1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes

Purple: My Interview with Garry Atkinson

Today is a day to work together for a greater goal: the safety and protection of women everywhere.

Shining the Light

November is a month of purple.

November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month.

November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

This inevitably brings about the backlash that comes about when feminism comes up, during a month like this.

What about men? Shouldn’t it be equal rights for all, preventing violence for both genders?

I see questions like these all the time, in my reading on feminism and equality. I needed to speak out and I had a thought.

I have known Garry Atkinson for a long time. His mother was braille transcriber and educational assistant for me, starting from when I was in the 1st grade.

One day I discovered her son was good friends with my cousin Morgan. They liked to play music together.

Summertime Sadness

Garry has remained close to my aunt and uncle, my cousins, and I have admired him for the work he’s been doing, for years. I really wanted to talk to a man about an often mostly women’s topic. I was fascinated to hear, from a male perspective, what feminism means and how it plays a role in his life and all of our lives.

What do labels do, for good or bad, in our society?

Garry is a middle class, white, heterosexual male living in Canada.

Labels give us a place to start, but it’s not so black and white as that. This all left me curious…

Many in his shoes might not stop to give feminism a second thought. Why has he?

He has a mother, sisters, friends, daughters, and a partner. Is that why he cares so much? I was determined to find out what drives him to do the work he does.

Sometimes I feel like I have a double pressure, being a female with a disability, but this is why I care so much and am so incredibly passionate and concerned for feminism and equality. I thought, who better than Garry Atkinson, to speak out on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, during Woman Abuse Prevention Month, here on Her Headache.

Garry: First of all, thank you so kindly for this opportunity – it is truly an honour.

Kerry: The honour is all mine. Thank you for agreeing to speak to me. I would like to do my part for advocacy in the areas of people with disabilities, women, equal rights and I want to speak about that as much as I can. I am happy to learn what your experience has been.

1) First, what did you go to school for exactly and can you explain a little bit about that?

My undergraduate degree consisted of an honours specialization in women’s studies and feminist research with a minor in french studies. I started my undergrad in a general arts program in 2009, with an introductory women’s studies course as one of my classes. Having two young children at the time and reading Lois Gould’s “X – A fabulous child’s story” for my first class, I was awe-struck by a discussion about the ways in which gendered toys and clothing would shape my children’s future, and how a fixation on gender more broadly was a tool for organizing a society to ultimately privilege men. It was at that time I decided I would enroll in the program, and continued in the women’s studies and feminist research program for my graduate degree as well.

2) How has your own mother influenced that decision? What did she teach you about equality growing up?

I think some of the most important ways my mom had an impact on my decision to study women’s studies and feminist research was by fostering an environment in which it was safe to be me – and that the ways in which I differed from the traditional constructions of masculinity as a child, a young adult, and as I matured, were okay. My mom has always had a passion for fairness – among her children and grandchildren, her siblings, friends, students and colleagues – her dedication to being fair has always been at the core, and has subsequently taught me a lot about equality. Her work with people with disabilities throughout my life also taught me a lot about difference, the value in those differences, and how celebrating difference can nurture mutually positive relationships.

3) Do you consider yourself a feminist and why?

Absolutely, but I think it goes beyond embracing a label or political position. For me, personally, I think it’s about being in constant conversation with what it means to be a feminist as a white, heterosexual, middle-class, educated, able-bodied, male. From that location, it’s about constantly reflecting on my inherent privileges that are grounded in the structures of society that benefit people who share my social location, and always being open to being challenged on that privilege. I have to allow myself to be uncomfortable – to accept that my role in the feminist movement is to ultimately listen and learn, and to do my very best to challenge and acknowledge those privileges in everything I do. I am a feminist, but I can’t just say it – it has to be present in my actions, and, perhaps most importantly, in a critical self-reflection that guides those actions. Ultimately, I think being a feminist is about a commitment to a life-long conversation. I’m committed to that conversation, and that’s why I consider myself a feminist.  

4) What does feminism mean to you?

To me, feminism is about social equality. It’s about addressing the inequalities that have become inherent in our socialization and social structures based on gender, race, class, and ability, to name a few. This doesn’t mean that it’s about treating everyone equally, but rather recognizing and celebrating the differences among us, and eliminating the structures, policies, laws, etc., that lend privilege to a limited group of people. Feminism advocates for the celebration of difference, which is what I find most exciting, because it opens up the opportunity to grow our communities, expand our knowledge, and ultimately initiate new ways for us to exist as cohabitants on our journey through life.

5) What do you think the stigma around feminism is all about? Why do you think it’s become a bad word, the new F word for some people?

I don’t think the stigma around feminism is new, but I do think technological advancement and social media has made it more apparent. Ultimately, I think the stigmas associated with feminism are about people being afraid of losing privilege.

