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TToT: Living The Life We Want – So Slam That! #NFB18 #10Thankful

It was my first Independence Day in the US (independence being the key word there) and I had an unexpected and unpredicted time away. I owe it all to the CFB, sponsoring me to see what the US’s national convention is all about.

The difference between what exists in the US and what we’ve got here in Canada was hard to miss while I was in Florida all week.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful to be representing Ontario in this national magazine.

July 2018 Issue of The Blind Canadian

I’m thankful for this travel agent.

ANITA PATON – THE TRAVEL AGENT NEXT DOOR

She’s awesome!

I’m thankful for UPS volunteers.

It is a convention, held once a year, and this one had nearly 2500 attendees who used a white cane or a guide dog. All of us were trying to get the hang of a large hotel and conference/convention centre and having UPS volunteers around, to give us a bit of direction now and then was a big big help.

I was so overwhelmed, my first time attending, that sometimes I’d get panicky and have to stop and take a few deep breaths and refocus. I could continue on from there.

I’m thankful for the experience at this convention because it fostered further confidence and independence.

Convention 2018 Agenda

I’m thankful I got to meet a friend, in person finally, whom I’d been speaking with for years online.

He was great to talk to in person. Thanks, Timothy, for the coffee and the dinner and the company. You brought a bit of calm in the storm that that week felt like at times, so wound up, rushing on all around me.

I’m thankful for a still night on a closed pool deck.

Florida was so muggy that I didn’t mind getting to spend almost all my time in freezing cold convention halls. It was not so bad though, when the sun was down.

I’m thankful I didn’t have to change into my dress in a restroom stall.

I had to get it right, being back in the States and in Florida again (my fourth time) that they there were referring to washrooms as restrooms.

We had the banquet on our final night there and I didn’t want to have my dress on all day, through the final business hours. We weren’t staying on site, so I could have gone back to change at some point, but really there just wasn’t time.

So, thankfully, the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
president generously granted me her room and better bathroom to change in.

I’m thankful for a final, early morning solo swim.

We’d been so busy, all week long, that I finally had to wake up earlier than everyone, on our final morning, and go down as soon as the pool opened, at six.

A security guard had to help me find the door out, from the lobby, but once out I had my pick from the lounge chairs and I used my white cane to get the layout of the pool deck.

My chair was straight out from the bar of the stairs into the pool. Once I was in the water, I slowly made my way around and discovered the shape and the depth.

It was just what I needed and totally worth the waking up so early part.

I’m thankful for an inspiring speech in this room. A table full of fun people. A delicious salad and platter of desserts.

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I’m thankful for a flight, gone by too fast.

Life’s full of metaphors, including lift off and landing, and living in the moment are all important.

Here’s to living the life you/we want.

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TToT: Yes, I Really Really Care – Do You? #AccessibleCanadaAct #10Thankful

I care. It’s right there, in my name (Kerry) if you listen carefully.

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A lot of wonderful things can happen in twenty-one years time. Right Mya?

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a smooth appointment to mark my twenty-one years.

My creatinine was up over 80 last time, but it’s right back down to 76 and I can’t argue with that.

My potassium seems to be up some, but we’re retesting, to be sure. Strange, but it could be worse.

I’m thankful for once a year.

I was told I can cut back, from twice-a-year visits to the kidney clinic, to now once only, with the other being for only checking my blood.

What is better, after more than twenty years, is that my brother was told the same thing and he’s only now coming up to five years with his kidney, second one for him.

I’m thankful for a wonderful local resource for women in my community.

Women’s Employment Resource Centre (WERC)

From my first call to inquire, to my first intake visit and subsequent ones, I’ve felt welcomed and have been offered wonderful assistance. I am glad I went for it.

I’m thankful for help with my first resume and cover letter, from an expert on both.

I feel, I look younger than I am, and I feel as if I am at least ten years behind in other ways too.

Since I’d taken a career preparation class, back in high school, I’d been afraid to take steps to write a resume for myself. I was in my twenties, depressed, and feeling ashamed that I hadn’t done anything to warrant placement on a resume.

I heard about a particular internship and it required a resume, so I went for it. I found some excellent help to create one. I was intimidated by the visual aspects, structure and formatting and things.

I had help, lots of concentrated help, to bring one into existence. I am so pleased with the results.

For months and months, I’ve built more of a list of publications, but interacting with editors over email was all that was required, until now.

I’m thankful for an eye doctor I can trust to give me his honest opinion.

His soft, steady voice has always calmed me, simply by hearing it.

He saw nothing new, both on the tests (ERG) and from looking in my eyes with his brightest of bright lights.

