Pandemic, Day 4 – Spontaneous Solidarity

Day 4: I have no idea, honestly, what provoked me.

In the last few days, I’ve strived to lessen my intake of pandemic rhetoric. (BIV Publisher Kirk LaPointe has an excellent editorial on how one of the gifts of all of this is the opportunity to spark a misinformation eradication mission here: https://biv.com/…/covid-19-crisis-should-spark-misinformati…)

That’s when it happened.

There I was, scanning the headlines, trying to avoid anything that appeared to pontificate on who is to blame and why we should hate someone new, and a piece about how travel start-ups are surviving this downturn caught my eye. I get that being sick is what most people are focused on. My mind, however, dwells not on the virus so much as the global economic crisis spurred on by it.

The article felt neutral enough to wade into without worrying about amplifying my anxiety.

So, I read on.

There they were, GetYourGuide. My own familiarity with the name surprised me. I had no idea they were a Berlin-based travel start-up company. What I did know is that when I became travel-obsessed over France, and then Spain, GetYourGuide was everywhere I wanted to be. They had cool side trips, meet-ups, interesting excursions, a great website, walking tours, lots of great ways for me—the mid-life woman who travels sans companions—to dive in and explore a place with a knowledgeable guide at my side.

The article was the neutral oasis I’d hoped for and proved very interesting. It touted financial prudence in business and how, through that restraint shown early, all three companies in the article turned their sales teams into customer service teams to manage the onslaught of cancellations and display strong confidence that they can withstand the significant downturn.

This is getting a bit political and slightly preachy. So, I will retreat back to my purpose here. My share is not about the places you access information or being smart in business. This, my dear ones, is about small acts of love in unexpected places.

All I could think about after reading the article was how the folks at companies such as GetYourGuide must be at the very end of their wits. Their mental health must be teetering. Their teams fight the fires of people, in the midst of sickness and worry, possibly loss of income and stability, also watching their sacred investment of money set aside for the most-necessary break from daily life disappear with little chance of recovering it.

So, I went to the website and began to type.

Let me be clear, I’m a realist and aware of why GetYourGuide tugged at my heart. I’ve got a huge chunk of cash wrapped up in what I believe to be the start of my annual solo adventures. This October, it is meant to be Spain. Will I be able to go? Who knows. However, I’m planning on it unless circumstances demonstrate the trip to be foolish.

I also want to be clear that travel isn’t something I take as an indulgence or a fancy. I waited almost 50 years to do it out of fear. To me, after France, it became the blood in my body. It manifested into the breath of my life. It is the embodiment of my independence, my sovereignty. It takes on a presence as my companion through the ongoing process of opening myself to all that I do not yet know.

Managing my emotions surrounding the potential loss of it in the midst of just finding it is pretty damn visceral. However, I’m confident that, if not this year, I’ll eventually be back on the road more devoted than ever to exploring.

I wanted to share my faith in tomorrow, for just a moment, with these folks who I’ve never met, whom I am confident don’t know the CEOs, who probably make $12 an hour to serve as customer service rep/counselors/keepers of the dreams.

So, I wrote:

Hi folks.
I just read a story about GetYourGuide and how you are managing the coronavirus outbreak.
I just wanted to send love and support to all of you.
I still have a major trip planned for October of this year and my plan is to show some big love to GetYourGuide when it comes time to book tours to places.

Standing in solidarity.
Robin Rivers

I received this response:

Dear Robin,
Greetings from GetYourGuide!
Your feedback is important and appreciated.
We humbly send you our gratitude and for putting a smile on our faces. You are a blessing!
Have a wonderful day and stay safe!

Kind regards,
Ann
GetYourGuide Support

Even if it was just the lovely Ann who saw it, wow. What a moment of sharing good energy.

So, let this time be one where we reach out to strangers and give them a bit of ease. Show the love, remind them and ourselves that life will come back online. Everything right now is forcing us to change, to let go of what we thought was going to happen, to consider our own expectations and how we navigate disappointment in order to recalibrate. None of us can force the wheel of daily life back into place, but we can show love.

