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TToT: Back After A Long While #OctoberSurprise #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #10Thankful

I could have posted my favourite quote about the month I most love, but that “October” quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery has been added here in previous years. I will stick to my own words today.

I’ve been out of this gratitude post activity for months now. I still practice gratitude in my head and in my heart, but I have my moments of self pity and fear also and so I wanted to break that block I had which kept getting in my way of sharing here.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for this, my favourite month. The air is fresher and crisper and cleaner than the earthiness of spring or the humid, heavy heated air of summer in southwestern Ontario. Winter is good also, with the smell of snow in the air all around, like a snow globe. I look forward to that, though I worry about people I love who find the long, dark months of winter a challenge to their mental health and energy levels.

I am thankful for my yearly seasonal fresh apples. They are giant, some I call pumpkin apples. They are special and tart/sweet and so crisp and sour at times. I am thankful for those who pick them from the apple trees this time of year.

I am thankful for how Canada is mostly pulling together and facing this pandemic with grace and a common goal of staying healthy, as many of us as possible. I lay low and protect myself, as I’m on my way to 25 years with my father’s kidney come 2022. Those I love are staying safe too.

I’m thankful for staying close to family during such strange times. I am lucky to have parents who taught their four children respect and love for the gift of a sibling, brother or sister, for the different things they bring to the table of sibling closeness. Our parents know they won’t always be here and how important it is to keep growing a bond with a sibling, no matter where life takes any one of us four. We’re here for each other and I don’t see that changing, but I hope I can do my part to keep the bonds strong.

I’m thankful each sibling and I have talks and they each keep me sane, in different ways, at different moments when I might be struggling to voice my concerns and fears over the state of things. I tend to let my imagination run wild with these things, am frightened for what’s to come in the US especially in the coming months. It’s hard here too, as helpless as I feel because I can’t contribute a vote against the man currently occupying the people’s house there in DC. I can only watch from up here, in horror and disgust and embarrassment for it all and the still real possibility that it could go worse still.

I am thankful for a more successful year for me, compared to 2019, dangerously contagious unknown virus that has come upon us in 2020 notwithstanding. I’ve started doing what’s called sensitivity reads for a children’s publisher in Toronto and now an accessibility review for a science journalist who was presenting at some sort of UK science journalism conference. She wanted to do all she could to make her slide presentation, with its images and alt text on those images accessible for everyone and needed someone with a screen reader to look everything over. I feel like I am doing my part in this world to improve accessibility for myself, others with the same needs as I have and that’s something at least..

I am thankful the show I do with my brother is
now available
in more places than one. We’ve had some incredible guests on the show in recent weeks and we’re not done yet.

I’m thankful for the nature documentaries on Netflix I’ve had to escape into for distractions lately.

Most of what’s available on Netflix now is audio described, allowing me to imagine the scenes of wildlife and the natural world in my mind as I’m listening.

Watching these, I felt peaceful for a brief but necessary break in my day, but also I’ve been reminded why I love nature (my religion) and the need for action to protect it.

I’m thankful I have an essay
about Braille
I wrote, published in my third print book, not counting the
magazine
I now have my name on as assistant-editor over the last year or so.

vcznKJ7.jpg

I probably should have confirmed, but I’m unfortunately unsure I can post the correct photo description, as I am unsure which one I went with here. I just chose one from my photos, one from that day, something with the print magazine my essay is in, me holding it or it being open and showing the page with my name or my story on it.

I’m thankful for the Women Who Travel online study course I’ve been taking, for the virtual walk around New Zealand next month, and the nature writing class I’m taking in January, 2021, all of which give me something meaningful to focus on, to work on, and to use as inspiration until I can travel again one day.

I’m thankful for the recent online fiction writing class I started, every Friday night until right before Christmas. It will keep me accountable..

Though we don’t know what will be by the time Christmas and the end of this wild year arrives, but until then I am doing my best to get by.

So, if you ask me that usual, general question from now until at least 2021 and the hope of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is perfected, even if I sigh, suck it up and answer “fine,” I won’t exactly be fine, but I’m doing what I can to stay hopeful and sometimes I fall back into that trap of answering in a way as to not make others feel uncomfortable to continue any further talk with me.

Thank you, Kristi and everyone, for still being here to show me the way on staying as accountable to being thankful as humanly possible and a recent Happy Birthday to our hostess here at the TToT.

And finally, this is a shot of my pal before I had to say goodbye and have him put down last month.

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RIP and I’m glad there’s no more suffering for you. Staying positive here, as best I can. There’s always something to be thankful for.

