Anxiety · Hope · Poetry

The Lost Reason To Write

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 Health

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.

Thumbnail photo of me in front of the Mickey Mouse feeris wheel at Disney's California Adventure.
Caption: My First Blog Post! June 6, 2017 The First, A Reason To Write

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.

This Again 

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.

Thank you for reading! 💜

Anxiety · mental health · Neurodivergent

The Privilege Of Robyn the Weird

In my opinion, I am a strong and determined person. I see what looks to be true and right to me, and I go for it.

Is this nature or nurture or both? It’s impossible to know. But I can look back at my feelings. I can explore past reactions to my environment. For example, I cannot remember ever trying to dress for other people. As a child, I didn’t think I should have to blend in or to pretend to be like other people.

Autonomy has been an advantage of my upbringing. My parents had very flexible expectations. Clothing just had to be functional. Food was food. We were allowed to eat outside of mealtimes, in fact the kitchen was stocked with snacks we could choose for ourselves. As for entertainment, we were provided with instruments if we wanted to learn. I felt free to develop an interest in any music genre.

We were not pressured to attend church once we were old enough to stay home alone, nor to be baptized. One could argue that this was not guidance enough for children, but I do aknowledge the privilege of being raised by accepting parents.

Another privilege relates to both family and society. I had the privilege of choosing a lifestyle that was generally understood and accepted. I did not want more directionless schooling. I wanted to work. My boyfriend and I decided to marry and work and travel. We viewed the future as wide open! My parents offered to give us a wedding and made the whole experience very special for us.

I have been negatively impacted by society’s expectations of women at times. But thankfully, wonderfully, my family has never limited me by pressuring me to do the chronologically “normal” things. Although we got married at 20, nobody openly assumed that we would follow the common relationship path (destination parenthood, etc.). Now we’re in our 30s, my husband and I are just as happy and even more excited about our life together!


What I’m trying to say is that I feel grateful. And my gratitude conflicts with the despair I feel as I fail to fit in with a community. Fail. It’s a heavy word, full of trying and wanting and hoping and loss. With each job came a supervisor who looked bemused at my need for clarification. Were my questions so unusual? With each new acquaintance came the rollercoaster: make a plan, open up, answer with too much, answer with too little, go home to collapse from stress, wonder why everything was so hard.

Then, Neurodivergence. (Not the title of a sci-fi film, but the experience of being wired differently from the majority of people.) This was a type, a description, a way of being that fit me. Different forever, from birth to death. And I was not alone! There were adults worldwide living their neurodivergent lives, some with a label and others without. Perpetually anxious, perpetually explaining, often othered, often lonely.

What do you think I did with this realization? I asked myself, what is right and true to me?

No amount of joy in my true self could erase the grief over what could have been had I understood myself sooner. It was unfair! My unintentional mask had sapped my energies, only to barely succeed at appearing normal. And, now what? I had to re-learn what was real and what was forced? I know that many other neurodivergent folks have experienced more pressure and oppression and have much more to grieve than I do. But I am Robyn the Weird so I have to say she deserved much better!


Learning is key to this whole “being alive” experience. The longer we’re alive, the more we relax our expectations. Compare a grandparent’s perspective to how that same person viewed the world as a young parent – time made a big difference! The truth is, we could fasttrack the lessons of time by cultivating acceptance. We would need to unite our families and communities with a shared vision that there is no normal. The goal: to foster communication between people who think differently.

Think what would change if employers were prepared to ask what the new hire needed to succeed. Think of the friendships that could grow from asking each other to be authentic, to share their uniqueness, up front.

When I learned to value my neurodivergent brain, my love for myself extended to others. I wanted to understand how others experience life. It is not enough to hit the local coffee chain wearing a plastic smile and exchange the usual social banter. That shouldn’t be enough for anyone.

Open My Eyes

Every time a neurodivergent voice rings out authentically, our world becomes a brighter place. That is, if the world is listening at all. As with any privilege, the neurotypical experience blinds most people to the dangers of social norms. But a disability points out how the world neglects those who are different. In communicating what they need, the neurodivergent population shines a light on what is wrong with society. However, solutions are not simple by any means.

For example, why are so many jobs dehumanizing? Why are so many laws made to benefit the non-disabled and the two-parent family structure? Whose fault is it that there aren’t flexible living arrangements and careers that accommodate health and wellness? Is poverty the default outcome for those who aren’t attaining full-time work with a spouse, children, and a community that understands them?