Go rise to the challenge of it all. Send a note to a random stranger about something you admire happening in the midst of this.

It matters.

Pandemic, Day 3 – Manifesting Happiness

woman-with-sad-unhappy-face-holding-mask-fake-smile_88813-245Day 3: What is it with all the “your attitude needs to be gratitude” being shoveled at us by the be-happy crowd these days?

I have to tell you, I find this whole find-the-good-in-everything jibber-jabber is really irritating when everything has gone into the sewage pit of a crap day or a crap series of days—or in the case of 2020 so far, a crap year.

We’ve all had them, this brutal, soul-squelching run of nothing but negative. Getting out of the hole is nothing short of miraculous.

Or is it?

Like I said yesterday, I’m big into manifestation. The curious part is, it goes both ways. We joke around our house that it turns out I AM the center of the universe (ha). However, the reality is that when I am focused on human flaws or my own insecurities when I worry about things I cannot control or am running around the house stomping my feet, things get ugly fast in my little pod of peeps. I actually create more negativity. It’s like, well, a virus.

Does that mean I have the power to offer a mending sensibility when it comes to this already crap year? Hmmm, that seems like a lot of pressure.

No time for wallowing, because the answer is yes.

I’ve always known this. For whatever reason, the energy of the family is mine to maintain. I can send others to war or negotiate peace.

Again with the pressure. Can’t I just wallow without being nagged about these kinds of responsibilities?

I complain, yet, when I step into thoughtful dialogue and compassionate contact, hmmm, amazing, everyone is chill. When I lose my shit, well, you can imagine the tsunami.

The other morning, I read this article on the art of being grateful on the hardest of days. It got me right where I needed it because, well, these last few weeks have been a whopper at our house well beyond the coronavirus.

I’d started to descend into the fear and anger of it all—snarky, distant, demanding.

War was brewing.

Waking up proved harder and harder. Those be-happy people became incredibly irritating once again. I tore up my lists of all the things I love and ripped down all of my little post-it notes with “go slay this day” sort of quotes that dot spaces in the house where I regularly go.

I am, on the good days, one of those be-happy people. I stretch into it and slather myself with a dig-in mentality about keeping in the flow of goodness. When it gets hard, the mask gets ripped off. Be gone, easy happy tasks. Life was pissing me off and being grateful proved stupid.

Then, I watched what was happening around me while I was on fire. Kids=snarky. Husband=distant. Friendships=quiet. The bigger my flames grew, the bigger the pile of crazy that manifested.

“Um, dude, are you like seriously this sadistic?” I asked myself. “Change your approach, woman. See what happens.”

The observation, after I chilled the hell out, reconnected with several of my most favourite people, and focused on my house full of beautiful humans proved, dare I say it, that I could single-handedly manifest happiness.

The wee one started making movies, the big kid reconnected with old friends who have been out of her life for ages, Ken started a new personal project that he’s been delaying for a year.

Well, dammit, it would seem that the art of gratitude on the hardest of days is all about the choices we make in the midst of those challenges.

It’s not for me to say to you, “Go make a list of what you are grateful for” or anything like that because gratitude and that satisfaction with life is manifested in so many different, beautiful, and impactful ways.

My challenge to you is to simply go manifest something beautiful during these really hard days.

I see it in people such as Robin Blackburn who posts gorgeous architecture and photos of the majesty of the human body every day.

I’m in love with the topics Kate Schofield Beem is having that bring forth prescient issues that require contemplation and conversation.

Elisabeth Rae Collett took us all on a tour through her Italy yesterday that brought me to tears with its beauty and personal connection.

We don’t have to fake happy. This time in our lives is hard. However, we can be the center of our universe and raise the energy of that universe up, giving others a bit of relief.

I’m going to go celebrate the fact that everyone in my house is still asleep and I can go work on the novel for another hour or so.

Go rise, my friends. We got this.

Pandemic, Day 2: Where Do You Find A Moment’s Peace?

Where do you find a literal moment’s peace in the midst of fear and anxiety?

For me, it’s the songs of the heavens. I find it strange to write those words because religion and I broke up a long time ago as I searched for my own connection to the Beyond.

