1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, SoCS

The Heather By The River, #SoCS

Journalists. Photographers. And I use the term loosely.

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As a woman in my thirties, one who writes about things as my oxygen, I wonder what any of us would do for enough money. Would I write about people, even intrusively, for a living if given the chance?

Have I done it now? Already? Before?

How can it make anyone feel good about themselves to hound another human being, with their camera or their pen?

Responsibility: direct or indirect.

A world’s grief. Anger toward someone, needing to direct blame somewhere, the press. The press reports. The papers are printed. People buy the papers and mags.

More. More. More. We always want more.

From birth,
the two boys asked for none of it. That’s mostly where my thoughts return to.

I am not British and barely knew who Princess Diana was when she died. I wasn’t alive for the wedding seen around the world.

A sea of people, rather than water. That is what Diana must have seen when she looked from her vantage point, after saying her vows.

I would rather see a sea of Red or Black, blue or green, but the press fed off of the woman and she fed off of them, in a way, at least at first and for a long time afterward.

She was a fashion icon and a princess, but not only that. She used her position as a bit of an outsider, under the thumb of the monarchy, to become a change maker, by reaching out to those in need, those no one else wanted to associate with.

HIV and AID’s, in the 80s, when the hysteria about both was growing and at its greatest fever pitch. She shook hands, hugged those diagnosed and dying of the feared and misunderstood disease.

She came here, to Toronto, to sit by the beds of dying patients in hospice care. She walked a minefield, literally and figuratively. Danger signs.

Such grief of so many, I would not cry. As a fourteen-year-old child, fresh off of a kidney transplant and a thrilling wedding – I attended, my first of my oldest cousin. That was my wedding of the century.

Of royalty, I knew nothing. A fairytale life gone wrong is more like it.

Fairytales. I was familiar with these…the concept, the ideals, as a young girl. My Disney fairytale movies were my favourite. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the bright pink dresses and dancing with their handsome princes. I may have had similar dreams at the time, but what did I know? A lack of life experience and my own understandable immaturity.

What do titles represent, really? Sometimes, they bring just the right kind of attention and sometimes the wrong kind.

Now, upon reflection, twenty years later I do feel sad. I know of celebrity of her two sons. They are the British royalty of my generation.

I do perk up when I hear their names on the news. I bought the fake imitation giant ring, modelled after that of the one worn by both Kate and her mother-in-law, still lounging in my drawer. I woke to watch the wedding, once again broadcast live.

Prince William and Kate came to Canada after their marriage, the same date as my big brother’s own marriage took place. I hope one generation learns from the previous one, in certain cases, that sometimes it happens we grow wiser with enough knowledge.

They’ve come again since, since then, and with their two small children, touring parts of the country in which I live, that still sees itself as the child of Britain, past and present.

What is Kate wearing? Where are the couple going next? Are they in love, for real, or is it all just another fairytale?

But I do feel for two boys who, in August of 1997, woke up to the loss of their mother when I clung to mine for dear life, during some of the hardest and scariest times of my own childhood.

Are those boys/men in some ways like their mother, under scrutiny of duty, feeling hunted or like outsiders, wanting to reach out to those in need, perhaps not born with some of the advantages? They grew up with cameras as their mother tried to navigate a life of celebrity and being followed. She was hunted, more even than Prince Charles.

Now that I am more aware, I watch documentaries on the weekend after the anniversary of her death. I listen to stories of a nineteen-year-old who got married much too young, to an older man who shouldn’t have ever proposed to her in the first place, who was likely always in love with another woman. He should have been with this other lady all along and now appears that he is.

People marry the wrong person all the time, every single day and have babies with them. In these cases it is my hardest task not to judge because none of us are perfect. This challenges me as an adult who wants to see everyone happy, no matter whether they’re famous or not.

As a writer, this is my obituary of sorts, no matter how stream of consciousness based it may be, twenty years on.

From birth to death: Diana, 1961-1997

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

The Song, Not The Movie #SongLyricSunday

This guy’s songs are always the cure, the answer, the solution.

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For what…I do not know. For all things really.

It gets me pumped. That’s all I know.

Song Lyric Sunday

Just love the energy in a lot of Palmer’s songs. RIP Robert. Thanks for all the music.

***

We want to multiply, are you gonna do it?
I know you qualify, are you gonna do it?
Don’t be so circumscribed, are you gonna do it?
Just get yourself untied, are you gonna do it?
Feel the heat pushing you to decide Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not

Some like it hot, and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot till you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat till we fry

The girl is at your side, are you gonna do it?
She wants to be your bride, are you gonna do it?
She wants to multiply, are you gonna do it? I know you won’t be satisfied until you do it

Feel the heat pushing you to decide
Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not

Some like it hot, and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot till you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat till we fry

Feel the heat pushing you to decide
Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not

Some like it hot, and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot till you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat till we fry

Some like it hot, some like it hot
Some like it hot, some like it hot
Some like it hot, some like it hot
Some like it hot, some like it hot

LYRICS

***

If you are unfamiliar with this one, listen to the percussion throughout. It is so contagiously catchy.

