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TToT: Hunters, Fishermen, and Other Liars Gather Here – Of Gold and White Horses, #10Thankful

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,

    And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

    And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

    There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,

    And I want to go back — and I will.

—Robert W. Service

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Then and now.

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My dad and I have both come a long way. I thought such an important milestone deserved the landscape to go with it.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder

Land of the midnight sun.

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June was the perfect time to visit.

Ten Things of Thankful (And an extra bonus item)

I’m thankful I got to celebrate June 5th in a miraculous place.

I wanted to shout it from the rooftops – 20 years baby!

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!

I spent the actual morning of the 5th, standing on a suspension bridge, overlooking a place called Miles Canyon. The day was a perfect temperature for me, wind and sun, blowing my hair all around and warming my face.

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I thought about where I would have been, exactly twenty years earlier. I was so glad to have that hospital and those doctors then. I was so blessed to have all those years of a dialysis free life, thanks to my father. I was lucky to spend that moment, twenty years on, up on that bridge.

I’m thankful for a truly eye opening week.

I thought the Yukon seemed so far out of the way of most of the rest of Canada and thought of it a little bit like the Canada of Canada.

By that, I mean that in North America, to me at least at times, Canada goes somewhat unnoticed or under appreciated by the United States and such. We are here but can feel invisible. We are a small world player, in many ways, not making a whole lot of noise or commotion, but that’s how we prefer it to be. We are here and we are strong.

Then there is a part of Canada that is tucked away, far from what a lot of the gathered population ever sees. I wanted to go out and find this place.

By the end of my time there, I’d learned so much and was blown away by all of it. I heard stories of the people who have lived in that climate (months of mostly all light and then months of continuous darkness) for years upon years. I learned about myself and what travel can mean to me, through seeing places of intense and immense beauty, while not actually getting to experience the spectacular visuals of the north.

I missed out on a to, but I gained so so much.

I’m thankful I had the chance to see a part of my country of Canada, far far from my place in it.

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I have never traveled out west through Canada before, spending most of my time in the central part, the middle area, always curious about what lay in all that northern part. As we flew, I heard about the Rockies as we passed over them.

Though I could not see the snow capped peaks, I felt such a deep sense of wonder as we headed for the west coast. My country is so vast and amazing.

I’m thankful for pilots.

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I am somewhat anxious when flying, but it is a true miracle that a plane can even get up in the air, let alone stay up there and take people so far across the skies.

I hear their announcements on the speaker and they sound like they know what they are doing. I hope, every time I fly, that that is the case.

I really did enjoy my experience flying WestJet.

I’m thankful for local tour guides.

Big bus tours can be fun, like the one I was on in Ireland, but this time we had a smaller and more personal experience with a local tour company I’d highly recommend.

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They have had it in the family for 100 years and the woman in charge and her employees (one being her daughter) are highly knowledgeable about the region and so very proud of their homeland. They know about the environment, the terrain, and the people. They are Yukoners, through and through..

I’m thankful for the chance to learn about culture and nature.

Culture:

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I could smell the wet wood as they worked, using a tool called an adze. They had to keep the wood moist so it wouldn’t cracked as they worked on it. They only had it dug out a tiny amount, with a lot of hours of work still left to go.

It is one of several cultural events and demonstrations happening, there at the riverside, sponsored by the Canadian government and Canada 150 in 2017.

Nature:

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I missed the bright colours of the water. I missed the white caps of snow atop the mountains in the distance. I missed the severe cliffs and vistas.

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I smelled the fresh Yukon air. I felt the wind. I instinctually detected the wide open spaces. I listened to the ripples at the lake’s edge. I compared the silences to the sounds of rapids far down below.

I felt it all in my bones.

I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers while traveling.

I started the trip being given someone else’s seat on the shuttle bus to the terminal and I ended it with a generous gesture by a flight attendant.

