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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

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I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

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All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

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For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

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I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

sophiaandmomlaughing-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

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My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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Blogging, Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, SoCS, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Throw-back Thursday, Travel Tuesday, TToT

2015 October Platform Challenge: Day Nine, #platchal

I missed a few days there, or a little more than that, as I already have both a Facebook page and Twitter, but I’m back for more of a refresher.

Create An Editorial Calendar

I outline what I want for my blog, in my very first post,

Bucket List,

but I had no clue how it would really be to have a blog, day in and day out. I couldn’t have known then.

I do like to keep a rough schedule, more in my head, but the categories I select before each post help me keep things straight.

I stayed up, into the night, before I actually launched this blog, coming up to my thirtieth birthday in 2014 and mapped out which days I wanted to post.

I would let alliteration lead me.

Memoir Monday: My Fear of Going Blind

Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret

Spotlight On Saltz

From there, as the months of blogging went on, more weekday categories were added.

Touching Landscapes: Feel the Vibrations

This was my regular post, my growing favourite, Travel Tuesday as I called it. This was how I eventually decided to branch out further, creating

The Insightful Wanderer

and my blogging schedule continuing to change.

Slowly, my favourite weekly posts have become

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

because these allow me to focus in on what may be going on, in the moment.

It is a difficult question, how often to post on a blog. I don’t like to box myself in by telling myself I have to post, but I understand consistency and regularity.

I have not run out of things to say, like I’d feared in the beginning, and only really the opposite is true.

Every day is too much, but I hate to go more than a few days and not publishing something.

My Mondays have become a series on disability, for which I have a vested interest.

When It Rains It Pours – The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I do the well known TBT thing.

Throwback Thursday: World Kidney Day

My weekends were where I featured interviews. I wanted to give the spotlight to other people who write, blog, and make a difference in some way.

She’s the Bomb

Eventually, my weekends would evolve into what they currently consist of: Stream of Consciousness Saturday and 10 Things of Thankful on Sunday.

SoCS: Engraved

and

TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

So this is just a selection of my posts, an example of the kind of blogging schedule I keep to. This won’t be the way others can or choose to do it. I don’t know. Is this too much? I know it’s enough and I am happy because my blog, its content, style, and all other elements, including number of weekly posts is me…just me.

When an idea hits me I make a note of it, trying to decide when and if it might fit. I plan things, sometimes weeks or even months ahead of where I am. It works for me. Writing is a lot of hard work, more than people realize, but the weekly practice is the best thing for me. I like to have a plan wherever possible, but yet I also like to go with the flow and let things happen naturally.

A blogging calendar, like a yearly one, has certain markers of importance and note. What might take place in between is anyone’s guess.

I am enjoying this challenge for the month of October. It has given me more to think about. It is now a part of my month.

Follow the guy who runs the challenge.

@RobertLeeBrewer

Dates to make note of, things to come on my blog, of course always subject to change:

**More posts for Redefining Disability, including my thoughts on a woman who made the news for making herself go blind.

**An “In The News and On My Mind” post about voting. Will I or won’t I?

**A post about love (tentatively titled Somebody That I Used to Know), a list of songs to help with heartbreak and how to get past lost love.

**Halloween themed posts about spiders, werewolves, and ghosts.

**My story about a giant book fair, by the lake, in Toronto.

That should get us through October anyway.

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TToT: Just a Storm Before the Calm – “Fa La La La La”

No, it’s not from a Christmas carol that I’m singing: Fa La La La La – it’s only August.        
But come on – just try to make that sound and not smile.

🙂

“We didn’t set out to become super heros but life doesn’t always go as planned.”
–Big Hero 6

No, life certainly does not.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

This week is full of quotes, music, and one photograph. This week:

I heard of the passing away of someone an old friend of mine will dearly miss. It’s tragic that a thing like cancer exists and that it took the life of someone who was only starting out in her life really. No twenty-five-year-old should die.

