Bliss.

Everything is better when you’re on vacation. obviously.

The sun shines brighter.
Food tastes yummier.
Even the dreariest days are just an invitation to curl up and breathe in some stolen moments.

I’m heading back to work in the morning after 10 extraordinary days filled with intimate acoustic shows in coffee shops, fits of giggles on my deck with lifetime friends, piles of books, bike ride dates, dreamy afternoon naps, kayaks, heart pressing hugs, a meditation retreat, family reunions and so much love.

I am currently so blissed out that nothing can faze me nor prepare me for my return to reality in the morning (mere hours away).

I’m wearing a special blend of denial and a sweet conviction that I can keep this feeling alive in a world of alarm clocks, deadlines, meetings and meal-planning.

A close friend and I used to describe this feeling as a vacation high and when we would return to work (typically after exotic getaways), we would rally together to help each other keep it as long as possible. #VacationHighForever

This time, I’m lucky. I only have to keep the high for 2.5 days at work and then I’m off again on a first ever blended-family camping trip for a week!! (Now there’s an adventure – stay tuned!)

But really, aside from the obvious… what is stopping us from keeping (at least a portion of) vacation bliss all the time?

This break in routine has really shaken something loose in me. Or rather, it’s confirmed and emphasized the importance of leading with my heart.

No matter what is happening around me, I need to take time to pause and listen. If the vibration is out of synch with my natural rhythm, it’s best to move on to option B (or C, or D, or T).

Life is not a competition. It’s not about who can win more, earn more or do more. It’s also not about being able to do whatever I want and have everything work out perfectly (because trust me, that did not happen on vacation either).

It’s about knowing that there is an abundance of love and beauty for everyone. And accepting it with an open heart.
It’s about keeping my actions in line with my priorities.
It’s about holding space for others, without the ownership of being responsible for them.
It’s about waking up every morning with a heart full of gratitude.

Because at the end of the day (work day, vacation day, retirement day, Saturday..) it just keeps coming back to love.

So, find love. Find beauty. Find bliss. Accept them into your heart and express your gratitude daily. Keep your high as long as you possibly can.

But don’t forget to set your alarm clock!

xo,
e

#TeamAdventurers

Twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7
Instagram: @pixiepaperdoll

City fix.

Last week I went into Toronto for the first time since moving to Peterborough over a year ago. After over 20 years of living in the GTA, this was the longest I’ve gone without a city fix and I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I made plans to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown myself into this new community – heart first! It’s been a great place to live and the friends I’ve met in such a short time feel like souls who have been part of me throughout all my lives.

I have no doubt that my peeps across the 401 have watched me unfold and wondered who has stolen their non-conformist friend and replaced her with this love-drenched, socially active member of society.  For most of my life, I was a self-declared ‘non-joiner’.  I rolled my eyes at community involvement and group outings.  I had a great clan of close friends and when we were together, it was non-stop fun. But everyone was busy with their own lives (myself included) and our outings would be sporadic.  And to be honest, I liked being alone.

I grew up in small rural town of only 2700, where you couldn’t get away from community if you tried.  And I did. I spent high school lusting to live in the city while secretly loving the small town life. Maybe too much. My mom was the local librarian and would find out everything I’d done that day before I’d even get home from school.  Typically this would result in being banished to the basement of the old town library with a bag of pencil which I’d have to sharpen by hand with the wall-mounted sharpener.  Where she ever found so many dull pencils, I’ll never know.

I think it’s my roots that have drawn me into the depths of Peterborough.  It felt right to live somewhere that you will always meet up with someone you know, no matter where you go. And typically at least 5 more people who know someone you know.

But after months of weaving my own thread through this new town, meeting so many people and expanding my tribe, I started to feel a bit like that angst-filled teenager in Dresden.  I needed a city fix before I ended up in the basement sharpening pencils.

I started to crave anonymity and being immersed in a city where I could be invisible. Oh how I’d missed that place where nobody knows your name.

I couldn’t wait to move, with purpose, through the crowds in head-down, eyes-forward angst. And for my mouth to be poised in a 1/2 scowl which is city-speak for ‘you stay outta my way and I’ll stay outta yours.’

I yearned to become swallowed by sounds that hold no ties to me: random conversations, street cars, sirens and horns.  To be deafened by the noise around me, my mind could finally become a cocoon of focus. This is a meditation I can get from no other place.

And last week, I got that fix .. well ..  sort of.  But also something else that merged both worlds into one.

It started at the subway station.

