Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer, Writing

On Shoveling Snow During a Blizzard and Writing Memoir at 26

I started writing my “autobiography,” on my heavy duty Perkins Brailler, when I was fourteen. No technology because I didn’t rely on computers then. I soon changed the name of what I was writing from “autobiography” to “memoir” because I felt like I didn’t need to keep defending what I was writing, as memoir is about memory and living. We’re all in the process of living and all of us have the right to write about it. I look younger than I am often too. I still obtain wisdom and intend to use it, to share it, but I still (deservedly or not) get out of shovelling snow, though I like how the writer of this piece uses it as example for real writing life and struggle.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Katie HS Square (3 of 1) (1).jpgBy Katie Simon

“What kind of writing do you do?” It is snowing heavily outside, and I am at a party, ice flaking off my quilted boots and melting into puddles on the hardwood floor. I get asked this question frequently, not just by buzz-cut, twenty-something, plaid-wearing, men like the one in front of me, but by people of all hairstyles, ages, and clothing preferences. I know what this man expects me to say: short stories; poetry; hot takes on pop culture trends. I am 26 years old, and anything I write must be imaginary or ephemeral.

I squirm in my boots, stare out the window at the weather I just escaped. I hate this question. “Memoir,” I say.

“Huh.” He looks at me skeptically. Even without asking my age, he has a general idea. I look younger than I am. “Kind of funny for somebody your age, don’t you…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, History, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Mother Nature and Cloud Iridescence, #10Thankful

It was a diamond winter day in February — clear, cold, hard, brilliant. The sharp blue sky shone, the white fields and hills glittered, the fringe of icicles around the eaves…sparkled. Keen was the frost and crisp the snow over our world; and we young fry…were all agog to enjoy life. 

—THE STORY GIRL
🎨 Peder Mørk Mønsted

New month, new slate. Here we go.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a nice dinner out with my sister and my brothers.

We went, to celebrate February’s arrival, my upcoming birthday, and my brother-in-law’s birthday in a few weeks.

A few drinks and a free celebration dessert made it a lovely evening. I could relax, finally, for a few hours at least.

I’m thankful when my niece hands me a banana.

It was a plastic toy, but still. The gesture shows she is growing up, soon to be taking her first steps.

I’m thankful when my friend the travel agent helps me figure out some pricing for a trip to BC.

It is for the Canadian Federation of the Blind’s annual spring convention.

At least three of us are going. We will make sure to get in some travel/tourism stuff in there as well.

I am determined to stand by the ocean.

Also, to meet people in person, who I’ve spoken to by phone for months, it will be nice to make their acquaintances, and I hope to speak in front of the entire convention on my project to put descriptive audio services in movie theatres.

I’m thankful for a visit with my neighbour and my brother.

My brother got a ride back here, planning to jam with his band friends in my basement that night. So, I’d previously made a plan to visit with my neighbour in the afternoon and so the three of us had a nice talk.

I’m thankful my neighbour cared to give me some tea to help me sleep with my cold.

She said she could give me apple cider vinegar to gurgle, which she swears takes care of a sore throat for her within hours/a day or two. She said it may taste bad, but it works. Luckily, for me, my throat issues were behind me. Sure, I barely had a voice, but the soreness was gone. It was a stuffy head and I don’t sleep well at the best of times.

She is taking care of me, however she can.

I’m thankful my cold cleared up like it did, when it did, and I hope it stays away for a few weeks at least.

I have an appointment next week to get a new artificial eye made. It requires an entire day of fitting and resizing and taking my current artificial eye in and out, in and out. Not my favourite thing.

With a cold, tearing up constantly, it wouldn’t make the experience any easier.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help with time card/invoice spread sheets/graphs.

To request payment for the contract work I am doing, writing an introduction for a paper on braille, I must fill out a chart thing.

My computer’s voiceover program does read graphs, but I tend to try too hard to visualize them and have to work with what I hear.

I am practicing with my braille display to get a better idea, but just hearing numbers and columns is confusing.

My sister deals with these things, all the time, for her tax business work. She helps me get paid and I am grateful.