On the other end is former president Jimmy Carter, who announced his recent cancer diagnosis,

with a press conference,

this week and things look pretty grim for him as well.

He seems at peace with it, at his age, and still continues to do his beloved charity work, but who knows how much time he’s got left. Who knows how much time any of us have though.

Which leads me to my theme for the week:

Ten Things of Thankful

For The Diary of a Young Girl. Yeah, for the actual diary, which I finally have as a part of my collection of books on the shelf now.

It took me a while, simply because I feel so silly buying books I won’t be able to read, even books I love so much and that mean so much to me.

But I went to listen to the woman who is playing Anne Frank at the Stratford Festival this season. I saw the play a few months back and wanted to take this opportunity to hear her speak about the role.

It’s extremely interesting to hear her thoughts and feelings on playing such an iconic girl, big shoes to fill, but she does a fabulous job.

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank is hard-hitting and deeply enriching – THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Check it out, if you can.

Afterwards I decided to go for it and buy the diary. Seemed fitting.

“He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery.”
–Anne Frank

For birthday parties, with candy bars, delicious cupcakes, and children playing.

My nephew had the big party, compared to the small family one we had on his actual birthday.

This time my sister did a great job at throwing him a Big Hero 6 themed bash. All the various candy she had for the candy bar (the best in latest fads and I’m not complaining) represented something from the Big Hero 6 universe.

I don’t recall what the Sweet Tarts were supposed to represent, but they were damn good.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a place called San Fransokyo?

🙂

My nephew knows every word from this super hero animated film, even as he is learning what each word means – “fa la la la la” is a line, if you can call it that, from the movie.

For time spent at the beach.

I spent the entire time in waist-high water. It was warm and calm. All the waves were in the shallows, but truthfully, the water stayed shallow for a long, long way out.

I have a continual fear of undertows, but I was able to relax and enjoy the sunshine and the peaceful floating I did.

I brought my friend along. I hoped the beach might help, somehow, because it always helps me.

For seagulls, a flock of them..

This one is for my brother, who visited Prince Edward Island this week.

I love the sound they make, the cry, the squawk. To me, that sound is pure bliss of the ocean/lake, even if I hear one in a parking lot, far from the water.

Even for the 80s band. Okay, sure – let’s include them in there also.

For the Great Lakes. I am lucky, although I do not live near the ocean, I do live relatively close to the next best thing to it.

A Great Summer Adventure

I wrote this story, last year, about my visit to all five of the lakes in one summer.

I thought the play on words was pretty clever obviously.

🙂

For World Photography Day.

Well, actually, for my brother’s love, passion, and gift for the art of photography.

In reality, these days never stop coming and this is the first year I’ve heard of this one in particular.

Honestly, they do just make some handy suggestions for the TToT I’ve enjoyed participating in here. I texted my brother a Happy Photography Day and he, too, had never heard of it.

But the spirit of it is his ability to take beautiful photographs of the people he loves and the things he finds interesting. It is a part of what makes him who he is.

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Should be a picture of me, but I can never be sure. Okay, so I probably sound a little bit like I am bragging, saying what I just said, then using a photo of myself. The truth is that this was the only picture I had on hand of his, but I thought I needed some visual representation to go with this Thankful.

For the creation of Winnie The Pooh, which would only be possible with the birth of the boy who inspired the loveable cartoon bear that my nephew loves so much – hell, that I love too. He’s just so darn cute.

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”
–A.A. Milne

For Pinterest because it brings happiness to one who totally deserves it.

It was nice to hear the laughter. Life and storms can be rough sometimes.

For a friend who sent me some new music.

Ioana Grandrabur

I guess he thought I’d like this guitar player because she is a blind guitarist from Canada. Well, she does play some beautiful music, I must admit, she lives in Canada and I do too.

If you are a fan of classical guitar I suggest you give her a listen.

For my father and his continuous concern for me and the things I need, the way he takes care of me, and for his thoughtful gesture of stopping by to check on me.

