Returning to the Unfinished

Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”

Christina Rossetti

Way back in September of 2021, I wrapped up my recollections of visiting the Beaches of Normandy with an emotional post, stating that I would be giving myself some time away from these harder travel stories for a little while. I have a ritual about writing these types of posts which often means sitting with those dredged up feelings of overwhelming sadness at the incomprehensible loss of life all those years ago. After spending so much time back at the beaches, remembering all the mental anguish I had experienced walking freely and unhindered where so many fell, I needed to focus on the lighter sides of life for a while. Little did I know this would translate into almost an entire year off from blogging.

Well, it’s now been 16 months now since my Beaches blog went live so…I’d say it’s OK to finally return to that unfinished travelogue. That said, I will be easing into it with a little human interest story to start things off.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Continue reading “Returning to the Unfinished”

Finding Joy in Winter

There was something else, some current of joy that ran among the members of the family, unseen but lively as electricity.

Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn

I’ve always been told that January is a dark month. Not only literally due to the overall lack of sunlight but emotionally, all of us pushing through the deep, discouraging cold of Canadian winters to the promise of warmth and new hope in the Spring.

Now, I’ll admit, there have indeed been some hard winters in my life. Those depressingly cold and lonely months in the depths of the pandemic (yes, still not over, but there is finally light at the end of that particular tunnel), the winter I was trying to decide whether or not to leave my cushy office job for the hopefully-better-for-my-mental-health unknown, the winter I spent far away from my family and friends in Holland (OK, that one was not all bad).

Even in the easier winters, there have been dark times. It’s hard not to feel a bit depressed when the sun goes down before you’ve even broken free from your work day. Though I may be a self-professed night owl, I still need a good dose of vitamin D on the daily to keep myself sane. As one who finds inspiration staying up far later than is advisable for today’s get-up-and-go lifestyle, mornings are made even harder without the brilliant sun coaxing even the most tired of creatures (me) out of bed. I’ve never been a fan of waking up to more darkness. Is anyone?

However, even with all that said, I’ve got to say…This January (already half over!) has hardly been dark at all, despite the lack of daylight hours.

Don’t believe me? Read on for some things I’m finding myself grateful for this January – and maybe you’ll find something to be grateful for too.

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Reading Roundup: 2022

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

Oscar Wilde

It appears my last Reading Roundup post was in January of 2022, which is unbelievable. Thankfully, that was not the last month I read anything…only the last month I posted about what I had been reading.

This post will be a bit different than those previous ones as I will be summing up the standout articles and blogs as well as all the books I read for an entire year! While I didn’t highlight many articles or blogs this past year, I did read 24 whole books…but I’ll spare you the detailed reviews on all 24 (at least in this post). Instead, I’ll list them by quill (star) rating and will hopefully get back to some book reviews eventually!

So, without further ado, here are the articles, blogs and books that made 2022 my best year for reading in a long long time.

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Resolving 2023

Embrace the glorious mess that you are

Elizabeth Gilbert

So, it’s 2023. It’s 2023! Where did 2022 go? Anyone else feeling a bit discombobulated on this, the first day of the new year?

It has been 11 months since I last posted something here. Eleven whole months. When I spoke that out loud to my husband this morning I could hardly believe it. And yet, here we are.

When I was trying to think of why I hadn’t sat down to write in so long (despite my usual New Year’s resolution to do so every single day…or, at least more often) it only took one quick glance to my left at the peacefully snoring little one there to remind me why.

I didn’t write much at all last year because, well, I wasn’t feeling up to it. Why, you might ask? Well…because most of my energy was necessarily taken up in the act of growing the newest member of our family. Eleanor Rita Roberta Gurski Savoie was born two weeks early on October 14th, 2022, coming swiftly into this world after a mere 5 hours of labour. Of course, we are over the moon (as is her big sister Aria) but as pregnancies are not easy for me, the worthy cause of giving her life was pretty much all I could handle for 10 months. Well, that and making sure her older sister also had all the food, sleep, fun and love she needs and deserves every single day.

But here I am, again. I will always return to writing, no matter what life throws at me. Writing is a part of me, a big part, and something I miss terribly when I’m not doing it. However, as a wise friend recently reminded me, there are seasons for everything in life and perhaps being a mother of two young ones is not the season in which I will do the most writing. And that is OK.

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Solidarity Sunday #14: Miscommunications

It seems a common human failing to prefer the schematic authority of a text to the disorientations of direct encounters with the human

Edward Said, Orientalism

How many months are we into this pandemic? How many years? I’m honestly not sure at this point but I think it is roughly as old as my daughter so 2? Or just about? Years that is…

If you’re even remotely in the same headspace as me, it feels like the past 2 years (did I get that right…?) have been one never-ending screening of groundhog day.

With one main exception.

No, I’m not talking about the lack of Bill Murray’s dry sense of humour. I mean, I’m sure most of us have developed a similar outlook on life over the course of this constant strain on our psyches. I’m also sure that most of us have had the desire to run outside at some point yelling WHAT ABOUT BOB?! … er… ME?!

Oh, right, wrong Bill Murray movie.

