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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.

IqtN7Cr.jpg

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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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Holy Humour, Creativity, and Family Guy Batman! – Cross Fading, #10Thankful #Panorama

Walking this morning through the old cemetery in Montreal, where the sun shone down, and flowers grew, and insects busied themselves about the grass and shrubbery, the gravestones stood collected and collectively silent. I observed the names carved thereupon, of generations come and gone, resting beside each other now. And I took note. All those names fading on the stones. Names from all number of nations. Names, all shuffled together on the hillside and beneath the trees. Scottish next to Italian, English and Irish next to French and Spanish, Greek side by side with Polish and German. Names of immigrants, each and every one, come here from the European continent to make and live out their short lives. Names all silent now, long gone, indifferent, forevermore in company, lying in the same ground.

Alexi Murdoch on Instagram

What is an electric blue cloud? What is red? What does an orange sky represent?

Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch

What a crazy world we live in. I usually write about that in a segment I like to call, “In The News and On My Mind.” However, I just can’t today. I know very little about all the bigger than big factors playing all parts concerned.

What’s happening, when British MP Jo Cox is murdered last week? Venezuela is apparently in crisis. And Brexit is all over the news?

Is it really every man/country for itself now? Do we help each other out, or do we tear each other down, only look out for our own best interest? How can the world survive if we all think like that?

On the other hand, as the US has told itself many times, especially in the last fifteen or so years, one country can’t fix/rescue/control all other countries.

I just don’t know. Canada, where I live, honestly feels more and more like an island in a drowning world. We may be one of the more peaceful, quiet players, but that can’t possibly last forever either.

Canada Day is coming up next week. Perhaps I can figure more out about it all by then, to write more of my thoughts on it, but for now, here is my list of thankfuls.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the chance to shout, through my words, to the world about the kind of man my own father is, on Father’s Day and every day.

Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth-Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That? – Good Man Project

Clever title, right?

😉

For my sister and mother and their help.

Update on my email and technology issues is that my sister and mother helped me delete many thousands of emails. I am an email hoarder. I appreciate their patience.

For fresh strawberries/a strawberry moon on the first day of summer.

I am obsessed with moons of all sorts, be they blue or red or super.

Summer solstice and it made me think of the story I wrote about strawberry moons, a few years back. May share that in spoken word format on the new podcast.

For the discovery of electric blue clouds, which I used as an image for my #1000Speak theme for June.

Electric Blue Planet – 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

For the chance to be a part of an important Kickstarter campaign, on a literary travel magazine start-up that is going to bring attention to all the perspectives of travel writing which exist and, up till now, may not have been heard.

If you love to read about travel, exploration, adventure, and place, check out the amazing work they are doing.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel – Kickstarter Campaign

They are working to raise a certain amount, before launching their first issue this coming September. They have a goal they hope to meet, so they can pay their writers and contributors a little something, which many places don’t do.

The debate over paying writers is ongoing and I know, like world issues, is two-sided. I just like what Panorama is trying to do.

Maybe journals like it can help stem further divisiveness between cultures, countries, human beings, in the wake of all that’s happened and is happening. Can’t hurt to try anyway. Could end up making all the difference in the world.

That Brian and I finally got our first podcast episode recorded.

Phew!

More work than I ever imagined it would be. Lovely feeling of accomplishment when we did finish though.

In the process, he taught me about “cross fades” and so much more.

It’s not only the recording, but it’s the editing too. We hope to make it sound somewhat professional, while holding onto our authentic style. Entertaining and educational at the same time.

We will be releasing it this coming week.

It’s like jumping off a cliff, metaphorically of course, but exhilarating.

For the challenge of writing new lyrics to a song my brother first wrote several years ago and of which has quickly grown very important to me.

This song is not your typical radio hit. It’s made up of several parts which are almost like their own little, individual songs, inside one longer musical framework. It’s a musical/lyrical journey.

🙂

The theme is getting lost for a decade of your life. What does that feel like? Well, I equate it with getting swept up and sent adrift on an ocean of endless uncertainty.

We just had to work to make my lyrics fit the parts of the song. It needed a melody and further arrangement. It had to be structured. I hope it comes together, just like “Don’t Look Back” came together in the end.

For the gift of colours in my life, even for a little while.

What Is Red?

Red is my favourite colour, but how to describe why and what it is to someone who has never seen it? Hmmm.