When she learned I hadn’t known I had to download a certain update on my phone, one that would be able to work with the inflight entertainment system, she offered tablets (free of their rental charge) so we could watch a movie on the four hour flight.

I watched Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action version that I’d been wanting to see since it came out back in March.

Also, there was the politeness of many I met while there, the polite drivers letting me cross streets, and the woman at the glass blowing factory who showed me around and was so helpful.

I’m thankful my mom and I weren’t eaten by bears.

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We stayed down at the roadside, overlooking the lake, while the rest of the group walked a bit up the mountain. They were going up some to get a better look, but it was the two of us that got the show.

My mom was taking a panoramic shot with her camera when she suddenly told me of the mother bear and her cub only forty or so feet down from where we stood. She got a few pictures and then couldn’t see where they went. It was at that moment that she grew nervous and we were glad to have the unlocked van to retreat into, until she spotted the pair once more, making their way along the edge of the water, far off into the distance.

This was a good thing in my mind, as I couldn’t remember what action to take when approached by a grizzly bear vs a black bear.

Was I to play dead or fight back? I’d probably just fall to the ground and curl up into a ball either way.

I’m thankful for the comforts of home after being away from it.

I could choose to feel all down and depressed that I had to leave a place I may never return to or a city I felt at home in, or I could be glad to have my own things back.

I both love going out into the world and exploring what else exists, but I will always love having a home to come back to.

Just hearing a little baby crying on the plane coming home made me miss my baby niece.

I’m thankful for family and neighbours who agree to watch my dog and check on my cat while I explore the world.

I love to travel, but having pets makes that difficult. My dog is very attached to me and my cat is not one of those cats that likes his solitude.

I don’t like to put it on my family to take care of my animals, those I chose to have, just so I can run off galavanting. It’s just that I do feel the pull to wander sometimes, though I try to space it out somewhat. It is a responsibility on them when I dump my dog at their house, but I know our family looks out for each other. We help one another out when and where we can. I would do the same for them.

I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s baseball game.

He is still learning (Lucky Number 13) and yet he may grow to love it. Only time will tell. They are all so cute though. The coaches and volunteer parents have quite the time, wrangling all those kids, shouting instructions to run or catch or pay attention. They are distracted easily and I can’t blame them. A lot going on.

It was just strange to return to the neighbourhood park where the game was being played. I hadn’t been there in years, but sitting on that bench, by that baseball diamond, it brought back a lot of memories of summer days long gone.

My sister and brother both played in leagues and we’d go to their games often. My favourite part was the snack bar, but being back there now made me remember old times, old friends, and things that felt forever ago, compared to the life I am living in 2017 and my transplant anniversary is a part of that.

“Forever can spare a minute.”

—Belle, Beauty and the Beast 2017

How Does A Moment Last Forever – Celine Dion

“Ever just the same. Ever a surprise. Ever as before and ever just as sure as the sun will rise.”

—Tale As Old As Time, Beauty and the Beast

The people of the Yukon know the sun will rise again. It’s just a question of when and for how long.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

Deep Breaths #SoCS

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

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

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

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

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake

Picking Up The Pieces #FTSF

I have always helped the children in my life understand my blindness by explaining that my eyes don’t work, that they are broken. This may sound harsh, but I’ve found this to be the best and most concrete way to explain things. This is not an easy concept for a three-year-old to grasp, no matter how it’s worded, but it’s the best I’ve yet come up with.

Still, they don’t automatically see this as anything bad. They think it over a moment or two and then we go on with our day. I think it is such a difficult idea to imagine for them at that age, to understand that anything like that can be the case. I am happy to see myself through their eyes for a time.

Was I broken when I was born without perfect eyesight?

Of course not. No baby could or should be called such a thing.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is that of all the poor birds we found on our deck or on the lawn growing up. My mom would bring them in, carrying them delicately in the palm of her hand, and would give them time to see if they could recover. a helpless bird with a broken wing is how I felt a time or two. Sometimes the broken wing spells the end for the bird and sometimes they just need some peaceful and restful recovery time.

