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TToT: Run Time and Take Five – State Smash! #ShePersisted #10Thankful

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m fired up, in a lot of ways and by the positive signs of women persisting, remaining cautiously but still incredibly thankful.

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I know, I see, I’m not the only one.

Ten Things of Thankful, #10Thankful

So, to keep things in the proper perspective, I’ll just launch right into what makes me so grateful.

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(Makers, all, with Anado McLauchlin.)

I’m thankful for this group.

And for these girls.

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I’m thankful for friends, together, in one special spot.

I missed out on seeing for myself just how colourful this place was, but at least I got to take a break, for a minute or two, to sit on the couch with friends.

Thanks, Anado, for letting us into your home.

I’m thankful for newly introduced music, better late than not at all.

RIP Mr. Jarreau.

The guy sure could scat!

Speaking of music and birthdays, I’m thankful to have made it to a year with my decision to learn how to play the violin.

It was on my last birthday that I walked into a music store and rented a violin. I had no idea what I was getting into then. Well, okay, I kind of knew. I knew, but I didn’t really know. Know what I mean?

No?

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I’m thankful for a teacher, to take this photo of my re-commitment, one who hasn’t given up on me, even in those moments when I’ve wanted to give up on ever learning a difficult instrument like the violin in my thirties.

She taught me new finger exercises, ways to strengthen my left hand and the fingers on it. I spent most of my anniversary/birthday lesson wishing for new fingers, longer fingers, but I will get there, one day.

I’m thankful for another birthday.

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I’m still mulling over what that means, on a practical level of course. I had a rather subdued birthday, after spending a week in Mexico, but it did have its high points.

I had blood taken and both arms needed to be poked. I made a dentist appointment. I drank a lot of tea to fight off the beginnings of a sore throat. I had another bad eye day, noticing how blurry everything looked as I ate lunch out with my father.

I did wonder if I will still see anything by my next birthday. I am not freaked by being one age one day and another the next. I do realize, however, that I am getting older. A lot of things bring this fact home to me. I am trying to still live in the moment and enjoy all that life has to offer, but at a certain point I have to think about the future and what I want, really want and what is good for me.

Everything in life has its Run-Time.

I’m thankful for another successful, triple family birthday celebration.

It got off to a slow start, but really kicked into high gear there.

The lasagna was delicious. The kids were smarter than when we last saw them, all the way back at Christmas, if that is possible.

The best thing about each year I gain since they were all born is getting to see how they grow with every passing year, whomever happens to be the one celebrating the actual birthday.

They are all so creative and full of imagination. We adults have a ball watching them interact with each other and with all of us.

My family and I don’t likely agree on every single thing in life, but we are all pretty in sync on most things that really matter. It makes for a lovely coming together of the minds, not to mention senses of humour and attitudes on life.

There is always just the right amount of nostalgia and, this year, there are plans in the works for zip lining in Niagara Falls this spring.

Who else can you count on to try something as thrilling as zip lining with you, on a day that matters greatly to you, but your family? Mine are the best for those sorts of things.

It’s fun to sing Happy Birthday to three people at once. I only sing for two.

Happy Birthday Paul/Steve. You both crack me up and are the two best big brothers any thirty-three-year-old could ask for.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help in figuring out what I need to do, as part of taking some of my next, newest steps in my writing.

The writing is one thing. The business side is quite another. It’s all somewhat scary in its own way.

Filling out forms and paperwork is not my thing. Necessary, I realize. I truly appreciate any help I can get.

I am thankful my bracelet was found after I set it down, in my own house, and couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where I’d stashed it.

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A few of us got jewelry when we visited Anado’s home. We share this in common now and wanted to commemorate the fact.

I knew I would get home and set mine down somewhere, forgetting where that somewhere was. It scratches against the metal of my laptop when I’m writing, so I take it off, but I don’t like to.

Brian said it sounded like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find it, the bracelet reminding him of “My Precious!” and he had a point.

Thanks to my brother-in-law for spotting where I’d left it. I hope I would have remembered, sooner or later.