I’m thankful my niece is still small enough to fall asleep on my shoulder.

My sister was at the store and my niece had worn herself out, crawling round and around my house, going for mops, crawling behind the couch, and getting into trouble of all kinds.

Eventually though, she started to whimper, for her mother I’d imagined. I picked her up and paced with her in my arms, listening to music and singing gently. Soon she was asleep on my shoulder.

I tried to sit down gently in the chair, trying hard not to wake her, and the position I ended up in was not so good for my neck.

I tried to shift, but she was in a position in my lap and I didn’t want to disturb her. It was totally worth it.

I used to do this with my niece and nephews in the past few years. This may be my last chance, for a long while, to hold a sleeping baby. That saddened me and I held her all the closer for it.

I am thankful for what Britain did to fight off Hitler in World War II.

I went to see The Darkest Hour and I was moved, in many different ways. Churchill’s oratory skill was brilliant and his determination to protect England was challenged at every step, until he was honest and got feedback from the British people. He had little help from the United States at that time, May of 1940. Still, he was honest about the fact that they were on their own and there was no option but to fight to the end.

My feelings on peace vs war, it’s complicated, but I try to understand how things were/are, when making a judgment call on what should/must be done.

If Hitler had conquered the island nation of Great Britain, he could have and likely would’ve moved on to England’s child of sorts, Canada.

I’m thankful it’s February.

I am fickle with my feelings on turning thirty-four on Saturday. It depends on the day or the moment I think about it.

Still, January wasn’t the best of months. Though February also means my niece’s first birthday and her growing up, I am still looking forward to celebrate. The cake my sister has ordered from my cousin, the cake maker, sounds pretty cool.

Spectacular moment “rare rainbow cloud” appears in skies above Brazilian tourist spot – THE SUN

Hello February. You’ve arrived, Finally!

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Ketchup On Pancakes: Episode 8 – Farewell 2017 (By the Fireside) #Siblings #Podcast

Here we are, back again!

17AeHp1.jpg

It’s 2018 and we’re sitting, warming ourselves by the crackling fire in our latest and first episode of the Ketchup On Pancakes podcast of this new year.

Won’t you join us? It’s bound to make you smile.

Episode 8 – Farewell 2017…By The Fireside (Ketchup On Pancakes)

Last year was “beyond expectations” great for both of us and we, at Ketchup On Pancakes, have high hopes for the coming one.

Also, thanks to the mysterious fire stoker, fanning the flames behind us as we talk, I’ve decided to make “stoker” my word for 2018 and I vow to stoke the fires, like our stoker, to help keep the warmth and the glow in the world going.

Also, do check out the audio story we created. It’s a holiday story perhaps, but it also takes us back to a simpler time and maybe it will do the same for you too, at any old time of year.

E.T. & A Slinky (recorded for Jon Solomon’s 25-hour holiday radio marathon)

Are you fan of the film about the lovable alien? Did you have a slinky growing up?

Also, please feel free to follow
Ketchup On Pancakes on Facebook,
for mostly regular updates on all things podcasting and related subjects, specifically when we post a new episode.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

Resolving with the Years, #SoCS

Limbo is an uncomfortable place to be, for me.

I was hanging, like a literal version of limbo, when I went zip lining back in June, in Niagara Falls.

But what a ride!

mKuPDou.jpg

That’s life, every year I’m given, and all the years that are still ahead of me.

This whole
resolution
thing is a quandary to be sure.

I evaluate it every December 31st and more. I struggle with it. I ponder it in my life.

It can also mean the clarity of a screen, for instance, and so I look for the clarity in my world which is full of blurry things.

I do know the negative statistics that are shared widely each year, as the next year approaches, about how resolutions often fail. I choose to resolve to make changes, to make new things happen, and to live with an open heart and mind. That is not like losing thirty pounds or going to the gym every morning or eating only certain food groups.

I do make goals, which can be called by many other things, like plans or resolutions, if the mood strikes.