A person disadvantaged by society needs creative solutions, yet society makes it even more difficult to put those solutions into practice. (Ranty truth, here we go!)

Don’t you agree that flexible jobs and living arrangements that support mental health and wellness would benefit every human being? How could successful employment and improved health not benefit the entire community, the country, everyone?

(Cue the bemused neurotypical wondering what we just did to their perception of normal!)

A Beautiful Trainwreck

So I’m living in the now, unmasking, and processing old experiences anew to understand my truth. There’s pain and clarity. Privilege and disadvantage. It’s a beautiful trainwreck!

I’m looking with fresh eyes at the messages the world sends reeling through the atmosphere: labels are nothing, labels are everything. Change is crucial, change is dangerous. Corporations care and Capitalism keeps the world afloat. Different is wonderful, but not hirable. I could go on, but the overall message is one you all know intimately.

In my privilege, I write a blog for fun and I write emails full-time for one company or another. I have a loving, happy marriage partnership. I have fought for myself to get where I am now.

In my differences, I find strength, joy, humanity, creativity and a hunger for truth. You can find this, too. 1) Understand your disadvantages and your privilege. 2) Grow an interest in the uniqueness of each human’s experience. See, we all have pain in common. Pain leads to action which leads to bettering the world.

Is the world good enough now? If you answer yes, I might suggest you examine your privilege, too.

Thank you for reading! 💜

Related posts:

Chronic illness · Hope · mental health

Pause For Mental Health

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.

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.

That’s where I hope to be. 🖤

Books · mental health · Review

Get A Life, Chloe Brown! A Review

Today, I escaped my comfort zone along with brave Chloe Brown.

I have no regrets.

A hilarious  and inclusive, brave and hopeful fiction!

Have I reviewed a rom-com yet? I haven’t? Well, I am picky about them. The key ingredients for me are: sassy characters, an inclusive message, a hopeful conclusion – and, of course, romance tropes! (Hmm, perhaps the Grumpy Sunshine trope?) 😊

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

After a near death experience, cautious Chloe Brown decides to push her boundaries and makes a list of exciting adventures, sort of a bucket list, except she calls it her Get A Life list. Its all things she’s missed out on over the years while dealing with chronic pain.

(Synopsis from The Book Girl Club Podcast)

Chloe gets a new apartment, independent from her family – check! Her building’s superintendent, Redford “Red” Morgan, is tattooed, sweet, and does not like Chloe. That is, until he surprisingly agrees to help with a few items on her ‘Get A Life’ list. Red is a secret artist, getting back into painting after a traumatic relationship.

‘If she died tomorrow she now knew she’d have no regrets.’

Tropes I love!

This romantic adventure provides almost every sugary trope you might crave! Awkward miscommunication, reminiscent of a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film, saturates each chapter. Every revellation between Chloe and Red is electric! 😆

Talia Hibbert’s achievement here is a quality rom-com full of sass and hilarity, and a main character with a disability. Disability, mental health, and trauma are not the main focus. Therapy is not the plot. Ill health is not the villain.

Red and Chloe both have good reason to fear of rejection. They have even deeper reasons to overcome that fear. After all, getting a life means taking risks!

I struggle with taking risks, as Chloe does, having lost things due to illness. It can become very difficult to trust good things. There’s strength in surviving and hope in taking first steps. 🌈

Inclusivity means writing characters with real experience outside the norm (whatever normal is). This is brave writing. This is not a mere fun read to pick up at an airport! (Although it is so fun!)

‘“Excuse me, universe,” she whispered to the kitchen floor. “When you almost murdered me today—which was rather brutal, by the way, but I can respect that—were you trying to tell me something?” The universe, very enigmatically, did not respond.’

Sassy Characters

Pay close attention. Watch how Red’s family, friends and acquaintances rejoice in his authentic nurturing and kind personality. His masculinity is beautiful – unapologetic and pretty – and very unlike the male love interests we expect to read.

Watch how Chloe respects Red, treating him like a human being (not just a sexual being). Chloe models respect for herself and others, giving a strong feminist impression. (Feminist meaning equality between men and women.) This is so rare. Even YA books tend to write women/girls romantically or sexually exploiting men/boys as a type of performative feminism. This author clearly believes readers can handle men with emotions – I agree!