Made By Anado

This is my reminder of my time in Mexico. It is more than just any old bracelet. It was made by Anado McLauchlin and it reminds me of the makers of this world. It reminds me, when I hold it, of my purpose. It brings me peace to feel all the different bits of it under my fingertips.

And, finally, I’m thankful that this hasn’t ended.

Very grateful that someone has decided to take over the weekly running of the thankful blog hop, to give its originator a well deserved break.

I would have went ahead with these gratitude posts, one way or another, but it’s nice that it will continue on with more than just this blog.

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Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

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I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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TToT: In My Head I’m Swept Away – Collective Arts, #10Thankful

Things are changing. I guess that’s a normal part of life. I wonder when it might be that this concept doesn’t feel so strange to me. I complained that these things are fading away, like this here ten things of thankful exercise, and then I’m the one who has faded away from even attempting it. Since the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I’ve been preoccupied and all over the place. I still am.

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I liked Lizzi’s attempt at coming up with
fifty
and not just ten, back around Christmas. I thought, since I am on my way to parts unknown very soon, I’d try for somewhere between ten and fifty, to cover for those I’ve missed in recent weeks and the week I’m sure to miss coming up.

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

This is meant to be a bunch of things I’m thankful for from the year that just was and some of what I’ve been thankful for lately. I will set a timer and see how long it takes me to come up with fifty items for this list of mine.

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

For people willing to fight back, stand up, speak out.

For reason, logic, and common sense, which isn’t quite common enough.

For the challenge of learning to adapt and familiarize myself with new things.

For the discomfort that often causes because it helps me grow.

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

For a Spanish language program I can listen to, shuffled up in my iTunes library.

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

Sophia showing Auntie Kerry her journal.
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For treats made especially available at Christmas.

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

For the scent of cinnamon buns when I step foot in the mall.

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

For the sound snow makes, that crunching, when it is really cold here.

For a female Canadian on our money…the money with braille on it.

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

For hearing my name coming from the smartest of smart almost-two-year-old little girls, only here for a visit.

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

For the life lessons from those who push me to require more of myself.

For rice cakes.

For the coolness offered by the frozen food section of a grocery store.

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

For the ability to provide a jam space in my basement for a bunch of talented and creative musicians.

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

For personal invites to travel and write and meet others who love both those things.

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

For borders, be they on countries or the sections of a country.

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

For governmental programs that help make life easier and more hopeful.

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

For the chance to do an interview with an editor/writer I admire.

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

For fireside chats with a train to be heard somewhere far in the distance.

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

For my mother’s talents with a needle and thread.

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

For my first violin concert and my second and my third.

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

I should probably stop here. This is just a start to a list. It goes to show just how much there really is to be thankful for, if you take the time to look, list, and add them up. I topped 100 things in this list and I think I’ve made my point.

I am starting to panic about why I’ll be missing TToT next time. I have so much to be thankful for. I just must learn to trust in all of it.

Bonus Thankful: airplanes and the responsible pilots who fly them.

Mucho Gusto!

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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.

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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: Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah HumBug! Whoosh! #SnowInTheSahara #10Thankful

: You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch / You’re a nasty, wasty skunk / Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk / Mr. Gri-inch / The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!

—Dr. Seuss

Two holiday favourites I like to watch this time of year are The Grinch and A Christmas Carol. I wonder at if the real life Grinches and Scrooge’s of this world could grow a heart and see the error of their ways, but sadly, I doubt it by this point.

Neil Gaiman Reads “A Christmas Carol” – NYPL Podcast

Also, as I was sitting in the gymnasium from my youth, watching a new generation of children singing about Santa and snowflakes and all the other traditions of this time of year, I felt the ghosts of my own childhood, all the years I spent in elementary school. I also listened to songs about snowflakes and I thought about that.

I get on my own case for letting it bother me at all that the idea of a snowflake has been hijacked by those who have started referring to “liberals” as “special snowflakes” and saying all the “special snowflakes” need to go and hide out in their “safe places”.

So just what exactly is so wrong with that, anyway? Huh? Hmm?

I want a break from worries. As much as I love the advice I’m often given, to try not to focus on those things that upset me, I refuse to let something as beautiful as a snowflake be a negative thing. Or, as if a safe place is somehow a bad place to be.

