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Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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Happy 33 To Me, #FTSF

Twenty years ago, on this date, I spent my 13th birthday on dialysis, hooked up to a machine by an extremely fresh and painfully inserted central line in my chest.

So the nurses, me being the only child in a ward of mostly elderly patients, felt bad for the small girl on dialysis and they gave me a little birthday cake and all sang Happy Birthday to me.

How else do you make a small girl less upset to be stuck on kidney dialysis for her birthday, her first day as a teenager?

You present her with something sweet, that’s how.

It’s all relative. What made me upset then isn’t the same thing making me upset now, as a newly turned thirty-three-year-old.

I hadn’t even heard of him then…anyone by the name of…well, I’m not using the name on this blog from now on I’ve decided, even though in Harry Potter it says we should never shy away from using the name.

I am not afraid. Okay, well afraid for the world, sure, but I am more sad, enraged, frustrated, upset at where a lot of things currently are.

The other day, when I heard one of many in a string of a long line of blatant lies, it resulted in me giving myself a headache. These lies are going so far from the usual “all politicians lie lies” and into those that feel like they are so in-your-face that it almost feels like, when I hear them, they literally smack me in the face. So, I tried to act this out and my hand actually made physical contact with my own cheek.

I know, I know…ridiculous, right?

Upsetting, to be sure, but certainly not worth all that. Getting too upset in the moment means I don’t articulate myself all that well, for a writer, kind of like tonight apparently. I suppose it illustrates the theme of being upset rather nicely though.

Anyway…

I am celebrating twenty years of not having to spend birthdays or any other day tied to a dialysis machine. I am making big plans to celebrate that fact, come June. This is shaping up to be quite the thrill.

As for my birthday, people keep asking me how it’s been, how it’s going, and if I’ve had a good one. I try to answer, but how can I top the week I just spent in Mexico?

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some

I can’t and I’m not even trying to. Different thing.

My birthday present from family and from myself was that trip. This day can’t quite live up to that and I could now go on to list the specific reasons why it hasn’t, or I could just say I’m upset I’m no longer in Mexico. I could just leave it here, but it’s late and I am in need of sleep and I am trying to sort out how turning another year older makes me feel. So, I will go on, at least a little more.

As I stare out at a restaurant, one where I am celebrating my birthday by having a lovely lunch with my father, I see a lot of blurry space in front of my eyes, mixed with the constant noise of a loud lunchtime crowd. These things feed into each other and I wonder if I will still see anything at all, upon turning thirty-four next year or on turning forty-three in ten years time. Will I sill see anything at all, on any number of future birthday celebrations in my future?

When I get upset about these thoughts, these very questions that are asked, without much prompting inside my own head, I try to remember everything I’ve been lucky to see and all the brilliant living I’ve still got yet to do.

I get really upset by a birthday where I go to give blood and I leave with a bandage on each arm because veins were hard to come by, but a needle now and then is nothing compared to what once was.

After twenty years of needles for a lot of blood tests, there’s scar tissue in both arms and I didn’t drink enough before going in. It’s not the nurse’s fault. I was distracted, but it didn’t hurt, not by this point.

I then decided, since I was already in the building, to stop in at an adjoining medical office, which just so happens to be my dentist’s office, to make an appointment for a routine teeth cleaning. I’m long overdue. The only thing more celebratory than making a dentist appointment on one’s birthday will be the romance of a Valentine’s Day oral checkup, right?

I wished for something rather odd this year. It’s not the first thing I’d think of when blowing out candles, but I did wish that, if I were going to get one of my common colds, thanks to my somewhat lowered immune system, I’d rather get it on my birthday than having had it occur at any point while I was in Mexico.

It’s seemed, on the eve of my birthday, that I had gotten my wish.

And now, am I upset that I have a sore throat and other symptoms ongoing on my birthday, with a lively family triple celebration still to come tomorrow? It’s not so nice, but my week in Mexico was all pretty nearly perfect, so I am okay with it really.

I took a break all day, making it a point not to read Facebook and my newsfeed for my birthday, if it meant I could avoid all stories about the U.S. so-called president and whatever nonsense he was up to on the day of my birth. I did use Facebook to feel the birthday love from friends and family though. One makes me upset when I read and the other makes me smile.

When I’m upset, I think of all the things I have to be thankful for. When I feel upset because I am back from such a week of writing in Mexico and I worry I will never figure out my future, I remember the generous compliments about my talents as a writer that I received from my writing mentor and from the other writers in the group. I may have felt a fair bit of fear and uncertainty since I arrived home, but I can’t put so much pressure on myself, on my own birthday no less, to figure it out right away.

When I am upset about so many things I can’t control, things the world feels like it’s getting all wrong, I think of so much that has gone right for me lately and I listen to the things being said to me by people I love and trust and who know me and who think I’m special in some way.

I don’t let those who don’t know I exist speak nasty things to me inside my own head. I can’t control all those awful things that cause me upset and I can often do very little about seeing those I love or admire become upset either. I can offer a kind word or a compliment or a joke to break the tension. I can write, no matter how pointless it might seem in the moment of despair or cheerlessness.

Another birthday has come and gone. I can’t say where I’ll be, what I’ll have just experienced or accomplished by my next birthday. I can fight feeling upset. I can acknowledge it and then I can move forward.

Finish The Sentence Friday

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy thirty-three! Happy Birthday to me!

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Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

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I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

Matthew Wright

I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world.

Academic values demand that the INTRUDER must be UTTERLY DESTROYED! Academic values demand that ANY WHO DISAGREE with what WE DEMAND must be UTTERLY DESTROYED!

In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively.

