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Lay Down Your Weapons #RemembranceDay #SoCS

I am trying to write about war.

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On this November 11th, I try to put myself in the place of, say, my grandmother. She lived through World War II and yet I feel like I never even scratched the surface with her. She spoke of that time in her life, more than most, but yet not nearly enough.

I am trying to get down the words, at least a beginning to what could become a novel some day. November is not only Remembrance Day, but it is also National Novel Writing Month and, at this rate, I am not likely to make the fifty thousand words that is the ultimate goal.

I have a near stroke when I think of the setting I want my story to have. I worried that this piece of writing required too much research. NaNoWriMo isn’t supposed to be about doing research. That comes later. Just write.

In a way though, I feel I’ve kind of being doing my own form of research, for many years. I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, most especially World War I and II and the 20th century. I’ve watched documentaries and read up on lived accounts of those years. Still, as much of an empath as I feel I am, it is hard to put myself in that place.

How would it feel to be living during World War I or World War II anyway?

I listen to true and up close accounts of soldiers, in the trenches, between 1914 and 1918 and the rats and the mud and the stench of death all around you.

I’ve listened hard to personal accounts in interviews, Jews and other victims of the carnage. I am writing a story about a woman, her mother, and trying to raise three young children/grandchildren during such days. I am trying to put myself in their shoes. That seems, though I am a human too, to be a difficult task, a goal, one I am fighting hard to reach.

I love my country, am happy to be Canadian, but I am no patriot. I wish political parties and affiliations didn’t exist. On a day like November 11th, I don’t glorify war, just like I don’t glorify it any other day of the year. My goal, in learning about it and writing about it, is to try and make it not repeat itself, like I have that power.

All the talk of bravery gets to me. Of course, it would be scary to be caught in a war, but to make the decision to go and fight in one is different altogether.

I feel like I am being disrespectful. I know it’s a sacrifice to risk losing a leg, an arm, or one’s life to war. I speak the truth of it, but what it is is ugly and awful and, I believe, unnecessary.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today, one that very nearly brought me to tears, about how we’re all one, all family, every one of us. We are from different countries, continents, cultures, and races certainly. Some say this makes us different in ways that cannot be altered. Others sing those songs of coming together as one, in humanity.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS (Remembrance Day Edition)

I wish walls were never built and lines never crossed in anger. I am not in control of most of this. Losing limbs seems, to some, to be a possible price to pay for freedom and democracy. I just want to write about war. I don’t want to see any more. People say, when it comes to us imperfect and often boastful humans, that will never be the case.

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TToT: Words Don’t Make The Rain Go – And So Forth, #10Thankful

“No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”

Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie dead at 53 – Toronto Star

A man who was never widely known outside of Canada for his musical abilities is now gone. Maybe, though, he was meant never to have worldwide fame, but instead to be Canada’s musician and to do what he did, to speak powerfully about how we’ve treated Indigenous people in this country, Indigenous youth for more than a century.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful Canada has a leader who can show emotion.

A friend died, a fellow Canadian, and I know people still thought it silly that Justin Trudeau became emotional.

Why not?

He is human, isn’t afraid or so unfeeling and dead inside as to let his emotions out, and I will take that over other options, in other countries, right now and any day.

I am thankful for a comforting and hopeful yet bittersweet mid week medical appointment.

I felt a true disappointment when I realized she was coming to the end of what she, herself, could do to help me.

She is one of the best physicians I’ve ever seen and that is not always so easy to find. She did her best for me and I could sense she felt truly bad that I wasn’t feeling better from any of her treatment ideas. Again, hard to find, feel from some doctors.

So, she is always open to seeing me, if I ever need something, but has given me suggestions for what to try next and where to go.

I really did feel sad when I left her office this time. I guess that is a sign I’ve seen too many doctors in my life.

I am thankful for the ability to go into my local bank and deposit a cheque I earned all by myself, into my account.

This shouldn’t be such a big deal for someone my age, but it is.

That’s just the honest to God truth of it. More where that came from, but my fear is always there that it won’t last.

