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TToT: Hard Truths And What’s In The News, #10Thankful

“Sitting at my desk at two minutes past five on a Friday afternoon, deep in the season of darkness.” (Landscape orientation) The perspective of a person sitting at a desk, closely enough that the nearest edge of the muted-toffee top does not show.”

–The Wakefield Doctrine

I borrowed this quote from fellow blogger and writer Clark because it perfectly illustrates one unique perspective, a snapshot of one person’s place and time, their own, individual experience.

But the world is full of about 7 billion more, give or take. Thankfulness works best when you are aware of how lucky you are, though then I risk feeling like I am bragging, to someone, about just how good I indeed have things.

Listening to the news is a double-edged sword for me, but I strive to always be aware of the world around me still, never to become a prisoner of my personal life’s circumstance.

Want to be happy? Be grateful.

And so my thankfuls are all tied to the stories of the day/week.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful Canada celebrates Thanksgiving, the way we do, and in October.

http://www.macleans.ca/opinion/the-odd-complicated-history-of-canadian-thanksgiving/

This thankful exercise, here at the TToT, it teaches me to be thankful all year, but I do have a lot of issue with this one holiday, telling me to be thankful, while not being begun or continued in the right way.

I am thankful for real stories of pain and assault getting their chance to be heard.

http://www.macleans.ca/archives/nellie-mcclung-the-currents-of-life-grow-stronger-in-these-terrible-days/

This has gone unacknowledged for far too long. I don’t blame those who’ve experienced it for wanting not to put up with it any longer.

I am thankful for free speech…sigh.

https://www.therecord.com/news-story/7963254–i-never-thought-we-would-get-to-the-point-students-hold-free-speech-rally-at-laurier/

I am not on one side or the other of this matter. I wouldn’t be able to even choose a side for the purposes of a protest. I often wonder if that means I am someone who is unable to take a stand. In the meantime, I just stand there, on the sidelines.

I am a blind woman who sometimes has sensitivities toward ablism and then, in the next breath, wonder if I am being over sensitive. I am also someone who knows the luxury of being born in a country like Canada. I do think free speech can go too far, when it is coming from a place of fear or hate.

I am thankful Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau understands the value of apologizing.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trudeau-apologizes-to-newfoundland-residential-school-students-excluded-in-past/article37071843/

To show awareness of someone else’s suffering goes a long way and shows empathy. It is an acknowledgement. It is an affirmation.

Of course he won’t satisfy everyone, but he’s making an effort anyway. The gesture is not a hollow one.

I am thankful for a stable government.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42071488

You might not be sure, sometimes can’t tell, and I have my doubts when I happen to catch a clip of government proceedings, but Canada is not ruled by self-interested or even brutal dictators.

I don’t know the uncertainty of such a thing.

I am thankful for having a safe place to live and that, maybe, more of Canada will soon have the same.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-justin-trudeau-affordable-housing-1.3220479

My privilege showing again, with this one, but the following words are from someone with a vastly different set of life experiences.

All the time, I’m aware when I speak of Canada, that we must admit and be proud of our vulnerability and our ability to want to do better.

Race. Class. It affects real people. Privilege is real.

I am thankful I don’t have an unstable workplace to go to.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/883375/argentina-submarine-us-navy-plane-object

I have had relatives who’ve had to work in a mine, but a submarine…oh boy.

Both scare the wits out of me, being trapped like that, and so far from and cut off from the rest of the world, in this case, being unable to get back.

I love the ocean, but being in a submarine is near the bottom of the list of places I’d like to be. And, yes, I do see the irony and the pun in this statement.

I am thankful for a fairy tale prince and his family.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42137179?utm_content=bufferbf756&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I admit it…I have imagined myself in her place, a time or two, though I realize the challenges that must exist.

I do think there is a hype that probably goes too far, but I think any romance in the world is a plus. I need stories like these. Sometimes I wonder if all is how it seems, but I really do get swept up in all the excitement, in spite of myself.