I was about to walk into the Wilson station when approached by an older man asking, “Token? Do you have a token?” Before I could respond, a guy coming out of the subway told him that he could buy tokens inside from the machine.  The man looked at me with sweet pleading eyes and of course I said

“Come on, let me show you how to do this.”

So he shuffled along beside me with a big smile repeating, “It’s okay. It’s alright.”

I showed him how to put his money into the machine and take the tokens that spilled out of the dispensary.  I was about to get my own token when he gave me one of his and said in this thick accent,

“From Russia, with love.”

Next, I demonstrated how to put the token in (no, that’s a nickel) and push through the metal gate (push harder!).  We were heading in the same direction so we found our way to the platform together. The whole time he spoke to me with such happiness.  Over and over I heard, “I’m 81 years old. I don’t know how. I can’t believe I’m 81 years old. Where does the time go? It’s okay. It’s alright.”

He told me his name was Levi and that in Russian it meant ‘lion’ and in Hebrew it meant ‘heart’.

“So your name is Lionheart?”

He smiled and gave me some candy.

“From Russia, with love.”

We rode together most of the way.  He got off the stop before me giving me more candy, a pat on my shoulder and murmurs of “It’s okay, It’s alright. From Russia, with love.”

So much for my scowl.

I called my brother when I made my way up to sidewalk to firm up our plans of meeting for pre-TIFF dinner.  He had also just got off the subway and would you believe that we had been riding on the same train. He actually got off at the same stop as Levi, though he wasn’t lucky enough to get candies.

So much for anonymity.

Keeping my eyes forward, I meditated my way through Queen Street and into Kensington. Unable to resist the $10 rack outside a 2nd-hand (or rather 3rd or 4th hand) store, I grabbed a handful of clothes and lurked inside to embrace the cluttered dark space. I eventually landed in the change room and when I came out to inspect my choices in front of the only mirror, I head a voice from the front:

“Holy shit – that looks so good on you!”

Before I knew it, my city armour was displaced by a change room of treasures and I was in fits of giggles with the girl who was working. She kept tossing me new clothes to try on and we’d debate each item as we laughed and shared random stories. I left with a ridiculous amount of bags, a grin and eyes that were now wide open and awaiting my next encounter.

So much for angst.

The day continued with these unexpected meetings, including the girl who took my shoulder while waiting for the light to change and pointed at some chaos happening across the street.

“Yikes – let’s stay safe together over here!”

She walked with me to the next block and waved good-bye.

So much for staying out of each other’s way.

Later on, I met up with my brother and we had a great visit over dinner (mmmm… Salad King).  Then we watched the film Those Who Make Revolution HalfWay Only Dig Their Own Graves which just further exemplified that even those who oppose everything about establishment still maintain their own sense of community.

On my late night/early morning drive home, I sucked on my candy from Russia and contemplated my day.

As much as I had driven there this afternoon eager to detach myself from everyone, I have since realized that there is no escaping this big community called life.  It’s always around us. There are good people and new friends around every corner and subway stop.

The thread I’ve been weaving in Peterborough has actually been with me since birth and I’m starting to see the beauty and feel the warmth of the massive quilt it’s been creating all along.  And I know that because of this, I will always have comfort and love, no matter where I end up.

It’s okay. It’s alright.

From Erica,

With Love.

@pixiepaperdoll7

 

Happy 9th Birthday Moxie!!

Moxie-licious turned 9 today!

We started the day with our traditional donut breakfast and then I sent all 3 kids off to Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts theatre camp (Amazingly appropriate – and just plain amazing) on a sugar high!  Afterwards there was the usual (but never boring) dinner, cake and presents!!

Traditional Donut Birthday Breakfast

Traditional Donut Birthday Breakfast

'Angel Cake' by request

‘Angel Cake’ by request

Make a Wish!

Make a Wish!

Silly kids

Silly kids

I can’t believe that it was a year ago today that we were on Vancouver Island where Moxie got to spend her 8th birthday amongst chickens, 800 year old trees, and the Ocean. Click here to play back some memories!

She also was the theme of the Song of the Day: Strange Girl, The Zolas.

And here is a photo montage of our Strange (and wonderful) Girl through the years (in mostly random order):

Love you Moxie Richmond Hooper all the way to the moon and back..

xoxo

mommy

#TeamAdventurers

@PixiePaperDoll7

Shit is getting real

 Erica Richmond

@pixiepaperdoll7

Team Adventurers are about to embark on our biggest and most exciting adventure yet – We are joining families with my dreamy beau, Keith & his cool kid Kai, and we are moving to Peterborough, Ontario!!!