6) What would you say is the worst danger against equality for women and all people?

I don’t think I could begin to pinpoint one ‘worst danger’ against equality, but perhaps trying to find one answer or solution would be part of the problem. The dangers against equality are very different for everyone, shaped by the differences of our social locations and how those locations intersect. We need to start by recognizing and celebrating difference in order to understand what equality even looks like.

7) November is Women Abuse Prevention Month. What does this cause mean to you?

Women are disproportionately affected by violence in heterosexual relationships in particular, and by acts of male violence in general. This isn’t to say that men aren’t affected, or that we shouldn’t have a conversation about violence in same-sex communities – but Woman Abuse Prevention Month offers a time we can reflect on the staggering number of women who have lost their lives, homes, families, or sense of self-security to abuse, and how we can move forward as a community to create safe spaces and challenge what has traditionally been regarded as an acceptable way of treating women.  

8) Who do you admire, those in media, literature, politics, who you feel stands for equality? A feminist or other? Which literature do you look to about these causes?

There are so many, it is difficult to name a few – many of the people I admire for their position on equality are in my life, and I constantly look to them for guidance, feedback, suggestions, and insight. If I were to reflect on authors, however, I’d have to say that “Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde was one of the collections of writings that had a huge impact on me as I began my academic journey, and I repeatedly returned to her work throughout my studies. Chela Sandoval’s “Methodology of the Oppressed,” Mariana Ortega’s “Being Lovingly, Knowingly Ignorant,” and several of Michel Foucault’s writings were also all important for me as a way of building a framework of understanding and thinking about feminist causes.

9) What are some of the most important, valuable things you learned in your years of university?

Self-reflection, critical analysis, collaboration, it was really an endless experience of learning.

10 ) What do you want to instil in your own daughters from all you’ve learned?

Mostly, I want them to know that their options in life are limitless, whether it be an economic pursuit, a social role, or a sexual preference – and I want them to value that in the people they meet along the way as well. At the same time, I want them to understand the importance of being self-reflective of the privileges they have, and critical of the challenges they face. Whatever that looks like for them in the future is their decision, so ultimately I just want them to know that I support them and hope that I can foster the trust they need to be fully comfortable and confident with the choices they make.

11) Where do you see feminism going forward into the future?

I think there is an increasing awareness of feminism, and feminist causes – with social media playing a pivotal role in its dissemination. Whether or not the material effects of that movement are on par with the increasing awareness about feminism, however, is another conversation. Women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts, disproportionately experience violence, are subjected to ridiculous standards of beauty, and continue to bear the brunt of unpaid work such as childcare and care-giving – just to scratch the surface. Moving forward I think feminism will continue to address these issues, but perhaps more importantly get us to think about how these issues are also informed by race, class, ability, and ethnicity, for example, so we can look to difference for the knowledge and experiences we need in order to inspire our future laws, policies, and social structures, and create a more just society.

Kerry: Thank you so much for doing this.

Sometimes I feel like I have a double pressure, being a female with a disability, but this is why I care so much and am so incredibly passionate and concerned for feminism and equality. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Garry: I really want to respond to your feeling a ‘double pressure’ as a female with a disability by saying that I appreciate it, and that I think recognizing it is one of the fundamental aspects of feminism. In my training, we were taught to call it “intersectionality,” most prominently introduced by authors such as Kimberly Crenshaw and Patricia Hill-Collins as a way to bring attention to how women of colour experienced systems of oppression differently, not only based on their gender, but through racism as well. The ways in which your gender intersects with a disability are inseparable in how you experience the world – sometimes sexism and misogyny may take the fore, and sometimes abelist attitudes may be more dominant, but they are always both intersecting to shape your experiences. How you experience misogyny or sexism is informed by your disability, and how you experience ablest attitudes is informed by your gender. I know you are well aware, I just thought this might give you some language to think through it.

I love that you have found a passion for feminism, and I really look forward to seeing where it takes you, how you engage with it, challenge it, question it, and draw on it.

Kerry: Well, thanks for taking the time and I am glad we could have an important discussion on these extremely vital issues for both men and women, for us all.

Garry: Thanks again Kerry.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Tap Tap Tap

Took a bit of a break there, from:



I found it a challenge to talk about disability on a weekly basis and needed to leave it for a while. This blog is not, strictly, a blog about disability and/or blindness.

I realize, as much as I want to forget about such challenges for a while, I can’t get away from disability. It is tangled up in me and with me wherever I go.

I write about it, in small ways or big ones, anyway.

So I will address a few stories in the news lately and use a specific example from the other day, in my life, to illustrate a point. Hmmm. Guess I should hurry up and think what that’s going to be right now.


