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The Colours of Kenya #Blindness #Travel #TravelTuesday

In January, 2017, I was discovering a new place. While I was immersed in the culture of Mexico, where I attended a writing workshop, Lizzi, at the same time, was on her way to Africa, but not for vacation. She was going to help.

I kept up on her time there through social media and I could sense the profound affect it was having on her.

Then I read this.

I knew I wanted to read one of her stories and one title, in particular, it jumped out at me.

I miss colours, a hard fact of life. I may go to Kenya one day, who knows, but I won’t ever see the colours of Kenya. I wanted to hear someone with a way with words tell me what they saw of Kenya’s colours.

Read the following story by Lizzi that I am honoured to be featuring on my blog today. It’s beautiful.

***

The Colours of Kenya

I had been travelling for what felt like a million hours, and in spite of having slept on both plane-rides, I was dropping with tiredness. It didn’t matter though, because I was in KENYA!

Getting there had been a long journey, literally and figuratively. The preceding months had been filled with emails back and forth to various Important Bods at the hospital, a cautious raising of hopes in October 2016 (only to have them dashed), and then a sudden YES, ten days before we were due to leave.

The four of us – a consultant, a senior nursing sister, an infection control nurse, and me (a buttinski retinal screener with her own agenda for gathering baseline information on the state of diabetes care on offer at the four hospitals we were linked with) – had been travelling since 11am UK time, arriving in Mombasa at 4.20am Kenyan time. We were at the end of our abilities to communicate clearly, and a sleep-haze had descended over all of us, reducing our words and movements to the very deliberate, or the not-at-all.

Still, landing in the thick, humid Kenyan morning (far hotter than Nairobi, a couple of hours earlier, and far more like the ‘stepping into an oven’ I had expected) at an airport which seemed almost deserted and (I noticed with interest) had not one pane of glass in the building, but a beautiful Byzantine cement filigree over each window-space, was definitely a fulfilment of my hope for adventure.

We piled into the waiting taxi and started off out of the airport, past the soldiers’ huts, and onto a road which wasn’t so much ‘road’, as potholes laced together with concrete. As we left the airport behind us, I was startled by a flash of deep magenta in the middle of a dusty patch of grass. Some kind of shrub with flaming red flowers held itself proudly in the pale morning light. I later discovered it was bougainvillea – a plant very suited to hot climates, with brightly coloured bracts near its flowers in every shade of pink, purple, red, and white – which seemed to grow proliferately throughout the region, providing beautiful splashes of colour in sunlit places.

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‘Bougainvillea Kenyavision’ – a close-up of the bright magenta bracts of the bougainvillea flower, against a blue sky]

In spite of my snoozing colleagues, I couldn’t bear to close my eyes and miss out on my first glimpses of what was to become a familiar road between Mombasa (where the hospitals were) and Diani, where our hotel was.
My first impression was that there was paint EVERYWHERE! Many of the buildings were completely coated, often with advertising slogans painted on. In fact, many of the walls suggested ‘If you like it, CROWN it’, advertising the very paint they were (presumably) decorated with.

After a few days of travelling up and down the road, I decided that the predominant colours of Kenya were bright green, yellow, blue, and white, with splashes of orange and red thrown in. If anything could be painted or decorated, it was; from the riotously coloured tuk-tuks with their funny names (‘Jobless’, ‘Father’s Blessing’) and entertaining slogans (“Watch out for the devil – never mind!”), to entire sides of blocks of flats advertising pampers nappies! It seemed to me if anything was still for long enough, it was liable to get a bright coat of paint…or that it had been the case at some point, for nearly all the paintwork I saw was fading a little around the edges, with cracks in the surface and chips of paint beginning to flake away.

CDnJDaP.jpg

‘The Colours of Kenya’ – a man walks past a building painted pale green, with an advertisement for Pampers nappies emblazoned on its side. The ground is bright orange sand/dirt, and rocks lie strewn across what passes for pavement.]

The ground astonished me, too – partly, I think, because I’m not used to seeing so much of it, so close. The places in England where the ground next to the road is just…ground…as opposed to something tarmacked or concreted, are few and far between. In Kenya, the ground drifts onto the road and the tarmac crumbles into the edges of the dust, and everything swirls together as the traffic goes speeding by. The mud is hard and compacted with a layer of dust, which coats the shoes and ankles when walked on. Along the miles of road, it went through almost-white, to yellow, to ochre, to dark orange, to brown, to almost red. I don’t think I have ever seen so many colours of earth in one smallish area, and even though a lot of it was covered in plastic in various stages of disintegration (no council waste collections, no rubbish bins, no method, other than to sweep the trash into a pile and burn it), it was beautiful.

