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Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

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I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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Humbled and Hopeful, #JusJoJan

Well, I’m back. I’m back to this blog and to join in with the final few days of
Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

I’m not particularly thrilled about it to be honest. It’s not anything other than myself.

I’m not blue exactly. I do think of this month as the dark blue month, but now the red month is fast approaching and I am so tired.

It’s a good tired of course. Those who know me, they would tell me to stop complaining. I just got back from a week in Mexico and I had something happen to me that was beyond description. I will still try though, as that’s what I do.

I just had a long travel day yesterday. The news here in Canada and around the world sucks. I am trying to take in all I did and all I saw and everything I experienced when I was away at my writing workshop paradise.

Yes, that is what it was for me. How can I feel blue at all when I so recently had such an enriching time?

I don’t know. I didn’t want the week to end truthfully. I had my own oasis, a beautiful and comfortable room and a perfect balcony place to go and write or just to take in the world from a magnificent viewpoint. I never wanted to leave that spot. I recorded, with my phone, simply the world from up there. No talking. Only birds singing, distant dogs barking, church bells clanging, and children and families going about their days in houses nearby. I heard a continuous rumble of the traffic out beyond and I knew the world didn’t stop while I was hidden away and writing with a group of the most intelligent, friendly, and compassionate people and other writers I’ve ever known.

So, if I am blue, it’s not for the fact that I don’t realize what I am lucky to have or having had just gotten to do with my week. It’s just that I had such a time that the rest of my life, in this moment, seems like it can never compare again. These are silly musings, perhaps, but I feel them right now. I can’t believe, when I reflect back, what I just did and I fear I will never do it again, though I’ve been told by many that I absolutely will and I know in my own heart that they are right.

Now I am home again. I am here and I am listening to my brother and his band playing superb music. I think about that beauty of art, the kind which was all the incredible works of writing that I heard the other night, and the visual art I was shown that is Mexico’s to share. I put that against all that is cruel and ugly and I grip the stunning bracelet I bought myself to remember Mexico by. It gives me strength to face life. I am humbled and hopeful.

I may allow these final days to be forever known as my two blue days and then I will begin a new month, a new birth year, to be the start of the rest of my life. What just happened to me in Mexico is proof positive that anything is possible.

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Just One More, I Think #SoCS

Who doesn’t adore the delicious scent of
cookies
on any day of the year?

I sit here, chocolate mint cookie from Tim Hortons wafting into my nostrils. How much more Canada and Christmas can I get?

I think, as much as I love eating them, it’s almost a better thing to sit and enjoy the pleasant aroma of coffee and cookie as I contemplate things at the end of another year in my life.

I want to focus on Christmas and all the happiness I can pick from this time of year. I want to focus only on good food and family and holiday traditions.

Cookies are a big part of that. My mom makes multiple kinds for Christmas most years. So has my sister. Her intricately designed iced cookies at Christmas were pieces of art which I hated to eat.

She is pregnant this year and gets the year off if she so desires, off from cookie duty that is. There are more important things. Her little boy is starting to realize the magic of Christmas. She needs her rest to prepare for all of that.

There were cookies as holiday treats for my most recent writing group meeting at the library. I ate two of them, plus a mint chocolate that comes from a famous little chocolate shop not too far from here. Cookies and chocolate certainly makes it more pleasant to read a story to the group you’ve had barely an hour to construct.

Tea and cookies. Coffee and cookies. Cookies and milk.

The tradition of leaving cookies and milk for Santa is timeless at this point, for most of us. That SC gets a lot of cookies this time of year. Lucky guy.

I must not eat another cookie. Oh no, I mustn’t. Or maybe I eat and be merry and enjoy myself, right into 2017 and the predictable January regret.

This season is all about cooking and cookies. I partake in both, the consumption of both I should say, though I don’t do much of either the cooking very well myself. It is much too easy letting other, more skilled hands take over.

I can sit and think about world events or my future or any number of things, but it’s made all the more pleasant when I can smell that coffee and cookies nearby.

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Happy Holidays and Traditional Thankfuls, #FTSF #TGIF #10Thankful

One of my favourite Christmas time traditions growing up was to go for a drive on a snowy night to check out all the houses and their lights, coloured or all white. Didn’t matter, not at one time.

This holiday season I still feel grateful for so many things, including the lights of Christmas. It is not so easy to spot houses covered in lights anymore, but I am still thankful. Having traditions at this time of year helps to brighten my mood as the end of another year draws to a close.

And what a year it was.

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I am unable to really see this photo now, but sounds nice anyway. Trees. Lights. Snowflakes softly drifting down.

December is here once more. I have a tree-like situation in my living room, lights outside on my house, and snow is starting here in my part of Canada, but all over really.

I am thankful for where I live.

I am thankful because I know Canada isn’t the greatest country in the world, but it is pretty great still. I am happy to see Justin Trudeau using social media, as is how it’s done these days, but he uses it without malice or ugly undertones.

