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TToT: Living The Life We Want – So Slam That! #NFB18 #10Thankful

It was my first Independence Day in the US (independence being the key word there) and I had an unexpected and unpredicted time away. I owe it all to the CFB, sponsoring me to see what the US’s national convention is all about.

The difference between what exists in the US and what we’ve got here in Canada was hard to miss while I was in Florida all week.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful to be representing Ontario in this national magazine.

July 2018 Issue of The Blind Canadian

I’m thankful for this travel agent.

ANITA PATON – THE TRAVEL AGENT NEXT DOOR

She’s awesome!

I’m thankful for UPS volunteers.

It is a convention, held once a year, and this one had nearly 2500 attendees who used a white cane or a guide dog. All of us were trying to get the hang of a large hotel and conference/convention centre and having UPS volunteers around, to give us a bit of direction now and then was a big big help.

I was so overwhelmed, my first time attending, that sometimes I’d get panicky and have to stop and take a few deep breaths and refocus. I could continue on from there.

I’m thankful for the experience at this convention because it fostered further confidence and independence.

Convention 2018 Agenda

I’m thankful I got to meet a friend, in person finally, whom I’d been speaking with for years online.

He was great to talk to in person. Thanks, Timothy, for the coffee and the dinner and the company. You brought a bit of calm in the storm that that week felt like at times, so wound up, rushing on all around me.

I’m thankful for a still night on a closed pool deck.

Florida was so muggy that I didn’t mind getting to spend almost all my time in freezing cold convention halls. It was not so bad though, when the sun was down.

I’m thankful I didn’t have to change into my dress in a restroom stall.

I had to get it right, being back in the States and in Florida again (my fourth time) that they there were referring to washrooms as restrooms.

We had the banquet on our final night there and I didn’t want to have my dress on all day, through the final business hours. We weren’t staying on site, so I could have gone back to change at some point, but really there just wasn’t time.

So, thankfully, the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
president generously granted me her room and better bathroom to change in.

I’m thankful for a final, early morning solo swim.

We’d been so busy, all week long, that I finally had to wake up earlier than everyone, on our final morning, and go down as soon as the pool opened, at six.

A security guard had to help me find the door out, from the lobby, but once out I had my pick from the lounge chairs and I used my white cane to get the layout of the pool deck.

My chair was straight out from the bar of the stairs into the pool. Once I was in the water, I slowly made my way around and discovered the shape and the depth.

It was just what I needed and totally worth the waking up so early part.

I’m thankful for an inspiring speech in this room. A table full of fun people. A delicious salad and platter of desserts.

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I’m thankful for a flight, gone by too fast.

Life’s full of metaphors, including lift off and landing, and living in the moment are all important.

Here’s to living the life you/we want.

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TToT: Man Who Ate The World and Other Losses – Dive In and Go Deep, #10Thankful

Well, that didn’t go well – not well at all. A big bust you could say.

Trade war looms as Trump and adviser lob insults and accusations at Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Britain. France. Germany. Italy. Japan. All their support is welcome, but all good intentions aside, none of them must share a border with a foolish reality TV personality, one whose spokespeople said openly Canada and Justin Trudeau were mocked to look tough for the most serious meeting any president could ever be having.

If I ever wanted #45 to succeed in something, it was now, when the world could possibly end up exploding into nuclear war. The rest of it, if we in Canada had to swallow his insults for that purpose alone, I’d say we could gladly take that on. I fear we haven’t heard the last of it though.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for marking June 5th, transplant anniversary, with a dinner with my dad to celebrate 21 years.

I have my father and I have a working kidney. Makes me the luckiest woman around, I’d say.

All one needs – one of each. Top notch.

I’m thankful for an inspired writing prompt to make us all write better at my writing group.

“Love was a hallowing man with a home and only I knew that.”

And the stories just sort of spun loose from there, from all of us, getting us to write in styles we weren’t often known for amongst that room of our creative peers.

I’m thankful for a delicious vanilla latte and catch up with a friend.

I’m thankful for biscotti.

I’m thankful for the right and access to vote.