The people were bright as peacocks, or parrots, or any other vividly sparkling kind of bird you can think of. The colours and patterns on their clothes were incredible, mesmerizing geometric intricacies, which utterly delighted me, and made me feel very drab by comparison, in my muted olives and blues. Still, I considered, with my pinky-yellow skin, there probably weren’t many bright patterns which I could really carry off without looking sickly, but I did admire the many beautifully-dressed people I saw.

I realized as the week wore on, that the colours which would look utterly garish in the dismal light of England, were not overpowering in the equatorial sunlight. Rainbows of colour shimmered wherever crowds of people gathered, as the mirages shimmered above the surfaces of the roads. Each morning, I got up while it was still dark, and went for a swim in a pool of incredible azure blue, under a sky which lightened to pale blue, then stayed white for most of the day, fading to blue again as the sun went down.

Much of the rural landscape was dominated by the feathery green fronds of palm trees, with their tatty, browning leaf ends, which rattled drily in the wind, or when shaken by troupes of monkeys blundering through. Even the monkeys were surprisingly colourful – unassuming sandy-brown vervets, when male and in motion, showed bright, sky-blue balls!

The beach was pristine, as you’d expect a proud tropical resort beach to be – luminous white sand, cerulean water giving way to navy further out, sweeping, delicious waves, and green palms bending gracefully into the wind. There was even a delightful smattering of little grey frond-covered huts, to shelter tourists relaxing on their sun-loungers.

I would be fascinated to see Kenya in the rain (were it not for the risk of cholera, which increases considerably in the rainy season, due to the lack of sanitation systems). All of the buildings were spattered with earth, to about a metre high, where (presumably) the previous years’ rains had flung the dirt high against the walls and left it there, a stain bearing testament to time and dust. In England, the rain turns everything to grey, whether it is grey or not…in Kenya, I can only hope that the bright colours stand out more vividly against the gloom, a rainbow promise that the sun will shine again, and life will once more be, if not easy, still optimistically bright and beautiful.

***

And so I listened to Lizzi speak of what she saw and learned about blindness and eye disease in Africa. I thought of myself and my white cane and my conflicted feelings about having to use one, but then I realized the privilege I have for even having one where so many around the world, those who could really use them, do not.

I wanted to donate, even a small amount, to make sure a cane would be given to a person in need.

Eyes For East Africa – Online Shop

A small donation can buy someone a white cane, eye drops for a child, or a magnifying glass to better see the world. It doesn’t take much, but it is very much needed.

I live in Canada and have access to good medical care. I have had the best care when my remaining eyesight was threatened. I only want that for all people.

I want to thank word artist Lizzi for sharing this vivid retelling of her time in Kenya, for all of us who have never seen it for ourselves. That is why I love travel and a world so full of wonder and magic, everyday people going about their lives, the hard things and the struggles, but there is always beauty to be found somewhere.

Join the Deep Thinking, Truth Telling and Good-Seeking at Considerings

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TToT: Spring Has Sprung – Bright Side, #10Thankful

“I’m living on the bright side. It’s all a state of mind.” —Angela Saini

I’ll be honest, often, the world scares me.

I look to things like this TToT and its gratitude exercise for some relief.

Ten Things of Thankful

So, let’s just get to it, because I need some relief from the news of the day.

I am thankful for writers and thinkers such as Margaret Atwood.

I have not read The Handmaid’s Tale, as Atwood’s genre is one that covers uncomfortable truths and possibilities, through fiction and inside fictional realities. I don’t feel comfortable reading that stuff, but I do believe I am missing out.

She has had a long and esteemed writing career in Canada and we are lucky to have her intelligence and her talents.

I am thankful for those I know who travel and are out there living life, reporting back to me somehow on their journeys.

The world scares me and that is why I must see more of it, as much as I possibly can.

But, when and where I cannot, I value my friends, better than all the travel blogs I have followed on Facebook. My friends and those I’ve met, somewhere, somehow are out there and inspiring me to not feel so scared all the time.

And, if I am unable to push away my fear completely, they prove to me that it is possible to go ahead anyway. You miss less by going and doing, fear be damned.

I am thankful for Canada and my extremely privileged citizenship here.