I guess this might answer number 40 in the list of RDAC questions, as I feel quite sure I want to find ways to become in volved in awareness and social issues: feminism or equal rights. Either way. This involves disability in a big way.

Q: Are you involved in any political or social activities related to having a disability? This could be anything from an advocacy group to an informal social gathering to participation in adaptive sports.

I try to deny it sometimes because the feeling is often uncomfortable, but I keep being dragged back to it.

I have an interview coming up on this blog with a guy who just graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies. I am very interested in hearing his story and viewpoint.

I have spoken with my friend Steph from

Bold Blind Beauty,

who has been working on a new image, one she feels represents her site and her mission:

The Unveiling of a Stylish Icon

I get involved when and where I can. Who knows what that might look like in the future.

There are others who are doing a lot more:

Stand By Me RP awareness page

This poet has recently been highlighting a story that made the news, over in Britain:

Paul Franks speaks to the mom of a blind schoolgirl who has been asked not to use her white cane in school due to health and safety

Maybe you’ve heard about it. This is the kind of thing that makes one want to speak up and stand up for what is right.

It’s hard to imagine, in 2015, that this would happen.

It’s the kind of thing my mother would have fought hard against, if it had been me being told I couldn’t have my cane at school, instead having to rely on others. This girl was told to be with supervision at all times. So much for the independence that is the whole point of school.

If this were true, white canes everywhere would be tripping people, left and right. There would be anarchy, injuries galore.

As long as she is taught how to use her white cane properly, this should be a non issue.

Okay, so there may have been one incident, when I slipped on a wet floor and sprained my ankle in the hallway at school, my own white cane going flying as I went down. This may have nearly empaled a staff member. I say “may have”.

But this could very easily happen with anything, with any child. There is no way a child should be told she can’t have her way of getting around school.


This is the sort of thing that we must not accept from people. This is why awareness and consciousness of others is so important.

How dangerous is a white cane?

How dangerous is a wheelchair? That’s like saying a wheelchair is dangerous because it might run over someone’s toe. Ridiculous. Care is always needed, of course. No waving it around madly, but man…this story is everywhere.

What is a school mobility officer anyway? Differences from North America to Britain I guess, but she should be having mobility lessons of her own, with an instructor, to learn how to use her cane safely and correctly.

They said it was just temporary, while they discussed the matter with the family. What does that really mean anyway?

This story has made the news, in the papers from the UK where it happened, over to Canada and the US, all the way to New Zealand.

It makes an excellent headline, but it really is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

Well, I’m so worked up, that perhaps I’ll save the other stories for next week. There will be one of those, and much sooner this time.

The schedule calls for next week to be a free post day anyway and there are only ten or so more of these RDAC questions left.

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TToT: Vanilla and Peppermint – Ringing in the Season, #10Thankful

“You look like you’ve been run over by a steam roller and left on our doorstep.”

–Dr. House


No, not that Dr. House. The real Dr. House is alive and well and a nephrologist, a kidney transplant doctor in Ontario, Canada.

I feel like I should add, before I go any further, he is nothing like the grouchy, dysfunctional, fictional doctor people can’t help mentioning when they hear the name.

The above quote is the first thing he said to my brother, when he visited him, on his Sunday morning rounds. A real word mincer.


The season has begun. Whether it begins: (in retail) immediately after Halloween ends, after November 11th (as is the respectful way), at Thanksgiving (for Americans), or on December 1st is really up for debate.

All I know is: I attended my local Santa Claus Parade, there’s snow on the ground, and the Home Alone movies are being shown on television.

Christmas is on its way.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the common cold.

Okay, well I’m thankful that that’s all it was for my brother.

He was unwell at the beginning of the week. He was dehydrated. He had been sleeping somewhere between 16 and 20 hours a day, every single day the week before. He hadn’t been to school in days.

But once he was where he needed to be, in hospital, they began to assess him. They gave him intravenous fluids and antibiotics, plus a specific treatment for


CMV is more common after transplant, but he is more than two years out from his. It took a few days to test for, but he did not have it. once they discovered he didn’t, when the fluids had a chance to work, once his blood pressure wasn’t so low, and once he could eat again he was released. Such a relief. Transplant patients just must be careful. My brother’s case is proof that even a common cold can cause a lot of problems.

For vanilla bean everything!!!

One thing I love about the start of the Christmas season is my favourite scents.

I stocked up on everything vanilla bean at

Bath & Body Works.

No photos or words can do it justice. If I could send the scent of my vanilla bean shower gel, hand lotion, fragrance mist, hand soap, and lip balm to all of you, through the screen, I would.


Or better yet, the products themselves. They make excellent Christmas gifts.

For more red.

My favourite scent may be vanilla, but my favourite colour is red. I have been working on finding red appliances for my kitchen.


This week I found a microwave that would fit the theme.