My mom would release the bird if this healing were enough. In this simple yet selfless act, she taught me how to heal from the things that might break me.

After all the medical stuff I would endure, I often thought it odd how I never did break a limb. That is one break I have managed to avoid.

I felt the most broken when I became so sick and lost at age eleven.

It broke me the day I lost a loved one, had to hear my oma’s heart break at the words she had lost a grandson, or when I had to tell my own mother her baby brother lost his son/she lost yet another nephew.

It broke me in pieces for a long time after my first experience with love and relationships, as a teenager, when things turned out worse than I ever could have guessed. It kept me from looking for love, for letting it into my life, for many years.

Another piece of myself was broken off when I had to admit I couldn’t handle anymore school because of the pain and I had to take a break from all the stress.

Sometimes we’re left scrambling and searching all around us for our missing pieces, for a long long time.

These things broke off pieces of me and yet love and hope and the most pleasant surprises yet to come helped me put the pieces back together.

Life can be like this sometimes. I feel like a broken person sometimes, when I think of how some might see me, incomplete or whatever. I have lost more eyesight than I was born with, in years gone by, including my left eye now being artificial. Does this leave me broken, not entirely whole?

Whatever that might mean, when something is broken, can it be fixed and even should it?

Any broken part of my physical body or any blow to my spirit, any blow to my heart, I make up for all that by remaining as whole a person as I can be in other ways that matter.

I will take broken eyes over a broken soul anyway. It’s those who are broken in personality are the ones who could most benefit from some repairs.

My eyes may be broken, my heart a time or two, but my personality and my character are in tact and solid. I know that for certain. There is no quick fix, no repair man to call when the soul is irrevocably damaged. I can heal my cracks. They may still exist, but they make the whole of me stronger, in spite of all the breaking there ever was.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post with
Kristi from Finding Ninee
with some thoughts on the things that break us.

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Mother, May I? #TGIF #MothersDay #FTSF

“You didn’t raise us right.”

That might not sound like something a child (even a grown one) should say to their parent, but we say it all the time. It’s one of those inside jokes in our family and you’d have to be quite familiar with how we roll to get the humour in such a statement.

I see it as a commentary on just how hard it is to be a parent, something we’re all realizing as grown children and a fact my brother and sister (both fairly new to parenting) are especially coming to understand. Parenting is hard and our parents did well, incredibly well.

Our mother was half of that effort. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. XOXO

***

Oh, Mother sounds like the beginnings of a swear word to me, but I can see that being one of the many parts of being a parent, a mother, as motherhood sometimes causes swearing (hopefully under one’s breath) to occur.

I’m reminded, every March, that Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated the same time of year in all places around the world.

When I think Mother’s Day, I think floral arrangements, but a big reason for that is my mom’s particular love of flowers, plus spring in full bloom.

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The magnolia is one of my mom’s favourites.

As for Mother’s Day long gone, I think of bringing flowers to my oma, my dad’s mother.

Recently I have been thinking more about a serious topic, with the new video honouring the mother of a seriously ill child, especially as I think back twenty or so years to when my mom had her husband in an operating room, undergoing surgery in one hospital, while having her youngest daughter (me) in an operating room across the street at Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children.

What strength she had to have shown that day. I was so focused, at the time on myself going into surgery. I was just young enough that I didn’t really think of such things, per se, as what my mom might be going through, the thought of possibly losing a daughter and/or a husband that day, however slim the chances.

Now, this year, I wanted to write an article where I interviewed some of the moms in the video and mine, but I was unable to secure a publication spot. I will write this piece, sooner or later though. In fact, I think my own mom and I could co-author a book of our own together.

So much of what she did for me, fighting for the integrated education I had, she did with such determination. She would have gladly written/spoken about it, and has done. I hope to write about it, from my perspective, at some point too. The world needs to know there is a mother like mine out there.

