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Lamb vs Lion, #SoCS

This is supposed to be the time and place to just write, whatever it is that comes to miming, through my fingers on the keys.

Right? Yeah. I’m working through it all.

I focus on one month at a time, trying not to look too far ahead of myself in this year that feels vital somehow. It’s 2017 and it’s only the third month in. I still have a chance to do something great.

January was great. January was Mexico. So far, not much can top that. It’s hard when starting a new year with such an adventure, so long waited for, but I try to keep an open mind about the possibilities I could still discover are on the way.

I feel like I want to do something. As the day of that January
march
was taking place, I was not in the crowds of faces, all carrying signs and there to fight back.

I was in a hotel room, in Detroit Michigan and watching it all unfold on the television. I had other things on my mind, as I felt traveling alone was enough of a sign, symbolic that I would not hide away any longer. I would be seen and I would do something for me.

I, as a woman, I had my immediate goal of making it to Mexico by myself, which I didn’t know would turn out so well, not at the time.

I want to do something, since then, all the more. I will take steps, in this month of newness of a season.

With both Women’s History Month and recently it having been the International Women’s Day, I wonder still what we women should be, what we are expected to be from society.

Are we the gentle, feminine lamb or the strong, fierce lioness?

I fear being lost in those crowds. That day wasn’t only an U.S. thing. It was done all over the world. It’s sometimes like the U.S. is the only place that matters, or that’s how the world sees it coming from the centre of North America, but we all want justice and respect.

So, my inability to see my way through such massive bunches of people means I fight in other ways, I march in other manifestations.

I use technology to my advantage. I look to those who have seen more and are working to bring change.

We don’t have to be one or the other. We can be lambs and lions, as this month suggests, even when that scares some of the less enlightened among us.

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TToT: Relax! It’s Only A Cane – Daylight Savings, #10thankful

I walk around like this all the time now, trying to defuse situations where there could be some fear going on.

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I tell them they can relax, that it’s only a white cane. I won’t whack them with it, not on purpose or very hard anyway, just as long as they stay in line.

I suppose, it would have made even more sense if I’d actually been holding the object I am speaking about. I should have taken another one, one where I’m actually holding my white cane in the photo.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for this t-shirt.

Abigail Style

I like how Steph of
Bold Blind Beauty
has gone the extra mile, trying to spread the message of strength and empowerment that a lot of the slogans on the shirts, bags, and mugs she has created show the world.

I am always happy to help spread this message with Steph. I chose this shirt because I myself still battle the feelings I have about my white cane. I know how others see it, don’t always understand it, but I don’t want it to make people wary. I just want to be able to use it to see more of the world safely.

I must admit, I do enjoy its sarcastic tone though. It’s my kind of humour.

I am thankful my friend Kerra was challenged to post any 80s song, for an entire week, on Facebook and that I took on that challenge from her.

I will include, throughout this TToT post, the seven songs I chose.

Everything In My Heart

Corey Hart, 1985

I am thankful I received a payment for work I did.

I have a lot of feelings around trying to contribute, to develop a career for myself, but in the arts nothing’s a sure thing. All my insecurities about not feeling useful have followed me for years, and I know this is just one fairly small amount, but it’s a big deal to me. I wrote something and I was paid for that service I provided. I created something and I am glad it was so well received. I hope to build on this.

Never Tear Us Apart

INXS, 1987

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I am thankful for an awesome first meeting of Mya and her cousins.

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It was so sweet, the way my niece and nephew wanted to hold their new little cousin, how they doted over her and were so gentle…yet so very excited.

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He is not the youngest of the group anymore.

Mad World

Tears For Fears, 1982

I am thankful for a day to celebrate women.

People Are People

Depeche Mode, 198

This song fits the theme of the day. We are all just people, so why does misogyny continue on such a level as we currently see?

I wrote a piece, and the debate about what feminism is or isn’t or if it’s a good or a bad thing could go on forever, but I think International Women’s Day should just be a day to celebrate women and girls, and how far we’ve come, and are still going.

I am thankful for all the lessons having kidney disease has taught me in the last twenty years.

March 9th is World Kidney Day and every year I reflect on all that my journey through kidney failure taught me, the bad and less so.

I still want to write more extensively on that time in my life. I struggle to know how to go about this. I could blog about it forever, but a book is still my goal.

Now that I’m arriving at the 20 year mark, 1997 being the year I was taken off dialysis and went on to live with a working kidney once more.

World Kidney Day is to educate people on the symptoms of kidney failure, but mine was a bit of a unique case. It’s about my gratitude that I had good doctors and that a medical treatment like dialysis even exists, because without it, I don’t even like to think.