For some wonderful praise of my writing.

It was my second time at the writing group I’ve started attending and this week’s mystery object, fittingly, was someone’s ticket stub for the Eiffel Tower.

I like this group. Wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I like that I am put on the spot. We all are. We find out the answer to the mystery object question and, within minutes, we’re all writing furiously.

We have about an hour to come up with a piece of writing, based on that object. This week I brought my Braille Display and was able to read what I’d just come up with.

Silence. Crickets, if there had been any crickets in the library.


And then someone in the group told me they were silent because they were still imagining the scene in their mind. It was one comment, but it meant a lot to me to hear it.

For a Saturday afternoon writing workshop.

More writing. Yes, I could spend lots of money on classes and workshops. Seems, these days, like every writer or editor teaches them. I’m sure it’s a good way to make money, as there isn’t always money to be made in literature.

I went on a whim. It was a workshop on dialogue. I learned things, as logical as they are and I should already know them, and got to share my writing with an old guy who is working on his own novel, crime I think he said it was.

These things, whether I learn a lot or not, are great places for me to practice writing and meet and hear from other writers, all at different levels of writing in life. It gets me out of my shell and feeling a little less afraid.

For snow.

In this case, for the first real snowfall, accumulation of snow for the season.

I love that smell. Maybe someday Bath & Body Works will figure out how to bottle it, but nothing will ever compare to the real thing.

I wish it wasn’t so cold though. I love to run my hands along a railing covered b snow. Unfortunately, my fingers won’t tolerate the soft, powdery texture for long. Gloves just cover up its wonderfulness.

For one cold Saturday evening family activity to ring in the holiday season.

The Santa Claus Parade was a favourite holiday ritual of mine growing up. We’d get our spot, all bundled up, and watch the floats slowly pass, with their Christmas lights, music pumping from loud speakers, and all the kids on the floats, yelling or singing.

And then always return somewhere warm and be thankful for heat all the more. I know I always was. And was again last night.

Well, so what if the parade from two years ago had us out in hardly a coat at all. This year, with the blankets, hoods, and gloves was better. It started out with rain, but by the end of the parade the snow was falling steadily. It had to be shook from our umbrellas.


My nephew thought, upon hearing the first sound of sirens in the distance, that we should hurry up and run. He’s still figuring out parades and Santa Claus, for that matter, but I hope he grows up with as much wonder for all these traditions as I did.

For my trusty little iPhone 5 and for the fact that it still works.

I “may” have dropped it, a short drop, after I lost use of its original case. It was a short drop from the porch swing, onto the porch, but it still operates.

However, if you were to shake it just hard enough, a shifting sound inside the phone would make things seem worse than they apparently are.

Every time I receive an email though, the sound it makes to notify me causes the phone, if I am using it at the time, to reverberate throughout. It is a strange sensation, if I happen to be holding it at the moment, and, let’s face it – I’m holding it most of the time.



For a book review.

After the Scars #bookreview

A friend, writer, and blogger read my short story and the anthology it is in and wrote her review on both.

I haven’t heard a lot of feedback, so this was important, I believe, for me to grow as a writer.

She also wrote a post, on one of her multiple blogs. This one,

3 Writers Dine Together

is a lovely summary of our very first in-person meeting in Toronto.

For my fellow Lord of the Rings nerds, especially when they’re Stephen Colbert.

No One Confuses Smeagol & Gollum On Stephen’s Watch

The man makes some excellent points and uses humour to make them.


And…on that note…

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and let it snow, snow, snow!!!

“November-with uncanny witchery in its changed trees.”

–L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I know I include a lot of Lucy Maud Montgomery quotes in these TToT posts, but the woman had a way with words.


One is the Loneliest Number, #SoCS



Linda is away this week, Japan I hear, but Stream of Consciousness Saturday must go on:


Thanks to her lovely replacement,

Helen Espinosa,

I can write to the merit of how two is better than one…and I can do it, all while I have a massive headache too.

Okay, so I started to, but during a headache I do need sleep too.


Yesterday was a writing workshop during the day and the Santa Claus Parade last night, and then more sleep overwhelmed me. This means this SoCS post was started on Saturday, but is being finished up on Sunday. Not sure that counts anymore, but writing it anyway.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on two things:

Whether the phrase “two is better than one” is really true in romantic relationships and with siblings.

Well, there’s the tough so-called feminist stance that people don’t need anyone else, that being alone is okay, that you don’t need another person to be happy.

Then there’s the continuous debates on who ends up the most well-adjusted. Is it only children or siblings?

I am not a scientist or a anthropologist or psychologist.

I don’t know what it’s like to be married, since I was just out of high school, all my life, as is becoming less and less common these days.