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TToT: 2020 and Feeling Good As Hell #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Once again, I have been absent from this
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
exercise in gratitude and I did mean to join in more, but life got in the way.

I am thankful for
Kristi
and her taking on the TToT and for making a lovely effort to ensure accessibility is as common as possible, even with all the things that are out of her control.

I will go back a few months to start things out – back to 2019.

I am thankful I got to attend an old friend’s wedding back in November.

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It was wonderful having a celebration with good friends and family too. The event wasn’t too big and I danced as much as possible.

I am thankful for a fun few days with friends (both old and new) at Social Media Week Toronto, only a few days after the wedding.

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Caption: Kim, me, Amy, and Victoria

It was a nice getaway to Toronto and it was cold, mid November, but I was mostly thankful for the slight warm up but still cold enough, on my last evening in the city, with the most delicate snowflakes falling as we walked to find some dinner before I had to catch my train home.

I am thankful for the chance to be a guest on a podcast about culture called
Culture-Hacking – “Seeing the World Differently”.

I am thankful for a fun-filled Christmas season with family.

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lVM0zp2.jpg

Caption: I’m with my nieces, watching The Simpsons on the tablet, with the tree in behind us. (Hmm, did I end up posting this photo more than once?)

I am thankful for a speaking gig I had lined up for January.

PROBUS Canada

It was good to get to speak to a room of women from the older generations, to share a bit about my blindness experience, including all the travel I’ve done and some of the obstacles I face, not to mention informing them of the existence of the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
here in Canada in 2020.

That website is where you can go to read the latest issue of The Blind Canadian, November 2019 where I am newly an assistant-editor.

I am thankful I had a meeting with the woman/writer I’m planning to walk the Thames River path with this coming September and with my friend and travel agent who is helping us plan the month long adventure ahead.

I am thankful for this new audio podcast platform.

anchor.fm

We may use it to record and share daily updates as we go and I have started a profile there and have recorded my first two episodes. I will probably make these, as an audio version of my written blog, capturing the months ahead and all the planning and preparing I’ll be doing. It’s a cool site/app I can even add music to my recorded voice and I can do it without having to depend on my audio expert brother all the time. I think this one, it will be nice to be able to do it myself.

And I am thankful, last but certainly not least, for a mostly positive result on a blood level that had jumped in recent weeks for unknown reasons.

I have lived by that number for more than 20 years, creatinine to measure my transplanted kidney’s excellent function. I don’t remember it being more than 70-80 in years and suddenly I received a call that it had jumped up to 110.

On re-test, it did go back down, not down as far as I’d necessarily like it to, but 100 – and I will take that, for now.

I tend to lean into my more negative side with these sorts of things, but the doctor wouldn’t commit to the idea that my kidney is slowly declining. He said, at this stage, it could be that, but maybe 100 is my new baseline level. It happens and there’s no reason, at this time, to think anything further to be the case. I am getting re-tested in April and going back again in June for my once-a-year, usual doctor’s appointment.

But he did seem quite sure I’d be walking in England by September and that nothing renal related would get in the way of that. (Still…one more reason I want to do this walk, to help raise awareness, and to explore the world while I have the chance.)

I am thankful, extra thankful, to that hospital and the transplant outpatient program and the doctors that keep such a good eye on things for me. I am lucky to be living where I am living, as I hear more and more stories of the medical costs in the US that people live with.

To start 2020 somewhere, I was glad to participate in an entire month of blogging with prompts coming from certain participants of the yearly activity, participants such as
Wendy
and the blogger to run the whole thing. Thanks
Linda,
for getting my year started, with writing and blogging and your Just Jot It January #JusJoJan challenge, so I can at least begin somewhere for the year.

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Caption: a Just Jot It January completion badge

I am about to celebrate this blog’s six year anniversary and my thirty-sixth birthday – 2020 and I say “bring it on!”

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Covering My Bases #WeRemember #JusJoJan

Okay, so I am nearing the end of this
Just Jot It January
2020 thing.

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This weekend, instead of writing for #JusJoJan, I was too
busy,
with the planning and the thinking and the dreaming.

Trying not to get too far ahead of myself on life, with recent developments, I zoned out a little here recently.

Thanks,
Saumya,
for this one.

I was making a starting, basic plan for an adventure I’m looking to have later this year. It was distracting, as I try not to get my hopes up too high. I want to make a statement with this one!

I wish to
dazzle
the world with this one.

I long to sparkle, to shine, but not me for my sake. I desire to take a chance, take the leap, assuming upcoming bloodwork doesn’t threaten to ruin everything I’m planning before it even has a chance of going ahead.

