Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, The Insightful Wanderer

Two Are Better Than One

On this particularly blustery November day I feel closed in. I feel uncomfortable to even step a little distance out of my house, having the wind pummel and push me. Any strong forceful weather like this can be very disorienting.

And so, on this particular Memoir Monday, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I m indoors and listening to the roar.

When last week I wrote about how

Love Is Blind,

this week I get to write about whatever’s on my mind; so here goes.

***

Okay, so I have been called overly sensitive, on occasion, but here it goes anyway.

Having a disability can cause many of life’s normal, natural events, that we all experience, to take on double meanings. Maybe just to me and so here I will share them with you.

Sometimes I yearn to have these certain experiences, just like other people do, without there having to be something else going on. Here are four of the top ones I can think of, to help me illustrate the point I’m trying, maybe not too successfully, to make.

1.
Holding hands with someone I love.

I think this is one of the best parts of being in a relationship with someone. I love the intimacy and the connection that I feel.

There are three options for walking somewhere with another person: on my own and with a white cane, holding on to someone’s arm (sighted guide), or (if dating) holding hands.

It is important to obtain a certain amount of independence when you are visually impaired, but what if I just want to hold hands with someone I care about?

Normally, a couple holding hands is a sweet gesture, a pretty picture. When I do it there can be reproaches, questioning, for why I am not being independent enough and walking on my own.

2.
Shopping.

There are just certain things that are better done with other people. It is done for necessity’s sake, someone grabbing a few groceries on their own, but in most cases shopping is done with two or more people.

Whether it’s my parents, sister, or a boyfriend and whether it’s food or clothes I want the company. Something like shopping is simply much more enjoyable with more than one person.

Whether because it isn’t possible to just jump in the car and run a few errands, because it helps to have someone else to help decide on what food items to purchase, or because shopping for clothes is more fun with someone to offer their opinion.

Of course I can’t see the clothes I’m buying and I know those customer service people just don’t know what my favourite brand of crackers might be.

3.
Travel.

This is on my mind a lot at the moment, with my plans in the works and my hope of starting a travel website and developing a career as a travel writer in the future.

I went ahead and took the plunge by starting the website, but I have not worked out all the kinks. To be able to write about travel I want to be able to actually travel and herein lies the conundrum.

Sure, the idea of a blind woman traveling alone would make for an inspiring story. People would be amazed that I could do such a thing.

I either need to make this happen or I need to travel with someone. I can’t just want to choose to be one of most people who prefer to travel with a friend or a loved one. For me, the option of traveling alone would make me an inspiration and otherwise I need a babysitter, someone to be my guide and my protector out there in the big bad world.

4.
Fear of growing old alone.

We all fear the prospect of this at one time or another in life. Most people, if they thought about it, would have to admit that they wouldn’t choose to grow old all alone. Of course we’re all going to face the possibility of this from widowhood one day, but this is unavoidable.

I’m talking about the fact that when I fear that my disability could prevent me from ever finding lasting love, I imagine myself being old and alone and then one other thing creeps in.

Of course I want someone, need someone to take care of me because I couldn’t possibly be okay on my own.

Or perhaps I just want the love and companionship that we all look for.

So whether it’s holding hands with the person I love, shopping, travel, or growing old I may be the only one to think like this, but this week’s prompt was to write about whatever was on my mind. Well there you have it.

***

So do you think this is all in my head or do you see what I am saying in this post? You can tell me. My family think I am being hypersensitive so I can take it. Love to hear your perspective on disability and the double meanings of life’s common experiences.

I am pleased and touched to be included in this project, put together by the organizer of the challenge. Check it out here:

The Anthology Edition,

and stay tuned for next week and a return to the posed questions and discussion topics.

Describe a good day in relation to the ways your life is affected by disability.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Spotlight Saturday

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, 2014

November 22nd is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that most people know of or have a loved one who has committed suicide. This is sad but true.

I myself have a cousin on both my father and my mother’s side of the family who have.

I wrote a post about my father’s brother’s son, who took his life on a hot summer’s day, ten years ago:

Summertime Sadness.

seven years later, on a cold day in December, I got the call and sank to my knees on my kitchen floor, when my uncle solemnly informed me of the news.

It had happened again.

Now I had to be the one to tell my mother that her younger brother’s son had ended his own life.

