Erin's Journals

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Just a thought… Whoever said “Out of sight, out of mind” never had a spider disappear in their bedroom. [Author Unknown]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Welcome back – hope this week of big adjustments is going smoothly for you!

I have a story to tell you today which really needs a picture, but I’m not going to show it – for your benefit. You see, my friend Lisa, with whom I took a road trip in August, has truly opened my eyes to the outright terror some people feel about things, like, say…spiders. So don’t worry – I won’t share a picture, but I’ll tell you our story and make it as gentle as possible. Stay with me here.

We checked into the first of two of our hotel stays on the Monday. Since we were early, we had booked massages, which were, to quote Lisa, “the best she‘d ever had.” I’ll vouch for that! She went first, but when I stumbled to our room, I was jolted out of bliss by what looked like a police search happening. The rug was rolled out, the sofa pulled away from the wall, not one but two people were there with brooms and, for all I know, hunting rifles.

Then Lisa showed me a picture she captured of what we now know was a wolf spider that had been resting in the arm of her bathrobe (that is, until she went to put it on after her post-massage shower). She screamed bloody murder when she saw him, she tells me, then called front desk, which sent in the cavalry. But Wolfie, as we named him, was nowhere to be found.

So how do I describe this little guy without making your skin crawl? Okay, first of all, definitely not little: his body was the size of a toonie, his legs (even bent) would have reached the circumference of a coaster. So yeah, not at all your regular arachnid. Not to us, anyway.

William, one of the brave cavalry, ID’d him from Lisa’s photo, and said they’re harmless. I later Googled and found that a bite might sting, but wouldn’t kill me. Good to know?

‘Cause you see, here’s the thing: we never found Wolfie. So we surmised that he was hiding somewhere, possibly in the pull-out bed that was to be Lisa’s, in her plans. (She had placed our luggage while I was getting my treatment.)

Will and his co-worker put our room back together and left us to sit, Lisa with her feet up, purse on a table, taking every precaution to make sure that Wolfie didn’t find another hiding spot near or on her, while I sat with my feet up on the sofa. We pondered our situation and decided I would move to the downstairs room with the pull-out – which was always my plan – and just hope that Wolfie wasn’t a cuddler. (Eight Arms to Hold You: wasn’t that the working title for a Beatles movie?)

Lisa has had some really nasty run-ins with the eight-legged type and I’m not at liberty to share them. Trust me, like all anxieties, this one is not to be scoffed at. I respect her fear but I don’t have it. I could have shared her king-sized bed – that offer was made – but I really didn’t mind. Plus she’s a super early riser. This gal needs her beauty rest!

As I turned off the light that first night, and again the second, I said good-night to him and asked him not to visit. And perhaps I might have sung him a little lullaby. Do feel free to sing along, won’t you?

The giant honking spider went up poor Lisa‘s arm

Down came the staff to shield us all from harm

Up he went to run, and hide himself away

And we never again saw that Wolfie, not to this very day.

Now for a really nice sleep story, Google Drift with Erin Davis and download it for FREE wherever you get your podcasts. You may hear of dragons but no spiders! Just lavender and love that I hope will bring you the kind of rest you should get after a massage.

Enjoy your weekend and, if you’re up on Saturday morning at 7:30 EDT, I’m a guest on Zoomer radio in Toronto with Kathy Buckworth’s show “Go to Grandma,” talking Grandparents’ Day which is Sunday. Take care.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, September 9, 2021
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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Just a thought… Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. [Henry Ford]

If you ordinarily just read this journal, I’m really going to urge you to try the video version. The content, in terms of words, won’t be any different, but I promise it’ll be worth it. Come along for the adventure. It’s really easy. You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Well, Happy New Year, my friend. I haven’t lost my marbles (okay, not entirely) but the first day after Labour Day has always been one of fresh starts, of new beginnings. So let’s do that. And by the way, my hat is off (while my mask is on) in salute to teachers everywhere today. You’ve been toiling under extraordinary pressure and challenges over the past 19 months and we are SO grateful for the impact your dedication has made on the lives of the little ones we love.

Speaking of learning, we’ve upped the curve here a bit for journal video viewers. I’ve gotten myself a green screen and changed things up: not the content, just the background. I want you always to have something to look at besides this face, and Rob has patiently gone along with my plan. Of course, it means more work in post-production and that I can never wear anything green or I’ll just be a floating head, and there will be mistakes, but what the heck, right? You’re worth it. And I love to learn.

I can talk to you from Mission Control. What’s that, Houston? No problems? Good. Thanks. Keep up the great work!

I can take you on our trip to Egypt…and share with you the heat and wonder of the Abu Simbel temple, moved in 1968 during the creation of the Lake Nasser reservoir.

