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

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”.

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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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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Throw-back Thursday, Travel, TravelWriting

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.

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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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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

Get Me Some Stones That Roll #JusJoJan

play isn’t always of the fun variety for everyone. Some people enjoy playing games that are more than childish. They are despicable and have real life consequences, but who pays the price in the end?

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Some people like to play
dirty
in life and I can’t quite figure out why that is.

Ah, RS – read Rolling Stone. Screw Roger Stone!!!

He was arrested, raided last week, and now we see if true justice is ever served. I hope he ends up spending the rest of his miserable life behind bars.

Thanks to Linda,
Jim,
and all the other prompt word givers and all the rest who don’t play games like RS always has.

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No Going Back, #JustJoJan

Two crime proceedings happening in Canada this week.

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One, a monster pleads guilty for his crimes. Good. His victims are not here to
testify,
but family is always more than willing.

The other, a senseless crash between a bus and a truck last spring and bereaved loved ones
testify
about how they’ve been forever affected.

The first, evil. The second, a careless accident.

A bunch of young men, athletes, and coaches were killed. Many were badly hurt and injured. A man must live with that fact all the rest of his days. The forgiveness, though it may not have been found by all at this time, was shown with moving offerings from families toward the man who was at the wheel of that truck.

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Wrong Washroom, Who Cares? #Disability #JusJoJan

Sometimes I let it slip on by and other times I take hold of it and don’t want to let it go.

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There is likely somewhat of a
cathartic
feeling I get, during those times I can’t and don’t let it go.

This week, I come to discover that public washrooms at a local university aren’t labeled in braille and I feel stunned, but I don’t know why I’m surprised at all. I guess this is just simply one of those little things blind people are supposed to live with?

Our blindness does require we take risks, face fears, and don’t let so many things hold us back, even from using the washroom.

We can wait for someone to come by, which is how we ask for help when we can’t first solve something ourselves. Or else, we have to go, bad, and that means we must pick one and walk in. Whatever happens after that…who can say.

A small thing, unthought-of by most, because they don’t live with it every day. Understandable, on one level for me, but am I speaking up for the greater good or just making a fuss?

That word, activism is a push away word when people hear it too often. It becomes tiresome, but I get it.

Then I want to bring attention to a scam, people thoughtlessly asking for money in grocery stores, representing the grassroots organization for the blind I have found empowering. People say, what’s wrong with raising money, as a rule? Nothing. Many organizations do it. We, as our organization made up of blind people, wish to show that we can be more than symbols of pity and need.

But of course, there is a need, a lot of need. We have the need to be understood and accepted. We can’t sit back, all our lives, waiting for the rest of the world (mostly sighted) to get those things for us and more.

Some saying, oh these things are hard to deal with, when a scam spreads across Canada and I still need to do something to stop it.

It might be a bit of a
catharsis (thank you Enthralling Journey),
to tell people they’re not being thoughtful, or else I am a scene maker who loves the rush it offers when feeling self-righteous about any given situation when up against the insensitive.

Call it what you like. It is my reality. I often long to hide from it, but that only works for so long before I need to be doing more, doing something.

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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.

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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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Whistle A Tune As You March Toward Hell #FilmReview #JusJoJan

The documentary begins and ends with their voices, ghostly, from the past.

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All of them, their collective voice is a powerful
echo
of a war with no discernible point, but massive waste and loss of life. But still, they must not be forgotten.

I love Peter Jackson for his bringing to life of Middle-earth and now he shows us what fresh hell war was/is, and not the kind of war in fiction where men and elves and dwarves (with the help of a wizard) defeat the orcs in an epic battle. It’s reality at its worst.

From what I hear, the grainy old footage moves into vivid modern colour and then back into the old shots, but I see none of it.

I don’t see the ugly part of war, bodies blown apart and such, but I do hear the bursting of artillery in battle, the men crying out, shots and screams coming from all around me as the surround sound has me sitting on edge, forward and stiff in my seat.

Archival recordings from the 1960’s and 1970’s, of the First World War veterans, all the way back to actual British army camera shots and film that was taken, live on the western front. Lip readers were even brought in by Jackson to interpret what was being said in those shots. Actual interview voices speaking, with no narrator. I wasn’t sure what to expect, if I could get enough from the film, but these kinds of documentaries are usually accessible, for the most part.

From the boys they were, lying about their ages to sign up and on into their basic and specific training. To heading into misunderstood horrors of war. To the trench life to off duty time. To the lead-up toward the battle itself. Then to the aftermath and home once more, for the lucky ones.

It ends where it began, with the time passing habit of whistling and the innocent sound that portrays, the nonchalant spirit of such a tune.

It’s all ringing
echoes
of history in Jackson’s latest film, which played in theatres in Canada on January 21st, for only one day and two months after the anniversary of the armistice that finally ended World War I – They Shall Not Grow Old is a solemn phrase of fact for millions and a gripping title for Peter’s latest. Check it out when and where you can.

It’s not about why the war happened, but rather what it was like being there. And still, I left asking “why?” anyway.

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