Oh, no no no. I…Don’t…Think…SO!

So, here I am, starting this pre-Christmas TToT with a rant or two, but I wish I didn’t have it on my mind to rant about anything at all. I do plan to give myself the gift of a break from all that once Christmas does come.

(this is a real single snowflake showing all of the tiny details)

cH6gv6W.jpg

I’m thankful for snowflakes.

Snowflakes are special, this is true. They are nature at its finest. They are the most delicate things and I am lucky to have grown up with them, here in Canada. I recently had a fascinating conversation with someone who didn’t grow up with the kind of snow we have here. He spoke of his thoughts about it now. I enjoyed hearing his perspective, so different from mine.

They are all different, snowflakes, and that makes them special, not one being the same as another. They may be delicate on their own, but as more and more of them fall, eventually they become a collection of flakes, which makes snow and the results of enough snowflakes, all packed together, this can become the most unstoppable of forces: an avalanche.

I’m thankful for safe places.

Wait until war ravages where you call home and then see if you look for a safe place to run to.

In a world so full of harsh weather and cruel human behaviours, and a safe place is something we all would cling desperately to.

I thank everything I have for home, which is my safe place/space, where family are and where I know I am loved by someone. I desire greatly to explore the world, but I’m sure thankful I have the safe place right here to return to. If that makes me winy or pathetic to some, so be it.

I’m thankful for solstice. Man, do I love that word.

🙂

December 21st is the first day of winter. I am ready for it.

Snow Falls In The Sahara For First Time In Over 37 Years – Bored Panda

I think there is something beautiful about winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. People are thrilled this means the days, from here on out, begin to lengthen and commence in June. That will be another big month in my life, but for now, I enjoy what transpires in this part of the world and astronauts have seen it and word it best:

***

Generations of astronauts, after looking at Earth from space, have professed a profound new understanding of it. Edgar Mitchell, who, in 1971, became the sixth man to walk on the moon, said, “From out there . . . international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ” Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong’s crewmate on Apollo 11, expressed similar sentiments in his memoir, “Carrying the Fire,” which was published in the midst of the Cold War. Seeing our home planet from afar, he wrote, prompted an epiphany: “The earth
Must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.”
Mike Massimino, in his memoir, “Spaceman,” reports having spent almost a full day staring out a window of the Space Shuttle Columbia, watching sunrises and lightning storms (“like a form of communication, like a sequence, like the clouds are alien creatures speaking to each other in code”). On his second spacewalk, Massimino told me recently, he had a spare moment to “take in the view.” He recalls being struck not only by Earth’s incredible beauty—“We are living in a paradise”—but also by its fragility. From out there, he said, especially during night passes, “you can see the thinness of the atmosphere,” a bluish-green line. This sudden perception of Earth as a delicate, intricate system is so common among astronauts that the writer Frank White coined a term for it: the overview effect.
Astronauts are endlessly fascinating to me, in part because they have a knack for poignant quotations. Buzz Aldrin, for instance, described the lunar landscape as a vision of “magnificent desolation,” a grand phrase for a bleak truth. Unlike our paradisiacal, blue-and-white Earth, the moon has no atmosphere and no real sky—just gray dust and black space, such that color photographs from moonwalks appear mostly black and white, as though someone colorized the American flags after the fact.
NASA brought six flags to the moon, on poles outfitted with horizontal crossbars so that the stars and stripes would show, as though caught in a nonexistent breeze. The flags are still there, but radiation is presumed to have left them in tatters—monuments to our love of Earth, or maybe just litter.

***

I’m thankful for the chance to return to my childhood for an afternoon.

It was a tad emotional, I admit, but it brought back a lot of worthwhile memories that had me thinking.

I have so much wrapped up in that building, both good and bad. I found it highly moving to return there. It gave me a lot to think about.

Why Do People Tell Ghost Stories on Christmas? – The Smithsonian

Speaking of ghosts at Christmas time, they were everywhere there.

I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s Christmas concert.