FEEL THE HEAT,
while you still can.

Bring on autumn!

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: My Morning Mangos and the Path of Totality – “Le Mot Juste” #10Thankful

To be honest, I didn’t even want to do one of these this week, not at first.

I was horrified at how many people seemed to be defending the wrong people, ones with hate in their hearts rather than those trying to stand up to them. I was railing at the unfairness of the argument, that I know how important free speech actually is.

I know all the arguments about freedom of speech and that anyone trying to silence that in any way, through protests, that this is not necessarily the best way. I wish I could come up with a better way to combat hate speech, even if it is still considered a part of free speech. Violence breaking out between people is the reason I dislike protesting, but I really have no new answers.

I heard firsthand that someone who was at that rally was from north of the border, from my province in Canada and I felt sick.

Then I heard there were white supremacist rallies planned for B.C. and Quebec City and I felt even worse.

All this had me rather depressed, but still…the saga continues and, yet, I am thankful.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for fresh peaches and for mangos.

Sometimes, my brain gets a little mixed up and thinks a mango is a turkey dinner, but in fruit form apparently.

Yep. You heard me right.

I’m thankful I had a doctor’s office to be seen at right away when I really needed it.

Once I said the magic words of bladder infection, I was in. After all the unknowns of invisible illnesses, no tests to show there’s even a problem or any pain at all, it’s nice and refreshing to take a test, of any kind, and have it tell the doctors something useful and something to explain my symptoms as I’ve reported them.

I’m thankful for an understanding violin teacher.

We are the kind of teacher/student that, I’d like to think, are understanding when life suddenly happens and canceling is the only option.

I do try not to do it last minute, but in this case I can’t say otherwise.

I’m thankful for antibiotics.

I know over use and all the news reports of over prescribing. There is a time and place for most everything.

I am just grateful we have them when we really do need them.

I’m thankful for an anniversary of a writing freelance resource that has been my ticket into that world.

It’s another of those good vs bad situations with a platform like Facebook. In this case, it is serving a helpful purpose in my life and in helping me to advance my writing career.

I never could have guessed, one year ago, that I would get work from such a spot.

I should have something to show for that in the next month.

I’m thankful things stayed relatively calm for the rallies that did take place here in Canada.

The ones rallying in Quebec swear they are not racist, that it’s about legal immigration, not white supremacy.. Even the difference between the wild and out-of-hand events of Charlottesville, Virginia and the rather uneventful ones here in Canada perfectly illustrate the tameness of this country in most things, compared to what happens in the US most times.

The protesters in Quebec came across looking like the aggressive ones, as the main rally couldn’t begin while the protesters were outnumbering the ralliers and, in the end, things went off rather quietly, for this country anyway.

I’m sure those there might disagree with my assessment of the situation.

Rally in Quebec turns violent after protesters opposing anti-immigrant rallies clash with police – Toronto Star

I did find it amusing and ironic that while the rally was happening and the protesters were protesting in Quebec City, there was a Pride parade going on with Justin Trudeau and the PM of Ireland in Montreal.

I’m thankful for my brother’s help in audio recording for the SiriusXM project I’m working on.

He is an audio wizard. He’d say there are others who can do such things faster than he can, but I know you all would agree if you could have been there today and when you hear what we’re coming up with.

My words and direction and a few sounds I picked up while I was actually in Mexico and he with his computer program that cuts, moves, fades, pastes, moves, etc.

He’s got quite the sharp ear for it.

I’m thankful the blind were taken into consideration to experience the eclipse with everyone else.

eclipsesoundscapes.org

It’s nowhere close to the real thing, but it’s a start.

Thanks scientists and app developers.

I’m thankful that a solar eclipse is even possible.

Isn’t our galaxy astounding?

I’ve loved all that since I was a small child. I never believed being an astronaut was in my future, because of the math thing, but I’ve never met a space documentary I didn’t like.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

And finally…

I’m thankful that nobody I know looked directly at the eclipse without protection.

At least, I don’t think they did. I’d better go and check with everyone I know to be certain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vGIfbHRepQ

I had to include an ode to the voice role Jerry Lewis did for one of the classic Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors Halloween episodes. That character was brilliant.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Podcast, Writing

Brevity Podcast Episode #5 Dinty W. Moore

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Dinty W. Moore has always stood out

It’s time once again for the intermittent Brevity Podcast! Listen right from this post, or click over to iTunes, Soundcloud or Stitcher. If you’re subscribed, we’ll show up in your podcast app queue. And wherever you listen or download us, please take a moment to leave a brief review–it helps us show up in searches and recommendations.

