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

Why Are You Complaining? Some People Actually Feel That Way: A Critique of Me Before You

This is a very complex issue, but I had to share this anyway.

crippledscholar

Warning: This post includes comprehensive spoilers for the book Me Before You, a book that deals with disability and assisted suicide. It also deals with sexual assault.

 

It has taken me months to get all the way through Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel Me Before You. This protrated reading can be explained by two things. I’m a PhD student and don’t have a lot of free time for reading anything that isn’t directly related to my studies and the fact that this book made me feel violently ill. I hated it, well before I got to the ending. The only reason I finished it is because the movie adaptation is coming out next month and I felt the need to thoroughly explain why it is so problematic and why I find the excitement over the movie adaptation so troubling.

I only became aware of the existence of this book after…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Special Occasions, Travel, TToT

TToT: Storage Almost Full – Victorious! #10Thankful

“The trees were still leafless, black, cold; but the fine twigs were swelling towards spring, so that looking upward it was with an expectation of the first glimmering greenness. Yet everything was calm, and the sky was a calm, classic blue.”

—Doris Lessing

All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

It was a lovely afternoon, writing outside, on my back deck, while a day-time music jam went on in my basement.

So much about families who have had humiliation and abuse happening, I’ve been hearing about this week. Last weekend was International Day of Families. I had lots of family time this last week, with taking care of each other, helping each other out, and a birthday celebration too. I am glad I can be there for them when they need me and that I have them when I’m the one in need.

This week I did what would have been unthinkable, even just a few months ago, and I found more inspiration to keep doing new and exciting things.

(For a first glimpse, a reveal if you will of my developing violin talents – read on!)

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For my family.

I am lucky. I know.

For the chance to learn about a part of the world I know very little about.

I got a detailed account, during a car ride, about China, a part of the world I’ve never been to and know very little of.

It’s so wonderful, to me, when we can learn about a place that feels so very far off and foreign, but that’s why I love a well narrated travel tale.

For yet another nearly perfect checkup for my transplanted kidney.

I am now less than one month from marking 19 years with my father’s kidney he donated.

My creatinine level was once again 70 and this is where it has stayed, for years and years, where once it reached an all-time dangerously toxic level of twelve hundred

Anything under 100 is perfect, as long as the number doesn’t keep increasing. Mine has been no higher than the eighties for years.

For a catch-up lunch with someone from my past and that of my brother.

We shared news and it was no longer a strictly teacher/student interaction.

We conversed as three adults, a definite shift from how it once was. I even gave her a copy of the anthology my story appeared in last year, as a thank you.

I wanted to thank her for all she did. She taught me braille and got me through so much. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance all those years.

For the chance to perform my violin for my sister, as her birthday present.

I thought that could be the best present I could give her this year, other than the trip out to the nail salon together last week that is.

I was nervous, with my first real live performance, second song ever learned.

I don’t know how musicians perform in front of groups of people like that. Although it was only a small group of six, I felt apprehensive and later decided to share it on Facebook.

Reason is that I hope it will give me motivation to keep working hard to improve.

That a friend from far away happened to see the post on Facebook.

I appreciated her unexpected support, only in that it was a surprise to me that she happened upon the video in the first place. She’s one busy lady.

For the smell of BBQ somewhere in the spring afternoon air.

For a beautiful day to be outside while musicians played their hearts out inside my house.

Other times it is later in the evening. This time I could enjoy the warm weather and the music wasn’t quite so loud from inside the house out to where I was relaxing.

For the opportunity to reflect on what it takes for me to show myself a little self compassion.

Loving My Self-ish, #compassion #1000Speak

Another 20th of the month has come and gone and I nearly skipped it, but glad I decided to write what came to mind.

For a promising start, the hope that I won’t end up one of those one-hit-wonder song lyric writers.

My brother and I are beginning our second collaboration together and I am really excited to see where it might lead.

I didn’t think I could do it last time and now I have “Don’t Look Back” of which I am immensely proud.

Announcing My Lyric Writing Debut

I have high hopes for “Decade Adrift” in the days and weeks to come.

But now…without further adieu:

Happy Birthday Song For My Sister (violin edition)

Hope that wasn’t nearly as painful for you to listen to as it was for me.

Hope I can get this post added in time. It’s off to sleep for me now.

Happy Victoria Day or whatever long weekend holiday you’re celebrating. Hope no more fireworks keep me up tonight.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Spotlight Sunday

Loving My Self-ish, #Compassion #1000Speak

“Every day is so wonderful. Then suddenly, it’s hard to breathe. Now and then i get insecure. From all the pain, I’m so ashamed.”