Oh, aw, ah all those little boys and girls, trying so hard and singing their hearts out. They tried their best, especially the youngest ones like my nephew, to remember the words they practiced and my nephew, for one, was nervous when he walked on stage and saw how many of us there were in the audience.

I couldn’t pick out my nephew up there, as I am unable to see anywhere that clearly upon returning to that school as an adult with considerably less sight, but I am still glad I went, even if he couldn’t see me either.

I’m thankful for safeguards and protection for natural places.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/obama-ban-offshore-drilling-arctic-atlantic-1.3905384

President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau working together once more, for one of the final acts together, to preserve parts of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

They are protected against off shore oil drilling in those places. I don’t know how foolproof it will be, if what they’ve done will stand the test of time and Trump, but we shall see.

I am glad the two men are working together, once more, at something worthwhile. Sure, it may not be protecting everything that needs protecting, but it is something.

I’m thankful for a return to my library writing group.

I had missed a few, but I am glad I returned for this final meeting of “The Elsewhere Region” of 2016.

There were cookies and chocolate with mint and chocolate and raspberry tea. I don’t normally drink tea like the rest of them like to do, always afraid I might spill mine all over my electronics, but this time the tea sounded just too good to pass up. I took precautions, but the tea was delicious. Just the perfect thing for the occasion.

I wrote a story, dialogue and a conversation between two young women. The mystery object one member brought in was a strange family Christmas decoration. It was a frog wearing a fancy outfit and hat and his tag said something about him being named Mistle Toad.

Okay, so I guess he was a toad, not a frog, but it made for some interesting ideas for a writing prompt. We discussed and most wrote about the popular idea of kissing a frog and making it turn into a handsome prince.

My story confused some, but it really illustrates how, like snowflakes, all our writing styles are so diverse and so very much our own.

My imagination is a lot different from many of the other writers in the group. This always makes for a fun time.

I’m thankful for understanding doctors and nurses.

I have a doctor who hasn’t given up on me, even though I am a bit of a difficult case, and who promises I can call and come see her if anything comes up, even if it’s before our next scheduled appointment. That’s the sort of empathy and understanding I have always hoped for.

Also, I have a nurse offering to give me an iPhone case she no longer needs.

I’m thankful for my flu shot.

I know many people think it totally unnecessary. Some have gotten sick soon after getting one in the past and feel it can cause more problems than it helps prevent. I must say that I do take my low immune system seriously enough. If I can ever prevent getting a bad flu one of these times, I will get the shot.

My arm hasn’t even really bothered me this year, since getting it, and after the initial stinging and burning of the injection itself.

For those who are in perfect health, who are young and strong, there’s likely no huge need for it. Either way. I don’t get too worked up. It’s easy enough to get and so I do.

I’m thankful for a surprise Christmas card.

Thank you
Lizzi
for the surprise. I also enjoyed the tactile parts on the front of the card and the surprises to be found inside.

I admit I don’t do up Christmas cards myself. I find it hard, all so visual and I guess I’ve lost a little of my artistic streak, which I could draw on to make cards still for people.

As for Christmas cards, having them sent to me, not many are. I suppose many people think I won’t be able to see them anyway, so what’s the point? I don’t know. I may feel somewhat left out, but there are other ways of expressing holiday cheer. It’s just nice, once and a while.

: He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

Is Montreal’s Christmas tree ugly, or are we just looking at it wrong?

: Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.

—Dr. Seuss, 1956

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TToT: Alliance, Maladies, Rare – “Quiet, Screaming Desperation” #10Thankful

The news coming out of certain places, parts of the world, like the fighting in Aleppo keeps getting worse and worse. The only way I can seem to deal with it is by acknowledging the reasons I am thankful.

I am thankful it’s this year and not last. Yeah, let’s start there.

FHEuD8v.jpg

My animals love my tree. Dobby and Lumos.

I’m thankful for yet another medical checkup, my second last to my twenty-year anniversary checkup, which will come in June.

I didn’t ask what the record for that clinic has been. I don’t even think they are planning some giant party when I return in June. I just thought it worth marking.

Again, I felt like so many other patients needed the doctors a lot more than I did. I didn’t even see the head nephrologist, probably because I’ve been so stable, so I saw another doctor and he told me that, once again, my levels were good and I was out the door, after waiting for hours.