But I digress

This little guy gets a bad rap. How is he responsible for winter’s length? Photo by Doug Brown on Pexels.com
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Reading Roundup: November 2021 – January 2022

I noticed years ago that when people (myself definitely included) are anxious they tend to busy themselves with irrelevant activities, because these distract from and therefore reduce their actual experience of anxiety. To stay perfectly still is to feel the fear at its maximum intensity, so instead you scuttle around doing things as though you are, in some mysterious way, short of time.

John Cleese, So, Anyway…

Yet again, something I read resonated in such a visceral way that it could only have possibly been written just for me…or so I felt!

Though, perhaps this quote doesn’t just speak to me. Perhaps, just maybe, so many of us have been feeling the need to keep as busy as possible (mostly on our phones) over the past two years in order to avoid as much as we can the pervasive anxiety brought on by living through a global pandemic.

I know my own pandemic experience is not everyone’s but I have definitely realized over the last month or so of reflection that while I likely have more time now than I would have in more normal circumstances (even if I only take into account our lack of social outings), it feels like I am constantly running out of it.

Yes, I know, parenting is busy and I have heard time and again from parents that they don’t know what they did with all their time before they had kids. And they’re not wrong, I definitely feel that. But the absence of playdates, activities, dinners with friends, appointments, etc. etc. etc. should, logically, mean that even with kids to look after…we have more free time, no? So why in heaven’s name does every day fly by at the speed of light and end with me thinking I’ve accomplished nothing?

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

I agree with Mr. Cleese. I likely feel this way because I’ve spent all day focusing on largely irrelevant tasks in order to distract myself from the overwhelming anxiety of making it through this pandemic with my health, sanity and relationships still intact. No wonder my phone is never out of sight… Homescapes, after all, manages to feel productive while being nothing of the sort. I mean, I am helping Austin renovate a house after all. Who cares if my real life house is a mess??

I’m not sure if this counts as irrelevant task or not, but I have been somehow keeping up with my rather intense pace of article and blog reading (though perhaps at the expense of my ability to get through books in a timely manner…) and thus, without further ado, I will share with you all of the wonderful bits of less-than-immediately-relevant information that I have stuffed in my brain in an effort to crowd out the anxiety.

Did this method work? … I’ll get back to you on that.

Continue reading “Reading Roundup: November 2021 – January 2022”

Resolving 2022

The pandemic is like being a ghost – you see the world, remember being in it and wish you were in it again.”

George Saunders

Well, dear reader I’m back. How are you? How were your holidays?

Mine? They were…different. After finding out on December 23rd that we had been in contact with a positive case of Covid, and considering all three people in my household were sick, we ventured out on Christmas Eve for the glorious gift of having swabs stuck up our noses.

Now, I say that with some sarcasm but the ability to get tested was a gift indeed. We just didn’t know it at the time. Read on.

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Solidarity Sunday #13: A Very Covid Christmas

Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard or too sad when you’ve got a Christmas tree in the living room.

Nora Roberts

Well, here we are again, dear reader. Another Covid Christmas. Sigh. Didn’t we all hope and pray, to whatever Gods or Greater Powers seemed most accessible, that this would be over by now? And yet…here we are.

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Reading Roundup: October 2021

The thing about a diversion is that it has to be diverting.

Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

Well now, hello out there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I thought the quote above from one of the brilliant books I finished last month was too perfect to explain my absence this past 30 days or so as it has two possible interpretations (that I know of).

You could look as the word diversion as meaning something which takes one away from tedium or stress – a way to relax and recharge. I have definitely been focusing on this type of activity over the last month when I had moments to breathe in the midst of a hectic season. And, unfortunately, I have not yet gotten to the point with writing where it is merely a diversion (in this sense of the word at least), though I do indeed find it enjoyable! So this could be one reason I’ve been absent. On the bright side, taking some time off has led to a decent amount of reading.

However, the other definition of the word is something that knocks or draws someone off course, and that could also be said to be the reason I’ve taken a bit of a break from these blogs lately…With several illnesses having hit the household in quick succession throughout October and November (none of them serious, and none of them Covid thank goodness) followed by a particularly crazy couple weeks of work culminating in a national convention. Well…it’s no wonder I’ve been less-than-dedicated to my blogging goals, no?

Regardless, this quote spoke well to what the last month has looked like for me, and the reason(s) for my silence, but I’m back! And that’s what truly matters, isn’t it? Get back on that horse, and all that.

And now for October’s…literary diversions.

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Book Review: The Fiery Cross

I did it, I did it, I did it!

I cannot tell you how proud (and a little bit ashamed) I am to finally be able to say I finished this monster of a book.

Yes, I know, there are longer books. And yes, I know I embarked on this particular one voluntarily. But both these facts are besides the point.

The point here is that past-Erin in a moment of pure brilliance (read: stupidity) decided that the best way to break a several-years-running reading slump was to pick up the longest book she had in her possession. The result of this once-believed-to-be-brilliant plan? I’ve been stuck on this book since March. MARCH.

Thanks…Erin.

However, all of that frustration is now (mostly) in the past as the book has been closed for the last time – it most certainly won’t be a re-read any time soon at least – and I can now write my review. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Continue reading “Book Review: The Fiery Cross”