Episode #5 features an interview with Dinty W. Moore, our very own Editor in Chief and founder of Brevity. Dinty will be keynote speaking at the Hippocamp Creative Nonfiction Conference September 8-10 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Show notes and links to people, places and things we’ve discussed are below. Next episode, we’ll be talking with Donna Talarico-Beerman, Editor in Chief at Hippocampus and the Hippocampus Press.

Show Notes: Episode #5 People and Books

We’re guessing you already know who Dinty is if you’re here…

View original post 126 more words

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Song Lyric Sunday

One Small Step For Mankind, #SongLyricSunday

I had no idea
Song Lyric Sunday
was still going on.

I hadn’t been seeing it lately, but I missed taking part in it.

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I’m so glad it’s back. Or I am. Whichever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nt8dJ6rMZI

This Police Song is one of my faves. The drums and the bass in this one are the perfect duo.

I do wonder about the moon and how it feels to stand on its surface, to walk. I won’t likely get the chance to find out, but you never know either.

***

Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my legs don’t break
Walking on the moon
We could walk forever
Walking on the moon
We could live together
Walking on, walking on the moon

Walking back from your house
Walking on the moon
Walking back from your house
Walking on the moon
Feet they hardly touch the ground
Walking on the moon
My feet don’t hardly make no sound
Walking on, walking on the moon

Some may say
I’m wishing my days away
No way
And if it’s the price I pay
Some say
Tomorrow’s another day
You stay
I may as well play
Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my legs don’t break
Walking on the moonWe could walk forever
Walking on the moon
We could be together
Walking on, walking on the moonSome may say
I’m wishing my days away
No way
And if it’s the price I pay
Some say
Tomorrow’s another day
You stay
I may as well play

Keep it up, keep it up
[ad infinitum]

LYRICS

***

And so that is all I’ll say for my first time back with SLS in a few months. I hope to be back again, earlier this time.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

Oh August! #FTSF

It’s August and I get giddy at the thought of autumn approaching ever closer, like a week ago when the night air felt like fall. Others disagree strongly and hate to see summer come to an end.

Otherwise, I eat fresh peaches, on top of soft serve vanilla ice cream and I inhale the flavours, eagerly waiting for the apples of September to ripen.

But then I remember what I’ve been working on, including one project that I hope will take my writing to a whole new level and I change to a nervous, anxious feeling.

By the end of this month I will have sent in two more drafts to publications I hope to see my finish product appearing on soon. I work on these in little chunks, wanting to write convincingly on my trip to the Yukon and to accurately portray the special bond I had with my guide dog for so many years.

I must locate photos to go with my words, a task made all the trickier because I cannot see them. I must read over contracts and worry about giving up the wrong things, while also signing and returning them with my permission. Getting paid has its drawbacks, but I won’t complain, just as long as everything goes smoothly.

Seriously, I worry too much about things that might happen or not happen come September.

I won’t likely see the total solar eclipse taking place on August 21st, the one many are driving long distances to view and that which many writers will no doubt pitch and write about.

It’s August and I can’t believe my nephews are now four and five years old consecutively. This is the month of both their births. Special and memorable. The older one had a breakdown when his foil birthday balloon got caught in an updraft and was gone, “up to its home, the sun” my nephew said, between bouts of sadness and tears and a wisdom of loss he’s picked up somewhere wonderful.

Dinosaurs. Curious George. These boys make my life better.

So I’m back to deadlines and working to control my expectations and impatience. I must buckle down and write, edit, and write some more.

I am dying to announce my upcoming published pieces along with their locations. I am proud of the publications that have decided to help this newly budding writer. If I do though, I fear (logically or not) that something will go wrong and my announcement being premature.

Instead, I focus and I try my best. I fear letting someone down, myself mostly. I have, in some ways, had one of the better summers in a long time, though I won’t see the results of this until autumn comes.

It’s August, the end of another week, and time for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
with Kristi from Finding Ninee and the rest of the FTSF gang.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Shiny Keys and Bucket Technology – Namaste, #Yoga #Radio #10Thankful

‘”Bully for baby syrups!”

‘”Pray, don’t let us disturb the concert with our sleeping.”

‘”Jerk us out a little more chin-music!”

‘”There’s no place like home with a baby in it.”

—Bram Stoker’s “Chin Music”

I wander through a bookstore and I feel the unfairness of blindness.

I sit in a mall and detect the repeating motion of shoppers passing by in front of me, but I wish I could see more than a blur like I used to.

WyOm9ep.jpg

What a week. Full of the good and the not-so-good things and I am once again driven to list my thankfuls because sometimes blindness really sucks.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I got an acceptance to a pitch within twelve hours.