I am thankful for the kick-in-the-butt NaNoWriMo November has given me.

https://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/roxane-gay

Okay, so I barely reached more than a few thousand words, nowhere near fifty thousand, but it got me to at least start something I’d been talking and thinking about for a long while.

I may have met the goal of National Novel Writing Month when I first attempted it, back in 2013, but once that month was over I never went back to it, to finishing anything. This time, all that matters is that I started it and will keep at it.

And so now there is no turning back on this novel I was born, in a way, to write.

I am thankful to avoid any and all Black Friday or Cyber Monday mania.

https://passport2017.ca/articles/canada-black-friday-bandwagon

I choose to focus on the parts of the holidays that make me the happiest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDGo72bdKdU

Happy start to the holiday season. I love what Lindsey Stirling does with her violin in this one.

Enjoy.

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TToT: Looking Off Somewhere I Can’t Go #10Thankful

One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
one need not be a House –
The brain has Corridors – surpassing
Material Place –

Ourself behind ourself, concealed ‘
Should startle most –
Assassin hid in our apartment
Be Horror’s least. 

– Emily Dickinson

jcZ4TvP.jpg

I am holding my niece in her Halloween costume.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for my little butterfly.

(See above photo.)

She has gotten her first few teeth.

No more is her favourite thing, chewing on my fingers, no longer is this such a harmless distraction.

Fly Little Butterfly, Fly!

I am thankful I am a print published author.

ISSUE 4: WINTER 2017 – MisadventuresMag

I have previously been printed in an anthology, but this time I was paid. Last time it was for charity.

I just heard it is going to be available in Barnes & Noble stores and so I will be off on a hunt to find it.

It may not be my own book, but I am excited to discover it’s a magazine that a bookstore carries.

I am thankful for the parcel arriving in my mailbox.

This package contained four copies of the magazine and my cheque.

Not bad, compared to in the past.

I am thankful I could share my news and book with someone, a friend, over a latte.

I was a few minutes late for meeting her. I was late because I just found the parcel in my mail and so I hope she understood.

She was happy to receive one of my four copies of the mag.

I am thankful for more stretching and meditating.

I am thankful for extra writing group time, in a new location, for November’s National Novel Writing Month month.

It has been arranged, in addition to meeting in the library twice a month, that we writers who are attempting NaNoWriMo can use a room in Woodstock Museum, every Saturday, for two hours for the entire month.

This feels like an extended writer’s group, but I don’t read and I get to bring my laptop.

Sometimes there are even snacks.

I am thankful for my loved ones being free from war.

I feel a lot of mixed feelings when a day to remember, like November 11th comes along, and really any time. War is not as simple as bravery and heroism.

But I am heartbroken to hear there is violence that will not rest, in any part of the world. I am glad my nieces and nephews don’t have to grow up around such traumas and horrors, but being aware of it all sometimes weighs me down.

That’s precisely what the above stretches and meditation are needed for. They lift me up.

I am thankful for some good food, especially the bread buns, to support a worthy cause.

I am no athlete, but I think it’s pretty cool what she’s attempting to accomplish. Unfortunately, it always takes money.

The Paralympics (Special Olympics as some like to call it) is, I guess needed, but it is still a neat thing, so important, to show the world that people with disabilities can and do participate in sports too.

Emily Trains for Winter Paralympics

She held a fundraiser and I just couldn’t get enough of the bread buns.

My brother and his friend won door prizes.

I wish her luck in reaching such an excellent athletic goal.

I am thankful for a piece that was just published, after several months since its original acceptance.

SeeingYukon Through Blind Eyes – Passport2017

As Canada enters its next 150 years, I wanted too start off telling the story of a place I will forever love and about the vastness of our country.

I wanted to start off on the right foot and hopefully the next period of Canada can be better.

I am thankful a movie I couldn’t find in theatres is now playing nearby.

I hope to see it soon and will give a review of it when I do.

Before I go…are you aware of the Japanese concept of ma by any chance?

The Japanese concept of ma.

Well, I wasn’t either, until a few days ago. I don’t feel I have quite grasped its meaning, but it feels important to me. It feels meaningful to my life somehow.