I don’t know what it’s like being an only child. I grew up with brothers and a sister. If two is better than one…well, we were four, but I don’t necessarily believe siblings need more than a few of each other, not that I would trade any of mine if I could.


Recently, the “one child per couple” law was lifted in China.

Catholics, historically always had eight, nine, ten or more children. If two is, indeed, better than one, then what about ten?

More isn’t always better. If you already have one amazing child…but wait, they are all amazing and it’s been just these past five years that I’ve seen just how much.

Humans aren’t good at just sticking with one of something, one cookie or one partner, as the case may be.

If one girlfriend or boyfriend, one husband or wife was good, as soon as it stops feeling so good, why not go out and look for another.

Being alone is easier for some people than it is for others, I’ve seen, but although human beings seem to find it difficult to share and live together in harmony, I believe we need each other.

I don’t like being alone. I would call myself a feminist, but I don’t like being by myself.

Does this mean I want to be with just anyone, even if it isn’t right or I end up feeling unhappy?

Of course not. Finding someone to share things with and with whom happiness is found is not easy.

One can be lonely. Hopefully, with friends and family and hobbies and things to look forward to, being one instead of two can be okay too.

It’s not easy to have the lack of control. You want to be two, as in a relationship, but that right person just can’t be found.

A couple wants more than one child, but their country or their own body just won’t allow it.

This is the sort of an out-of-control feeling that is the worst part.

Bless those who want to choose their single status or the amount of offspring they produce.

Two Is Better Than One

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In The News and On My Mind: Seeing Red, #BlueSkyFriday

Remember, back a few weeks ago, when all we had to debate were a bunch of red coffee cups?



“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.


Okay, so there was always a lot more going on in the world than that, but still…

It’s nearly a month till Christmas, and now the world is, once more, seeing red on the events of Friday the 13th and the latest November terrorist attacks by ISIS.

It began with Starbucks and their solid red cups, but it did not end there. It never does.

I had a conversation with my parents recently. In this conversation, my mom stated emphatically that, in the end, there is no way the US would actually elect Donald Trump as their president. My father and I aren’t so sure. At this point, a lot wouldn’t surprise me. That wouldn’t surprise me. This world is a crazy crazy place.

Listening to another one of Trump’s rants, about the popular coffee chain choosing just plain red, as their Christmas cup design, I was baffled by the attention America has given this man.

I was also baffled by the things that people obsess over, but there’s always something else, coming along, to shift the discussion to another outrage or outcry. People like to be angry about something: sometimes warranted and sometimes not.

Speaking of red…

that expression (seeing red) is one I’ve been thinking a lot about. It fits with my series: “In The News and On My Mind” and yet, going from some silly coloured coffee cups to the level of outrage at those poor people injured and killed in France has me thinking about my favourite colour, as the holiday season approaches.

I went slightly numb when I heard the news in progress last Friday night. Here we go again, I said to myself. It was approaching suppertime, and then…

Gun shots. Crack. Bomb blasts. Bang. Not again.

But just a few days earlier I’d heard about the cracks and the bangs, but in countries and cities I didn’t know.

Everyone knows Paris, but this had been already going on elsewhere in previous days. These attacks happen in other places, but that’s just what happens in places like Iraq, Turkey, Beirut, but not in France. Oh no.

I listened, through the night, until I could not listen anymore. I wanted to wait for more information because I wanted to know what we were dealing with, before my outrage flew out of control, like the rest of the world.

So, my Facebook newsfeed burst with people’s status rants, condolences in solidarity with France, and news stories from every angle. I tried to read it all, to educate myself and remain as informed as possible, but after a bit of a family emergency, a distraction from the wider world’s events, I had something closer to home to focus my attention and all my worry on.

The events of the wider world were silenced, as if someone turned the volume way down, in the background, and I may not have wanted that, but I almost welcomed the change and this other place to put all my energy.

What a lot to happen to my country’s brand new prime minister, a test of his capability, only a few weeks in. On his way to summits, dealing with economic matters and soon to be in PAris for talks on the environment.

Justin Trudeau’s big promised plan to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by New Year’s was going to be challenged. Some of the Canadian premiers are urging Trudeau to pull back, to think carefully.

Governors are calling for similar caution from President Obama. If even one extremist is allowed entry and the chance to do what was done in PAris, even amongst the larger group, this would be too much, right?

I’ve listened to all this and I am not the one in charge, thank God, but I do not wish to fight fear with fear and violence with violence. That is where the world is heading, where most countries start to head in times like these.

Again, where would I want the world to go with that? If I were innocently fleeing from my home, surrounded by violence and fear, what would I want from the rest of the world?

All the stories I heard with November 11th being just last week. All of what was known and what wasn’t done during the Holocaust. If the rest of the world knows people are suffering, and we all sit back and ignore it, what does that make us? If, one day, it is any of us in the other position and in need of help, what should we expect?