The accessibility issue is a different story, but not nearly so bad as it could be. These are the times I wonder if I have the right to complain, to think I should try for betterment.

It was a braille sleeve that the voting card slides into and braille and raised numbers for each party’s offering for my riding, not that I claim to understand all the lingo. So, I was with someone I trusted, to help make sure the card was lined up properly and to let me know the order the names were going with the numbers. I learned later alphabetical. Should have known.

So, I counted down, to the correct number, and made my X in the small cut-out circle provided.

Now, all the strong wording was that Ontario’s possible next provincial leader, if chosen PC/Conservative Party, would basically be giving Ontario its very own copy of the guy put into the Whitehouse. Enough to scare anyone.

Was that all they were trying to do? (Whom I’m not really sure.)

And thus I was lucky to live in Ontario, Canada, where I could vote, where my blindness didn’t prevent me from voting, my right in a democratic society. And some of you will not have known much about this, but the PC was voted in, and he is the brother of deceased Toronto mayer, known around the world a few years back, Rob Ford, who even made it onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

What have we gotten ourselves into, I wonder? Is he a #45 wannabe?

He sure feels like it, but as we don’t do anything really to anywhere near as dramatic of a degree as our neighbours to the south, I don’t know if he’s going to be as bad as all that. (See my opening for this week’s post.)

As switching from one party to another often goes, in politics, the Liberal Party had a lot of years to run Ontario and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just hope all the scare tactics were playing on mine and other people’s greatest fears, though sometimes my dramatic side feels totally justified.

I’m thankful for the ocean, on World Oceans Day and every day.

The morning after Thursday’s election, I was feeling low about everything, when it seemed the party to beat had started to seem like the NDP, but no big surprise, as my negative side kept whispering in my head. All I wished for was to be by the ocean.

I’m thankful for Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and her mission.

Mission Blue

I’m thankful for my sister helping me shop for what looks/feels good on me, even without being able to see any of it from my end.

It is the strangest thing, to go by fabric and texture and shape, rather than how a colour looks or how it looks on the body. Again, I’ve learned that yellow isn’t my colour. Shame really.

I’m thankful for documentaries about puffins, grey seals, and the coast of Ireland.

The Parts Unknown host visiting the closest thing to Ireland, this side of the Atlantic.

And travel storytellers like the one that was lost for good.

Anthony Bourdain and the Missing Piece – Longreads

RIP to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain became one of #MeToo’s strongest allies – The Lily

Earle said to “dive in and go deep” and that’s the way Bourdain seemed to live his life, right up until the end.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”

—Anthony Bourdain

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Up and Up, #SongLyricSunday

I’d say, I am mostly, a closeted Miley Cyrus fan.

xkUzCoq.jpg

However, I couldn’t resist this metaphor, this week:

I’m not ashamed to admit it. May have even used this one before. Must keep better records of the songs I use, as I soon forget.

***

I can almost see it.
That dream I’m dreaming,
But there’s a voice inside my head saying,
“You’ll never reach it.”
Every step I’m takin’
Every move I make feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin’
But I, I gotta keep tryin’
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down,
But no, I’m not breaking
I may not know it,
But these are the moments
That I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on,
‘Cause…

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb
Yeah

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Keep on movin’
Keep climbin’
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about—it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa, whoa, oh.

LYRICS

***

I am not climbing any actual mountains, not in the near future anyway, but I’ve always loved the symbolism of a mountain, for the uphill struggles of living that it represents.

For this week’s
Song Lyric Sunday,
I wanted to acknowledge
a metaphor
and that struggle.

As this has been a particularly horrible week, for celebrity suicides, I know the struggle of depression and the dark times. It hangs around, as the summer ramps up and up.

I feel the resistance of life. I keep taking one step after another, knowing what my dreams are, but finding it hard (most days) to find enough strength to keep a completely positive face.

Some give up and end it all. Then we flail around, in our attempts to help, even when we realize the lateness of the hour.