We have our problems and we must acknowledge those. I see protests and silencing in Russia, famine and governmental corruption in Africa, and the unrest and polarization in the U.S. and I hope Canada can face our sins and remain as united and reasonable as possible.

I plan to write more about this as Canada Day, 2017 draws closer.

I am thankful for audio progress reports.

The sound of the App notification on my phone is enough to make me smile and forget my other racing thoughts for a few moments.

My friend may be over in Ireland, but I still get to hear her daughter’s growth, through trying to fill her baby’s bottle and spilling an entire jug of milk all over the floor or not understanding why she can’t fit into her doll’s clothes.

The photos my friend captions for me and then I listen to the short video clips with great interest. I look forward to them in my week.

I am thankful for more time holding my baby niece.

Speaking of growth…she is now one month old and my sister feels she is already growing too fast.

She loves to eat. I like to hold her the other times, when she is not nursing, and then my sister can do some other things.

My niece has a real angry cry, as babies do, but I hold her when she sleeps and she is so peaceful then. Hard to believe it’s the same child. You gotta love it.

I am thankful for all those who help me understand things better, things I often miss out on, those like my extremely generous friend.

My writing mentor is teaching travel writing across some of Africa and she posted a tree. I knew she wouldn’t post it for no reason. She must have seen something special in that tree. I wanted to try and see something in that photo too, in my mind.

“When a bulb burns out, I see. Even in the dark, it feels sunny to me. Skipping in the shadows, every corner holds beauty. There is always light if you look closely.” —Angela Saini

I don’t expect the world to always modify for my needs. Photos are visual things. I get that. Sometimes I just want to imagine what one looks like.

My friend, a writer and a scientist, she heard about this and offered to describe the tree. I learned a lot.

“Splashing through the puddles. Knowing that’s how green grass grows.” —Angela Saini

I am thankful for the first real spring weather.

The other day was so mild. The sunshine was warm on my face. No more shivering.

“I don’t own a poncho. Whenever it rains I only see a rainbow.” —Angela Saini

Spring means rain. I like a good rainstorm. Bring it on.

A rainbow is one of those things, like any photo, that I long to see and never likely will. I appreciate any person’s interpretation of what a rainbow looks like.

Anyone want to give it a go? Leave your description in the comments to this post.

I am thankful for a lesson I thought was certain to be bad.

We had to miss a week. My teacher is in university and this time of year is particularly chaotic.

Any time we have this happen, like when I was in Mexico, I assume the next lesson will not go well at all because of the extra time in between.

I’ve learned this isn’t always the case. I had an extremely productive and energetic practice just before and we had a great talk about the strain and endurance of playing the violin.

Oh, I also did work on the actual practicing techniques too, trying to make it more of a constant flow of sound, rather than always so start and stopish.

Like this. Maybe…one day. Maybe.

I am thankful the U.S. dodged an extremely wrong and risky bullet.

At first I was negative about it, as it strikes a nerve because I have needed lots of medical care, so I immediately thought this was winning a battle but not the war.

Why does this need to be a fight anyway?

Then I was reminded, if I were living in the U.S and relied on the healthcare system there in a big way, I’d want just a short period of time to relax and feel relieved for this moment in time.

I am still worried, anxious for all who would be affected, but I feel helpless to do anything.

Many of us feel like people see us as such a drain on the system, but we’ve faced death or serious illness. It’s no game to us.

“My train home is three hours late. Must be time for another piece of cake – I like chocolate.” —Angela Saini

I am thankful for the positive reception and Canadian support of the newly told.

The Canadian people watched the new Anne of Green Gables series and they have spoken that they approve.

The CBC was going to air the second episode two weeks after last week’s premier, but the reception was so positive that they went ahead and aired it last night.

I am keeping an open mind, as the story makes Canada proud from what I see, so I am going to keep an episode diary on my Facebook page every time it airs.

I will call it Ahead By A Century, like the theme song for the show, by The Tragically Hip.

Living On The Bright Side – Angela Saini

This song is all about seeing the silver lining, but her lyrics suggest there is always something good in everything. That’s what TToT is all about too, in a way.

Of course, I know this is a bit of an over simplification, we all know it, but really we have to at least try.

“Enjoying life, cause’ I’ve got only one.”

—Angela Saini

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What’s on Kenyavision?