“it’s the presence of absence, the gap where the moonlight sifts through.
TheDark Feels Different in November – The Paris Review
It’s the hollow where ghosts gather, the pause in conversation.”

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Lay Down Your Weapons #RemembranceDay #SoCS

I am trying to write about war.

LFgFXK5.jpg

On this November 11th, I try to put myself in the place of, say, my grandmother. She lived through World War II and yet I feel like I never even scratched the surface with her. She spoke of that time in her life, more than most, but yet not nearly enough.

I am trying to get down the words, at least a beginning to what could become a novel some day. November is not only Remembrance Day, but it is also National Novel Writing Month and, at this rate, I am not likely to make the fifty thousand words that is the ultimate goal.

I have a near stroke when I think of the setting I want my story to have. I worried that this piece of writing required too much research. NaNoWriMo isn’t supposed to be about doing research. That comes later. Just write.

In a way though, I feel I’ve kind of being doing my own form of research, for many years. I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, most especially World War I and II and the 20th century. I’ve watched documentaries and read up on lived accounts of those years. Still, as much of an empath as I feel I am, it is hard to put myself in that place.

How would it feel to be living during World War I or World War II anyway?

I listen to true and up close accounts of soldiers, in the trenches, between 1914 and 1918 and the rats and the mud and the stench of death all around you.

I’ve listened hard to personal accounts in interviews, Jews and other victims of the carnage. I am writing a story about a woman, her mother, and trying to raise three young children/grandchildren during such days. I am trying to put myself in their shoes. That seems, though I am a human too, to be a difficult task, a goal, one I am fighting hard to reach.

I love my country, am happy to be Canadian, but I am no patriot. I wish political parties and affiliations didn’t exist. On a day like November 11th, I don’t glorify war, just like I don’t glorify it any other day of the year. My goal, in learning about it and writing about it, is to try and make it not repeat itself, like I have that power.

All the talk of bravery gets to me. Of course, it would be scary to be caught in a war, but to make the decision to go and fight in one is different altogether.

I feel like I am being disrespectful. I know it’s a sacrifice to risk losing a leg, an arm, or one’s life to war. I speak the truth of it, but what it is is ugly and awful and, I believe, unnecessary.

I heard a song on the radio earlier today, one that very nearly brought me to tears, about how we’re all one, all family, every one of us. We are from different countries, continents, cultures, and races certainly. Some say this makes us different in ways that cannot be altered. Others sing those songs of coming together as one, in humanity.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS (Remembrance Day Edition)

I wish walls were never built and lines never crossed in anger. I am not in control of most of this. Losing limbs seems, to some, to be a possible price to pay for freedom and democracy. I just want to write about war. I don’t want to see any more. People say, when it comes to us imperfect and often boastful humans, that will never be the case.

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TToT: Fly Little Butterfly, Fly – Root, Colour Dump, #10Thankful

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

—Ode To Autumn” by John Keats

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for some time hanging out with my niece.

We played with toys. My poor knees can’t handle all that time on the floor, but she was having so much fun, so I was too.

I am thankful for a November 1st writing group night where I made the decision, with support from other writers, to try my hand at National Novel Writing Month again.

The site is still rather inaccessible and that is a problem, but that shouldn’t stop me from using the structure and the occasion of the month to start a novel I’ve wanted to start for years.

That launching evening, with others doing it, was just what I needed to start down the NaNo road for 30 days.

I am thankful for an hour of peaceful yoga.

I look more and more forward to that one hour each week.

I am doing it for physical reasons, of course, but mostly I need it for my mental state.

I am thankful for a tough violin lesson to follow an easy one.

After last week’s super positive lesson, I didn’t know what this week would bring.

It was more of a challenging week. This was strenuous, for sure, but then I decided I need that balance of both.

I am thankful for a package being sent to me.

I’m included in a winter issue of a literary magazine. My piece is a short one about the horizon.

Well, this is new and exciting because I received an email, informing me of how the magazine has sent out a package for me.

