Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Shiny Keys and Bucket Technology – Namaste, #Yoga #Radio #10Thankful

‘”Bully for baby syrups!”

‘”Pray, don’t let us disturb the concert with our sleeping.”

‘”Jerk us out a little more chin-music!”

‘”There’s no place like home with a baby in it.”

—Bram Stoker’s “Chin Music”

I wander through a bookstore and I feel the unfairness of blindness.

I sit in a mall and detect the repeating motion of shoppers passing by in front of me, but I wish I could see more than a blur like I used to.

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What a week. Full of the good and the not-so-good things and I am once again driven to list my thankfuls because sometimes blindness really sucks.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I got an acceptance to a pitch within twelve hours.

It’s a nice feeling. It doesn’t always happen so fast. It was a nice start to the week.

I’m thankful I am being given the chance to write about the affect the Yukon had on me.

This is for a Canadian website/App and the editor said she is pleased to have a piece to publish, different from the usual story of seeing the Northern Lights.

They are a marvel, of course, but I am glad I can offer an alternative viewpoint of a place that is more than just one spectacular visual sight.

I’m thankful for essays I read that make me think and put a new spin on the essay form.

The Medicated Writer by David Ebenbach

I’m thankful for another lovely coffee/raspberry lemonade chat with a friend to distract me from my thoughts.

The news out of the US all week was non stop and ridiculous. I was feeling highly anxious, waiting to hear back about my piece for Hippocampus, and I needed a break from all that.

The place was busy because Ontario’s premier was visiting our town, but things emptied after we were there for an hour or so.

We talked about travel, family, and writing.

I explained to her what it’s like to walk into a crowded coffee shop and try and navigate my way through it. She is like many people who are driven to offer help when they see a blind person. I understand and take them up on that help often. It was just nice to explain how it works because she, like most people, don’t give it all much thought until they hear how it is firsthand.

I’m thankful for the calming yoga session and conversation with the teacher.

I’d heard of
NAMASTE
before, but she ended our now weekly session by saying it and explaining why she does.

It is one more thing I feel kind of silly saying back, but we all like to end with something.

I do love the peaceful end to yoga where I stretch out, blocking out all thoughts, other than that I can put up a barrier to the worst of them, while I focus by staring up at my light and listening to the hiss of my laptop which tells me my teacher is still there.

I’m thankful my brother had a successful first radio show.

CHRW Radio Western

He has unique taste in music, with a musical mind, and he finally gets the chance to share some of that with others.

When people ask me the type of music he does listen to/play, I do struggle to describe it in a single word. It is a lot of things, though not what you’re likely to ever come across on the radio.

He has opened my eyes up to a whole world of music that exists, even though very few people ever find it. Like writers and writing, there is so much beautiful music out there that never gets the chance to be heard by most of us. His passion for giving the unknown musicians a turn seems important to me.

He has named his show
Chin Music
and I think it suits.

I’m thankful for a violin lesson where practice and repetition were points brought home once more.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Rinse. Dry. Repeat. It’s the only way.

I’m thankful for the chance to get somewhere on my own and feel proud of it.

I appreciate the help I receive, for many reasons, as new travel by myself can be stressful and intimidating, but it is also good for me sometimes. The only way I will ever begin to feel any less intimidated is if I practice, kind of like with the violin.

When you can’t see, obviously public transportation is the best way to get somewhere. Then, I like to have an idea in my head of the directions I will be going. I need to see it in my mind and it requires massive amounts of concentration.

No matter the anxiety or the physical pain, the sense of accomplishment at the end is awesome.

I’m thankful I made the final decision to not stay home and instead take someone up on an invitation to meet new people and work on my terrible social skills.

I am terribly shy in new situations. I felt unwell and considered turning down the invitation, but I am glad I went.

I was the only girl there, but it turned out to be an enjoyable hangout on a spacious porch, listening to music, and having a few drinks on a beautiful July night.

It’s just too bad I need a few beers to lighten up. I stop worrying about where I am and I relax. This is fine for one night, now and again, but just attending instead of hiding out by myself helps too.