😦

My brother asked me, during the podcast, and I thought and thought and thought.

I am grateful that I ever saw orange, blue, red. I lose sight of that sometimes, as I’ve now lost colours from my life, but my brother reminds me to be grateful again.

Oh, and thanks going out to Kristi from

Finding Ninee

for having me along as a guest co-host again.

For hot June days. Hot but not humid.

Big contrast from the weather we had at the beginning of the week to the end of it.

Sure, getting into a car after being in somewhere was like entering a sauna, which I am not fond of, but at least it was a dry heat, not a humid, sticky heat.

For the chance to see Finding Dory in a comfortable chair at the movies (which is a bit of an oxymoron) and for getting to see it with family.

It’s a film about the ocean, which I love. It was my first movie theatre experience with my three-year-old nephew. It was comfortable seats and popcorn and other snacks for breakfast, as it was a children’s morning movie showing.

I also must praise the theatre, not just for their foot rests and lounge recliners, but for their excellent audio description services. I’ve had lots of problems other places, for other movies, but this time it all went smoothly.

Finding Dory was moving for me, in a few places, and I am writing a piece on why that was. Not sure where to try submitting it, but I think it’s worth highlighting.

So, I made something this week. I took a chance and went for it. The world had its moments of turmoil, but I choose to remain cautiously optimistic, for now at least.

Mercury Falling – Sting

I explain to my almost totally blind younger brother about colour and he shows me all the music I didn’t know I’d been missing.

I like the tone of “Mercury Falling” and I like the imagery of it, as sometimes it’s not so easy to feel our world is headed in the right direction, but even winter and lower temperatures aren’t all bad.

“I was free with every road as my home. No limitations and no commitments. But then summer passed and winter came and I fell short for safety. I fell for its spell, slowly humming me to sleep, because I was tired and small, too weak to take or handle those opinions and views, attacking me from every angle. Against my art, against my self, against my very way of living. I collected my thoughts, my few possessions and built isolated walls around my values and character. I protected my own definition of beauty and success like a treasure at the bottom of the sea, for no one saw what I saw, or felt the same as I did, and so I wanted to keep to myself.

― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories on Leaving & Arriving

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Spotlight Sunday

Loving My Self-ish, #Compassion #1000Speak

“Every day is so wonderful. Then suddenly, it’s hard to breathe. Now and then i get insecure. From all the pain, I’m so ashamed.”

Beautiful – Christina Aguilera

I don’t look forward to these months, I have to say. This month’s topic for #1000Speak is “Self Compassion” and I find that one most difficult to write about. I could go all day long about any other topic under the “Compassion Umbrella” but when I must turn all my reflections inward, on me as a person, I struggle and even debate skipping May’s linkup altogether.

But here I am. I do like a challenge. Showing myself self compassion is just that.

So many of us wrestle with turning our writing in on ourselves. I know I am not alone. I have my reasons, for why I resist showing myself the kind of compassion I fancy myself so good at showing anyone else, just like everyone else who can’t show themselves that very same courtesy either.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of awful things. I’ve heard from so many with terrible stories of difficult childhoods, all setting them up for failure with self compassion, and I have none of that. I know I am lucky there.

I had supportive and loving parents and a close family growing up. All still true. Every one of them contributed to the best of who I am, not the worst thoughts and ideas I think about myself, during those darker moments.

It is not in spite of them, but because of them that I have the sort of love for myself as a person that I do. I do see my own worth. How could I not, with family like mine? They made me who I am.

We all have our own unique struggles. We are taught a lot about arrogance and narcissism in our world. It’s all around us. How to avoid taking on the worst of those qualities? If we love ourselves a little too much we are called out on it. If we constantly put ourselves down we make it too painful to be around. How to find a balance?

Well, without a stable childhood it is made one hundred times harder. I have the advantage there. I try to show myself compassion and then the negative thoughts creep in. It didn’t start from a need to be loved, not by family, to be perfect, but I got it anyway, in my own way.

Growing up with a disability makes you stronger. I can readily admit that. It teaches resilience and determination. That’s all well and good, but it also creates vast amounts of insecurities and guilt.

Am I worth being around?

Am I good enough?

Am I good at anything?

Am I or have I ever been a burden for someone?

Am I enough, in friendships and in romantic relationships? Do I deserve happiness? Will I ever find it or am I meant to end up alone?

