Resolving 2020

Who you are is defined by the next decision you make, not the last one” – Rachel Hollis, Girl, Stop Apologizing

Hello dear readers, if you are indeed still out there. It’s been a few days. OK, it’s been over a month, but who’s counting?

I am, to be honest. And I’ve been struggling really hard not to spend a good chunk of my time every day beating myself up at least a little for how much I have allowed my writing goals to take a back seat this year (and I’m talking the back seat of a 747, not a mini-cooper).

When I actually allow myself to pause for a minute and attempt to cut myself some slack, however, I find myself reflecting on what actually happened this past year that pushed writing from the priority I wanted it to be to the “wouldn’t it be nice” archival section of my brain. Not only did I get married in June, in a largely DIY-wedding (shout-out to our wedding party of 20 people and all of the family and friends who made this possible), but I also became pregnant with our first child (due in mid-January), bought a house, got a new job, and moved out of Ottawa (the city where I was born-and-raised). Any one of these things could potentially throw a resolution or two out of whack but all of them? Suffice it to say pretty much every single resolution I wrote about in my last New Years themed post was successfully defenestrated somewhere between January and December of 2019. 

But here’s the funny thing about resolutions: they are entirely self-imposed. No one, and I mean no one, is going to judge you for not achieving them. Even if you’re the type of person who shouts their 10 New Years Resolutions from the proverbial rooftops, by the time the first week of January has passed even the people who love you most have already forgotten what exactly you had set out to do with your new year. And by December? Most people don’t even remember their own resolutions, why would they remember – and thus judge you for not achieving – yours?

So, recognizing that I am by far my own harshest critic, I have been working hard to focus not on what I didn’t do this year but instead on what I did. I’d say playing a huge role in pulling off an enormous bilingual wedding is a pretty solid start. Growing a human? Not unimpressive. Finding a new job in a completely new niche and making it my own? Fairly notable. Buying and helping to set up a new family home? At least worth a smile and a pat on the back. 

These accomplishments are nothing to sniff at and I need to remind myself daily of how much has transpired this year and, yes, even marvel for a minute at the fact that I am still smiling despite the months of stress and constant anticipation for the next big thing.

Even if nothing about my hectic version of 2019 resonates with you, I bet the following observation will. Along with all the specific achievements I listed above, and even more than any of them or all of them combined, the aspect that I find most remarkable is my ability to dream up a new list of resolutions even after my last ones crashed and burned so spectacularly. I mean, how incredible is the human spirit that even after setting goals and getting nowhere near the finish line on any of them, we can resolve anew to better certain aspects of our life in the coming year? I could just as easily tell myself resolutions were simply not for me and give up on the idea entirely (and, indeed, if resolutions are not your thing, no judgment! To each their own), but instead I sit down at my desk yet again and put pen to paper to determine what my big goals are for the year. Never doubt the power of perseverance, even when it seems most futile. Something is bound to stick at some point!

So, as far as 2020 is concerned, I have decided to narrow down my resolutions to three big ones in the three main areas of my life where I want to see improvement (you know, while I simultaneously learn to be a parent…):

  1. Mental Health: This year, I would like to explore my coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety (meditation, reading, exercise – especially yoga, time with loved ones, entertainment, writing) and put into place a game plan for when I am feeling overwhelmed or panicky. 
  2. Fitness: This year, I would like to return to my bare minimum of doing yoga every single day (once I am recovered from childbirth that is) and add exercise from there. Even with a kid, if I could get back to exercising every day of the week, say just for 20 minutes some days, I know I can get back to a place where I feel strong and healthy and comfortable in my own skin.
  3. Career: Finally, this year I aim to take the leap to put myself out there as a writer and editor. I know I have the ability, I just have to have the courage to try. Even if my efforts only produce enough recognition and payment to provide some extra cushion to our budget, I can say I am getting paid to do what I love. How cool would that be?

So there you have it, three broad goals for 2020 to put myself firmly on the path I have strived to walk all my life: one that leads to a happy, healthy and fulfilled existence I can be proud of. The lack of specificity was entirely on purpose, by the way. I have found in the past that setting specific goals (I.e.: I resolve to not have a single panic attack this year or I will write for 30 minutes every day) tends to encourage making excuses for why I cannot check that box off on this particular day until a month goes by without any real progress. I find the more broad I make my resolutions, the more likely I am to chip away at them instead of allow them to hang intimidatingly above my head. 

Ultimately, I am trying to look forward as much as possible instead of back – to define myself by my current and future decisions, not my past excuses. I have no idea if this new strategy will be successful but I do know it is worth a shot.

So, what resolutions have you set out for yourself this year (if any)? What’s your take on what kind of resolutions are most successful? I’d love to hear more perspectives on this.

I promise I will return to my France trip on my next post, thank you for indulging this little tradition of mine for my last post of 2019.

And remember, whether you succeed in your resolve or not, life is beautiful.

xo Erin

Strange Jewels

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”  – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This post is going to be briefer than most but as it is serving as the intro to my next grouping of travel tales, I think this is appropriate.

