Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

The Rocks She Stands On #JusJoJan

She stands and surveys the coastline, stretching out in front of her.

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She looks down and studies the
scraggly
rocks beneath her feet, putting her arms out to steady herself.

As the grey water and dull sky blur in her vision, she wipes a tear from her eye.

This mournful place seems as lonely as she feels, both finding a friend in the other. This place hasn’t seen a human in God knows how long. She chose it for that reason. Nobody would find her here and she was done with stunts where she’d plead for help from anyone who’d listen.

This time was different. She was okay with it all ending here. The fog rolls in on her final act of screaming to nothing but the screeching of the gulls and the splash and spray to follow.

Thanks,
Cheryl,
for this prompt to get me to brush up on my micro fiction.

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More Than Less #JusJoJan

It’s one of the three main keys for the
podcast
I have with my brother: family,
humour,
and creativity

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and we try to bring it into the radio show we now record every Monday morning at eleven, even though Outlook is a show about accessibility, advocacy, and equality.

Life can be hard. A humourless personality is unfortunate. We gotta have something to break up some of the monotony of daily living.

A sense of it is high on a list of qualities for most online dating profiles.

Thanks,
Sadje,
for this prompt, especially on Blue Monday in the month of January.

I like this month for blue and in February I think red.

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Mrs. P Sorted Through It #JusJoJan

It’s when my braille translation program got all messed up and what came out from the braille printer made absolutely no sense.

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It was strange to call her Mrs. P at school suddenly. I’d gone for years thinking of her as my friend’s mother. She’d pick us up, make us dinner, and drop us off. All of a sudden, she’s my educator, teacher’s assistant, and I just don’t call her anything at all.

She was the first to use the word
gobbledygook
and I have been a fan of that word ever since.

High school seems so long ago now, like an entire lifetime ago, but I’ve seen a lot of gobbledygook since the early 2000’s.

It all gets muddled with so many voices, spurting out nonsense and opinions all over the place and my headaches persist.

What I’m saying here now is more of the same. I can gobbledygook it with the best of them though.

When most people run their fingers or move their eyes along a line of braille they get only gobbledygook. When I do it, the world opens up to me beneath my fingertips.

I relied a lot on my friend’s mom/educational assistant to sort through so much nonsensical jargon so I could learn what I needed to learn.

Thank you, Mrs. P and
Jim,
for bringing this word to my/our collective minds.

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Ice Cubes, Cough Candies, and Skulls #JusJoJan

My bracelets are my fidget spinners.

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I don’t know a lot about the names of different stones and minerals and jewels.

I wear my rubber
Bold Blind Beauty
band around my left arm to remind me that I can be bold, blind, and beautiful too.

When I did some public speaking the other day, I wore my wrap around blue beaded bracelet I got from a woman at
Women’s Travel Fest
last year.

I now have two bracelets with bigger assorted beads I wear on my right wrist and I think one of those beads might be
jade,
though don’t quote me on that.

I got one of these in Mexico back in 2017 from
this man!

It has flower beads, beads that feel like giant marbles, one bead shaped like a heart, one that makes me think of a cough candy, and a few small skull beads which is a cultural thing from that country.

My newest beaded bracelet was made by a girl I met out west last year. I wanted to support her artistic entrepreneurship and, I have to say, the bracelet she made me is lovely.

It has a pattern, two beads that feel like a different type of cough candy, and one centre bead shaped like a cube. Or, as I like to say, one of those ice cubes that come out of the ice machine at a hotel.

The sound these beads on these bracelets on my right hand make sounds like the jingling that always accompanied Lady Mary on the Downton Abbey series.

They are my good luck charms, peace and meditation, and memories of my travels.

Thanks,
MB,
for this prompt that posed more of a challenge than some.

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I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

Click On It #JusJoJan

Q: I am grateful for it. I did too much of it. It’s hard to get other people to go ahead and do it. What is it?