If I’d gone home, I would have kept thinking about what’s in the news, what a week it had been, and I needed to get away from all that.

I met new people, including someone who came here from Mexico to go to school in Canada. Opening up one’s social circle is a good thing.

I’m thankful for a lovely family day in Toronto.

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We met in a mall, couldn’t take the subway because the line was closed down, so had to all pile in the van and drive downtown Toronto. It took a while, but what a perfect day, too hot even.

So we got to spend a few hours somewhere cool, with lots to see, and around so much life.

I am conflicted on aquariums, worrying always if the creatures are happy swimming in those tanks. I wish I could ask those sharks, rays, and other fish.

If my nephew learns to love and respect sea creatures and the ocean, I will be happy.

Like standing at Niagara Falls, anywhere with all that water and marine life is where I can stand and tune out all the hoards of tourists and people. I could have stood beside that shark tank forever.

Then we came back out into the warm day and passed jubilant baseball fans. The Blue Jays were losing and then came back with a grand slam at the end of the game, the second in a week. The Toronto streets are full of energetic shouts whenever their team wins.

Then we had dinner at my favourite Toronto restaurant: The Pickle Barrel. Delicious beet and chicken salad, mango bellini, and brownie cheesecake for dessert.

Mmm.

As I’m heading home, at the end of the day, I can’t see the sky or the incredible sunset and so I feel the unfairness of blindness.

When I Grow Up – Jennifer O’Connor

Namaste.

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Bucket List, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel, TravelWriting

I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

A Post-truth World and I Keep Breathing, #TGIF #FTSF

“I want to change the world. Instead, I sleep.”
—Ingrid Michaelson

Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson

With everything happening in North America and around the world, I want to do something, to jump to attention and act. Instead, as the above quote illustrates, I end up in my own position of relative privilege and comfort. It feels bad, but nothing’s easy.

Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries – Thee Guardian

I keep breathing to squelch my anxiety. Breathe Kerry…breathe.

*Now I’m talking about myself in the third person, great!

***

Breathing exercises are very important when learning to swim. I never quite got the hang of putting my face under water. The timing was bad when I was learning. My kidneys were failing. I was anemic and under weight and frail. I wasn’t receiving vital nutrients and nothing was being filtered properly from my system. The water would become my nightmare. So much frustration.

***

Squelch, squelch, squelch is the sound of wet feet.

I must remove my shoes if I want to observe my nephew’s swimming lesson. Barefoot in the pool area. That’s the rule.

I enter the space where the indoor pool is and immediately I feel the warmth and the mugginess of this place I know from another time. I want to witness this, even though the many sounds of splashing and shrieks of mirth make it impossible for me to hear the one little voice I’d recognize here.

My sister describes my nephew’s many actions, in a roped off section of the shallow end, a platform underneath him and the other children while they learn to push off the side of the pool and swim. Being on his back still makes him squirm because he feels he has little control over himself. I totally understand this. As in swimming as too in life.

***

This has been arranged through my school, my special ed/braille teachers, and my parents. I will take swimming lessons to make up for the big chunks of physical ed I am unable to participate in because I can’t see.

**Yes, this was back when schools still had a lot of gym classes. 🙂

I am twelve and I like the pool, but this is where I am now forced to risk getting water in my nose and eyes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I hardly have the strength to swim from one side of the pool to the other, on my front as I prefer it.

My teacher is nice enough, but she doesn’t understand. Nobody understands why I even struggle to float. I swim front stroke and my teacher shows me how to move my arms to get me further ahead in the water. I can’t stay up, can’t keep moving my arms anymore. The echo of the indoor pool is drown out by the underwater roar in my ears.

I am weak and I am in water. Bad combination.

***

Now I sit with my sister on an aluminum bench at the side and watch as my brother-in-law has to tell my nephew to listen to the teacher. He’s being obstinate, wanting to jump off the platform by himself, while the instructor is working with one of the others.

I feel the roughness under my bare feet which prevents slipping on the wet floor next to the l-shaped pool I’ve known since childhood. Rough times come flooding back to me as I thought they might.

