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.

Is There Such a Thing As Having Too Much Time?


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My sister, Peg, posted something on Facebook about using lack of time for an excuse for not cleaning her house. Now that she has the time and still has the dirty house, she said she’d have to find a new excuse — or none at all which is best for a smart woman like her. I think all of us or most of us or some of us, are experiencing the same plethora of time and not using it as productively as we thought we would.

Didn’t I say to myself two weeks ago that this would be the ideal time for me to write a regular blog or journal of my experiences with this self isolation and the stress of listening to the news, of worry about my aging family down in Trump-land and just going out and buying food especially at the Senior Hour which was so awful and something which I never want to experience again. Although, to be honest, I have always and will always find any kind of shopping stressful at any time — except for stationary products, toys and puzzles and occasional trips to the hardware store but only if it’s a small, neighbourhood one.

But with all this time I’ve had, I haven’t written a word about any of this experience. Is that normal? I’m thinking it is — at least for me. I’ve been listening to a lot of radio lately and one day on the show about books and authors, the presenter said, “I’m sure we’ll have lots of new books coming out of this time.” I’m not sure she’s right at all. (Although I do think more serious writers are writing more seriously and may be using their time producing pandemic works of art so we don”t forget this time when/if we face it again.)

There are so many other things to deal with in our every day lives. Just remembering how far is 6 feet away and calculating if that person coming towards you on your daily walk is going to veer to the left or do you have to veer into the street is enough to occupy my brain.  And there’s also this kind of malaise that comes over me that allows me only to do things like work on my jigsaw puzzle, sing ABBA songs loudly and poorly six feet away from my friend Naoki, listen to Middlemarch on my phone, or watch endless episodes of endless Netflix shows which I forget I’ve already seen.

I’m not beating myself up about this missed writing opportunity just — like my sister and her dirty house — noting it and thinking about all of the things I am doing now. I’m exploring different parts of my neighbourhood — safely — making it feel more like home to me. And, today, alerting my cat owner friends and family that today is Respect Your Cat Day so they can give out some extra treats. And being thankful every day that I have so many people checking in on me and me on them. And being grateful for my wonderful balcony where I can go to see folks and wave and say hey and make them smile when they look up.

Be Safe. Be Well.
And Be Thankful.