Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, Writing

My Silent Fight #Clickbait #FightClub #AtoZChallenge

What’s the first rule of Fight Club again?

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Honestly, was never a big fan of the movie on my one and only viewing, but I decided to go for the dreaded clickbait, something I usually stay far away from doing in my writing.

The A to Z Challenge – R is for Rules

But today I am breaking my own rules.

I am breaking the rule of this A to Z Challenge, which is post on the corresponding day of the month, but I didn’t feel good, didn’t feel like it, and am instead posting the following morning.

I just had a conversation with my sister about this sort of thing. I am known to family and friends and possibly vague acquaintances as the woman who is nice and polite and doesn’t make much of a fuss.

Or, just maybe I like to break that rule. Or, perhaps, I’m simply waiting for the right moment to break it.

The common rule in the writing world (though I suppose it applies to many other things) is that first you must learn the rules, before you can even consider breaking them.

Once you do that, however, break away. Rules not laws of course, but even so…even if…even sometimes then, them, or that.

So maybe I’m still learning and you just never know when I’ll know enough to break the rules I choose to finally break.

Or maybe I’ll do it, so sneakily, it will be as if to never tell I’ve done it at all.

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

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Stay Away From The Bleach #AtoZChallenge

The obvious choice of words for today’s letter, for me, would be literature. Oh, I do love literature – a lot to say there.

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But I decided to go with the practical and that which is at the forefront of my mind today.

The A to Z Challenge – L is for Laundry

I need to do laundry.

Not such an uncommon thing to be done, but one of the biggest topics people ask me about, as in how I handle life as a blind woman, comes down to dressing myself and doing my own laundry.

It makes a difference, if you knew how much vision I still have, but this is a strictly how-its-done post. I see slightly more when I turn on the light down by my washer and dryer.

I know my own clothes. I know when I got it, where, and I’ve likely asked what colour each piece of clothing is. I can tell if it is dark or light. I remember by the materials and the necklines and the shape of each piece. I sort into darks and lights, sweatshirts and towels, and pink/red/purples.

If all else fails, I use the handy App on my phone which takes a picture of something and, within a few seconds to a minute, a response comes back which tells me what the picture shows. This usually identifies the colour as well.

We won’t mention the time, back when I shared a house and a washing machine with my sister, that I accidentally knocked the bleach onto her pile of reds. Oops.

As a rule, no more bleach in this house. It’s just not worth it. Well, off to sort and put in my first load of things.

With a few exceptions, most things aren’t as big a deal or as difficult as people might think, but when you get asked a question enough times, you start to realize some have no idea of how things work in the world of the sightless.

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

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, Writing

Old College Try, #Freelance #AtoZChallenge

I am no journalist.

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I write memoir, the kind of essay, nonfiction that may never bring in the big bucks.

The A to Z Challenge – F is for Freelance

My latest freelance rejection of a pitch I’d sent out, early in the week, the editor in her email response said:

“I find this story objectively interesting…”

Oh, great. That sounds positive. As long as I stayed focused on her first few lines of the email, all looked promising, but then:

“but it’s not really a fit for us. We do very few personal essay stories of this sort”.

It is my responsibility to learn what any publication I pitch publishes, what sort of pieces, and a lot are journalistic in tone. I can write, could, and maybe I will get there.

She did proceed to include in the email, a pitch doc for what she said was:

“to help shape future pitches”.

Not sure if she meant that is encouragement to try again with them in the future or just as a general tool. Either way, I appreciated the gesture.

I haven’t been able to map my writing road as such. Somehow, I ended up in a group on Facebook and there I saw editors asking for certain kinds of pieces. They were mostly about things from marginalized writers and voices and I qualified.

I had written pieces which were published on various websites, publications, and blogs, but none were paying, until this year. It’s nothing to retire on, but it felt like I was finally pulling my own weight.

So, I barely call myself a freelancer, just like I barely called myself a writer for a long long time.

Eventually, that changed. I moved up on this particular ladder. I now refer to myself as a writer. I am literary and would like to write memoirs and novels and plenty more, but if freelance work can find a spot in there somewhere too, I will do my best.