This is a good thing, of course, but the genetic eye condition I have is so rare and the cells are dying out on my retina and it is nearly impossible to spot the slow decline of sight I’m experiencing, leaving me with less and less as the years pass.

Still, even if there are more and more well discovered gene therapies, none are for me at this time. I trust him. I am still scared, but I trust him, and it takes years to show that level of trust.

I’m thankful I heard back from an editor I thought was long gone.

I’ve got contracts now, writer agreements, and so hopefully it’s a go this time.

I’m thankful for progress in Canada.

Minister Duncan introduces the proposed Accessible Canada Act

I am taking steps toward finding work for myself, but things like this take us one step closer to accessibility and equality for things like employment and much more.

I’m thankful for the return of the pease.

I’m thankful for
Lizzi
and
Josie
and the passing of the torch.

I’m thankful for
Kristi of Thankful Me
and her stepping up to host a place for gratitude.

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TToT: Making A Mossy Rock Start To Roll – Blue and Sparkle, #10Thankful

Music, for me, is like life. It illustrates life, the blue and the sparkle of it. I include three songs, throughout this post, and they range from get-up-and-go (high energy) to somber and reflective of the state and weight of the world. But, first, I start with a celebration.

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Happy 39th you guys.

Something to celebrate, to start things off. And, now, on to the thankfuls.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my parents and their example of a solid and rooted life together.

I like to think of them (1979 them) and the parents they were to us (growing up) and now the grandparents they are (so adored).

I’m thankful for the lost and the found.

I thought I’d lost something that is important to me. Thanks, to my mom, for finding it.

I’m thankful my team’s paper on the importance of braille is finally out.

Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Libraries

I’m thankful Canada has this woman representing and working for us.

Chrystia Freeland wants to Fix the Twenty-First Century – The Walrus

I just love that her name is “Freehand” and she is fighting hard, with the US, over the whole NAFTA thing.

Some of us take a free land, our freedom and land, for granted. It’s existence isn’t necessarily guaranteed to last.

Not everyone agrees on NAFTA or tariffs, but I don’t know where this is heading. All I know is that it’s nice to see a strong female leader, here in my country.

I’m thankful I got to play Legos with my nephew.

I always loved those little blocks. I could be an architect and build a structure, a house, with a backyard and fence. It was one way I could create, with my hands, and make something I could touch and feel.

Great creative outlet.

I’m thankful my niece painted my nails, light blue and a sparkle on top.

She is quite the little artist. I love that about her. She chose my colour with careful thought. She is a pro.

I’m thankful I get to listen and have a conversation with them both.

We talk about eating spiders and other things. It’s the best conversation I’ve had in a long time. It’s nice to talk with little people who know nothing about adult issues and don’t care. They don’t follow the news, like I likely didn’t when I was there age, but my niece is entering the third grade this fall. I can remember back when I was that age.

I loved that my nephew showed me his fish and my niece loves to play with my dog because it just doesn’t make sense for them to get one, with their busy lives.

I’m thankful when my niece takes my hand and leads me somewhere.

I’m thankful for side hugs.

I’m thankful for music. And, especially this week, this music.

It speaks to things we’re all going through.

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Up and Up, #SongLyricSunday

I’d say, I am mostly, a closeted Miley Cyrus fan.

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However, I couldn’t resist this metaphor, this week:

I’m not ashamed to admit it. May have even used this one before. Must keep better records of the songs I use, as I soon forget.

***

I can almost see it.
That dream I’m dreaming,
But there’s a voice inside my head saying,
“You’ll never reach it.”
Every step I’m takin’
Every move I make feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin’
But I, I gotta keep tryin’
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down,
But no, I’m not breaking
I may not know it,
But these are the moments
That I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on,
‘Cause…

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb
Yeah

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Keep on movin’
Keep climbin’
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about—it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa, whoa, oh.

LYRICS

***

I am not climbing any actual mountains, not in the near future anyway, but I’ve always loved the symbolism of a mountain, for the uphill struggles of living that it represents.

For this week’s
Song Lyric Sunday,
I wanted to acknowledge
a metaphor
and that struggle.

As this has been a particularly horrible week, for celebrity suicides, I know the struggle of depression and the dark times. It hangs around, as the summer ramps up and up.

I feel the resistance of life. I keep taking one step after another, knowing what my dreams are, but finding it hard (most days) to find enough strength to keep a completely positive face.

Some give up and end it all. Then we flail around, in our attempts to help, even when we realize the lateness of the hour.

Some climb actual mountains. I may prefer the sea, but the mountain does stand for something, as cheesy as that sounds. Like those I came upon during my Yukon visit last year, in my many imaginings that I would start an actual climb up one of them, to possibly reach the the summit and discover what’s on the other side of the struggle.

