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It Is What It Is #SocialDistancing #SoCS

Spring has arrived.

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As it stands, we
welcome
our new reality, even as we resist what that means.

I listen to two US sources, along with the national news here in Canada too.

I’ve been listening to Michael Moore and his podcast since before Christmas, when his main goal was to fight to get #45 out of office. It’s become something else now that most of us couldn’t have seen coming.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow and in her most recent episode, she ended the show by announcing the death of an NBC colleague who lost his life to covid-19 and she lost control and became choked up as she said it.

Most of us aren’t that close to this yet, but who knows what the next weeks and months could bring upon us all.

Panic. Don’t panic. Panic. Don’t panic.

I am one who learned about this coronavirus with a slow dawning, a realization that’s just now beginning to scare me. It was only end of January that I was still relatively oblivious and planning an adventure to walk the Thames River Path in England. This new reality hit me soon after.

Since then, I’ve been around some people, but I now feel the instinct to totally isolate from all people.

Every time I send someone out to run an errand for me, they could potentially pick up this virus themselves. Should I stop this, for their sakes and mine?

I get paranoid with germs (for years) and now. Where are they? How close by are they? Which surface are they living on?

I’ve been cushioned here in my town, in my county, but reality inches ever nearer. I listen to accounts from doctors and nurses who are already seeing emergency rooms and ICU’s full of the sick, numbers then reported on the nightly news and 24/7 online.

I take deep breaths, sitting here and when I step outside, the now spring air streaming into my lungs as I go out with my dog.

I went for a walk, fell and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee, but I got back up again and kept walking. I wanted to feel myself, moving through the world, grateful I am still well.

I went to a medical appointment and it was a breeze compared to how it usually is. The doctor and his pain clinic moved out of the hospital setting and into a recently abandoned medical practise next door. I was in and out, no waiting in a waiting room with a dozen other people, but straight in to the room, after I’d been given a mask to wear. I haven’t worn one since being on dialysis back in the late 90’s.

I sanitized my hands and got my nerve block injections for my headaches, that I’ve been receiving for almost a year now.

I questioned whether I should have gone there, gone out at all, but things moved along so quickly because many patients did decide to cancel.

I worry for my parents. They aren’t in the highest risk group, but they are over sixty.

I worry about my sister, doing her work in the midst of this time of year which is tax season, ever so slightly delayed like school and everything else.

I worry for my brother-in-law who works in a factory.

I worry about my older brother who needs to go into work to support his family.

I worry for my younger brother who had a kidney transplant in 2013 and who has had other medical issues, before and since then. He and I are both immunosuppressed, not currently on dialysis or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, but I don’t know how this new strain of virus might act if either one of us were to catch it. I’ve never had pneumonia and the idea of basically drowning when the lungs are overloaded is terrifying.

I worry for my sister who has asthma and her husband who is a type one diabetic, who just recently recovered from mono. They have two young children and I’m only thankful that my nieces and nephews are at much lower risk of contracting this.

My father and mother work still, front line workers really, as she works in a group home and taking care of vulnerable people and he takes people in wheelchairs where they need to go in his specialized cab.

Here in Canada we have a wonderful healthcare system, but we see what’s happening in Italy and we must learn all we can. I feel better sometimes, most of the time, hearing the news here in Canada and feeling I’m safest here when compared to anywhere else, but things can keep getting worse with every case reported and all the ones that aren’t quite yet.

This is not at all how I saw 2020 playing out.

I had a friend who was traveling and another who’s about to. I can’t do much about that, but I still worry. So many who would have not gone and those still trying to get back home.

I have an old friend, from childhood, who moved to Ireland for medical school and is now a doctor there. I don’t know how much risk she’s at since all this, but I keep track of the news of this virus out of that country too.

I can’t control any of this and the last thing I wanted to do was see this happening, but we’ve been warned of a possible pandemic to come. Well it’s here, sweeping across the globe bringing with it waves of destruction and instability.

I worry about people’s jobs and the economy that I understand little about. I studied history and the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I learned about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how that washed over humanity during that time. We’ve come far with medical knowledge and still we are left battered by something so tiny, invisible and deadly in many cases, but people think it’s like any other flu season we’ve known in our lifetime.

I know it may be petty, but I’ve started calling #45 covid-45 because of his unique ability to be cruel and ignorant and incompetent at a time when the whole world needs effective leaders who also care, even just a little.

I like to listen to flocks of birds out my window and above my head. They fly by and I wish I could fly too.