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

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

Don’t Scoff, #FTSF

He was a friendly, grandfatherly man, the one who first made me feel safe and heard. No longer did I have to be afraid because, along with my parents, this doctor was going to do all he could for me.

***

So now I come out of surgery. My father does too. We hurt, but we were in capable hands. My father is down to one kidney and I now have three. Of course, two were the problem to begin with, and I’m left with one. I’m still running on one. Thanks to those surgeons I am where I am.

***

His soft voice was in contrast with the brighter than bright lights he shown in my eyes. The worst pain I’d ever felt, ever, and he would find out why.

Okay, not really, but he received an A for effort from this patient.

He is not going to totally save the sight I’ve got left, but maybe someone, someday can.

***

He tried all he could, x-rays held high, showing the degree my spine was curving. His Dr. name sounded like my first name. He straightened me out alright.

😉

Metal rods in. Metal rod out. I’ve got one heck of a scar running down my back, but he stopped my spine and skeletal system from crushing my lungs.

***

And when the pain came and did not go, those I met were mostly kind, when many couldn’t seem to understand why. That scares doctors, when they don’t know, and some put up a brave front, mostly bravado.

But there were those who were kind and gentle and non judgmental when I told them how much it hurt, my head, my scalp, my skin, tender to the touch. They did not scoff.

***

Medical scientists could make a baby, using modern medicine in miraculous ways. Hope replaced despair. My nephew and now my niece bring my whole family joy.

***

When my brother goes through more medical crap, things I can not protect him from, or travel the road exactly as he must do, leading the way in ways only a big sister can…it’s those we meet whom can make us better, but more likely they do their best.

That’s all any of us can do.

***

So here we are again, after last week’s
Finish the Sentence Friday,
and my idea of there possibly being more than one post to get out of the subject of the people who shape us seems to have stuck.

Things seem to happen in my family, every time she asks me to co-host.

Last time it was the birth of my niece. This time, another family medical event occurred, but I am getting back to the subject
with Kristi of Finding Ninee.

Somebody that I met changed my life, my health, and that of those I love. Somebody else did the same for my loved ones, in their moments of searching for better and for happier.

I am grateful to those medical experts and professionals who changed my life and the lives of those I love and have in my life now.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=706635

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

Peeps! #TGIF #FTSF

I went for the slang for my title this week, for people, but because Easter is near, all I thought about was the boyfriend from my past who loved those marshmallow bunny treats. He got so excited when he found coloured ones, and there could have been strange flavours too. He bought many packs and some went stale in the pantry.

I never could stand the things, those Peeps. Not my choice for an Easter treat. Give me some good old Easter chocolate, thank you very much.

But I like the alternative word for people.

The people we meet change us. At least, they have me, but choosing only some felt like an impossible task. Otherwise, I knew this post had the frightening potential of going on far too long and losing its impact on any perspective readers.

I started with my Easter story to begin with, to fit one more of those people in, ever so briefly, but this post isn’t about that. I simply could not neglect the connection between Peeps and peeps while I had it, right there and ready to go.

Whether it’s a chance meeting, one that lasts only minutes or hours, or one that develops into something longer term I could spend this post thanking people, as I did for my one year of blogging here.

Kind and Generous

My brother met a friend by being in an Apple store. The friend saw two blind guys looking at technology and made the decision to approach them and introduce herself. These were three people that never would have met each other and just so happened to be in that store at the same time.

I previously mentioned the kind woman and her husband who helped me out, in the Dallas Airport, out of the goodness of their hearts.

I want to write about the people I met at the writing workshop in Mexico in January. Each of them are fondly known to me now, all those I will never forget, for the things they taught me that week.

That, too, would take more than this here post. I am still working on the brevity thing. They all deserve their thanks and time. Perhaps this should be a “The People We Meet” series.

I like to sit and think, when I can’t decide which of them to write about first, on the people I’m still to meet in my life. It’s those I am not yet aware of that fascinate me, nearly as much as those I already know, because we are all unknown to one another until we’re not. Maybe that’s a sign of never being satisfied with what I have, with all those connections I’ve already been lucky to have made, but my curious mind can’t help it.