Is that a bad thing in the end? Could I survive it and be okay anyway?

So, how to get okay with any of these?

Of course, I am familiar with the truth that “we must love ourselves before we can expect anyone else to love us” and I agree. My whole life, up until now and going forward, is focused on developing the skills and the belief in myself, to become stronger, for better or for worse.

I don’t know how anyone knows they love who they are enough that love from someone else will work out. Do I push people away? Is there something in me, a doubt and a faithlessness, that anyone I attempt to get close to can feel, of which inevitably ends up driving them away?

These are all questions that run through my head. I don’t know how to make it stop, how to finally answer for my own personal satisfaction.

So, then the challenge becomes finding meaning in what I love and what I know I am all about, a new internal fight begins. It’s more uncertainty that nags at me by this point.

So, I can repeat continuous statements of positivity in my head, out loud, or in my writing. I can then hope those thoughts take hold in my mind, as I desperately hope to believe I can be happy.

I try things like write down what I’m grateful for. I try to remind myself of the things I can do, instead of everything I cannot. That scale often feels unbalanced, but I steady myself whenever possible.

If I feel like I’ve got no friends, no hope for finding love, like I’m not meant to ever have children and a family of my own, like I will never find a job and support myself, like I can never look the way I want or be at the right weight then I would drown in a sea of hopelessness. I have somehow found a way not to lose hope, to keep the faith, even during the rougher moments.

Underneath it all I was raised to value myself. That is a foundation that will never let me down, one which I can always count on and look to for strength. It’s the building up from that initial base, since then that sometimes threatens to crumble. I must do whatever I can to stop that destruction.

I have no finality on this matter, no answers, nor conclusions. I am still figuring it all out.

This month…

And every month, or as it should be.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Self Compassion Heals

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TToT: Where Everybody Knows Your Name and It’s Raining Compassion, #10Thankful #LoIsInDaBl #HisNameIsGeorge

“Nothing was done for us, but the result was that we lived in our imagination.”

–Harper Lee on childhood

I decided to combine my latest TToT with Love Is In Da Blog this week and

SONG LYRIC SUNDAY.

I was asked what my favourite song from childhood was.

Cheers Theme Song

This one came to me as I watched a tribute special to James Burrows, director of such television sitcoms of my childhood and beyond as: Cheers, Frasier, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and several others like Taxi and Will & Grace.

I thought back on all the kids songs I loved when I was one and there were many, but not one song in particular came to mind. Then, I thought about how it didn’t necessarily need to be a children’s song.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I am thankful for my childhood. That’s a bit of a broad over generalization I realize, but listening to “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” made me miss it. I had a good one. Sure, I could very well be idealizing it now, but if it had been unsafe or unkind I wouldn’t be able to say it.

Sure, I had things that were hard, but they were not things that all the love in the world couldn’t help overcome, which is what I did have in abundance.

I hear that theme song from Cheers and I am automatically transformed back to my early childhood, as far back into it as I can recall anyway, with the way my family would all be in the basement and around the TV. That was back when a family really only had one television and we did not have cable, let alone a satellite dish, so our choices were limited and all the family would gather and watch one show, at a time, together. No electronic devices other than the television set. No cell phones or tablets to distract us from being a family. Not even a computer at that time.

I am thankful for the violin.

I may be including this one in my TToT every week from now on, as I learn and practice and, hopefully, improve.

I am thankful for my uncle’s patience and the time he’s giving to showing me the ropes.

He came over this week with “Violin For Dummies” and I was not offended.

🙂

He’s family and he’s not that far off. I’ve got a lot to learn. He’s got me working on a scale, starting with the open G string. Little bit at a time.

I am thankful for another successful Writer’s Circle this week.

The mystery object was a roll of duct tape with peace signs on it. Yeah, you heard me. I’ve heard of duct tape with bacon and with Duck Dynasty on it, but I had to struggle and I still needed the other group members to remind me what a peace sign looks like.

Since I couldn’t really picture it clearly, I decided to just write my story for the evening about the tape and leave the peace for another time.

I received one comment that my story was “cute”. Not sure if that’s exactly a good thing, but I took it and a few other comments that left me satisfied.

I am thankful for how well my brother is doing in his music course.