I am holding fast to these final hours of 2017 because I am scared. I admit I am scared, afraid of what is to come, when I likely won’t need to be. It will probably turn out just fine, or better even.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer

In You We Trust

Some excellent advice in this one. It’s all useful for me, as I work on one of my final submission goals for a truly special year in my writing journey. Thanks Allison. Back to work on telling my story through the art of brevity of the written word.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Picture of Meryl Streep as a fashion magazine editor in The Devil Wears Prada…maybe just stop talking.

We’re settled into our seats, ready to watch Meryl Streep perform in the new musical adaptation of Gone Girl (“Gone!”). We’re leafing through Playbill, counting up Oscar nominations, when suddenly Ms. Streep steps out in front of the curtain to address the audience.

“Hi everyone, I’m really excited you’re here for this show, based on the book about a woman who fakes her own disappearance and sets her husband up for a murder rap. I hope you’ll especially enjoy the scene where I write all the journal entries at the same time with different pens.”

Wait, what?

Or she says, “In rehearsals for this show, I worked on my high E notes with a noted vocal coach at Julliard, maybe you’ve heard of him?”

Um, no.

We’re already here, Meryl. We’re ready to watch. We trust you to deliver. Just let us watch you–don’t tell us…

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Bucket List, Kerry's Causes, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TToT

TToT: Of Sight Or Vision and of Look Or See #10Thankful

“I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next.”

—A. A. Milne.

A lot of emotional moments this week and in this run-up to the Christmas season. I can feel it, an energy of sorts.

In the meantime though, I’m going to allow myself to coast through the next month or so because I am already feeling the pressure of the coming year, to make it everything this one was…and more.

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My Misadventures issue on store shelf.

So, I have some projects on the go, sure, but I want to enjoy the final weeks of this momentous year before they are gone.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the struggle of writing that keeps me thinking and learning and growing and moving.

This novel thing is harder than I realized, but I don’t stop. I research and learn so I can keep on writing.

I don’t ever really get writer’s block. There is always so much to discover and share.

I have plans and goals to conquer.

I am thankful for perhaps smaller groups but new people still showing up amongst them.

Our writer’s group lost a few this week because of illness and other things, but I walked in and was unexpectedly met by a new voice. A man from New Zealand came to check out what our little writer’s circle was all about.

It helps. I had someone in the group read something I’ve been working on, out loud to everyone, and I received interesting feedback from them and someone new helps with a fresh perspective.

I hope he returns. All the different life experiences in our group can only be a benefit.

I am thankful that I haven’t given up on the violin and my mastery of it.

The challenge continues, won’t go away because it is something one must keep working on. I won’t master playing such an instrument, not in a year and not in two. I know it feels like a long road, but I am working and developing parts of my brain I didn’t know I had.

Seriously, this lesson I felt energized and wiped out, all at once. I think that’s a sign that I am right where I am supposed to be with it.

I am thankful for two Foundation of the Blind meetings in one week.

I started with the US NFB ((National Federation of the Blind) and those few months of being a part of their organization (VisionAware) has given me some idea of what to expect with this new challenge of the Canadian CFB.

I listened in on the AFB call on Tuesday and the CFB on Thursday.

We had a guest speaker at ours. We are working to get a new national system of sharing books and other reading materials in libraries all across Canada and I was super emotional about it.

I love the library, but I feel like I feel when I am in a bookstore. I am surrounded by the things I love most in the world…and yet, I can’t access most of it like everyone else.

I hope I can be a part of changing that, for myself and many others.

I am thankful for a chance to write about my chronic pain journey.

LIVING MY BEST LIFE – A JOURNEY WITH CHRONIC PAIN

I am thankful for friends who can access US bookstores.

HzEHCrF.jpg

Thanks, Sara, for doing that, since Canada has no Barnes & Noble stores.

She went to a Barnes & Noble and found this.

HzEHCrF.jpg

Sara, you rock!

I am thankful for movies that aren’t the biggest box-office blockbusters.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

This is one of those not-a-super-hero movies that people might not know about or care to see, but I think we need more like it.

I am thankful for seeing things (like biographical movies) at the moment I am meant to see them.

I love biography because it tells the story of a person’s life. Every person has a story.

