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

TToT: A Pile of Sleeping Sharks – Idiots and Animals, #10Thankful

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.”

—From “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Recently, I’ve only wanted to stay home with my cat. Maybe I really am becoming a cat lady.

I’m so sick of the idiots (and worse) in this world. There is so much immaturity and lack of care or concern for other people. Animals are where it’s at.

All I wanted was an enjoyable visit with family, but I was the one who didn’t choose to leave my phone at home that day, the day of rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that my brother’s band got back together, to practice for a gig, by playing in my basement once more.

It was all the songs I love, those I became so familiar with after months of hearing them in my basement.

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Secrets Revealed

This is a photo of their set list from the show the other night. My brother wrote it out in braille. They thought their fans might like to see. My brother didn’t really need it. He had the list memorized already.

I’m thankful to join in with a friend in a worthy cause.

He wants to start a branch of the National Federation of the Blind/Canadian Federation of the Blind in Ontario. The one currently going is out west only.

The biggest organization for the blind in Canada is still the CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) and yet it isn’t enough. It isn’t fulfilling all the needs, according to us, the ones who are in need of the service.

This sounds like a lot of work, but my friend sounds up for the job and I want to do what I can.

I feel so helpless with so much going on. I need to be able to do something good.

I’m thankful for peaches and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday.

I may have had both a small sundae and then a small cone.

Fresh peaches are the best part of August. When you mix that with my favourite vanilla soft serve, I am in paradise.

For the birthday, we did things backwards: ice cream first and then dinner. Dinner was pizza anyway.

My nephew is still grasping the concept of what a birthday is. He isn’t overly interested in why people sing and light candles, depending on the day. You say Happy Birthday to him and he says it back to you, like it’s a greeting. He makes me smile with his total innocence. I need more of that to fight the overwhelming stress and gloom that often threatens to bring me down.

I’m thankful for a mild night out on a patio, listening to some relaxing music, until the rain came.

A friend of ours was playing at a local restaurant. We got through ordering drinks and appetizers before the rain started up.

Until that point, I was enjoying the guitars, both with his singing and as instrumentals.

I’m thankful for all the amazing art my niece made at art camp.

She is artistic, like her father. She is the little girl who loves to create things. She reminds me of myself at that age.

She is a natural at making things.

They made letters for their first names out of crystals and jewels. She showed me an ocean in a jar, made with water and oil and food colouring. She made a polar bear mask. She tie dyed a pillow and made another pillow, so soft and with many knots around the edges instead of sewing.

At this camp there was something called the splatter paint room. Nothing but bright colours, paint splattered all over the floor and walls. You can go wild, make as much of a splatter mess of colour as you want, and it’s all okay.

I thought, since I am so bad at interior decorating for my own house, even though I can no longer see colours: why not make myself a splatter paint house?

Her love and pride for the things she made, as she was showing us, made me miss colour, art, and made me so happy for her and so proud to be her aunt.

I am thankful for the bottle of water my newly four-year-old nephew gave me when I said I was looking for something to drink.

He just opened the fridge and got it for me.

He is the master of his fridge and his home at this age and it is so sweet to witness.

I am thankful for what a thoughtful little sweetheart he is.

He told us, the moment we arrived, that he wanted to get his mother some flowers. He had previously told his dad that he was “thinking” about getting her some flowers.

He’s been thinking about this. It constantly amazes me, the kind of kids they are, and the sorts of things they think about, before deciding to share with the grownups in their lives.

I am thankful for the Max Mix.

My brother is a music fan and he has a lot of it himself. When he noticed my nephew had a love of music, he made him a mix of all the songs my nephew seemed to love.

He remembers lyrics and loves to sing in the car. He is so cool, cooler than me anyway.

I am thankful for a beautiful day to sit outside for a five-year-old’s birthday party.

People gathered, kids running and playing, while I sat and had a cool drink.

They have a big yard, the yard we had as children, and so much room to run and play games.

