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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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TToT: Thanks and Thankfuls – That Was Awesome! #10Thankful

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”

–John Lennon

Not sure why,

😉

but I love this one.

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“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

I often have my eyes closed in pictures taken. I am told this is a pretty good shot, so they should be open.

🙂

The Lighting of the Peace Tower.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8

Should I say thanks, be thankful for the thanks or thanks for the thankfuls?

This week I am not sure.

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Yes, I am Canadian and that means October is when we celebrate Thanksgiving, not November like the US does. Okay, so the actual day isn’t until the 12th, officially, but I celebrated two days early.

For me, this holiday is not and never has been about pilgrims coming across and landing to a grand celebration with The Natives. In Canada, for this Canadian girl in particular, it’s more about celebrating my favourite season (and we get em all in this country), the pumpkins, and the colourful leaves as they fall. Family is the best part, not the pie.

Sure, my family have always eaten turkey and It is true, that I am thankful, but I am just as thankful at Christmas and every other day of the year.

I am a little muddled, as this is my first Thanksgiving as a part of the TToT group – lot of being and feeling thankful going around here. I am a little overwhelmed with that word, “thankful” and all the thankfuls I have running around in my head.

Here I go anyway.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For friendly and down-to-earth writers like Anne Rice.

A couple years back I went ahead and read Interview with the Vampire – my first and only Rice book so far. I am not her biggest fan, but not in a “not a fan” sort of way. I just couldn’t quite let myself grow comfortable with her dark and mysterious writing style I suppose. I look down the extensive list of books she’s written in her three or four decades as a writer and I am impressed, even if the world of supernatural she’s continuously creating remains still unfamiliar to me.

It’s her devotion to her fans, as shown on her Facebook page, that really draws me in and of which I truly admire. As someone beginning to think of herself as a writer, I don’t necessarily think social media is for every author, but I do admire Rice’s dedication to her readers.

Anne Rice Fan Page on Facebook

She is quite obviously the one to handle the page. She doesn’t just post occasionally. She only has her assistant post when she herself isn’t feeling well. She posts daily and is clearly glad to do it.

She engages regularly with her millions of fans, saying good morning and goodnight to them, and having discussions, posing questions, and posting articles.

For friends and graciousness and people willing to help spread the word.

Amy Boviard Author

and

Original Bunker Punks

in particular.

I thank you for your thoughtful shares and I am thankful that you took the time to talk about or publish me, and then go ahead and share that with your website’s readers and then on your Facebook pages.

For the ability to go and turn on the heat.

The weather is turning to the autumn crispness I love so much, which means I have been going back and forth, unsure which type of weather there might be outside my door in the mornings. Things are changing

On a particularly rainy and windy day I broke down and, instead of just loading up on heavy sweaters, took that step and turned on my home’s heat. I am thankful for this because I have it so easily accessible to me. I’ve been going on and on about humidity, heat, and my air conditioning since I began with TToT, but Canadian winters always end up as cold as Canadian summers are hot.

For familial beta readers and editors.

I am not a writer with a publishing contract and an editor on hand to read the things I write, able to give their feedback and offer their suggestions. I don’t have the money to pay people to read all the stuff I’m writing nowadays, but I have managed to cultivate and maintain a number of relationships with these people. I don’t ask them to help, as I am glad to just have their expertise and knowledge to occasionally learn and draw upon. This is where the family obligation comes in.

🙂

Okay, they wouldn’t say it that way, but I still feel bad imposing. Of course, I could impose a lot more often than I do, only asking them to read over something when I really need it.

I apologize eternally to any readers of this blog, as I edit myself, as best I can, but don’t have someone read over my post before hitting publish each and every time.

If a capital letter or punctuation is missed now and then, or perhaps more often than that, I am sorry. These days, with the VoiceOver and Mac, my writing and blogging programs usually catch any incorrect spelling.