My mom heard I was receiving a few odd and rather spammy comments on my blog and warned me to cut back on posting on my blog for a while, to lay low, and yet here I am.

It’s not like I don’t value her advice. In fact, there’s nobody whose opinion I value more.

I always take it into advisement and, this time, while I saw her point, I decided I couldn’t not write my blog. I recognized her suggestion as that of a worried mother, one always a little afraid of what the Internet might attract. I couldn’t very well fault her for worrying about me.

I can never express everything my mom did for me, to get me through the tough times, and to celebrate the happy times, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try anyway.

***

I spent a night at my sister’s house, the one we grew up in as kids, staying home with my infant niece while her mother went to a Mother’s Day tea with my nephew, at his school, the same school his mother and I attended growing up.

We discussed the soother, a tool many mothers choose to give their babies. My sister didn’t with my nephew and isn’t with my niece. She has tried to avoid it. This brings up the whole judgment thing, mothers judging each other and also themselves, and everyone knows how common that is and also how toxic it can become.

I respect my sister’s decision. I respect the soother rout many moms choose to take. Neither one is the wrong one, same as breast fed/bottle/formula or the many other choices mothers must make, both big and small.

I did wonder, as I held my niece and played with my nephew, hearing about the funny kick in the air thing he did when he got off the bus and heard that I was still there, about my own thoughts on Mother’s Day.

I leave all the hard decisions to my sister, knowing in my heart that she will make the best decisions for her children, just like our mother did for us. This leaves me and my thoughts once all the crying, cooing, and little boy questions and stories have given way to me being on my own again tonight.

Mother’s Day is a time where I’ve celebrated my grandmother, now my own mother and the mothers of my precious nieces and nephews. It’s when I hear all about mother/mom and try not to think too hard about what I might never be or have or do. Will I ever be a mother myself?

As each March/May comes and goes, I feel as though the possibility of my becoming a mom grows ever slimmer. Will I ever make peace with that, if that ends up being my lot in life?

I don’t know, honestly. It may, very well, be the best thing. Truthfully, it is painful for me, when I see a mother and their baby, no matter the age, even as being a daughter is one of the best parts of being me. I see the way a mother talks and interacts with their child. I wonder what that feels like.

Do I have that, to some degree, of course. I feel the force of the bond and connection between myself and my nieces and nephews, a feeling I was unfamiliar with, just over six short years ago. Is this the same, or even close to what they feel?

I do derive some comfort when I’m told that the two intensities of emotion and love aren’t all that far apart, sure I do. Is it enough to take away all the sting of it?

I am lucky. I know that. That’s about all I know. I love my nieces and nephews, my sisters who are mothers, and my mother too. I wish flowers and family for you all.

***

This has been another edition of
Finish the Sentence Friday
and an awfully special one at that.

Kristi is the host, like always, but this week she has
Lisa from The Meaning of Me
joining her.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies. Two of the best mothers I’ve met in recent years.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer

What Is In A Name Anyway? #FTSF

They call me Kerr or Kerry now. Once upon a time my childhood bedroom had a heart with my name written in it and a Care Bear painted on the wall next to it. I became Kerr-Bear. Cute, no?

Nicknames are fun and sometimes irritating. We don’t get to choose our names, but nicknames can follow us around forever.

I used to be annoyed by being called a cartoon bear, but now I kind of miss it. A boyfriend did it to get under my skin. Not so cute when you’re fifteen-years-old.

The story of how I got my actual name, which I may have previously told here. Ah, but who’s counting?

My big sister, born two years before me, they named Kim. Another K name was what my parents were going for. Then, in the bed next to my mom was a woman named Kerry. Interesting spelling, not all that common, so that is the one they went with. The perfect K name. It was meant to be.