Every time a car passes I wonder who’s in it, what they like or dislike, or what they value in life. Though I may likely never know the answer to my questions about those currently passing my house in their vehicles, I will never stop wandering through life, open to any people, just as those I’ve already met were once unknown to me and me them.

So much of what is going on in the world is us all being scared, by perceived fears of terrorism or mass human migrations or whatever, but mostly by the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. We need to familiarize ourselves with other people. You just never know when a person you randomly meet could become one of your favourite peeps one day. This means I can capitalize the word, as mine in my own life certainly deserve that – a position to be in, so sweet, sweeter than any marshmallow.

They could eventually become someone who makes you laugh, makes you think, or makes you want to become a better human being yourself. I know all this is and has been true for me, with Mexico only one of the more recent prime examples.

For the sake of choosing one, I will focus this time on my writing mentor.

We met over social media and here online, developed a respect for each other and our writing, with a mentorship coming from that.

But it wasn’t until we met in person, were able to hug each other, and feel the physical presence of one another in the same place did I truly appreciate it all for what it was and what it could be. I will always have the greatest respect and admiration for her, with everything she does, no matter what else may happen or where life may take us.

Again, I resort to wanting to thank people, and so I wish I could lay out precisely how meeting so many of the people I’ve been privileged to meet has affected my life and the woman I am.

Most recently it’s neighbours. I am not the best neighbour, but I don’t play loud music – anymore.

I am not a bad person to live next to, especially if you like your peace and quiet. In fact, you might hardly even believe anyone (myself) even lived there.

I find it difficult, without seeing, to make first contact. It’s funny how you can be in the right place at the right time, one small window of it, and meet someone, but you could also live next door to people for years and never really speak to or know them. This time, my new neighbour introduced herself and seems to be looking out for me, before we’ve gotten to speak more than a handful of times. I take this to be a positive sign of things to come.

I may have blown it this time, with my Finish the Sentence Friday post being all over the place, but I blame that on a stomach ache and brain so full of swirling thought and a neurotic mind that thought I needed to write my FTSF post on a Friday, instead of giving it a day or two, in the hopes that I could ever possibly narrow down my stories of the people I’ve met to one lone blog post.

Plus, I had a violin lesson today and that always affects me. If it was a lesson where I couldn’t focus and nothing seemed to be working, I would feel dejected. In today’s case though, I felt it working and now I am feeling exhilarated, which both ways means I am all over the map.

While speaking of violin lessons, my violin teacher is another one of those cases of the people I am lucky to have met. Today we had a long talk about a lot, half deep violin discussion/related and assorted subject matter and half actual practicing.

I’m just glad I at least wrote something this week. I guess it’s easier sometimes to write about other people, while avoiding myself, but in the process I hope I show a glimpse of me in there somewhere too.

Thanks Kristi.

Finding Ninee is one of those peeps I have not yet met in person, but whom I feel a special bit of a bond with, just through this blogging thing and such, for the fighting she does for her son, as any parent should. I really need to write an article, one where I interview my own mother, Kristi, and other parents of children with disabilities or special needs. They are good peeps…some of the best out there.

Joining Kristi for this week’s FTSF is
Marda Sikora
who also writes about this subject.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

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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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting

Travel Ling, Lingering #TGIF #FTSF

“Oh, the places you’ll go.”

Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for that one. I love that and the travel it hints at, alludes to. It’s thrilling, just writing that quote and reading it back to myself. I recently carried that quote with me, on my first solo trip to Mexico, reciting it in my mind whenever I needed a shot of bravery.

When it comes to travel, I could go for days and days, writing about it I mean. That much travel, while sounding just as thrilling as Seuss’s quote, would exhaust me. I do it in my imagination though, all the time.

If I had the money and the energy, I’d be off. Sure, I’d always come back to my home, as that’s how travel is most appreciated, but I would not be satisfied to simply stay in one place all my life. I would suffocate in that bubble.

Pop!

***

I long to break out of that. I want to see new places. I have a list, a long, long list. I call it my
Bucket List (the very first blog post I ever wrote),
though that name is well worn with travellers the world over.