As for a week where I have written a piece I’m sending off somewhere to be evaluated and possibly published, to grow a more expanded readership, I look to my family to read my work and offer ideas and first impressions. Usually, this means my big sister. She has a life of her own, you know, with a husband and young son to attend to and spend time with. She works some days and has her own interests, so when she takes the time to help me out I am incredibly thankful.

For my mother and the very fact of her birth. This is worth celebrating and declaring my thanks for, as without this and her, I would not be here to write these words.

For everything she does and everything she is, I am thankful and grateful. I may not always show it, but I mean it from my very soul, with all the feeling words can muster.

I have never been more thankful than for her. Happy Birthday Mom. Xoxoxo.

For purring.

My cat will come over to me and walk across my legs. I don’t know, but I choose to believe he knows the pain therapy he is providing in that moment.

My chronic pain is an all over sort of deal. My legs are sensitive and just the right amount of pressure helps.

As for the purring, when he rests himself against my legs and purrs, I feel better. This is worth a bunch of irritating cat hair on my clothes and furniture.

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For a fun Thanksgiving day at the farm, pumpkin patch, and corn maze with the fam. Got an excellent view of the place from my watch tower perch.

Leaping Deer!

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My first time through a corn maze. I loved the sound of the rustling corn stalks in the cool fall afternoon, but it would have been creepier in the dark. They said you were supposed to give them your names when you went in, presumably in case they needed to find us in the event that we became lost, but we were rebels and told nobody – well, the family knew, I think.

For the pleasure of getting to give my niece and nephews a little something, a small gift, out-of-the-blue.

It wasn’t a holiday where presents were expected, and that made it all the better. They were surprised and I am thankful I got to make them smile.

They are learning and growing, with each Thanksgiving that passes, and that makes me sad, but in a really grateful way. I get to love them and be there, and that’s worth an unplanned and a surprise puzzle, book, or sticker set now and again.

For optimism, without which, I could never find a thing to be thankful for at all.

Whatever else I give thanks for, I am thankful for the TToT and others who have thankfuls in their lives as well.

This one, from this week’s group, is the perfect example of finding the silver linings, all done with beauty and humour.

A Moment In Time – Summertime Wandering

I can use all the optimism I can muster today. I am off to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play, what could be their last game, and the end of any possible hopes their fans had of a World Series win after more than 20 years eager anticipation and hope.

I am thankful for all the togetherness that is shown around here, after being in Toronto a few weeks back and feeling the energy of the baseball fans, the Toronto supporters growing, and I know today is their last hope and the odds are against them, but until that hope is dashed for certain I choose to be positive and optimistic.

It could happen. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Okay, I’ll see where things stand by this evening, a week from now, at next week’s edition of the TToT.

OK…BLUE JAYS…LET’S…PLAY…BALL!

I’ll end this week’s post with one of the most optimistic quotes I know, in the hopes of something sticking, and, as Anne Rice always says to her FB fans,

Signing off.

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

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TToT: At the Heart of the Star, Not the Shape of It – Ten Years and Ten Things

“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
–Stephen Fry

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I think Mr. Fry and Mr. Wilde to be two incredibly wise men.

A Rainbow over Titanic Belfast.

I’ve decided to stick, somewhat, with the theme of storms and rainbows that I’ve been going with for most of the month thus far. Since we’re nearly finished with the month of August, I can start fresh next week, but I’ve added a little something more, to make this final week of summer, for the most part, its own.

10 Years Later

I have been thinking about the last ten years since Hurricane Katrina happened. My life wasn’t directly affected by that storm. I remember watching it on television, all the horrible news reports that were coming out of New Orleans, and wondering what my grandmother might have thought of it, as she had just died a few weeks earlier.

Now, I come across so many things, in the course of my week, that I want to share because they make me happy or because I just think they are note worthy.

The TToT has become a place where I can make note, as I don’t know if all the technology and extra information since my grandmother’s death and Katrina, if it’s all that good or not, but I like to share it anyway.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the first so-called autumn evening of the season.

I know it’s not officially fall yet, but this week I felt the air coming in through m open window, and it smelled like fall.

