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TToT: Thirty-five For Me and Five For Her Headache, #Blogiversary #10Thankful

Here, I hope to leave something behind when I go. Here, I won’t look back with any shame or regret at what I’ve said, what I’ve written. I am proud to be Her Headache.

I am
thankful
for this blog and all those who’ve found me here and read what I’ve written on these virtual pages, ever since that 2014 February of my thirtieth birthday.

As for how to celebrate my five-year anniversary with this space, I couldn’t quite settle on how to best show my gratitude and my pride on all that this blog has brought to my life.

In the beginning, it all started with me showcasing my
BUCKET LIST
of items I’d wanted to experience.

Since my kidney transplant, twenty-two years ago, I am all about not taking each day for granted and my list was a way of stating my purpose and no longer settling for less out of fear. Things like chronic pain and disability threatened to take away a life worth living, but I fought against that and found this blog as a part of that.

In this last five years, I’ve been lucky to check off several things on the list, though I am enjoying the ups and downs of the journey, as I’ve learned that to be the best part of the whole thing really.

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Still, I can’t stop wondering where life will take me and so here we go with the review of the things I have done and seen in five years that I may not have dreamt I’d do, during the most difficult days in my past:

I am thankful for the teacher I’ve had, for the last three years, since I decided to take a chance to learn to play an instrument in my thirties. Violin was beautiful to me and I wanted to learn to play with a bow, to produce those kinds of heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds I’d heard from the violin for years. I was drawn to it since I gave up on clarinet back in high school. (Too much air needed, blowing into that thing, which was hard on my head, prone to headaches already.)

She is leaving on a new adventure soon and I must face that thing I often dread, “Change”.

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I am thankful for my violin and the progress I’ve made so far, even when I get down on myself for not learning more, faster.

I am thankful for my autumn of 2018 visit to the Maritimes, Canada’s eastern provinces, even my short visit and the limited bit of Nova Scotia I saw. I am thankful I got to place a small item, a token of my appreciation for her gift of iconic literary characters like Anne Shirley in Canada’s cultural landscape, on her gravestone. I got to write a note of my gratitude, from one writer to another, in the guest book in the house Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in. I was brave to finally state, in writing, that I think of myself as a writer, even up next to someone as talented as Montgomery.

I am thankful I got to walk along those Prince Edward Island beaches, the coastline and the smell of the sea. Red Point. The End of the World P.E.I. and the force of the wind at that spot, lighthouse next to a drop down to fearsome ocean roaring down below me.

In these last five years, (not only out east) but I’ve traveled to Mexico, Yukon, British Columbia, and back to Florida for the fourth time.

I am thankful I got to make it to my twenty-year anniversary with my kidney, from my father, and that I got to celebrate that with him and my family and friends, zip lining at my favourite Niagara Falls on the Canada side. I hope to zip line in more places around the world in future.

I am thankful I technically did get my writing available in bookstores, when I wrote a short piece which was included in a print magazine called Misadventures. It was only available in Barnes & Noble, in the US, so a friend went into one and took pictures for me of that magazine on the shelf. I hold that book in my hands and am proud to know I have writing inside of it.

I thought it fitting to make my five-year blogiversary into a TToT post, one of the best things to come out of this blog since 2015 when I discovered other bloggers doing it and I joined their exclusive TToT blogging community.

Thank you, TToT comrads and all of you, for visiting me here. You’re the best.

All jokes aside on the wisdom of getting older, as I turn thirty-five and look back and look ahead, I know the fun is in the journey, not necessarily its destination. Still, I will always write about it all here, or for as long as I am meant to,

Where will I be in five years? And, how will I have gotten there?

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Last Year’s Adventures Make Me Ready For This Year’s #TBT #JusJoJan

My
favourite blog post of last year
was about a trip I’ve always wanted to take, a writer I admire, and the ocean I discovered when I got there.

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I was proud to be approached by
Expedia
to be featured on their site and then I wrote a blog post to go along with that.

As I approach the five-year anniversary of this blog next week, I will always remember when I went to prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and wrote about it.

I look forward to more travel and adventure in 2019 and see all of you back for #JusJoJan in one year’s time.

Thanks Linda.

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Up There and Out There #JusJoJan

I wonder and I wander. I need something to ponder, while pain interferes, some nights, with sleep.

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I read a
magazine
that’s all about
curiosity
and named that too.

***

Curiosity Magazine’s readers are, well, curious. They’re curious about backgrounds, politics, ingredients, and people. They love stories. They ask questions.  They look for local insight. They try to gain perspective. They want to be immersed in a place. They don’t have to be well traveled, but they aim to travel well. At Curiosity Magazine, we want to fill the world with better travelers. Join us.