He shows me his assignments and they are songs he actually had to put together. The teacher gives all the students all the separate parts of a song, each instrument in a separate file, all the vocal tracks, and it’s the student’s job to turn them back into a song. It’s like a giant puzzle, but when he showed me the song and I realized he’d put it together from bits and pieces, (mixing as it’s called) I was so proud. I am so proud.

I am also thankful my brother agreed to come along, to check out what the game of Dungeons & Dragons is all about with me, as it was only my second time and I wasn’t sure yet if it is for me or not.

He knows me so well that I figured he might be able to give me his opinion on how he thought I seemed to fit in.

I am thankful that there have been a few days this week where I could feel spring in the air.

Of course, I enjoy February, bit of a bittersweet bond with this month, but I don’t usually like signs of warmer weather around here when it’s winter still.

I like winter when it’s wintertime, but, a few times when I felt the warmth of the sun and smelled the fresh spring scent on the breeze, I did start to look forward to more of that, I must admit.

I am thankful for

Here are all my posts for #1000Speak since its inception.

https://kkherheadache.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/celebrating-a-year-of-compassion-1000speak-loisindabl-bloglove/

I am thankful my brother talked me into listening to some relaxation/meditation/trance tracks.

I resist often, but I do need any ideas I can take to help me still my thoughts from time to time.

Waisting All These Tears – Cassadee Pope

I am thankful for Harper Lee and the story she created.

I thought about writing a tribute to her here when I heard the news, but I’ve honestly already written so much about her on this blog over the last year, with last summer’s release of Go Set A Watchman, that I felt I had already said it all, as best as I could, in those previous posts.

RIP Ms. Lee. That’s all that’s really left to say.

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Both Sides of the Forgiveness Story, #1000Speak

Some people who say they’re sorry aren’t and don’t feel genuinely sorry and some who feel truly sorry never say it, or get the chance to even try.

There may be a quote like this somewhere out there already, but, if there is, I don’t recall and, I swear, these words are my own. Chances are it isn’t stated nearly as poetically as how I’ve written it here anyway.

🙂

If it already exists, I am sorry and I really do mean that, but in this case I came up with it in my own words and from my own heart.

I am speaking of being sorry. I apologize a lot more than some people, perhaps a lot of people, but I know I am not the only one. It is said that women are forever apologizing for things, (big things or little things) whether warranted or not, and there is such a thing as too much being sorry, overkill.

This will all make sense, by the end of this post, I nearly certainly promise you that.

January’s #1000Speak topic is “Forgiveness”. Oh, the things I had to say about that, I told myself, upon hearing of the subject matter.

Spoiler alert (full disclosure, before I continue): I don’t have many answers and I don’t even have much of a handle on the monster that is holding a grudge or laying blame.

I know what you’re thinking, what so many self-help experts would shout out loud – anger, grudges, and blame only hurt the one doing the holding and the laying, that it is a much healthier thing to just let it all go and that getting on with life, being happy, these are the best forms of revenge. I don’t even like that way of putting it though, to be honest. Using the word “revenge” is still holding onto negative thought process and talk.

I don’t want to take out my anger on people or to take revenge on anyone, especially those who I have loved, at one time or another. Those are the ones you usually blame for things or can’t forgive for something.

Well, to begin with, I am working on forgiveness toward those who ever decided to title it “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” here in North America.

I do not love those people, never did, because I have never met them. I do love those books though.

Forgiveness is necessary for so many things, as this first example shows.

😉

My real list of those I have had to work to forgive is as follows:

–To a world of ignorant people, unwilling to look past disability and my blindness, to give me a chance and to get to know who I really am.

–To the doctor(s) who didn’t take me seriously enough when I told them I was feeling unwell, (when I was in renal failure or in chronic pain).

–To the schoolboard/administration who didn’t think I was smart enough. Or who used my blindness as the reason why I wasn’t keeping up, when I was really very ill from an entirely separate medical condition.

–To my high school boyfriend who used me to figure out the problems with his own life.

–To a friend who did not care.

–To an ex boyfriend who hurt me when he left.

If I was affected by these things in the past, I cant say for sure if I have forgiven completely. If I am still angry, I don’t want to be. Is it as simple as letting that anger go? Really? If it were, why wouldn’t I have done it by now?

What’s the real answer to that question?

Must mean I don’t want to let it go, right? I don’t know about that.

Certain times in my life have affected me, so profoundly, that even years later I think back on them and cringe a little. They often feel like a tiny little wound, one where when I brush up against them (when I let my mind go there) I feel just a little sting of regret or sadness or disappointment.