This was a tad painful for me to read, hearing what blindness is for those living in a different country than my own, but what a thing she’s doing here. I was travelling in Mexico the same week she was in Africa. I know our stories are so much different, but travelling truly opens your eyes. It’s what you allow yourself to see next that is up to you.u

Considerings

I stepped off the plane into the Nairobi night, expecting to be hit by a wall of heat, like I’d read in books. I was waiting for something akin to opening the door of a blast furnace and stepping inside, the cool, air-conditioned plane switched for a boiling inferno in spite of the late hour.

It was warm. Pleasantly so, but only warm.

I confess, I was the tiniest smidgen disappointed, but thought to myself that I would nonetheless make the best of things. I snuggled my jacket closer around me and descended the stairs, lugging my bag at the end of my tired arm. Walking across the tarmac, I breathed deeply – great lungfuls of warm air that smelled of heat and dust and fuel and…something almost spicy; an underlying, faint but very distinct difference to the air in England.

I grinned widely in spite of my tiredness. I…

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TToT: Memory Use and the Overall System Footprint – Call and Response, #InternationalDayOfPeace #Graceland #10Thankful

It was a slow day And the sun was beating On the soldiers by the side of the road There was a bright light A shattering of shop windows The bomb in the baby carriage Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder This is the long distance call The way the camera follows us in slo-mo The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation That’s dying in a corner of the sky These are the days of miracle and wonder And don’t cry baby, don’t cry Don’t cry

It was a dry wind And it swept across the desert And it curled into the circle of birth And the dead sand Falling on the children The mothers and the fathers And the automatic earth

“The Boy in the Bubble” discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: “Hope and dread – that’s right. That’s the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope.”

Hope and dread. Hope and dread. Hope and dread. These things run through my head…my head…my head.

My nephew is learning so many new things at school, even already after his first few weeks.

How do I know this?

The other night at dinner he started asking about carrots and how they grow, in the earth, from seeds. Such a basic concept of a lovely natural process.

Seeds planted. Something growing, sprouting up, from once there was only dirt under foot.

I am thankful for all the time I got to spend with my aunt.

Her life is a mystery to me. I get stuck on trying to imagine it. I only knew her for the last few decades of her life.

She was my father’s half sister. She was born in Europe during World War II. She came here to Canada, all by herself. I will forever wonder about all that.

The last time I saw her, as herself, she had made the trip to her mother’s funeral. We didn’t think she would come, for several reasons, but she came and I was nervous to give my tribute to my oma, whose relationship with her daughter was different from ours.

I hugged my aunt, after a day at the graveside, and an evening reminiscing about the life Oma lived, all of us sitting on the deck, around a table. I hugged her and left.

The next time she would have faced tumour treatments, her brain badly effected. She clung to me, our last real moment of contact, and one more familial thread is lost..

Without my parents making a decision to introduce us, I would never have known her mighty spirit.

I am thankful for the light chatter of young voices on a hard day of reality confronted.

On the night we received the news, I heard a one-year-old playing lovingly with her doll (all thanks to WhatsApp) and I interrupted a family in the middle of their beloved spaghetti dinner.

I needed to hear these little people, to remember that there are beginnings as well as those endings we wish would never come.

Na na na na na na na na Max Man!

🙂

Thanks to speaker phone, we discussed colours, what we want to be when we grow up, and what our favourite foods are.

I sat back, listening to my niece describe all manner of shades of many many colours. I needed that just then.

I am thankful for a world attempting to live more peacefully.

Justin Trudeau spoke about what “Canada has gotten right, not perfect.” That we believe diversity brings us strength to fight hatred and violence.

With all the meetings of UN in New York through the week, I listened to several speeches, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau in particular. All still so complicated. Peace exists in pockets. I just happen to live in one of those at the moment. No guarantee it will always be that way.

I am thankful for another educational Ken Burns PBS documentary.

I was unaware of the story of this couple.

I am thankful for a room full of writers

I had a question about writing, about the writing journey we’re all on, and I thought who better to bring it to than that select group of people. They are just learning as they go along, just like me, and I wanted their take on a particular situation I’ve gotten myself into.

Their input did not totally squelch my concerns, but we did have a lively discussion about writing contests and when a scam is a scam. I did not want to bring down the other writer in the group to have received good news like myself. He may choose to go a different way with it, but I am still undecided. We all want our writing to have a chance out there in the wider world.

I am thankful for light in the depths.

