Blogging, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer

Solidify, #SoCS

Round and round the seasons go.

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Okay, well there’s four seasons, which technically makes it feel more like a square than a circle, but I’ve always felt, myself, like a square peg that’s trying, always, to fit into a circular hole.

I like circular things: cookies, pizzas, etc.

Years come and go and my life, sometimes I feel like I’m going in circles, round and round.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

Okay, so this is my first time back doing this Saturday blogging prompt in a while and I might be a little rusty at writing down my thoughts, stream of consciousness style, with a word to write from.

I just have to use the word, but I started with it as itself, as even a part of another word.

Ground. Around. Surrounded.

I enter September, gladly and enthusiastically, waiting for something to happen.

Years ago, this month filled me with dread. I never looked forward to school picking back up after a carefree summer vacation, like some kids you’d ask. Some were, at least, looking forward to seeing their friends and all that, but I was feeling the unsteadiness of the new and different that a new year of school brings.

Just as I’d found my footing, solid ground underneath, I’d be thrown for a loop and have to start over again.

That’s life, the starting over, as I’ve done dozens of times since I last set foot in a classroom. There is, I admit, that familiar sense of terror and now I feel such relief, that this month can remain my favourite transition into my most favourite month, rather than new everything, new grade, new teacher, new set of challenges with learning and keeping up and passing tests.

Socially, I could never quite find my footing, falling to my knees, to the ground for support, wishing I were smarter, friendlier, cooler like all the other kids were. Nothing to hold onto when I’d grab.

Constant interruptions meant I couldn’t count on much, trust in anything really. Since that first grade (kindergarten) where the September calendar was red and green, construction paper apple cutouts, right until I just couldn’t stay there any longer.

Now, I see school again, in my mind and I am there to learn, to make my life better. Along with that, back comes all that stress and I run from that possibility, trying to find meaning and purpose without any further education.

It goes round and round and round inside my head. I can do more, be more, learn more. I could.

For now, I look forward to the month where I eat nothing but apples. I remember those construction paper apples and I hold the real thing in my hand.

Paula reds they’re called. Semi sweet perfection.

When, again, this month of starting over comes round, I meet it with all the hype it promises me.

My niece and nephews are starting school (third grade/first/senior K) and I know they feel nerves too, at the challenges (educationally and socially) that I felt before them. I am so proud. They have so much room to learn and to grow and I nervously await this first day of school, for each of them, though I know they will be awesome.

It’s the daily lunches and the packing the backpacks. For their parents, along with so many others, it is a bunch of feelings, watching them go off again, slowly or fast, becoming their own well rounded human beings.

Critical thinking skills. Socialization. Mathematics. Spelling. Reading. Science. History.

Problem solving. Teamwork. Independent learning skill.

I forget what it is that kids are learning now. I hope it will take them where they’ll eventually want to end up.

I have lots of regrets, and yet I haven’t given up on myself. I am a student of the kind of life long learning my active mind craves, though my body struggles to keep up.

I don’t miss the moment to moment stressors of an educational environment. I don’t miss waking up early to catch that bus. I may feel like I’ve missed it since then, some school years sticking out prominently in my memory, but overall feeling like I didn’t quite fit.

I had an education that I’m grateful for though. I was where I needed to be. I learned valuable things that have stuck with me.

Now I continue to struggle to find my place, where my square-shaped peg fits into the circular. Like we see when a small child tries, learning newly, how to fit a plastic shape into its appropriate slot. We have the urge to rush it, them, when really they need to learn it – and they will.

I must give myself that same room to figure things out. I must learn to be more patient. I don’t like to be rushed, by myself or by anyone else. Also, I am the most impatient of all.

I like to think of the ground, in autumn, starting to harden, to eventually freeze. Most people wish summer would not end. Me, I welcome the change eagerly. I look so forward to this September, like I haven’t in several years. Things are happening, and maybe I am on my way to being, not circular or square, but more well rounded and round and round and round we go again.

I don’t end up saying anything really profound in these, but that’s not the point of them and, as a writer, I have missed that.

As I try to focus on the few writing assignments I currently have, I do desire this stream of consciousness freedom. Though at the back of my mind I try to come to some sort of conclusion to things.

