Solidarity Sunday #12: Ritual

Rowing was a religion for me, composed of a set of rituals and movements repeated until they became a meditation.

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

I am just now, very belatedly, listening to the Artemis Fowl series on audiobook. I know, I know, they’re middle-grade and perhaps not meant for a woman of my age, being somehow already in my mid-thirties.

However, I am a firm believer in the idea that books are not meant for any particular time of life. You may read a more adult piece of literary fiction at 15 (as I did when I read Jane Eyre) and find it changes your perspective on life. On the flip side, you may read works meant for young teens in your thirties and find yourself grinning ear to ear at their brilliance (as I am now). Regardless of your age, good writing is good writing, is it not?

I don’t care how old you are – do you not want to dive into these shelves and never leave? Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

OK, Erin, what is your point.

Well, in the first Artemis Fowl book, without giving away any spoilers, we find out that The People (magical beings such as fairies) are required to regularly perform The Ritual to ensure that their magic powers remain topped up and ready to use. If a fairy goes too long without performing The Ritual, their powers may fail them when they need them most.

While we mere humans (or, mud people as we are called in these novels) may not have a supply of magical powers, we too rely on various rituals in order to feel and perform our best.

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Reading Roundup: September 2021

What our lives but a series of farewells and returns, no?

Esi Edugyan, Washington Black

After last month’s triumphant exclamation of having finally found a good rhythm for my reading habit…this past month knocked this nascent habit off course. Again. I’m trying not to get too impatient, however, as my lovely toddler’s sleep regressions are no joke (and in no way under my control).

This isn’t the season of my life when I’m going to do the most reading. I keep having to remind myself of this fact. And, more importantly, reminding myself that I’m not bidding the habit of reading farewell but rather À Bientôt! Because to this habit I will return. Eventually.

But, for now, I did manage to read some interesting articles and blogs in September, if not so many books.

Hmm…there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

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Solidarity Sunday #11: Rest

People who know what they’re doing have a purposeful air to them, even if they don’t seem to be particularly active

Francis Pryor, Home

Hello my dear readers. I hope this missive finds you well, truly well, or as well as can be given the uncertainties of our times.

Yes, I know, all time can be said to be uncertain since all we can do is experience the present as it is without the means (or perhaps even the desire) to change the past or to predict the future. But this last year-and-a-half has seemed even more hazy, has it not? Hazy in the literal sense with the continuation of the horrific forest fires being fought and, unfortunately, succumbed to when all else fails in communities all over the world (to say nothing of the heat domes, floods and, conversely, droughts). But for the majority of us this time has been hazy in the figurative sense as we struggle with a collective brain fog making what were once every day activities seem exhausting and perhaps pointless.

Right now, in Ontario at least, we are in a bit of a lull as far as the pandemic is concerned. This is not to suggest that our frontline workers are not pushing themselves to the limit every day to keep us all safe, fed, clothed and healthy – because they are – but rather that our case numbers have been thankfully reduced to something slightly more manageable overall. For now.

But is another wave coming? Some say yes, some say no. And I will not claim the all-too-common title of internet-accredited epidemiologist whose views are confirmed and bolstered by the echo chambers of the world wide web. I will simply say that I am hoping another wave can be avoided, that I am cautiously optimistic about this, but that I am preparing myself internally for another lockdown if such measures are necessary for us to get through this damn thing once and for all.

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Solidarity Sunday #10: Uncertainty

She wanted so to be tranquil, to be someone who took walks in the late-afternoon sun, listening to the birds and crickets and feeling the whole world breathe. Instead, she lived in her head like a madwoman locked in a tower, hearing the wind howling through her hair and waiting for someone to come and rescue her from feeling things so deeply that her bones burned. She had plenty of evidence that she had a good life. She just couldn’t feel the life she saw she had. It was as though she had a cancer of the perspective.

Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Now, let me just preface this with saying that the use of the quote above is not in any way shape or form a cry for help. I’m very aware that I am lucky enough to have an incredibly wonderful life that is so full of joy, adventure and happiness.

And yet.

This quote spoke to me when I flipped through my book of beautiful words today because of the peculiar experience we are all living in this moment (or at least, in most parts of Canada, I recognize each nation’s experience is different).

More and more people are getting vaccinated and as a result, case numbers have been falling and life is starting to open up again. And when I say open up, I don’t mean just economically. People throughout the country are feeling free to once again hug their loved ones, to show off babies born during the depths of the pandemic, to heave a sigh of relief over a long-overdue drink with a dear friend.

And, believe me, I’ve been feeling much of this relief as well. My family has remained fairly careful but we are indeed starting to see more people: if still largely socially-distanced (something my 18-month-old daughter struggles to understand). I even had Aria in Mom-and-Tot swimming lessons this past week which was glorious – and her development has advanced in leaps and bounds simply as a result of those 5 days around other kids. It’s magnificent to watch.

But.

And yes, there is still a but. This isn’t over. While Louis and I are both vaccinated, Aria is not (and nor are any of our friends’ kids). So opening up completely is still out of the question. And then you have the Delta variant emerging more and more causing case numbers to crawl up again and bringing with it the looming threat of further lockdowns.

So, you have this confluence of society opening up, vaccines being doled out to those willing to take them, and new more contagious and dangerous variants leading to a perfect storm of…uncertainty.

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Reading Roundup: July 2021

His money went largely towards books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.

Michelle Obama, Becoming

It only took me months to do so (or years really if you look at when it was published) but I finally finished Michelle Obama’s Becoming this month and I must say it was well worth the time commitment. Now, let me be clear, I do not mean that this is not an especially long book but rather that finding 18 hours to listen to the audiobook proved challenging with an 18-month-old to run around after. But, I did it! It has finally been moved to my “Read” list. And it feels damn good.

