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Sewing The Seeds, #TearsForFears #Compassion #1000Speak

“Time…to eat all your words…swallow your pride…open your eyes.”

I won’t include a link to TFF’s most well-known song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, because I am sick of power and reckless lack of humanity.

As we show the next generation the way, we need to show them love, but too many of us won’t admit where we went wrong ourselves.

Though, (both love and hate, as movements/floods), can, instead, be seen as seeds sewn in each and every one of us given the right environment for such strong emotions.

Adults, those who are handed the positions of power and leadership, do your job and LEAD!!!

I am tired. I am not thinking all that straight. I just can’t…

I was pulled in two different directions on this night, just after February 20th, and of equal wonder, though firmly rooted in sadness for everything I wish could be different but isn’t.

First, a group of youth from the Jane and Finch area of Toronto were treated to a screening of Black Panther and given the chance to see a black man as superhero for a change.

Then, I heard recording of the students in Florida, one in particular, speaking out on the BS they see from the adults and those running their country.

I wanted to cheer all these kids on, to believe they would be in history books in years to come and for only the best of reasons, that they would see nothing else but positive role models that might show them some hope somewhere along the way.

I have two sets of nieces and nephews: one set currently attends a school in an urban setting, in a highly diverse neighbourhood, in one of the busiest cities in Canada.

My second set (nephew for the moment, but soon both nephew and niece, or soon enough) who go and will go to school, in a rural area. It’s out in the middle of the countryside, where their parent/aunt/uncles went to school once upon a time, long long ago, where we grew up in a highly sheltered setting.

If I thought, ever for one moment truly, that any of them were at risk of having some angry/out-of-control person walk into their classrooms with a dangerous weapon, able to kill like we all saw in Florida last week…

My chest both constricts painfully and threatens to burst at such a notion as this. I can hear the anger and the pain and frustration in the voice of that young woman on the video, speaking up for her friends and classmates and herself.

I know there is anger and it is justified. I just wish she wasn’t left with such anger in the first place. It seems to be pushing a great many young people, those speaking with such poise for the media and the world to hear, and these are young people who were born around the turn of this new century, barely even born when 9/11 occurred.

Now I am forced to contemplate my own loved one’s voice shake with anger like that, if anything were to ever happen so dreadful as all this, and I don’t want to.

February 20th was the 3rd anniversary of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, the blogging event that a bunch of writers created all the way back in 2015 and of which I was moved to join in on at the time.

More regular violence in places like Syria (those poor babies), (in schools/places of worship) but also there have been changes for the better since 2015 – #MeToo and #TimesUp to name a few.

On this anniversary, with so many horrible things/monumental things having taken place in the last three years, I thought I’d write again on the subject of compassion toward ourselves, each other, and the wider world. Today I was inspired to speak about this, using one of my favourite bands and their lyrics to make my point.

And so, another senseless event, and I have nothing to say, but I find words anyway, but perhaps I am just too naive to know any better. I still believe:

The songs I’ve chosen for this post, from Tears For Fears, they make me cry and they make me keep on hoping, shouting my message of compassion, even in my most furious and pained moments.

As for 1000Speak, this blogging movement for compassion did not continue more than a few years, as I sensed many of its original participants found they eventually couldn’t restate the same things anymore, that they had no more to give to it, no more to add. The fatigue sets in and we ask “what’s the point”?

I get it. I mean, after all, who’s really even listening to my thoughts on all this anyway?

Things change and life goes on, I understand, as sad as that made me, and still does. I feel that same way, but I still write. I don’t give up on compassion. I keep saying my piece. I am glad new voices are always being added though.

Children do need to be where we find hope, where we first look to demonstrate our own humanity, as those who should know better, even if some of us never were shown the way ourselves.

Compassion is a seed that must be sewn and sewn again and again and again.

Thank you to all the hard-working gardeners who keep at it, season after season, year upon year, and throughout all kinds of weather.

As TFF lyrics once put it, as far as compassion and the spreading of it goes: “it’s under my skin and out of my hands.”

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TToT: Chameleon in a Room Full of Mirrors – Penblwydd Hapus #10Thankful

“You are strong because you are imperfect and you are wise because you have doubts.”

—Clementine Churchill

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This is a reminder of the little girl I once was. My sister found this card in the library book my nephew brought home from school last week.

