I could have used a photo in some exotic location wearing a cute dress thinking of travel. Instead I took this photo this morning – my 43rd birthday. It’s kinda blurry and the grey sky at the marsh isn’t photogenic but it’s a true representation of me at this moment.
I smiled to myself when I realized 43 was a prime number. My friend Michael only celebrates birthdays with prime numbers.
It has now occurred to me that he is brilliant. For some reason we expect epiphanies at 30 or 40 but the randomness, or lack of randomness of using prime numbers is beautiful.
I also like it because my worst birthday memory is my 40th.
I wrote about that birthday, but I wasn’t really honest. I don’t even recognize myself in that photo.
That post was as much of a masquerade as the half smile on my face.
But it was so bad it made me decide my life needed to change, again. I’m thankful for that.
And the photo above? That’s me. Happy.
My 43rd Birthday
Some people have looked at their pandemic birthdays as a lesser, more somber day, because they didn’t celebrate the way they normally would. Thankfully everyone I know has remained healthy and safe.
And I really cherish this day.
I think because I stayed off media during quarantine I was able to look at this moment as a gift of time.
I’ve been able to sit reflect, catch up on all of the work that I just didn’t have time to do. I’ve been walking every day and cooking.
I read an article that this is a pivotal moment in time because people are less distracted and left with their thoughts. That could be good or bad.
Some people will re-evaluate their lives and what makes them happy. Maybe they will change careers, leave relationships or have a new focus in life.
I didn’t think that necessarily applied to me as I did ALL OF THIS ten years ago.
And yet here I am on my 43rd birthday realizing that while this birthday isn’t setting the reset button, I am certainly going to pivot.
Here are some things that I have thought about in the last three months with a bit more clarity. Some are just a matter of gratitude while others require change.
Just like the first photo above, this post is not the most polished. It’s more like a raw, unfiltered peek into what I’ve been thinking about.
I am so thankful I have an amazing family that I adore.
My mother has always been my biggest supporter. Having your parent behind your crazy ideas really makes you feel like you can do anything. She has always told me no matter what I could always come home.
So I did.
I am constantly amazed at her patience with me. Because even I get a bit stir crazy and have to remind myself not to be a**hole to my mother because I’m moody, but I only succeed half of the time.
And now that the province has opened I have been able to spend time with my sister’s family. I have two young nephews (3 years and 10 months) and I am forever amazed at the person my sister has become.
She is an amazing mother who shares creativity, kindness and an endless amount of patience I will never have. I don’t think she knows people see it. But I do.
While I will never have kids of my own (wrote about that on my 35th birthday) I know that this time is precious and I’m so thankful that I can be there with them.
Thankfully I have always had my health, but I haven’t been doing a good job of taking care of it. I was once really active and I couldn’t make it work while traveling.
A year ago I ran into Claudia from the Travelling Mom and some how we got into a conversation about getting older and exercising.
At one point she actively scolded me for not exercising and basically told me I was an adult and I just needed to do it.
I half tried.
Coming home I was able to put more focus on it. I realized I loved 30 day challenges and phone apps make it easy. I’ve made walking in the marsh first thing in the morning a habit.
I have no excuses now. This is a habit I can take on the road.
Letting Go of Anger
I was quiet about the end of my last relationship. I briefly wrote about why I was in Cuba. But I guess I didn’t want to trash my ex. That’s never a good look. Even when they deserve it.
But this isn’t about him. It’s about me.
And while getting over the relationship was easy. Letting go of the anger was not.
Actually it was more like a ball of rage.
I didn’t want the relationship back. But I was so angry about how much I had given and how I was betrayed in return.
And even though I knew it was only hurting me, I could not let it go. This was very odd for me because I am very rarely angry and yet I could not shake it.
But there is no correct timeline, you cannot force it. Somehow the anger faded when bad memories were replaced by good ones. I feel grateful for what my life has been in the last three years.
I feel like a weight has been lifted to finally let it go.
When I left my relationship and Toronto one of the things I couldn’t bring myself to do was my taxes.
I know that seems odd but my taxes involve going through all my receipts. Every receipt is a memory. Remember I was ball of rage, and I just didn’t want to be in those emotions.
So I didn’t do my taxes for two years. The two years I made the most money.
That’s called tax evasion!
Revenue Canada tried to contact me. But I was in Mexico and India and Cuba so the mail notifications collected and when they called me I didn’t answer because I didn’t recognize the number.
What a mess.
What made it worse was that I felt HORRIBLE about being so irresponsible. I’ve always been good with money and had stellar credit. I was really disappointed in myself.
But I finally was able to resolve it…well my line of credit resolved it.
I have learned my lesson.
I did this year’s taxes BEFORE the (extended) deadline this year. I have a rather large chunk of money to pay but its no longer something I feel ashamed about.