Of course, one could argue that that’s what fathers do, but they don’t, not all of them anyway.

I am just thankful and grateful and wanted him to know that.

Did you know that when you see lightning, it’s traveling at about 227 million miles (365 million km) an hour?

Thanks National Geographic, for that cool little fact to go with my TToT post this week.

Storm Before the Calm

“I am now almost ninety and my strength is slowly failing. Still, the task I received from Anne continues to restore my energy: to struggle for reconciliation and human rights throughout the world.”
–Otto Frank, 1979

Otto Frank died on August 19th, one year after he said these words. Thought I’d end this week’s post with this, as I just wanted to include him, being that I started my week off with talking about the daughter he refers to here.

Life sure can be rough and sometimes the storms are deadly.

Other times, something good can come from the bad and the water will grow calm and still and peaceful once more.

I’m just happy to be here, this week, and to realize how precious life is, even when it takes a few crummy cancer stories to be the reminder of that fact.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Throw-back Thursday

Ordinary Miracles: Part Two, #TBT

When I returned from Ireland, I saw them ready to start again, from the beginning. Once again came the shots, the cost, and the trips for the In Vitro, with the retrieval and the implantation. They tried again with the love and the hope we all held for them. This time they would be successful. This time they would have the baby they deserved.

This time was different and this time it was going to work. Again she saw her numbers rise with each phone call and it was a positive pregnancy test. Miracles were indeed possible. Again she began to fill with fluid, having to get it drained multiple times. Once more, as she appeared several months pregnant at only one or two, we saw the process begin again, but this time we watched the whole thing progress toward a brand new outcome.

Just prior to this, she’d written a piece about the struggles they’d gone through, for the fertility clinic’s website. I was honoured when she asked me to read it over for her. All who would read it would cry as she described the suffering she’d gone through and what amazing perseverance they had both shown to get through it all. She wanted this as much for her husband, who wanted so much to be a father, as she’d ever wanted it for herself. It was difficult reading about how badly she wanted to give her love a child of his own to love. She spoke about it all with such raw truth and honesty. I knew I would do whatever I could, be there for her, and one day it would pay off.

She showed up at my door, after one of her early appointments at the clinic: nauseous, holding a bowl, and rushing to the toilet. This was a violent reminder that things were on track. I was around and able to sit with her during the days, when others could not. I watched her continue on in this state, for weeks and weeks. This would be the last Christmas she would be without that precious child she longed for. I needed to look after her and that sweet baby so sorely wished and waited for, which now grew inside her. As she suffered with this extreme bout of weakness and nausea, she knew, and we constantly would remind her of the worthwhileness of it all. It’s easy, in a way, to fight through just about anything, when such wonderful things are to come out of it.

As the news of twins was announced and then the news that one alone showed up on the ultrasound, it was devastating, but how could we be sad when there was a baby to look forward to? Yet still the loss of that second baby, a precious human life and sibling, was a loss just the same.

The pregnancy soon resumed an overall normal state. My sister was able to experience everything other mothers-to-be take for granted, even if she’d experienced things a little backwards. Moderate morning sickness for some is a nine month ordeal for others. I learned a lot about pregnancy by observing its affects firsthand through my sister and sister-in-law during that time. My limited experience with these things had come, previously, from television and books, but this was my family and the people I loved. Infertility was such a lesson that I had never known. The loss of miscarriage and negative pregnancy tests was so heartbreaking that I wondered how anybody ever recovered, but I soon saw that it was indeed possible. that light would and did shine again.

My niece and nephews are that light. Our Reed is that light. As he grows, I am introduced to a whole new world of first’s and joys. As an aunt, it is my greatest honour to get to watch the children in my family grow. He is a miracle for certain, with his beautiful blue eyes that will undoubtedly someday win girls’ hearts everywhere. It reminds me of an Amy Sky song:

Ordinary Miracles

As he passes his first birthday and the milestones begin to pile up, I am surprised how fast the time really does fly by. He has developed a personality and highly evident characteristics. My niece is a year and a half ahead of him in the transformation of childhood; her baby brother makes three. I look ahead to their futures and I treasure every moment I get to be witness to all these things, as I see them with the other four senses I still possess.