What are the odds and my first thankful after musing on what it’s like to turn another year older, all while discovering those reminders of the girl you used to be.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the short story I managed to come up with at my writing group, even if my braille display did crap out on me (dead battery) right before I finished it.

It was a short story about a young girl, living in Europe, only a few years before the breakout of World War II and she is celebrating her birthday with a skating party with friends.

I will finish the story and read it out loud at the next writing group night.

I’m thankful for an inspiring first meeting with some new peers living with chronic kidney disease.

We met to discuss how those of us who’ve been and are currently living and dealing with kidney disease can help a new generation of those going through or about to go through it.

Some were on dialysis and some, like myself, were transplant recipients. One was even newly diagnosed and didn’t know where to start. I hope we didn’t overwhelm that person too much.

So much excellent discussion went on. It felt empowering, more than I’ve felt in a long time, as I’ve been off of dialysis for so long that you start to forget what it was like. I have this chronic condition, transplant or no transplant, and may need help from these same sorts of people again one day too.

I am thankful, also, for the guy next to me who got up and brought me a new plastic fork after I broke mine trying to stab a cucumber out of the pasta salad on my plate as the presentation went on.

I hate those cheap plastic forks.

I’m thankful for Apple Music.

Now, for a monthly fee (after the first three free months) I have millions of songs at my fingertips, right on my phone for streaming.

I’m thankful for a surprise right before my birthday.

Native Traveler, awarded gold in the audio story/blogging category from the NATJA

The host submitted the Native Traveler show with my piece on No-limits Travel for the Blind to the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) awards , among a couple of others.   The show won Gold in the radio broadcast category!.

North American Travel Journalist Association awards list for 2017.

I’m thankful for the card, flowers, and butterfly for my keychain, all from my wonderful neighbour.

The card was one of those singing ones.

The butterfly has now become a symbol with meaning between the two of us. I am keeping it with me. I like to trace my fingers around the wings. I used to love to draw bright, colourful butterflies when I was younger.

The flowers were fragrant, but the stalks were so heavy that my mom had to prop up the flowers, using a cooking pot and some cardboard.

I’m thankful for all the well wishes from family and friends, on Facebook and off.

I wasn’t feeling so well on my actual birthday, but it was nice to hear from people. It cheered me up a bit.

I’m thankful for the cake my mother made for me.

Cherry chip with a cheesecake swirl and white chocolate icing.

She is amazing with certain kinds of cake. It was made with love and care. Thanks Mom.

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I’m thankful for a snowy day on my birthday.

I felt unwell, stayed inside the whole day, but I was glad to know what was going on, a snowy world, just outside my window.

It was a perfect February day, even if the next one brought rain and then freezing to produce slick conditions for walking.

Someone on my blog wished me this and I had to look it up, but was super glad they’d said it:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/penblwydd_hapus

I’m thankful I can learn new things, even and especially at thirty-four years old.

Penblwydd Hapus to me.

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Silence Is Acceptance, #MeToo #HolocaustMemorialDay #JusJoJan

There are many things I would like to speak about, on an ongoing basis. Listening to stories of survivors of the Holocaust, their strength and bravery in speaking on such horrid things, makes me feel like not enough is said as of yet, from all of us and that we all must say something.

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There are a lot of things going on, past and present, that I’d like to
address
and then something stops me from saying anything at all. Fear, but of what?

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am stuck on the Holocaust and I have been for a long long time. I take breaks from thinking about it, to preserve my sanity, but ultimately this historical event creeps back into my thoughts. I am lucky I can take those breaks. I didn’t experience it, though I know many who did have gone on to live perfectly wonderful lives. It feels haunting, even if I often wonder how I’d have moved on if it had happened to me.

I want to speak on things, to write about them, to make sure people don’t forget. Mistakes are repeated. Humans are doomed to repeat what once was. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

If I speak up on such things, I am told I worry too much, as if I am supposed to forget that if I had lived during the time of World War II I would be considered a waste, as one of the disabled.

Yes, if I’d lived in Europe during that time, if I lived anywhere back then, and even if I lived here, years ago, kidney disease would have killed me.

Morbid, perhaps. Speaking up, or addressing the things that haunt my mind, this unsticks those cobwebs from the furthest corners of my brain.