It’s a nice feeling. It doesn’t always happen so fast. It was a nice start to the week.

I’m thankful I am being given the chance to write about the affect the Yukon had on me.

This is for a Canadian website/App and the editor said she is pleased to have a piece to publish, different from the usual story of seeing the Northern Lights.

They are a marvel, of course, but I am glad I can offer an alternative viewpoint of a place that is more than just one spectacular visual sight.

I’m thankful for essays I read that make me think and put a new spin on the essay form.

The Medicated Writer by David Ebenbach

I’m thankful for another lovely coffee/raspberry lemonade chat with a friend to distract me from my thoughts.

The news out of the US all week was non stop and ridiculous. I was feeling highly anxious, waiting to hear back about my piece for Hippocampus, and I needed a break from all that.

The place was busy because Ontario’s premier was visiting our town, but things emptied after we were there for an hour or so.

We talked about travel, family, and writing.

I explained to her what it’s like to walk into a crowded coffee shop and try and navigate my way through it. She is like many people who are driven to offer help when they see a blind person. I understand and take them up on that help often. It was just nice to explain how it works because she, like most people, don’t give it all much thought until they hear how it is firsthand.

I’m thankful for the calming yoga session and conversation with the teacher.

I’d heard of
NAMASTE
before, but she ended our now weekly session by saying it and explaining why she does.

It is one more thing I feel kind of silly saying back, but we all like to end with something.

I do love the peaceful end to yoga where I stretch out, blocking out all thoughts, other than that I can put up a barrier to the worst of them, while I focus by staring up at my light and listening to the hiss of my laptop which tells me my teacher is still there.

I’m thankful my brother had a successful first radio show.

CHRW Radio Western

He has unique taste in music, with a musical mind, and he finally gets the chance to share some of that with others.

When people ask me the type of music he does listen to/play, I do struggle to describe it in a single word. It is a lot of things, though not what you’re likely to ever come across on the radio.

He has opened my eyes up to a whole world of music that exists, even though very few people ever find it. Like writers and writing, there is so much beautiful music out there that never gets the chance to be heard by most of us. His passion for giving the unknown musicians a turn seems important to me.

He has named his show
Chin Music
and I think it suits.

I’m thankful for a violin lesson where practice and repetition were points brought home once more.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Rinse. Dry. Repeat. It’s the only way.

I’m thankful for the chance to get somewhere on my own and feel proud of it.

I appreciate the help I receive, for many reasons, as new travel by myself can be stressful and intimidating, but it is also good for me sometimes. The only way I will ever begin to feel any less intimidated is if I practice, kind of like with the violin.

When you can’t see, obviously public transportation is the best way to get somewhere. Then, I like to have an idea in my head of the directions I will be going. I need to see it in my mind and it requires massive amounts of concentration.

No matter the anxiety or the physical pain, the sense of accomplishment at the end is awesome.

I’m thankful I made the final decision to not stay home and instead take someone up on an invitation to meet new people and work on my terrible social skills.

I am terribly shy in new situations. I felt unwell and considered turning down the invitation, but I am glad I went.

I was the only girl there, but it turned out to be an enjoyable hangout on a spacious porch, listening to music, and having a few drinks on a beautiful July night.

It’s just too bad I need a few beers to lighten up. I stop worrying about where I am and I relax. This is fine for one night, now and again, but just attending instead of hiding out by myself helps too.

If I’d gone home, I would have kept thinking about what’s in the news, what a week it had been, and I needed to get away from all that.

I met new people, including someone who came here from Mexico to go to school in Canada. Opening up one’s social circle is a good thing.

I’m thankful for a lovely family day in Toronto.

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We met in a mall, couldn’t take the subway because the line was closed down, so had to all pile in the van and drive downtown Toronto. It took a while, but what a perfect day, too hot even.

So we got to spend a few hours somewhere cool, with lots to see, and around so much life.

I am conflicted on aquariums, worrying always if the creatures are happy swimming in those tanks. I wish I could ask those sharks, rays, and other fish.

If my nephew learns to love and respect sea creatures and the ocean, I will be happy.

Like standing at Niagara Falls, anywhere with all that water and marine life is where I can stand and tune out all the hoards of tourists and people. I could have stood beside that shark tank forever.

Then we came back out into the warm day and passed jubilant baseball fans. The Blue Jays were losing and then came back with a grand slam at the end of the game, the second in a week. The Toronto streets are full of energetic shouts whenever their team wins.

Then we had dinner at my favourite Toronto restaurant: The Pickle Barrel. Delicious beet and chicken salad, mango bellini, and brownie cheesecake for dessert.

Mmm.

As I’m heading home, at the end of the day, I can’t see the sky or the incredible sunset and so I feel the unfairness of blindness.

When I Grow Up – Jennifer O’Connor

Namaste.

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