I’m not saying Chloe is perfect. (Perfect female characters are misogynistic and cliche.) She makes mistakes, says terrible things, and apologizes like the imperfect human she is. Her actions are inseparably feminist and authentic. Watch how Chloe is not clambering to fix Red, nor he to rescue her. 🙌

‘I can cook. And, right now, you can’t. So I’m doing it for you because that’s how people should behave; they fill in each other’s gaps.’

A Hopeful Message

When I say that this novel makes me feel seen, it is because I have been craving a story that doesn’t solve every pain (unrealistically) by the end credits. When I say this novel leaves me hopeful, it’s because we need as many characters who diverge from stereotypes as possible!

We need Reds and Chloes. Women who are strong, not in a manly way. Men who are nurturing, not in a womanly way. Disabilities that are not plot points to overcome. We need characters knowing better and doing better on the page, modeling true inclusivity.

I take the themes in this book, like compassion, respect and dignity, very personally. I live with chronic health issues. I have felt similar pain to Chloe (emotional, not just physical) and it is devastating. 😭

‘Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.‘

We Need More Books!

Content warning: There are sexually explicit descriptions (which means there are expletives used throughout). There is also mention of abuse.

I didn’t read this book when it was first released due to the adult themes. But, there are so few inclusive stories with disabled characters that I don’t feel like I can be picky. When I find wonderful books without explicit language and sexual content, I will share and review them, too! 👍

Let’s support the voices of disabled and marginalized authors! Show the publishing companies we absolutely want more of this. I greatly admire Talia Hibbert for sharing part of herself in this novel. I may even check out the others in her ‘Brown Sisters’ Trilogy!

~ Do you enjoy writing lists?

~ Do you ever forget how to socialize? (Like after a bout of isolation?)

~ What’s your favorite romance trope?

Isolation · mental health · Poetry

The Box

Hello, children. Are you ready for a scary story? It is called ‘The Box’.

The Box

I am looking at a box.
I must move this box.

The surrounding silence breathes its barren understanding of how I deeply, painfully, desperately need to leave. Leave this hallway, this house, this emptiness.

The need. It’s all focused in my arms. I slide my fingertips, allowing them to settle along the cardboard edges. Now I’m straightening my shoulders. I’m breathing from my belly and bracing my stance, knowing it must be done now. No one remains to say ‘stay’ or to urge, ‘go!’
There is only me and this box. And the heaviness threatening to collapse me if I fail to take action.

So I palm the solid surface of the hallway table. It's the last object in existence, besides me...and the box. My fingertips nestle into either side of the box, exploring the edge. There is give, only slightly, at the base. The box itself is nothing to its vital contents. The resolute solidity is a reminder that I myself must be resolved in the moment I take on its weight. I will master this box, and in doing so, preserve the residue of my existence. All that results from this moment will rest inevitably on these shoulders.


I stop thinking. I move with the fire of decision and of need, shoulders bearing, arms seizing, grasp firm. I am escaping loneliness; the failures of my past. I obtain the doorway, that opening into elsewhere. Quickly felt, the weight numbs my fingers, tries my back, heavier than any thing could have a right to be. A step or two more and I lock up; I falter. Desperately, I am clasping fingers, the sides of my arms straining toward one another, my stem stretching upward.


I can’t have failed. Yes, my grip breaks. My frame buckles. I stumble. Before I can wish to retain my load from an uncontrolled tumble, it rests immutable on the ground. Bones awaken to a sudden sharpness and despair. It has crushed down on my foot.


I took this on in folly, in my hubris. To resist nothingness, I had made out this hopeless act to be everything. Yet here I stand, unmoving for pain and anger at my own mistake. For bearing my load and failing had always been my greatest fear. Yet I made myself try. I should have known action alone could not save me from myself. I simply am, devoid of purpose in a disburdened home.

I alone remain.
And I own the blame.
Because I made myself and I put myself in a box.

The end.


Why ‘The Box’? One day I was mesmerized by a thought: What would it be like if a person insisted on staying the same in every way while the whole world changed around them?

This person embodies the ‘mid-life crisis’. Their nest is empty, their relationships dissolved. Their self-image is all that remains. They manifest the intangible concept of Self as they are ejected from their idealized life.