These were some of the hardest words I’ve ever uttered.

This just goes to show that it happens, to people every single day, only after much suffering by the one who eventually can not take it anymore.

I don’t know if there is any hope of ending this sad sad thing, if awareness and understanding will ever be enough.

All I know is that we need each other to help move on when a tragedy such as this strikes a family down. We need to stand back up and be there for one another.

For more on this, please visit:

http://suicideprevention.ca

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Uncategorized

Post Breakup: How I Survived The First Six Months

“Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind … when a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.”

Alice Munro, too Much Happiness

Just Breathe: Keep Breathing
Six things I’ve used to help get through.

I gravitate towards song lyrics which expressly tell me to breathe, right there in the song, over and over again. I literally need this reminder, at least once a day. In addition, I have found six more things that have made the months just a little more bearable, six techniques, one for each month I have found myself single once more and just trying to move on. I like symmetry and so here are six things, one for each month so far.

1.
Family and Friends.

Where would I have been in those initial first days, when I was in a fog of denial and disbelief, if I hadn’t had my siblings to rant to.

From my oldest brother’s calm wisdom, to my sister’s been-there advice, to my younger brother’s patience as I railed in anger. A reminder that I was not alone with a single unexpected delivery of flowers from a friend. The comfort from my parents and their unwavering support and love. I would be nowhere without these people. Nowhere!

2.
Music.

There are only so many times a girl can hear John Legend’s hit song All of Me and not want to throw something. This is where these soulful ladies came in.

Of course there’s no shortage of weepy breakup songs out there. I found the ones that spoke to me. How could I ever have gotten through the feelings of anger and loss without such artistes as Ingrid Michaelson, Lily Allen, and

Lana Del Ray’s “Summertime Sadness?.

These women’s strong voices were just what I needed to push through the heartbreak and make sense of the nonsensical.

3.
Animals.

I had a dog already, but my family were surprised, to-say-the-least, when one day out-of-the-blue I announced I was getting a kitten. Was I crazy, they demanded? Did I really want this or was I simply making a rash decision that I would regret later, when I realized all the responsibility?

What they didn’t understand was that I needed something. I needed to feel loved and be able to give love in return. Dobby and Lumos gave me something to get up for in the morning, because I knew someone or something needed me.

4.
Chocolate.

Because…come on!

5.
Writing.

Whether it was my rambling release of anger I directed toward the end of the life I thought I had and toward the one who hurt me or the catharsis of writing just because I love it and it keeps me sane. I was able to filter what I wanted or needed to say in any particular moment, by saving the really harsh stuff for a private journal. This was a friend’s idea, (see Number 1).

Or my blog, where I could express myself in a more constructive and appropriate way. I would have been lost without both. Just hope I never switch the two accidentally.

:-)

6.
Being surrounded by the memories every day.

This last one might sound strange, given all that advice out there to burn absolutely every item of his so you don’t have to look at it and be reminded. Well, that’s a little tough, considering I am living there still, in my house, the house we lived in together.

He packed up all his clothes and computers and left. Wherever he is, he is able to not have to look at the memories all the time, but this is my house and I wake up and go to bed surrounded by the things we did and had and the images are unavoidable. Sure, I could have moved and run from all of it, but that just wasn’t practical.

I did little things to deal with the in-your-face reality of my situation, such as sleeping in another room that wasn’t ours. I still can’t sleep in our bed, but I know (with a little help from a new set of sheets and pillows) that I will reclaim the master bedroom as my own. By staying behind I am forced to confront the past every day and to let it make me strong again.

I reclaim a spot on the couch or a shelf in the bathroom and I take back my power. The ghosts of the relationship linger, sure, but I face them and I grow from that and keep moving forward.

Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve months and a year.

After six months I am doing my very best, by finding all the things that make life bearable, that make life better.

These last six months have been some of the hardest of my life, but they have also been some of the most character-building.

Who knows what the next six months and beyond will bring, but I hope within that time I will continue, no matter how fast or slow, to heal.

We don’t get to choose how fast we recover from heartbreak and move on with life, but I will continue to focus on myself and on doing what’s right for me.

How long did it take you to get over heartbreak? What are some of the things you used to cope? What music do you listen to when dealing with life’s struggles?