I Can’t Stand The Rain

Tina Turner, 1985

I am thankful for a chance to hold Mya while she slept.

Whenever You Need Somebody

Rick Astley, 1987

She sat and slept upright, wouldn’t straighten out any, so that’s how she stayed. I felt her steady breathing, in and out, and her faint newborn sounds. I didn’t sleep, but it was as close to a peaceful state as I have felt in a long time.

It was a feeling I never wanted to end, but eventually, the newborn must eat.

She is just so sweet though, like a little doll.

I will always be here for you Mya, whenever you need somebody, because what you’ve given me, in only the first few weeks of your life, this is impossible to calculate.

I’m thankful for more perspective on the state of racism today, with an in depth documentary that aired on TV here in Canada the other night.

One movie can’t end racism in Canada — but ‘The Skin We’re In’ will fuel the fight

Canadian journalist Desmond Cole has been an outspoken face for racial issues in our current climate. He pushes the limits, which is what good journalists do, but he has a deep personal iron in the fire that still burns, the tension that’s often revved up by events in the news, but he has experienced racism himself.

I have not dealt with racism, but I have experienced ablism. I try to understand because I know what it’s like to be judged on appearance. That’s how most people judge, on meeting someone, as the visual is the first thing most people have to go by. It’s far past the time to quit judging without hearing the individual stories first.

I am thankful for a violin lesson that focused on the art of practicing.

My teacher showed me some helpful techniques for the days I am on my own, but worrying I am setting myself back instead of making progress, by the ineffective practicing I may be doing.

CURING UNSTEADY TEMPO SYNDROME

I have felt like I am stuck, unable to overcome this hump I find myself blocked by. I needed to really and truly break down the song I’ve been playing, to strengthen the skills that most need to be strengthened.

Heart of Stone

Cher, 1989

I am thankful for a new Lindsey Stirling song.

Love’s Just A Feeling

I tried to be the teacher, showing someone the proper way to play my violin, and boy were they in trouble.

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Well, with me as the teacher anyway.

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Winter is making one last appearance. The snow is falling. I am bracing myself for the possibilities. Snow is a pain, but it really is a beautiful pain.

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Rain Down On Me, #ADayWithoutAWoman #WeShouldAllBeFeminists #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2017 #Feminism

Do I call myself a feminist, on this International Women’s Day, and why or why not?

What does that even mean?

We should all be feminists.

Is this really a mandatory name we should give ourselves? Not everyone would agree, would want to give themselves this title.

It puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths, but I am a feminist. I won’t apologize for that, even though all the false ideas of others in the world may rain down on my head if I speak it out loud.

I am also a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a writer, a blind Canadian. Does it matter, in which order, I list these things?
Are labels necessary, sometimes, or do they only serve to divide and cause resentment?

We celebrate this day, March is given the title of Women’s History Month in addition, and yet there is shame or blame or something else attached to it all…still. Feminism does not need to be an either or situation with acknowledging everyone. Feminism has nothing to do with hating all men and equality goes for us all. The argument can be made, today however, that March 8th, it should just be about women and girls. After all, what’s one day, compared to all the others?

So my thoughts may not come out all that well. So what if I want more acceptance for anyone who feels they don’t have it or can’t seem to get it.

So what if I get frustrated and angry sometimes because I am a woman with a disability, fighting for rights and recognition, when so many women of colour, different sexuality, of class or religion may be fighting for those things too. Is there not room for all of us to find it? Must we push and fight our way with each other?

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (wife of Canada’s prime minister) puts out a Facebook post, ahead of International Women’s Day, and calls for a male presence to show solidarity. Suddenly, she’s betraying what Women’s Day is all about, because don’t men already have enough of the attention all the other 364 days of the year?

So the world is afraid and breaking itself up into groups. So men are resentful that women still feel life isn’t anywhere close to being equal. That they make it seem like we are wining about practically nothing. There are always those good ones who don’t let the fear rule them, who aren’t plagued by resentment at the thought of strong women in the world, women who aren’t afraid to speak out.

I liked what Sophie said. I want to speak up about how I feel and what I want, but I also don’t discount men, the good ones. I am a feminist who loves the men who have been there for me, who have shown up for me, have treated me with gentleness and respect, and who have brought me great happiness and lots of laughs. These men deserve to be included in the conversation. They are invaluable allies.

When I am most frustrated by the events going on in the world, I want to scream that not all from one country or religion are bad. I want to make my point that lots of white men have done bad things, many men in general. Do I want to build a wall between myself and all men?

Certainly not. My father and my brothers are white men. They are amazing people. So, I choose not to be afraid of all of the opposite gender, no matter the colour of their skin, because I know and have known some wonderful men.