Our winter was mild and yet I’m pleased to feel spring is in the air. I am finding things to bring me a few moments of peace because I know we’re at war, World War III if you want to call it that, but it’s a battle raging on in nearly all places now. It is just now making it to the northern parts of Canada and in our territories. It’s on islands that want to keep it from swamping their systems. The border between Canada and the US and that between them and Mexico, closed to all but essential trade.

Europe is being ravaged by it and it will get into refugee camps and already war torn regions, places across the African continent and in bustling cities where social distancing isn’t a thing.

For humans, in most cultures, having to stop shaking hands or hugging or kissing of cheeks is so difficult to do. Whereas I’m not struggling with that as much as I am to not touch my own face a thousand times a day.

People can’t believe they are in the position, for the first time, of being prevented from travel to their heart’s desire and content. They, we’ve, I’ve always had that option of traveling and the freedom of choice. Yet, when I hear people complaining that they are bored and dreaming of the moment they’re told it’s safe to do so again, I want to scream. I don’t know why, as I’m among them, but I know we’ve all been spoiled when air travel is so common and wanderlust is a thing.

I have multiple rolls of toilet paper here still and am not letting that stress me out, but I don’t like what I’m seeing of people out in grocery stores. I go back and forth between feelings of panic and calm, though I am never sure what I’m panicking about. I can’t pinpoint anything for sure in my buzzing brain.

I can’t concentrate on writing the things I’d planned on writing so far this year. I can’t manage anything more than stream of consciousness writing at the moment.

My dreams are vivid and my waking hours are spent trying not to bombard my head and heart with opinions and facts and statistics.

This is a numbers game, as the saying goes, but this time this is no game we’re playing. I’m no good at numbers games at the best of times.

People who are already greedy or selfish will only look for ways to enrich themselves in this, all while I know this virus can take hold in any one of us, doing as much or as little damage as it sees fit.

People are afraid and in denial as a form of self preservation, but the world is also populated by resilience and brilliant minds already at work.

I’m getting by on the stories that keep coming out, stories of courage from front line workers and from communities coming together to pick up groceries and medications for those who can’t.

We’re depending on our medical professionals and our food delivery drivers and those in the factories and the plants, but they have families and bodies that are vulnerable to getting sick.

I am used to hiding away in my own solitude and I don’t want to start worrying, any time I’m around another person, but maybe now is the time to isolate from friends for sure and now even family members.

I don’t know what to think.

So we are welcoming spring and wondering what’s to come. Some say we’re making more of this than is necessary, like young people who celebrated spring break and think they’re invincible. None of us are invincible.

We humans have our social media now and can stay in touch with loved ones and we should. We’re not used to being constricted in our movements and in our socializing. We’re told to stay in our homes, except for those necessities of life, but we can’t handle being cooped up for long.

Will this last weeks or months or more? We hate to think it could. Loneliness even though we can connect easier than any period in history.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I take chunks of time off of Facebook and I watch a show from my childhood. I can recall difficult times in my past and how I made it through and that helps, but this is a new one on me.

I think of my indoor cat now and what his life consists of. Human beings won’t stand for that for long, but I’ve seen some beautiful examples of people in places like Italy and Spain making the best of these circumstances. Each of us and our governments are dealing with this in stages, but sometimes swift measures are necessary ones.

I’m trying to wait this out, to ride it out, but I don’t know what to expect and I know emotions are running high.

I envy the innocence of the children in my life right now, but I’m now afraid to be around them, around anyone. I hate that feeling.

How are all of you coping with all this? I know I’m not alone and neither are you.

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TToT: 2020 and Feeling Good As Hell #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Once again, I have been absent from this
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
exercise in gratitude and I did mean to join in more, but life got in the way.

I am thankful for
Kristi
and her taking on the TToT and for making a lovely effort to ensure accessibility is as common as possible, even with all the things that are out of her control.

I will go back a few months to start things out – back to 2019.

I am thankful I got to attend an old friend’s wedding back in November.

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It was wonderful having a celebration with good friends and family too. The event wasn’t too big and I danced as much as possible.

I am thankful for a fun few days with friends (both old and new) at Social Media Week Toronto, only a few days after the wedding.

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Caption: Kim, me, Amy, and Victoria

It was a nice getaway to Toronto and it was cold, mid November, but I was mostly thankful for the slight warm up but still cold enough, on my last evening in the city, with the most delicate snowflakes falling as we walked to find some dinner before I had to catch my train home.