I want to be always a surprise and a voice for change. I may surprise in my methods of achieving all this, to some, but the main one I’m looking to surprise is myself…and spectacularly!

Thanks,
Debbie,
for this glittery prompt word.

This date always gets me down, in a way, to more of a melancholic level. I think if it, 2020 being seventy-five years since the freeing of Auschwitz concentration camps.

I know this is the day to celebrate, but it’s such a sombre date, I can’t help feeling a bit blah.

It reminds me of too many things, makes me think too many dark thoughts, though I know there’s a more positive tone to strike here too.

And, so since I am working with what I’ve got, what I’ve got is me. Nobody else can live my life for me, I should learn to count on me more because I’m here now and I’m grateful for that, and then to be gracious to all who agree to join in on the journey, somewhere along that way.

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That Magic Number #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

I have written every day (excluding Wednesday’s and Saturday’s) for
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
2020 and now I come to it:

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I write to start my year off because I don’t have a clue what else I’m doing really.

I wonder what’s next for me, what sorts of
change
might be in my future, these next eleven or twelve months, but do I really want to know?

They say it’s inevitable anyway. Still, I am scared. Not of life in general. No, I’ve learned to be open to it all.

It’s when I’m going along and I get a call. Was I too cocky?

A sudden rising in my blood levels, the kind the nephrologists test for, the kind I’ve learned to watch too, as well as my family members do.

I’ve been at 70-80 or somewhere there about, for over twenty years now. I’ve been stable, no matter whether or not the rest of my life has felt that way.

Now I fear the kind of changes that could come, if that number were to keep rising, rising up above 100 and counting.

It’s an alteration within my blood that the doctors look at. I sit here, listening to a poet reading her poems to me, writing down words and phrases that strike me especially and I think, as she describes her medical history using words: muscles, veins, blood

She refers to her body being explored by Miss Frizzle and her school bus full of curious children and I think of my creatinine.

I can’t touch it, leaving the blood safe inside me, in my veins, but I don’t wish to explore it further. I want to leave it to a twice-a-year thing, no closer than that.

I don’t write poetry like Alana, but I think in terms of it.

I scare myself, hopefully, for no reason. A recheck and it will all be good again, go back down to the level I brag on.

My weekend is slightly ruined though, as I weight. Nothing I can do. Don’t worry too much, I tell myself, others might say. No point anyway.

I think of that girl I was, once so sick, my brain unable to do math. A zero on the test. It was time for dialysis to remove all that toxic sludge from my body.

I am not that girl now, a woman approaching middle age. I want to go out now and experience it all. So grateful for the fact of dialysis, but I run from any thoughts of being stuck to machines multiple times every week.

I want to walk along the Thames, to go back out west, to tackle my
bucket list
without restraints.

Of course, money is my biggest, but those machines threaten to hold me down.

I feel the mark on my chest where the tube once hung, connecting to tubes that carried my blood to be cleansed. Family stayed by my side, friends sat and we talked. I dreamed of one day visiting Ireland and Prince Edward Island and more with my grandparents, my family, a partner maybe.

Now I want to run from that little girl, into my future, but I know it will all come full circle.

I hear/read about the future of organ donation, of artificial kidneys, but I don’t hold my breath.

I think of lists with my name on them and rising blood levels and I want to sleep.

It’s in the waking that the thoughts come rushing back.

So many changes lately: people in my life leaving, missteps and moves questioned, and now…here I sit and I wonder over that magic number over the weekend.

It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will, it will.

I don’t tell my brother, one who can best understand the fear that comes creeping back in. He’s on the west coast right now and I don’t want to bother him or disturb the freedom and lack of worries while he’s out there. And so I burden you, blog, with this one, for now.

Breathe Kerry, just breathe.

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TToT: March Breaks and Time Straddlers – Design and Procurement #10Thankful

I can’t get the image of all that plastic in that whale’s stomach out of my head. Or the gorilla who was shot and blinded. Or fifty human lives lost in New Zealand last week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yks0RggaluY

But then, I am reminded, we live in a world with rainbows.

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“Watch the rain drop.”

I’m thankful for new Cranberries music. She’s dead, and that’s still unbelievably sad, but this song just released is powerful, even more because of how things are.

I am thankful for a good
classic Irish memoir
to read on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. (All twelve braille volumes of it.)

I’m thankful that another news network put a spotlight on the disability issues radio talk show I do with my brother.

Radio Show About Blindness Promotes Accessibility – CTV London

I’m thankful an interesting documentarian/filmmaker was generous enough to give me a few hours of his time, to ask me several thoughtful questions, to get to know my story a little better. I’m discovering, life’s all in the connections that you make.