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A: I remember when I hit 100 subscribers on this blog. I was thrilled to pieces. I want to thank each and every one of you for showing that kind of interest here, in subscribing so you’d receive notifications whenever I’d write a new post.

I once had an overload of emails, so much so that my email program couldn’t handle it all, unable to work efficiently with the voice software of my computer. I had so many email notifications for new blog posts, I’d subscribed to so many blogs, that I had to get someone in to help me tidy up and unsubscribe from some to lighten the load. I felt badly about this.

SUBSCRIBE

Also, to sign up for an email list for the
Canadian Federation of the Blind,
there’s a whole process to go through, including sending an email and I can never remember that address.

Thanks,
Willow,
for the Monday prompt.

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Farewell Glow #JusJoJan

I had my final hair cut from a cousin of mine today. She has been doing my hair for nearly fifteen years and, first world problems I know, but it isn’t only the hair.

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It’s really a
mix
of feelings and emotions because I trusted her, as family I’ve grown up with, to style my hair like I trust my sister to help me choose clothes.

Unable to see my face in the mirror (my hair) or how I look in a certain sweater or pair of jeans means I appreciate any help I can get.

I don’t say this to sound like poor me, the blind woman, because I work hard to fight the problems pity for blind people causes in society.

It’s just nice to have those I totally trust to do their best to help me out in these certain areas because, though I no longer see it all, I still like the things many women like like clothes or my nails done or a new haircut.

My cousin is moving, with her husband and kids, across the country and I am happy for her. I know a lot of people don’t understand why she felt the need to leave everything, her business and family and the only place she’s ever known as home, but I understand doing something that others don’t get. It means doing what you feel you must, something that your heart is telling you, all while other people shrug their shoulders and raise an eyebrow in confusion because they don’t see what you are seeing.

I do wish the best for her and her family on this new part of their journey together, but I will miss having her nearby. She is my main connection to the rest of the family I see, less and less, now that we’re all older.

Her salon smelled lovely, she’d often had relaxing music playing and would offer coffee or tea while I’d wait, and I always enjoyed the feel of the way she would straighten my hair.

All my best to them. I just gotta work at accepting change when it comes because that’s not going to be the last change I’ll have to face. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.

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White and Blue and Cinnamon Too #Synaesthesia #BlueJanuary #SnowDays #JusJoJan

The mall was pleasantly less crowded on this early January day, I spent it out browsing its many stores with a friend visiting from Ireland, and the sun made an appearance; a win win of a day for me I gotta say.

David’s Tea, The Dollar Store (don’t know if it’s actually called that anymore), lunch at the foodcourt and all the while that pleasant scent of cinnamon buns in the air; that was my day – here’s what’s been on my mind.

There’s the
possibility
of a snow day, on any given week, most weeks here in Canada every January.

This brings children joy all around this country, while my friend’s daughter was dying to see the snow Canada promises. No snow days for her in her Irish home.

Canadian kids can sometimes get what feels like countless days off from school every winter. Others aren’t so thrilled about how January seems to stretch out, what seems like indefinitely, because they can’t seem to see beyond these somewhat blue thirty-one days, so soon after the champaign cork popped and the new year was rung in.

Once the memory of a snow day fades and adulthood overtakes, a snow day for schoolchildren is simply the snow the adult must go out super early before work to scrape from the car.

The things that seem hard at one age, school assignments and least favourite subjects, these are replaced with deadlines and annoying coworkers, but it’s more than work stress that’s getting to many at this time of the year and no day off or work perk is going to thrill like it might otherwise have done.

It’s all relative.

There are those usual headaches if you’ve grown up here, lived here, and some thrills too, depending on what age you are.

I try to look ahead, even as January drags on into February and the snow persists. It isn’t the snow that bothers me so much. I feel refreshed by it, invigorated by it almost, but the month of January (while still holding the thrill of unknown possibilities to come in the remaining months of the year, feels like a blue month to me.