I am not certain, but I am guessing it includes a copy of the issue. I can’t wait to find this in my mailbox.

It comes out on November 15th.

But you can order it here, anytime:
Misadventures Mag, Issue 4: Winter 2017

There’s just something about holding a solid book, with my words in it, in my hands. It’s different from the online world.

It’s all a great privilege, but this is something that doesn’t happen to me every day.

I am thankful for a weekend extra writing social with chocolate.

I didn’t even think I liked Mars Bars, but that day I did.

We met at the museum in town. We have a room reserved there, for two hours, every Saturday for the month of November.

Having extra NaNo writing time set aside as a group can only help me.

Well, okay so not always a lot of writing happens in that group, but more than if I never went at all.

I am thankful my brother and his musician friends returned to practice in my basement.

I missed the absence of it, while lives changed and people got busy with other things.

I like having them down there. Every time they come, they thank me and I guess they worry they are imposing.

They aren’t.

I am thankful I am going off of a medication that has, I think, been causing a dreadful side effect.

These aren’t the usual dreams. They are every night and it feels like they take up my entire sleep.

I wake feeling emotionally worn out and deeply affected. I guess you would call them nightmares, but they aren’t me running from monsters in dark places.

They are me being sexually assaulted, my parents being trapped in a collapsed building, and epic adventures that leave me feeling drained when I wake up and all day long. And then it’s time to go to sleep once again.

I hope it’s just from a medication I soon won’t be on. The other option is a reaction from some level of anxiety I’m feeling. I do feel stress, but this feels different and new. I hope it’s on its way out of my head and my life.

I am thankful for a long awaited piece of my writing in a big time literary mag.

WRITING LIFE: Accepting My Blindness As A Freelance Writer – Hippocampus Magazine

First of all, I just liked the word (the part of the brain), but then I discovered it was the name of a literary journal and I was intrigued.

Meaning of Hippocampus

I am thankful for Sade.

I have seen a lot of articles written about her lately, like this one:
Sade’s Eternal Cool – Longreads

I think she is one of the cooler artists around.

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Thunderbolts and Firewires: The Year That Was 2016, #Farewell2016 #Writing #Podcast

I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

IqtN7Cr.jpg

Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.

And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.

I did it at the end of 2015 with:
My Top Spills and Thrills
of which there had been enough of both to go around.

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

As the January 2016 quote from my blog showed,
I began my year afraid and uncertain and on a bit of a lower note,
with a little
Just Jot It January fun.

Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing.
Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.

In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be
thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push,
some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.

The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.

It began with David Bowie, but for me,
it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.

A new year maybe, but a new month meant another
#1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.

With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.

Thanks to Kristi from
Finding Ninee
I decided to participate in a new blogging exercise
for the first time.

Another first included
Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells
but, in the end, it wasn’t for me.

Turns out, the magic of this month has been that I could just write, jot really, and I started to see that I didn’t need to have the rest of the year all figured out in the first thirty-one days.

FEBRUARY

This second month of the year is designated for a cause I know well. It ended up to be my chance to speak my mind about my personal cause and became my first published article of 2016:

To the People Who’ve Never Heard of My Rare Disease – The Mighty

February would end up being a month of
mindfulness and music.

Ten days in, I turned thirty-two and decided to check a big one off of my
bucket list,
and so I went out and rented myself a violin.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore:
Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.

Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for
March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.

By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

March brought with it guest blogging spots and more opportunities for publication, other places than my own blog,
with my second attempt at the #BeReal challenge.

Following this, feminism seemed to be the topic of March as a month.

An interview I’d done with
a proud male feminist
and then a piece I’d written on
International Women’s Day
were both picked up by
The Good Man Project.

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

Patty Duke, at the end of Women’s History Month, March.

APRIL

I got myself a writing mentor and my lyrics were finally heard.

Don’t Look Back

I was trying to focus, to look ahead, and to plan for what I wanted.

Why Oh Why

The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

Once again, like during the spring of 2015, I was losing my tool for communication and self expression. This makes me feel vulnerable.