Edith Widder: the weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence – TED

This sort of thing is not visible to me anymore as such, but just hearing this scientist’s enthusiasm made me believe in the hope of all that magic to be found, especially in the ocean.

I am thankful for the perfect autumn weather.

Thursday was nearly thirty degrees. It was humid but yet there was a coolish breeze, enough to make a meal out on a patio still rather lovely. Yep, there was at least one bee this time, but not on me. Not that I knew of anyway.

I wasn’t having a great week. I was feeling unwell and having more computer troubles. I wanted the first day of fall to feel like fall.

By Friday the temperature had dropped ten degrees or more. I was in Heaven. Fall had arrived.

I am thankful for speedy and readily available medical care for myself and for those I love.

I felt lousy, but I needed blood taken and tested. I got it. Results available online now and oh how far we’ve come, to be able to check our own blood levels, without having to ask any doctor.

Then my family needs treatment for chronic medical conditions, tests run to check out symptoms, diabetes, and diet changes are called for. Hopefully those I love can remain healthy and live for a long time still.

I am thankful for a lovely day on the go.

It began at a secondhand store. Not exactly my kind of place, as I have a strange aversion to old, used things. I am also drawn to their stories. My sister was shopping for maternity clothes, not as easy as it sounds.

We kept my nephew occupied in the halloween decorations section, specifically interested in a doorbell with an eye that opened and and a voice that cackled.

We had lunch at a “pizza store” as my four-year-old nephew refers to it. All you can eat, but still we ate thin crust pizza, to stick, as close as we possibly can, to our diets and health restrictions.

Then I had my violin lesson. Brahms’ lullaby, played for me on piano and violin, so hopefully I can master the entire song by next March.

I went, with my brother and a few people, to attend a bit of speaking about video game production and radio.

A Journal Of Musical Things

This guy, the one with the website, he has been on a Toronto radio station for years. My brother listened to his radio programs. We heard he was visiting and we decided to go and listen to what he had to say.

Finally, we walked downtown, a Beatles festival happening, and capped off the day with a relaxing glass of wine and delicious dessert on a patio and then a cup of coffee, latte, before I felt a sore throat coming on dampen my mood. Nothing could truly dampen my first Saturday of fall.

I am thankful for an album, which becomes an experience in itself.

This album was brought back to my attention, but this week it has great value, in its overall feeling of hope and peace.

It is a magical record, full of the voice of Paul Simon, but yet with a distinctly African tone. Anyone who has never heard it has been missing out.

These days albums in their entirety are all but extinct. Songs that stand alone are what gets the public’s attention. This album, named for a tourist attraction, a musical and cultural icon of a place, a spiritual experience for some, that is what this album is for me.

It’s a collection of songs, taking me on travels, experiences of sorts, to a place called Africa, where my young self couldn’t imagine. This album was playing in our house, thanks to my father, and this can clearly be heard on an old home movie when I was three.

There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland – Album By Paul Simon (1986)

I did not want to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, so much as I wanted to learn about South Africa, about the troubles and the ruining of lives Apartheid caused, when I was too young to realize, when the concept of black and white wasn’t something I thought anything about. Now I think about it often. No superiority. No ranking of human life.

What was unusual about Graceland is that it was on the surface apolitical, but what it represented was the essence of the antiapartheid in that it was a collaboration between blacks and whites to make music that people everywhere enjoyed. It was completely the opposite from what the apartheid regime said, which is that one group of people were inferior. Here, there were no inferiors or superiors, just an acknowledgement of everybody’s work as a musician. It was a powerful statement. block quote level 1block quote level 1

Graceland transcended racial and cultural barriers. ” Graceland was never just a collection of songs, after all; it was a bridge between cultures, genres and continents, not to mention a global launching pad for the musicians whose popularity been suppressed under South Africa’s white-run apartheid rule,” said Andrew Leahey of
American Song Writer.

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Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

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

Cracks in the Ceiling, #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016

What has happened in the world, in the last year and since

International Women’s Day 2015?

Well, around that time, Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for President of the United States and we still have months to wait, or how long I don’t know, as the whole process seems insane to me.

Will she win? Should she win, should anyone vote for her, simply because she is female? I suppose not, not if a better candidate exists.

I can’t vote, but I think it’s about time the US elected a woman to lead their country. I know all the scandals surrounding her, her power and influence, but I think she has the experience necessary and, dare I say, is highly capable to do the job.

I just finished watching a documentary with her as one of the main stars, along with Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

It’s been twenty years since Clinton spoke in China about women’s rights, a country that doesn’t have the best track record in valuing girls.