Some climb actual mountains. I may prefer the sea, but the mountain does stand for something, as cheesy as that sounds. Like those I came upon during my Yukon visit last year, in my many imaginings that I would start an actual climb up one of them, to possibly reach the the summit and discover what’s on the other side of the struggle.

More struggle, even more. Well damn. *sigh*

I wouldn’t look at a mountain as something that’s simply “in my way,” but more as an obstacle that I must look at as being put there for a reason of its own.

Certainly, and yet – I keep on climbing.

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KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: Episode 12 – British C Or B Columbia #Travel #TBT #Family #Podcast

We’re so far keeping up with our goal of recording one episode a month in 2018 – we’re getting this one in, just under the wire, as May turns to June.

Episode 12: British C or B Columbia – KETCHUP ON PANCAKES

Travel is one of our favourite topics and this one takes us back to our trip to western Canada at the start of the month.

0o3wSmh.jpg89sxoVj.jpgPaWBunw.jpg

Sound clips included, to bring us back and you along with us, and we end with a Throwback Thursday and an odd Niagara Falls memory of sibling silliness.

Check out our podcast page
over on Facebook
and give us a like.

British Columbia – Vancouver and Victoria are some of the most splendid spots in Canada and we invite you to come along on the journey. Come stand in the Pacific Ocean, ride the Vancouver Sky Train, and then return to Ontario and stand with me, at the railing of Niagara Falls.

Adventure is just around the corner, the next bend up ahead.

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Sweet Release, #SongLyricSunday

“If you cannot stand beside me – there isn’t love, there is only pride.”

—Lara Fabian

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This one line from the song always truck me as the realization at the end of love in a relationship.

She is a French-Canadian singer whom I first heard twenty years ago now. Wow, I’m old, but here she is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtlW8CFHjQE

At a certain moment, you realize, letting go is not giving up, but before that can happen, you have to learn the difference between the two.

They are sneaky buggers and they like to be confused for one another, but if someone isn’t willing to stay, letting go is the best way to find peace and happiness again.

***

Silence and quiet again my life
Far from these moments I wish I was
Passion and truth we were about
Before the shadows stole the beat of our hearts

After all we have been through
I can only look at you
Through the eyes you lied to
I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, I’m givin’ up on you

After all if there is no way out
If you cannot stand beside me
If there isn’t love there is only pride
I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up this fight

Undo this leash you say I tied
When only our fears are to blame this time
And what am I to you? Just spit it out
I’m not afraid of the words that you hide

After all we have been through
I can only look at you
Through the eyes you lied to
I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, I’m givin’ up on you

After all if there is no way out
If you cannot stand beside me
If there isn’t love there is only pride
I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up this fight

Where do we go? Where did it all crash?
When did it start to fall apart?

Silence and quiet, passion and truth
Shadows, only shadows

After all if there is no way out
If you cannot stand beside me
If there isn’t love there is only pride
I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up

After all we have been through
I can only look at you
With the eyes you lied to
I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, I’m givin’ up on you

After all if there is no way out
If you cannot stand beside me
If there isn’t love there is only pride
I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up this time
Givin’ up, givin’ up this fight
Givin’ up, givin’ up
I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, I’m givin’ up this fight
I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up tonight

LYRICS

***

“And what am I to you? Just spit it out. I’m not afraid of the words that you hide.”

I love this line too, as she shows her frustration, through her singing. Though many really do want something long unsaid to just finally be “spit out” by the other person, the fear of those words really is the thing that is standing in the way of full disclosure and the ability to clear the air.

As a sequel of sorts,
this one
was her follow-up song, though not as popular in my past. Still, it shows that there is more to come.

On this
Song Lyric Sunday,
I wanted to share a selection from Canada, where we are proud to have music from both English and French performers, as a representation of our bilingual land of culture and art in a shared cultural space.

Check out some of her French-speaking stuff, if you have a chance. I would have chosen it, if I’d tried harder to learn French back in school, but I gave it up, something more of English-speaking Canada is probably guilty of.

It’s never too late I suppose.

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Falling, All Over Again #Niagara #FTSF

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

mpk8Kqf.jpg

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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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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