I am thankful for the chance to be a guest on a podcast about culture called
Culture-Hacking – “Seeing the World Differently”.

I am thankful for a fun-filled Christmas season with family.

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Caption: I’m with my nieces, watching The Simpsons on the tablet, with the tree in behind us. (Hmm, did I end up posting this photo more than once?)

I am thankful for a speaking gig I had lined up for January.

PROBUS Canada

It was good to get to speak to a room of women from the older generations, to share a bit about my blindness experience, including all the travel I’ve done and some of the obstacles I face, not to mention informing them of the existence of the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
here in Canada in 2020.

That website is where you can go to read the latest issue of The Blind Canadian, November 2019 where I am newly an assistant-editor.

I am thankful I had a meeting with the woman/writer I’m planning to walk the Thames River path with this coming September and with my friend and travel agent who is helping us plan the month long adventure ahead.

I am thankful for this new audio podcast platform.

anchor.fm

We may use it to record and share daily updates as we go and I have started a profile there and have recorded my first two episodes. I will probably make these, as an audio version of my written blog, capturing the months ahead and all the planning and preparing I’ll be doing. It’s a cool site/app I can even add music to my recorded voice and I can do it without having to depend on my audio expert brother all the time. I think this one, it will be nice to be able to do it myself.

And I am thankful, last but certainly not least, for a mostly positive result on a blood level that had jumped in recent weeks for unknown reasons.

I have lived by that number for more than 20 years, creatinine to measure my transplanted kidney’s excellent function. I don’t remember it being more than 70-80 in years and suddenly I received a call that it had jumped up to 110.

On re-test, it did go back down, not down as far as I’d necessarily like it to, but 100 – and I will take that, for now.

I tend to lean into my more negative side with these sorts of things, but the doctor wouldn’t commit to the idea that my kidney is slowly declining. He said, at this stage, it could be that, but maybe 100 is my new baseline level. It happens and there’s no reason, at this time, to think anything further to be the case. I am getting re-tested in April and going back again in June for my once-a-year, usual doctor’s appointment.

But he did seem quite sure I’d be walking in England by September and that nothing renal related would get in the way of that. (Still…one more reason I want to do this walk, to help raise awareness, and to explore the world while I have the chance.)

I am thankful, extra thankful, to that hospital and the transplant outpatient program and the doctors that keep such a good eye on things for me. I am lucky to be living where I am living, as I hear more and more stories of the medical costs in the US that people live with.

To start 2020 somewhere, I was glad to participate in an entire month of blogging with prompts coming from certain participants of the yearly activity, participants such as
Wendy
and the blogger to run the whole thing. Thanks
Linda,
for getting my year started, with writing and blogging and your Just Jot It January #JusJoJan challenge, so I can at least begin somewhere for the year.

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Caption: a Just Jot It January completion badge

I am about to celebrate this blog’s six year anniversary and my thirty-sixth birthday – 2020 and I say “bring it on!”

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Covering My Bases #WeRemember #JusJoJan

Okay, so I am nearing the end of this
Just Jot It January
2020 thing.

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This weekend, instead of writing for #JusJoJan, I was too
busy,
with the planning and the thinking and the dreaming.

Trying not to get too far ahead of myself on life, with recent developments, I zoned out a little here recently.

Thanks,
Saumya,
for this one.

I was making a starting, basic plan for an adventure I’m looking to have later this year. It was distracting, as I try not to get my hopes up too high. I want to make a statement with this one!

I wish to
dazzle
the world with this one.

I long to sparkle, to shine, but not me for my sake. I desire to take a chance, take the leap, assuming upcoming bloodwork doesn’t threaten to ruin everything I’m planning before it even has a chance of going ahead.

I want to be always a surprise and a voice for change. I may surprise in my methods of achieving all this, to some, but the main one I’m looking to surprise is myself…and spectacularly!

Thanks,
Debbie,
for this glittery prompt word.

This date always gets me down, in a way, to more of a melancholic level. I think if it, 2020 being seventy-five years since the freeing of Auschwitz concentration camps.

I know this is the day to celebrate, but it’s such a sombre date, I can’t help feeling a bit blah.

It reminds me of too many things, makes me think too many dark thoughts, though I know there’s a more positive tone to strike here too.

And, so since I am working with what I’ve got, what I’ve got is me. Nobody else can live my life for me, I should learn to count on me more because I’m here now and I’m grateful for that, and then to be gracious to all who agree to join in on the journey, somewhere along that way.

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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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