But mostly, my friend, my backdrops will be from home: of places I’d love for you to experience, or that will make you feel as if you’re here having a coffee with me. Just as our friend Lisa Brandt did – having made the trek from Port Stanley, Ontario to be with us.

As I trust you read in Lisa’s blog, there were some wonderful sights: from our perch on Salt Spring Island right near downtown, to up island near Courtney and including a rainy day trip to Campbell River. If you haven’t seen her pictures, please go to voiceoflisabrandt.com and check out last Tuesday’s blog.

The best part of our trip, which spanned five days together on the road, wasn’t the food (which was good) or the sightseeing (which was spectacular) but the talk. The company. The advice we shared for each other, the perspectives and the memories. Get two women with over 60 years combined radio experience and, oh, you’re going to get memories. I don’t know how either of us survived the misogyny and insanity of those early years, but here we are. Sober and sane and laughing all the way.

Have a lovely week and I’ll be back here with you Thursday. I’ve missed you.

Rob WhiteheadTuesday, September 7, 2021
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Just a thought… The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair and confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing…not curing…that is a friend who cares. [Henri Nouwen]

As always, you can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

This will be my last journal until after Labour Day – you see, I have a very special friend coming this weekend. Gee, that sounds like my period, but that ship (with a P!) has sailed, thankfully. No, it’s Lisa Brandt, former broadcaster, current voice artist extraordinaire, writer, blogger, soul sister, longtime confidante and forever partner in dark humour. We’ve been through hell and back a few times over the past two decades and in two days she’s getting on a plane and coming here from Ontario. Girl’s got her vax and she’s prepped to relax.

After her body clock adjusts a bit, we’re taking a Thelma and Louise top-down (the car, silly) road trip for four days across to Salt Spring and then up island. Just Lisa and Erin and a whole lot of talking, sight-seeing and breathing in the bliss of our company and the beauty of our surroundings.

There’s something almost indescribable about a friend, who has been with you through the worst parts of your life, who is irreplaceable, and nothing brought this home more to me than an article in The Atlantic online magazine.

It was a long read about a couple, the McIlvaines, who lost one of their two sons in 9/11 in the twin towers terrorist attacks, a horror that is coming up on its 20th anniversary next month. While we know never ever to compare grief, reading the father’s reaction – which was to go down every single rabbit hole there was about conspiracy theories and “truthers” surrounding 9/11 – and the mother’s, was eye-opening to me.

In fact, I can’t let go of it. I can relate to her grief in some ways – not all, of course, as my daughter’s death wasn’t a worldwide news story, a “remember where you were” moment that will be indelibly marked for decades to come, and an event that affected everything from travel precautions to wars and countless other parts of our lives. In no way do I compare my own loss to hers. We don’t compare grief and I’ll keep saying that until I’m blue in the face.

But in that Atlantic article, the things that mom Helen said which resonated with me most loudly (in fact, they’re in my book) included the dreaded “at leasts” and the well-meaning pep talks with statements like “no parent should have to bury a child.”

Their son Bobby’s soon-to-be fiancée also said something that jumped out at me: “Don’t tell me I’m going to be okay.” Because, at that moment, Jen’s life had fallen apart and she did not want to hear that, even though the words came from her own future mother-in-law who was, at the time, begging for one of her son’s journals to be returned to her. She knew Jen would still have a life; Helen, the mom, was just clinging to what she could from her son’s existence. Boy, do I get that!

I’ve told other parents who’ve reached out to me in their rawest grief that every day does get a little bit better and the weight on your chest a little lighter. But never would I say, “You’ll be okay.” The truth is that there is no finish line when your child dies. It’s a cross-country marathon and, if you’re lucky, eventually the hills get gentler and fewer.

The friends who are there at the marathon’s hydration stations to hand you water (when you wish it was wine), who will listen to you talk about stuff like this – to hammer out the progress, the possibilities, the common threads that have tied you together all of these years – those are the ones who have you counting the days, the hours and the blessings that come with seeing them again.

I wish you a friend like Lisa – and I’ll be back with you here on the 7th. In the meantime, I’ll be posting daily on Facebook.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, August 19, 2021
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Monday, August 16, 2021

Just a thought… Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. [Rumi]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Now, today I’m not talking about grief – stay with me – it’s about what can happen afterwards and the joy that can await you.

I have a couple of special people in my heart and on my mind today. One: my dad. Yes, you’ve met him and I’m so glad we had that trip to see him in June, when we took that boat trip on the Okanagan before the whole area surrounding Kelowna became one big smoky smudge, with temperatures daily in the 30s.

Mind you, here on Vancouver Island, we’ve come through another hot stretch with temperatures in that same range, although today’s high is a much more normal 22. Mind you, Rob and I are lucky because, although we don’t have central air, there’s a heat pump system with three units that cool the house. Most folks and almost all resorts up island have no AC at all. It’s time to start looking at the future and this new normal, I fear.