***

I can’t do this, I try to tell them. I want to let my arms drop and sink under, only because I can’t do this right now. I am sick and I don’t know how to tell them. What’s wrong with me? It’s not only my eyes that fail me, but my strength that feels like it has abandoned me also.

I love the smell of the pool and the water is pleasant. I love the feeling of weightlessness, but I like the sound of the echo still, as I just can’t make it to the opposite wall.

***

Why do they put candy machines right in the lobby on the way out? Of course, I know why and my nephew falls for it just like I used to.

***Beg parents for some change.

“I need some money Mommy,” my four-year-old nephew says.

It was a short visit to the pool, but it was one I needed. I needed to be in that place, with the sound of fun and learning. I needed to see this being a pleasant and even fun activity for someone, for my nephew, even if it didn’t happen that way for me. He may just learn to love swimming. He can only be safer for it.

Just breathe.

***

We do just need to remember to breathe, whether it’s for the purpose of not sinking in life or in the water.

I took my cue from
Kristi from Finding Ninee
for this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday post.

We all need to remember, in this post-truth world we’re living in, to just breathe, if we can.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Piece of Cake, Shows and Events, SoCS

The Elsewhere Region, #SoCS

The group ranged from ages twenty to seventy years. Mention of a CBC radio program about a battle of the generations, baby boomers vs the millennials. This is a place to feel safe, a non-judgment zone, but one

view

won’t necessarily be the same as any other in this room. Age and generation gap, these are just two reasons why.

As with life, in all areas, no matter which generation we’re in, out in the wider world there is plenty of judgment. This world is full of it, which is why this room serves such a useful purpose. It’s not easy putting oneself out there. Reading back to the group helps immeasurably.

Social awkwardness threatens to pull down into the depths of an abyss of social anxiety. It taunts and teases, trying to usher its person away and keep up streams of negative talk. You may have guessed it’s me, that person.

These views and voices echo around inside an otherwise sensible brain.

One viewpoint, in this room, is just as valid as any other. The people gathered around this conference table, in a library, in a town many have heard of, only by its famous shared name, one which any baby boomer should know well enough.

It’s important to listen to the poems of the baby boomer, as well as the somewhat hastily recited stories of the opposite generation, seated across the table. Stories are read, yes, but before, during, and after the stories, there are viewpoints to absorb. There are multiple lives lived and experiences of hardship or hard work or hardly anyone to listen at all. It all comes back to the writing here though. The listening and the writing.

Writing is where view takes shape, in this scenario, as story. It is disguised by made-up characters and varied storytelling styles, but the views are there, if you take the time to look for them. When is a story just a story anyway?

I listen to so many viewpoints in the media and I then repeat to myself how vital it has been for me to take a break this week. On the world stage, there are just too many views to ever possibly take any of them seriously, when often they feel utterly ridiculous. So hard to believe you’re hearing what your ears and your brain find they have to work with.

But then there’s that elsewhere region, where the ridiculous is encouraged, if not in made-up rhetoric than in fiction, but these days it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference either way, any way at all.

Stories need to continue to be told, in such safe places, places where I choose to return time and time again.

I can not say just how much I am learning about the actual act of writing, though each time I receive a comment from one of them I learn to look at a situation in a different way, but I am sharing a laugh and my view with the laughter and views of the other writers/readers.

I grab hold of all that tension in the form of my own social awkwardness and I turn it into the knowledge that my views are just as valid as the next person’s. I sit back while they share something of themselves, okay with the idea that I can share something of myself too.

I’m in yet one more place where my own viewpoint is likely to be miles from that of the person sitting at the other end of the table. I listen then, to that viewpoint from opposite myself, and I let it all just sink in. What brought them to the conclusions they’ve arrived at? How can I possibly hope to understand? Are we more similar than we are different?

The night before and it’s ONLY millennials here. No baby boomers to be found.

Oh, what exactly do I know of the musician I heard perform live the night before? What’s revealed through their music? Do lyrics tell the real story of that lived experience, by any stretch of the imagination? Mine stretches to find common ground, as this night I am the oldest person here, at thirty-two, most likely.