I’ve been, at times, an angry agnostic—the collective mindset of religion and its history of believe or be banished is not my thing and often it was easier to think it wrong rather than see it as a different entry point into the mysteries than my own.

My experience in France last year shifted that perspective beyond what I ever imagined.

I find it wonderful and synchronistic in that it happened at that same time I immersed myself in a deep exploration of the potential of collective conscious. Could I, as part of the collective, expand the larger ability to create by understanding my own ability to generate personal consciousness? Could I heal myself and my family with self-compassion? Could I change the energy and the perspective of those around me just by working on how I contribute to the collective?

Yes, my friends. Oh my, big oh my, yes.

That whole concept of what you put your energy into is what multiplies in your life is real. Manifestation is fast and absolutely magical when directed to a single point and combined with doing the necessary work. Just ask Jason Rivers​ or the light-bringer Elana Epstein​, or my provocative, thoughtful friend Lindsey Lewis​. They are vessels of the power, showing us that getting in the driver’s seat of your life and believing in yourself means the possibilities are endless—if you are open to them.

The songs of the heavens, which alighted upon me during a powerful day of observed silence at Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud​ in France, brought all of my exploration around collective consciousness into perspective. It and the deep power which the abbey held opened me to the real potential of human energy and how we as a collective can rise above that which seeks to drain us.

It is through the echo of these majestic voices that I stepped away from the anger attached to my agnostic search for meaning. Collective prayer, sacred space, those places where the connection to the Beyond are profound, are crucial to driving the energy of the Earth upward and into the realm of deeper awareness of who we are. One is not better or stronger or righter than the other, they are deep sources of our ability to seek out and multiply that which we have forgotten is our OWN light and how one person’s growing light illuminates for others.

Illumination is not the easy path. In fact, self-examination and the true creation of light is one of the most challenging paths any of us will ever take. However, the songs of the heavens give me space to see, for a moment, the value in that work and the illumination that awaits all of us if we come together and rise.

I return to this brief song as often as I need to—after a crazy morning with the kids, in the middle of the night after my dreams take me beyond comfort, when I require a portal in time to write, when communing with the Beyond offers me a necessary sojourn.

Whether your path looks like mine or not, I hope this hymn brings you a bit of respite from the rest of the world today.

Here’s to driving ourselves in the direction of collective illumination.

New Glasses

That first day I sat in the big, fake leather chair at the eye doctor’s office, my little spirit shook.

At age 6, I couldn’t see the board at school. Typical. In my heart, though, I knew.

My eyes. Oh, my eyes.

Twice, sometimes three and even four times a year, I sat in that same chair as the world around me blurred in more dramatic ways.

“She could lose her sight,” I heard the doctor once say.

Somewhere around age 10, though, the doctor visits slowed. No one explained why. In my heart, though, I knew.

I wouldn’t lose my sight, but spend my life deeply obligated to my glasses and the health of my eyes.

In the years that followed, dozens of pairs of glasses came and went. I treated each eye doctor visit as self-care and fell in love with the routine of making sure my peepers got top-shelf treatment.

Graduating into progressives three years ago, I knew the annual glasses replacement would have to slow (they are damn expensive).  My last pair took a beating, literally on life support for the last few months.

So, when it came time to level up my prescription, I found that thrill of picking out the new pair and taking care of mes yeux rushing back.

Here are the results.

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The Writer’s Studio – Personal Sovereignty

My brother said something to me the other day, “Robin, you have to really look at your sovereignty and ask yourself why you are letting XX affect you this way.”

I’d been complaining to him a lot, irritated by people who we like to call petty tyrants—those who exert their control by forcing what they know is a habitual reaction from you in order to manipulate.

He, however, was having none of it and told me so. I found it impossible to debate the merits of his assessment. I’d given my personal responsibility away and blamed it on another person.

I’d been procrastinating and whining about not having enough time for the things I love for a month. It definitely had to be because of all of these tyrants.

Over the course of the next few days, as I grew increasingly short-tempered in a wide range of areas related to freeing myself of these damned tyrants, I heard his bellowing voice in my head, “Why are you giving away your authority over the way your life plays out?”