I am trying to write a novel about life for everyday people in Europe and such, during the two world wars that dominated the 20th century. It felt like a strange bookend. I think it helped me put some thoughts together though.

I am thankful for a simple fix for my phone from my handy techy brother.

It suddenly froze up on me and went mostly quiet. I need it to talk to me.

So, instead of feeling stuck and being about to take it to an Apple store, my brother thought of another way to reset a phone. I tried it and it worked.

I am thankful for another newly discovered cover to a song I already know and love.

Chasing Cars

“Those three words…are said too much…or not enough.”

—Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Which words are they?

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TToT: Looking Off Somewhere I Can’t Go #10Thankful

One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
one need not be a House –
The brain has Corridors – surpassing
Material Place –

Ourself behind ourself, concealed ‘
Should startle most –
Assassin hid in our apartment
Be Horror’s least. 

– Emily Dickinson

jcZ4TvP.jpg

I am holding my niece in her Halloween costume.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for my little butterfly.

(See above photo.)

She has gotten her first few teeth.

No more is her favourite thing, chewing on my fingers, no longer is this such a harmless distraction.

Fly Little Butterfly, Fly!

I am thankful I am a print published author.

ISSUE 4: WINTER 2017 – MisadventuresMag

I have previously been printed in an anthology, but this time I was paid. Last time it was for charity.

I just heard it is going to be available in Barnes & Noble stores and so I will be off on a hunt to find it.

It may not be my own book, but I am excited to discover it’s a magazine that a bookstore carries.

I am thankful for the parcel arriving in my mailbox.

This package contained four copies of the magazine and my cheque.

Not bad, compared to in the past.

I am thankful I could share my news and book with someone, a friend, over a latte.

I was a few minutes late for meeting her. I was late because I just found the parcel in my mail and so I hope she understood.

She was happy to receive one of my four copies of the mag.

I am thankful for more stretching and meditating.

I am thankful for extra writing group time, in a new location, for November’s National Novel Writing Month month.

It has been arranged, in addition to meeting in the library twice a month, that we writers who are attempting NaNoWriMo can use a room in Woodstock Museum, every Saturday, for two hours for the entire month.

This feels like an extended writer’s group, but I don’t read and I get to bring my laptop.

Sometimes there are even snacks.

I am thankful for my loved ones being free from war.

I feel a lot of mixed feelings when a day to remember, like November 11th comes along, and really any time. War is not as simple as bravery and heroism.

But I am heartbroken to hear there is violence that will not rest, in any part of the world. I am glad my nieces and nephews don’t have to grow up around such traumas and horrors, but being aware of it all sometimes weighs me down.

That’s precisely what the above stretches and meditation are needed for. They lift me up.

I am thankful for some good food, especially the bread buns, to support a worthy cause.

I am no athlete, but I think it’s pretty cool what she’s attempting to accomplish. Unfortunately, it always takes money.

The Paralympics (Special Olympics as some like to call it) is, I guess needed, but it is still a neat thing, so important, to show the world that people with disabilities can and do participate in sports too.

Emily Trains for Winter Paralympics

She held a fundraiser and I just couldn’t get enough of the bread buns.

My brother and his friend won door prizes.

I wish her luck in reaching such an excellent athletic goal.

I am thankful for a piece that was just published, after several months since its original acceptance.

SeeingYukon Through Blind Eyes – Passport2017

As Canada enters its next 150 years, I wanted too start off telling the story of a place I will forever love and about the vastness of our country.

I wanted to start off on the right foot and hopefully the next period of Canada can be better.

I am thankful a movie I couldn’t find in theatres is now playing nearby.

I hope to see it soon and will give a review of it when I do.

Before I go…are you aware of the Japanese concept of ma by any chance?

The Japanese concept of ma.

Well, I wasn’t either, until a few days ago. I don’t feel I have quite grasped its meaning, but it feels important to me. It feels meaningful to my life somehow.

“it’s the presence of absence, the gap where the moonlight sifts through.
TheDark Feels Different in November – The Paris Review
It’s the hollow where ghosts gather, the pause in conversation.”

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