I am lucky to have an address and a roof over my head, even if my heat does keep crapping out on me. I am lucky to be living in 2018 and celebrating that I was born after the inventions of dialysis and organ transplantation.

I saw Nazis marching in North America, I hear that Poland just made it illegal to mention Poland’s involvement during the Holocaust, and I wonder what to say, what I can say about these furious subjects.

I see people are saying things aren’t so bad, and they aren’t really, but they are for some people and they could be, any day, for more of us. We need to stay vigilant and on guard to halt dangers from reoccurring.

Sexual misconduct and resignations as a result are happening in Canada, in Ontario politics now too. Forget presidents and porn stars. This is not so hard to get, is it?

The men who complain this is going too far, that they can’t even talk to women now, make me want to bang my own head against the wall repeatedly.

Pop culture. Politics. Personal space. Is it really so hard for men to not act inappropriately with women and young girls? Really? Reeeeeeally?

It is maddening. I want to keep addressing all these things, to make people get along, and to practice tolerance and compassion. What is it going to take?

TELL ME!!!

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TToT: Lightbulbs and Lightning Strikes, #LookBackMarchForward #10Thankful

January isn’t making anything easy on me, but it too shall pass.

Somehow, I’ve had Billie Holiday on my mind as this month stretches on, painfully on and on.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the never ending list of ideas that come to me, as potential topics to write about.

Writer’s block, no way, at least not in the usual way of things.

When I am given the job of writing something, I may get a block, but that’s more from my fear of not being able to do the job I was asked to do, not being good enough.

I’m thankful for a return to my writing group in 2018.

It was a difficult day/week/month, but those people are there for me.

I wrote about a young woman, musician, who was hearing the news that Kurt Cobain had died, and wondering how to navigate the perils of fame.

It is a question on my mind. The group listened to my clumsy story and seemed curious, as curious as I am about what I’ve been thinking since I heard Dolores O’Riordan was gone.

I did smile and even laugh, with my group of local writer friends. Worth it.

I’m thankful for a list of tough questions to answer, to better know myself.

I am a writer, but I have a lot to learn. Sometimes, it requires that I look deep into myself, to find the truth. Otherwise, my writing will not keep on the forward momentum I hope to have.

It’s hard work, difficult and painful and sensitive stuff, but I am determined to see things more clearly on the other side.

I’m thankful for a first successful meeting of
The Canadian Federation of the Blind,
Ontario, in 2018.

I’m thankful for a contract opportunity to write about something so important to me.

Braille is not a well understood thing, for many, even as technology takes on bigger parts of all our lives.

My early literacy is thanks to my parents and to the school I was in and braille is a large part of all that.

So, to share about the value of braille is so important to me. I just hope I can do it justice and give to it as much as it has given me.

I’m thankful Canada’s government didn’t shut down.

Disfunction at the highest level.

I know very little about trade agreements, but Canada is doing the work and staying involved with other countries, while moving away from what the US seems to be heading for.

They are being run by someone who only pitches America, America First, or whatever, all things made in America. Whatever, to bring more jobs. I guess that is left to themselves, in their own country. Isolation.

If his government can’t even work together, to stay open a year after his inauguration, how well will they do, on their own, if that is what they prefer?

I’m thankful I could be in on a meeting to discuss traveling out west, for a convention in British Columbia.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind have a convention, every May, where issues important to blind Canadians are discussed.

This year, Ontario is coming to western Canada and we are going to make our mark.

I was only in B.C. in the airport, changing flights to the Yukon. I intend to go back, to speak about the project to make audio description in movie theatres a common thing, and I will see the Pacific Ocean while I’m at it.

I’m thankful that the marching continued, one year later, with all the more reason to do so.

I wondered, did worry, that it was a one year hit action/movement and those who like to criticize would be able to point at the one time visual as a sign that making our voices heard isn’t needed or productive.

I did not see all the signs, but had a few read to me. Some smart sign writers in those marches.

This is a current US president thing, true, but it is bigger than that guy. It is a stand against what has been.

It leaves a bunch of us out, those who find marching in the streets difficult, but it is heartening to me anyway.

I want things to only get better, going forward, in the years to come. I have a vested interest in that, in compassion and in empathy, for not only one gender or class or whatever.