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights…once and for all!” Hillary pronounced with conviction.

Well, since then there has been rape as a war tactic (conflict in Bosnia and Yugoslavia), female oppression in Afghanistan, brutalization and attacks during uprisings in Egypt and Libya, struggle in Iraq and Syria.

A year ago I watched “India’s Daughter”, a documentary about a gang rape of a young woman on a bus in India. I watched it with help deciphering the subtitles. I had planned to write about my thoughts here, but I couldn’t quite put that into words.

More recently I watched “Suffragette”, a film about the fight for women’s rights in the UK, during the early twentieth century. I planned to write a review here, but the words did not come. This time it was fiction, based on true events in history, but all the emotions I felt were so strong they burrowed down deep in my subconscious.

And so even though I said I was cutting back on blogging here during the week, starting on the 1st of March, I couldn’t let this day pass without saying something.

An election was held here in Canada last fall for a new leader for this country, just as they are working toward in the US, and now we have Justin Trudeau as Canada’s Prime Minister.

He appointed his cabinet and made news:

“Because it’s 2015.”

Trudeau proudly calls himself a feminist:

Trudeau Declares Himself (Proud Feminist) in Open Letter to Mark International Women’s Day

The question is now more often to become one I think of as it relates to not only being a woman, but for those with disabilities as well: Should a woman be given a place in government or in a job role just to fill a quota?

No, not just. It’s a starting place. It makes a statement. All these things must become laws, policies must be created, legislations drawn, but then action must be taken, these things enforced. Women are just as smart and capable as men, but how do we change the minds of the truly ignorant and arrogant? Is that even possible?

I am proud that, living in Canada, I have a feminist prime minister. Somewhere in the world, however, there are countries with leaders who believe that only men deserve rights, a voice. Even as nothing’s perfect for women, certainly still not even here in Canada, I am proud of the role my own country plays in making things better.

Next comes the decision to put a female on our money. Justin just introduced a commemorative coin for International Women’s Day and it’s about time a woman’s face was shown proudly on our currency.

I have learned a lot about feminism this past year.

I’ve learned it from brilliant and articulate writers:

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve learned it from brave young activists:

Nobel Peace Prize Speech – Malala Yousafzai

I’ve learned it from fictional witches turned real life feminist spokeswomen:

He For She – Emma Watson – International Women’s Day 2016

Some would say that there is no problem, we make it bigger than it is, because just look how far we’ve come.

I know why I care about this. My poor keyboard keys, because I feel like pounding out my intense frustration through them, but then I halt because my brain is working furiously, far out of reach of my fingers.

I care because of what I’ve seen. I know that, for many women, there is no real problem in our day to day lives. I am lucky to say that. I can write what I want, despite the loss for words and the brain fog and overload I’m currently experiencing. I won’t be censored or threatened. I am only one tiny voice online.

That’s the thing though. I feel tiny and insignificant a lot, on a daily basis, and it’s not because I am ungrateful. I just feel like I still get lost, as a female with a disability. I am lucky to have a good life, essentially, but I feel the problem even more consciously.

Females, just like those living with disabilities around the world, we could all say we are treated better and things for us have improved, but many of us still experience feelings of marginalization and feelings of invisibility.

Women who have it good can’t really imagine what other women might be experiencing, right this very moment, somewhere around the world. It could be somewhere in Africa, the Middle East, India, or even North America. The degree is certainly important, but the experiences all still matter.

I am not officially oppressed, not dangerously so. I just feel it in society. Just because things have steadily improved for women, many places around the world in say the last one hundred years, doesn’t mean all of us have reached a place where we feel like we have taken our power back, not yet having discovered the impact through our own unique voices.

I can’t really always detect that ceiling, as see-through as it may be, and some days I feel like it is solid and darkened. I need to feel its clarity and its possibility. I need this, to feel hope for a brighter future.

I want to make an impact, a difference, to have a voice and to stand for something I feel so strongly in my heart.

Purple: My Interview with Garry Atkinson

I am sick of cultural and religious excuses, struggles over politics and money and power and greed, and the fear and the cowardice that is the root of all the battles we’re still fighting. I am sick of the violence and the silence.

And so there’s still a ceiling, made of glass and we can see through to a better tomorrow of blue skies and bright sunshine, but for now I guess we must be glad for the cracks that are forming. It proves we are making progress.