I’m born from a line of those who only want to see the best in people. I am also the granddaughter of two immigrants. We are all, for the most part, immigrants from one time or another.

Us and them. Those and we.

The Islamic State. Islamic religion. Islamic terrorists. It’s all so mixed up in people’s minds, but these are not the times where people should be excused for saying awful things and remaining uneducated. It hurts my head to stay educated on the world, forever changing and moving, but I have no choice now. It’s the world my niece and nephews will inherit, which means I have to care. I have no more choice to stay sheltered and hidden, as I was and did as a child.

I am slightly removed still, an entire ocean between myself and France, but I can imagine what it must be like, having something so threatening right in my back yard. I want the appropriate action taken against anyone who has an express purpose of destroying human life, no matter the reason. I know what he had to do, as president of the country attacked. I know all of Europe is under a whole lot of stress and strain, as more and more Syrian refugees keep coming. Canada just wants to help, but are we next?

We can’t keep all the danger removed from us over here, as much as we might want to. I want to live in a bubble sometimes, to avoid getting hurt, but what kind of a life would that be? People are afraid. I get that.

Out for a night, in Paris, and nobody thought there would be so much blood. Out at a soccer game, to listen to a concert, or simply out for dinner and now there’s more anger and fear than ever.

Oh, of course there’s plenty of kindness, compassion, and love. Facebook shows both the good and the bad in people, just like in other ways. I have read plenty of both. I’ve read some of the ugliest statements from people and some of the most compassionate.

I may be the naive one, the one seeing the best in people, even as it fades in and out. I just can’t bring myself to think ignorant thoughts and make judgments about people I don’t know.

In the week since Paris was targeted:

A Peterborough mosque was torched


a Muslim woman was attacked in Toronto while picking her children up from school.

Indifference leads to fear, which often leads to outright hatred.

We expect certain rights and freedoms over in North America and in Europe. We expect the Middle East to be violent and evil.

Fighting between Israeli and Palestinian sides.

More us and them.

Christians and Muslims.

Us and them.

ISIS is getting more creative apparently,

communicating through PlayStation gaming systems.


So many stories and new information coming in and how can anyone possibly keep up or know what’s true and what’s reality?

Facebook can be a curse at times like these. The debate over the changing of profile pictures was everywhere the other day. This is exactly why my mother’s advice to stay out of commenting and debating on Facebook is so smart. So what if someone wants to show their support or their emotion this way. And if they choose not to, that’s fine too.

On and after Friday night I wrote and posted how I felt, on my blog pages and my personal page, but I did not change any profile pic of mine.

All the gun safety talk of late was pushed back with this newest terrorist attack. That’s how it goes in the media.

Before this, I was working on my thoughts for these “In The News and On My Mind” posts. Here’s what else I was planning to talk about:

On the morning before the attacks on Paris I woke up to alarming news. I don’t wish to use his name here, but he is one of Canada’s most notorious murderers and he supposedly wrote a novel.

Read more about it here.

As a writer I was disgusted, but I suppose even Hitler wrote a book once.

Freedom of speech and all that, but I could not read such a book. I believe someone should, to find out what we’re dealing with, but I’m just glad it is not me.

Who, on earth, would help him do this in the first place?

These next two items have to do with the ethics of aquariums, zoos, and marine parks and the role my country plays in the global risk for the environment.

Embattled Sea World to overhaul killer whale show

As this article states, I am not sure Sea World has seen the light. They want to redeem themselves, after Blackfish, but upon seeing it myself and on further reflection, I want better for those majestic marine mammals I love so much.

And then there was Obama’s rejection of Canada’s Keystone Pipeline project.

I don’t want to sound like an environmental nut, because God knows I am not. I know oil has its uses and how much we all depend on it. I also know that the whole topic of oil makes me feel yucky. I don’t like the thought of it being pumped underground. I don’t like the alternative, which resulted in

something like this,

but how often does just such a tragedy happen? I don’t know the political elements that were involved in Obama’s decision or the plans Canada has going forward, but I think of poor marine animals, when the inevitable oil spill happens again, and I want a better option. I know all the fighting and the greed that goes on over oil and Canada has lots of it. I can’t say I was totally unhappy with President Obama’s choice, as uneducated on all the rest as that might make me.

And so it’s my own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who made a promise during his campaign: 25,000 refugees would be brought to Canada by the end of the year. Is this a good idea? More naive liberalism?

Liberals and conservatives.

Us and them.

Perhaps Canada needs to rethink things a bit? Not go back on Trudeau’s promise, but maybe, in the shadow of Friday the 13th attacks, slow the whole process down some.