My aggression with others grew and grew. My mind offered no willingness to bend to things I’d, before that point, conceded to for any number of reasons.  I blamed others for my limited work on my novel writing, for frustrations at work, for situations that left me without things I needed, for communication that never quite communicated what I desired.

The funny thing was life didn’t get any better with all of this standing up for myself. It actually devolved. 

Intolerant and thoroughly pissed off at others, I’d reached my  boiling point. Everyone received my venom. I’d become a tyrant in defense against tyrants, lost myself and my productivity in the ugly circle of fury.

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That’s when my husband stepped in.

“Robin, you control how you work and create and move through the world. Set the parameters, walk away from that which does not serve who you really are, and go from there.”

At that moment, my husband’s sage words sparked a deeper realization of what my brother meant—how I’d been taking the hatchet to myself thinking I was standing up to others. How I could make my way back to my creative, productive, communicative, centered self.  He wasn’t telling me to go kick some butt. He spoke of sovereignty in terms of responsibility for how one reacts to others as they move into and out of your life.

It wouldn’t take days or even hours. It took about ten seconds to step into that responsibility and say, “I will choose to serve the health and well-being of me, my sweet family, and what we need to live our best, most purposeful lives. I will react in a way perpetuating such purpose.”

Understanding that my ability to navigate through life is first and most significantly impacted by the mindset going in shifted my perspective and sparked a renewed sense of purpose.

So, as August dips out of sight and the start of Fall descends upon us, I’m going to dig in and live with more purpose through the simple yet incredibly demanding act of personal sovereignty—taking responsibility for how I respond to the ebbs and flows of my life, and determining through my own actions how it all plays out.

Lunch With My Grandparents

When I was a kid, my grandfather would go out to the garden first thing in the morning and come back around noon with an armful of cucumbers and tomatoes.

My grandmother would cut and serve them for lunch. Fresh garden veg is one of my most profound memories of my grandparents.

Today, garden-fresh cukes and tomatoes for lunch.

Just like at my grandparent’s house.

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48

As I ring in my 48th year today, I find myself truly cherishing this place in my life.

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B-Day gift from my oldest daughter. I love her artwork. 

The Little Things

My husband is not particularly sentimental in an outward sort of way. He reserves that space for me, as sentimentality is a condition I dine on daily.

So, when he wandered home tonight with three bundles of the flowers we had at our wedding (my favourite) and a box of croquembouche from the local bakery for my birthday, my heart could not contain itself.

We’ve spent the last 20 years together and the relationship is one of comfort and mutual respect. To wash his socks that he needs for tomorrow means something. Lilies and French pastry from our wedding mean something.

These are the most wonderful gifts —ones that find themselves infused with the knowing that the person receiving them gets the thought that went into them.

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Time Machine Travels – 1975

A few months back, I asked my step-father to begin transferring over to me all of the photography and historical documents from our family.

I’ve always held dear the responsibility of family historian, and he graciously agreed to begin the long process after spending the last few years digitizing most of it.

Amongst the family trees, gorgeous photography, and art from the late 19th and early 20th century, a collection of more recent pictures flung me back to 1975.

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Me and my brother

Life in 1975, at the tender age of 4, proved pretty basic. We’d moved from the Mid-West to the Rocky Mountains of the United States, and I adored my wee bain of a brother.

These pictures are pure magic and a little heartachy all at once.

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Getting ready for church on Easter Sunday, 1975

My mom looks so fresh and wonderful in these photos. Gone almost four years now, I miss her and wish often to be able to consult her on so many things despite our challenging relationship as mother and daughter.

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Summer fun

This series is from the first year at my childhood home where we lived for more than a decade. I was surprised at first to see how shabby the backyard was as my parents always took great care, but remembered that they’d bought the home to fix up. These are so cute.

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My mom and brother in the backyard of our childhood home.

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Sister and brother always together

My brother and I, who remain extremely close, had a good cry over these yesterday before recognizing that they also very much defined the nature of the two of us as siblings.

Our time machine trip proved a sweet reminder of our constant bond, and how time cannot strip away connection.