I had a lack of prior babysitting experience that one often accumulates during the teenage years. Most parents might not have been all that eager to leave me alone with their children and I had no confidence in myself to want that anyway, but I did miss something of value in just such a hobby as a teenager. I am finally given the opportunity to prove myself just as capable as anyone else. I’ll admit that the diaper changes aren’t my area of expertise, not that such things are impossible. I am given a chance to learn from these little people, just as they learn themselves, that to give up on things one wants isn’t really an option.

My siblings give me the opportunities I need to learn how to take care of the children that, undoubtedly are more important than themselves. They have always known me as their blind sister second, and simply their sister first. I am Auntie Kerry to their children. I hope to give my niece and nephews things in life, to demonstrate to them important lessons of value that other children might not receive, about perseverance. The outlook that it is possible to triumph against anything that might be standing in their way. That there is more to people than at first glance, to be discovered if only one gives it a chance.

As my nephew grew, he became a little boy with his own voice and his own personality. I wanted him to know me, to see me often enough that I am one of those people he can always count on seeing, to be there for him. For young children, familiarity is key. I intended, from the beginning, to be there always and forever. From the very start I would be someone who was present in his life – all he’s ever known.

All that work it took to get him here with us and we never forget. As he grows and learns, the experience I’ve gained this past year has been invaluable. I have a comfort with children that I’ve never before had. Just as I’ve stumbled and received bumps and bruises along the way, falling and learning how to get right back up again, he’s also received these lessons. I watch and protect him as if he’s my own, my sister’s most prized gift. I would give my life for that kid and I like to think we’re buddies. He looks at me as a playmate and a pal, someone he can count on, and I hope he always will.

When he grabs a hold of my fingers and we walk…when he laughs out loud at something I do – I store those moments away in my mind and heart. I am blown away by the miracles of modern medicine and what it can get us. It’s amazing where we started out and how far science has come. Those long gone from our lives, ones we’ve loved, would be amazed at what has taken place and the sweet child we now love. He’s here with us and I hold him close and feel him breathe when he is sleeping in my arms. I thank the nurses, doctors, and technicians for their dedication to achieving this most precious outcome. His tiny fingers in mine – that is perfect happiness to me. The sound of his voice and his giggle is the sweetest sound and purity personified.

As we come full circle and he is taking his first steps, we eagerly await with anticipation the new words he begins to speak. I feel sad when I realize he’s growing up before our very eyes and I will miss rocking him to sleep when he is too big to be rocked. Time doesn’t stand still, but it gives me hope for anything – that all is possible, That you just never know what’s around the corner. Something so sweet that was once not here is now a part of our lives and the world is inconceivable any other way. The children in my life are gifts, more precious than gold. I see them not with my eyes, but with everything else in me and with all I have to give them of myself, and always will.

***

“Where there was weakness I found my strength, all in the eyes of a boy.”
–Celine Dion

A New Day Has Come

Originally posted within a few weeks of me starting this blog, I had written this essay for a writing competition. I did not win and then I decided to publish it here.

I decided to practice my editing skills and have split it into two parts. The first part I posted just the other day, on my nephew’s birthday.

My nephew, the subject of this essay, turned three years old this week. It’s incredible and unbelievable, all at once. He is growing up so fast.

I have posted the second part on this Throw-Back Thursday, because I want to look back and see how far we’ve come, while I remind myself that the hard times can seem like they will never end. I know better times and things are possible.

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Broccoli and the Blue Moon

What a week it has been, the final week of July.

It began with a post I wrote being featured on Confessions of a Broccoli Addict.

Yes, broccoli addict.

🙂

Any blog with a title like that is one I am more than happy to be found on.

MMMMMM. Cooked broccoli.