How do I ever completely heal these wounds?

I move on. I move forward. I get on with life. I have survived it all and I am still here. That offers endless comfort to me, but it doesn’t erase the experiences and the memories.

Forgive and forget. I often wonder about this line from the self-help field as well.

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out which one I am left with at the end of the day.

I know the person I have the hardest time forgiving is myself. I try, once more, I really do try. I know blaming myself for things I couldn’t have known better of back then or ways in which I may still be punishing myself now is not helping me.

I don’t know how much, if at all, anybody from my past thinks about me now. How wrapped up in myself must I be to even think they think of it at all, when so much of life is a one-sided argument happening inside our own heads.

If someone had nothing but the best intentions, I know they didn’t set out to hurt me, hurt me bad enough where I am still talking about it now. I acknowledge what good and decent people I have known. I am glad I’ve had certain people in my life, as a part of my history. I don’t wish them any ill will.

I gave my five-year-old niece a necklace for Christmas. It was a snowflake with the words “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” on it.

This I liked right away, on finding it in the store. I wanted her to have it, just as I want her to have the skill, the ability to forgive and to let go of anger and hurt, whenever and wherever possible. I don’t think it brings much else but suffering and I want her to know less of that than I’ve known. I want her to have a life with less regret and disappointments.

I hope I am not an angry person, but sometimes I’m not really sure deep down. I don’t ever want the level of anger (a perfectly common human emotion) to balance out the love and the kindness I feel and show to the world, but I try to remind myself that I must start with me first.

Give yourself a break, I remind myself, when the bad feelings surface. Life is much too short.

That is true.

I am always sorry for things and I don’t know if this is something I need to work on or not. I need to learn to forgive a world where disability and blindness is still not understood as well as it should be. I need to learn to realize that other people are fighting their own battles within themselves and that, if they’ve hurt me in some way, it’s not normally an intentional act. They were doing the best they could too, just like I am.

The hardest part is imagining what could have been or what will never be. Doesn’t mean there’s no hope that it could have all been worth it in the end.

With the death of a “Harry Potter” film star last week I have been watching a marathon of the movies and there was the scene about “The Unforgivable Curses).

They are “so named because they are unforgivable” and it got me thinking.

If you think that there are those things that shouldn’t be forgiven, I am just lucky that I can’t say that about my own life.

And whether you believe even the worst and most unforgivable deeds and actions towards others can still be forgiven, if only for the sake of the one who was wronged, so that person can find peace – well, I guess we’ll all just have to agree to disagree on that.

The only way I can look at it is that we can only know what this life and its most painful parts are like for ourselves, no one else. We can try to see things from another’s point-of-view. Maybe that will help and maybe it won’t, but we can at least try, right?

Around the 20th of every month

1000 Voices

explores topics like forgiveness and compassion, when a group of bloggers and writers do their part to spread all manner of good things, as a breath of fresh air with all the negativity and bad vibes in the world.

This month’s group and their thoughtful stories have given me a lot to think about, as usual.

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

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.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

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.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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Compassion For Christmas, #Christmas #Compassion #1000Speak

Welcome to a special edition of my monthly post on compassion for

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

Merry Christmas or whatever it is you say, each one of you. I am looking for some peace. Do you know where I could find some?

Nothing goes together more suitably than the Christmas season, peace, and compassion, right? So it should be easy to write about compassion at this time of year.

So then why do those stories of last minute shopping woes and packed stores threaten the peace and compassion I try to focus on?

It’s all about perspective. The last time I spent time in a hospital, visiting a loved one, it happened – all the chaos of the world I couldn’t get away from, (with 24/7 news and social media), all that stuff vanished. As soon as I feared for a loved one’s health I left that chaotic world of sensationalism and drama. What is truly important? It was right there in front of me, staring me in the face.

I saw plenty of compassion for our fellow humans, but I also saw plenty of the other side of things. I didn’t choose to be lifted, so suddenly, into an alternate reality, but I was.

Then it happened again, almost one month later exactly. The first episode in the hospital with my brother was a trial run, for a much worse experience. Again, all the politics here in North America, the horrors of ISIS, and the tragedy of refugees in Europe all took a backseat to my family and the compassion we would receive from other sources.

It started with the way my immediate family come together in the hard times. We rally. We close ranks.