I understand the fatigue that can set in, but we all must keep doing something, however small. I am still working out what that something is for me.

I’m thankful for a chance to listen to a local orchestra, playing my kind of a symphony and to see a movie live, that I missed the first time around.

I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the film, on a big screen at a sport stadium.

Then, I saw the soundtrack being played by live orchestra. It was a strange experience of my senses.

I heard parts of the soundtrack, differently than I’d ever heard them, when blended into the background of the movie on DVD at home.

Int was strange, seeing with a crowd of other major Harry Potter fans, with all the cheers and the comments made by nearby fans.

The bells and the percussion section and the other main instruments that make up that famously known and heard Harry Potter musical sound.

I’m thankful for things that happen (or don’t happen) for a reason.

Maybe I don’t get what I want, in one moment, but that leads me to something else. Maybe I am getting what I can handle, what I need to teach me what I need to know.

Who knows.

I resisted the “door/window” line of optimism.

I am ending, this week, with another comforting song from The Cranberries, the Irish band that was and is no more.

My brother generously added it to his playlist on the radio show he hosts, every Friday morning, on a college radio station in London, Ontario.

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It’s All Around Me, #JusJoJan

It’s just past midnight as I write this and so obviously it’s dark out, right?

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I am headed to a routine eye appointment next week and nothing feels like it is routine. It feels much more like I am hurtling towards darkness.

There are all kinds of darkness.

People are scared of that, the dark, and “blindness” means darkness. Thus, most of the sighted world is more afraid of blindness and what that would mean, what that might look like, as the case may be, than being buried alive.

Okay, well I hear that was the case in one of those “what would you rather?” games. Since I am a definite clausterphobic, I thought that unbelievable. To be buried alive would be my worst fear.

I could never be a coal miner, for several reasons.

I am not afraid of the dark however. People are afraid of it because they are afraid of the unknown, all they cannot see, and afraid, in the practical sense, of falling down a flight of stairs or running into the wall.

There are ways we who are blind or mostly so learn to adapt to such practical concerns. I did run into the corner of a wall once, bleeding and leaving a scab in my eyebrow for weeks, but that doesn’t happen with any semblance of regularity because I try to take my time and move slowly. I don’t remember my hurry that day my eyebrow made such forceful contact with that wall.

I slide my feet, if a floor is messy. I know when there are stairs, in a familiar place, or I walk so slow because it isn’t familiar enough, unless I use my cane.

It isn’t always so easy to accept the need for a white cane or any kind of cane, for mobility or assistance because that cane is a visible symbol of perceived human weakness.

I need help and I keep learning to ask for it, to not be afraid of it, as some are afraid of the dark.

I am afraid too. I lived with some vision for my childhood, then lost a lot as I grew into an adult, and now here I am.

I don’t use my little remaining vision, as blurry as it is these days, but then it hits me how much I still do use it, as I contemplate the darkness that could be in my future.

The eye doctor might see something during his tests, but it’s more likely he will not. That is a good thing, but like with the invisible chronic pain I live with, sometimes there is nothing to see. This is both good and bad too. Nothing urgent showing up to attack with modern medicine.

I am drawn to the north, far up from the part of Canada I live in, where darkness means something different. I went to check out Yukon skies and June’s extended light. Strange to see vestiges of daylight at midnight.

I hope to return to Canada’s north in winter. I want to experience all that darkness, as a representation of that darkness that means blindness to so many.

I think it’s more like a fallen screen of dimness, fuzzy, foggy, twilight, which wouldn’t be all bad, but the fear still hovers there in my own head.

And so I count down the final days until my eye apt and, though I know it won’t probably be the giant thing I tend to build up in my own brain, I know these topics will continue to attract me, always giving me something more to say and to write about.

I didn’t even get into the symbolism of darkness and light in terms of contamination vs purity, good vs bad. It’s tied up in religion and in so many things, but so much negative is in the news every day and I think about all that far too much.

It’s this appointment that’s on my mind, front and centre.

I wish I could convince myself and other people that the darkness isn’t the worst thing in the world though, that we’ve made it that way in our own heads.

And so, the debate continues and the question goes on. I will continue to write about this. Stay tuned and look to the skies, but, if you can, watch where you’re going too.