The question I am left with is when did this box become so important? Was it always a cardboard box, or did it begin as a childhood toy chest? Did it grow to the size of their first apartment? Their first house, purchased with their new spouse, filled with cute memories and modern furniture? Hmm…


Will this happen to me one day? Is my identity built on an ideal (like my home, or my relationship, or my job)? Is it possible not to become boxed in? Can anyone avoid that shrinking, unnatural, tragic metaphorical box?

The Box is a fear of freedom. I’m reminded of how I cried watching Elsa sing ‘Let It Go’ in the theatres. Something broke inside me – or, probably, it had always been broken, just stored away and forgotten. So it’s not just ice queens and empty-nesters who need this reminder. Free yourself.

Thanks for reading! 💙

Anxiety · Hope · music

The Grounding Of Robyn the Weird

Follow up to The Unmasking Of Robyn the Weird

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.”

Head Down

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 Climb

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 I be 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!) 🎶

  • Black Hole Sun ~ Soundgarden
  • Head Down ~ Soundgarden
  • When the Night Feels My Song ~ Bedouin Soundclash
  • Walls Fall Down ~ Bedouin Soundclash
  • Clumsy ~ Our Lady Peace
  • 4am ~ Our Lady Peace
  • Nothing to Lose ~ Billy Talent
  • River Below ~ Billy Talent
  • Pain ~ Jimmy Eat World
  • The World You Love ~ Jimmy Eat World
  • The Climb ~No Doubt
  • Different People ~ No Doubt
  • Hysteria ~ Muse
  • Time is Running Out ~ Muse
  • Gone Away ~ The Offspring
  • (Can’t Get My) Head Around You ~ The Offspring
  • Fall Back Down ~ Rancid
  • Timb Bomb ~ Rancid
  • Silver And Cold ~ AFI
  • Girl’s Not Grey ~ AFI
  • All Apologies ~ Nirvana
  • On A Plain ~ Nirvana
  • Little Sister ~ Queens of the Stone Age
  • No One Knows ~ Queens of the Stone Age
  • Dosed ~ The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The Zephyr Song ~ The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Chop Suey! ~ System Of A Down
  • Toxicity ~ System Of A Down
  • Sugar, We’re Goin Down ~ Fall Out Boy
  • Dance, Dance ~ Fall Out Boy
  • Like a Stone ~ Audioslave
  • Get Free ~ The Vines
  • C’mon C’mon ~ The Von Bondies
  • Steady, As She Goes ~ The Raconteurs
  • Nothing Else Matters ~ Metallica
  • 1979 ~ The Smashing Pumpkins
  • The Diary of Jane ~ Breaking Benjamin
  • Motivation ~ Sum 41
  • Jaded ~ Aerosmith
  • Combat Baby ~ Metric
Anxiety · Hope · Thoughts

Checking In

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.

A little inspiration, a little fangirling, and a lot of comedy!

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.

It’s okay to be not okay

It’s just fine to be out of your mind

Breathe in deep, just a day at a time

‘Cause it’s okay to be out of your mind

It’s Ok (Mercury Act 1) —Imagine Dragons

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! 🎶

The Future

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.

Three South Carolina women, best friends since high school, shepherd one another through the complexities of romance, career, and family.

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.

Good News

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!


Robyn the Weird 💙

Anxiety · Communication · friendship · Neurodivergent

The Unmasking Of Robyn the Weird

Ever since I learned about Neurodivergence, memories seem to flit to the surface and taste different to me. These memories relate to experiencing otherness; hiding and standing out. The more I embrace my true self, the more I believe she has always been there, waiting for me to find her.

I’m oblivious

“Robyn, you are so nice.”

What a nice thing to say about someone, that they are nice. Whether kids meant that I was kind, or agreeable, or sensitive, or dull, I’ll never know. But I heard it so often I grew to dislike being called that word: nice.

The rescue by Ben the Heroic

It was a habit I had cultivated in Elementary School, walking the perimeter of the school grounds by myself. It was a way to walk off the stresses and let my mind rest. But it was less relaxing now, amid flocks of teenagers.

Walking past the corner of the property one day, there was a cluster of boys my age taking advantage of the lack of supervision to practice skate tricks. They snapped and cracked their boards, apparently in complete control.

I scooted past, hoping no boards would fly my way. “Hey.” I looked at one of the flip-haired skaters.

“Hi,” I replied. “What’s your name?”

Yeah, I was not experienced with conversation. That was all I could think to say.

“I’m Dick,” he said.

“Cool, nice to meet you, Dick.” I was being polite, at least.