The pressure now feels compounded, though still thankful, this week anyway.

I am thankful for a writing group evening that started out moodily and ended wonderfully.

I must have been in a bit of a mood, myself, but the personalities of the writers in that room soon brought me out of my funk.

That’s why I go. Sure, it’s nice to write and hear some good old stories, but it’s those minds where the ideas for said stories come from that I am most grateful for, why I keep on going back.

I am thankful I was able to keep up with my first evening of secretarial duties.

We had our first official meeting of Ontario’s chapter of Canada Federation of the Blind.

I wanted an app to record the conference call, but I couldn’t be sure any were accessible and so I took notes. I did better with that than I thought I would.

We have multiple issues I feel are important enough to take on and hopefully tackle, to make even a slight difference.

I may never have a child to leave behind, but I do want to leave behind something. Maybe I can make a difference somehow.

I am thankful for a day of rejection and acceptance.

I pitched to two places. One came back thrilled for me to tell my story and the other had to pass.

I had a feeling on the second one and it hurt at first, but what I have to say isn’t right for every place. It might be the wrong time, though I would like to write about being a woman who may never have a child, not because I don’t want one, but for several different factors.

This writing journey brings both acceptances and rejections, and from what I’ve heard and read, it isn’t always about the writing. Sometimes it’s timing or luck. I’ve been very lucky this year so far.

I do like the lessons I am learning, over and over again, and I hope that sting of rejection will continue to happen and teach me that it isn’t the end of the world and that maybe something else can come along another date and time.

I am thankful for a lovely dinner with family and friends.

My mom went to a lot of work to make everything look nice. She is a lovely hostess. She put coloured peppers in the chicken. She baked a new fluffy casserole recipe for the yams. She put time and attention into welcoming a new friend into her home.

We all had a lot of fun and laughs.

I am thankful for wine.

And the wine I had with the evening didn’t hurt any either. It was nice to be able to wind down, at the end of a busy week, wind down with wine.

I am thankful for a short walk for mail.

I still haven’t been sleeping well and I needed a brief Saturday morning walk in the sunshine, with my neighbour, down the street to the mailboxes.

It was a beautiful morning and I came home refreshed and fully awake for the day.

On a day like that, it isn’t so bad that my mail doesn’t come right outside my door anymore.

I am thankful for the attention a dying man brought to what Canada’s next 150 years should look like.

Gord Downie cared about his country and knew he was leaving it and leaving this life. He wanted to take a step toward bringing us all together before he went.

I watched the live broadcast of the concert he put on a year before his death. It is a sad story, what happened to this one boy and so many other boys and girls and their parents and families for so long.

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans (READ THIS)

Different circumstances of course, but I see it as Chanie Wenjack was a symbol of so many other children here in Canada being forcibly removed and reprogrammed, just like Anne Frank went on, after her death, to symbolize all the children during the Holocaust in Europe during World War II.

I can easily imagine being taken from my home and forced into residential school. What a scary thing, especially if forced to speak another language and be separated from everyone and everything you know and love.

What were Canada’s governments and churches thinking?

RIP Gord, (1964-2017)

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Blue and Green, #SongLyricSunday

Music, as a rule and in general, brings me loads of peace.

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Choosing just one song about peace for
Song Lyric Sunday
wasn’t so easy, but here’s the one I finally decided on:

I like to think of the planet from a distance because all you’d see was green and blue and nothing else.

In my own mind, I imagine a row of every human on the planet that is walking (hand in hand) all around the globe, in peaceful silence.

***

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.

God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man.
It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.This is the song of every man.

And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.

God is watching us from a distance.

LYRICS

***

All the things Bette Midler sings about are the things you can’t see from far off, these are things like disease, violence, and weapons.

I simply cannot fathom all the hatred and violence that we humans engage in. Music brings me peace. I wish peace were just that simple, as simple as the music this Song Lyric Sunday is made of.