The still current U.S. VP Joe Biden visited Canada this week and spoke to the Prime Minister and the representatives of the provinces, about climate change. It is close to many Canadian’s hearts and on many of our minds, the arctic, pipeline concerns, effects of oil on animal species, and severe weather patterns with melting sea ice. It isn’t so easy to ignore, but I know it isn’t easy to figure out either.

I know a lot of people who live here hate the cold and the snow of the long winter months Canada is so well-known for, but I can’t think of anything better than a still, silent, and snowy night.

I am thankful to have a mother who loves decorating for the holidays and she sets everything up for me, now that I am on my own.

Last year, around this time, our family found ourselves in a frightening situation, likely the most frightening we’d ever experienced, which is saying a whole lot.

It wasn’t so easy and somehow didn’t feel quite so important to decorate for Christmas, while we waited to see what my brother would be like when he woke from a sudden head injury.

Of course, as soon as the shock wore off and things began to look up, family and holidays were once more the priority and felt right to celebrate.

None of us, nobody in fact wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but they are so nice to have when needed.

I am thankful that I can still see Christmas lights.

Who knows…next year this time…five years from now…ten and beyond. I’m living in the now and enjoying what I have while I have it.

I am thankful for the recognition that is still extremely necessary and is brought into focus on December 3rd, every single year.

International Day For Persons With Disabilities 2016

I am thankful for set plans made this week.

It feels good to see the plans forming officially. It will be here before we know it…before I know it. Preparing. I can and I will do this.

I am thankful for the help I’ve received so I can be comfortable with my stuff I will be taking with me, my ability to read and write, and to just fit in and be another member of the class.

I am thankful for the guidance from my writing mentor, a wonderfully helpful local travel agent, my parents, and all the family members who have been so supportive of me wanting to take on a new adventure in 2017.

I’m thankful for some of the fascinating reading material I’ve received already, reading material about one place in particular where we’ll be during the writing workshop.

I am reading New York Times articles about a place of art and that goes by the name, translated from Spanish, to mean “House of Frogs” I believe. Better than “House of Scorpions” as I am a little more nervous at the thought, ever since I read “The Pearl” in high school.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I’m thankful that I sold two more copies of the anthology where my story can be found, from 2015.

After The Scars – A Second Chances Anthology (Goodreads)

One minute, it went from the reading material from off of my shelf, to use for scanner practice, and then suddenly two copies were being requested. A lovely surprise.

In the last month or two I’ve gotten my anthology possibly sent and traveled all the way to Australia and now a copy will surely live at a school for the blind that I did not attend, but I know lots of people who did.

I thought I would combine the TToT this week (after missing last) with Kristi’s
Finish the Sentence Friday.

I will be writing my own brand of a 2016 summary, but I thought I would celebrate a little first.

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A Variety of Various Positions, #LeonardCohen #TGIF #FTSF

This week, as is so often to be found in life, was full of both the expected and the unexpected. Change comes round, now and then, whether we want it to or not, whether we’re ready for it or we aren’t.

I expected that the US might bring round a change in things, from one political party to the other. I wasn’t all that surprised by their election results, to be sadly honest. As much as I hoped that the change would be for that country to elect their first female president, another white, rich male came out on top.

Anger is expected. It is felt by so many. So many people let anger cloud the fear underneath, at the heart of things. I admit, I have anger, especially after the events of a week as bad as this, but I am mostly afraid. I am afraid for our world.

The stories in the news this week, like for months, have been all about events in the US. I knew though that soon enough other stories would come along and shift focus, even for a few days time, and that happened with the announcement that Leonard Cohen was gone. This, I admit, I was not expecting.

When it comes to the unexpected or to change, I struggle, like most people. Can I right myself though?

If we tilt very far toward one way of living or thinking or being, we’re more likely to topple over. So, I try to remember to remain within some level of my own middle ground. Much of the world struggles with this, in terms of governments or communities or families or individuals.

Change, we think, often means progress, going forward. Suddenly, then along comes the kind of change that feels like it threatens to take us backward. What feels wrong to one person feels oh so right, like going home, back to the way things used to be, should be.

I am not a poet, or am I? I try harder. I try to learn from a man who was, a Canadian legend of a man, who wrote poetry, and novels, and lyrics.

I try to listen, even now, to his voice, in interviews. As he aged and his voice became lower and lower, and deeper and deeper, he kept on learning and discovering what it all meant to be alive.

As I experienced his voice, Growing up, his voice in the songs I had no real connection to, it made me uncomfortable. I can only describe the feeling as one of unsettled. It was all so somber and even frightening. Life, as I realize more and more, is often about allowing oneself to feel the discomfort and all that is often so very unsettling.

A lot of these things that happen, that happened this week, are unsettling in a whole new kind of way. They aren’t all about peace and live and let live, not like a batch of Leonard Cohen lyrics. I realize now that he was sharing all that life can feel like.