But the kids behind Dick laughed.

Then Ben stepped forward.

“Hey, guys, Robyn’s nice,” he said. They apparently took his word for it.

“That’s Jeff,” he told me. Oh, that’s why they were laughing. It was a fake name.

This was humiliating, but I realized not everyone was like Ben, who had been at school with me the previous year. He used to include me when he organized games of Shark Tag in the playground.

Also, not all girls were like the friends I grew up with – the few who accepted me. These few laughed at my jokes and not my clothes. They made sure not to swear around me because they could tell I hated it. I had been lucky, so far, to have friends who were so nice kind.

Sometime later, Ben saw me sitting in the school hall and offered to show me how to lace skate shoes. My shoes sure did look cool, laces loosened and tucked in at the sides. I appreciated his attempt. But I needed my shoes tight.

My sister and I designed and painted those banners! Mine was inspired by Dad’s bass guitar.

I’m invisible

Safe and sound

Much of my experience at this new school involved an assault of the senses. Kids moved in noisy herds, not in orderly lines. Lockers sat in odorous clouds of Calgon. And every lesson was taught in a different room.

Worst of all was the silence. Have you ever felt so stressed that even when all the noise was done, you couldn’t focus? When the class was settled to task, I’d stare at the whiteness of my test paper. Hear the buzz of the fluorescent lights. The distant lawn mower, and the drone of the teacher next door. I’d end up doing most of my class work at home where I felt calm and safe.

The year I turned 13 we went bowling and I invited my new classmates.

Finding my fit

I’m grateful that I was allowed by my parents and by the school to dress the way I needed to in order to feel comfortable. Girls’ clothes were very tight at that time. Spandex percentages were on the increase! I ended up in aisles labeled “boys” to find tops and bottoms I liked. I didn’t even have my hips yet so I wasn’t hiding curves. When I was wearing blue, I was just being me.

When I was wearing blue, I was just being me.

A popular girl once addressed me in the school hallway. I could barely register my surprise that she knew my name. Although, she was in my home room. Anyway, she just said, “Hey, Robyn. Do you watch Family Guy?”

I shook my head no and kept walking. Weird, right?

Years later, I’ve seen a handful of episodes about the football-headed baby’s talking dog. I also think I know why Miss Popular asked me that question. There’s a character named Meg in the Family Guy cartoon. She’s a subdued personality, wears glasses and a hat and unisex clothing. She resembles a young me.

I’m here

The conundrum of drumming

So being the center of attention freaked me out. Fine. How would I pick an instrument to learn in band class? Which one best fit my meek personality?

I saw “percussion” listed below clarinet, flute, trumpet and trombone. I saw it and I thought, “Me!” Percussion was me. It was mine. I had to have it.

I tapped my fingers all the time. Part of experiencing my favorite music was focusing in on the drum beat. It felt like bliss. It was everything. All I knew was I wanted it.

And I got it …but I had to learn clarinet, too. So my time in band class was divided between the woodwind instrument section and the back of the band room where the glorious drum kit resided.

It was about control. It was about steadiness.

It was worth it. It was worth having to clean out a “spit trap” just to get those drum sticks in my hands. The teacher demonstrated a beat and I picked it up quickly, naturally. It was about control. It was about steadiness.

If I could just keep my mind from racing when the teacher called out “quieter on drums!” And all the sections turned to glare at me. Well, maybe not glare. But glances felt like glares and I wished I was only playing flute so no one would hear me at all.

Mask off

Overnight, it seemed, I vowed to be confident. Mom let me shop at the craft store. Dad told me how to improve my posture. My sister (unknowingly) lent me her hair products.

I walked the school halls upright, with the slightest smile, wearing my project: a sleeveless red top with silver grommets laced up the side. I had cannibalized various coloured shirts and created a sort of rag doll wardrobe!

My boldest piece was a tie-dyed shirt-turned-vest, rimmed in black stitches. I would wear a chain, too, which was adorned with pop-can tops. A growing collection.

I knew that everyone noticed my new look. My new boots were stop-sign-red! (And super comfy, by the way.) But the attention didn’t make me feel like a different person. The biggest difference was the result of behaving confidently.

My friend and I show off our hand-made costumes! My Supergirl cape doubled as a super-soft blanket!

I’m weird

Conversations became more than a single exchange as I practiced asking follow up questions. The easiest people to talk to were other introverts. I found that other awkward and lonely kids really responded to my attempts at conversation!

