiful and unique? I hope they are as happy as I am.
I want to share with you my memories of our childhood traditions. Our less traditional family get-togethers of more recent years have fully convinced me that what we call “Christmas” is not tangible at all! Sometimes Christmas is someone’s gift to you, as is often the case by parents for children. Sometimes it’s a tradition, or a collection of traditions, upheld to bring joy to ourselves and to foster nostalgia. In truth, it is family that we yearn for, and it is our sense of family that actually transforms as we grow up and grow together or apart.
Here are some of my cherished memories. However intangible they may seem, these represent my connection to our past. ~ Dad being home from work, relaxed and feeding CDs into the five-disc changer! ~ Each of us taking turns with Mom in the kitchen, designing our own chocolate concoctions! ~ Digging out three separate Christmas candle collections and arranging them on a blanket of cotton “snow”. These we rescued from a neighbor’s garage sale, some half melted, others too cute to ever be set alight! ~ Perfectly arranging the nativity scene stickers on the family room window! ~ The calmness of mornings without the grumpy process of early alarms, of lunch-making and bus-catching. ~ Hiding in our rooms, whether to escape squabbles or to sneakily wrap up our gifts. ~ Taking family walks on cold, dark evenings to admire the colored lights, pointing our flashlights at the road to avoid icy puddles. These memories are mine, but I hope you share them, too. And I hope you have a million more safely stored, even as you create new memories in the years to come!
I just want you to know that, for me, Christmas was never a tangible thing. Christmas was you guys, my family, just being ourselves together. And that’s something I treasure every day of the year, whereever we are, whatever our lives look like.
This year, so many families are discovering that joy and connection don’t require proximity and abundance. Whether video chatting with grandkids, sharing photos of new decorations, or dropping off care packages for neighbors, people seem to be keeping the spirit of giving alive.
Remember, the most special gift you can give is family. I hope each of you, in your own households, are kindling your own hope and basking in togetherness during these short days.
Warmest wishes for the new year! With love, Robyn ❤️