Of course, is it so strange a thing that I am proud of a male as the leader of Canada, one who has not been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women? That I am happy to see the companionship of Sophie and Justin, the image of them holding hands, when we need to be supporting each other, male and female, no matter the day.

Because if I speak of how I think it absurd that such a man, speaking ugly things on a recording I can never erase from my mind, has been given the keys to the castle to Canada’s south, I am locked in a loop of disgust and disbelief.

And then there’s the new scandal, coming out about some U.S. marines, the revelation of a secret Facebook group where women’s pictures have been shared and gawked at for amusement. Is this real life? Are these real men at all? Just who do they think they can protect and with what integrity?

This is why we still need more work and why we strike and speak and stand up. I choose to use men to help illustrate the point.

What does it mean to be a man, a woman, a president or prime minister, or a feminist anyway?

I feel we’re all starting to turn on each other now. Solidarity and division run a fine line when these impassioned issues are discussed. The giant women’s march happened, showing the might of women around the world. Then, some people felt left out. Now they resent the intentions. Turning on one another is not what we need to be doing, but it isn’t easy to meet the needs of everyone and feelings get hurt, emotions run high.

Launching itself off of the success and force of January’s march, today is being called A Day Without A Woman and women are supposed to strike, to show what a world without any women in might look like.

Would things fall apart? Most definitely they would. Can we all agree to band together and all strike on this day? Of course not. Some cannot.

So then thank the women in your life for being there. Support female run business and wear red. My favourite colour, one of passion and empowerment, but what will this do to continue the momentum? Try and get everyone to do the same thing, to follow the same idea…doesn’t happen.

So many sound outright enraged that women would even dare to think of doing any of this. Why? Of course there are things to consider, but this is no reason to be so pissed.

Will the message be received? And what is the message anyway?

Actress Emma Watson stars in hit movies, reads a lot, and stands for feminist rights, but soon people say she wears the wrong thing or says the wrong words. Suddenly, she’s not the right spokesperson. She’s no feminist, they scream.

We, none of us, can live up to what others expect of us, feminist or not. It just can’t happen.

I know we will never all be completely equal, that life’s often unfair, but I will never stop working for change and progress, as long as I live as an aunt, to nieces and nephews both.

Do we need to leave men completely out of the equation on this day, if none other? Perhaps, to make the statement fully empowering.

Or, does this not help add to any divisiveness already growing? True, many men still do not get it, so let’s include, in one way or another, those men who do. We have a lot more work to do.

I ask these questions, as I still do not know the answers, or perhaps it’s some of both. I always was one to have trouble deciding. I ask questions instead. What’s important is that we continue asking.

We all need to stand up for good human decency, no matter the day or month of the year, no matter our gender, feminists or not – as simply the human beings we all are, something we share on common ground.

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Underdog #CanadianMusic #Canada150 #SongLyricSunday

More respect is needed, for ourselves and toward others. Then the question becomes when does someone not deserve this? After all, isn’t respect earned somehow?

Notice, I said “more” not “absolute”.

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This week,
for Helen’s Song Lyric Sunday,
the subject is “respect”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoWGt6CSJto

I am slowly becoming aware of Canadian artist and performer Ria Mae and this song has been on my mind for a while now.

***
Thoughts On Fire by Ria Mae

All these thoughts on fire, fire
All these thoughts on fire, fire
It would tear me apart to think that you were lying
All these thoughts on fire
And I didn’t listen to your negative reasons
I don’t got time for that sort of thinking
I’m unaware if you’re trying to bring me down
Too busy thinking better thoughts
And I love that so much
I believe, I believe, I believe
I can do it if I want
I believe, I believe
I can do it if I want
I believe, I believe
That everyone’s with me

All these thoughts on fire, fire
All these thoughts on fire, fire
If they tell you you can’t, they’re a liar, liar
All these thoughts on fire

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

Now hold your head up high and listen, listen
No when is good advice, but don’t care what they’re thinking
And I’ll race you to the finish line
I was your favorite underdog
I’m gonna miss that so much

I believe, I believe, I believe
I can do it if I want
I believe, I believe
I can do it if I want
I believe, I believe
That everyone’s with me
All these thoughts on fire, fire
All these thoughts on fire, fire
If they tell you you can’t, they’re a liar, liar
All these thoughts on fire

[Classified:]
Yeah, I was dreaming with a conscience
Tryin’ to stay away from all the cheating and the nonsense
Avoiding all the demons and the monsters
But all these evil demons are the reason that I’m strongest
When I started this I knew that I would conquer
Back when there was no one ever screaming at my concert
Back when there was not a person even at my concert
They were sleeping on me but they ain’t sleeping any longer
But thoughts are on fire, I believe, I believe
I was
[?]
, now I’m free, I can breathe
When they try to hold you back, you push them back harder
Let em know what’s on your mind and then you push a little further

All these thoughts on fire, fire
All these thoughts on fire, fire
If they tell you you can’t, they’re a liar, liar
All these thoughts on fire

Ria Mae Feat. Classified – Lyrics

***

This stuff is hard for everyone, even and especially those who seem to have it all together, but especially too for artists of all kinds.