So I appreciated
the share from a friend
and another
guest posting opportunity
from a blogger, a young woman I really admire and have interviewed here before.

Spotlight On Single Strides

The end of April brought with it the death of Prince.

It also brought with it
the death of the loner laptop I was using
and a beautiful gift from a stranger, one which would allow me to write another day.

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

I’d been pondering the idea of doing a podcast for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then, I brought up the idea with my brother and an idea, our idea, was born.

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

I couldn’t do this without thinking back twenty years.

Frozen In Time

For May’s edition of #1000Speak I focused on
Loving My Self-ish.

The end of May and onward to June always causes me to pause and reflect.

Born Again and Forever Grateful

This time these thoughts would grow to become my next piece to be featured on The Good Man Project.

JUNE

My first Song Lyric Sunday on more than just any old Sunday day.

Following “the month of the Mother,” –
Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth–Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That?
June will always be a month for me and my father.

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

We started with a Facebook page,
and soon that followed with
Episode 1 – Intro To Us
with Ketchup On Pancakes.

On top of the release of the podcast, I jumped at an amazing offer, an invite, which would require a whole lot of planning and a wait of nearly six months.

Would the moment ever get here?

I bet my sister was thinking that same thing, we all were, but her good news was finally a dream come true.

A chance at independence and a new life for my writing and for me and a second child for her.

And so I applied for a newly updated passport and began to count down the months.

I read and wrote one of my rarer than I’d like book reviews.

Then I was approached and invited to write another
guest post
about my life and my day as a blogger.

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

More lyrics for a second song written and, in celebration of and motivated by that accomplishment,
I decided to return to the visual art of my childhood and an old, familiar kind of creativity.

Up next, speaking of being reminded of being a child,
I reviewed a movie about motherhood,
that I’d gone to see, with my newly pregnant sister, in our own empty theatre.

Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.

The World Can Learn a Thing or Two From Canada – The Planet D

One beloved Canadian spoke up about his oncoming struggle and we lost someone in our family. I’m glad I got to meet Gerti, at least once that I’ll always remember.

As August came to an end, I made a few hard choices about my writing and what I wanted done with it.

If I made a mistake somewhere in there, I guess it will be mine to make and to own and to learn from.

The questioning would and will continue, no matter the month or the year I’m in.

SEPTEMBER

The first day of this new month was one I’d been waiting for, with the release of a new publication, focusing on what travel should be, the kind I’d like to see.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

I remembered what it was like, moving into my house that I bought with my sister, ten years ago.

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

Ten years later, my nephew started school and my niece began the first grade. Another loved one passes away. RIP Erica.

I got to feature an interview I’d done with one of my favourite editors/writers.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

This felt like a giant win and one of the best things to ever happen to this blog.

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

But we weren’t the only ones with the idea of doing a podcast. Apparently, the idea had spread.

The Brevity Podcast

I took an autumn trip, to say goodbye,
with more than just the fall colours
as backdrop.

NOVEMBER

The U.S. makes a big mistake and it’s time to get writing – all the more reason to write.

Nano Nano Nano

“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”

Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of
RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.

Stalemate, #1000Speak

Could this possibly spell the end of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion?

DECEMBER

Canada announces the first woman, other than the Queen, to appear on Canadian money.

Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

One month after November’s U.S. election, we share our Canadian perspective.

Episode 3 – The Great Gong Show of 2016 with Ketchup On Pancakes

I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.

A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:

I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.

Joseph Mascolo, ‘Days of Our Lives’ Villain, Dies at 87 – New York Times

No villain was ever more evil than Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah Humbug! Whoosh! #10Thankful

I featured a George Michael shoutout, in my final 10 Things of Thankful post for 2016 and this was before the Christmas Day announcement of his passing.

I am no fortune teller, but some of my predictions did happen,
as I sit with what did indeed come to pass and look back on what 2016 became.

Ketchup On Pancakes (the podcast) had a final episode for the year, a catch up on all that was 2016, by a cozy fireside.