Beautiful – Christina Aguilera

I don’t look forward to these months, I have to say. This month’s topic for #1000Speak is “Self Compassion” and I find that one most difficult to write about. I could go all day long about any other topic under the “Compassion Umbrella” but when I must turn all my reflections inward, on me as a person, I struggle and even debate skipping May’s linkup altogether.

But here I am. I do like a challenge. Showing myself self compassion is just that.

So many of us wrestle with turning our writing in on ourselves. I know I am not alone. I have my reasons, for why I resist showing myself the kind of compassion I fancy myself so good at showing anyone else, just like everyone else who can’t show themselves that very same courtesy either.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of awful things. I’ve heard from so many with terrible stories of difficult childhoods, all setting them up for failure with self compassion, and I have none of that. I know I am lucky there.

I had supportive and loving parents and a close family growing up. All still true. Every one of them contributed to the best of who I am, not the worst thoughts and ideas I think about myself, during those darker moments.

It is not in spite of them, but because of them that I have the sort of love for myself as a person that I do. I do see my own worth. How could I not, with family like mine? They made me who I am.

We all have our own unique struggles. We are taught a lot about arrogance and narcissism in our world. It’s all around us. How to avoid taking on the worst of those qualities? If we love ourselves a little too much we are called out on it. If we constantly put ourselves down we make it too painful to be around. How to find a balance?

Well, without a stable childhood it is made one hundred times harder. I have the advantage there. I try to show myself compassion and then the negative thoughts creep in. It didn’t start from a need to be loved, not by family, to be perfect, but I got it anyway, in my own way.

Growing up with a disability makes you stronger. I can readily admit that. It teaches resilience and determination. That’s all well and good, but it also creates vast amounts of insecurities and guilt.

Am I worth being around?

Am I good enough?

Am I good at anything?

Am I or have I ever been a burden for someone?

Am I enough, in friendships and in romantic relationships? Do I deserve happiness? Will I ever find it or am I meant to end up alone?

Is that a bad thing in the end? Could I survive it and be okay anyway?

So, how to get okay with any of these?

Of course, I am familiar with the truth that “we must love ourselves before we can expect anyone else to love us” and I agree. My whole life, up until now and going forward, is focused on developing the skills and the belief in myself, to become stronger, for better or for worse.

I don’t know how anyone knows they love who they are enough that love from someone else will work out. Do I push people away? Is there something in me, a doubt and a faithlessness, that anyone I attempt to get close to can feel, of which inevitably ends up driving them away?

These are all questions that run through my head. I don’t know how to make it stop, how to finally answer for my own personal satisfaction.

So, then the challenge becomes finding meaning in what I love and what I know I am all about, a new internal fight begins. It’s more uncertainty that nags at me by this point.

So, I can repeat continuous statements of positivity in my head, out loud, or in my writing. I can then hope those thoughts take hold in my mind, as I desperately hope to believe I can be happy.

I try things like write down what I’m grateful for. I try to remind myself of the things I can do, instead of everything I cannot. That scale often feels unbalanced, but I steady myself whenever possible.

If I feel like I’ve got no friends, no hope for finding love, like I’m not meant to ever have children and a family of my own, like I will never find a job and support myself, like I can never look the way I want or be at the right weight then I would drown in a sea of hopelessness. I have somehow found a way not to lose hope, to keep the faith, even during the rougher moments.

Underneath it all I was raised to value myself. That is a foundation that will never let me down, one which I can always count on and look to for strength. It’s the building up from that initial base, since then that sometimes threatens to crumble. I must do whatever I can to stop that destruction.

I have no finality on this matter, no answers, nor conclusions. I am still figuring it all out.

This month…

And every month, or as it should be.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Self Compassion Heals

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Give It A Rest, #SoCS

I don’t envy politicians, but I also don’t excuse much of what they do to get where they are.

Mostly, the good ones aren’t entirely good, but nobody is.

For instance, President Obama is nearly finished and I know many won’t be all that sad to see him step down as the one in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world, but I will. I like his calm, or what I’ve mostly seen and felt of it. He is intelligent and well spoken. His voice calms and soothes me, when normally anything involving politics gets my stress level increasing.

The world is a complex place. I get that.

He’s going on an Asia trip. He will visit Japan and Viet Nam. These are both places where the US did serious damage, all in the name of security and righteousness.