When I say that people flip out. Yeah, I know the sooner fall comes and summer ends, the closer we are to cold and snow of winter (I know), but maybe I want fall to start now, even just a little bit, and maybe it can be an extra long one, so as to not bring on winter for months and months.

But I’ve already come across things like this, a sure sign that people are starting to think pumpkins and changing leaves:

Ontario Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, Hayrides, and More, Find Halloween and Fall Fun in Ontario! – Pumpkinpatchesandmore.org

and

Haunted Mansion Drops in Price But Still No Takers

For my brother arriving back in Ontario, safe and sound, after one hell of a summer road trip through Canada’s Maritime provinces.

Although we were communicating, every few days while he was gone, it was nice to receive the full rundown, both over the phone and in person.

For see shells, red rocks, and other seaside treasures.

For my brother’s effort in finding me something Anne of Green Gables related from his time on Prince Edward Island: postcards, a fridge magnet, and even a little straw hat. He says he considered, for a moment, getting me the full sized version that I could wear, but on further consideration, went with the miniature one instead.

🙂

Good idea.

For lunch out with family, even a three-year-old nephew who thinks he should stand up on the bench seat, but we block him in. He just wants to be closer to our heights at the table, and that is equal to him standing when we’re sitting. I can’t say I blame him for that.

For the perfect combination of Irish culture and Italian food.

The name Muldoon’s Pizza speaks for itself, but our waitress had a rather thick Italian accent.

For another guest posting spot:

#BeReal – KERRY KIJEWSKI

Thanks, Hasty, for the chance for being real, as this is on the list of things that scare me, thus means it’s completely worth doing.

For my returning brother’s highly appreciated assistance with technology matters this week.

He helped me figure out that I could fix one more thing, made wrong by the computer issues I dealt with back in the spring, by downloading software from the Internet.

When It Rains It Pours

I can, once more, use my scanning device, known as an EyePal, to start work on the final few high school courses I need to complete my high school diploma.

Close But No Cigar

Of course, now I have no more excuses. The only person standing in my way is me. This is something I have battled with for years, since I was unwell and unable to graduate, and I have been left feeling unaccomplished, ashamed, and embarrassed for years since that time.

I have made some progress and am half way to my goal. I have completed two out of the final four credits necessary, over these last few years, and that means I am all the more close to being finished.

This scares me because I then have to decide on what my next move should be. As long as I have something standing in my way, be that technology problems or lack of the education necessary, I don’t have to make the really tough and frightening decisions about my future.

No more excuses means facing my fears, head on!

For the chance I’ve had, of late, to get to know an old friend, a friendship that has become new again.

I attended a farewell party, a drop-in brunch as it was called, and got to wish her well as she and her husband start fresh in California.

For more opportunities to face my fears and work on my issues with crowds and unfamiliar situations.

I attended this goodbye party, with a friend, and we both faced our nervousness at these things. OFten, much of what we are afraid will happen doesn’t end up happening, and the worst turns out to be all in your mind. We wanted to wish someone well and, by going together, we had the support we needed.

Then, my friend and I were at our local county fair and we very nearly had a reunion with an old friend of ours.

She was actually a best friend. At one time, it was the three of us, inseparable. We have grown apart from this old friend and I had it on pretty good authority we may run into her, as the county fair is a common place to find her and her family every summer.

We ran into her sister and her father, but just missed her by a narrow margin. I can’t decide if this was for the best or not, unavoidable or something else altogether. Missed opportunities are disappointing, because you never know if they were meant to be, but I guess not this time.

Things have to come together, at just the precise moment in time:

You’ve Never Seen Clouds Like This Before

I don’t like to turn down things. In fact, I’m making a huge effort, in my life, to not turn down chances and opportunities when they present themselves. It’s a work-in-progress, but I am determined not to let my shyness and awkwardness win out.

The Milky Way Over Yellowstone is Impossibly Beautiful

So whether it’s the destruction of a storm (past or present) with the anniversary of Katrina or this week’s Hurricane Erica. Or maybe it’s another terrible story of a shooting of two news persons. I see no reason to shy away from living life and paying attention to the beauty of the world, all of which makes for a much brighter existence.. That’s why I write down what I’m thankful for every week.

