Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Stung and Still Standing, #Purple #EpilepsyAwarenessDay #SongLyricSunday

“No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”
—The Tragically Hip

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I am fascinated by history and by time passing, as it does with every year of life I get to live.

This week I was initially stumped by the theme for
Song Lyric Sunday
which was about healing.

I’ve done a lot of that, physical scars and emotional ones too. For some reason though, I couldn’t think of a song. Then I watched the newest interpretation of the Anne of Green Gables story and heard their theme song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE2joQsWXJg

This song was included on a CD I received, as a get well gift, twenty years ago. This was back when I hardly had more than a few CD’s and barely even a CD player to play them in.

I walked to the nurses station and felt the funny cardboard case in my hand. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I thought the lyrics of this song strange, baffling, yet humorous.

***

First thing we’d climb a tree
and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently
and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday
casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal,
this is our life

And that’s where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud
and then the day began
I tilted your cloud,
you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time
and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal,
this is our life

But that’s when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

And disappointing you is getting me down

Lyrics

***

This song’s lyrics aren’t specifically about healing, but when I remember the girl I was, upon holding that cardboard case, I remember the hospital in Toronto I was standing in. I had done a lot of healing, multiple surgeries between ages twelve and sixteen, and I had so much ahead of me, not all so easy to heal from.

But I was receiving a fresh start, a kidney from my father, and would I make a good life for myself with what I was being given? I was lucky to be alive, to have the best medical care possible, and I had all my life in front of me.

I still don’t know if I am appreciative enough of what that time of healing and sacrifice from my family, from so many medical professionals, brought – if I have made them all proud enough. It’s enough to show a person, at a young age, that life is precious and these lyrics now carry the greatest of weights to me, if not then.

Today is World Epilepsy Day.

Purple

Twenty years later and I now worry about my brother, with every seizure he has. The brain is a miraculous thing, with all the wear and tear it can go through and how it can heal. At least we both have working kidney transplants, for this moment, because who knows what time will bring.

Multiple surgeries, countless needles, and I’m still afraid of being stung by a hornet.

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Salty Sweet, Bittersweet #TGIF #FTSF #pieceOfCake

My father was never the beer drinking father, like most kids had. He was the Coke drinking father who was always available to be designated driver.

“Can me and Brian split a can of Coke?” I would shout from the top of the stairs, down to my parents in the basement. We always had Coke in the house, or practically always, but I still always felt like I must receive permission from my parents to have any. I like to think I had a healthy respect for them, most of the time, asking before taking. We had a good life, but our parents taught us a healthy gratitude for everything we got.

One of us would get the can and the other, they would get the half of the can poured into a glass. It was often the two of us, brother and sister against the world.

When I was 11 I was like any other kid my age, growing up in the mid nineties, and wanting what we call, in Canada, not soda, but pop. I loved sugar, but I also craved salt.

I began to sneak those fast food restaurant salt packets. I would eat the salt off of Pretzels and I even sprinkled salt on my potato chips because they weren’t salty enough.

How many eleven-year-old kids crave salt? It would have been a tough choice, at that age, between a can of sugary pop or a bag of extra salty snacks, but, at a certain point, around age eleven, the salty snacks would have won. By necessity. Something in my body needed, demanded it.

This is what would change my life forever. I had been born blind and lived that way, just another part of who I was. After my eleventh year, there was no denying that something was very wrong.

It’s been more than twenty years since that eleven-year-old craved sugar and so much salt. My kidney disease was growing worse. The nausea was increasing. The fatigue was putting me in bed right after dinner, almost nightly, feeling so weak and unable to run and play like I’d always done, like kids did.

This was the year after I celebrated my tenth birthday, with friends at McDonalds. (A paradise and a sugar/salt lover’s dream come true.)

After the year of the Beverly Hills 90210 poster and the Mariah Carey cassette given to me for my tenth birthday…I was not well as my next few birthdays came and went. I was not expecting to spend so much time in bed, on the couch, unable to eat anything other than that salty, processed, packaged chicken noodle soup made in a pot on the stove.

Bowls and bowls of the stuff were consumed by eleven-year-old Kerry.

I will never forget what it felt like to be eleven and drifting away from any semblance of a normal childhood. The next few years would be trying ones, but I am who I am today because of it all.

Both the salty and the sweet, bittersweet memories of a childhood, never boring.

This was more of the story I’ve been writing for twenty years, the one I want to continue writing, from the year I was eleven and unwell. It was brother and sister, always, and my brother would follow my footsteps, getting sick like me, three years later when he turned eleven.