***

Though I love it, curiously, I don’t strictly call myself a travel writer because I write about plenty more than travel alone.

I am, overall, a
curious
person and travel and adventure are made up of just that at their heart.

It’s the people and the places. It’s the feelings and, sometimes, the fantastical. It’s the traditions and the tourism. It’s the history and the holiday. It’s the wilderness and the wildness. It’s the nature and the natural. It’s the sensations and the stories told by me and by mysteries left untold and still telling.

It makes me say “what?” and “why?” and “for how long?” as I stumble upon more of what’s out there.

It’s the map and the globe and the app and the questions and exclamations in my future. It leaves me thinking endlessly about taking that next step, like the road Tolkien spoke of that’s just outside your door, waiting out there to take life’s travelers away.

That’s why literature makes me think, makes me wonder, makes me meander.

That’s why psychology makes me ask about another’s passions and fascinations.

It’s all up there, in my head and out there, just out of reach and keeping me reaching, arms all outstretched wide.

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Finding The Abbey Felt Like Striking Gold #JusJoJan

All the music and the books and shows that are out there I have yet to know of, I think to myself, as I watch Downton Abbey (for the thirtieth time) as I eagerly wait for the film to come out. FYI: I have months to wait still.

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I like to think of all the explorers and inventors and everything
undiscovered,
going back through history and into the present and the future I have yet to enter myself.

As I am halfway through the first month of 2019 already, I know there’s so much to discover too.

I am an explorer of my year, in my own personal narrative of a life, as I approach turning thirty-five. Sure, I am feeling wary of what might be or might not, but I am ready for the adventure and the exploration of what this year is meant to become.

Yeah, depending on the day and sometimes the hour you ask me in/on, my mood about all this changes. I feel like the start to 2019 is a slow one, but really I can’t complain about that. Life, when much more interesting, isn’t always the better alternative.

I am trying to see what’s next for me and I don’t always look at that as being a positive thing. I know I need to keep hold of the right attitude in this whole self-discovery dance I’m doing. I don’t dance well, but sometimes, you just have to flail around a bit, all four limbs, and not worry so much about what that might look like.

After all, last year at this time, I hadn’t bothered to give Downton a chance yet. How silly thirty-three-year-old me was for that.

Thanks today goes out to
The Haunted Wordsmith
for such a thrilling word. (Love the blog name btw.)

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Favourite Things

Things, at the start of 2018, are changing up bit with the
FTSF crew.

My word for 2018 is “stoker,” which also means to stir things up, so I am all for this. I admit, I often have a difficult time with change of most kinds, but I am really trying. Still, though the list may have changed and has grown over my lifetime, here is my list of ten favourite things:

Favourite Thing Ten – Water

I love the roar and rush and rumble of waterfalls. It’s the trickling of a stream, brook, or creek. Or, the increasing and then the decreasing of a wave that’s coming and then going, washing in and back out again, leaving ripples in its wake. It’s the blue, green, rocky, sandy bottom of a lake or ocean. It’s my favourite metaphor for life, both the good and the bad of it, the scary and the sublime. Its power and its purity. It’s clear and clean, or heavy with mineral count. It is the refreshment in a glass or the lapping at my feet, pouring down my throat (to filter through my kidney) or threatening to wash me away.

Favourite Thing Nine – Marine Life

These are the creatures that swim, float, glide, or drift. They range from the smallest crustaceans to the largest squid/octopus, jellyfish, ray, or whale. It lives down on the sandy floor, at the deepest depths, or skimming and skidding along its sunlit surface. It is hunt or be hunted, all while storms rage, boats speed on by, nets drift and dangle, and waves carry it all along, currents deciding the course. It’s gills and blowholes and claws and fins and tentacles. It’s all the colours of rainbows in skies above. It’s camouflaging in all shades and underwater backgrounds.

Favourite Thing Eight – Space

It’s my earliest adventure, escape dream. It’s the dark, still, and the silence. It’s the circles and the rings and the orbit. It’s the blue of ice and the yellow/orange of fire from stars and swirling gases that envelop giant planets. It’s massive red spots as storms and dozens of Arctics stacked on one another, all the way out to the outer ranges of the galaxy. It’s yellow, blue and green and white, and red, and black that’s more than night is or will ever be. It’s infinite. It’s out there, somewhere.

