A Note from the publisher
We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.
Meet Jody Robbins
I was wondering the other day, if teachers are going to ask students to write ‘how I spent my COVID-19 isolation’ essays when the dust settles. I’m afraid my own essay would be quite lacklustre compared to what my life used to be like as a travel writer.
I should’ve been in France for the first two weeks of April, slathering butter on baguettes and eating all the cheese. I’d earmarked May to visit Rome, Cranbrook and Saskatchewan. Yes, widely different destinations, but I was genuinely excited to visit each of them. (I do love Regina!)
If I’m being honest, I’m not all that fussed about the loss of travel opportunities and income. Most people think what I do is quite glamorous, but the reality is starkly different. Sure, I travel a lot, but it’s no vacation. Days are 15-hours long, visiting one site to the next, notebook in hand. I’m actually not heartbroken to get a break from it at the moment. (Though I did really, really want to go to town eating pastries in France!)
Like a lot of folks, I’m spending my time at home attempting to up my cooking game. My daughter and I are pouring through cookbooks (our current favourite is Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman), making a few new recipes each week. Pork meatballs in brothy tomatoes and shrimp tacos were recent winners.
I’ve discovered I’m no baker. I always thought I was, but three disastrous attempts at making a sourdough starter and one mini loaf that weighed over a pound cured me of such fantasies.
Once nice thing that’s come out of all of all this is that I’m drinking less. Not that I drank a tonne before, but we’d probably go through two bottles of wine a week. At least once a week I’d be going out for dinner with friends or I’d be on a booze-fuelled press trip. Lovely as that all sounds now, I’ve realized it was too much for me.
With all the anxiety from the news, I don’t need anything else inhibiting my sleep. Drinking less, however, hasn’t stopping me from indulging in my favourite hangover breakfast! Yes, a lot of eggs are being eaten in our house. And carbs, too! And I really don’t care.
This isn’t the time to beat ourselves up for making and eating cake. Probably this is what I’m most proud of – being gentle with myself. I’m buying flowers every time I’m at the grocery store. Our neighbour is an emergency room nurse, so I’ve been dropping off flowers and magazines for her. We’re doing donations in lieu of birthday gifts for friends and the highlight each week is ordering take-out from a small Indian restaurant we don’t want to close.
Though it’s loathsome, I’m participating in online fitness classes. I love exercising, but I’m a group fitness kind of gal. I think I miss the gym and my chiropractor the most.
Miraculously, I’m managing to get a bit of work done each day. Truth be told, I’m working a fair bit, just without pay. My blog, Travels with Baggage, needs a lot of gruesome technical and SEO fixes, so I’m working away on those. I still have my wellness column in the Calgary Herald, and I’ve been doing a few other freelance assignments here and there.
I’m not really planning out any future travel as who knows what will be allowed and when? Fortunately I live quite close to Banff National Park, so even if we can’t go out of province this summer, hopefully we’ll be able to do some hiking in the mountains. If we do get the all clear to travel, I’m keen to get to a beach. We never run out of things to do in New Brunswick and P.E.I., so I’d love to get back to those provinces when it’s safe to do so. Those were such easy chapters to write in my book: 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit.
All in all, I feel very grateful everyone in my circle is healthy. My own personal loss of income is a bummer, but fortunately, we’ve never based our mortgage of my widely fluctuating income. So many people have it much worse, that I have no right to complain. Except there’s still no flour in our grocery store, and I wouldn’t mind giving bread one more try…
Travel with the whole family
I caught the travel bug early. In fact, it may have been hereditary. When I was growing up, our family would scuttle back and forth between our home on the prairies and Lake Erie, where extended family lived. Then we’d mosey over to New Brunswick’s Miramichi Bay. I’m amazed my parents made this trek each and every summer. I certainly wouldn’t be up to the task of taking a sulking child (that was me) to a historic boarding house with no running water, heat, or electricity.
Now that I’m a parent myself, I prefer an easier road. I look for spots that offer something for all members of the family, not just those that cater to adult tastes or kiddie favourites. Still, those summers taught me invaluable lessons—in particular, an appreciation for diversity. It opened my eyes to all that was different and precious across this vast country of ours. My imagination soared as I was forced to get creative and entertain myself in new and unfamiliar places.
Those early years taught me that travel is about more than your destination. Yes, it’s a discovery of parts unknown, but it’s also about you. Horizons expand both geographically and personally; when discovering new destinations, you discover more about yourself. Why? Because travel tests you. How do you react when things go belly up? Can you take flight delays in stride or do they ruin your day? You’re guaranteed to have countless “teachable moments” when travelling with children as they watch you deal with unexpected situations. From problem solving to patience to the importance of preparedness, travel introduces and refines valuable life skills in ways that cannot be replicated in the classroom.
Our perceptions of the world are based on what we’ve experienced. Taking children out of their little worlds and opening them up to new experiences and ways of life lays the foundation for lifelong learning. Travel can change a person. It’s about more than geography—it’s a journey of self-exploration that can make you more tolerant, more interesting, and better able to adapt to new situations. It fosters a curiosity that inspires creativity, joy, and discovery. If I can impart this to my daughter, I’ve done my job.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go someplace exotic or fly thousands of kilometres away to learn these lessons; you can engage minds and cultivate rich experiences close to home. 2017—the 150th anniversary of Confederation—is an ideal time to explore Canada: from coast to coast, north to south, community events and celebrations will mark this momentous occasion.
The memories indelibly inked on my brain are those that have shown me the world through a child’s eyes. We all lead busy lives; kids and adults alike are overscheduled. But when we remove ourselves from our everyday environment and mindfully participate in new, shared experiences, real and profound bonding occurs. So disconnect from the daily grind and find the best connection of all. If not now, when?