We went into a state of adrenaline, as we did not know, minute to minute, what the situation was. That did not matter, though, in the end. We would be able to handle it, whatever “IT” was. That’s just how we roll.

We found compassion from hospital staff, doctors and nurses alike. We did not have a clue what we were doing. We still don’t. I know we got through it and will continue getting through, no matter what.

We sent word to the rest of our family and friends. They jumped to our aid and supported us. I clung to hope and the positive words of those who seemed to be more sure than I could manage to be, sure that my brother was strong and would fight back against whatever might be holding him down. It wouldn’t win, they were sure of that.

Technology and social media went from being sources of continuous and maddening news articles to a place where I could listen to the proclamations of those positive thinkers and friends. I found compassion there for my current situation and I held tight to that life raft in the ocean of uncertainty and fear I felt lost in.

Then I just happen to hear the news on a television, as I sat in a hospital lounge, just down the hall from where my brother was sleeping. All the horrors and the stress out there in the world crept in. I tried to keep it out, but it felt like cold water thrown in my face, waking me back up to a world out from my own private concerns. I couldn’t ignore the fear I now felt, both close to home and in the wider world. I still felt compassion for those refugees, the ones I wanted to write about, who have made it here to Canada and those still fighting for basic human necessities, out there somewhere.

I again wished and searched for some peace, in and amongst the craziness. It’s almost Christmas now and I still would like to know where that elusive thing called peace is hiding out.

I found compassion. It’s out there. People are doing good things. Those like

Lizzi.

There are those who explain it all, much better than I can:

Thoughts On Compassion

Last year I was a wreck. I was feeling blue and Christmas, a time where I’ve always felt cheerful at the mere approaching of December 25th. Something only made me more apathetic deep down, as last year came to a close.

It was my one and only younger brother who came to the rescue then. He lifted my spirits. He showed me an alternative to the Christmas seasons of my past, and I took hold of it gratefully: never-before-seen Christmas movies and music you would never hear on the radio. His compassion for how I was feeling, lost and alone, that brought me through, got me through.

Now here we were and I felt no peace. I felt around, in the darkness and the emptiness and the ever widening hole in my heart, reaching and grasping for anything I could offer my brother when he needed me. I could not help. I felt incapable of giving him anything close to what he’d given me one year ago. I could not fail him now.

Where was the compassion for myself? I knew I was scared and feeling entirely unable to handle much of any great weight. I feared I would never be able to write again, that my words were no solace to me when I needed something, anything. I knew I needed to eat, to rest, to take care of myself, but I couldn’t function. I had no way of knowing how long that might go on.

And then I heard her words. She spoke of her struggle, watching over her husband, hurt in a car crash. She saw him suffer and she stood by him. That’s what love looks like, I thought. My head in my hands, ready to throw them up in the air in frustration, I let her uplifting message of thinking positive and using any and all available energy to think best possible outcome wash over me. I listened to her words, her simple words of encouragement, my hands closing tight over my face, to squeeze all the panic I was feeling away, I raised my head up finally.

With all the rushing around that people do at this time of year I try to think of those who are sitting, still and quiet, with their loneliness at Christmas. This time of year brings up a lot of bad memories, beautiful memories, all things long gone now and I know how that feels. Suffering does not stop, indeed heightens, when the rest of the world is off celebrating somewhere. I like to have an added bit of compassion for what someone else may very well be dealing with. Sharing that isn’t always so easy, as we’re meant to feel like we’re doing it wrong if we can’t seem to find the spirit of the season.

A lot of compassion has been shown lately, by family and friends and near strangers, and that helps make the worst things bearable. Compassion is when a bunch of the people my father works with come together and raise money to give as a gift to my brother, recovering from a recent brain injury.

It’s not hard to find it: compassion, if you’re aware and open to finding it, but you must be willing to give it too. I want more compassion, for us all, as I return to the awareness of a wider world around me, full of suffering and need. I want it for those refugees who need a helping hand. For Muslims who feel like the world is ganging up on them for things beyond their control. I will join in the holiday traditions with my family and I will be grateful for my brother’s recovery and for the fact that we could have spent Christmas in a hospital. Small blessings are big things.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or all the best, for whatever it is you celebrate and believe. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all about compassion, when you boil it down. I will be back, to spread as much compassion as I can, with the help and encouragement of 1000Speak, in the new year.

Jewel – Hands – Christmas Version

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