The service is not really something to complain about. It’s only twice a year. I didn’t mind sitting and waiting. And waiting some more. I know how lucky I am. It may not last forever, but until those numbers start going up, I am believing that it still could.

I’m thankful for my violin teacher’s patience as I don’t use enough of my bow or I don’t trust myself nearly enough.

We are learning Silent Night and I remember the notes, but my confidence is where the problems are.

She is always ready with suggestions for how I can keep improving.

I’m thankful for brave writers.

The Stripe – Full Grown People

Sometimes you read a piece of writing and you are immediately blown away by the guts it must have taken the writer to put those words out there.

When I read this essay I instantly felt floored at the gutsy person who would put such personal thoughts out into the world. I’m not sure I could. I don’t even know where a line should be, because not all people believe everything should be written about, and still people do it.

I’m thankful we finally got our newest episode of the podcast released.

The Great Gong Show of 2016 – Ketchup on Pancakes

This was a show about politics, but just this once likely. It is not our area of expertise. I get far too emotional when talking about it. I just thought it was worth doing at the time. It was a serious subject, but I hope we ended on a positive and we tried to throw in a little bit of humour, where applicable.

I’m thankful we made the decision and went for a year’s upgraded subscription for SoundCloud.

This means we plan to keep going with this project into 2017 and who knows where it might lead.

I’m thankful for the chance to meet new people, local writers, to build relationships and connections.

By chance I came across a Facebook group about writing and it just so happened there were a few other writers there from my area. We all three decided it would be a good idea to meet up to discuss writing and local discussion about events with a literary theme.

It was so lovely to speak to a woman with older children, who has a longer career in writing for magazines and other publications, who is full-time freelancing. She was full of ideas and willing to share valued experiences with us.

The other woman has a science background, now with a young child at home, trying to get into the world of freelance writing. We all had something to contribute. I felt like people understood something about me, writer to writer to writer.

I felt like just one of the girls. I felt understood.

I’m thankful for a newly discovered place to shop locally.

The Closet

I’m thankful my cousin runs it and took the time to help me find a few new/used things for my upcoming trip.

I’m thankful I can challenge my long running phobia of used things like secondhand or slightly worn clothes.

I am sensitive to smells and to the idea of old things. I am learning that many things have value, that it’s important not to continually contribute to the rampant consumerism and material waste, and that everything has a story. Finding a deal isn’t bad either.

I am thankful for snow.

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s kind of messy. I know all this and I complain in the moment, just like everybody else, but then I step outside on a silent, snowy night. I listen to the silence and I feel the light flakes falling on my hair and on the car. One hits the tip of my nose and I stick out my tongue. A snowflake falls there too.

I walk through the snow coated, snow-covered, cold ground. I hear my feet crunch in it. I love a snowy December night in Canada.

So much snow falling this week in Toronto, during rush hour, and the ploughs can’t possibly keep up. This is really what we choose to complain about?

It’s the kind of silence where chaos can begin and where any screams of parts of the world are too easily ignored.

I have so much to be thankful for and I know it. I don’t always feel like I deserve it, but I know.

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TToT: Accessories Not Included – Listening to Echo’s Answer, #10Thankful

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence.
Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

–Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Blake (December 6, 1853)

The other night, while I was sleeping soundly, it happened. Only a few miles from where I peacefully slept, a man in his early twenties decided to get behind the wheel of a car, after he’d been drinking. He then drove into a woman’s vehicle, killing her.

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/11/25/fatal-crash-london-widower-soldiers-on-after-partner-a-newspaper-carrier-killed-in-early-morning-collision

People make bad decisions. People do careless and dangerous things, to themselves and to other people.

Don’t take the good things in life for granted.

I’d always wondered why…a Thursday?

It was Thanksgiving in the US and just another Thursday here in Canada when this “accident” would soon occur.