We’re seeing, learning more and more about the process and how it will all come about. Skeptics ask if everyone so welcoming of refugees is willing to take some into our own homes:

First of all, I want to understand and to hear the individual stories.

From one refugee to another: What you need to know about Canada

It warms my heart that there are, in and amongst the uninformed and fearful comments, stories like these:

Canadian Couple Cancels Big Wedding to Sponsor a Family of Syrian Refugees Instead

We all know about boats full of migrants: women, children, and men too. Women and children are one thing, but the young men are all clearly terrorists, right?

I shake my head at this. I don’t let fear rule my notions of every single man coming off of those boats or fleeing Syria and into a refugee camp. What about the violence and the persecution these men are running from in their countries? Men can be in danger too. It’s the isolation and the desolation that leads to anger and vulnerability. This is what ISIS prays on. We can’t give in. We can’t let them win by making us afraid, using that fear against us, so we end up frozen by our suspicions.

I do not have any answers in this case. I still don’t know how to write about most of this, as it all feels much too big and broad. There are good and bad people everywhere and I refuse to give in to the fear, but more and more it seems that’s what leaders, politicians, and the media suggests.

Satisfied – Jewel

So if you are one of the many, “seeing red” at the crazy world we live in, I can understand and, believe me, I have my moments. However, I beg you to try to keep to your compassionate side, to look towards those who have let anger go, in favour of productive strategies and kindness.

As much as I love red, I leave that for the celebrations that are coming around the holidays, for most of us. The colour red is better suited for holly berries and ribbon. I would remind us all to remember that we are all human, all of us.

For more views on this, here are some posts written by fellow bloggers:


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: My Weekly Antidote to Cynicism – Lest We Forget, #10Thankful

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

This week was less like the last, and more like it must have been forty years ago. It felt gloomy. It was windy and rainy, just like it was, this time in the month of November, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in lake Superior.


Okay, so I usually put a lot into these weekly posts here and enjoy doing so, but this week, for the first time, a lot has hit me all at once. Not sure I can keep it up to my usual standard.

This week’s been an emotional one, starting with Remembrance Day, Friday the 13th, and the unexpected horror of more terrorism and violent attacks came as a total surprise, but my week was not through with me yet.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the way the children in my life remind me to appreciate the simple things.


For the honour to be asked.

A friend wondered if I would do something for her and her daughter, be a reference, and I was just so pleased to be the one she would come to.

For the work another friend put into something, she hoped I could use on my blog.


She didn’t have to do this, but she did it anyway.

For the way history comes alive for me, even forty years later.

In the eighth grade I had a history teacher, Mr. V, who gave us the lyrics to a song as a school project. He played the famous song in class and I learned about the wonder and the power of our Great Lakes.

Gordon Lightfoot recalls the night of the SS Edmond Fitzgerald’s sinking

It was the first time, after studying Canada’s founding fathers of Confederation and being bored out of my mind, that I began to really care about history and I learned what it could mean, as a true teacher of the past and also future, as far as lessons go.

For freedom, even if I don’t always appear grateful for what I have of it. And for poetry, written 100 years ago, that gave me a way to connect to a long ago event like World War I:

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

Sometimes I feel like I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made, as is so commonly spoken about on November 11th (Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day) whatever you know it as.

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

This is not true. I know I am lucky because if those wars hadn’t been fought, who knows what might have happened, but I just feel so morally opposed to war that I have trouble.

I know. I know. Nobody likes war. I am thankful for other perspectives, even when I have a really hard time understanding.

I got the chance, on Remembrance Day, to listen to an interview with a Canadian soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost both his legs, fighting for a cause he believed in. Although I felt myself beginning to shout at the TV screen, a few times as he spoke of why he wanted to go and fight, I tried really hard to understand his point-of-view. I had to at least try and I am thankful I made the effort.

For the writing and the lessons from Anne Frank and her life and for my blog, the diary to my modern world.

My father saw that there was a new documentary on her life and he asked if I wanted to watch it with him.

The subject of World War II, in particular, he and I have both always been interested in. As completely horrible as it was, unthinkable, I am glad my father showed me that stuff, because it’s made me a more compassionate and empathetic person, and for that I thank him. I also thank Anne for being who she was, as courageous as she was, at her age and through all she went through. Her writing is what I admire most and I am thankful her work was shared.

For those who made sure, even after she no longer lived, that her writing lived on for her.

Her father, Otto Frank, and for the family’s friend and Otto’s employee, Miep Gies, who discovered the diary and kept it safe until Anne’s father returned and saw that it get published. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her. She seemed like a really cool old lady, even in the 90s:

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

I once more, after this past summer’s visits to the Anne Frank exhibit, and with this week’s reflections on wars, began to let myself fall down the path of listening to Holocaust survivor stories, through YouTube interviews. This can be a difficult place for me, so I had to watch myself, or it could become all too consuming. I know when and where to leave things, to remain positive and grateful.