***

I thought it the summer my parents left on a road trip out west, through the U.S. and Canada. I came up with my travel blogger title and I was off.

The Insightful Wanderer (@TheIWanderer on Twitter)

It was in me, of course, ever since forever. My grandparents lived in just such a bubble, but they didn’t stay. They left sometimes, though always coming home again.

My most favourite treasure from my grandmother are the journals she kept, for years, where she jotted down the daily events of her life and family. Then, just a short distance from where she kept those, were the stakcs of photo albums, full of photographic evidence of the places her and my grandfather saw during their fifty five years together: all throughout Canada and the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Life and reality are just as important as a life of travel. Some can avoid that, I suppose, but not me.

I have limitations. I fully acknowledge those, but recently I challenged them too.

***

I immediately started thinking about what I would write, upon reading this week’s prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
and my first thought was Mexico.

I would write about my recent trip there. Why not? What else could I possibly write about now, while the memories are fresh? But wait…

I have things I want to say, but I can’t get back to it, whether in my own head or when trying to explain to others just why that trip meant so much. I try and try and try to explain the feeling, but somehow, my experience doesn’t come through. I feel unsatisfied with how I am describing it and how they are hearing it described by me. I guess the expression “you had to be there” is right. Oh, so right.

I travel back to every moment of that week, from my fear and intense anticipation. To my sense of peace and calm and rightness with the world and my place in it at that instant. I don’t want to say words now fail me, but perhaps they do. The envelope of photos I now carry in my purse of my trip don’t do the thing justice either, somehow locked in the past of the actual purse I carried with me. Nor does the bracelet I wear on my left wrist, every bead carrying that week’s sense memories within.

***

I went so far as to create a whole travel website, separate from this blog, while the force was still strong to attempt the world of the travel blogger. I had it all mapped out, saw things so clearly in my mind.

I wrote up an About Me page there, before the new site went live. It laid out all my most favourite spots: Niagara Falls and Ireland.

I put forth an illustrated list of the places I’ve been so far: Cuba, Florida/New York/Michigan/D.C./California, and Germany.

I spelled out everywhere I dreamt of going: Hawaii, Palau, Australia, and New Zealand. I wanted to be adventurous, surprising even myself, and in this dream I stood at the bottom of the world, surrounded by ice and penguins.

I didn’t truly believe I’d have the stamina, resources, or opportunity to make it that far, but, really, who could say?

Then, my website fizzled out. I let myself down. I studied travel blogs galore and somehow, I couldn’t become them, social media and pitching tour companies and all. I couldn’t. I was not a list maker and a personality so strong. My fantasy of becoming someone, I perhaps wasn’t meant to be.

I am a literary writer. That’s who I am. I can take all the travel blog success courses I want, have as many Skype sessions with an already established travel blogger as are offered in any given online course, and I still failed.

***

But I didn’t. I found a way to travel anyways. I found a group of my people, other literary type writers, somewhere full of magic and reality, all wrapped into one.

I couldn’t hold onto that week forever. It came and went. I may feel a little aimless since then, since arriving home, but that’s okay.

The world is a giant place. Anyone who doesn’t open their mind first, it doesn’t matter how far or how nearby they go or stay.

Travel all sorts of places, in your mind, through reading/watching a good book or movie. That’s just more ways to open your mind to the vistas (boy do I love that word).

Read travel blogs, as I still do, if that makes it all more real.

Acknowledge your limitations while challenging what still might be.

Meet people. Meander through a place. Taste a new food or sample a helping of another culture, far flung from your own.

***

I may not have that beautiful travel site I saw in my mind, but I am still wandering through this big, beautiful world and I am doing it with all the insight I can manage to unearth as I go.

I will linger here a bit yet still, but I know I will be off again, sooner or later. If you linger too long, you risk getting stuck. I hate to burst your bubble, but it must be done.

I meander and linger and meander some more. I look over those vistas I can no longer see. I meander with these words and with myself. Still figuring it all out.

I’ll be sure to let you know, here, when I’ve been everywhere. In the meantime, Dr. Seuss’s words keep me going, moving, living.

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