That girl, sitting at that school desk, she didn’t know she’d ever refer to herself as a freelance writer, a writer of any sort. Success, the kind we’re taught about as pupils, may be hard to achieve once we’re on our own. I know it continues to be for me.

So, yes, I don’t know if I have a point, what that might be and don’t know if I’d recognize it if I came to it.

I imagine I could go on doing this, rambling word after rambling word, without the fear of being graded or marked down somehow.

I could.

For the work I’m now doing with the Canadian Federation of the Blind, I do wish I’d been taught more about what’s going on and how the world works. History is important, don’t get me wrong, but how now do I approach my local politicians? How do I stand for myself? How do I speak on my own behalf?

The hamster wheel goes round and round inside my brain. All I’ve ever been taught doesn’t seem nearly enough to make a dent in the problems I see going on around me.

In my head, I run an endless track of ideas and possibilities and what if’s.

Again, it’s September, and I try to fit myself (the square that I am) into that circular hole, be more round. Feel the ground underfoot.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday

An Anniversary Memory, #FTSF

Grandma loved relaxing in the hot tub when she came to visit.

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I had it installed, hoping the ability to sit in the soothing waters might help my chronic pain. Grandma and I both had chronic pain and we helped each other through it.

The soothing waters were nice enough, especially on a chilly night, but she seemed to get more out of it than I did. The heat was hard on my headaches, but helpful for most of the rest of my sore body.

At the end of July I think of my grandma because she was taken, on this date back in 2005, suddenly from our lives. The photo was taken, little more than a month earlier, on her anniversary with my grandpa. They’d been married for fifty-five years.

Never again would I get to sit with her here, seen in the photo above.

I miss all of my now long departed grandparents, but Grandma, I miss you, on this
Finish the Sentence Friday,
hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee and
Kenya from Sporadically Yours,
all of us sharing a photo and a story to go along with it.

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Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting

Falling, All Over Again #Niagara #FTSF

Returning to the edge, overlooking the mighty Niagara Falls is like returning home.

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The boats are somewhere, there, down below me. They move silently along, at the base of the roaring waters, both boats on the Canadian and the US sides. Ours is now called Hornblower and what used to be the Maid of the Mist in Canada is still what they call it in our neighbouring country, or so I am told.

I always loved the myth of the
Maid of the Mist (backstory not widely known),
even if I grew up fearing the actual vessel and all boats like it.

We went on it, some of my earliest memories, but enough was enough and I was afraid. I didn’t want to have to don the plastic raincoat and board that thing, going so close to such a fiersome force. I’d had enough of that.

Then, as I grew, we’d return to Niagara Falls often, and my family would tease me:

“What do you think Kerr…want to go on the Maid of the Mist?”

Ha ha, and the joke went on like that for years, right along with my fear of boats of all shapes and sizes.

Well, ownership of the boat tour company changed hands in recent years, but I was determined to tackle my fear, as I entered my thirties and was determined to live like I hadn’t been living, which meant proving to myself I could step foot on that boat again.

I did it, but my favourite myth of the Indian princess who was going to be forced to marry a much older Indian chief, though she was revolted by him, well that story haunted me and still does.

Legend had it, she fled her situation and ended up hearing a far away voice on the air, calling her toward the waters at the top of the Niagara River. So, she followed its irresistible call and it led her into the river and over the Falls she went, to join the Thunder Gods behind Niagara.

I was captivated and am glad I did tackle my fears a few years back, and then I was recently listening to an educational podcast called
The Secret Life of Canada
and it spoke of the history of the Niagara region and some of the culturally insensitive stereotypical stories white people have told and retold about Natives, how wrong that was, how offensive.

The story of that Indian maiden will stick with me, but I am always willing to learn about how to be a better human being, more sensitive and empathetic. We’ve replaced Indian for Indigenous in the language here in Canada and we must work for a better country, for everyone.

I now stand, happily, at the railing above and look down on those silent tour boats, but I will admit that I feel drawn to that place, whenever I am nearby, and hear the thundering sound.

Even if I end up an even older version of a maid myself, I am not about to follow those invisible booming forces to an unfortunate, tragic end. Though I do disclose that I feel a strong tug on my back, every time I move to walk away from Niagara Falls.

Today is
Finish the Sentence Friday
once more.