I love cooked broccoli, guest posting, writing and blogging, Harry Potter, and the moon.

The week is ending with the birthday of J. K. Rowling and her fictional Harry Potter character.

Also, tonight is a blue moon, not really blue at all. It just happens to be the second full moon in a month.

Blue Moon

The moon is so distant and beautiful. It is mysterious and full of longing and wonder.

I thought I would wait to post about my guest appearance on Confessions of a Broccoli Addict, for this final day of July, because my guest post just so happens to be about Rowling and Harry Potter.

Monday Inspirations: Color, Light, and Magic – guest post by Kerry Kijewski

There are so many people, of all ages, who would claim to love Harry Potter just like I’ve done. They are just as obsessed and I sometimes feel lost in the crowd, like I have nothing unique to add, no claim to love it like I do.

I wanted to write about Rowling and Harry Potter, when thinking about what topic I might choose for Urszula’s Monday Inspiration series, because I realized that my reasons for why I love this author and the world she created are uniquely my own. Nobody else has my specific reasons and that is why I believed I had something new to say.

I had no thought of connecting the two when I pitched my topic. I didn’t put together the fact that it was Rowling and Harry’s birthdays in the same week, as I wasn’t the one to choose the date for when my guest post would be featured.

There is an onslaught of Hp/HB articles surfacing online today, Happy 50th Birthday messages for Rowling herself.

50 things you might not know about J.K. Rowling

This July 31st falling at the same time as the blue moon, an ushering in of a new month, all seems lucky to me.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2015/07/eleanor-wachtel-interviews-jk-rowling.html

Just as lucky as the connected timing of my second chance (kidney transplant in 97) and the beginning of Harry Potter as a series were.

I want to go on writing about why I love Harry Potter, about how Rowling has inspired me to want to write, and how something as simple and beautiful as the moon can be just one more thing to provide inspiration.

“I can’t understand why the whole world doesn’t want to be a writer. What’s better than it?”

I agree J.K. – I agree.

Thanks again, to Confessions of a Broccoli Addict, for a spot on her blog this week.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, SoCS

#SoCS, Engraved

I am finally going to be one of the first to get my #SoCS post out there this week.

A few weeks ago, I could not think of something to write – not one thing, with that week’s prompt not inspiring enough ideas for me.

Then, last week, the prompt gave me too many possible choices and I chose to do none of them.

Well, with this week’s prompt I am back and ready to share a little stream of consciousness with you.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SATURDAY

***

On my sixteenth birthday, my oma gave me a big bar of my favourite chocolate and something in a little triangular box.

“This belonged to my parents,” she told me, as I lifted the lid, revealing an old ring inside.

She always wore them, several rings on her fingers.

“This one,” she informed me, as I touched the band on her finger, “Opa bought for me. I give you this one when I die,” she would say to me, as matter-of-factly as she often could be, but I chose not to think of a time when my beloved Czech grandmother may not be there, rings and all.

I kept the little triangular box with me, not letting it out of it’s home like I did with my other rings.

I often wonder about where my ring has been, what life it lived, long before I took possession of it.

I would sometimes think it is a part of my life, but really I am, for a little while, a part of its’.

I don’t know much about my great-grandparents. I don’t know where the ring has been or what it may have seen during it’s early years.

How had it survived – traveled all those years and miles, from Europe to Canada and from them, to their daughter, to me?

I can not read the engraving on the ring, but I believe (if memory serves me) it is dated 1919 and will soon be 100 years old.

I haven’t been able to wear it often, as it was a little bit too big for my small fingers. I still don’t like to wear it, for fear that it could slip off and be lost forever to me.

I have lost precious things and precious people in my life, never got a chance to meet my great-grandparents, but I won’t lose this symbol of their love.

Okay, so although I do not know their story like I wish I did, I like to imagine things about them and their love for one another.

I keep the ring, securely in its box, hidden under my underwear in a drawer, away from the inquisitive hands of my nephew. He likes to play in my room, looking at my jewelry, specifically putting my many rings on his fingers. This one ring he can not, he must not find, as he is too young now, not able to understand the history and the memory wrapped up in that little ring.