Ingrid Michaelson, Keep Breathing, Youtube

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Love Is Blind

Last week’s Memoir Monday was inspired by a well-known Cyndi Lauper song:

Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

This week, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

Back to business.

***

Q: Does disability affect you in other ways? If so, how?

A: Sure it does, in ways big and small and in many ways I don’t even really think about or notice so much.

However, in one big way. It affects my dating and my love life.

What am I attracted to? What is attractive to me in the opposite sex?

I have asked myself this many times, and yeah, if I don’t know, who will.

:-)

So much of our society hinges on the physical and on looks and appearances, and dating is no exception. In fact, it is high up there.

Love is blind.

Blind date.

There are many common phrases having to do with love and including the word blind.

I had enough sight, in the past, to have gotten a pretty clear picture what my family looked like.

By the time I was old enough to be interested in guys and dating, my vision had declined so much so that looks were not high on the list of priority. How could they be?

Then, if I did feel like I wanted to have opinions and views on what a guy looked like, all in my head, I felt unnecessarily vain. What did it matter for me? Shouldn’t I be the one person that did not matter to?

I have the same sorts of issues in imagining what someone might look like that I might be interested in dating as I do with myself. I try really hard to picture what they look like and how I might feel about that if I could suddenly see.

I’ve often thought, when I’m in a relationship with someone, what would happen if I suddenly got my sight back. Would I have found myself still attracted to that person if I saw them, whereas being unable to see I fell in love with them for other reasons.

Do guys need to feel attractive? Of course they do, but what happens when I am unable to see them to pay them the compliments they may need to feel wanted. I could pay them a compliment about their looks, to make them feel good, but it would not feel natural to me.

I am no good at saying something that I can’t feel to be the case. this isn’t to say I wouldn’t feel that way if I could see, but if I were to say it, in my case, it wouldn’t feel authentically my view.

Has this contributed to past issues in past relationships?

I feel at a disadvantage when dating as a woman who is not immune to the uncertainty of my own physical appearance, like most women. The other person can see me and all my flaws, whereas I see nothing of them.

Does this make me a more accepting and less critical person?

I am attracted to a certain sounding voice, laugh, and many other little verbal cues. I pay close attention to smell. I focus on if our senses of humour match and if I think we will laugh a lot. I have many things I look for and this list has grown, the more experiences I have had.

Maybe most people wouldn’t notice or be bothered by or with these things because they are focused on looks.

Dating is made more difficult at times. I am constantly working on my self-confidence because everyone’s attracted to confidence, both women and men.

I am overly self-aware in public and on dates, nervous at the disadvantage I am clearly at.

I have done okay. I have dated and have been in love. I have had my heart broken and have done the breaking. It feels nice to be normal in that way, is what I tell myself when I am in the midst of that pain and later on when I am out of it.

I can not catch a guy’s eye from across a crowded room. I can not smile at him and make the kind of first impression I would like.

I know a blind woman can be intimidating, in the way that guys may not feel comfortable approaching me. This makes meeting people difficult.

I have the fear, that I had before I dated much, and I have it again now. Will I ever meet anyone again? Will I end up alone? Does my blindness, in the end, does it make me difficult to be in a relationship with for any length of time? Has it cost me relationships in the past or will it cost me any in the future?

These questions and more plague me often, but I don’t know what answers are to be had.

In the end I make due. I make due without the non-verbal and the lack of body language. I deal with the fact that, to most guys who have never known a blind person, the idea of dating a blind girl makes them nervous.

Love is worth looking for and worth searching hard for. It’s worth it.

***

Next week is a free writing day.

What do you think you might replace with the physical attributes you look for when dating? If you could not see, what things about a person do you think you would be most attracted to and looking for?

Do you agree with the statement: love is blind?

Have you ever been on a “blind date”? How did it go?

Discussions on love and dating are some of my favourite to have, if you can’t tell.

:-)

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Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, NANOWRIMO 2014, Poetry, Spotlight Saturday, Writing

Review of One Word at a Time

“A successful writing career will humble you more than almost anything else I can think of.”
– Eric Vance Walton

Welcome to this mid-November edition of Spotlight Saturday.

I have several author pages on my Facebook newsfeed, but one such author stands out as I scroll through.

Eric Vance Walton, Author has written novel “Alarm Clock Dawn” (his debut) and, his newest book, “One Word At a Time: Finding Your Way As An Indie Author” is out now.