I’m thrilled to be the provider of the Friday prompt word
for Linda’s #JusJoJan
to end off a long week, as January passes us by, on its own time.

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A Stranger Returning Home, #MLKDay #JamesBaldwin #JusJoJan

Just. Juice. Prejudice.

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These are three things that come to mind when I think of the word
“justice”
because they look similar in my mind, not because they have anything really to do with the word itself.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Okay, well, maybe justice and prejudice are related, but really I say this now because I am delaying the moment when I have to write about serious things.

Today hasn’t shaped up the way I was expecting it would. I was trying to figure out how to write something about Martin Luther King Jr. and then Dolores O’Riordan died.

Well, that’s not really a topic of justice. It only adds to my blue mood on Blue Monday as it stands.

I relate to the fight for racial justice, in that I can take my disability and think how discrimination manifests. Still, the subject is a sensitive one, as it should be.

It’s like the reconciliation discussion I learn about, with Indigenous Peoples, daily, here in Canada and in other places, all over the world. I am just sad, sad we haven’t come far enough and in some cases, have slid backwards with time.

This is the type of writing that evolves and changes throughout a day. I started this (mid month Monday) thinking about how to address MLK Day.

I’ve spent most of today lamenting the death of a one-of-a-kind voice in music, and I’m ending it by watching a documentary I have known about for months about writer James Baldwin, being shown on PBS.

I haven’t read his stuff and I know very little about him to be honest. I do know that these issues of rights, of where privilege lies, and on how to fight oppression and for justice, are bound to be found throughout Baldwin’s doc, in his own words, years before I was born.

He watched the young girl try to attend school and be spit on, chiding himself for not being there to help her.

Disgust and anger. How to move past this and into making it all better?

Baldwin didn’t miss America while he was in Paris. He didn’t miss it, but he did miss his family and his culture.

MLK knew he wasn’t likely to live long to see any sort of change.

It is painful for James to return, though he is home again.

James Baldwin said: The line between a witness and an actor is a fine one.

This feels so intensely true right now.

So poignant all these years later.

All about class and culture and race and so many other classifications I cannot seem to parse.

James did not stay, as witness. He was free “to write the story and get it out.”

He saw Martin and Malcolm X both go and he wrote about it.

Malcolm, Martin, martyrs both. Baldwin was the writer.

He writes: I Am Not Your Negro

How to reconcile any of this?

And so goes the clicking of the typewriter’s keys.

If you get the chance, watch I Am Not Your Negro.

Things sure have changed, since last century, but we writers still will write.

The story of America,” Baldwin said, “is not a pretty story.” “Aimless hostility.”

“This is not the land of the free.”

—James Baldwin

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The Licking of the Flames, #SongLyricSunday

Storms and slides. Mud, water, fire, wind, snow. Oh, the entire world, burning uncontrollably.

The natural world is a powerful force and it cares little for what we mere mortals think or want.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

In Ontario (the province where I live) and out east in Nova Scotia there have been two awful house fires in the news the last few weeks, killing multiple adults and children.

Sometimes it is human error and sometimes there is no-one to blame, though blame is rather off point.

We humans like to spread it all around, but where does it get us?

I hear all of these disasters, going on all around, and I remain untouched where I reside, but my mind races and can’t keep pace with world events.

Then there are those fires that some start, metaphorically, to distract and divide and destroy.

***

Hearts are worn in these dark ages
You’re not alone in this story’s pages
The light has fallen amongst the living and the dying
And I’ll try to hold it in, yeah I’ll try to hold it in
[
Chorus] The world’s on fire
and It’s more than I can handle
I’ll tap into the water (Try and bring my share)
I try to bring more More than I can handle (Bring it to the table) Bring what I am able

I watch the heavens but I find no calling
Something I can do to change what’s coming
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone
[
Chorus]

Hearts break, hearts mend Love still hurts
Visions clash, planes crash Still there’s talk of
Saving souls, still the cold Is closing in on us
We part the veil on our killer sun
Stray from the straight line on this short run
The more we take, the less we become
The fortune of one that means less for some
[
Chorus X2]

LYRICS

***

It feels as though the whole world is on fire, more and more these days, alarm bells going off on all sides, in all directions.

I stand, somehow avoiding the licking of the flames directly – for now anyway.

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