“Tweasure,” my nephew cries, whenever he spots anything even resembling a treasure box. He thinks my mom has one at her place, but in it, to his disappointment, he finds only boring slips of paper and other things.

He has found an old tin chest I have to remember my oma by.

He likes to open it up, like a “door,” he says.

I always remember that same chest sitting on my oma’s dresser, in what once was the bedroom my dad’s two older brothers shared, where I slept any night I stayed with her.

It had a metal rose with a magnet on the bottom stuck on the lid and was often locked with a tiny lock. I was dying of curiosity, but the only treasure inside it was a bunch of pennies and other coins. It was still my favourite thing in that entire room.

Treasures are relative things, subjective to each and every one of us.

I will treasure the ring I received on turning sixteen and I will hold onto the memories and the history before my time, if those who are gone I can no longer have with me.

Those people and their stories and lives will, forever, be engraved on my heart.

1919-2019 – Time will go on, but nothing will ever change that.

***

Linda speaks of treasures here:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/10/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1115/

Every day is to be treasured, I say, as I plan my next post:

https://summat2thinkon.wordpress.com/ten-things-of-thankful/

Thanks to Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Ten Things of Thankful, I love weekends again.

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Blogging, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Summer Solstice

“Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
–Henry James

This week started off and ended with a number of holidays, occasions, and celebrations.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Sunday: Father’s Day

For my amazing father.

Last June was the first opportunity, on my then relatively new blog, to let my own dad know what he meant to me and I did that by writing about a particularly meaningful memory from almost twenty years ago.

Father

I have recently, for TToT, explained the incredible things my father has done for me and I hope he always knows what he means to our whole family.

For the longest day of the year and for another summer to come around.

I pushed through last summer, though my heart really wasn’t in it, and I have good reason to believe this one will be vastly better then the last.

I am already trying new things, determined to live my life in different ways, and hopefully have more to add to these thankfuls in the weeks to come.

For National Aboriginal Day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Aboriginal_Day

I consider myself lucky to live in a country full of all of the people who share it with me.

Monday: For the sweetest words in the whole world.

“I wuve you Keree.”

My nephew turns three this summer and he has begun saying these words to, not only his parents and his favourite toys and movies, but to his Auntie Kerry.

🙂

When he cuddles with me and I hear him tell me he loves me, I know how lucky I am that I get to see him, at least once a week.

I miss my other nephew and my niece. They don’t live that far away, but far enough that our contact is less frequent than I would like, but we always come back together as a family in the end.

Tuesday: My Heart Will Go On

For the unforgettable music of composer James Horner.

I was obsessed with all things Titanic in the eighth grade, with the release of the film just that Christmas. I was so excited when my parents gave me the soundtrack for my fourteenth birthday.

James Horner Dies In Plane Crash

That is not the part I’m thankful for, obviously.

😦

The world has lost a wonderful talent.

Thank you, James, for some beautiful music I will never forget.

Wednesday: For the incredible advances in medicine in recent years.

I am amazed, as I hold my nephew close, just what these advances have brought to our lives.

No matter what, we are lucky to have him, and we owe it all to these things, unheard-of only a few decades ago.

I dare anyone to look at the beautiful little boy I speak of and say one bad word on what some like to term, “playing God”.

Whatever is to thank, it is miraculous, what doctors can do.

For family dinners out.

We went to a place we’ve gone to for years. It was a common family dinner spot for my own family, for as far back as I can recall.

I am forever a child there, ordering my shirley temples, but my nephew only wanted the orange slice at the bottom of his glass.

Thursday: medical technology isn’t the only wonderful technology. There’s always the phone.

For the chance to reconnect with a friend. We ended up talking, on the phone, for over two hours.

She helped me tick an important item off of my bucket list last year.

And, who knows – we could embark on more adventures together in the future.