Episode 4 – Farewell 2016…By The Fireside with Ketchup On Pancakes

And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.

My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

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TToT: Utility Muffin Research Kitchen – Comfort and Courage, #10Thankful

So much going on in the world, so much that I can’t write my way out of. I know what I am thankful for, as always, but recently my stress has been building and I couldn’t bring myself to post anything about gratitude last week.

I wasn’t even going to be back now, but I am one of those who believes both these are true:

“The only thing worse than knowing the truth is not knowing the truth, and yet, “the only thing worse than not knowing is knowing.”

By next Sunday we will know, not all “the truth” really, but the reality.

I don’t like where the world and more specifically the US is heading, but I am, in this case particularly, unable to do anything directly about it either way. Emphasizing what I am thankful for is the least and the most I can do now and we will face next week when we get there, like a rickety bridge, but I don’t speak of burning anything.

Those familiar with the stylings of Frank Zappa, you may recognize the stringing together of those four words in my title. I didn’t know of his recording studio and the rather odd name it possessed, until I heard an interview with Lady Gaga, who has purchased the house and now makes music there and shares it with other musicians. I liked the random word choice and thought it fitting for things at the moment.

For a little Halloween fun, with October behind us and November, the US election, and the holidays still to come this year, I begin with this here tale of terror.

Click Clack the Rattle Bag

Beautiful storytelling. I wanted to remember it.

Here is one song I came across this week that had the sort of feeling I am experiencing right now. I have the one picked out for next week, if a first female president is elected that is. If the worst does happen, the following song feels fitting, for my mood.

O Children – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I heard it in the final Harry Potter movie (well, Part One of it anyway). It felt sombre. Lots of people feel this added scene (not found in the books) was awkward and unnecessary, but I felt the opposite, that sometimes the movie takes a gamble on a little something extra and it touches a viewer like me.

So, Ron had just run out on Harry and Hermione and the mission they were on to defeat evil. Hermione was devastated and Harry suddenly gets her to dance with him, to this song, and something feels optimistically hopeful, for their friendship and humanity, like not all hope was lost.

Somehow, I felt a connection here, to the current climate. I don’t think I’m wrong.

I am thankful, first off, for small favours which are really just what ends up happening, but sometimes they can prevent something much worse from occurring.

My brother had a seizure this week, but he is fine now.

He has had several since he fell, last December, and hit his head. He had a few last summer and then not until the other night.

The worst part about them, like what I say above, is you don’t know when they will come, but yet would knowing really be easier?

I guess because you could plan for the most optimal situation. If he is in the wrong place, doing the wrong action, it could be worse for sure. If he’s out in the street. If he’s in a place where a secondary injury could cause more damage. It’s scary because he is so smart and so much of what makes him Brian is his amazing mind. He was, only a few hours before, playing the most beautiful music with his band in my basement. Each time they play I change my mind and a different one of their songs becomes my favourite.

He is himself still, thank God, but my fear is that something will change. Seizures are hard on the body and on the brain, obviously. He was alone, but he was sitting down, we believe. He will be okay. My heart stops each time I hear he’s had another.

I am thankful for those little Facebook reminders of what happened exactly one year ago. Well, okay, not always, but this time for sure.

This happened.

One of my better/best decisions ever. I am thankful that I have a place where I read my writing out loud. It is excellent practice.

I am thankful for a fun-filled writing group this week.

November first was the start of a month of non stop writing, for some, as it’s National Novel Writing Month once more.

Only two of our group are doing it this year and I’m not one of them, but we had a party of sorts, while we chatted, wrote, and read our stories out loud. I know how much I can handle and how much I can’t. I hadn’t had that positive breakthrough with my violin yet and I knew I couldn’t add anything more to my plate right now.

I know things out of my control should never stop me, if doing something like writing a novel were what I really wanted to do, but this just isn’t the time and I know it. I sometimes trust my instincts to show me the way forward.

I do have a story I’m dying to tell, but not yet. This doesn’t mean I must wait a whole other year, for NaNo to come around again, but we shall see.

