try

“Try it.”

Your mother coaxed the over-cooked broccoli toward five-year-old you, didn’t she? And you eyed that steaming pile of slime, put your hands over your mouth, and shook your head until it almost rattled off your neck. Because every child knows broccoli is disgusting, right? Even if they haven’t tried it.

I experienced the other end of this dilemma when we took our guideson Cooper to Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park for his sixth birthday. (And yes, I plan to share parts of the trip as an overall Cooper update. If you read Not Without My Father, you met him when he was almost three. He even walked part of the Trace with me!)

Here’s what eating with Cooper was like:

SCENE 1:

“I don’t eat butter on my pancakes!”

“Did you try it?”

“No, but I don’t like butter on my pancakes! Take it off! TAKE IT OFF!”

Scrapes butter off and slathers on my pancakes. “There? Happy now?”

“And I only eat syrup in a bowl on the side. YOU RUINED MY PANCAKES BY PUTTING SYRUP ON THEM. I’M NOT EATING ANYTHING EVER AGAIN!”

SCENE 2:

“I said I wanted a hot dog.”

“But I gave you a hot dog.” Holds up two fresh-grilled wieners. “See? Two yummy hot dogs all for you.”

“I ONLY EAT THEM CUT IN PIECES THIS SIZE.” Makes gesture of indeterminate size. “I’M NOT EATING THESE YUCKY HOT DOGS.”

Cooper set food boundaries, and they impacted his enjoyment of any meal. His inflexible rules became a self-contained prison from which there was no gastronomic exit. I love him, but he’s not my kid. I couldn’t force him to color outside the lines.

I sometimes wonder how much my adult self resembles the child who shunned everything without giving it a chance.

We live in a world with more boundaries than ever. Thanks to the internet, we have more information at our fingertips than at any other time in history. And because of our slow-processing minds, we’re buried with options.

What do our brains do when presented with too many options?

We shut down. We make snap judgements. We scroll by. We decide we won’t like something before we try it. We base the value of a thing on the experiences of others rather than form our own conclusions. We take the same route to work, eat at the usual places, hang out with our cliques, consume redundant news, and cloister ourselves in boxes of our own making.

Why do so many adults choose bound-up lives with no exit? I don’t know. I can’t fix what other people do with their lives, but I can knock down barriers I create in my own life.

That’s why my last trip was to a place I never, ever would’ve chosen. I’ll tell you about it in future posts.

When was the last time you tried something you thought you wouldn’t like? How’d it go? Share your experiences in a comment.

 

I came into my Trélex Writers Desk Residency expecting some things, but I knew it would be even more challenging because of the issues I've had.

Residencies are scary. Rooming with strangers. Sharing everything. Only basic creature comforts. I came into my Trélex Writers Desk Residency expecting those things, but I knew it would be even more challenging because of the issues I’ve had. An inability to write and at times put together a cogent thought. Doubt feeding doubt feeding doubt….an avalanche of doubt. I walked into a tiny Swiss village a dried husk, convinced I’d leave unaltered.

My heart is fuller. My mind is still. I emerged from my residency cell unwilling to return to the noisy, screeching, clashing chords of my world.

Thoughts From My Last Day In Nyon

Time in any cell alters a psyche. I dreaded the quiet, afraid I’d hear absence, a void, a black hole of nothingness. But I relished the quiet, too. My world is too loud, and I’m complicit in the discordant cacophony. I surf the internet when I should be making words. Scroll through my newsfeed when I should be setting up my next trip. Read second-by-second news updates when I already know the world has become a soap opera: I can pick up a thread of the plot anytime because it creeps in its deluge of data. I may’ve slain a pack of hungry lions, but my blood pressure is lower than it’s been in three years. My heart is fuller. My mind is still. I emerged from my cell unwilling to return to the noisy, screeching, clashing chords of my world.

I walked along Lake Geneva's shore on my last night of residency and tried to weave a tapestry, intricate, tight, resolute.