Favourite Thing Seven – The Four Seasons

It’s the northern hemisphere and North America, central, southwestern. It is broken up into quarters of a year, here in (north more than south) of Canada. It is the smell of snow, the cold breath of it on my skin, and the feeling of invigoration. It’s the silence of the snow, the rustle of the warm breeze in the trees. It’s the intense heat and the brightness and burning from the sun, the kind to make any exposed skin surface feel like it’s on fire. It’s the birds of every temp, born to brave it or fly away from it, flocking back again. It’s the Canada geese, flying south and coming back home after long wait of months passed. It’s the early darkness, short days, green of new growth and rebirth. It’s the sprinklers and the mowers and the bikes. It’s the rustle and the crunch and the shuffle of dried out leaves. It’s the rain and the mist and the sleet and the snow, wet, soggy, heavy, and slush under boots and shoes. It’s the puddles after the rain and the icy spots before the thaw.

Favourite Thing Six – String Instruments

I love playing with a bow instead of a pick or a reed. I love the melancholy and the heartbreak of such a sound. I love the feeling, the shape of my own personal violin. The wooden body and the strings, stretched by pegs. It’s the deep melody of the cello and my newness, inability to tell difference between violin and viola still. It’s the power of the bow in my right hand, my chin and chest holding up my instrument, while my left arm, hand, fingers hold the neck and both sides of my brain try to figure out how to work separate and yet together, all at once, to produce more than the sound of a tortured animal and more of the notes and the scales I struggle to get straight in my own ear.

Favourite Thing Five – Art

I loved the visual and the sculpting, with lines, shape, colour, word, image, and sound. I love how creativity flows from each of us like unique perfume, like the individuality of every snowflake that falls from the cold sky.

Favourite Thing Four – The Purring of a Cat

I gently place my two fingers on my cat’s throat as he purrs. I feel it reverberate through his whole body as he settles down against my legs. He makes my chronic pain bearable, on the most unbearable of all days.

Favourite Thing Three – Literature

I love how it can be an act of courage, of hope, of truth. I love how, in essence, it sweeps me up and away. I love how it is about all of us and none of us and each of us, individually, on a personal level, still stretching out to infinity and some far off, far flung lands.

Favourite Thing Two – Travel

I can do it on foot, by car, train, bus, boat, or plane. Or, I can do it, go there in my mind, anytime., even as my sight fades and my memory and yearning grow stronger. I love the people and the places and the things. I love how stepping foot somewhere new or old, on returning or first approaching, that I am someone new, on my own, personal journey of discovery and upon discovering.

Favourite Thing Number One – Niece/Nephew Voices and Laughter

It sounds so grown up or only days from becoming words. I love the sweetness of the high pitched and the similar giggling of siblings. I love that it can turn, from sad to joyful in a single second of exuberant speed. I love the ring of it, the jangle of it, and the shimmering, swinging, swooping crystal clarity it brings, on all sides, expanding the walls of my heart as an aunt.

So there it is, my top ten list, not affiliated with David Letterman’s old show. Sure, some things are more to-the-point than others. I can go from the highly specific to the wide expanse of a thing, perhaps giving me the chance to write fifty favourite things, condensed down into ten, abstract or less so, as I hate to choose.

Check out some of
Finding Ninee’s
favourites too.

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TToT: Insertion Follows Playback Like Edit Follows Automation – Full Cold Moon, #10Thankful #IDPD2017

“(UN IDPD) serves as an important reminder that globally there are over a billion people with a disability. This year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” is especially relevant to our accessibility efforts…”

—Microsoft

More on IDPD2017 from the WHO.

I know when and how to celebrate and I am learning when to stand up and speak up for the important things – overall, a thankful post brimming with gratitude really.

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Photo caption: sisters watching the decorating of their father’s 62nd birthday cake. Talking/smiling. Happy Birthday Dad! XO

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for this artistic girl.

Making works of art out of the task of cupcake decoration.

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Making something, all her own, and loving it.

I am thankful for this sly guy.

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He likes to hide, but there’s a mischievous spirit just under the surface, behind the hands that sometimes cover his face when he’s playing shy to the camera.

I am thankful for such a smart and curious almost ten-month-old sweetheart.

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Photo caption: Cousin hugs.

Her big cousin Soph adores her. It’s sweet to see them interact.

Mya is so interested in everything now. She is so close to walking, as she sees the rest of us doing it and wonders why she hasn’t managed it yet.

She is the happiest baby I’ve seen really. She likes to cuddle, but I can barely keep up with her when she’s on the move, and she’s not even a year old yet. Her mother and I are in no real hurry though.

I am thankful for the missing and missed one at last weekend’s gathering and the kind soul he is.

Old soul is my man Maxwell.

I am thankful he could enjoy his new friend’s birthday party. He got so excited. He was counting down the hours to his first party invitation since starting junior kindergarten in September.

I am thankful for a name given, from a friend, that suited my current state rather perfectly.

