1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Writing

Three Reasons I Could Stop Writing Memoir But Won’t

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz ronitBy Ronit Feinglass Plank

I had been writing fiction and wanted to try nonfiction, so I began with personal essays. I didn’t think memoir was for me; in fact I was deliberately avoiding it. I didn’t see a reason to revisit the facts of my confusing childhood and thought memoir wouldn’t be as challenging as creating a world from scratch and putting characters in it. To tell my own story, the story I knew by heart, seemed almost too easy.

I could not have been more wrong. I was about to discover that looking at something you think you know pretty well with fresh eyes and trying to understand it in a new way is definitely not easy. I did try writing several personal essays but the history of how I grew up kept barging in, taking up more and more space. It seemed part of me really wanted to…

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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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Guest Post: 30 Days With A Blind Artist

I love this idea. I miss visual art. I think I will take in this project for the next thirty or so days.

Bold Blind Beauty

Intro

Suzanne is using a CCTV to paint a tiger. A CCTV (closed circuit TV) provides magnification to allow Suzanne to paint

One of the things I like most about blogging aside from interacting with all of you is the opportunity I’ve been given to highlight the accomplishments of phenomenal blind women. So when Woman On The Move, Suzanne Gibson, told me about her plans to do a 30-day journal from the perspective of being a blind artist I was thrilled to share her journey with you. So without further ado, I present to you Suzanne’s intro and a link to who she is.

This March I will be keeping a journal each day talking about what it’s like to be a blind artist. Each Monday I will post my entries for the previous week. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live with a disability or have one and want to know that you’re…

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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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INSIDE THE BLUR

She has hit the nail on the head here. It looks to me like the world is melting, melting away. I try to find beauty in all that is blurry. Beautiful words.

HASTYWORDS

There is beauty inside the blur:

dragonfly-699012_960_720Some days
The world is blurry
Looking as if it’s melting
Its turquoise skies into grass
While shades of molten glass
Swirl like mist around trees
And lonesome shadows
Joust with the light of day
The movement of life
Forming abstract shapes
And dancing like liquid clay
But that’s just some days
Because most days
I remember my contacts
And I can see clearly then

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One Dot at a Time {VisionAware post}

Braille is the best!

Adventures in Low Vision

 Photo shows braille lettering on a white page. Welcome, 2017.  Resolution makers, breakers and those who don’t bother, we all face the sparkling promise of the year to come.  It’s invigorating to imagine shedding the dry skin of previous failures or poor choices and to begin with a smooth touch on new goals.

For me 2017 will be another year full of adventures–intentional and otherwise–as I live each day well with low vision. One of the fun challenges I’m doing is learning the braille alphabet. In celebration of World Braille Day as well as Louis Braille’s birthday, VisionAware published my piece, One Dot at a Time, on learning braille as a person with low vision.  Braille will continue to be something I value in 2017 as living well is all about choices and options.

How do you mark the new year? What resolutions or goals have you made for 2017? What do you think about braille?  What choices and options are you grateful for…

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Performing in Blindface

Conflicted. This disability advocate and blogger writes a fair and true post on why this whole thing feels like a conflict. She is right. Finding hope for the future while still living well in the present.

Adventures in Low Vision

 Photo shows a pink fuzzy I'm ask on a white background A fundraising drive related to the blind community went viral. The organization finances great medical research, yet the campaign premise doesn’t sit well with me. I’m split, so I’m reflecting on #HowEyeSeeIt from the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). Yep, I’m diving into the deep end.

FFB’s digital awareness campaign encourages people with vision loss to ask others to wear a blindfold and do a task together. They record it for social media and label it #HowEyeSeeIt. Amateur, professional, and nationally broadcasted stories were created. Some people pushed back and expressed opposition and rejection of the blindfold usage. The National Federation of the Blind released a letter written by President Riccobono admonishing it. People in the blind community reported censored comments or blocks on FFB’s social media accounts. FFB, a private organization, has the right to delete/block communications on their accounts, but has publicly stated it is not blocking or banning…

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