This was the prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
this week.

Kristi, the orchestrator of all of this, she gave me the idea to start with the can of Coke. Read her post by clicking on the link above to see where I drew tonight’s inspiration for the prompt.

What were you doing when you were eleven?

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Three Reasons I Could Stop Writing Memoir But Won’t

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz ronitBy Ronit Feinglass Plank

I had been writing fiction and wanted to try nonfiction, so I began with personal essays. I didn’t think memoir was for me; in fact I was deliberately avoiding it. I didn’t see a reason to revisit the facts of my confusing childhood and thought memoir wouldn’t be as challenging as creating a world from scratch and putting characters in it. To tell my own story, the story I knew by heart, seemed almost too easy.

I could not have been more wrong. I was about to discover that looking at something you think you know pretty well with fresh eyes and trying to understand it in a new way is definitely not easy. I did try writing several personal essays but the history of how I grew up kept barging in, taking up more and more space. It seemed part of me really wanted to…

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Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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Dangling On The Edge

Thanks Steph. Since this, I’ve learned, there are scarier things than hanging off the side of a tall tower. Still, this was a thrill I will never forget. I’d go back up there tomorrow if I could.

Bold Blind Beauty

“I get a little stuck on titles like meet the blind. I can’t help but feel that I am more than “the blind.” ~Kerry Kijewski, The Insightful Wanderer

Description is in the body of the post.Here’s a photo of my friend Kerry doing the EdgeWalk on the CN Tower in Toronto. The EdgeWalk is “the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356 m/1168 ft (116 stories) above the ground.”

I get that most people who don’t have disabilities don’t want to do anything to offend those of us who do. However, when we refer to a group or an individual by their disability it’s demeaning because it takes away our personhood. “People First Language describes what the person HAS, not what the person IS.”

Image Description: Kerry, strapped into a harness and smiling, is literally hanging backward over the edge with her feet…

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INSIDE THE BLUR

She has hit the nail on the head here. It looks to me like the world is melting, melting away. I try to find beauty in all that is blurry. Beautiful words.

HASTYWORDS

There is beauty inside the blur:

dragonfly-699012_960_720Some days
The world is blurry
Looking as if it’s melting
Its turquoise skies into grass
While shades of molten glass
Swirl like mist around trees
And lonesome shadows
Joust with the light of day
The movement of life
Forming abstract shapes
And dancing like liquid clay
But that’s just some days
Because most days
I remember my contacts
And I can see clearly then

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Never Enough, #SongLyricSunday

I guess I don’t have a lot to say, on love, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching.

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I choose to remain silent this year, as far as my own love life is concerned, but I have enough past experience to draw upon. No problem.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

Well, I know about insecurities in love. I can’t believe there’s one single person who hasn’t felt it. I wonder about some more than others though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5_Hn_cLIvI

It’s a void a lot of us attempt to fill, but rarely ever is enough enough.

***

There will be no consolation prize
this time the bone is broken clean
no baptism, no reprise and no sweet taste of victory.
All the stars have fallen from the sky and everything else in between satelites have closed their eyes, the moon has gone to sleep
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am inside a hotel choking on a million words I said cigarettes have burned a hole and dreams are drunk and penniless
here I am inside my father? arms all jagged-bone and whiskey-dry whisper to me sweetly now and tell me I will never die
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am an empty hallway broken window, rainy night I am nineteen sixty-two and I am ready for a fight people crying hallelujah while the bullet leaves the gun
people falling, falling, falling and I don? know where they?e falling from
are they unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
hoping that the kindness will lead us past the blindness and not another living soul will ever have to feel unloved….unloved….unloved….
unloved unloved….unloved

Unloved – Jann Arden/Jackson Brown, Lyrics

SONGWRITERS RICHARDS, JANN ARDEN
PUBLISHED BY LYRICS © UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING GROUP

***

So, when I thought of those feelings of never being enough and those all-to-common fears of not being lovable, I went with this old Jann Arden duet I’ve loved for a long time, since I first discovered this songstress of Canada, back in the mid 90s.

If you grew up in a stable and loving family, like I was lucky to have had, it isn’t for lack of being told it. I always felt it.

It’s different with romantic love. It comes with a lot more baggage and demand and distraction and disillusionment. I felt unloved and unlovable by any man and I know part of that was feeling more like someone in need of supervision than as an equal. I have told myself that my blindness was a constant burden and a roadblock to ever being enough. This is where insecurity can haunt you and hold on tight.

I hope it loosens its grip a little.

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