**Given what you’ve shared recently, I’d say the cauldron’s selection is a potent one for you. Your Embrace the Darkness name is “Good Night’s Sleep.”**

I had mentioned my sleep/dream issues lately and she generously handed this one to me, gifted me with it as a way to accept and deal.

I am thankful for a visit with one of the few people in my life who understand about living with chronic pain.

She brought me a coffee, doughnut, and a sympathetic ear.

She lives with pain and manages to hold onto her most original sense of humour and I take lessons from her on that front – where I find strength through some good sarcasm now and again, I see she does too.

I am thankful my friend arrives home from Ireland next week for the holidays.

I see her and her daughter just once a year, at this time, and it’s a fascinating way to observe the growing up of any child. They are quite the pair.

A little Christmas shopping with them maybe? I want to get her something memorable, as I only get to see her once a year and it takes her a little time, each time, to warm up to me again. A toy may help, but it can’t be anything too big because it must get back to Ireland.

Lots for them to cram into only a few weeks here back in Canada, with family and friends, but it’s always fun.

I am thankful for such kind and generous parents.

They bring me medication when I go away and forget it at home. They go that extra mile, in so many ways, and are flexible in so many ways too.

They are both unflinchingly generous people.

I am thankful for another job completed and well done, hopefully.

I wrote a memoir piece about our family, from the past, and the early December trips to a giant toy store we’d make as a family.

I turned it into a bit of a back-and-forth with me and Brian. We recorded it and added sounds and a bit of music to the piece.

We are submitting it for consideration on my brother’s favourite holiday Christmas marathon radio show he has listened to for the last three years.

Even the year of his horrible fall, when he was slowly recovering with a brain injury, he listened. The jingle bells accompany the radio guy and he plays some of the most obscure music for the season, to be heard on a New Jersey college station.

In the midst of all the musical pieces, he plays short holiday themed stories, recorded by friends and fans. This year we wanted to be included in that.

We shall see what he thinks when we send it to him.

Adding more…

I am thankful for fresh edits to a piece and that time away so I can come back at it with fresh eyes.

I wrote about the road I took through my Yukon visit and the road I’m traveling down in my life.

I worked on it with one editor and took a few weeks away from it. Coming back now, with fresh eyes, I can consider other editing suggestions and work to make it the best piece it can possibly be.

I just saw a Yukon documentary, playing in theatres for a limited time, and this virtual return to the north of Canada has given me new life to put into the writing.

I appreciate all I learn and how I can improve and grow as a writer, with the guidance of talented people I am lucky enough to get to work for/with.

I am thankful for a movie about the Yukon in my heart since I visited there, even without the DVS working.

It’s funny to have the story, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but again we ran into issues with the audio description service at the theatre.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover they said they had it. A worker disappeared somewhere and came back with two headsets and wireless boxes.

Once inside the we turned them on. One worked and the other did not. The first worked, but it was describing a story that certainly wasn’t that of the Yukon.

We were offered their apologies and two free movie passes, but that won’t address this issue.

I did enjoy the film, despite all that, but a documentary, at least, has steady narration.

I don’t even think about going to an action movie or one with a lot of adventure, not without the proper assistance from a helpful person sitting next to me.

This is no answer. Perhaps not that many blind people go to movies, anymore or ever, but this must be improved upon.

As for the movie, I nearly came to tears more than once, as it brought back sense memory of my days there and my deep feelings about so much of that wild beautiful part of North America.

I am thankful for the day, December 3rd, to highlight disability, not just in North America, but around the world.

Every day is a day to talk about it, without becoming preachy. I feel this is something I have been called on to do, but it is a rather tricky balancing act.

I watched a Canadian national news broadcast and no mention at all was made nor any story aiming to shed light on some aspect of disability and what IDPD means to so many. I know an hour long news program can’t get to everything, but I think this should have been covered in some way.

I plan to do a lot more of this activism stuff in 2018 and beyond.

I am thankful for the final super moon of 2017 and the fact that, in spite of my worsening eyesight, I could still make it out on the horizon as we drove home.

I am all about horizons these days. Onward and upward, all while still making the effort to enjoy the final weeks of 2017 in the meantime.

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TToT: Forever and Ever and Always – “Inshallah” #10Thankful

“Another celebrity dies. And still it mystifies the people. Another icon is destroyed.”

—The Cranberries, “Paparazzi On Mopeds”

Last week I was writing about American royalty and this week British, with my memories of where I was in my year, month, and life twenty years ago this week, when Princess Diana was killed.

Biopsies and weddings and recriminations, oh my!

I may have been able to see swans twenty years ago, but I don’t know if I’d go back if given the chance.