I listened to two interesting things this week. One was a conversation between writer’s Chimamanda Adichie and Zadie Smith and the other was an interview with poet Mary Oliver.

Between the Lines: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with Zadie Smith

I could listen to conversations such as these, all day long. They teach me about writing, about feminism from strong females, and about facing my fears.

In other words:

Never Surrender – Cory Hart

So whether it’s the beautifully explored character development in and of a novel or the splendid simplicity of nature in poetry – I liked the idea of examining a star, or anything for that matter, not only by the shape or form it comes in, but by what’s at its heart. You never know what you’ll find in both.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

–Mary Oliver

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Shows and Events, SoCS

RURAL PRIDE, COUNTY WIDE, #SoCS

As summer winds down and autumn approaches, town after town will begin hosting their annual county, agricultural, and local fairs.

Where was I today?

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SATURDAY

Hmmm. Let’s see.

This week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: “Four-Letter Word”

http://lindaghill.com/2015/08/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-2915/

I went to the fair today.

My initial thought, when I heard four-letter word…well, I am sure you could guess and I am also sure I wasn’t the first to think of it.

Then, I went to my county’s fair with a friend, her mother and daughter, and we spent the afternoon with cows, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys.

I was born and live in a rather rural area of south western Ontario, in Canada. My town’s mascot is a cow after all. Agriculture is a very important part of community and sense of pride here.

My mother always thought going to a fair was a rather large waste of money, as kids, and so we went, but sparingly.

I remember, once, when I was about ten years old, I had just made a new friend in my new school. She was visiting and I really wanted to go to the fair with her. So, sneaky and vindictive little girl that I sometimes could be, I told her that we would take her to the fair. I hadn’t run this passed my mom, assuming that once I had made the promise to my friend, my mom wouldn’t be able to say no.

Well, let’s just say my master plan worked.

General admission and the rides and games and food on top of that. It all adds up. They stamp your hand upon entering.

There is something strange and rather unsettling about walking down a path between booths, stalls on all sides, with loud and over-stimulating music and sound, clanking and clanging carnival rides, and people yelling at you, obnoxiously I might add:

“Come! Try this game! Everyone’s got a chance to win!”

Yeah, what a rip off. What do I look like, a sucker?

Well, this time we did not go for the rides. My friend wanted to introduce her baby girl to the barn full of farm animals, to see her face upon spotting a black and white, a brown cow, for the first time.

We had a friend, growing up, who was at the local fair, every August, to show cattle with her family. Now, what did this mean exactly? I realize I didn’t understand that world, but the family loved it.

It took up their time, kept them busy, all with things I didn’t pretend to understand. Walking cows around in a ring, practicing, being awarded first, second, and third place medals.

My mother grew up as a farm girl. My uncles owned farms, dairy herds mostly, all my life. I spent many summer vacations on the farms. I was afraid to walk down the stalls of cows in the barn.

I’m drawing a blank now. What are those openings in the floor for the cows called again? Hmmm.

The smell of the barn was never something I could get used to. I did not have enough vision to allow me to run and play games up in the hay mound, with holes that would suddenly appear at your feet, sometimes disguised by straw, until it was too late. Down to the cement floor below you would drop. One of my cousins did just that.

I preferred to stay and play in the house, rather than get dirty and smelly. I drank milk, ate cheese, and eggs. I saw what it was like to survive of the land and raise animals for these things, but I was not at home, ever, fully there.

Now the fair is all about a certain lifestyle. I look in on it. I smell the fair food. I love cotton candy. I hate candy and caramel apples. I loved rides as a kid.

My friend’s baby girl loved the animals. A cow scared the hell out of me, but the baby’s eyes bulged from the noise the creature made, but did not cry.

At any moment I expected a stinky sniffling nose or tongue to make me jump from behind the fence. I wouldn’t be able to help making a commotion if a cow suddenly decided to say “Hello”.