And the
fourth Friday of the month (May)
edition says to share a photo and the story behind it.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

For The Love Of… #FTSF #SoCS

My oma lived through World War II and food shortages. She knew something about the feeling of hunger. I don’t know her exact relationship with food, how close she came to starvation, but I do know it had an impact.

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This means she was always feeding us, how many show love, and she loved us all (her family) through food alright.

Chocolate. Pancakes with Ketchup. I loved her salads.

I’ll admit, I like that empty feeling, when my stomach grumbles a little, as I somehow feel I am controlling my body. I have had a fickle and brought relationship with food and I don’t see that easing up much as I get older.

I guess that does link to feeling hollow in other areas of one’s life. I have never known the fear of going hungry, have often times had more than my share, a plentiful amount of food around me.

I struggled with food smells, when I was in the midst of kidney failure and the mouth watering aroma of bacon, a favourite of so many, made me want to vomit.

Now I still carry around with me a definite sensitivity to food smells. I don’t want my past with food or that of a loved one to bleed into the feelings of emotional emptiness or a hollowed out feeling of loneliness, one that only stuffing my face can quench.

I want food to be something enjoyable. I want to appreciate each and every flavour I come across. I know the problems with food and a lack of it that much of the world faces. I know I have had it good in comparison.

It’s
Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS
on a Sunday.

Also, I’m linking up (on a double stream of consciousness weekend) with Kristi from
Finding Ninee
and Kenya G. from
Sporadically Yours,
on the subject of food and feeling empty vs (/) hollow.

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Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Special Occasions, Spotlight Sunday

A Mother’s Love Shaped Me, #SongLyricSunday

In high school English class, I was told once to count how many times the word “blood” was mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I was given a bag of pennies and told to keep track with them. Well, I didn’t use pennies to count how many times the word “heart” was used in one of my favourite albums, but I can swear it was almost certainly at least once in every single song, if not more.

Huh, hmm…blood…heart…perfect combination right there.

I tell you, this Apple Music thing is a wondrous tool at my fingertips and it has sucked me, once more, into an endless vortex of songs and albums from my past.

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On this Mother’s Day I dedicate
this one (SLS)
to my own mother, who raised me, showed me what the heart is for.

From those early days when I was obsessed with music like Wilson Phillips and their hit “Hold On” and so much more. So much of that music I loved then, before I knew about or had ever really been in love, music involving the heart was all around me.

I found one song on that album I could have gone with, with the word “heart” in the lyrics, but I went with this Cher song instead. )There’s more to her solo career than only “Turn Back Time” and “Believe” too.):

There are plenty mentions of that most essential of organs, that pumps and beats, on this entire album. This was one of my favourite (self-titled albums), from way way back in the day, thanks to my father’s bringing the cassette tape along when we drove to Florida in 92.

It would overtake Wilson Philips, for me, soon after that and ever since then, but a classic is still a classic.

***

Beneath the white fire of the moon
Love’s wings are broken all too soon
We never learn
Hurt together, hurt alone
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was a heart of stone

We turn the wheel and break the chain
Put steel to steel and laugh at pain
We’re dreamers in castles made of sand
The road to Eden’s overgrown
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was made of stone

Look at the headlines
Big crowd at the crazy house
Long queue for the joker’s shoes
Ten rounds in the ring with love
Do you lose and win
Or win and lose

Sweet rain like mercy in the night
(Lay me down, wash away the sorrow)
Caress my soul and set it right
(Lay me down, show me your tomorrow)
Summer tears, winter and the moment’s flown
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was made of stone

Mercy, mercy wish your heart
Was a heart of stone
Get the picture

No room for the innocent
Peak season in lonely town
Knocked out of the ring by love
Are you down and up Or up and down

I ask the river for a sign
(In a dream we go on together)
How long is love supposed to shine
(In a dream diamonds are forever)

But you and I, hurt together, hurt alone
Don’t you sometimes wish
Your heart was a heart of stone

Mercy, mercy wish your heart was a heart of stone
(With a heart of stone, you’ll be well protected)
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was made of stone
(With a heart of stone, you’ll be well connected)

[Repeat and fade]

LYRICS

***

Blood and the heart. Angels and heaven. I love lyrics and this set, this song always gives me chills.

Thinking of a heart of stone makes me think of the silent, frozen courtyard of the evil white witch’s castle, in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia with all those statues of creatures she turned to stone and left to stand, stock still, but winter would eventually come to an end and the ground/stone/heart would/could then thaw.