Being smack-dab in the midst of November and NaNoWriMo, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce a practical, how-to guide on how to reach for success as an author in the new, developing, and always changing world of indie publishing.

Author’s Publish Press knows all about that and they have brought, along with Eric, us some useful tips and advice and an insightful step-by-step guide for how to navigate through the world of writing and publishing.

Eric says:

“Writing isn’t just something we do. It’s something we are.”

Truer words have never been spoken and after reading this in the first few pages of the book, I already felt comfortable and able to relate to this writer and his experiences.

He tells his story to help others avoid mistakes he, himself has made. He knows about the struggle to manage the events of everyday life with the need to write.

Here is a frank, honest, and open account of the life of a writer. It is a refreshing look at the possibilities of indie publishing, straight from the mouth of one who has traveled the journey and come out on the other side.

All the years of unfocused writing while living life brought him to the awakening he had on turning forty. Sometimes this is just the sort of push we, as writers need, to take that step and he did..

He has been living the writer’s life and he speaks openly about how he climbed that ladder of success. This is a story of the adventure he embarked on, over the last twenty years and he has the firsthand knowledge any working writer can surely use.

He has written novels, children’s stories, poetry, and freelance articles. Many writers are doing this, getting by, but they lack the awareness and the push forward to truly tell the story they are meant to tell.

Eric has a blueprint that he is very willing to share. that is what this book is all about.

He shares achievable strategies such as developing structured blocks of writing time, the perfect writing nook, how to work through writer’s block by walking the dog and getting fresh air and jus the right amount of physical exercise, and ways to keep both mind and body healthy so that the best writing can be produced without the help of artificial substances such as alcohol, drugs, or caffeine.

He relays the tools he has found to be most useful in producing his best work: adequate amounts of sleep, the right environment for a peaceful night’s rest, and one of his biggest tips being meditation. Exercise and a reviving walk, meditative gardening, yoga or Tai Chi. These things that have worked to relieve stress for him are mere suggestions for any writer looking for ways to bring forth their best work.

He shares his battle to walk that fine line between a day job to bring in a steady paycheque and finding the time to truly devote to the writing life he wanted. It wasn’t all roses all the time and he shares his triumphs as well as his defeats.

He shares how the biggest mistake, to not have a concrete plan and set out goals, will leave you unsatisfied and unable to reach any attainable writing career success or fulfilment.

Sometimes, more often then not, sacrifice is required and compromise is the key. He makes it clear that you must decide what is your end goal and what are you willing to give up to get it, such as satellite television or material items and how to be frugal while walking the fine line of giving up something such as the steady pay from a day job, for the somewhat uncertain life of a full-time writer.

“Clear goals and dicipline,” he says. “Smarts, luck and persistence,” are, according to Eric, what it takes. HE is offering another path to the starving artist path a lot of writers and other creative types often go down. He shares his concrete plan that worked for him, exactly how to save enough money and to give a specific amount of time to get a novel written.

He compares novel writing to military bootcamp and proposes that writing can be a formula, with such tools as NaNoWriMo to help get the words down on paper or on the screen.

He shares tips for bringing in multiple revenue streams while walking the road of being an indie author, how the two big things to consider in this journey are time and money. His tips on making money through blogging and how to build confidence and experience through public speaking are direct and specific, with directions and clear-cut references to Google and other surveys, showing evidence on how to be successful as a writer. Having a budget and being mindful are his best pieces of advice on how not to be that dreaded starving artist.

Marketing and promotion are just as important as the writing. This book speaks on social media, on other authors who have done something right and have made a name for themselves, in this day and age and in the digital world we now live in, how important a blog can be in making a name for yourself in writing.

Motivation is an important topic he speaks about throughout and how the “non-writing” and the fear of never producing anything, by the end of his life, are the best motivators for him and perhaps for you too, to get the writing done now, and not to wait for tomorrow.

Mentioned are important tips on becoming a better writer: polishing, tweaking, and learning. He advices taking classes, reading books, and brushing up on proper grammar rules. It takes time to become a good writer and his years of practice have brought him to this book.

He talks about the fundamentals of fiction: proper story pacing, writing realistic dialogue and proper dialogue tags, and communication and body language. All this and more are the mechanics of writing and are at the heart of it all. With this, he includes actual examples to help anyone who wants to learn to grow as a writer.