Pies. Quilts. Crafts. Stalls selling all manner of hand-made items.

Piggy banks shaped like turtles, giraffes, cows, and rocking horses. Obvious hard work put in to each one by dedicated and delicate wood working skill.

My friend and I found the farm family there, showing their cows off with pride. Little changes in twenty years. But our friendships have.

We met her sister and her father, but no sign of the friend we once knew so well, the one we’d hurry to the fair grounds to see, to speak to, even for a little while in between her duties with the cows.

We waited around to speak to her, unsure how awkward it might feel to talk again, after years of no contact. Distance grows between, an ever widening expanse of time and silence.

No sign of her. Do we keep on waiting? Do we move on? The baby is tired and hungry. Our feet are sore.

I can’t stand much more of the music and the noise. Sound coming at me from all sides. I am nervous how well I’ll even be able to hear any conversation with this old friend, if she does indeed turn up to say hi.

We listen, part of a gathering and contented group of interested attendants of this lecture on reptiles. The girl speaking talks with an authoritative tone and sounds like she is highly knowledgeable when it comes to the python she holds and the red-footed tortoise named Flash.

Children ask such smart questions about the animals:

What does it drink?

Can I give it a kiss? (The girl doesn’t seem like she is going to allow that one.)

“No kissing them. Reptiles are dirty,” she advises, but she encourages anyone and everyone to reach out a hand and touch these guys.

“Nope. Not her face. Just touch her shell. She doesn’t like being poked in the eye, just like any of us.”

People actually make bowls, plates, and even guitar picks from the shell. What waste. Simply not necessary. I go online later, only to find that “an imitation tortoise-shell pick” is one of the top hits, for sale.

😦

“Can you let her swim in the water over there?” I hear the little child, a few feet away, ask and point.

“She’s a tortoise, not a turtle. They don’t swim,” the girl explains.

The baby would put the snake to her mouth, as she has approached that age of her infancy. Not advisable.

A nice man directly behind me, waiting to get his turn to see the animals up close, asks me, “Did you want to touch the animals too Love?”

Very nice of him to ask. “No. I’m good,” I say. “I’ve touched a snake before.”

(My brother has one as a pet. I have touched it several times. That should do me for a while.

The girl talks about a snake back at the zoo and animal park she works at, where these animals come from. That snake, which is not here, is called Julius Squeezer.

Hahahaha. Well, I thought that was a good one anyway.

🙂

All the country music and hay aside, I feel strange, with all this baby talk. People stop my friend and me in our tracks, every so often as we make our way through the fair, to comment on what a beautiful baby my friend has. And, of course, they couldn’t be more right, but the sitting target for people’s advice and attention is clearly my friend. People naturally want to know, are curious: What’s her name? How old is she? And my friend simply smiles and answers them politely.

We don’t meet up with our old friend. Must not be meant to be I guess, I tell myself. I am bad with awkward greetings. I stand there, awkward as anything, grasping for things to say.

I feel left out. If we do all speak, the two of them will discuss their children. It’s no fair that I can’t be a part of that shared experience of motherhood that the two of them will most certainly connect to.

I will stand there, ever more awkward, but then we’ve just missed her. She hasn’t left the cows to run into us at the reptile exhibit. She is somewhere, in this crowd, and we never do find her. Missed opportunity, but for what?

Some friendships aren’t meant to be reforged. I can’t answer why that is. I wish I could.

Maybe we have nothing more in common. Perhaps we never did.

But what…I don’t know…is that what friendship comes down to in the end? It obviously meant something to us at the time, will forever be a part of our shared past. What, then, is to stop my friend and me from losing touch too, one of these days? I can’t understand it, how it all works, what friendships are and how to discover if they are meant to withstand anything.

Earlier in the day, I urged my friend to come along with me, to say goodbye to another girl from school. She is moving to the US with her husband. We arrive at her father’s house, in an area of town I am not in often. This friendly girl we’ve come to see answers the door, immediately taking the baby from my friend’s arms. Baby makes a helpful distraction and an ice breaker, to lighten the mood. Makes more of these awkward meetings a little less so.