I know the history. Japan wasn’t giving up, even after Hitler’s Germany, no longer controlled by Hitler, had surrendered. Still, Japan fought fiercely on and risked many more countless lives of soldiers whose only choice would have been to go and fight. So, the US dropped bombs on two Japanese cities, in theory, to put a stop to the madness. That must have sounded like a practical and a rational answer, the only answer at the time, in 1045 America. Well, I say “GIVE ME A BREAK!”

It didn’t put any end to the madness. The madness continued on.

Okay, didn’t intend to get so political in this post, but after all, it is stream of consciousness writing, and sometimes things happen. Surely, that can be understood.

Well, as if that wasn’t bad enough, twenty or so years later and another war, this time between the US and another Asian country transpired. More countless suffering and seemingly endless carnage. What for? What purpose did it ultimately serve?

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Politicians and powerful and power hungry countries behave worse than little children throwing temper tantrums. At least those don’t end up hurting thousands or millions of lives.

So, when politicians step up, years later, to apologize for things they weren’t directly involved in, yet take responsibility for as the latest leaders of the participating nations, people have the nerve to cry “publicity stunt” or “free vacation on tax payers money.” Well, guess what, better some tax dollars than more loss of life and denial of past wrongs and missteps.

More apologies this week, early on, as my country’s leader apologizes for Canada turning away ships full of fleeing people from safety 100 years ago. Again, his motives are challenged. Apology is refreshing from anyone in this world today, most especially from a politician. It’s the kind of action we demand of children when they fight or when they act up. Why jump all over any adult, most of all a president or a prime minister of a country when an apology and an amends is put forth?

Well, for those who think I love Canada’s leader, no matter what, I will finish this SoCS post with this little tale from the week that just was.

Finally, after so much nonsense with the 2016 US election cycle, all of which I am tired of hearing about, there came some news out of Canada’s parliament in Ottawa mid week, from a country like mine, who is always being labeled as super polite and mild mannered.

Headlines such as: “Justin Trudeau Elbows His Way” make the rounds in every Canadian publication, news outlet, and beyond. I can’t see the video, but look it up online if you want to see for yourself.

It’s funny to me, as someone who sees less and less as the years go by, that even when something is caught on video, it’s still up for tremendous debate. Those who like Justin Trudeau defend it and those who don’t won’t. That’s just how it is.

Of course, everything is up for interpretation. The government was in session, debating something as tense as assisted dying. I get that things were tense in that room. I also think everyone took it too far. One side pushed and the other pushed back. NDP party and Liberals want to fight. That’s their problem, but control yourselves.

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Justin saw another person being blocked from coming forward, during a debate, a vote? Whatever was going down. He elbowed a woman MP as he barrelled through? Was it on purpose? Is all his talk about feminism and equality a coverup for his real hatred and mistreatment of women? Give me a break please. If she felt assaulted, of course that is serious and she had the right to say something, but was most of this an uproar, after-the-fact? Was it all misconstrued? Was much of it planned to hijack the entire process? Were most of them, on all sides, acting badly and in a misguided way? No doubt.

Then Justin did it again, that is, he apologized. Oh, was it fake? Was it a sham? Give me a break!

Someone needed to put a brake or more than one on those proceedings, the moment things started to get out of hand.

I don’t doubt that Trudeau is a bit spoiled. Who wouldn’t be, growing up around politics their entire lives. His campaign nay sayers lines have returned, as most news publications think it necessary to rehash.

“He’s just not ready.” (To be prime minister that is.)

“Nice hair though.” (My favourite of the ridiculous attack ad lines from last fall.)

He is younger than a lot of leaders chosen to run a country. He is a Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau.

But he also lived under the spotlight his entire life. He was the product of a broken home and had to watch his mother live with depression. Not everything in life has been a ball for him, not even him.

He has done some good for Canada and he has only been here for six months. I just know Canada doesn’t feel like a cold and tight lipped place since he arrived.

I wish all politicians could grow up. That’s what I wish.

But Justin has issued apologies. What a concept.

These magazines and newspapers keep writing stories because they get attention and readers. Give me a break!

Will Justin Trudeau ever be able to live this down and go on to do anything more for Canada? Give me a break!

But I do have to say, Justin, seemed like kind of a Rob Fordian thing to do.

Just give it a break, all of you. Give it a rest, please. I beg of you.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

With this week’s prompt:

brake or break

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Sailing Away and the Bee Tree, #TGIF #FTSF

I hear it, that far off humming from the other side of the driveway.

What’s that noise?

My family start hinting at the origin, somewhere nearby, but not too near.

We’re standing around, in the driveway, with the fresh cut scent of grass in the air.