Quiet kids were better conversationalists than the popular crowd anyway. Those kids yelled across the room like life was a performance and they were playing for an Emmy! I wasn’t so different from them, though. My actions were all staged.

As I walked from my locker to class, I made brief eye contact with passing kids, forcing a passive, non-creepy smile. Did they feel as uncomfortable and stressed as I did? As though looking directly at another person’s face was the most unnatural idea anyone ever had?

No more secret identity

On the first day of grade 8, our home room did that exercise where you tell the person next to you three things about yourself, and they present you to the class.

“Um, I’m weird. I like to draw dragons. And I play the drums.”

The kid next to me liked drawing dragons, too! He smiled at me. This was a good start. Then he stood up and told the class, “This is Robyn. She’s weird-“

Everyone was like, Woah! Hey, too far!

“No, she said that she was weird!” he explained, flustered.

Okay, awkward. I guess confidence doesn’t translate second hand. Another lesson to carry forward in life as a weird girl.

I had found music. I had found friendship. But I was still growing and searching.

Mask up

Recalling this “confident phase”, I don’t think it was just about being intentionally odd. At first I thought it might have been a manic release of my true self, like I’d been repressing too much. Now, however, I suspect the new, confident Robyn was just another mask to try on.

If only I had met the real me at that young age. I had found music. I had found friendship. But I was still growing and searching. Could I hold onto those friendships? And I had yet to enter the the final arena of youth: Secondary School.

To be continued…

Thank you for reading! 💙 If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

For Autism Awareness Day 2021

Digital Hugs, Friendship & Isolation Tips

Communication · friendship · Isolation · Thoughts · Tips

Digital Hugs, Friendship & Isolation Tips!

What’s A Real Connection?

It’s a Wednesday afternoon. I’ve just picked up my phone, tapping the 4-digit pin automatically, and readying my thumb to choose an app from the home screen. I pause instead, and glance down in confusion. What did I intend to do just now? Check email? Text? Write a note? Sigh. How quickly I forget.

Technology is said to keep us connected, and to simplify our lives. Having it all in one place can nevertheless make focusing on one task nearly impossible. I’ll speak for myself, it’s tough to keep connected with my friends and family. Maybe you can relate to the following:

1. Several noisy apps are vying for my immediate attention!

2. If I want to connect, I have to consider first which app to use! (Instagram or Facebook? Or text, but do I text one-on-one or group text?)

3. I want to text someone, but once I look at my phone I get sidetracked replying to posts or reading my emails!

Is there a secret to enjoying meaningful online chats with our loved ones?”

We say we can multitask, but what that really means is we force our minds to quick-change between tasks and hope we don’t let one slip! Sometimes it works, others… well, other times we look up from our device after three hours of scanning through Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/WhatsApp and wonder if it was worth it. What does this mean for our relationships? Is there a secret to enjoying meaningful online chats with our loved ones?

The Good Life

Working from the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream come true. No awful break-room coffee and no shared computers. Just you, a steaming cup of coffee and some work to do! Sure, it’s a tiny bit distracting when you glance up to see a chore undone, a project in progress, or a cute pet that deserves a little cuddle. But there are also no co-workers to bother you about how your project is going, or to comment on your numerous coffee breaks! That’s right, shame goes out the window when you work at home faster than you can say “PJs”!

But, it’s also tough to learn to focus in that setting. Finding work-life balance is never easy, but it can be done. I’ve been working from home the past few years, so I can offer some friendly tips as an experienced hermit.

1. Keep work separate from home life non-work. Kitchen is for food, the office is for work, couch is for breaks.

2. Avoid checking personal email and text messages throughout your workday. Don’t waste your breaks on that stuff, either, though. Breaks are meant for resting the eyes, and perhaps even getting some natural light!

3. Chat at the water cooler. By this I mean actually make a point of sending a digital hello to a couple co-workers during the day! Take an interest, share your “Quarantine Playlist” or weekend Netflix plans. (Then drink lots of water, because it’s good for you.)

Why Social Media Hurts Friendships

I don’t just work from home because I like it. I’ve got some issues. Namely, fragrance allergies and social anxiety. In my experience, even if you hate leaving the house, you still need a healthy amount of interaction with others. I think everyone can understand what it feels like to crave togetherness after weeks or months of isolation! After being stuck in our household “bubble” for a while, we yearn to see a friend’s face. We miss our parent, or support group, or even just basic human interaction with random strangers.