This book is infinitely quotable. Michelle’s writing style is lyrical and moving filled with keen observations and oh so much heart. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing reviews of audiobooks on here – I suppose that depends if I remain in this slump of physical book readings – but consider this my highest recommendation. Do give it a go if you have the chance!

While I won’t be doing a deep dive into my reflections on her book here (perhaps in a later post…) I will say that the quote I featured above actually elicited an unexpectedly joyful reaction in me as I recognized part of myself in the former President of the United States (and one of the few I have legitimately admired while in office – don’t sue me).

Ask my husband, our house is chockfull of books. I’m talking more bookshelves than any other piece of furniture we own, and each of them completely filled to the brim. And the piles, oh the piles of books without a home. And the worst part? Most of them I haven’t even yet read! I just can’t help picking up every single intriguing book I come across. They truly are irresistible to me.

Well, OK, I guess I’m not treating them like sacred objects if I’m piling them all over the place but…they are most certainly a ballast to my ever-turbulent mind.

And with that, let’s take a look at all the not-books I read this month instead of rescuing some of the ever-multiplying tomes from their dusty prisons!

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Solidarity Sunday #9: Technology

Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence.”

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

I’m posting this one day late for a very good reason, which is that I got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday! As a result, yesterday was a bit of a write-off with my immune system trying to figure out how to handle this new intruder but I’m feeling much better today. And so, Solidarity Monday it is!

Thus, without further ado, lets talk about technology in the pandemic, shall we?

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Late to the Stay-At-Home-Mom Game

And so Clara sat and watched and waited. And knew the agony of doing nothing.”

Louise Penny, Still Life

*Trigger Warning* Miscarriage

I had originally scheduled my next book review for today – and may post it as a bonus post later this week instead – but as I have been focusing on my mental health this week in response to the latest (albeit unsurprising) extension of the lockdown here in Ontario, I felt a change of plans was in order.

This is a post I have been ruminating on for a while now. A difficult one for me to write because I’m not sure how much of the insanity of last year I want to share with the world just yet.

Despite my hesitation, my feelings on this topic have been begging to be written down, to be shared, to be allowed a resolution and a sense of closure. So, here goes.

I have technically been a stay-at-home mom (though one working several freelance contracts simultaneously) since July of last year. While I went back to work initially three months after giving birth to Aria, I found that the stress of keeping on top of all my work tasks while keeping a little human alive was too much for my mental health to handle. Not to mention the fact that we were all also trying to find our rhythm in the midst of a global pandemic.

I don’t know how mothers in countries without parental leave do it…

But I digress.

It took until Aria was already almost a year old to finish this room for her. But isn’t it beautiful? (Photo: Erin of the Hills)
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Solidarity Sunday #7: Spring

…shielding my eyes from the brightness of the window, from the day I am not yet awake enough to meet.

Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Day the Falls Stood Still

Well, that’s just life during a global pandemic, is it not? It’s hard enough at the best of times to great each day with unbridled enthusiasm (especially if you happen to be resolutely NOT a morning person, like me…) let alone when we are living through a once-in-a-lifetime worldwide crisis that makes each day seem to bleed into the next.

How are we supposed to meet the day when we aren’t even quite sure what to call it? Monday? Friday? Wedursday? What month are we even in?

I would apologize again for missing a post just after finally committing to a schedule I thought would work for me but, well, what’s the point? Who even knows what year it is anymore.

Don’t worry, though, this post isn’t going to just be all doom and gloom. I promise.

See? No doom and gloom here (Photo: Erin of the Hills)
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Solidarity Sunday #6: Missed Milestones

Yet no certainty is possible. We must accustom our eyes to the twilight

Peter Ackroyd, Foundation

When I sat down to write this today I confess that I was completely unsure of what day of the week it was. I had all the best intentions to start scheduling posts ahead of time (I even have an ambitious schedule of post already brainstormed and posted on a lined sheet of paper on the wall beside my desk) and yet, so far, this level of organization has eluded me.

Now, one might ask, does not the fact that Monday begins the workweek give it some kind of dreaded importance making it an impossible day to forget? Perhaps for most this is the case but since I have decided to forgo the 9-5 existence in order to stay home with my little Aria, the days of the week have accordingly lost their typical structure leading to days that feel full and fast on their own as opposed to simply things to get through until the weekend rolls around once more.

But what about my husband? Doesn’t his work schedule make it easier to remember what day of the week it is? Another good question, hypothetical reader of mine. Yes, Louis does work full-time at a more typical 9-5 type job which necessitates remembering the existence of Mondays. However, since we have been slogging through this never-ending pandemic, he has had the great fortune of working from home which means Sundays are not capped off by a desperate attempt to be under the covers at a decent hour in preparation for an obscenely early wake-up call. His hours being a bit more flexible, and minus the typical commute, Mondays have lost their ubiquitous “beginning of the work week blues” and have now become only a bit more structured than the two glorious weekend days.

What is the point of all this, you ask?

Another great question!

Only that I meant to write this post yesterday and quite literally forgot it was Saturday. That’s why.

So, after that loquacious beginning, lets get to today’s topic. Shall we? It’s related to all this, I swear.

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Reading Roundup: March 2021

Wisdom may be rented, so to speak, on the experience of other people, but we buy it at an inordinate price before we make it our own forever.

Robertson Davies, Leaven of Malice

As I was going through my book of quotes today (woefully out of date as it is since my novel reading has fallen drastically over the past few years…) I came across this sentence written by the brilliant Canadian author Robertson Davies – one of my husband’s favourites!

What struck me about this quote was the image of a price for wisdom. For me, that price seems to be time as I have so many things I am curious about, so much I wish to learn, and yet all of this takes time. Time which is hard to find as a first-time-mom working from home during a pandemic.

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