Consistency. Continuity. Creativity. Characterization. Clarity.

One of the most important pieces of advice, in my opinion, is the one about not falling for the lure of social media and the urge to publish before giving a piece of writing all the attention and clarification it needs. this is the biggest problem with easy access to technology and the revolution of the indie writing universe.

He provides resources and offers tips on finding the right beta readers and the best editor to fit your needs, for your particular book project.

He quotes and refers to Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Veronica Roth, John Green, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter and others when talking of creativity and how to tap into it. He lists reading, going to plays, and listening to music, all things that inspire to surround yourself constantly with creativity from all sides. This includes being around others in the creative fields, for a learning experience from others who have the same sorts of interests.

“Creativity is self-doubt.”

Here Eric quotes Sylvia Plath, and this single, simple line becomes an important topic throughout this book.

Voice, genre, brand. He offers a lot of advice on what is badly needed for creative people who can’t seem to get out what they want to say. This book outlines a strategy for discovering, developing, and growing an author’s brand.

It is easy, for most writers who are naturally loners, to stay hidden, but this last piece of becoming an author is key. Learning how to work with other people is strongly recommended and is the last thing to be discussed in this book.

It was a friend’s question about how his first novel was going that sparked something in Eric, a seriousness toward the task of completion.

He is honest about the reality, the highs as well as the lows, and he is grateful for all who have assisted him in his writing journey.

He provides real-life examples from his own life on what success in writing meant to him as a younger man and how that definition has changed over the years, offering practical advice on setting goals and adjusting expectations.

He is open about the fear and self-doubt that often plague writers. He is genuinely appreciative to his readers. Finding his niche audience, launching and releasing his novel, and receiving reader reviews; he speaks about all the stages of writing his first novel in a relatable way that any fellow writer can see themselves in.

Although he, like most writers, first dreamt of being published by a traditional publishing house, he lays out a writer’s alternate options: self-publishing or through a smaller, independent press.

He explains writing in a clear and concise way, with the help of quotes and websites for more information, he lets the reader know that it isn’t always a smooth road with self-publishing, that a writer must be all things: writer, editor, graphic designer, etc. However, this can only be the case up to a point, and then hiring experts becomes necessary for a more professional looking product. This, however, is becoming, more and more, the way to go if a writer wishes to hold control of their own work.

He is up front about the costs that still go along with indie publishing and the pros and cons of having both hard copies and ebooks created. These pros and cons still do apply to making the decision to go the indie route and then, in future, changing to the traditional route if it suits.

He speaks on technology and how it can be utilized in ways (Facebook/Twitter) that weren’t possible only a few years ago. He knows, realizing his responsibility as a writer, to offer advice to others who are where he has been and who hope to be where he is now.

Balance and gratitude are the two key elements, that stood out to me when reading, for success as an indie author or a traditionally published author. This book is part writer’s memoir and part mechanical writing guide.

I have enjoyed Eric’s Facebook page for a while before reviewing this book. Eric posts poems which are beautiful and moving and he has a lot to say on his many years growing and developing as an indie author himself, what it took him to get to where he is today.

On Saturdays he opens up his author page to others who want to share links to or bits of their writing: Showcase Saturday. He is generous enough to give others a chance to shine.

Find Eric at his website:

https://ericvancewalton.wordpress.com

You can check out his book here,

One Word at a Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon.

Or you can follow him on Facebook,

Eric Vance Walton, Author on Facebook.

I promise you won’t regret it.

I was given an early version of this book to review. I am sure there have been final touches and fixes since then and now this book has been released and I recommend it for anyone looking for a guide for writing success, especially in the indie world.

You can be a writer and produce your best work, one word at a time.

“Although writers spend lots of time crafting fictional characters, ironically, the act of writing develops the character of the author more than anything else.”

Thank you, Eric Vance Walton, for that and for this helpful guide on writing.

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, NANOWRIMO 2014, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

NANOWRIMO 2014: End of Week Two, Rebellion

Welcome back to my weekly Fiction Friday post, all the month of November dedicated to National Novel Writing Month, 2014 and we have arrived at the close of Week Two.

Last week I spoke about the somewhat hesitant decision to take part for the second year,

Here.