I just need to see what happens in the US on Tuesday and the aftermath of that. I need to get a year of violin practice under my belt. I need to focus on my goals for at least the next three months. That’s what is most important to me right now.

But back to writing group. The stories, minus my own, were unbelievably satirical and hilarious. We had to roll a pair of giant dice and we received a matching setting and character description for both the numbers we rolled.

Mine was: “beach with a prudish dress code” and “woman who is upset because her imaginary friend dumped her for another woman”.

Maybe I will share that story one day.

I am thankful that NaNoWriMo exists.

It got me writing back in 2013 and I wrote the quota of fifty thousand words in thirty days that year.

I achieved what would have seemed and sounded impossible to me at the time.

I fear I lost that beginning to a story, but even if I did, I now know I can do it again and I will. I now have two novel ideas to choose from when I do.

I am thankful I got to hear my violin teacher performing live with her fellow musicians. Brass, wood winds, strings, and percussion. It was a remarkable thing to witness, so many performing in unison and the pieces played were introduced by professors of the music school at University of Western Ontario, in London. The quote about comfort and courage was from one of those introductions and I made a note of it and liked the sound of it when I heard it.

I am thankful for a better week with the violin.

For the last few weeks I’ve felt like I was not making enough progress with the song I’m working on. I worried I was wasting everyone’s time and money and belief in me, especially my own hope, with all I’ve put of myself into this dream.

This week something began to make more sense I suppose. I felt better, walking out of that practice room, than I have in a while. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but definitely one of the more rewarding things I’ve attempted in my life.

I am thankful for family to hang out with when I need to smile and distract my rushing thoughts.

I watched the final game of this season’s World Series with my parents, brother, and uncle. I’m glad I got to think about baseball instead of world happenings, even if Toronto had lost out days before, for another year. These two teams deserved a shot.

I had to spend this past weekend around one who knows nothing about politics, elections, or world events yet. He is only four, so plenty of time to face these things, to learn about them, but I wish he never had to.

I feel the need to phone and speak to other children in my family, as I did after my aunt died, even with my feelings of not wanting to bother people, with their busy schedules and hectic lives. I know I should not ever allow that to hold me back. It’s silly really.

I am thankful for a ride home from my uncle after we couldn’t quite hold out past the rain delay to go home and call it a night.

My uncle is someone I can talk to about the struggles and the thrills of learning to play an instrument later in life because he plays and he gives it his all when he does.

He introduced me to another violinist from Canada on the brief drive home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ehnes

I am thankful for the baby kicks I’m not certain I felt.

My sister has felt them for a while in her second pregnancy, but getting over my weirdness with such contact, I tried for really the first time this time round. I felt nothing really, but it’s still early enough, and as long as the mother feels them I am okay to wait.

It really is miraculous and to think of that baby growing and moving is one of the best things in a mixed up, topsy-turvy world.

I am thankful for comedians to make me laugh about the things that, if I don’t laugh about, the only other option would be to cry.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor and Jimmy is hysterical with a good guest.

I am thankful for the vast array of autumn weather we’ve been having.

It was so nice to step out my door the other day to bright sunshine and warm temperatures, for November anyway. I stop, on the stairs, multiple times a day, in my favourite place in my house. I stand and take in the view, with my remaining senses of smell and hearing. I loved the cooler weather of Halloween. I loved the dank and the rainy and the better days as we fell back one hour, ushering in darkness earlier and earlier going toward December, and we’re on our way toward winter. Glorious that I live in Canada and get to experience all four seasons.

Okay, so perhaps a couple additional TToT items this week, to make up for missing a few recently. I needed to write and find all the ways I possibly could to keep my mood from crashing. On into another week however.

And, with that I conclude by saying, America, please be careful.

Here is a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago.

Good luck to all my American friends and to all of you from this here TToT, for the week that’s ahead of you. We, the rest of the world, will be praying and crossing our fingers and watching closely.

Utility, muffin, research, kitchen. And comfort and courage to us all.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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