Well, in between those necessary excursions outside the home, there’s always a way to connect online. Maintaining friendships that way requires determination, however. In the same way that being a hermit leads to loss of social skills, if we depend on seeing each other in person we’ll never develop the specific skill set required to deepen our connections through digital means!

“In the same way that being a hermit leads to loss of social skills, if we depend on deepening our relationships in person, we never develop the specific skill set required to connect on a deeper level through digital means!”

1. Step Back From Social Media.

“But that’s where I keep up with all my friends!” you might say. That’s a valid response. Still, social media does have drawbacks when it comes to any friendship.

The main thing is, you need value over volume. Sharing, liking, heart-ing, commenting… these are not “real” connections. Ask yourself, is it enough to scroll through their Facebook posts, or does that friendship deserve more effort?

Chandler decides to be authentic with his online gf. “Just me. No jokes!”

2. Make It Count

I suggest trying to imitate how you would talk if you were together in real life. Open with a question specific to the person! Ask if they’ve been working on a hobby they enjoy. Have they been for a drive or a nature walk lately? How is their family coping? Let them vent a little about worries they might have. Show your concern by asking questions and listening, which is almost as great as that hug you can’t give each other right now! (And I’m sure you give great hugs!)

3. Avoid Assumptions

By all means, share a bunch of pics of your sweet puppy, your kids, your crafts… but don’t assume everyone you know and love has seen them.

These days we have uncountable apps for talking, texting, forwarding, sharing photos, watching videos, and generally being creative with our self-expression! It’s unreasonable to expect that everyone knows where to look for your latest life updates. My advice? Just tell them which social apps you use and why. Ask which app they prefer, and how they want to communicate with you. Be direct about wanting to communicate more with that person, and ask what they want from your friendship, because directness is awesome!

Are You Okay?

“In fact, any activity that calms you while allowing you to process your inner thoughts and emotions would make a great addition to your new daily routine.”

Has your self-worth plummeted with changes to your job and lifestyle, friendships and community involvement? I’m so sorry if you’re struggling. I’ve seen some incredible examples of people struggling yet finding new purpose. Humans are resilient!

Isolation is hard on us, though, so it can be therapeutic even to write in a journal. In fact, any activity that calms you while allowing you to process your inner thoughts and emotions would make a great addition to your new daily routine.

You know that amazing feeling you get when you check off each item on your To-Do list until it’s complete? Everyone loves a productive day! It’s what our brains do. Once we choose a task, we mentally set a value on it’s completion, thereby setting ourselves up for success! That’s why we’ve always been told to set goals, for example:

1. Plan to get a certain amount of work done in the day

2. Call your family

3. Wash the dishes

When it comes to working from home, there’s very little external validation and we might end up feeling discouraged. So get the day’s goals done and then appreciate your own hard work!

Not to fully contradict myself, but your self-worth should not be completely tied up in your daily accomplishments. One of the most rewarding goals to aim for is to share a laugh! Honestly. This involves everything good:

1. Being yourself!

2. Helping someone else

3. Letting your mind rest and de-stress

It takes ingenuity to find hilarity while alone (or while stuck with the same people for an extended period of time). This is a great time, actually, to connect over a much-loved comedy series! 😆

Be Lonely

Protect yourself by setting goals and boundaries, and by establishing strong, quality communication with your loved ones.”

We can’t fully avoid the loneliness that comes with isolation, and we’re also facing pressing anxieties these days. There is a pandemic currently affecting people all around the globe. Sometimes it’s all we can talk about! Other times we just want to relieve the stress by turning off the exhausting media updates. I think we should all pay attention to this “exhausted from media” feeling. 😣😓😴 Uncertainty is stressful in itself, and when we open our apps and scroll through posts and news and opinions, we’re feeding ourselves a heavy diet of distress. 😧 This is ultimately harmful, and it can get in the way of truly connecting with the people in our lives- even the people in our home!

My mother Rhoda enjoys her coffee with a walk at the beach, taking gorgeous photos of wildflowers

In the future, when difficulties lessen, hugs are allowed, and gatherings are safe, try to remember that digital communication has both the potential to build up and to tear down. Protect yourself by setting goals and boundaries, and by establishing strong, quality communication with your loved ones.