Just believing we have something of value to contribute, but don’t let that frustration turn to anger when on the search for the elusive respect.

I work on self respect every day. I stumble with it often. I am making more of an effort to expect respect from a world I often feel unheard by.

The title “Thoughts On Fire” is a particularly evocative one for me, as I often feel like I can hardly contain all mine and one spark could be enough for it all to spread out of control. Holding onto some level of control over our feelings is the trick. I have to believe that most of the world doesn’t want me to fail and go unheard all my life, that most are rooting for me to find success and fulfillment.

If I’ve felt like a so-called underdog all my life, what does that mean? How do I handle that? I start by showing respect, wherever possible, any place or circumstance where it is warranted. But whom is it exactly to be the one to establish when and where?

I believe art is one answer. It is truly a thing of beauty and self expression, which must begin with respect for ourselves and other human beings. Do your part, I say to myself and to the rest of the world, to earn this.

Going through life believing the universe is out to get us or that the rest of our world wants us to fail becomes poisonous. As with my own writing, the direction I am trying to take it, I must keep all this and everything I’ve learned about all kinds of respect in mind.

Share ideas, freely, but be mindful and aware of the responsibility which comes with this, for all who feel marginalized, invisible, or unheard.

Mae wrote Thoughts On Fire the day she signed with Sony Music Entertainment Canada: “Despite being told ‘no’ for over a year, I just never stopped believing,” she said.

More about Ria Mae.

Besides wanting to write about my own feelings on the topic of respect, I am happy I can use #SongLyricSunday to showcase some art and artists from my country, often underrated on the world stage, as far as musical talent.

For 2017 and Canada’s 150th birthday, I want to show how we here have some truly talented people. Canada isn’t perfect, but we are slowly gaining respect in the wider world, I think. We have a lot to offer and I do believe every country should earn the respect it gets, by illustrating to the rest of the world what decency can look like. We all could use music and other forms of art to help illustrate the point.

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Mapping as Metaphor: Part Two

“There are a hundred ways to tell the story of a single life.” – Also, check out the first part of this interview. Plenty of insights to be gained.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Part two of Brevity assistant editor Alexis Paige’s consideration of place, grief, and the river as metaphor, talking with Angela Palm, author of Riverine: A Memoir From Anywhere But Here, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. [Part One can be found here]:

zz-riverinePAIGE: There’s a powerful depiction of sexual assault in the book. The scene struck me most for its brevity and omissions, for what did and didn’t make the page. Can you talk about how you approached writing the scene and why? Can you describe your decisions about what to include and what not to include, and how you came to approach the moment tonally?

PALM: I didn’t want the narrative to become about that particular violence, but instead wanted the incident to appear in the book as one link in a chain of violence, wherein accumulation would be more powerful than individual acts. Because that was my…

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Dangling On The Edge

Thanks Steph. Since this, I’ve learned, there are scarier things than hanging off the side of a tall tower. Still, this was a thrill I will never forget. I’d go back up there tomorrow if I could.

Bold Blind Beauty

“I get a little stuck on titles like meet the blind. I can’t help but feel that I am more than “the blind.” ~Kerry Kijewski, The Insightful Wanderer

Description is in the body of the post.Here’s a photo of my friend Kerry doing the EdgeWalk on the CN Tower in Toronto. The EdgeWalk is “the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356 m/1168 ft (116 stories) above the ground.”

I get that most people who don’t have disabilities don’t want to do anything to offend those of us who do. However, when we refer to a group or an individual by their disability it’s demeaning because it takes away our personhood. “People First Language describes what the person HAS, not what the person IS.”

Image Description: Kerry, strapped into a harness and smiling, is literally hanging backward over the edge with her feet…

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Feeling With The Heart

In the spirit of the day.

Bold Blind Beauty

“Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt only by the heart.”

The above quote has been attributed to Denzel Washington, however, I think it captures the spirit of the original quote by Helen Keller; “The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Whether you do or whether you don’t observe Valentine’s Day just being alive today is reason enough to be grateful and celebrate.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Muah!💋

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Image Description: A decorative border on this Valentine’s Day card surrounds a bright red panel with a sparkly heart and a wish for a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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