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TToT: Spectrum of Splendid Great Yellow #OrganDonation #10Thankful

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

—Neil Gaiman

TEDxToronto – Drew Dudley “Leading with Lollipops”

I am leading off my list of thankfuls this week with a story about lollipops.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a visit with family on a hard day.

Another year of summertime sadness comes around.

How does one provide solace? Flowers? A well written note? How about, a visit with a little baby?

There’s nothing like the sweet face of a baby to make people think of the good, but music playing and memories shared can also help.

I’m thankful for a long coffee/smoothie chat with a friend.

We speak at our writing group, but this was a nice chance to have a conversation, just the two of us.

I owed her a coffee for reading over my short story I recently submitted, but we ended up talking for very nearly three hours.

We talked about writing, cats, and our possibility of ending up the stereotypical old cat ladies someday.

It’s hard when you see family and friends, all coupling up, getting married, and starting families. It’s nice to speak to people who understand how it doesn’t all come so easily for some of us.

I’m thankful for feedback from an editor.

I was fearing my draft wasn’t what the editor wanted or expected, but she seemed happy with things, for the most part.

Could I work on the ending? Well, sure. I do appreciate feedback from an editor and that’s what I got.

Now to think how to end the piece. Hmm.

I’m thankful for a pleasant pitch surprise email.

I saw a call for pitches about the special relationship we have with our animals and I thought (since it’s ten years since my guide dog died) this would be the perfect time to write about her. I sent the pitch out the day before I left to visit the Yukon, more than a month ago. After a few weeks I didn’t think I was going to hear back. I figured the answer was a “no”.

I’d been expecting to hear from that first editor, but coming home to an email from this second one was such a welcomed surprise.

The subject matter is perfect and the pay is not bad at all either.

I’m thankful for a first successful conference call with people I know I’m going to learn from.

There were several of us calling in and it made it difficult to all get a chance to speak, not over each other either. Still, I think this will be good for me.

This organization gets together to discuss the topics that are relevant and might be of some interest.

Then we decide who’s going to write what. I offered to write a review for a book someone has written. I think I can handle that as my first assignment with VisionAware and I like reading and learning about self publishing.

Then I get to interview the writer. I think this will be an excellent opportunity for me to learn some editing skills and how to divide up work, to figure out who is the best person to write specific pieces.

Anyway, all of them seem like highly intelligent and curious people from many different walks of life. I can only benefit from that.

I’m thankful when the pain eases.

After two days of it, intense as it is, I can come out of it on the other side and view the rest of the pain I live with in a new light.

I can learn new lessons from the pain, even after all these years.

I’m thankful for another lovely talk with my neighbour.

We are almost forty years apart in age, but somehow we have arrived at this moment in time with similar outlooks on life, from some of the things we’ve both been through.

We both discussed what we know we deserve and the lessons we’ve had to learn, often the hard way, to arrive at this conclusion.

We are both on our own, sometimes uncertain whether we can do it, but that’s why I am glad we’ve found a friend in one another.

I’m thankful for a reminder of friendship.

It’s really one of those little Facebook friend reminders, but someone chose to share theirs with me.

Our first connecting online, then in person, but it all matters, adding up to the relationship of mutual respect we have today.

Sometimes, when I don’t get stuck reading the battles going on in comment sections of breaking news stories, I really do like Facebook. I like those I follow on it even more.

I’m thankful for a beautiful word from my mentor.

Sometimes, her words of advice or encouragement just completely blow me away.

I needed to hear those exact ones, as I prepare to work on the pieces I’m writing throughout the summer. I need to know other people have faith in me, then to build that faith in myself too. It is all necessary to believe I can do the work I have set out for myself.

I’m thankful for four years gone by.

Somewhere out there
are my family’s Angels.

Another year and my brother has graduated and is on his way into radio and so much more.

Think about organ donation. It isn’t the easiest thing to think about, but it matters to someone.

Low – Cracker

Here’s to all the lost angels, either from suicide or accidents. RIP and you are missed.

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While We Sleep: A Warning

This, all true. I was shocked by what I saw when I pushed myself to watch The Handmaid’s Tale and, yet, I wasn’t. We need to drain off the water we’ve watered horrors of history and even the present down with for so long, even if it feels highly uncomfortable and unsettling. We must. We can’t afford to keep on repeating history.

Drifting Through

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 4.54.35 PM“I was asleep before… that’s how we let it happen. They suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary.”

This is Offred’s stark warning.

A narration of regret.

Her name’s not really Offred. It’s Jane. Or June. Or something that I can’t remember because her name no longer matters. She is no longer a human with an identity, she is the property of Fred. And she is the main character in Hulu’s series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel.

