a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Sep, 2017

Unencumbered… for a moment

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I was feeling squirrely yesterday so I decided to take a walk and drop off some books at a friend’s place. It was a hot and sunny morning and I felt like I was wasting it by staying indoors so I grabbed the bag, put on my flip-flops, and went.

I flip-flopped up the street and past the park, which was populated by a multitude of young families who were also enjoying this surprise summer weather. As I walked by I heard a familiar refrain: “Ok Riley, just ONE MORE MINUTE and we have to go!” It made me smile. I can’t even remember the last time we had to pull that line out of our parenting arsenal.

The bag bumped against my hip as I walked. I thought about how I was feeling in This Exact Moment. This is something I do every once in awhile, especially if I am fighting off a flutter of anxiety that I get in the pit of my stomach. I ask myself: “What am I feeling This Exact Moment, and why?” Sometimes, the very act of drilling down, putting a label on it, and making an action plan, is helpful.

There was no flutter today. In fact, the very opposite was true. The word that floated up to the surface and found me in that moment was unencumbered. When I thought about it, I realized I felt very free. It was just me, in a summer dress and my flip-flops and a bag of books I was giving away. There was no pressing appointment, no device buzzing in my back pocket, nothing. What a luxurious feeling, to be disconnected from the world. I was unreachable, inaccessible, untethered, away.

I thought about how our devices, which we love for how much they help us, actually tie us down to work and to a myriad of obligations that are both real and imagined. They keep our brains in the “on” position for longer than is probably good for us.

For such small things they sure do take up a lot of space in our lives, don’t they?

As I walked, I took deep breaths to match my walking pace. Deep breath in, two, three, four, five, and out, two, three, four, five. Instead of just breathing to fill my lungs, I flicked a switch in my mind and decided to smell my surroundings: a new cedar fence, freshly mown grass, the heat coming off the road. Alone with my thoughts, I walked past pretty gardens and watched flocks of sparrows take baths in the dust.

As much as I hate the phrase life balance, I wondered how one goes about finding this precarious thing. Am I on the right path, or not? I like to think that as I get older I am finally finding some answers, but most times they remain just out of reach.

2 Responses to "Unencumbered… for a moment"

1 | Katie

September 18th, 2017 at 8:55 pm


Thank you. Lovely vignette of your moment. May you have more of them! (And keep sharing.)

2 | Boo Daw

September 19th, 2017 at 2:07 pm


Good one.

The question is how do we address this? Currently the most important challenge for the average Canadian, and their kids. It is not sustainable and is completely changing (hindering) our lives and society.

And by this I mean…this.
I thought about how our devices, which we love for how much they help us, actually tie us down to work and to a myriad of obligations that are both real and imagined. They keep our brains in the “on” position for longer than is probably good for us.

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  • andrea tomkins: I'm glad you find it restful Bonnie! I didn't on that day. :)
  • Bonnie Upton: I have a true love of this place. I drive to and from Ottawa from the NewmArket area to visit my sister snd now my son who attended uOttawa and has c
  • Amy: That sounds fantastic! As with most travelling, parts are much more comfortable when you're telling them afterwards, but they make a good story.
  • andrea tomkins: If I had to pick, Grundy wins! :)
  • Shawn: What did u like more, Restoule or Grundy? Thank you Shawn
  • andrea tomkins: Yes! I've seen the boiling water method! I never really bothered with it because I am a lazy baker. :) It is worth finding a recipe that uses less ye
  • Amy: I made a no-knead version that didn't use a Dutch oven (I don't have one and didn't feel like investing in one just for that). You put a small contai

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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