I’m thankful for an upcoming Niagara Falls weekend trip with my family to celebrate the start of spring.

I’m thankful for my recent weekend away in New York City with my friend and travel agent extraordinaire, just in time for International Women’s Day festivities.

I’m thankful for rooftops, bars/restaurants/nothing but the roof.

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I stand on one, on a cold International Women’s Day in New York City, with my friend Anita.

I’m thankful for fear that I keep facing.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my fears and not feel so alone. On the stage, the presenter (my “writing mentor” was the presenter) spoke about fear in her talk and then called me up, along with two other ladies, to share what we’re afraid of.

I’m thankful for lovely songs and their singers.

Though I don’t mind winter like some do, I am thankful for this first day of spring.

“Everything is new in the spring,” said Anne. “Springs themselves are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring. It always has something of its own to be its own peculiar sweetness. See how green the grass is around that little pond, and how the willow buds are bursting.”-
L.M Montgomery, Anne of the Island

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TToT: Thirty-five For Me and Five For Her Headache, #Blogiversary #10Thankful

Here, I hope to leave something behind when I go. Here, I won’t look back with any shame or regret at what I’ve said, what I’ve written. I am proud to be Her Headache.

I am
thankful
for this blog and all those who’ve found me here and read what I’ve written on these virtual pages, ever since that 2014 February of my thirtieth birthday.

As for how to celebrate my five-year anniversary with this space, I couldn’t quite settle on how to best show my gratitude and my pride on all that this blog has brought to my life.

In the beginning, it all started with me showcasing my
BUCKET LIST
of items I’d wanted to experience.

Since my kidney transplant, twenty-two years ago, I am all about not taking each day for granted and my list was a way of stating my purpose and no longer settling for less out of fear. Things like chronic pain and disability threatened to take away a life worth living, but I fought against that and found this blog as a part of that.

In this last five years, I’ve been lucky to check off several things on the list, though I am enjoying the ups and downs of the journey, as I’ve learned that to be the best part of the whole thing really.

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Still, I can’t stop wondering where life will take me and so here we go with the review of the things I have done and seen in five years that I may not have dreamt I’d do, during the most difficult days in my past:

I am thankful for the teacher I’ve had, for the last three years, since I decided to take a chance to learn to play an instrument in my thirties. Violin was beautiful to me and I wanted to learn to play with a bow, to produce those kinds of heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds I’d heard from the violin for years. I was drawn to it since I gave up on clarinet back in high school. (Too much air needed, blowing into that thing, which was hard on my head, prone to headaches already.)

She is leaving on a new adventure soon and I must face that thing I often dread, “Change”.

ub4gLOz.jpg

I am thankful for my violin and the progress I’ve made so far, even when I get down on myself for not learning more, faster.

I am thankful for my autumn of 2018 visit to the Maritimes, Canada’s eastern provinces, even my short visit and the limited bit of Nova Scotia I saw. I am thankful I got to place a small item, a token of my appreciation for her gift of iconic literary characters like Anne Shirley in Canada’s cultural landscape, on her gravestone. I got to write a note of my gratitude, from one writer to another, in the guest book in the house Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in. I was brave to finally state, in writing, that I think of myself as a writer, even up next to someone as talented as Montgomery.

I am thankful I got to walk along those Prince Edward Island beaches, the coastline and the smell of the sea. Red Point. The End of the World P.E.I. and the force of the wind at that spot, lighthouse next to a drop down to fearsome ocean roaring down below me.

In these last five years, (not only out east) but I’ve traveled to Mexico, Yukon, British Columbia, and back to Florida for the fourth time.

I am thankful I got to make it to my twenty-year anniversary with my kidney, from my father, and that I got to celebrate that with him and my family and friends, zip lining at my favourite Niagara Falls on the Canada side. I hope to zip line in more places around the world in future.

I am thankful I technically did get my writing available in bookstores, when I wrote a short piece which was included in a print magazine called Misadventures. It was only available in Barnes & Noble, in the US, so a friend went into one and took pictures for me of that magazine on the shelf. I hold that book in my hands and am proud to know I have writing inside of it.

I thought it fitting to make my five-year blogiversary into a TToT post, one of the best things to come out of this blog since 2015 when I discovered other bloggers doing it and I joined their exclusive TToT blogging community.

Thank you, TToT comrads and all of you, for visiting me here. You’re the best.

All jokes aside on the wisdom of getting older, as I turn thirty-five and look back and look ahead, I know the fun is in the journey, not necessarily its destination. Still, I will always write about it all here, or for as long as I am meant to,

Where will I be in five years? And, how will I have gotten there?