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this particular piece so I started where I always do when my access to the creative recesses of my mind is blocked: I started going through my quote book and my journal to see if anything sparks inspiration.

In flipping through both tomes, I came across both the quote that began this blog (side note: if you see yourself as a creative, or aspire to be a creative, or are curious about the untapped potential of your own creativity, do yourself a favour and read that brilliant book) as well as a couple of journal entries from the months leading up to this trip. As per usual, I was immediately struck at how well these two sources fit together – it really feels as if some unknown force is guiding me towards the exact inspiration I need to read sometimes.

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Nature is Talking

“One day you’ll hear them. In the quiet, some whisper you’d mistaken for the wind all your life. But it’ll be the trees. Nature is talking to us all the time, it’s just hearing it that’s the problem.”

-Louise Penny, The Cruelest Month

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Casualties of Life

“Pierre sometimes felt like an emergency room physician. People streamed through his door, casualties of city life, lugging a heavy World behind them. Broken by too many demands, too little time, too many bills, emails, meetings, calls to return, too little thanks and too much, way too much, pressure… It wasn’t servile work they did at Manoir Bellechasse, Pierre knew. It was noble and crucial. They put people back together. Though some, he knew, were more broken than others.”Louise Penny, The Murder Stone

This is not going to be an easy post to write but part of me feels like I have been waiting most of my adult life to do just that. I promised an explanation for why I had been so absent from this blog, so here goes.

I suffer from anxiety. Not as crippling as it could be perhaps, but disruptive and intrusive nonetheless. There, I said it. I tend to refer to my anxiety with the more generic title of “emotions” to make it seem more manageable but it’s time I call it by its real name.

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A Lovely, Luxurious Lull

“There will be no lovely luxurious time while the fizzing drink cures the head and the coffee sends out soothing noises and smells from the percolator.” – Maeve Binchy, Whitehorn Woods

I am now about halfway through the telling of this particular adventure and I thought I would take this post to pause for a moment – a luxury one does not often have on a backpacking trip, no matter how conscious one attempts to be to the need to rest and recover.

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Life’s Hidden Symmetry

“It’s possible that a hidden symmetry is often at work as we stumble our way through life.” – Elizabeth Hay, Alone in the Classroom

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Enjoying the ocean views in Cape Breton, 2015

There are so many things about life that never cease to amaze. It feels like only yesterday I was last here, stumbling my way through a maze of past feelings and thoughts to try and convey them intelligibly to those who choose to read my words. And yet, here we are more than a year later and I am finally returning to the written word. What a year it has been.

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On the Road to … Something

“For a work of this kind is never a monologue – it is an uninterrupted conversation with those of the past whose thoughts we study, and with those whose task it still is to build the future out of the heritage of the past. And this conversation goes on, after the work has been completed and has become, itself, part of the past.”

– Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism (1943)

As per usual, it has been forever since my last post. I’d like to say it’s because I am a fascinatingly eccentric freelance writer with old money who only deigns to write something down when a strike of brilliance hits. 

Nope.

It’s quite the opposite. While I may be quite eccentric in my own way (is that redundant? I think eccentricity implies uniqueness…) I am also a barely-financially-independent grad student with a penchant to take on way too much and only the best of intentions to recommend myself to those few who spend their hard-earned time to read this blog and… well… humanity at large.

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Ireland’s Garden

“This is the place that sustains me. This is where I have planted myself. It is a refuge where I restore myself.”

– Oscar-Winner Daniel Day-Lewis on his home in Wicklow

Cloudy SkiesThis is so long overdue it’s incredible but I feel as if much has been accomplished today so I can allow myself a wee bit of time for musing and writing, right?

        It’s high time I introduced (or re-introduced) you all to the wonders that are encompassed in Ireland’s Wicklow National Park, also known as my 2nd…3rd? 4th… OK one of my MANY homes (there’s no limit on this).

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History Lives Most Vividly in the Imagination – Inspired by the Senses

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find

something. You certainly usually find something, if you

look, but it is not always quite the something you were

after.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Wow this post was a long time coming. I actually started it on the 16th of June if you’ll believe it and suddenly a month had passed and an ocean and half a continent had been crossed before my thoughts returned to the quiet beauty of Wicklow National Park. I’m hoping the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to visit the county 3 times in my life will make writing this from memory easier so lets see how this goes. I have a feeling this will end up a 2-part post.

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Ireland’s Craic

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Why am I starting with this photo? Because it was taken in Ireland and I think it’s beautiful, simple as that, circa 2010

As I sit in the upper lobby of my bewilderingly large hostel trying to decide whether the neon glow of the Generator’s welcome sign is gaudy or curiously comforting, a lone uilleann pipe begins its beautiful wailing just below me on the other side of the steel railings. As other instruments quickly join in on the melody the scenery transforms from the hostel that remains my sometimes-overcrowded-place-of-residence for the next two weeks into  a warm and cozy local inn-like atmosphere where I instantly feel happy and at home. Honestly, I was half waiting for Merry and Pippin to jump on the tables and start stomping their feet to the music. OK, so I might STILL be waiting for that to happen – it’s good to dream right?

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