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I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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Farewell Glow #JusJoJan

I had my final hair cut from a cousin of mine today. She has been doing my hair for nearly fifteen years and, first world problems I know, but it isn’t only the hair.

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It’s really a
mix
of feelings and emotions because I trusted her, as family I’ve grown up with, to style my hair like I trust my sister to help me choose clothes.

Unable to see my face in the mirror (my hair) or how I look in a certain sweater or pair of jeans means I appreciate any help I can get.

I don’t say this to sound like poor me, the blind woman, because I work hard to fight the problems pity for blind people causes in society.

It’s just nice to have those I totally trust to do their best to help me out in these certain areas because, though I no longer see it all, I still like the things many women like like clothes or my nails done or a new haircut.

My cousin is moving, with her husband and kids, across the country and I am happy for her. I know a lot of people don’t understand why she felt the need to leave everything, her business and family and the only place she’s ever known as home, but I understand doing something that others don’t get. It means doing what you feel you must, something that your heart is telling you, all while other people shrug their shoulders and raise an eyebrow in confusion because they don’t see what you are seeing.

I do wish the best for her and her family on this new part of their journey together, but I will miss having her nearby. She is my main connection to the rest of the family I see, less and less, now that we’re all older.

Her salon smelled lovely, she’d often had relaxing music playing and would offer coffee or tea while I’d wait, and I always enjoyed the feel of the way she would straighten my hair.

All my best to them. I just gotta work at accepting change when it comes because that’s not going to be the last change I’ll have to face. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.

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Writing A Wrong, #JusJoJan

A bunch of holes, punched into a piece of paper – what is it?

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As it was once done, braille still can be written with the slate and stylus, a piece of metal or plastic with lines of the six cells that make up braille.

A piece of paper is slipped inside the slate, lined up, so the stylus can
poke
holes in the appropriate spots to make all the individual braille letter combinations.

I know it sounds confusing and complicated to people upon hearing this, but it is how I’ve known to read and write since I was a child.

Handy when writing postcards when traveling, though they are less common than when I was younger.

It makes that simple thump thump thump sound as I press the stylus into the correct spot in the small six dot space, which lets me know I am right where I mean to be. One centimetre off and the letter I meant to write has a wrong dot in it.

Though I no longer use the slate and stylus method, as I prefer the speed of Perkins brailers or, nowadays, my electronic/Bluetooth braille display.

Sure, technology truly is amazing and has made literacy for the blind more efficient, but without the basic yet brilliant invention of braille to begin with, the world would be without the beauty of braille for all these years.

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TToT: An Ode and Lament For “No Need to Argue” #FlashbackFriday #10Thankful

Had they but courage equal to desire?

William Butler Yeats – Poetry Foundation

It’s around that time: celebrating The Cranberries biggest and best of all their albums – No Need to Argue, 1994.

First off, I just like that message, being someone who never liked to argue much at all myself.

It’s not only one big time radio single that’s on offer here, but a lovely and haunting collection of songs, that moves me from start to finish.

From family ties to Ireland’s well-known Troubles to a tribute to a long-since-passed Irish poet.

During the later half of the 90’s, I’d place the tape in my walkman, crank the volume in my headphones, and drown out the world, a world of medical tests and uncertain outcomes. Not all my childhood was about, but a big big part of it and this album was a piece of that.

And it all started with my sister (thanks) and an Irish boy on our school bus.

RIP again, Dolores, and a great owing of gratitude to the entire band for this album.

What album (not song) has been there, done this sort of thing in your life? Albums are often neglected pieces of art as a whole.

Ode and Lament (From my 20th anniversary post for this album.)

I’m back for another round of
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
and this week I am thankful for more than ten things, but for every song on this memorable album and for those who made it – those still alive and those no longer with us.

I think of that quote from the top of this post and hearing her murmur those words of W.B. Yeats (in that song on the album) and I often wonder if my courage is equal to my desire for so many things.

Her haunted voice will forever ring inside my head.

Had they but courage equal to desire?

Had I? Have I?

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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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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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