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I had the best day in a long time with my sister and her kids.

Forever and Ever – Pooh’s Grand Adventure

We spent the day in a nearby town called Stratford, known for culture and Shakespeare’s plays, but I like it best for the swans at the park, the awesome chocolate shop, but mostly for the time the four of us spent there together.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for another fascinating interview.

I heard Sting speak about his music, then and now, and the world he’s worried about leaving behind for his grandchildren.

I love to listen to interviews, to learn about people, and I think he is a good one. I’ve always been a fan of his music, from his Police days.

Then he scored the IMAX film The Dolphins that I love. It’s remarkably beautiful.

When Dolphins Dance

It brings me peace.

“Be yourself, no matter what they say.”

—Sting

I’m thankful the roof is completed, all fixed, along with all banging sounds silenced.

The men are gone, scaffolding removed, giant bin for debris taken away.

Now the rain will stay where it belongs.

I’m thankful my brother is off on an adventure.

Adventure Is A Wonderful Thing

We drove him and a friend to the airport and I was so excited for them, even more so than if it were me going. I want everyone to get to experience travel of some kind.

I’m thankful to have discovered an out-of-the-way little pizza shop to enjoy with my mom on a drive out of town.

Super Choice!

It was.

I’m thankful the first of multiple pieces of my writing was published to round off the month of August.

My Pal Croche: Remembering My First Guide Dog – Paw Culture

I am grateful that Paw Culture gave me the opportunity and a place to write about Croche, for the tenth anniversary of her death, on Good Friday, 2017.

I’m thankful for September and the first of the fresh local apples of the fall season.

It’s practically all I eat for the next month or so. Perfect combination of sweet and sour. So crisp and crunchy.

I’m thankful my niece and nephew have had such an amazing person to take care of them for the early years of their lives, so my brother and his wife could be at work and have total confidence and trust in the care their children were getting.

Now that my nephew will be joining his big sister in school, this won’t be happening, but the bond will always be there.

I know it’s hard to have to decide to leave your precious baby with someone else so much of the time, as working parents, and especially in a city like Toronto, finding good childcare isn’t so easy.

This person helps shape how the child will be, from the first years of their lives, and I know this was a big weight off their minds. I am grateful to this person. I see how much my nephew and niece love her. Transitions are never so easy and pain free, but a part of life.

I’m thankful for the senses I still have to enjoy a day out with loved ones.

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I got kind of depressed after we returned from Stratford, because I couldn’t see the white swans on the water anymore, but I enjoyed juice boxes, walking along a path while my nephew looked for a campsite (pretend), and the drive there and back.

I felt the fresh air and sunshine of the day. I smelled the scent of chocolate as we entered the shop. I heard the ducks and geese, if I couldn’t see the others.

I’m thankful for the sweetest moments with my nephew and niece during our day.

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“Kerry, mommies and daddies always come back, right?”

I was blown away by that statement? Question? Hmm. I still don’t know.

I heard the small voice from behind my front van seat ask this. He’d heard it said on a children’s program that morning. He sounded certain enough, but still looking for a little reassurance from his aunt.

“Inshallah”

Then, as we walked through a store full of goodies, he soon asked if we could get chocolate for others, not just himself. I almost melted, right there, surrounded by chocolates, at his thoughtful request.

As my sister loaded him and our treats into the van, I held my niece in my lap. She’d hardly cried or fussed the entire day. Later that night, I’d hold her in my lap as she chattered away and watched her big brother playing, with great interest.

My nephew wanted me to come to his house to watch Pooh’s Grand Adventure and I did. I am so happy I did.

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin

I’d seen it before with him, but never had I paid as close attention to the dialogue and word choice. I was impressed at what a smart story it is.

As we sat, the song from above played, about being together forever and ever, as my nephew crawled into my lap and cuddled, sitting still for what could have been a shot at forever and I nearly cried, thinking of how many days there will be like that granted to me.

“Inshallah.”

It means God Willing. It’s an Arabic word I heard mentioned twice this week, from Sting during his interview and then in a piece I read somewhere.

I’m thankful for my boys.

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Never before had both Dobby and Lumos sat on either side of my chair like that.

I think Lumos was still wanting me all to himself, as Dobby had been away the previous few days because of all the commotion with the roof repairs.

And to end the post, a song that one of my favourite bands wrote after Diana’s senseless death.

Paparazzi On Mopeds – The Cranberries

Goodbye summer/August, the final long weekend of the season, and welcome to a new month and season of autumn to come.

And to my nephew, starting school for the first time and his big sister and cousin, I want you all to know:

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

—Pooh’s Grand Adventure

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