It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t humid. The air was perfectly summery and pleasant.

I’m thankful for his amazing little mind and imagination.

My nephews are both so smart. He knew people were coming and he worked on a show to perform for us, all week long. He prepared a screen with a border, like a TV, but when we were all outside, he set it up like a play or puppet show, using chairs as the stage.

It was a form of fan fiction with his favourites: Littlefoot (from Land Before Time), a T Rex, and Curious George.

It turned out to be this whole epic adventure story and it all came from him.

Desired Consolation – Bjork

Basically, it was the kids that kept me sane this week. Then I think of Bjork’s question in the song: How am I going to make things right?

I wonder if I can. What that will look like, I do not know, but I have to try something.

The woman who was mowed down was nearly my age. What made her come out, to such a place, on that day?

“If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.”

—Heather Heyer

RIP Heather

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Writing

Stylish Negotiations: How a Blind Writer Finds the Right Journals

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Emily K. Micheal TEDx promo photo 9.2016By Emily K. Michael

Submission guidelines rarely make me angry. Because I seek publications that share my interests – ecology, feminism, disability, music – all the specifications can start to look the same. Most journals want a well-rounded submission, free from religious agendas, offensive stereotypes, and one-dimensional fables of inspiration.

When I find a publication that seems promising, I scroll through the journal’s “About” page and submission guidelines. Here’s where I can make some serious assessments. Journals lose my interest if they proclaim, “send us your best work” or “we only publish good poetry.” I won’t let my students use “good” and “bad” as standalone terms, so I hesitate to send my work to a journal that won’t express its own agenda in more vibrant language.

Among publications that promote the work of disabled writers, the guidelines evince a similar aesthetic. Here are excerpts from three journals committed to sharing the…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Writing

A Response to Jia Tolentino’s “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over”

This response is directly on point.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zoeBy Zoë Bossiere

A couple of weeks ago, a piece by Jia Tolentino came out in The New Yorker called “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over.” The title alone was enough to deluge social media feeds with writers stepping forward to defend the vitality of the personal essay in spite of the article’s assertions, or otherwise agreeing with Tolentino that the personal essay is, in fact, “dead.” The only problem is, the article isn’t actually about what we writers know as the personal essay at all, but rather a separate subgenre of nonfiction called the “confessional essay.” If we want to get even more specific, Tolentino’s article is talking specifically of the confessional essays typically printed in online “women’s” publications such as xoJane, Jezebel, Salon, and others. To compare the personal and the confessional is a common false equivalence, and a great underestimation of all that first-person nonfiction writing encompasses.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Hum Bucker Splitting Push Pull Pots – Go Pretenders and Sluggers, GO! #Baseball #ChrisCornell #RIP #10Thankful

Most recently, on The Handmaid’s Tale, a line is spoken that captures how it is:

“We only wanted to make things better. Better never means better for everyone.”

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So true.

Oblivion – Grimes

It’s a two-in-one edition of the TToT this week, as last week I allowed my mood and a bad sun burn on both arms to dictate my lack of a post.

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Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for an unexpected email.

The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.

I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.

Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.

I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.

We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.

I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.

I hope there are many more still to come.

I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.

My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.

My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.

Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.

I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.

He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.

I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.

Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.

I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.

I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.

I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.

She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.

She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.

I’m thankful for a family day.

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We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.

My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.

We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.

It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.

We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.

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The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.

I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.

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We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.

As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.

—The Daily Show

Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.

But check this out.

Roller Coaster Story

Grandma is always the wise one.

Into You – Ariana Grande

RIP to all who have been lost in the last few weeks.

I’m always thankful for life.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake

Picking Up The Pieces #FTSF

I have always helped the children in my life understand my blindness by explaining that my eyes don’t work, that they are broken. This may sound harsh, but I’ve found this to be the best and most concrete way to explain things. This is not an easy concept for a three-year-old to grasp, no matter how it’s worded, but it’s the best I’ve yet come up with.