That is only some of what we talked about. She shared some important resources with me for the Canada Day blog post I’m working on about Aboriginal issues.

She is a ball of energy and enthusiasm. Speaking with her is like a tonic, getting me to look positively forward.

Friday: Supreme Court recognizes equal rights for all.

For the ruling that came down, in the US, giving all people the right to marry whomever they love.

The White House and other landmarks light up in rainbow colours.

I simply want all people to be treated equally and I hope what happened in my neighbouring country is a step in the right direction.

Saturday: Happy Birthday Helen Keller.

For the important role she has played in my life, ever since I was introduced to her in school as a young girl.

Helen Keller was born, on June 27th, 1880 in Alabama. She suddenly lost her sight and hearing, during a fever, as an infant.

She was lost and locked away in the darkness and the silence, until her teacher came into her life at age seven, and from there she was unstoppable. She learned how to speak with her hands. She went on to become a first in so many things.

She was a feminist, spokesperson for social issues, disability rights activist, and an author who traveled all over the world.

She lived life to the fullest, as much as she possibly could, and she has taught me a lot about perseverance and resilience.

I give Helen the last word for the week…
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

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TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday: for precious gifts and beautiful flashbacks.

I was babysitting my nephew. I can’t believe how much he’s grown, over these last few years. He celebrates his third birthday this summer, but it feels like just yesterday that he was born and I was there the moment he came into the world.

Ordinary Miracles

As the first year of his life flew by, many times I used to hold him while he slept. I did this, the first few weeks, at night so my sister could get a few hours of restful sleep and then many times afterward. He used to sleep against my chest, so small, peaceful, and still.

As I was babysitting him this week, he fell asleep in the afternoon, for the nap he still takes and I decided to have a little rest with him.

I am thankful for the chance to feel him sleeping on my chest, maybe for the last time. I held him tight and felt his steady breathing as he slept and it brought back those early memories, reminding me of those early days as his aunt.

Also, I am thankful for old friends and my desire to stay in touch.

I have been afraid to contact this one certain old friend of mine recently. I got over my ridiculous fear, borne of unnecessary worry that I might be bothering her, and I am glad I did.

I was worried over nothing, like usual, and I got to here her voice and feel better about things I was letting make me crazy these past several weeks. I also got to hear her remarkable newborn baby daughter through the phone.

Wednesday: for countless opportunities for reinvention.

I get the sudden urge, every year around this time (for reasons of which I will explain a few thankful’s down) to make a change, to reinvent myself and do something bold and daring.

This doesn’t always work out like I hope it will, but I did decide to cut off my long hair and go short, at least through the hot summer months.

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It’s only hair, after all. It will grow back, if and when I want it to.

Along with this, I am thankful for the fact that I’ve got my very own hair stylist in the family.

Okay okay – so she hasn’t yet agreed to sign on as my personal, daily stylist, but I’m wearing her down, slowly.

It sure would be nice to have someone to do my hair every morning, as I have so much trouble knowing what looks good and thus, I rarely do anything with it at all.

For now I am just happy to have a cousin with a lovely salon here in town.

KEEP CALM AND GET YOUR HAIR DONE

It’s a place I can go, where I know the stylist and trust her to do a good job.

Also, I am thankful for the fresh and plentiful food I get to eat.

As I ate dinner out with my father, we sat in the warm June air of the evening, out on the patio.

He read from the newspaper, an article about the play of Anne Frank that we are going to see in a few weeks, and it made me think of Anne. I know this article was just about the actress who plays the role, but I couldn’t help thinking about the real family and the young girl who were stuck in that attic all those years and the war they were all in.

I have been watching a lot about World War II lately actually. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day also. I know the food shortages that went on and the starvation. I know it is still a problem around the world.

I am thankful for a fresh salad. I ate my salad, out on that patio, and let my taste buds fully take in the fresh, crispness of the lettuce. I had a huge menu of items to choose from, right there in front of me and at my disposal. Not all today nor in days past are/were quite so lucky.