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TToT: “Threw the Tears Unseen” – Diamond Dust, #10Thankful

“We should continue all the time to look out for those who have less, to stand for those who can’t, to reach out across differences, to use our land intelligently, to open our borders and welcome those who seek harbour, and never, ever cease to be curious, ask questions and to explore and search.”

—Julie Payette, Canada’s 29th Governor-General

I may try to keep this short and sweet again, with all the nonsense and horrors happening lately. Sometimes, when I am feeling tense I write a lot and sometimes I don’t. This week, I don’t.

Tom Petty’s song is about perseverance. He says it all already. I am determined to be thankful, but I’d rather let Petty and Payette say what I am thinking. They do it so well.

I am feeling the weight of the world, but I won’t give in to that feeling for long. Promise.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful the heat wave from last week finally broke and fall has taken its place.

Today is back up a bit, but tolerable. I am loving the fresher air I’ve been smelling, even if I was already complaining about being cold.

Yeah, I know I know, but that’s just how it goes. I am still grateful my favourite season has arrived.

I am thankful for a good idea for something special.

I am bad at birthday gifts and things most of the time. I owe my cousin for the idea for something meaningful for my mom’s upcoming 60th.

More to come on this next week.

I am thankful for my new darker hair colour.

Also, pic coming next week.

I am thankful for one opportunity that leads to the next and the next and so on.

This is true with my writing and in every area of life really.

It’s what makes life exciting and such an adventure, that you never really know what could be coming, on the horizon.

I am thankful I got through writing the rough draft.

I really really stressed myself out for this piece. I worried I’d taken on something I wasn’t actually ready for and I began to panic that I couldn’t do it.

I even started to think that the writing was the hardest part, but I don’t honestly think that:
This is
the hardest part.

I did it and now I wait to hear from those who will edit it. I can relax, for the moment, but this is the kind of challenge I know will make me stronger, and hopefully, a better writer.

I’m thankful Canada has a new Governor General.

“Reconciliation must succeed,” Julie Payette says as new Governor-General

She speaks six languages, plays the piano, and has been to space.

She is the kind of intelligent and capable person we need and I am grateful to live in Canada and to learn about her and have her as a voice for the country.

I am thankful nobody was killed thanks to a madman who attempted a terrorist attack, it is believed, out west in Edmonton, Alberta.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/terrorism-charges-edmonton-attacks-1.4316450

He has been arrested and has been charged. There are no official terrorism charges at this time, so I don’t really know. If he was trying to terrorize people with his car and with a knife, it worked, but not for long.

I do hope Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada won’t let this guy win and won’t turn on each other. We remain much stronger if we fight that human instinct and choose the human instinct to come together.

I am thankful guns aren’t everywhere here.

I won’t share a link just now, though I am sure it isn’t hard to know what story I was thinking of here, because I have seen enough of those already.

Oh, wait…I found one. Take a look.

Again, I am glad to live here and only want the best for my US friends and the country that we share our border with.

I am thankful for desolate places.

The second instalment of the BBC’s Planet Earth series is out on Netflix.

With all the chaos we humans create, it is nice to hear about and imagine such places, out there somewhere, still untouched.

I hope this continues, somehow.

I’m thankful for a song introduction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jweT1wzqYGU

Free fall. Speaking of falling…free falling.

RIP Tom

“And for a long time yet, led by some wondrous power, I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.”

—Nicolai Gogol, “Dead Souls” (1842)

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TToT: Stormy Skies Over Soft Summer Sunlight – Where’s the yellow? #10Thankful

“Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

—The Little Prince

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I like alliteration in my titles and I like this time of year. I am busy during the days and try not to think too much, about those things that keep me up at night.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful my family and I are safe and far from natural disasters and that my friends are safe too.

Here in Ontario we get tornados sometimes, but we aren’t out west where the fires are, nor are we by the coast where the flooding happens.

Then I woke to the notification of a strong earthquake in Mexico and I feared for my friends living there.

Mexico is big enough that those I care about weren’t touched, but these natural disasters seem to be everywhere lately.