I have a few issues with American Thanksgiving. I have no problem celebrating the autumn harvest. It’s the history that is used to then whitewash why there is any celebrating going on at all that’s the problem I have. Then everyone rushes out to buy a bunch of things on Black Friday, to signal the onslaught of holiday shopping. Deals are nice, but this particular Thursday and Friday are odd days to me. It’s so easy to whitewash, when we’re not dealing with the hard stuff ourselves. A killer deal on a TV is, I’ll admit, an attractive one however.

We can convince ourselves that we would never drive drunk or lose our lives to a drunk driver. We can think that we’re just eating dinner with our families, when it’s often based on falsehoods and anything but the cold, hard, truth of reality. History is easy to push away.

I have no problem with family togetherness or with giving thanks and making a consorted effort not to take our own lives and those we love for granted. I think of and try to follow Thoreau’s words.

Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young

Every time I hear this song I think of the famous American film set during Thanksgiving, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”.

I’m thankful for those who write and speak up, be they strong female voices or men using Facebook.

The editor of
Full Grown People
is speaking up for the injustices she’s been seeing. She is one kick ass lady whom I wouldn’t want to mess with. She is tough but fair. She would clearly do anything for her family, friends, or the country she lives in and loves.

I’ve come to rely on a certain male Facebook friend’s posts on what he’s seeing going on, as scared as I’ve been for that country and our whole world lately. If there are others like him, there’s hope yet.

I’m thankful for the magic of editing.

My brother and I worked really hard again this week on editing more of our dialogue down. It feels like a great weight is lifted off the shoulders when done. I like the feeling.

We are adding little musical parts to break up our speech. This is a podcast discussing a political event, in this case, and so there is mostly talk from us. We needed to break that up by adding music, sound, and hopefully a bit of humour thrown in there too. I hope our dry sense of humours shows through.

As I sat there, listening to him coming up with beautiful guitar parts on the spot, well mostly, I was moved by the pure simplicity and yet something more complex than I understand. I add my producer’s opinion in there and soon enough we should have ourselves a third episode.

I’m thankful for another piece of music, due to my brother’s eclectic listening tastes, but of which spoke to me in a very clear and direct way.

Broadcast
is the name of the band and I am still learning about these guys.

I’m thankful for a thorough doctor and medications available to help treat me medically.

It’s frustrating to feel unwell for lengthy periods of time and to understand very little about why that might be.

This doctor is being very thorough and accommodating with me and I’ve seen enough doctors to know when I should be feeling grateful for one.

I’m thankful that a professor friend of mine thought to share a piece of writing with me that he’d been studying with his class and thought I might like.

Mary Wollstonecraft
was a feminist, a writer, traveler, and a brilliant and complex woman of her time.

I’m thankful that Christmas came early for me, in a way, with the delivery of a package on a Saturday morning.

It wasn’t quite from the guy in red himself, but close enough.

🙂

I’m thankful for the celebration plans being made for the end of December with an old friend.

She will be back from Ireland, for the holidays, and a girl’s night is in the works.

This makes me, simply, happy and contented, even with the craziness of these days and the hectic holiday season.

I’m thankful for the chance to catch up with another old friend.

Having months and even years go by and to still be able to talk again, like no time has passed is a nice feeling.

As always, there was a lot to catch up on, not all of it so cheerful, but a friend is always up for listening to both the bad and the good things in life, choices made or the things life just throws at you.

Skype and other forms of modern technology make this process of catching up even better and handier than ever before.

I’m thankful that my parents had a lovely evening of family, fun, and food.

For years there were many children running around. there were presents to pass out. Now, there is just the four brothers and one sister, right in the middle (my mom). Of course, there are the spouses. There is a lot of, I’m guessing, good food still. Lots of drinking and merriment. (Enough designated drivers to go around at the end of the night of course.) Loads of laughs and catching up. (There it is again.)

Families change and grow, but when they grow apart through feuds or bickering it is always a sad sad thing. It’s nice to know that my mother’s sibling relationships live on, especially at this time of year.

I’m thankful for a perspective from a writer on what Canada means to him.

Knowing My Place – Panorama Journal

I’ve had a lot of discussions over the last few weeks especially, with family and friends, and I am always wondering about my place here in Canada.

I am grateful to hear another’s thoughts. So here’s to another Thursday and to not taking any of it for granted.

CHEERS!

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