The day has been mentally and physically exhausting for me, for us, but we agree we’re glad we made the effort, even if it didn’t all work out.

Ever the lousy social butterfly that I am and I have one more day of practice under my belt, but I still can’t shake the feelings of being totally out-of-place and out-of-my-element. Will they ever leave me completely?

I answer questions about my writing and my book and my friend answers more about her baby. We sip from little glasses of juice and listen to all the talk going on around us, mostly from family of the married friend who is on her way to start a new life with her husband.

Others, myself included, well the path looks a lot different than that one. It looks quite pleasant and put together, when compared to whatever the hell I’m doing, but who knows where we will all end up, really. We all have our six month plans, our two year plans to refer to, for just how we think our lives should go.

An old and faded baby book and the earliest of kindergarten friendships made. No matter how long it’s been, where we’ve come from, or how far away life may take any of us. Sometimes, before we know it, we’re right back here in the local county we knew as children, friendships tested and reformed again.

How is life fair? I can answer that: it isn’t “fair” at all. Let’s forget about how unfair life can be by visiting the fair.

To be fair, on such a fair day as this: better quit while I am ahead. I don’t normally mean to make my SoCS posts quite this long.

So that’s my four-letter word for today and I’m sticking with it.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Welcome back to another Memoir Monday and another answer to a question from the:

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

***

Q: Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?

A: Of course they are. I don’t know what kinds of things I would be into if I had all my sight. I sometimes wonder. Would I like sports? Would I love to paint? However, it does no good to linger on these questions. I like to have fun and enjoy myself just like anyone else.

I love to watch movies: in the theatre or at home on the couch. I know a lot of visually impaired people who could care less and who would place movies very low on the list, but I have always loved to escape and get lost in an interesting storyline, with gripping characters, played by my favourite actors.

This is addressed in last week’s post:

All They’ve Ever Known.

I might not have been able to enjoy all the movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, if it hadn’t been for people like those in my family who learned to describe the action going on on the screen, so I never felt left out of popular culture and the blockbusters of the day.

Now, of course, there were services such as DVS (descriptive video service) and my brother and I used to order movies from a catalogue. They would arrive in the mail and we could watch movies on our own.

This is where I first discovered my love of Gone With The Wind.

I like to think I have a wide variety of hobbies and interests, just as varied as anyone else.

I would probably love to paint now, if I could see. I miss the times, as a child with more sight, when I would draw for hours at a time with my beloved markers. This hobby I had to give up, but I have replaced it with others.

Spending time with family and friends isn’t really affected. I fit in with them because they know me and accept me. We have fun spending time together.

I love to go to concerts, on day trips/road trips, and theme parks.

The big question and the universal joke made by and for visually impaired people would be the issue of driving.

One of my favourite things to do is go for a drive, especially at night, with my favourite music playing. I love feeling like I am moving forward, speeding ahead, an energy and a relaxation I get no other way.

I never have to drive and can always just sit back, in the passenger seat or in the back, and enjoy the ride, leaving other people to concentrate on the road.

Of course this means I am never able to just jump in my car and go for a drive alone, but with the possibility of technology and the driverless cars that already exist, who knows what the future may bring.

I have had the chance to sit on a parent’s lap, when I was younger, and drive around a WAL-MART parking lot at night. In my dreams I drive sometimes and perhaps that’s a sign that I could be good at it, if circumstances were different.

My main hobbies are reading and writing, both not impossible with the help of technology. I need help from special equipment, such as: Mac computers with built-in voice software, electronic braille displays, and iPhones. These things continue to improve and there is no telling where things could be headed.

I used to have shelves and shelves of thick braille books and volumes. This could be cumbersome at times, but nowadays space is more plentiful with the inventions I mentioned above.

With the help of these technologies I spend time on Facebook and other social media like most people these days. An entertaining distraction, taking up maybe more time than it should.