This time I will explain what I mean by the title of today’s post: Rebellion.

Yes, I am a NaNoWriMo rebel.

What does this mean?

Writer Alana Saltz writes an excellent blog post about this and I wanted to share it here, before I explain how I fit into this category:

How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

Now, anybody who knows me knows I am routinely known as a rebel anyway. This is, therefore, not all that far off.

:-)

Actually, I like to follow rules, when I can. It’s the OCD in me that prefers this.

So last year I wrote my daily word count, writing one novel, and it was only a frustration with the site that was so bothersome that I resorted to Twitter to keep track of my progress.

I felt I did everything I was supposed to do, according to,

NaNoWriMo.org.

This year I thought I would give it a try once more, but from the beginning I did not feel like following any rules, whether this might disqualify me or not.

I did not have a new idea for a story. I barely got to editing after last November and I never did finish last year’s story.

I had that one floating around in my head for several years. There was no way I was going to finish it in one year or even to put it aside and focus on a whole new story, but I did not want that to disqualify me from participating this year.

My novel “Till Death” is a story of great love, the hardest of times, and finding one’s way through grief and loss.

I thought this year I would continue the story of three generations of a family: a teenage daughter, her father, and her grandfather.

I wanted to answer the question: how does death affect people at different stages of life?

I thought, why not? Why couldn’t I continue that story this November?

Who says it has to be a brand new story?

Who was going to stop me?

I will use the motivation, but not necessarily stick to the rules others are following for the month.

When I heard Alana speak on how she wasn’t following the rules either, I felt a freedom and like I had been given some invisible marker of permission to be the rebel I always wanted to be.

Next week I will write about setting goals and meeting them.

What do you think of my themes and storyline?

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History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Poetry, RIP, Special Occasions

I Will Never Forget Yet I Will Never Understand

Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in Canada, Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day; whatever you call it where you are it is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that we stop to remember.

I thought about writing, but as you see, I held off until today. Why did I do this?

Today is the day after and I wanted to speak about my feelings, but couldn’t quite say what I wanted to say on the day when others were both remembering and speaking theirs. I will admit I was afraid of coming off as disrespectful or ungrateful. I did not want to offend. That is not my intention here.

I have written about my interest in the world wars in the past on this blog:

Day in the Museum, Part Three: Keep Calm and Carry On

I often immerse myself in the stories and the details of World War I and World War II specifically. These events in 20th century history have always held my attention and baffled me greatly.

The recent events here in Canada, more specifically in our capital of Ottawa affected us and me, so much so that I can’t speak about Remembrance Day without speaking about the loss we’ve collectively suffered only weeks ago.

First there was the hit-and-run in Quebec, of Officer Patrice Vincent.

Then, only a few days later, on the morning of October 22rd, my phone blew up with news updates on an attack in progress in Canada’s capital city. The news was not good.

There had been a shooting at The National War Memorial, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on Parliament Hill.

The country was in a panic and Ottawa, as a city, was in a frenzy. What was going on? Were we under attack?

I began to feel highly panicky and anxious, even though I lived several hours from Ottawa myself.

By the end of the day it had been established that one lone soldier, standing guard and unarmed at the memorial, Nathan Cirillo, had been murdered.

The gunmen then proceeded to force his way into the parliament building and was then confronted with a shoot-out, resulting in his death.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa-shooting-a-look-back-at-how-the-week-unfolded-1.2811614

I was asked the other day by a family member why I hadn’t yet written about these events. He figured, as I use this blog and my writing to express my feelings about the things that happen, that I would surely have had something to say on the subject.

I may be totally ungrateful, unaware of how lucky I am and how much I indeed have. I wish nobody any disrespect.

I have no immediate family member currently involved in combat. I do have family who have loved ones who are. Below is a dedication to one such recently deceased soldier:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QerRytM2CJk

Remembrance Day means something to me.

Each November I would sit, cross-legged on the cold floor of my school gymnasium for the November 11th assembly. I felt the sombre mood as fellow students did readings and played soldiers and their families from the Great War, a title I did not understand as a young child.

How could a war be great?” I would wonder.

I was a very literal child.
:)
Since I heard my school’s choir singing In Flanders Fields, I was captivated and haunted by the lyrics of this famous battlefield poem. Visiting Flanders is on my WanderList. I want to walk in that hallowed place.