I’m not commenting on what others choose to do with their time, only how my residency helped me understand my role in contributing to noise, to stress, to strife, to crap that doesn’t matter. I walked along Lake Geneva‘s shore on my last night and tried to weave a tapestry, intricate, tight, resolute. My life was permanently changed last year. I hope I use what remains to be a positive force in the world……and that means guarding the tapestry I wove like I spun it from gold and spangled it with precious stones. I can’t take care of anyone if I’m not taking care of myself.

I'm also grateful to the other residents, especially painter James Kao, who was there for my full three weeks of residency.

I’m grateful to Nina Rodin for giving me this opportunity. She opens her home to strangers and shares everything-cars and laundry and guests and garden bounty-with them. I’m in awe of her unbounded generosity. I’m also grateful to the other residents, especially painter James Kao, who was there for my full three weeks. I needed to meet a fellow American who’s grounded right now. Some of James’s zen rubbed off on me.

Leave your noisy cares in the water, and come away whole. It works for me, as long as I avoid my phone.

So I end with a challenge. For me. And for you, Dear Reader. Next time you walk by any body of water, be it a fountain, a puddle, a pool, or a lake, take off your shoes. Run through it. Splash. Plunge your feet in. Leave your noisy cares in the water, and come away whole. It works for me, as long as I avoid my phone. 🙂

———-

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!

Rumor has it Nyon, Switzerland was founded by Julius Caesar around 44BC, but the site has been occupied since the Neolithic. I'm staying 4 train stops from this haunted town by the lake.

Rumor has it Nyon, Switzerland was founded by Julius Caesar around 44BC, but the site has been occupied since the Neolithic. I’m staying 4 train stops from this haunted town by the lake.

I walked down a narrow passage and heard whispers. Touched Roman walls and lost sense to the grunts of the slaves who built them. Wandered through a castle and expected to see a knight on the circular stair or around the next corner in Nyon, Switzerland.

I say “haunted” because it’s spaces are loud. I walked down a narrow passage and heard whispers. Touched Roman walls and lost sense to the grunts of the slaves who built them. Wandered through a castle and expected to see a knight on the circular stair or around the next corner.

In Nyon, Switzerland, I ordered my first meal in French and only stumbled once. I sat in a park next to the Roman columns and watched a man read a book in the shade.

First glass of wine in almost a week!

I sat in Place de la Chateau and dined like a human instead of a pen intent in a cell. Ordered my first meal in French and only stumbled once. I sat in a park next to the Roman columns and watched a man read a book in the shade. Toured the Museé Romain, and went to the pharmacy and shopped for groceries. Lugged a big fan box onto the train along with my shopping.

I toured the Museé Romain in Nyon, Switzerland.

Sweaty me in the Museé Romain, Nyon

I wanted a steak since it’s coming up on my lady time, but settled for this veal and mushroom ravioli instead. People warned me about how much things cost in Switzerland. With restaurants, they weren’t kidding!! A steak was 48 francs. My ravioli was 32 francs. First courses started at 20 francs. Service is included, because the Swiss pay their restaurant workers a living wage. Still, I won’t be dining out again soon.

I ordered my first meal in French in Nyon, Switzerland, and only stumbled once.

When I’m home, MTM and I have coffee together every day. He FaceTimes now when he’s having his coffee, but I don’t have a way to make coffee in my cell. Worth the 3 franc train ride!

coffee in Nyon, Switzerland

My first decent coffee in Switzerland.

As I type, I’m sitting in my cell enjoying the first few hours of not sweltering since I got here. The only thing I forgot to pack? A swimsuit. I had no idea people swim in Lake Geneva! If you ever head this way during summer, make sure to bring your suit. Especially if Switzerland is experiencing a record-breaking heatwave!!!

Hope you enjoyed hearing about my adventures in Nyon, Switzerland, during my writing residency. I shared pics and info about the nearby town of Trelex in this post. Have you been there? What did you think of it?