Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections

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 sound of my niece and my nephew’s laughter or 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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Writing, Poetry, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Book Reviews, Spotlight Saturday, NANOWRIMO 2014

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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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Welcome back to another Memoir Monday and another answer to a question from the:

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

***

Q: Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?

A: Of course they are. I don’t know what kinds of things I would be into if I had all my sight. I sometimes wonder. Would I like sports? Would I love to paint? However, it does no good to linger on these questions. I like to have fun and enjoy myself just like anyone else.

I love to watch movies: in the theatre or at home on the couch. I know a lot of visually impaired people who could care less and who would place movies very low on the list, but I have always loved to escape and get lost in an interesting storyline, with gripping characters, played by my favourite actors.

This is addressed in last week’s post:

All They’ve Ever Known.

I might not have been able to enjoy all the movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, if it hadn’t been for people like those in my family who learned to describe the action going on on the screen, so I never felt left out of popular culture and the blockbusters of the day.

Now, of course, there were services such as DVS (descriptive video service) and my brother and I used to order movies from a catalogue. They would arrive in the mail and we could watch movies on our own.

This is where I first discovered my love of Gone With The Wind.

I like to think I have a wide variety of hobbies and interests, just as varied as anyone else.

I would probably love to paint now, if I could see. I miss the times, as a child with more sight, when I would draw for hours at a time with my beloved markers. This hobby I had to give up, but I have replaced it with others.

Spending time with family and friends isn’t really affected. I fit in with them because they know me and accept me. We have fun spending time together.

I love to go to concerts, on day trips/road trips, and theme parks.

The big question and the universal joke made by and for visually impaired people would be the issue of driving.

One of my favourite things to do is go for a drive, especially at night, with my favourite music playing. I love feeling like I am moving forward, speeding ahead, an energy and a relaxation I get no other way.

I never have to drive and can always just sit back, in the passenger seat or in the back, and enjoy the ride, leaving other people to concentrate on the road.

Of course this means I am never able to just jump in my car and go for a drive alone, but with the possibility of technology and the driverless cars that already exist, who knows what the future may bring.

I have had the chance to sit on a parent’s lap, when I was younger, and drive around a WAL-MART parking lot at night. In my dreams I drive sometimes and perhaps that’s a sign that I could be good at it, if circumstances were different.

My main hobbies are reading and writing, both not impossible with the help of technology. I need help from special equipment, such as: Mac computers with built-in voice software, electronic braille displays, and iPhones. These things continue to improve and there is no telling where things could be headed.

I used to have shelves and shelves of thick braille books and volumes. This could be cumbersome at times, but nowadays space is more plentiful with the inventions I mentioned above.

With the help of these technologies I spend time on Facebook and other social media like most people these days. An entertaining distraction, taking up maybe more time than it should.

:-)

I have a tandem bicycle. I can walk alone, depending on whether I know the route. Going for a walk outside in my favourite autumn weather is better arm in arm with a loved one. Sometimes I take my dog. Sometimes I take a cane.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper

So the song applies to all girls, even me. It’s important to have fun and to have time to relax and kick back and I look forward to this, with others or solo. I find ways around the problems that can arise, if it’s something I really enjoy. I owe my parents for helping to show me, from a young age, that this is possible.

***

Next Week I will answer a broader, more open-ended question for the challenge:

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

Which hobby or leisure activity that you enjoy would you think might become difficult or impossible to do if you lost your sight? Which one would you miss most: driving, painting, sports? How do you think you might adapt?

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Fiction Friday, NANOWRIMO 2014, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

NANOWRIMO 2014: End Of Week One

November is here again. I can’t believe it.

Last month, every

Frightful Fiction Friday,

was set aside for phobia stories, all Halloween-based because it was October.

Last Saturday was the start of a new month and I couldn’t believe it was time for National Novel Writing Month yet again. It’s amazing how fast a year goes by.

Every Fiction Friday for the month of November I will be posting an update on my progress with writing 50,000 words in the thirty days of November.

Last year I only just found out about this huge initiative at the last moment. I dove right in and managed to reach the goal, by writing a first draft of the novel I had had rolling around in my brain for several years.

The site

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Allows you to make a profile, keep track of your daily word count, and to speak and connect on the forums and through local writing groups.. People come together with a common goal and support one another in meeting the challenge, through American Thanksgiving, work and school, and more and more holiday and family gatherings.

Unfortunately, I found their website, as a visually impaired person, overwhelming and tricky to navigate. this time I got a little farther, but on entering my word count I must have done something wrong. I want to write, but instead I am messing around with numbers.

I would rather go to

https://twitter.com/KKHerheadache

to keep track of my own word count.

As much as I love the idea of writing all month long, I don’t like that attached to the term “word count” there just so happens to be the word “count” because that means numbers and math, two things I hate just as much as I love words.

I HATE MATH!!!

This year, once again, I signed up on the site in the hopes that I would find it easier to work with. No such luck. If I am going to focus on writing thousands and thousands of words in such a short time, I am not about to fiddle around with something that only brings me frustration, when I could be writing.

Also, it is a bit of a drag that there aren’t really any local chapters of writers in my area who are participating. This takes away from some of the community feeling of NaNoWriMo for me, but the isolation still seems to be low enough. I guess it’s all in the mind, but I could write a novel any time. Why do I need a specific month to do it?

On this second year I started off on a great foot, beginning immediately at midnight on November 1st and writing fiercely into the early hours of last Saturday morning. This resulted in several thousands of words from the get-go, but who knows if I will make the goal at the end of the month. I have to be okay with it if I don’t. Who else would I be letting down?

Unfortunately, I did not keep this momentum up every day this past week. Every other day is more like it, and I still haven’t hit 10 ,000 words.

I can offer only this excuse to myself or anyone of you: last year this time I did not have one blog, let alone two. I may be writing more this year than I ever have, but my time is more divided than ever.

Week One: 8731 words

Next week I will talk about what I am writing.

Are you taking part in National Novel Writing Month this year? Have you taken part before and have decided not to be a part of it this year? Is it your first time?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this growing movement.

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