My synaesthesia colours January as blue in my head. I see it, even if nothing else, but it hurts me to see how many feel that blueness deep inside. I love the colour blue, but it means depression to so many I know and love and have known and loved. I see it in lots of places I look.

While the future is likely to bring new periods of colour and feeling and hope, that isn’t so easy to notice whilst in the middle of the month of January.

I wish I could make it all better for those people. I wish I could hug them and reassure them everything will work out, but while I can predict a number of possible outcomes for anyone of us, I can’t make them believe anything in the first month of a new year, not when their environment tells them the darkest days of a wintery January might never ever lift the cares and worries from their shoulders.

I wish, for so many who deal with a blue January, every day could be like a first snowfall for a visiting Irish child: pure joy in all that white stuff falling from the sky to cover the ground in a blanket of delight.

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Thanks,
Jill,
for all the possibilities this prompt offers for things to jot down our thoughts on.

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A World On Fire, #JusJoJan #SoCS

A quiet Saturday night in Canada, but
Wow
to what’s going on on the other side of the world from here.

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And to the news between the US and Iran. Wow!

I say it as an exclamation a lot, to myself, because it feels super redundant to utter out loud to anyone within earshot.

I love this time of year in my country, snow or no snow, because I like being cozy inside and then, when I step out my door, to feel the fresh air, so cold. I love the stillest days of winter most of all, those still, silent nights those of which songs have been named.

I can’t imagine what Australia is dealing with right now because I’ve never had to experience such a thing. I remember watching the news when western Canada was dealing with terrible wildfires, hearing people in California speaking of it on Facebook. I can’t imagine even having to deal with smoke clouding the air and choking my lungs and burning my eyes. Having to outrun flames sounds nightmarish.

Over twenty lives lost there now, millions of animals and wildlife perishing so far, and yet climate change denial is still rampant. Wow, really?

I “WOW” this more than anything because, even if you don’t believe things are as bad as all that, at least let situations like the one in Australia now help you see that we can and should do something. Even if we choose to not put the blame all on our shoulders, fine, but at least we can do something, in the smallest belief it could help dangerous and devastating situations like wildfires take less of a toll. Why not? What’s the harm?

We frame things as serious, as serious as it often is, in the hopes that people will, you know…take it seriously. Then, we’re crying wolf or portraying ourselves as Chicken Littles. The sky’s not falling, okay, but it is smoky in places. If we talk so serious all the time, people will tune the warnings out entirely we’re warned, but then what does that leave us all with in terms of options to address what’s making the news in the first place?

So we have to sit with the realization of all those poor creatures, not understanding what’s going on, unless somehow instinctively. I sit here, in the northern hemisphere and January cold, thinking of all those poor animals, my two animals safely here with me.

Canadian firefighters and those from other countries have gone to help. What are the politicians doing?

Are there not enough natural events occurring these days for our world to contend with that humans have to go and create more havoc with their own real life choices? What is it with clueless, greedy, selfish, brutal men running the world, making serious decisions that will impact so many, creating an environment of fear and anxiety? What if we let women run the world, just for a little while, to see if things might turn around? What’s the harm in giving it a try? All men, stand down!

I saw how serious news stories were handled on the ground and up close when they involved New Zealand recently, (mass shootings and volcano eruption) by their PM, a woman. I wish there were more of her.

I don’t generally like to generalize, but I’m tired of the anxieties. If it’s this way, this greatly weighing on my mind and heart, I shudder to think of what it’s like for anyone immediately, directly effected in in the path of destruction, whether natural weather and climate or manmade disasters in progress.

I say my wow’s and my huh’s? I say it till I grow weary of saying it. I long to be a child again, not to block out news by simply not seeking it out because that feels irresponsible, but to be a kid again and simply not grasping the significance of all these things going on.

Oh two-year-old Mya my dearest one, how I envy your child’s cluelessness, in great contrast to that cluelessness I spoke of above from adults who should know better.

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