At long last, more governments (including ours in BC) are mandating that all people who work in long-term care facilities now have to be vaccinated. It seems a no-brainer, but as we’ve discussed here before, there’s a shortage of intelligence and common sense abounding.

The second person about whom I’m thinking a lot these days is a new/old friend. Her name is Mira and I met her when Rob and I picked up some new addresses on our weekly meal deliveries for a community centre. Next week she’s turning 96.

Mira is a gift to us: one of the most lively, active, sharp and funny women of her age – and almost any other – that we’ve met in years. She greets Rob and me with an offer of ice cream bars from her freezer; she has started stocking new choices every week and no matter what we have after our deliveries, we are now making sure we have time to be with her, to sit, to make a small repair here or there, or to share our stories, listen to hers, or just talk about the weather.

She has no air conditioning, but she’s faring well enough with little ice packs on her wrists and that freezer of cold treats. I wish we had a fan we could have lent her during the last wave. They’re nowhere to be found these days, as you can imagine. But trust me, she’s lived in the middle east; she can handle this, as she’s been through so much more.

Mira was in a work camp as a young girl during the Second World War. She and her future husband, who lost his entire family during that awful time, moved to Israel in its aftermath, as her country (the former Yugoslavia) no longer existed.

She came to Canada when that loving husband died suddenly while visiting one of their sons here. That was nearly 50 years ago. And so here she is, a Canadian for the past 15 years. Her life, her memories and her spirit are such a bright light and Rob and I feel fortunate even to share a slice or a scoop of it, every week.

Mira even introduced me to a wonderful former Toronto resident who was invited over in time for our meal delivery a few weeks back; the woman happened to know who I was when Mira spoke of me on the phone, so there was a lovely familiarity. Unfortunately, that woman is moving back east in a few weeks, but she’s introduced us to other couples so that we might make some more friends in our new homeland. All about connection, right?

I’m touched almost beyond words by the kindness that has come into our lives just because we stepped through doors and out of our own comfort zones. Even during these times of delivering in a mask and gloves, of taking precautions and keeping our distance, we can still forge bonds of the heart. We never know how long they will last, but as Mira says of us, we are already in each other’s hearts. She’s one in a million and a literal reminder that you cannot spell m-i-r-a-c-l-e without Mira.

Have a lovely day and I’ll be back here with you Thursday.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, August 16, 2021
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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Just a thought… The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you. [Neil Degrasse Tyson]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Long ago, one of my radio partners, Don Daynard, said that I looked like Angela Lansbury. Now with Don, I was never sure if it was a compliment or not, but now I have a mystery on my hands that is right up Jessica Fletcher’s Murder She Wrote alley.

Last week, Rob got an envelope in the mail from one of our former fellow Rotarians in Sidney. That envelope had been sent to the community centre where the Rotary meetings were held before Covid, and the member kindly sent it on via snail mail to Rob.

The envelope had no return address, just the writing, “Rotarian Rob Whitehead” and the address of the community centre. So that was strange enough.

But the contents were really bizarre. This photo.

Take a look at the gal on the right. That’s me, aged 12, bawling as a classmate wrote in my autograph book at Grade Eight graduation.

There’s a whole lot in that picture, and what a nice job my mom did in sewing that dress! But more to the point: I was crying my face off. Big old ugly tears. Oh, I was always crying.

I hated good-byes (moving around as an air force kid will do that to you). I was the one the family called “Mona” supposedly for always moaning and crying (and this was before my teen years!) the “over sensitive” one. Yes, I was an alien being in my own family, but that sensitivity and perceived weakness turned me into an observer, a feeler, a writer, a communicator and whatever it is you see here today.

But who sent it? Why was it kept? Half a face is cut off in the foreground and I can’t even remember the name of the girl signing. (Is that you, Corinne Cummings?) And why was it sent without even a cover note?

So many mysteries and nothing I’ll lose sleep over. But someone out there went out of their way to put a stamp on an envelope to send, not me, but my husband this picture and then leave us hanging as to the circumstances surrounding it.

I guess we’ll never know. 

Oh, and before I go, have you found my Drift Sleep Stories podcast yet? I’m terrible at promoting things, but I have to start spreading the word a bit. I’ve got all kinds of great 30-minute stories, starting with some gentle and relaxing music, and ending with waves. Give it a go: here’s a link.

It’s free unless you want to subscribe for stories before everyone else and interviews with some fascinating people on sleep-related topics, like dream coach and expert Patti Allen and pediatric sleep guru Dr. Jodi Mindell. Please go and find it and, when you do, please rate it on Apple so more people will find it too! Thank you!

Have a relaxing weekend, try to stay sane and safe and I’ll be back with you Monday.

Rob WhiteheadThursday, August 12, 2021
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