More struggle, even more. Well damn. *sigh*

I wouldn’t look at a mountain as something that’s simply “in my way,” but more as an obstacle that I must look at as being put there for a reason of its own.

Certainly, and yet – I keep on climbing.

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TToT: The Time of the Ostriches and A Kingdom of Hedges – Red Thunder #10Thankful

“Open your eyes, and see what you can with them, before they close forever.”

—All The Light We Cannot See

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a beautiful day of perfect spring weather.

As I headed toward the hospital, for a medical test, I felt the gentle, pleasant breeze of a mid May day on my cheek.

I wished the test could be done outside, before the day progressed and the temperature warmed any.

I’m thankful for Canada’s medical system, even when I’d rather be anywhere else.

It’s this ERG eye test I had done back in February and, instead of hearing the results a month later, I received a call that I was to come back in. It needed to be repeated, and it wasn’t clear the reason for the order.

So, here I was and I was sitting back in that chair, drops in my eyes, and having to look into the bright light and try not to blink.

I tried to get an answer, from my doctor in the same building, but he was in doing some sort of laser procedure.

I didn’t want to have to go through the discomfort again, if it had been all in error, but I couldn’t find out what the deal was, so I went through it once more.

It causes headaches to have to keep my eyes open in that penetrating brightness. Still, whatever this test shows finally, I am glad to have access to the facilities and the doctors and the equipment that isn’t available everywhere.

I’m thankful for a successful return to my violin lessons, after a bit of a hiatus.

My teacher was finishing up her degree in music and her final solo performance. Then I was off to British Columbia and just having returned.

It isn’t good to be away from the structure and guidance of a lesson, for me, for too long. Yet, I return and am not so far behind with it all as I always fear I’ll be.

I am glad my teacher is patient and helpful. She makes it easier in all its toughness.

I’m thankful for some more global accessibility awareness.

There’s a day for everything, but this one was Global Accessibility Awareness Day and I am writing this on my talking laptop and reading electronic braille.

Hopefully, more of the world is coming to understand about what makes an accessible society, for as many people as possible. That isn’t easy, but just thinking and an effort made is nice to see.

I’m thankful for a little love in the world.

I was up with a bad headache and I was glad to hear about the love that was present at that royal wedding.

It has no bearing on my life, what Harry and Meghan do, but I am glad of a little extra love and I celebrate that. With all the horrors going on in the world, I celebrate this love and light.

I’m thankful for music at weddings, especially this
young cellist.

I’m thankful for the treasure that is my older sister.

She is tough and good humoured. She has created the most beautiful family and I am lucky to be a part of that, in any way.

She is steady and reliably there for me. As sister relationships go, ours has had relatively few bumps, as I hear of all the fighting between grown siblings.

We will always have each other and I hold that truth close.

I’m thankful for a lovely celebration dinner out, by the river, with family.

My mom found a restaurant, in an old building, by a river with toads and such.

We enjoyed a delicious meal and my nephew watched the creatures and critters outside the window as we waited for our food to arrive. He enjoyed finding a toad by the river after we’d eaten.

I’m thankful for the neighbourhood I live in.

For a holiday like Canada celebrating the queen of England who was on the thrown during the formation of the country, there’s always a lot of commotion all around where I live.

I may not always participate fully in the events, but I enjoy hearing it going on around me.

I’m thankful for the sounds of the season (spring) I hear out my window.

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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: Episode 11 – The Earth Tongue Wiggled (feat. Liam & Crystal of Wildlife Gardening) #Podcast #Family #Interview #EarthDay2018

ANNOUNCING: SPECIAL GUESTS!

After nearly two whole years and only ten episodes, we’ve managed to secure an interview with two of the coolest people on the planet. I need to work on my introduction skills a little bit, but these first guests won’t disappoint:

Episode 11-The Earth Tongue Wiggled (feat. Liam & Crystal of Wildlife Gardening)

Speaking of the planet…in this episode:

We speak with the owners of a landscaping and native plant business who truly love the natural world and all growing things.

We learn the story of Ketchup and his wild ways.

We hear of the love story which started with Rock, Paper, Fire.

We learn about the benefits of suet.

We learn what one must do to receive a singing telegram from a gnome, and much much more.

Check out this track (No Sunlight).

These two teach others about the importance of taking care of the environment, from daycare all the way up to seniors.

Wildlife Gardening

Their rule is simple: never make fun of someone else’s food, their music, or their laugh.

Trash Theatre

We could have talked with this couple for hours, but we stopped at two. May sound like a lot, but hit “play” and give this one a listen. I’m certain you will find them as delightful as I do.

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