JK Rowling and Emma Watson had a touching International Women’s Day moment

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Happy Hump Day, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes

IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND: Lions, Tigers, and Bears – Oh My!

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”

I would like to expand on the list of seemingly random news topics my FB friend started above, in my sporadic mid-week Wednesday post: IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND.

I thought about what’s been front and centre, in the news lately, and here I go:

**the recent hacks into the adult dating website Ashley Madison.

I don’t care what a couple consenting adults (and I use that term loosely) do, as long as it’s consensual. My problem is when there are lies and deceit involved.

The site’s tag line, “Life is short. Have an affair,” is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard and I hate that it’s a Canadian company. My problem with it, even though it’s people I have no business with, is that it reflects badly on society at large. All I can add would be, I don’t feel badly in this instance, and karma’s a bitch.

However, this Vice article has an interesting take on the situation,

here.

**Then the long suffering story of Deflate-gate.

The final decision on the ruling and appeal is that Tom Brady is solely responsible. The coach and all others involved are off the hook, but of course Tom wasn’t the only one with knowledge, having done something shady here.

Tom Brady: Why I had deflate gate mobile phone destroyed

He destroyed his cell phone, for unrelated issues he claims, and now he is stuck with his mansion and his gorgeous super model wife. Poor guy.

I suppose all this affects other people, those who may not be involved. I can say it’s only a game, just a silly football player, but then I remember people and the pure joy I’ve seen in them when it comes to football, this team in particular. Although it may seem insignificant to me, I want to keep an open mind because sports can be a positive thing, something to make people happy.

On the other hand, cheating isn’t a lesson I want today’s youth to pick up from their favourite athletes.

**The Netflix Newborn Policy.

Netflix Now Giving Employees ‘Unlimited’ Maternity, Paternity Leave – HuffPost

“Looks like NetFlix is onto something,” the American reporter said, to end his news story.

They do realize how much of the rest of the world has been “onto something”, this something specifically, for quite a while now, don’t they?

First it was IT and tech companies who were in the news for offering egg freezing for their female employees.

Apple and Facebook Offer To Freeze Eggs For Female Employees – The Guardian

Do they offer on-site day care facilities?

The work force and these companies, society as a whole, has this whole thing all wrong. Don’t offer incentives for women to hold off on having children because they won’t have to worry, can focus on career, and just worry about starting families later. Offer time off for parent-child bonding from the beginning, without the pressures to get right back to work. Depending on frozen embryos isn’t the answer.

Why does America only seem to care for themselves? I am sure that isn’t everyone, but it’s still an “every man for himself…or woman, as it so happens” situation and this is so very backwards.

We are giving birth and raising the next generation. They matter. Invest in them. Don’t focus on money alone and what it will take away from everyone else.

No. Women are not going to milk it, having children just so they can get time off work. That is a silly excuse and a lame go-to rebuff to what most of the rest of the world has already figured out.

The other argument is, oh what about other women and men who have decided, for whatever reason, not to have children. It’s not fair and even for them. So life isn’t always fair.

I’m blind. What’s fair about that? I’ve learned to deal and they can too.

Even if this does start a trend, there will always be those who judge women on this, their loyalty or their work ethic, but now that fathers are included in this, I hope for more gender equality all around. This is including adopted parents too.

**Immigrants and migrants.

I heard it’s something like 2,000 so far this year. That’s the number of African and other migrants to have come, trying to sneak into Europe, being stuffed into boats by greedy smugglers, sinking and drowning by the boatload.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33791920

It’s so sad, the things, the types of persecution these poor people are fleeing from, hoping for a safe crossing to a better life. They may realize how unsafe their journey seems, but are desperate and willing to risk whatever they must. Those who capitalize on this vulnerability are the scum, but with all these stories I’ve tried to keep an open mind, even if it might not appear to be so.

        And last but certainly not least:

With the story of Cecil the Lion being talked about everywhere lately, with airlines banning transport of hunting trophies and 90s favourite Beanie Babies soon to release one of the lion and with sales going to wildlife causes, I thought of a movie my brother and I watched several years ago.

This was still when we lived at home with our parents and when VHS was how we watched our movies, the pre-DVD era in our household.

Have you ever seen the film starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas?

Ghost and the Darkness

He was famous Doors front man Jim Morrison, Batman, and a blind massage therapist. It was his highly convincing role as John Henry Patterson, real life engineer and author of the nonfiction book “The Man-eaters of Tsavo” that is as far from The Lion King as you’re going to get.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man-eaters_of_Tsavo

“Even now, if you dare lock eyes with them – YOU WILL BE AFRAID.”