As my mother says, it’s like how everyone else has a car payment. I have my loan payment...but no car!
Going to Cuba was really healing. Although it’s part of Latin America, culturally it is very different. And I like being in a place where I question my own beliefs and actions.
Because I’m in a cross-cultural relationship (more on that here) that’s only expressed in Spanish I’ve learned the words I choose are important.
Words can hurt. Words can heal.
I’m thankful to be with someone who has told me I only need to say what I need to be happy.
He simply asks that I be honest and I share when I’m not happy (in a calm way). So that we together negotiate how this relationship will work.
This relationship is different and it’s a better fit. We’re two very different individuals who choose to be together. I feel independent but also supported.
I’m not losing “me” to be part of “we.”
I think it’s difficult for white people to really see themselves as part of the problem. And for Canadians it’s easy to see this as an American problem.
People are afraid to say the wrong thing. But we can’t let that fear of being called out stop us from trying to learn and be supportive.
So I want to be frank and open about my role in all of this.
In the past I haven’t considered my own role in racism. After all I have black friends, have a boyfriend who has a black father. The problem isn’t that I’m racist, right??
I have learned the difference between not being racist and being anti-racist. And I will put my hand up and say I can do better.
I also haven’t done anything to make it better.
As a content creator I have never purposely sought out or asked for opportunities to feature people of colour.
I’ve never purposely followed people of colour on social media to get a more diverse perspective, to learn and more importantly, affect change.
I have been part of the problem.
Instead of watching what’s going on and thinking it’s because of other people, I have to swallow my pride and realize that I have to change.
I can do better. I need to listen. I need to take an active part in change.
It can feel overwhelming. But doing something is better than being silent.
I started listening to GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp, it’s a 30 minute walk for 21 days. It has a goal of getting one million women walking but everyone is invited to listen.
They share history but also these two friends talk about their experience and how the current situation affects them.
I’m also trying to read more, starting at home with Africville, a novel about Black Nova Scotians, something that was never taught to us in schools and is now my responsibility to learn.
And I’ve actively tried to find more diverse voices. And listen. Really listen.
Some people think posting on Facebook, Instagram etc is performative activism. But I like reading information other people share. More importantly I think we need to normalize anti-racism by sharing resources and articles that express our views.
We can do better. I will do better.
The Future of Bacon is Magic
I have been torn about this site for the last couple of years. It was a slow nagging feeling that staying at home was able to clarify.
Bacon is Magic started out as a journal, where I just shared my travels from the day I landed in Mexico to deciding I didn’t want to go back to my old life.
But media changed and people wanted more information from me so they could visit the places I did. So I created more “how to” posts, lists on my favourite things to do, places to see.
Of course, I want to share things that are helpful for planning people’s vacation.
But I’m also very aware that some of you found me in the beginning, when I was just sharing my thoughts every day of where I was and what I was doing.
And recently several people said to me I really like the stories you shared in the beginning. Thank you for this, because it really inspired me.
This time helped give me a clear idea of how to do both. I’m still going to share things like the best things to eat or my favourite cocktails. But I’m also going to share what it’s like to be in different places.
Because in some ways I feel like I am keeping the best part of Cuba from you.
Those posts are now written. So I now have time to share WHY Cuba is special to me.
How the day to day is special and frustrating. And how once a week I think it’s the best place on earth and in that same week I’ll cry because I’m so frustrated.
But You’ll Need Patience
Having a website for 10 years is kind of like a messy closet. There’s a lot of things just stuffed in there and you hope no one will open the door.
So the past couple of months I’ve been working on the boring parts you don’t really want to know about.
In this analogy it’s best described as cleaning, creating shelves and getting rid of the things that I no longer need.
I’ve also been putting in drawers and shoe racks for future work.
I’ve been writing about places I visited LONG ago to write resource posts for people who are interested in planning a holiday. These posts may not be interesting right now, but it will be useful for some people later on.
And yes I’m getting back to personal posts. I’m looking at creating a balance between the two.
And if I’m brave, this will also be the time I commit to video.
It’s a huge shift for me to try to edit video. It’s out of my comfort zone and I have to understand I’m going to be bad until I become better.
I would LOVE your support by subscribing to my YouTube channel here.
It’s free! And if you click on the little bell by the subscribe button you get an email when I post new videos.
I’m going to keep working on building those shelves in the closet. So that I am ready when I can travel again.
A great birthday present would be subscribing to my newsletter on the side bar!
While I’m home I have a couple of personal posts that I want to share. And obviously a lot of food because I have been cooking.
ONE FINAL THING!
If you are reading these words. Thank you.
Sometimes it feels like I put things out into the universe and there’s no one there. And so even the smallest comment.
Shows me that someone has actually received this message.