The quarantine experience has helped us realize how important visual cues and physical affection are to our relationships with family and friends. Yet, we can be lonely together. I’ve seen amazing adaptability in people of all ages, as they learned to video conference to visit one another, once ‘social distancing’ kicked in.

My friend Krista takes her family on nature hikes!

I also admire those in my life who set the example for me by enjoying their best life in spite of these uncertain times! Going out into nature often, learning new creative skills, and sharing these via social media to encourage the rest of us.

My sister Rikki started to embroider patches!

Be Authentic

I’m actually the last person to give advice on authenticity. I’m still working out my own issues and that’s the main reason I chose to write about communication. Quarantine has taught me a few things, or revealed things I didn’t know that I knew:

1. When you need to talk, consider carefully who best to confide in. I have never been good at this. I usually just blurt out whatever I’m thinking to the first person I see! However, some people are “fixers”, others are “listeners”. Some people prefer a light-hearted chat, and hopefully we can detect their boundaries before we let loose with our latest existential crisis!

2. It’s okay not to be okay. Try to tell someone close to you when you are struggling. It’s hard to do when you prefer to hide from the world, but, ultimately, we need to trust others in order to strengthen that relationship. Wouldn’t you want to know if your BFF was having a rough day?

3. Keep it short. Can I just remind you that there’s no need to justify how you use your time? There’s no obligation, ever, to tell people your personal business, such as managing finances, housework, marriages, romantic relationships, health problems. The reverse is true, too. If someone doesn’t want to tell you what they’ve been up to, let it go for the moment! When you’re stressed out even a short conversation can be taxing.

4. Be kind and understanding. “We used to text all the time, but lately- nothing! Are we still friends?” Oh yes, as a social anxiety sufferer I understand the fear of silence all too well! Are they angry, disappointed, distracted, confused? Just remember, you can never know for certain the feeling behind the text! Ask, or let it go, or show some extra love with a *Digital Hug*. It always pays to empathize before reacting to friends and family.

The many hugs of FRIENDS

My Journey

I’d like to tell you about my personal journey to making friends online. It involves a love of reading, a worldwide fandom, and a whole lot of acceptance. I was in a dark place just a few years ago, when it seemed that anxiety had crippled every aspect of my life. The Harry Potter fandom was reacting to an announcement around that time: the creation of a ‘Wizarding World book club’. This would allow readers worldwide to unite, read together and discuss the HP books over the course of a year! 📚🐉⚡️

I was sceptical at first. But I had a Twitter account so I opened my Kindle to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And wow, I can’t find the words to express how I felt on realizing that I could actually connect with others – emotionally, conversationally, passionately – over this timeless story! Friendship, justice, love, and so many more themes bonded us until we felt like lifelong friends. To this day I frequently converse with the beautiful people I met through ‘WW book club’. As the years pass, we find we need that atmosphere of acceptance and compassion all the more. ❤️💛💙💚

“Friendship, justice, love, and so many more themes bonded us until we felt like lifelong friends.”

One fellow fangirl in particular often joined in book club while she was walking to work Friday mornings. Her passion and openness led to fun, insightful conversations about characters! I’d never known there could be so many layers – so many shades of grey – in fictional characters. I had to rethink my feelings for Hermione and Neville and even Hagrid! We had lots in common, too, as nerdy introverts. But she was the expressive one so she drew me out, and still does! We can talk about fun stuff and serious stuff. We share music and books. Together, Krista and I prove that ‘Internet Friendship’ is real! Do you know what else we proved? That connection was really possible for me, despite barriers like social anxiety.

Friends Robyn (me) and Krista first meet at Universal Studios

Digital Hope!

Some people (including me) are much more comfortable writing down their thoughts than saying them aloud. It allows for time to think, revise, and express feelings and opinions in a way others will understand. Some of my most important conversations have been via text. I might actually have an advantage when it comes to digital communication!

Sure, we miss out on the physical proximity- eye contact, hugs, smiles, laughter. But, guess what? We learn to deliberately consider what we want to say, and to listen carefully to the meaning behind the typed message. We benefit from developing the skills to communicate meaningfully via text! Also, we benefit from prioritizing authenticity when sharing of ourselves, and our lives.

If we focus and work at emotional awareness, we can communicate digitally in a deeper, more authentic way! This is why I believe the digital age is truly saving us from disconnection.

  • Do you agree real friendship is possible online?
  • What is your favorite thing to do when you need to cheer up and keep busy?