🙂

I have a tandem bicycle. I can walk alone, depending on whether I know the route. Going for a walk outside in my favourite autumn weather is better arm in arm with a loved one. Sometimes I take my dog. Sometimes I take a cane.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper

So the song applies to all girls, even me. It’s important to have fun and to have time to relax and kick back and I look forward to this, with others or solo. I find ways around the problems that can arise, if it’s something I really enjoy. I owe my parents for helping to show me, from a young age, that this is possible.

***

Next Week I will answer a broader, more open-ended question for the challenge:

Does disability affect you in other ways? If so, how?

Which hobby or leisure activity that you enjoy would you think might become difficult or impossible to do if you lost your sight? Which one would you miss most: driving, painting, sports? How do you think you might adapt?

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

Special Magnificence

It’s the start of a new week once more and once again, on this Memoir Monday, I participate in:

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

Last week I answered Part A of this question:

If you have a medical diagnosis, do you see yourself as having a disability? Why or why not?

And

HEre, was my answer.

And Now, in Week Four, Part B: My mother speaks to the following:

Q: If you don’t have one, how do you view the concept of disability or the people in your life who have them?

A: Disability is such a broad term, it can be physical, developmental, very minor in it’s effects or all encompassing.

When you’ve had little experience with someone with disabilities, you often only see what someone is unable to do. The longer you know or more people you know with disabilities, you see them first as the person that they are and don’t even see their disability.

Everyone does their best to cope and deal with their own disability.
One of the hardest parts is when you are closely related, feeling helpless to fix or make it all better for the people you love.

Thank you to my mother and father for their sincere and heartfelt answers to the questions I have asked them to answer these last few weeks.

Next week, together, we answer the following question:

What have your experiences been with medical treatment and/or therapy been like? Do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings about your experiences?

***

“The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of the hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”

The above quote is from J.R.R. Tolkien, on this the eve of the first day of autumn and Hobbit Day.

This, in Middle-Earth, is when the celebrations take place: The Big Birthday.

This, around the world, is the start of the autumn season and Frodo, Bilbo, and Tolkien are celebrated by fans everywhere.
I love this particular season, feeling a shift and a change.

September 22nd is a big day for Frodo and Bilbo in those books and for me, I feel it too.

This week and day were first recognized and celebrated back in 1978 and since then parties have been thrown, food consumed for the occasion, and Middle-Earth literature and films have been screened. Both Tolkien and his son Christopher (just like Bilbo and his nephew Frodo) are celebrated all week long.

In past years my favourite holiday was always Christmas, but this year in particular I am looking forward to the theme of harvest, the apples and the pumpkins, and the bright colours of the leaves and the cool and crisp fall air.

It was the start of a new journey for both Bilbo and Frodo. Sure, the journey was just beginning and their were many cold, dark, and difficult days to come still.

I know winter naturally follows fall, but these autumn months are just the break from the crazy days of summer that I have been waiting for. Those two loveable creatures of my favourite stories in literature give me so much joy.

“Today is a day of special magnificence!”

Happy Hobbit Day to you all.

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Travel Tuesday, Uncategorized, Writing

Starting Fresh

On this Travel Tuesday here is a little summary, an update on what I am doing to make my dreams become my reality.

In the last week I have taken three steps toward my goal to have a travel blog.

One: I signed up for a twelve-week online travel blogging course, with travel blogger from

A Dangerous Business.

Who knows what I will end up taking away from this experience, but I just wanted to try something different. Networking never hurts and if I can learn anything from someone with success as a travel blogger for over four years, I will be happy. I am always glad to discover others doing what I hope to do.

Two: I finally decided to go for it and make an appointment with a website building business,

Fresh Idea Websites.

This particular company came highly recommended to me, by one of their happy clients. She is a friend and common acquaintance. The three of us went to school together as children and now we are all grown up.

Being a local company, started and run by someone I went to school with. There is that added comfort of that history.