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Last Year’s Adventures Make Me Ready For This Year’s #TBT #JusJoJan

My
favourite blog post of last year
was about a trip I’ve always wanted to take, a writer I admire, and the ocean I discovered when I got there.

tNleH6Y.png

I was proud to be approached by
Expedia
to be featured on their site and then I wrote a blog post to go along with that.

As I approach the five-year anniversary of this blog next week, I will always remember when I went to prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and wrote about it.

I look forward to more travel and adventure in 2019 and see all of you back for #JusJoJan in one year’s time.

Thanks Linda.

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Up There and Out There #JusJoJan

I wonder and I wander. I need something to ponder, while pain interferes, some nights, with sleep.

QFaRKMg.png

I read a
magazine
that’s all about
curiosity
and named that too.

***

Curiosity Magazine’s readers are, well, curious. They’re curious about backgrounds, politics, ingredients, and people. They love stories. They ask questions.  They look for local insight. They try to gain perspective. They want to be immersed in a place. They don’t have to be well traveled, but they aim to travel well. At Curiosity Magazine, we want to fill the world with better travelers. Join us.

***

Though I love it, curiously, I don’t strictly call myself a travel writer because I write about plenty more than travel alone.

I am, overall, a
curious
person and travel and adventure are made up of just that at their heart.

It’s the people and the places. It’s the feelings and, sometimes, the fantastical. It’s the traditions and the tourism. It’s the history and the holiday. It’s the wilderness and the wildness. It’s the nature and the natural. It’s the sensations and the stories told by me and by mysteries left untold and still telling.

It makes me say “what?” and “why?” and “for how long?” as I stumble upon more of what’s out there.

It’s the map and the globe and the app and the questions and exclamations in my future. It leaves me thinking endlessly about taking that next step, like the road Tolkien spoke of that’s just outside your door, waiting out there to take life’s travelers away.

That’s why literature makes me think, makes me wonder, makes me meander.

That’s why psychology makes me ask about another’s passions and fascinations.

It’s all up there, in my head and out there, just out of reach and keeping me reaching, arms all outstretched wide.

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Lonely Vs Alone #TGIF #JusJoJan #FTSF

Jann Arden says something in one of her songs about the difference between being alone and being lonely.

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All of us crave solitude sometimes, but more often we look around for
companionship
in our lives.

Admittedly, I like my space and my ability to do what I want, when I want, not having to consider another’s wants or needs.

Sounds selfish, perhaps, but my life circumstances have brought me to this point. I always fear, when and if the time comes, that I won’t be able to go back to life with an everyday companion somehow.

It’s hard to say when or if I’ll have to meet that situation again.

I do not know, either way, but In 2019 I wish for companions, in various forms that I can have valuable and memorable experiences with, the kind I can look back on in 2029 and smile at the memory of.

In all the months of this coming year, now in progress, I hope to laugh and listen, to wander and wonder. I hope/wish, in 2019 that I will learn from my companions and walk away from each experience, holding each one close to my heart.

On one of the days, in mid January when my chronic pain is making me tense yet resolving to fight back, I don’t want to shy away from what’s maybe a bit stressful or difficult, even if the risk of pain looms over me at the thought of doing anything at all.

On this
Finish The Sentence Friday,
rolling over into Saturday, I won’t let pain keep me from dreaming and planning out my wishes/hopes, though I do not call them resolutions for a new year.

I may be alone in this space, in this place, I know I am not alone, not really. I am not lonely, when I don’t wish to be.

Thanks,
Di,
for getting me to consider, through pensive contemplation:

“No I will not lay down. I will not live my life like a ghost in this town. I am not lonely. Swear to God, I’m just alone.”

—Jann Arden

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Lights and Dots #JusJoJan

April In Paris is a favourite movie of mine. Billy Crystal and Marge Simpson. What could be better?

My parents and older siblings have been. I have not. Do I want to go? Of course I do.

Of course I want to experience
Paris
but I’d rather visit Normandy or the Brittany Coast.

Mostly though, I want to visit Coupvray, the village where the inventor of braille was born.

I don’t speak French. I heard a lot about dog poop after my family visited. I hear that’s been cleaned up since.

Just recently, a friend and I were discussing checking out the catacombs, if I ever get to the capital of France and if she ever gets to return there. She tells me stories of visiting, as a teen, on a school trip to Europe and I hear the emotion in her voice when she speaks of being up the Eiffel Tower.

Thanks to
Forty and Fantastique
for a travel related word because there’s nothing more, I enjoy jotting/writing about, than travel and place.

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