“Ooh, don’t tell Kerry,” they say, dancing around something they see and I don’t. I know them pretty well and can probably guess.

***

This was no Winnie the Pooh cartoon. I remember his song about being a little black storm cloud, as he attempted to disguise himself in mud, so he could sneak honey from a tree, attempting to avoid detection by the swarm of bees.

This time, in this driveway, it was a favourite tree of my mom’s. The late afternoon warmth of the day made conditions just right for pollination.

This was a nightmare of mine.

Not pollination. I think that’s cool and all, for the bees, but it took some coaxing from my sister, to get me to walk close to the Eastern redbud tree, as the closer I came, the louder the sound of the bees. They were clearly occupied, more concerned with the flowers they were working on, and weren’t about to stop their very important duties, to all land on me, like they would if I were dreaming.

***

I back away hastily, nevertheless, just in case. The sound of a swarm of bees makes me shrink back. That sound gets me moving, faster than most anything else I might hear. Not the fault of the bees at all.

***

Yu know that fear you have that something in your own life will inevitably reoccur at night, in your dreams?

Of course, we don’t normally control that. The things, at least for me, which I fear could show up in my dreams at night never show up, just because I think they will. Always, it’s a surprise, for good or ill.

***

This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday post is about

dreams

and

dreaming.

***

I need to start a dream journal. If I were to do this, I would need to write them down the moment I wake up, because within minutes the memories fade, unless extremely vivid. I have had some of those over the years, of which some really crazy stories could have been written. Ah well.

**I’ve dreamed about clowns. *Shudders

**I’ve dreamed the standard one where I’m being chased.

**I’ve dreamed I was stuck at the bottom of the ocean.

**I’ve dreamed that I moved out to the west coast of Canada, to fulfill my long held dream of studying marine biology.

**Some good and some not so good dreams, for sure.**

**I’ve dreamt I was in an old house, one that smelled rancid, and when I awoke I could still smell it on the insides of my nostrils.

The putrid smell in the dream carried on into my day and I still get that happening on occasion. A strange mix-up of senses, experience, and consciousness.

***

To round off this week’s answer to the sentence I thought I would address one of the most commonly asked questions about blindness:

Do I see when I dream?

I don’t suddenly drift off each night and enter a totally sighted realm. I believe, most times, the brain can’t simply create images where none have been known. I could be wrong, not wanting to speak for all who can’t see, but it also depends on if you’ve been totally blind all your life or not. I have had more sight previously. Perhaps my brain can use a recall method, but mostly I don’t think about it. I can’t even really give a totally clear and concise answer.

You’d think it should be easy to say, but it’s not so black and white. More different variations of grey.

When I sleep, I dream in, from what I can recall, faded light. I think, as my sight seems to be less and less, that element of my dreaming hours becomes less and less important. I like the break I usually get though. In my dreams, I don’t worry about being treated differently. I don’t worry how I’m going to get somewhere, or if I have someone’s arm to guide me, or if I’ve suddenly ended up without my white cane. I just don’t care and, I must say, that break from reality is the best part of dreaming, no matter what I see or don’t see while I’m in the midst of it.

***

This song came on in a restaurant where I found myself eating lunch the other day.

Sailing – Christopher Cross

While I was sleeping, I dreamt his song. I like it. It takes me away somewhere when I hear it, sort of like a beautiful and a peaceful dream should.

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You’re So Brave! Hip Chicks On Writing Memoir

This subject is near and dear to my own writing journey.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Sandra Gail Lambert, author of the Brevity essay “Sex Objects,” talks with poet and memoirist Michele Leavitt about disability and the tension and paradox between her day-to-day “nothing to see here” strategy for dodging inappropriate praise bullets and her deep work as a memoir writer.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, Throw-back Thursday

The Ties That Bind

#TBT to two years ago.
Today this is dedicated to my sister, on her birthday, and to family. I hope her and I are as close fifty years from now.

Her Headache

When I was a child my grandmother and her younger sister sounded so much alike that I was often confused when they were both nearby. I just couldn’t believe or accept that they weren’t really twins. Their voices sounded so similar and I was sure of it. As I grew I was able to distinguish the subtle nuances that made them separate women, yet still extremely close.

It’s been almost ten years since my grandma died. I used to spend a lot of time with her and other family from her generation. Recently I had the urge to once again spend some time with those who tie me to her and who knew her best. I haven’t seen my two great aunts and my great uncle since my grandfather passed away, since the funeral that cold February day four years ago. There was just no situation in which we had…

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