Offred is a Handmaid in Gilead, the religious fundamentalist reincarnation of the United States. After a terrorist attack and environmental disasters left the republic weakened, a strong-arm theocracy took hold. Patriarchal control was the new order. Women, no longer allowed to work, read, vote or hold property. Children, taken at will from parents who refuse to conform. Traitors, hung along the river, government spies around…

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TToT: Peace, Happiness, and Love – June Gloom Lifting #10Thankful

“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”

—TToT regular Clark of
The Wakefield Doctrine

I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)

There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.

For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.

“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”

Well done once more Clark. Bravo!

Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.

I’m thankful for such excellent writing advice.

With a little summer happiness.

Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.

I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.

VisionAware

I hope to start writing articles for them very soon.

I’m thankful for a successful first real try at yoga.

I am doing it with my bed as a yoga mat and my teacher a voice through my laptop, for now anyway.

I will buy the mat soon as I decide I will stick with it and I found a teacher who lives in Montreal, so not all that close by. She instructs me over Skype and it works.

My favourite part was at the end when she instructs to just stay lying there, still, for however long it takes to get back up and into the real world again.

So peaceful. I heard a basketball bouncing, off somewhere out my window, but I focused on the light on my ceiling and allowed no intrusive thoughts to interrupt the peace.

I’m thankful I got my entry in on time for the Writing Diversity contest, for a book festival that takes place on Toronto’s waterfront every September.

I left it to the deadline, not good, but it’s done.

I began the month of April submitting one short story to Alice Munro’s contest and ended the month of June with this one.

Each time I feel my story is actually good enough to have a chance, so maybe my confidence as a writer is growing, at least.

It would be cool to get to read this latest story on stage in Toronto if I did win.

I’m thankful a new episode of Ketchup On Pancakes is complete.

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years. A lot can happen in twenty of them.

January/February to June/July and Ketchup On Pancakes is back on the podcast scene.

Episode 5 – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going) (Year of the Roooooster) – Ketchup On Pancakes

Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.

This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.

Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.

Give us a like.

I’m thankful for “The Elsewhere Region,” also known as the local library’s writing group I attend – for many starts to possible stories.

Without this group, I wouldn’t have a started story twice a month or so to possibly shape into an entry, like those I’ve been submitting lately.

I began going to this group to work on more fiction. Otherwise, I lean toward more nonfiction and memoir. That is great too, but this balances out the all too real.

I start a story, never knowing where it might lead. I have many I started and haven’t gone back to, but sometimes, an idea catches on and leads to more.

I am thankful for messy conversations being had.

Inside Messy Conversations About Race – NPR

My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.

Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.

I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.

I do feel lucky to live here. I do.

All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.

Shamaya – Susan Aglukark

I’m thankful for Canadian music, artists, and the history of a country like that from which I live and learn from.

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A Response to Jia Tolentino’s “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over”

This response is directly on point.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zoeBy Zoë Bossiere

A couple of weeks ago, a piece by Jia Tolentino came out in The New Yorker called “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over.” The title alone was enough to deluge social media feeds with writers stepping forward to defend the vitality of the personal essay in spite of the article’s assertions, or otherwise agreeing with Tolentino that the personal essay is, in fact, “dead.” The only problem is, the article isn’t actually about what we writers know as the personal essay at all, but rather a separate subgenre of nonfiction called the “confessional essay.” If we want to get even more specific, Tolentino’s article is talking specifically of the confessional essays typically printed in online “women’s” publications such as xoJane, Jezebel, Salon, and others. To compare the personal and the confessional is a common false equivalence, and a great underestimation of all that first-person nonfiction writing encompasses.

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TToT: Hum Bucker Splitting Push Pull Pots – Go Pretenders and Sluggers, GO! #Baseball #ChrisCornell #RIP #10Thankful

Most recently, on The Handmaid’s Tale, a line is spoken that captures how it is:

“We only wanted to make things better. Better never means better for everyone.”

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So true.

Oblivion – Grimes

It’s a two-in-one edition of the TToT this week, as last week I allowed my mood and a bad sun burn on both arms to dictate my lack of a post.

stTLdua.jpg

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for an unexpected email.

The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.

I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.

Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.

I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.

We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.

I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.

I hope there are many more still to come.

I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.

My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.

My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.

Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.

I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.

He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.

I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.

Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.

I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.

I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.

I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.

She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.

She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.

I’m thankful for a family day.

5t4Gub3.jpg

We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.

My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.

We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.

It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.

We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.

fBySvm4.jpg

The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.

I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.

whole front porch
bBWr38x.jpg

We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.

As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.

—The Daily Show

Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.

But check this out.

Roller Coaster Story

Grandma is always the wise one.

Into You – Ariana Grande

RIP to all who have been lost in the last few weeks.

I’m always thankful for life.

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Deep Breaths #SoCS

My mom cuts down the purple lilacs from up high and offers some to my new neighbour. She thinks to replenish a vase with fresh flowers when the previous ones begin to wilt. On my living room coffee table there sits a bunch of those purple lilacs and I bend down to touch the leaves and the petals. I detect their scent. The smell of those flowers is a sweet smell I don’t tire of.

