Exposed

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Intentionally stripped bare.
That was my 2019.
I ripped the layers of myself so far back to the very core, I was sure I’d die of exposure.

By far, it emerged as the most incredible year of my life.
 

I discovered a woman I’d put to sleep as a child out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to control her; that she would burn me; that people would—well—it didn’t matter because all of that hiding only isolated me from everything and everyone that mattered.

More than once this past year, and in rather dramatic Robin fashion, I stepped off the ledge of that life, intentionally kept small by my own fears, and discovered my own ability to fly.

Acknowledging and embracing the call to teach; leaving for France and the time there alone; returning to answer a call from spirit; believing in my own worth enough to launch ACW.

I let all that I’ve seen and known about myself all my life emerge without any apologies.

And, now, I see with so much more than my eyes, hear with so much more than my ears, believe with so much more than faith.

Women of my generation – I see you.
Women of my generation – I hear you.
Women of my generation – I believe in you.

Rise up, my sisters. 2020 is calling.

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.

A Longing For Places You’ve Never Been

The Germans got it right with their word for wanderlust.

Fernweh, or farsickness, is the perfect description for the longing I’ve held within myself for as long as I can remember.

I get super swoony over the wonderment brought on by thoughts of heading off to other places. It’s where I go when I read, but even more so when I write.

Like that moment in Out of Africa (#2 on my top 5 swoony movies of all time list) when Meryl Streep says to Robert Redford, “I have been a mental traveler.”

(Pretty sure I was Karen Blixen in another life)

I recall the very moments of when this all began. As a child, I spent my days announcing to my parents that I would travel the world as a biologist or an archeologist. I would speak ten languages. I would seek out the elephants of Africa, the ruins of South America, the ghosts of Medieval France.

My father, a bit wanderlusty himself, first gifted me with a subscription to National Geographic. I pored through the pages, careful never to crumple or tear the stories within them, as I believed they would serve as my travel guide to all of the places my soul longed to take in.

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I got on my first plane when I was 8. Back in the prehistoric ages (1979), it was totally cool to put two young kids on an airplane in Denver, let them change planes in Chicago, and let their auntie pick them up in Toronto or Buffalo so they could stay the Summer with their cousins. We did that every year until I was probably 12. When people freak out about me traveling alone as an adult, I tell them that story and we never speak of such fears again.

Since then, it is an unsatisfied ache that I cannot contain.
I’ve lived and traveled all over North America (43 states, 8 provinces) on my own and with my family. We, as a family, camped our way across Canada twice, deliberately left our lives on Vancouver Island in order to spend a year in Halifax just to experience the Atlantics. As a younger adult, I moved every 18 months from the time I was 22 until I was 35.  I married a Canadian, immigrated to another country.

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Looking back as I write this, I realize how much traveling I have actually done. There’s just one hiccup in all of that – I have never left the continent. I didn’t even have a passport until I was 30.

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My tendency is to lean toward a willingness to exaggerate the rationale behind this little crimp in my fernweh in order to avoid my underlying shame. Really, though, I spent a lot of my life as a bit of a sissy.

Big dreams.
Limited action.

Well, that shit is all done.

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In three months, I wave goodbye to my family, honouring that 8-year-old little kid and the Medieval French ghost hunter inside me as I head to Paris, then deep into the Loire Valley on my own.

It’s about healing an old wound I inflicted upon myself so very long ago –  the one where I didn’t trust in my own ability to travel the world.

Yes, I’ve dressed it all up in a romantic package of researching The Woman On The Wall. However, all of the museums, countryside explorations on my bike, backroom castle tours, and cafe writing with espresso and a slab of brie serve an even higher purpose than tapping into the magical world of da Vinci.

They give a little girl back her dream, and then let her see it through.

I’ll be journaling about bits and pieces surrounding this trip for the next few months or so. Follow me to see how this all plays out.