Still, they don’t automatically see this as anything bad. They think it over a moment or two and then we go on with our day. I think it is such a difficult idea to imagine for them at that age, to understand that anything like that can be the case. I am happy to see myself through their eyes for a time.

Was I broken when I was born without perfect eyesight?

Of course not. No baby could or should be called such a thing.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is that of all the poor birds we found on our deck or on the lawn growing up. My mom would bring them in, carrying them delicately in the palm of her hand, and would give them time to see if they could recover. a helpless bird with a broken wing is how I felt a time or two. Sometimes the broken wing spells the end for the bird and sometimes they just need some peaceful and restful recovery time.

My mom would release the bird if this healing were enough. In this simple yet selfless act, she taught me how to heal from the things that might break me.

After all the medical stuff I would endure, I often thought it odd how I never did break a limb. That is one break I have managed to avoid.

I felt the most broken when I became so sick and lost at age eleven.

It broke me the day I lost a loved one, had to hear my oma’s heart break at the words she had lost a grandson, or when I had to tell my own mother her baby brother lost his son/she lost yet another nephew.

It broke me in pieces for a long time after my first experience with love and relationships, as a teenager, when things turned out worse than I ever could have guessed. It kept me from looking for love, for letting it into my life, for many years.

Another piece of myself was broken off when I had to admit I couldn’t handle anymore school because of the pain and I had to take a break from all the stress.

Sometimes we’re left scrambling and searching all around us for our missing pieces, for a long long time.

These things broke off pieces of me and yet love and hope and the most pleasant surprises yet to come helped me put the pieces back together.

Life can be like this sometimes. I feel like a broken person sometimes, when I think of how some might see me, incomplete or whatever. I have lost more eyesight than I was born with, in years gone by, including my left eye now being artificial. Does this leave me broken, not entirely whole?

Whatever that might mean, when something is broken, can it be fixed and even should it?

Any broken part of my physical body or any blow to my spirit, any blow to my heart, I make up for all that by remaining as whole a person as I can be in other ways that matter.

I will take broken eyes over a broken soul anyway. It’s those who are broken in personality are the ones who could most benefit from some repairs.

My eyes may be broken, my heart a time or two, but my personality and my character are in tact and solid. I know that for certain. There is no quick fix, no repair man to call when the soul is irrevocably damaged. I can heal my cracks. They may still exist, but they make the whole of me stronger, in spite of all the breaking there ever was.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post with
Kristi from Finding Ninee
with some thoughts on the things that break us.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, This Day In Literature

Why I Have to Look away from The Handmaid’s Tale Sometimes, and Why That’s a Good Thing

Part-Time Monster

Last week, as I was watching “A Woman’s Place,” the sixth episode of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was struck with a realization: I had not watched a single episode of the show without flipping through the social media feeds on my phone or my laptop simultaneously. So I started to think about why…Why might I might be avoiding focusing myself entirely on this show, a show that I gave high praise to and found fascinating for so very many reasons?

The answer was deceptively simple: I was, in fact, avoiding focusing myself entire on this show in order to avoid the trauma of doing so. As a woman, the show terrified me. So I did what I do when I need a distraction…I pulled up a social media feed that I could passively scroll through or easily put aside while I was watching, redirecting…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Writing

Staging an (Accessible) Online Reading: A Step-By-Step Guide

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz_sonyaBy Sonya Huber

The typical literary reading presents an obstacle course for many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. From finding transportation and parking to staying up late to navigating stairs and chairs, every decision involves stress and difficulty. My recent essay collection, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays From a Nervous System, deals with the twists and turns of living with chronic pain, and I knew that I needed to find ways to connect with people with chronic pain. I was surprised to find that an online reading was easy and fun, and I believe this is something other authors can easily do to extend their own audiences and make literary readings more accessible.

My first foray into online readings was through a Facebook Live Event. I hadn’t seen this done before so I kind of winged it, and in the end I think it turned…

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