I could not find a version of the song that I refer to here, but I was brought right back to those yearly assemblies yesterday, when watching the ceremonies shown live on television. A school choir, like my own, performed the song and I listened in remembrance.

This is one hundred years since that First World War and seventy-five since the Second. I heard about the poppy display at The Tower of London and would have liked to see it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2829837/A-poppy-fallen-Thousands-flock-Tower-London-888-245-ceramic-flowers-planted-pay-respects-Britain-s-war-dead.html

I am aware of all that I have. I have heat in the winter, central air to keep me cool in summer, a house, food to eat, two amazing parents and a family to be proud of.

As a blind woman, I couldn’t live in a better part of the world and I know it. Even with all that I struggle with, I am still so damn lucky.

In this day and age, with the internet and twenty-four hour news it isn’t so easy to live in a bubble of denial or shelter from the rest of the world.

Lyrics such as: don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, till I come marching home … these old-time lyrics from a period long past seem simple and naive to our world today.

This is the world I imagine existed when World War I broke out. It’s an innocent view of war that some young men may have had before going away to fight in 1914 and then they saw things they could never unsee. Nowadays we know better, (we should know better) but the fighting still goes on all over the world, every single day.

I watched all the ceremonies, the salutes, and honouring of those who’ve sacrificed their lives for my freedom.

I feel proud to be Canadian, but I feel uncomfortable when I watch. I can’t quite make any one day or one particular minute of silence all about pride and honour
. I just can’t. Maybe this makes me a bad person somehow, but I feel an anxiety that the world is doomed to make similar mistakes over and over again.

All the propositions to do better and to strive for peace are all well and good, but I can’t turn a blind eye on what I know about the world, not even on Remembrance Day.

The utter senselessness of World War I and the unimaginable cruelty of World War II will always define the first half of last century for me.

I remember all the time. I don’t need a chosen day or time for this. It is almost constantly on my mind, a world without war.

I don’t know what it was like for my father’s father during World War II and I never will. He is gone now and unable to have any imagined adult conversation with his grown granddaughter about this. I feel a huge empty gap in his life that I can only guess at, an entire fifty-seven years before I was born that include things I will hopefully never experience.

He was a teenager, in France with his family, when the war broke out in 1939 and circumstances, totally out of his control, they were thrust upon him. This I can not possibly fathom.

He and his siblings were taken by the Germans and forced to work for them. I believe he was made to dig ditches and other things I know nothing about. I try so hard sometimes to imagine him during the years of the war and what his life was like.

There has been a lot of talk in recent news, due to recent events, and on every Remembrance Day about bravery and sacrifice. I do not challenge this.

Some of these brave people make the choice to serve, to fight, or to stand guard and protect, such as reservist Nathan Cirillo. His child will now grow up without a father and this is supremely unfair. This child and others have no real choice in the matter.

War brings these choices and to others, to children and the innocent, it brings no choice whatsoever. Peace provides us time to reflect.

I do not mention the names of those who have committed the senseless crimes in Quebec and Ottawa. I do not like to glorify such things, but I reflect on the family members of these sick criminals and what they must be dealing with in the aftermath.

I was not in a rush to defend my country from a direct attack by ISIS. I know what is going on with that right now, but am probably naive about so much. However, the need to jump to attention and to go on the defensive like it is common to do is not where my mind goes.

All I do know is something I recently heard:

An eye for an eye and we are all blind.

As someone who was actually born blind, I consider this truth more potent than any I have ever heard.

I did not rush here to pour out my raw and unexamined feelings about Ottawa’s recent attack when it happened. I am blessed to live in a country of relative peace and therefore, I have nothing but time for reflection. I depend on and defend the right and my own right to speak about these things in such a place as this.

I want this blog to be a place where I write, to get out feelings sure, but not as a dumping ground for just anything that comes to my mind. Some of it I try to come at from a place of education and also from a place of emotion.

I prefer to mull things over and to write as a way of making sense of those things, but I believe holding off sometimes can only help make what I say sound as clear and concise as possible.

A rant is, more often then not, better suited for a private journal. For me, my blog is where I examine events and ideas from a mature, insightful point-of-view.

I hope that is what I have done here, the day after the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

I will always remember. Yet I am sorry…but I can not ever understand.

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