It has, again here, and spring comes once again, Mother’s Day with it. When I think of spring flowers, I think of my mom. She taught me many things…for instance…

No matter what I’ve been through since childhood, in love and through loss and no matter how much I may have wanted to, I could not remain bitter for very long.

No matter what I see now still, when it comes to love that does not last, I can’t cling to the bitterness or disillusionment of that because she modelled something different.

Whether it was/is the way she loves my father (coming up on 39 years now), other family, my siblings and me, or especially now with her grandchildren. She taught me what the heart is meant to do.

So Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Xo

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Cheesy Words From A Grateful Sister, #SongLyricSunday

I’m grateful for siblings who listen and laugh with me.

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First born…middle child (children) and the baby of the family.

We’ve avoided the traps of sibling rivalry, for the most part, at least. We were all “the favourite” in our parent’s eyes. We are all awesome, in our own unique ways, if I do say so myself, enjoying inside jokes and common interests and our hobbies.

I remember New York City with two of them and a trip still to come with the third is going to be epic.

They’ve given me the gift of becoming an aunt. They’ve shared new music (Bjork/Pinback just to name a few).

I love them all. They, all three originals and two in-laws, all my heroes, even if this particular Bette Midler song is overdone, over played, and over-the-top in their eyes perhaps. This song still makes me cry. They matter. I’m going for it with the sharing of these lyrics, because I would be lost without them:

They’ve kept me going through the hardest of times, their strength and integrity, their strength of character – best people I know.

***

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings,

cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

LYRICS

***

This song doesn’t mention sisters/brothers anywhere in it, but it’s what I think of, who I think of when I hear it.

And while
Helen
spends time with her sister, I spent my Saturday on podcast production with my brother.

Today is Earth Day and we have Episode Eleven coming out, with our first guests, and an awesome interview about the natural world and our place in it.

My brother is tough and resilient. He knows his sound and audio. He is loyal and hilarious.

My older brother and my sister-in-law got to celebrate a sunny spring weekend, with their two children, for her birthday.

My sister is working to help people with the dreaded “TAXES” and taking care of her family. They’re lucky to have her attention to detail and her devotion to the three of them.

Having them, being lucky enough to call them my siblings, gives me the strength to go on.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, SoCS, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Daisy’s Haircut, #DowntonAbbey #SoCS

I didn’t see a last picture, not in some time. The last one of those I saw was one…I now do not remember what.

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This week, Linda at
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS
says to write about the last picture we see before writing.

I once loved to pour over photo albums of my mother or grandmother’s. My mom on her wedding day, the photos of my grandparent’s younger selves, or my own photo, smiling wide, in grade eight graduation gown.

Now I see so little that pictures don’t appear to me, not anywhere near clearly, unless they are shifting images I hold onto in my own wandering mind.

There’s a name for it, I believe but am too tired to look it up for this stream of consciousness writing moment, but I still see images in my own head. My mind hasn’t totally forgotten. My brain and those connections still fire off and hope to produce something tangible.

Well, sometimes it is a vague memory, myself as a tiny twelve-year-old, standing in my overalls in front of our side garage wall, full to the top with big cardboard boxes of fluid for home dialysis.

Other times, I see a picture, as if expertly framed, inside my thoughts. It’s an image that comes, without warning, like the one I started to see after binge watching all six seasons of Downtown Abbey in the last few weeks.

The young, naive kitchen helper, assistant cook Daisy. She finally sees what she has, after pining for all the wrong men, and she sees it after cutting all her hair off, to change up her image and to impress the boy.

At first, he laughs, but then they share a tender moment. She meekly looks up at him, her chopped off dark haired head. This one image seems to go along with that moment and its audio track, on a loop inside my mind.

I don’t know what that’s about. It isn’t real, didn’t happen that way (or at least I never saw it), but it feels so impossibly true to me.

My older brother is a photographer. I am proud of this, I admire him for many things, this included. He takes still images, mostly, and preserves a moment.

That’s all I try to do with my own writing, even if my own brain works against me, not giving me more than a moment’s peace, showing me a constant reel of images like I can still see them with my eyes.

It can be exhausting, sometimes preoccupying all of me, zapping my energy, as strange as that may sound.

Bad brain! Bad bad bad brain!

STOP IT!!!

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