I like that story, for some reason. I wasn’t named after family. I could have been Kelly or Karen or Katie, if it weren’t for that woman in the next hospital bed that day.

Middle names are odd to me. Mine was Lynne. Sometimes Lynn. I would forget actual spelling for a chunk of time. Mine was/is the same as my cousin. Now I share Lynne with my new niece. I am beyond thrilled and honoured that my sister and brother-in-law would grant me this gift.

Mine is a name that must be annunciated clearly, or else people hear Karen or Kaylee. They never spell it right. I like being me, being her, being Kerr.

This has been a
Finish The Sentence Friday
with Kristi from Finding Ninee.

One final thought:

I am currently watching the new adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and all women are forced to change their names. It helps strip them of any prior identity and it made me wonder what I would feel, if suddenly, I was forbidden to be me, forbidden to be Kerry?

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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee #AtoZChallenge

Many people are afraid of heights. I seek them out, to a point.

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This does not mean I mountain climb for fun.

The A to Z Challenge – Z is for Zip Lining

I will admit that being blind means I can’t look out (from the edge of a tower or overlooking a waterfall) and see how high I am. This may detract from some of the fear most people understandably hold.

I may not be able to see it, but my rational comprehension tells me where I am. I will go zip lining at Niagara Falls in June, 2017, twenty years after I went to sleep living one kind of life, waking to a whole new one.

I will do it, surrounded by family and friends, overlooking my favourite natural wonder of the world.

Do not take anything in life for granted. We may not get to all live one way or another. We should be appreciative when we get to experience the things in life that make living so worthwhile.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Only When I Breathe #SongLyricSunday

How can I put this? How can I possibly make people understand how it feels?

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I struggled with these kinds of questions for many years. Pain can be physical or emotional. Both, I know now, are comparable.

This song is not her biggest hit. I’d say Melissa Etheridge was at the top of her game in the nineties, but this one came out a few years after I’d started experiencing daily pain around the year 2000, from either headaches or somewhere in the rest of my body, mostly my limbs, but really a sensitivity to the touch.

This song was likely about emotional pain, which most songs are about, but by this time Melissa probably experienced both, within relationships or physically because of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with.

***

I, played the fool today
I just dream of vanishing into the crowd
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
And I can’t ask for things to be still again
No I can’t ask if I could walk through the world, in your eyes
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
My window through which nothing hides And everything sees
I’m counting the signs and cursing the miles in between
Home
Home, is a feeling I buried in you, that I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Yeah, it only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Oh,it only hurts when I breathe

LYRICS

***

It’s hard to make people understand. We all experience emotional pain from loss of a loved one or other family troubles. Love ends. People leave.

Most of us get a headache or the flu or a broken bone at some point in our lives. I know that child birth can be painful, not from personal experience but from those who have felt it, but I know that pain fades because of the reward for it in the existence of a precious child. Most acute pain fades from our memory as time passes.

It’s chronic pain that is hard to explain because most people, like the thought of living life as a blind person, can’t or don’t want to think too hard about it, don’t want to imagine that happening to them, but living with chronic pain changes you. It’s changed me.

The awful pain scale is a familiar way to help people understand, but pain is subjective and one’s ten is another’s seven. If ten is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, what was that worst pain? Everyone has had such varied experiences with pain that it makes it hard to rate sufficiently.

Stabbing…throbbing…dull…sharp…pounding…and so on and so forth.

I’ve only found a few people in my life who truly understood it. One of them is gone, so I am greatly familiar with both emotional and physical pain from many sources.

I decided this
Song Lyric Sunday
I would focus more on the physical side, as I’ve written plenty on emotional pain already.

I don’t talk a lot about living with chronic pain, here or elsewhere, because I don’t believe people truly want to hear about it too often. This song brings it up in the chorus though, as saying “it only hurts when I breathe.” While coming off sounding dramatic, this one line certainly gets the point across.

Don’t get me wrong, I love breathing, but I could do without the pain.

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