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Something smells rotten throughout Canada’s closest neighbour and ally and many want to rid the country of what’s causing it, or should I say whom. Is there something fishy going on? Others love the smell they detect in the air and want to keep that going.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

There is a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, as of this final weekend in May. Many say it is a bad choice and will likely give another win to Justin Trudeau in the next federal election. Who can possibly say which way things will go by then. I notice the air in Canada smells more of fragrant lilacs though and less of a stench is what you smell here. Our politics gets rough sometimes, but there is a certain politeness that never lifts, as Canadians. We aren’t quite as divided along party lines as our neighbours to the south. I hope it stays that way.

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TToT: Speaker of Latin, Scratcher of Words #10Thankful

I am currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale and in the latest episode the poor handmaid is locked in her room as a punishment for not reproducing. She spends time on the floor of her closet, as she slowly loses her grip on reality, and finds a line written in Latin, carved in the wall: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my back yard.

For a yard in town, it is a nice size. When we bought the house, there was no place to sit and enjoy it, until we had a deck built and a door out onto it. This was a few years into living in the house.

Now I can sit out there and enjoy the weather, if I don’t feel like the noise I get from sitting out on my front porch. I kept a BBQ from a past relationship and we are having a family gathering out there soon, to celebrate My sister’s birthday, among other things.

It’s perfect, with lots of space for the kids to run around back there.

I’m thankful I could help my sister out.

She was invited to a Mother’s Day tea at my nephew’s school. She could have brought my baby niece along, but it was nice I could stay home with her, so my sister and nephew could have a nice morning together with the rest of his class, without any of the distractions a three-month-old might cause, as cute as she is.

I got my niece to nap as soon as my sister left, but it was a close call to keep her sleeping, with my dog who likes to bark right there and the cardinal who likes to bang against the glass of my sister’s patio door because he sees his reflection and doesn’t understand what that means.

Luckily, my niece was just that tired.

I’m thankful to know that my brother has a friend who is looking out for him.

He messaged me one night, asking if I’d heard from my brother that day. I had and knew he had gone out for the night.

None of us knows when another seizure could strike, so it’s just nice to know he’s being thought of.

It makes me feel better and I thought it was just a nice thing for a friend to do.

I’m thankful to have been interviewed for my friend’s podcast.

You can check it out here.

I am thankful for a phone call on Mother’s Day.

I am not a mother and I don’t know if there is a day for us aunts.

I was on my way to see my nephew and his parents for dinner, when I received a phone call as I was getting dressed and ready to go.

At first I heard no voice speaking, but I did hear a background I guessed right away. Then, a little voice spoke to me.

My nephew was calling. His father told me after that he just said he wanted to call me. I don’t receive a call on Mother’s Day usually, but I like to think my nephew could sense that and was calling to lift my spirits.

Sure, he mostly asked about my dog, whom he usually loves, but I prefer to think of it that other way.

I am thankful for my mother and all the warm and wonderful mothers out there.

Mother, May I?

I’m thankful for my mother’s help when my television goes silent on me.

These days, it’s not just a television. Then you have the cable box and the surround system speakers and DVD and I can’t possibly use all of these with only one remote.

A lot is visual about it and when one wrong button is pressed or if you don’t aim straight at the cable box when you turn it on, all hell breaks loose. I guess it’s too much for a blind girl to be able to figure it all out, use it without running to her mother every week.

Luckily, she helps, no matter how often I request it.

I’m thankful for a delicious Mother’s Day meal.

It’s BBQ season and everything tastes better cooked that way. One of my favourite parts of warmer weather.

My mom also made a taco salad for the occasion, because she wants to bring something. It was a meal in itself.

My brother-in-law and nephew made the cupcakes for dessert.

I’m thankful we don’t live in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I am completely creeped out by this series, but this week I just had to mention that Latin bit.

Everyone keeps comparing the story to today’s times, or where we could be heading, even though we like to think of women’s rights as improving a lot in the past one hundred years.

I do hope we never do go as far as they have gone in Atwood’s story, but you never know. I do feel better to watch, with curiosity and horror, and then go back to my real life and feel how lucky I have it, to be as free as I am.

This story should be a lesson for us all, but it is scary when I think that there are a number of people who might want some of these Handmaid story elements to be true.

There is some mention, by some of the repressors, of the UN and Toronto Star. Is Canada still free, but the US is the one so messed up? It’s strange, as Atwood is a Canadian writer. I wonder why she set it like that.

I’m thankful my violin teacher is back.

It has been almost a whole month, since she went on her trip to South America, teaching violin. I am happy for her, that she got such an opportunity, but my violin playing has stalled as I’ve been on my own with it.

We will see what we get out of that. Though, after I was in Mexico, upon returning my skills weren’t as badly effected as I’d feared they would be. (Update next week.)

Not letting the bastards grind me down…a work-in-progress.

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