Just not here. Our weather has been beautiful, if not a little cool for this time of year, but I am loving it.

I’m thankful for such a fun and energizing writing group.

A pack of three crayons (red/blue/green) were brought in for the mystery object, those packs you find at a restaurant, to keep the kids entertained. Well, I love crayons, but many of us in the group wondered and commented on the lack of a yellow crayon.

Our group was larger than usual and I liked the energy each person added. I was entirely entertained, myself, by everyone in that room.

The stories were diverse and all about crayons. Ah, the life of a crayon.

There were two new people there and they were both J names. This, somehow, had its own influence on someone’s story. I hope they both come back.

I’m thankful my brother had his adventure and made it safely home from Iceland.

I’m thankful he returned to his radio show.

He is getting better and more comfortable, every time he does it.

I’m thankful for a another Saturday family day.

The guys went to a baseball game and us girls and Max stayed home.

There were family photos taken out in the back yard.

I’m thankful Saturday family day spilled over to Sunday.

It was a lovely afternoon spent sitting in a circle in the yard, with beers, wine, and snacks.

My family are some of the most interesting people I know.

I’m thankful a piece I’ve been working on (from pitch to publication) is finally out, starting all the way back last May.

Lost, and Then Found Once More: On Traveling Alone without Sight – Catapult

Read to the end and the part about the drumsticks.

This is a prelude to my audio piece for SiriusXM.

I’m thankful for two more “acceptances” and for the fear that’s accompanying both.

I wasn’t expecting it, in a way, and I am back to square one. I must come up with a piece of writing that they will want to publish. I worry about not coming up with anything and instead letting them and myself down.

The excitement is there too though. I am honoured, after ending last week with a rejection email to a pitch, to hear anything at all to start off a new one.

I’m thankful to have an available store full of food to shop in.

As I meandered through the isles, the shelves, and the freezer section and prepared foods, I know not everyone has such choice right there in front of them. It felt like a lot, but it is an abundance I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for pumpkin spiced latte.

Enough said.

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Best Possible Advice, #ChronicPain #SongLyricSunday

Breathe, Kerry. Breathe.

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Chronic Pain Awareness Week is about to begin and so I thought this the perfect time to speak about it.

I will use Song Lyric Sunday and Helen’s prompt about breathing to do it.

Singer Ingrid Michaelson had a few songs that helped me through a bad breakup and things, but this one helps to remind me of how to cope, with both emotional and physical pain.

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

It’s a good one for after a breakup, for a stressful day, physical pain, or even for people living through an awful natural disaster like a wildfire or flood, anything any one of us can’t control.

Deep breathing…I am not the first to think of it and either is Michaelson.

It’s a yoga practice. It’s a coping mechanism. I don’t speak a lot about the pain I live with on a daily basis to most people. There’s a stigma to chronic pain that is hard to deal with, almost as painful as the pain itself. If I mention it, people can’t fully comprehend and many human beings feel the common need to problem solve or judge, even unintentionally.

Do I drink enough water? Do I get enough sleep? Do I get enough fresh air, sunshine, or exercise?

Am I depressed? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?

***

The storm is coming
but I don’t mind
People are dying,
I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing, now

I want to change the world
Instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more
than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

LYRICS

***

The song starts with a few lines of lyrics about more than just any one kind of physical pain. It also serves as a reminder that we all feel helpless about the things we see going on in the world and want to help. The helplessness I feel about so many of the world’s ills, human suffering, injustices, all that on top of the physical pain I live with every day and it’s enough to make me want to close my blinds and sleep through life, but I only allow myself a day or two of that before I must do something different.

Then the song repeats the simple advice to “keep breathing” and the song is correct – all any of us can do is that. I remind myself of it, at least twenty times a day or more. I tell myself to remember to do it when the stress becomes too much to handle in any given moment, when even thinking about others feels like an impossibility because being me is hard enough.

As the lyrics “all we can do is keep breathing” repeat, the song builds to a climactic point and then returns to where it started.

That’s pain of all kinds. That’s life.

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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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