We all have our position on a number of issues, key issues that affect us. Some things don’t touch us, hardly at all, or not at all. We can’t possibly listen to every song ever made.

For a long time I have done my best to respect that everyone of us has various positions on the things that matter and those that matter not as much, perhaps, to different people. This becomes harder and harder, which just means the stakes are bigger and bigger.

I stay in my bubble of a life, surrounding myself with other people that often share my sentiments on most things. This can be dangerous, or has proven to be, for not just myself. No wonder, then, that it comes as a shock how other people feel. We do ourselves a huge disservice by not trying to learn what else there is, going on, that another person might just be feeling, in the place where another lives. It’s so very hard to meet another, somewhere in the middle of the road. Some of us would rather walk alone than even try.

Not everybody can write poetry. Not everyone wants to. I should say, anyone could, if they acknowledged the anger but allowed themselves to feel the fear. Art makes things that are so often unbearable, bearable, or just a little less unbearable anyway.

I see greed and fear and unbending, unyielding unwillingness all around, the unwillingness to let life teach us, to admit we don’t know it all. I label these things, as being what is, though I really can’t say, should not say, for sure, at all.

I want to never stop hearing beautiful things, as the ugly is so easy to find, and to produce my own lyrical thought. I want to learn what makes people do and say what they do and say. Human beings will never stop being fascinating to me, for what causes them to be and do it all.

So, why should I be surprised at both the expected and the unexpected in life anyway? I’m not, of either one.

It’s time for another
Finish The Sentence Friday
after a particularly rough week. Though, surprise surprise, whether expected or not, life was always like that.

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inside Out, #SoCS

Almost Halloween and it made my day to receive happy updates on my phone of my friend and her little girl, who is enjoying pumpkins and so many other new experiences, this being her second Halloween and first to really begin the fun of the holiday.

This is just a small thing, but a big big thing really, that makes my day better, set against a backdrop of chaos and endless information.

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So much else goes through my head and my mind. It’s like that line parents and elders often find themselves speaking about children and the younger generation: “everything I say to them just seems to go in one ear and out the other, like they aren’t even listening”.

In one ear and out the other.

Are we listening?

So much in the news and going on in the world, so much info for me to hear, that I can’t possibly retain everything that comes across my path.

Lately I’ve felt like I can’t live up to the things I’m attempting, for some people, as if I’m not getting it fast enough or in the time they’ve allowed in their own heads, so I may not be getting the hang of it and, to some, should maybe just throw in the towel.

Perhaps this is all mostly going on inside my mind. Maybe it’s not that bad. It could be that they don’t think this at all. But I feel it, from them or from myself, or a little of both.

I try to block out all other things when I am in that practice room. For one hour I don’t let myself think or worry or fret over anything else that would otherwise dog my every waking thought. None of that when I am with my violin and while I have the undivided attention from the one who knows it and is trying to teach me.

I focus so hard on her words and her instructions, on the notes and the strings and the proper techniques, so hard that my mind aches. It’s not just the headaches or the usual body pains I feel, but rather my mind physically stretching to try and accommodate these new things. Sometimes, I feel I hear and understand her so clearly, but other times I fear her wisdom goes in one ear and out the other with me. I fear I’ve just wasted an entire sixty minutes of her precious time.

I wonder how much more would weigh me down if I could see, so those things that went in one of my ears and out the other, straight through my often swirling brain, would have to keep up with what my eyes were also taking in.

I can’t say how that would work. I may never know.

I just want to think of the stories surrounding Halloween as fun and games, but I think of ghosts and those who are no longer hear. I think of the world we’re facing in the glaring absence of those people.

I think of pipelines. I think of refugee crisis stories. These are real lives and people debate them as if they were theories taught in a classroom somewhere. I think of what I just saw on a news documentary, about the famous family because some of it’s members didn’t survive the boat trip. Canada is home to some of them now. Iraq is home to others, who can’t bear to be away from where their loved ones are buried. I think of the fight going on in Iraq and Syria still. Will families who’ve had to flee for their lives ever get to return home again?

Will the wild war of words and opinions and so much more in the US ever settle down? Will Canadian government live up to all their campaign promises? Does any government?

Questions which I come to on my own and those that I hear and learn about, I take them in, even if I think of that Halloween episode on The Simpsons when Bart is attacked by the little people Lisa invented in a plastic tub, which come upon him in the night, shooting in through his one ear and going through his brain and out the other.

I saw this image so clearly when it first aired back in 1998, but now exists only in my memory.

Do we hear today’s real issues? Do they make an impression? Do they touch us? Do they cause us to stand up and act? Or are we so used to hearing so much that it all just flies in one ear and out the other?

All these things turn my insides out on a daily basis. I must focus on creating things. Art. Beautiful music and words and building things that didn’t exist before.

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