It was strange, sitting across the table and having coffee with this person, for the complimentary consultation he offered. It was a strange thing to listen to his process for finding out what I hope to do with a website, remembering school bus rides and field trips. Now he was so professional and seemed to know what he was doing. This made me feel at ease.

Now we are both grown adults, with lives and career aspirations. He runs this successful local business and I have big dreams as well, thus the reason for our meeting.

I explained to him my plans to write about travel: local and international. I tried my best to clearly relay what my goals are to him and he was extremely accommodating.

I need someone to register a domain name and set up a site, leaving me free to make it into something through my writing and my unique voice and love for the world around me.

We discussed where I wanted to take a website. HE asked if I hope to monetize it. Of course that would be nice. I believe most people, who make the effort of starting a website or blog, have hopes of making a profit.

I can balance my need to write about people and places, my art and passion, with the need to become self-sufficient, even a small amount.

Of course I had to make sure he realized the possible issues with creating a website that would not function with Voiceover and Mac Journal, the special journal program I use to write these blog posts. I believe he even learned something and took something away from our meeting. I just hope this is an achievable situation for us both.

Three: I heard about the opening of the newest chapter of the

Public Speakers Association,

in my town. The announcement was on the radio a few weeks ago and I immediately thought, on hearing it, that I could possibly get something out of this.

I did a fair bit of speaking in front of classroom children, organizations, and groups about my experience having a guide dog. This was a long time ago now, but I always did include public speaking on the list of my skills.

I guess I never found it all that intimidating, as so many do, possibly because I was never able to see all the faces of the people staring at me while I spoke, unlike most people who have a fear of speaking in public. Lucky for me, this meant I never had any need or reason to picture anyone in their underwear.

Since those days I have written and spoke for special occasions, several more times, whether it be a speech at my sister’s wedding or the all-important tributes at a grandparent’s funeral. I knew I could organize and voice my thoughts and direct both toward an audience.

Who knows. A future where I have developed a successful travel website and blog could very well include public speaking and I wondered if this meet-and-greet/open-house for the newest opening chapter in my town could be a good place to start. I thought it couldn’t hurt to attend the free first session and find out what it was all about.

The whole thing was held at a very nice area restaurant, known for serving from a menu full of freshly prepared local items.

Oxford Kitchen Restaurant

The number of attendees was high enough that a general chatter somewhat overwhelmed me, name tags being useless to mostly just myself.

🙂

I listened to what the PSA had to offer, including the three types of public speaking: key-note, marketing, and platform. I had no idea.

I don’t know if I will end up becoming a member because I must keep track of costs right now and there is a fee to join. If I am to ever make any money with a travel blog/website I will need to make smart decisions.

Either way, I may just have made a few beneficial connections with some interesting people, a few people who’ve showed some interest in what I have to say.

I continue to use evenings such as this to work on my shyness and confidence levels and you just never know whom you could potentially meet at these things.

When telling a few people about my current blog I said something like, “I just have a free WordPress blog right now”. Someone pointed out to me that I should refrain from using the word “just” at all.

They were correct, of course. I don’t know why I said that in that way. I love my WordPress blog and “just” is a word better left out, for the most part.

I took steps in the past few days, toward future success as The Insightful Wanderer. I see people going into business for themselves everywhere these days: bloggers, photographers, and indie authors and I want to see if I can do the same. All I know, going forward, is if I don’t try I definitely will not succeed. Sure, there are kinks to be worked out along the way, but I’ll never know if I don’t at least try.

I am willing to take whatever courses I need to take, to learn about business and marketing, and to learn about the travel industry and how it works. I know I have something to offer and through my own unique voice. I am starting fresh, in this, my favourite season. Autumn feels like a new beginning, as spring often brings rebirth and renewal.

I started HerHeadache and I love writing the things I write here. I originally had the idea for Travel Tuesday as a featured day on this blog, but now I can’t help feeling like it could be more. I have lots to come in the weeks ahead. Hopefully soon Travel Tuesday will find a new home, separate and yet still alongside this blog because I am not willing to give up one for the other.

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