One Word at a Time Will Get Me On My Way



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Now that I’ve made the promise to myself, that this year, this 2019, I would do things differently, think new thoughts, try scary things and break through some of these fears and self-doubts that I’ve been wearing all these 72 years, I’m finding that it ain’t as easy as writing the words. I didn’t think it would be a breeze, but I had convinced myself that I was ready and even eager to take this challenge on. I thought I was ready to propel myself into this adventure but forgot that all of those fears were still sitting inside of me waiting to rear their ugly heads and put the brakes on my otherwise rosy plans.

All this self-recrimination started when my good friend, M, sent me the seat sale for Westjet. She didn’t write anything, just sent me the advertisement. We had talked about it earlier in the week and she had told me that their sales were fantastic. So her intentions were all good and I had told her — and myself — that this year I was going to travel. Go Someplace Where I’ve Never Been Before, I boasted. Get myself back to an ocean somewhere in this world. I was going to pack my bag and head off to one of my great unknowns. But I couldn’t do it that day. I couldn’t be spontaneous and just pick a date out of the blue, pluck my credit card down, and plan the trip afterwards.

I was greatly disappointed in myself. I felt like I had, in the first month of this new year, negated all my promises. I sent M an email and asked her if she thought my reluctance to just go-with-it and get a reservation was a sign of my “old demons” rearing their ugly heads. She wrote back that only I could answer that question.

That made me feel worse.

I had to do something to pull my spirit out of the toilet. So I decided to put the whip back in the closet and stop the shaming voice inside my head — which, as you probably know, is utterly worthless. Instead, I took a smaller, but a very important, step towards my 2019 goals. I started reading one of the books on my Ann’s 2019 Reading List.

Earlier this year — can you even say that when you’re still in January? — I decided, as part of this New-Ann-In-2019, it was time to wean myself off of the steady diet of period mysteries I have been reading for the past ten years or so and challenge my mind with something a little more substantive. I knew I couldn’t be trusted to pick out a new reading list on my own. I’ve had too many disappointments in the past. After reading glowing reviews of books in the New Yorker or in the paper, I would eagerly put them on hold at the library. By the time they came in, I couldn’t figure out why the hell I ordered it as I struggled to get beyond the first fifteen pages. (My friend, L, told me never to trust book reviews, “They’re written only to sell the books, Ann.”)

So, this time, I didn’t put my reading future into the hands of strangers. No, instead, I sent an email to a bunch of my wonderful, eclectic friends, and asked them for the titles of their two, or three favourite books. The results have been amazing. I have a list of 24 books so far that are as varied and interesting as the people who gave them to me. There are classics I’ve never read, a trilogy on witches and vampires, another trilogy described by the friend who recommended it, as an “Indian soap opera,” tell-all memoirs, a heavy Canadian content that I have avoided reading these past 23 years, and lots more. I probably won’t like them all but I’ll read them all. It’s another one of those promises I made myself.

And, there are added bonuses to this method: 1) I have my friends right here to talk with about the books afterwards and, 2) when the time comes when I do make that reservation to go someplace I’ve never been before, I’ll not have to even think about what I’m going to take to read on the trip.

Now I’m off to start Book II on the list.

Not All New Adventures Are Pleasant — But They’re New


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When I wrote down my intentions in January for the next three months, I added, at the end of each month, Go/Do Something You’ve Never Done. It seemed like a good way to at least prod me a little bit to get out of my comfy comfort zone and try something new. In January, my new thing was signing up for the Indian Vegetarian Cooking Class. I know that didn’t sound like much but for me it was and that’s all that matters. I’m quite liking it and each week the food tastes just a little bit less spicy to me so I figure that means I’m getting used to the chilli and cumin and hot peppers and all the other good things I’ve been cooking with for the first time. However, I still don’t and will not add cilantro to the top of my dishes.

So, this week, halfway through February — the most awful, longest short month in the year — I still had not ventured forth on a new adventure. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought of it and, shamefacedly had not even checked my intentions for a while. That means the story I promised myself to have a draft of by the end of this month, still hangs out there somewhere in my subconscious. I know it’s there since that promise does creep into my dreams now and then. There are nights, or early mornings more likely, where I will write pages and pages of dialogue only to forget them entirely when I wake up. Maybe I just don’t really want to do it, but I won’t venture forth there right now, especially since Moo, my friendly intention prod, will read this at some point and may be disappointed that I haven’t started yet — yet that wonderful word that keeps the possibilities of it happening in the future very much alive.

And, I had not thought of any new adventures for February. I could just blame this grey, grungy, unwelcoming month for that but that would be too easy. Then, the new adventure came to me on Thursday. It was unplanned and definitely unwelcome but it was something I had never done before so qualified as an adventure. I had gone to my doctor to talk about a concern I had. We had talked about it before and this time she said, “I think you should go to emergency.” “NO, NO, NO, I said. “YES, YES, YES,” she answered. She was taking no chances with my health and I should have thanked her for that instead of whining and thinking about the hours and hours I would be sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting. It was useless to argue with her so I said I’d get a taxi. Then, she said, “Oh, no, I’ll call an ambulance.” I did another chorus of “Nos” to which she answered, “If you croak on the street, I’ll be in a deep trouble.” I knew I couldn’t have that on my conscience, not that I planned on croaking on the street corner, but you never know, eh?

I sat there and watched while she rang 911 — something else I’ve never done. She looked me in the eye as she recited her concerns and address and my vital statistics and “No, I hadn’t been to China lately”. Then we waited. She said, “Hey they could be two cute guys taking care of you.” That did not lighten my mood or the embarrassment I felt getting all this attention. But she was not budging and nor was I because in a blink of an eye the two big guys with all their bags and whistles and machines were filling up her tiny office. In seconds, they had me plugged into an Ecg machine, blood pressure cuff clamped around my arm and then one of them started firing rapid questions to my doctor and then writing down all her answers on his rubber glove which I thought was probably as good a place as anywhere. He, at least, wasn’t going to lose them.

Then it was time to leave, I asked that they not put me on a stretcher to get through the waiting room full of gawking folks. Instead, they walked on each side of me. I told them I felt like I was being arrested — which I was in a way. And, then, there, in front of the building, sat my the blue and white chariot, so to speak. I told them I had never been in one before. I think they thought my little bit of enthusiasm was just a tad weird. But, once I climbed up and they had strapped me to the stretcher and wrapped me in orange blankets. (I told them it was not a good colour for me to which one of them answered, “They were probably cheap because no one else wanted them so the city bought them.” ) Then we were off. I could see flashes of blocks that I was very familiar with but it all seemed like new territory from the perspective of the tiny back window which was all I could see.

I asked why we were stopping at lights. He said, “This is no reason to cause all that commotion.” I should have been relieved but, instead, I was a little disappointed that we weren’t blaring our way down Bathurst. They delivered me to the er, took care of my registration and getting more tests and then settled me for the long wait in a crowded and probably infectious waiting room. One of them went and got a mask and told me, “Wear this.” That was another new thing for me. As they left I thanked them and said, “I hope I never meet you again.” They smiled.


PS  After a five hour wait during which I was very thankful I had a book with me, they told me they didn’t find anything wrong enough to have me sitting there any longer.