A blogger I follow said it better than I thought I could:

https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/cecil-the-lions-death-highlights-the-fact-that-humanity-is-the-scourge-of-a-fragile-earth/

However, with all the animal stories in the media and in the headlines I try to keep an open mind.

In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry For Lions – The New York Times

Do we here in North America truly know what it must be like ore in places like Africa and Asia, where some of the most dangerous animals live alongside humans? We shout our disapproval when a story of mistreatment happens to get picked up, but what do we really know of it?

In the time of “Ghost and the Darkness”, we had no social media to spread a story far and wide in a matter of minutes or even seconds.

I do know that we are all sharing this planet and deserve to share its resources, but our shared use of all this gives those determined to destroy for their own aims the chance to mess it up for us all.

Oil here in Canada.

The clear causes of global warming and the power of nature, with the extreme weather and lack of water in not just far away deserts, but drouth in California, which is so often in the news.

Is it such a surprise that wildlife is being poached illegally?

I disagree with how we treat animals, The Calgary Stampede or the Running of the Bulls for example.

I have had and do have hunters in my family. I grew up with it around me at times. Sure, it was never my thing, but I went on eating meat. I still do. I am not a vegetarian, but I have vegetarians in my family as well.

I love my family and respect their wishes. It’s a little harder to judge those you care about and know personally.

I don’t see why anyone would want to hunt a lion for sport. I don’t get the point of mounting an animal’s head on the wall. What satisfaction does that possibly provide?

Someone needing to feel superior to an animal. Yes, we humans have advanced weapons and we can come out on top. Doesn’t mean we should.

Defenseless, like so many are afraid to be without their guns, we would be at the mercy of a wild animal or an intruder, both of which may very well intend to cause harm.

I want to understand those living in Zimbabwe, just like I want to understand why the people living in the remote Faroe Islands have an annual pilot whale hunt as a part of their culture.

http://www.mappingmegan.com/understanding-faroe-islands-grindadrap/

I want to understand different cultures, not to simply sit in judgment from over here, without the foggiest clue.

I am definitely no radical activist. I respect the passion they have, if all they want is to save a species from being hunted to the edge or off the edge of extinction. I often wish I had it in me to go out and make a difference, but for now I remain here, writing to hopefully make my voice heard amongst the roar and the uproar.

Ghost and the Darkness seemed a wild, historical, adventure film. I was hooked by it from that first time I watched with my brother. He described the scenes where Douglas and Kilmer hunt the bloodthirsty lions. Truthfully, although characters like the doctor (played by Bernard Hill) meet their end at the jaws of the killers, it was more the cow that was sacrificed by the people and the baboon used as bait to catch the lions that bothered me most.

This true story made an excellent film, showcasing what it was like then and now. Why humans hunt. It’s an important part of many cultures, since the beginning of humanity, and our modern times now seems to have made it a trophy sport, for pleasure and for fun.

So many traditions should come to an end, in my opinion. We must learn to let go of certain practices, to make way for the advances we have made and the knowledge we now possess. There’s just no need for some things, unnecessarily curl things.

I commented on the above blog on Cecil and the wider problems, and it wasn’t a very optimistic comment. The blogger tried to reply in a more positive light, but I don’t know how to look at our world in just such a light most of the time, if I am being honest. It is apparent that many people care, as the response to Cecil shows, but at the same time we are battling a large segment of our world that just does not care, is only out for itself, as I have pointed to several times in this week’s “In The News and On My Mind” post.

Then there has been the demand for blood, directed toward the dentist who killed Cecil. I don’t know the man and his motives, nor what’s in his heart. I don’t condone his actions, but he is a human being, therefore I believe there can’t be mob ruled justice, as outraged as so many are.

Why should be be honest in our relationships or in athletics?

Why should we care about those being persecuted in their own countries or those who want to spend time with their newborns?

Why does it matter to think about how we use the world’s resources or why animals are important to our planet and to its future?

I hope I don’t have to even answer that, but some people just don’t get it, nor do they care, and I’m not sure that can be fixed with rational convictions or logical bullet points. I don’t know why “every man for himself” seems to be how humans think and act.

What are your thoughts on any of these topics I’ve mentioned here today? The discussion needs to continue. for all our sakes.

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