For VoiceOver.

Just thinking about where people were during the thirties and forties even, compared to now and today’s modern age of technology. Truly amazing to think about.

Believe me, I don’t only think about this at this time of year, but all the time actually. I am lucky to have electronic devices that talk and read to me, opening up the world and providing all the information I could possibly need or want.

This makes things so much more accessible, of course, but it makes it harder to hide what might be going on in the world, compared to when Anne Frank and millions of others were suffering and being persecuted and killed.

These things are still going on, but we can’t pretend anymore.

For my safe home in Canada.

I know the fear of these times we’re living in, with terrorism as a global problem. I am not naive enough to think things can’t happen here or anywhere, but I know I am not a refugee who has no choice but to flee my home. I have not been caught in a terrorist attack. Not yet.

For the modern healthcare that is at my fingertips and at the ready when a family member is in need.

I felt the not-so-unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep down fear for my brother’s health and the kidney transplant that is only just over two years old. It is a fragile balance.

Here I was, just last week, complaining that I worry sometimes about my own kidney failing, but the truth is that I haven’t been hospitalized in fifteen or so years, but my brother has had to be plenty of times in the last five or six years alone.

Well, the reason I easily could have avoided TToT this week is that things are still up-in-the-air and that still scares me a lot to think about, because he’s always had a complex medical story and nothing is clear yet.

I haven’t slept, after what happened in PAris the other night (which already gets me on edge) and then I heard how unwell my brother has been all week. I hadn’t realized he felt this bad.

I spent the evening in emerge with him. I can’t help but want to go to him at times like this. We are close, in our sibling bond, but because we’ve both gone through some incredibly complicated medical crap together over the years, and I would never want anything to happen to him. I needed to see to it that he was going to be alright.

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

Over the next few days to a week I hope for that and I will go forward and let the start of the holiday season warm me, starting with my favourite Parks and Recreation character, to launch the season officially:

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

Forget Christmas music starting to be heard on the radio or the Santa Claus Parade. Nick knows how to usher in the Christmas season something fierce.


Last week, Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in. He has been big news and the New York Times even had an article where they referred to him as:

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

Well, as crazy as things may have gotten this week, Ten Things of Thankful is my antidote to cynicism.

After all that’s happened this week, I will try to go forward and into the holidays, and try to remember these words and to follow them:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, SoCS

The Dark Tower, #SoCS

The tower in, what is known as the City of Light, was said to have gone dark.

The City of Love, known for romance was plunged into darkness.

I have not been to Paris, to France, but I’ve wanted to go, for a long time. There’s so much I want to see there.

I do not speak French, but I listened to the recorded sound of the gun shots and the bomb blasts, on the news. I wondered how I was going to describe it later. I’m still not sure things like this can be described, in words, but words are all I’ve got to work with.

All the talk of blood and bodies and I know what “indescribable” truly means. These horrors are in a different city, a new country, on any given nightly news broadcast. I don’t want to be afraid, to wonder how I’m going to describe my fears to others.

I can’t see the images on television, but I hear the distinctive whine of European emergency vehicles, the sound that I woke to, to hear out my window, the first night I spent in Dublin, Ireland. I hear that sound again, but I know why I hear it, what it’s duty is to those in crisis now.

When we say something is indescribable…well, I know it can be described, but I don’t know. Not really. I grasp at the words I love, to make the indescribable describable, but my brain hurts inside my skull.

How does someone, my brother, how does he describe the world to my niece?

She is young still and can be somewhat sheltered from the realities of the world, but for how long?

What would I say? How would I make something so indescribable become clear, when it isn’t even clear to me?

Not just the facts and the details of a senseless night in Paris, but of the state of things. It’s simply indescribable to me, that a human being, as I am a human being, would do harm to another. I don’t know why and I don’t know, even what the issue really is. Religion, one’s beliefs, and the lengths people go to for all these are indescribable.

It’s an indescribable feeling to hear my niece or my nephew’s voices say my name, my siblings/their parent’s names.

It’s indescribable what I smell in the air, on the perfect fall day or in the middle of a still winter night.

It’s indescribable what love really feels like. What heartbreak does to the human soul. What death and the loss of a loved one damages deep down.

I describe a lot of things, but my fading, remaining sight makes it harder and harder, nearly impossible, an indescribable, retreating skill lost, to describe what I once saw so well.

I want light and dark. Love and loss. These are realities. The stuff that really does matter is the stuff that’s always going to be indescribable, but I need to try anyways.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday:


Granted, not the best Friday the 13th on record.

Superstition, to me, is indescribable. It makes people think strange things, but, oh, how I long for the usual in Friday the 13th superstitious beliefs now.