I was wrong. The mood on campus was one of affronted anger, driven by a small but noisy part of the student community. Their indignance was directed at the world in general; but in practise their rage was always vented on the people in front of them. They were relentlessly ‘against’, never ‘for’. Alas, the causes they chose to ‘fight back’ against were social trends, so they had about as much chance of succeeding as of holding back the tide with a toothpick…

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The Struggle Is Real, #JusJoJan

Perspective is important.

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Perspective is important and being a writer helps me find some.

I used to stare at the coloured fish, swimming around the long rows of tanks at the pet store. I wondered what they were thinking, through that glass. I still wonder, though I can no longer spot them.

Did we hold the power, us who looked at them through the glass and from our positions in the world outside?

Or did they hold their own kind of silent power, somewhere in there?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Why do I bother to write at all?

Do words really hold a kind of silent power?

Or any power at all?

But I continue to write because it gives me a sense of power in a world where I feel mostly powerless.

Who really has the power and what were they willing to do, who were they willing to become, to get it?

You have the power! Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

Hosted, once more,
by No Facilities.

I jot things down anyway, so sometimes I am doing it here. One of these days I should share the to-do list I am working with for this most special first month of the new year. I believe that is allowed, if I read the rules correctly.

Today’s prompt came from this blog right here.

I hope I can soon have a week away from the temptation of time to check social media, to listen to the news on television. I hope to have no time to think about what might be going on between myself and the place I call home – Canada.

I hope I may soon find myself so busy trying new things that there is no time for everything that worries me.

Power to run one’s own life is the good kind of power. Any power over others can become dangerous, but we all have power over someone else, in a great number of ways, at one time or another.

I want to be free of the ways in which I may feel someone holds some power over me. I am doing this by focusing on myself.

I want to take back my own power. I don’t want to hold that power over anyone else.

I do worry that Canada and Justin Trudeau will be negatively influenced by the country which has always had more power on the world stage.

If my country has or has had power, it would be a less obvious power, one most people would refute. Maybe we will have the chance to show what we are made of here soon. Or, maybe we will be squashed by our close physical placement. If one country sinks under the weight of tearing itself apart, how long can Canada stay afloat on its own? Maybe we would become an island for the drowning and how long could that possibly last?

In certain situations, like on the school playground, the stronger, the one with all the real wisdom, is actually said to be the bullied. The bully is said to be the weak one. I know this in my heart. The world does not recognize this as a whole. We lecture our children that it’s wrong to bully, but we don’t model that belief.

Bravado is what makes noise and waves a lot of the time, but the really powerful waves come from those who feel oppressed, little, or unheard.

Who holds the power, really?

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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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Heedless, #Travel #History #Canada150 #JusJoJan

So here we are.

Just Jot It January is back!

Though I am starting my #JusJoJan a little late this year, but really, what else is new?

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Today it’s brought to you by:

No Facilities

I rang in 2017 in the best way possible. I had a great 2016 personally. I have high hopes for the coming months…personally.

But, of course, the warnings are out there, as ever and as always.

There have been warnings to not get too far ahead of myself with the guy soon to be US leader.

In 2016 I wrote about my fears and the bad feeling I had several times and this hasn’t changed, even grown somewhat, but I can’t stop it all. If I had my way, things wouldn’t feel quite so grim, but my own deeds and heeding of people’s warnings is where I have some semblance of control. Perhaps they have a point. Who knows.

Who am I to say?

I have chosen not to say his name on my blog, this so-called “leader”, if I can help it. In the Harry Potter books, I do recall there being something about “a fear of the name only increasing fear of the thing itself”. –
*clears throat*
Or something like that.
Well, I can’t help it if I am worried about the state of our world at the moment, but if there is any small possibility the attention I’ve brought to it could ever be contributing, even so slightly to the situation we’re now in and the direction things could be headed, I choose to focus on what’s good and gentle and positive in this world going forward.

There are some warnings I will heed and other ones I can’t promise I always will.

We are warned about travel, with all the terrorist attacks across the world these days. People may be more afraid than ever to venture out, but I can’t let that stop me in my tracks or I might not get started back up again.

Whatever history may have wrought, the future does not need to reflect that. We here in Canada can choose acceptance and inclusiveness over rejection caused by fear and misinformation when a fellow human being needs a little help. I wish to believe all the warnings some continue to offer up about refugees are being blown out of proportion, that human decency is universal and does not belong to one religion or part of the world with any exclusive right of ownership.

I’ve received warnings all my life, but in other ways my unique situation has allowed me to take my own chances on things, often years later than many others, but still I eventually get there.

It’s vital that we do pay attention, now more than ever, to the warnings we receive. There are precautions we can take, but I am determined to take the leap, to not let fear rule me anymore, not until absolutely necessary.

Take a chance and explore a new place, speak to someone new. Who knows. You might not end up regretting it. You might even learn something new, something you’d never considered before.

I might … I’m telling this very thing to myself as I take a giant step into the unknown of this new year in progress.

I am not so lost as I was last year at this moment. My future is just as wide open and undefined, but I don’t nearly feel as frozen in one spot by it all.

I won’t be clinging on quite so tightly to my blog and this month-long blogging exercise this time around, rather dropping in on certain days throughout January, just to check in. It is still an excellent way to discover other writers and their blogs. That is why I will be back. My month is simply a lot more booked up than it was last year.

I wish for us all to be vigilant when necessary, to heed warnings when we must, but to be mindful that too many warnings will paralyze us all.

Do not be afraid to live a little. I don’t intend to be. Perhaps, for certain reasons this year might appear to bring with it a sense of recklessness in my life, but I choose to take a more positive view of my 2017 year.

One for the books.

Right Canada?

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