The view from this room, from this plush chair I’ve staked out for myself, as a way to avoid the unknowns of leaving its safety, will this mean the night was a lost cause? Do secret locations, first times experiencing musical shows like this, do the many bodies moving about in this tight space of a bachelor apartment, does it all help my placement in or out of the elsewhere region?

I want to open up. I start and stop and start again. Some things aren’t to be missed and the lack of regret for missing them is enough of a victory for the night, for the week. Yet, going forward I must require even more of myself.

The view from here is one of low vision, hardly any at all, which makes that social awkwardness seem, at some moments, to be insurmountable. It’s not, and there’s a way of putting it in its proper perspective, but it makes me tired. Very tired. Oh so mentally and emotionally spent.

Sometimes it makes me want to speak my truth, in one long and meandering sentence, which becomes stream of consciousness writing gone wild, with no end in sight.

If I feel that heavy social awkwardness threatening to pull me under once more, I repeat to myself all the comforting things I can, which today I’m choosing to explain by my unique position in a place I now lovingly like to call “the elsewhere region,” and I tell myself I can come back from that place or I can find peace in it, if need be.

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Bucket List, Feminism, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes

Super Week, #FTSF

I think many may struggle, as I know I did, with coming up with something for a sentence starter such as the one this week.

I know I’ve recently stated here that I know very little about Superwoman or Superman for that matter. Could I relate enough to write anything at all?

I do know that I’ve always wished I could fly. Not fly like we humans do. I’ve done that, well I’ve flown as a passenger (have never flown a plane). I am actually afraid of flying in a plane, but my other dream is to travel more, so I work through my anxiety. After all, it is freaking wildly amazing humans have figured it out like we have.

I’m talking more like a bird when I say fly. I want to feel the wind in my face, hear the rushing in my ears, feel the pressure and resistance in my limbs as I soar up above the trees and the houses. Always a little jealous of those geese as they fly overhead.

Of course, the other thing I’d like to do would be to apparate, like in Harry Potter, as then I could get places on my own, even with the limitation of sight loss. However, that is for another future post.

🙂

As I cannot, I had to think why I would consider myself “super) and I thought back on the week that just was.

I felt like superwoman when I wrote my first lyrics…lyrics that were then promptly taken and added to a background of music and sung by a talented singer.

I had a good week. I had my first official violin lesson, wrote my first song, and had an interview I conducted (on the subject of a male’s perspective on feminism) syndicated on Good Man Project, to round out the week.

Even then, I could still end up feeling like I didn’t do enough with this most recent seven days. I hate that.

I did what I didn’t think I could, by producing a note on an instrument I adore.

I did what I never thought I could do, by sharing a feeling through the words in a song, now being set to music.

I want to share my message of feminism, equality, compassion and I found a way to get that message just a little bit farther than I would have otherwise.

I feel how slow going it is to even learn one simple song of Twinkle Twinkle, but then I realized how writing is an art which requires just as much time to learn and grow and develop skill and style as violin or any other musical instrument. I am still working on all those things with my writing and I will be for a long time, just as I still have to master an instrument I’ve loved for a long time too.

I’ve been admired for many things, things some might classify as “Superwomanish” in my life. I often don’t think of my disabilities that way, as they are just my normal, everyday life, but this whole thing is subjective anyway.

I guess I held back because I found the idea of equating myself to “Superwoman” as incorrect or wrong in some way.

I can’t speak of the family (husband, children, household) that many women manage with grace and patience every single day. My mother did it. My sisters do it. Many of the writer/bloggers I read and admire do it too.

I can’t speak of some big, important, necessary career that so many take pride in.

And so I guess I feel like Superwoman when I accomplish something, a goal or skill I’ve wanted to take on and tackle, and I did that this week.

Yet, I didn’t know what to say, but I suppose I can’t let that stop me, and so here I am, to tell you about the week that was.

🙂

Hope it’s okay that I took this image from Superwoman Lisa,

go here,

to check out her beautiful brand of wisdom.

This has been a post for the Finish the Sentence Friday prompt, brought about by

Collecting Smiles

&

Finding Ninee

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