Making the decision to move was the easy part, getting the house ready to sell on the other hand has been … well.. let’s go with ‘hectic’.

In the last month or so, I have spent a lot of time (read: a gazillion hours) purging and sorting through all of our earthly possessions. As I sit here contemplating whether I should keep this mirror or give away that bowl I am consciously aware of three things :

  1. How much crap one (or 3 ones) can accumulate in the 5 years since living in this house.
  2. How much I have changed (as a person, as a parent, as a lover, as a friend) in the past 6 years since separating from my ex.
  3. The physical contrast that exists between my previous move which had felt so heart-wrenchingly heavy and this move that feels so light and exhilarating.

This process has brought me back to one of my favourite pieces I’ve written. Six years ago last October marked the definitive life-changing time when I chose to leave almost everything (friends, possessions and even some family) for the sake of my spirit and the hope of peace and solidity for those (mainly my kids) who kept near to me.

My remaining tight circle of friends and family supported us with a landslide of pre-loved odds and ends, which kept our first home-on-our-own  furnished and functional. A year later when the kids and I moved into our current and more spacious home I was tasked with searching for some missing living room pieces.

Previously published by Commuter Lit: http://commuterlit.com/2012/05/monday-the-empty-space/

The Empty Space
Erica Richmond

There’s an empty space where a couch should be and perhaps it is a metaphor … for something.

Perhaps this space is an acknowledgement of my suspected commitment issues. After all there is a very good chance that this next couch could be a part of our family for the rest of my life; passed down to the next generations landing in the common room of a small Northern Ontario university residence. It will appear in countless family photographs and receive multiple tags on Face Book. And I have only enough space to commit to one couch. One couch to last a lifetime.

And so plans to occupy this space are quickly thwarted: not enough money, not enough time, not enough selection. Even the sight of furniture stores leaves me gasping to release the anxiety that has filled my lungs.

The same feeling I once experienced on a first date with a hopeful young daydreamer who went into detail describing his future wedding.  By the time he listed his groomsmen I think I was purple. I couldn’t date for an entire year after that.

Perhaps this space serves as a reminder of how I started.

Of how I left.

Of how leaving was all that mattered.

Of how I learned to let go of all things that do not hold a place in my heart and even some things that do.

Of how the thought of forgetting terrifies me more than remembering.

And even though I’ve re-acquired belongings; this empty space remains … as a metaphor … for something.

And yes, we truly did live in this house for about 3 years without any living room furniture. My friends will remember the winter that I dragged my outside lawn furniture into the living room (along with some hibernating spiders, I’m sure) and the kids I got a glimpse of what sitting on pseudo furniture is like. It was kind of nice.  Luckily I was spared having to make any further sufficating trips to furniture stores because my good friends continued to show their love and were kind enough to pass along their lovely gently used pieces, which have since made the living space more livable.

Flash forward six years to the present, where I’ve accumulated more furniture and household possessions than I care to admit and more than I care to move.

But what about those commitment issues you (and everyone else who knows me) may ask? Simple. I just wasn’t ready then. And I’m so fucking proud of myself that I recognized that.  I didn’t rush anything or feel like I needed someone to save me or complete me. I didn’t cave to societal pressures. I knew what I needed and I took the time required to meet those needs.  I needed that time on my own. With my kids. I needed to sort my own shit out before introducing anyone else into my life. It was all part of my amazing journey to get to where I am now. And I wouldn’t change a segment of that highway.

And at some point during the journey, it became clear that not only the rooms in my house were getting full, but that metaphorical empty space was no longer empty either. Keith came by at just the right time and hot damn, he’s certainly overflowed our lives with a mutual abundance of love that we never knew existed. No anxiety. No turning purple.  And I tag him on FaceBook with gusto.

I will never (nor should never) forget about my past but I have my sights facing forward and am so incredibly ready for this grand new adventure!

I’ve been waiting and saving it all ..

https://youtu.be/9HCDV5APkFY

Feature on Manifest-Station

I am so incredibly honoured to have had my “Dear Jerk” letter posted on The Manifest-Station and I am beyond blown away by the overwhelming response.

Thank you Jennifer Pastiloff for this opportunity:

http://themanifeststation.net/2014/12/04/dear-jerk-a-letter-to-the-father-of-my-kids-after-he-took-his-own-life/

And remember,
you are not alone.

xo
e