Thursday: for the release of new songs and albums.

This week I discovered music from a music group and an artist I listen to.

On June 2nd the newest Florence + The Machine album came out (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) and also the newest single by LOLAWOLF.

The first has a voice infused with raw power. This song by Florence,

“What Kind of Man”,

had me finding a place and a way of releasing a little bit of my anger. We all need this from time to time, which helps us learn what we are most thankful for once more.

Also, I am thankful that I can share interesting music with my brother, when on a rare occasion it is me sharing with him what I’ve found, not the other way round.

I showed him this song from LOLAWOLF,

“Every F—in Day”,

which is the band of Lenny Kravitz’s daughter – Zoe Kravitz. It’s a strange song, likely not to everybody’s taste, but it’s the weird songs I send my brother’s way, just to see what he thinks.

I’m thankful for the tiny perfection of baby clothes. I got to pick some out for a little girl I already love and I haven’t even met her yet, but she is the daughter of someone I couldn’t love more if she were my own sister.

I love clothes, and these small garments are perfection, just like the little beings who wear them.

Baby clothes are so cute and I have only really gotten the chance to buy them, on any regular basis, in the last five years. I hope to buy even more now.

This includes the softest of soft little baby blankets.

Friday: for anniversaries, good health, and lack of dialysis.

I couldn’t let a week of things I’m thankful for go by, specifically this particular week, without mentioning the importance June 5th has to my past, my now, and my future health and well-being.

I wrote about it just the other day on my blog, my thoughts on this particular June 5th.

It’s now eighteen years and counting since I received a kidney transplant. My father donated his kidney to his youngest daughter and I owe him more than most children owe their parents.

June is Father’s Day for many fathers, but for myself and my dad it can’t quite compare with our anniversary.

Most fathers and daughters don’t have anniversaries. That is what we call it, but in many ways (like I said in “New Month, New Me”, I also think of June 5th, 1997 as my birthday of sorts. It was the day when my life began again, after feeling so sick for the previous couple of years. It was one of those life-changing days that you look back on as being when your life was forever altered, one of those days when your life would never be as it was.

So I am thankful to my father. He went above and beyond what a father usually does and he gave me a new lease on life.

I hope I’ve made him proud of me since then and that I continue to do so. Our connection as father and daughter grows ever deeper.

Saturday: for vanilla lattes.

McDonald’s really does make the best ones. Who’s with me?

So thanks to:

Lizzi and the rest of the Ten Things of Thankful group.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone and don’t forget to be thankful for your health when it is good.

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Bucket List, Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Special Occasions, TGIF, Writing

Announcing My Second Chance

“Would fishing be fun if the fish jumped out of the ocean and smacked you in the face?”

I don’t think so.

In fact, that sounds like a nightmare I had once.

🙂

If fishing is thought, by some to be boring, this would be the opposite.

Downright frightening, in other words, but I like this writer’s post because it makes some true points on the subjects of balance, perspective, and when enough is enough in the life of an author.

Please shut up: why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.

Now, while I think having a catchy title or opening line, like I made sure to include at the start of this post can work to grab the reader’s attention, I can’t say I haven’t been told to “please shut up” a time or two.

Okay okay, so it may not have been to my face every time, but I can guarantee it was being said under the breath.

I post on this blog, at a minimum, once a week. I post on Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis.

I want to share something. I want to express myself.

Both true and anyone who does that doesn’t always know, for the sake of all others, when enough’s enough.

I am proud to announce something today, but apparently I couldn’t just do it, without prefacing my announcement without my special brand of hyper-awareness of my self-promotion, and that it isn’t my goal to be pushy.

Because, as the blog post I linked above says (just in case you didn’t read it), nobody is going to buy a book, just because my story is in it.

Well, not only because they follow me on Twitter, have liked me on Facebook, and I don’t even have Instagram or Tumblr anyway.

I know that by opening myself up like this, I am risking vulnerability, and I’ not sure how I completely feel about it.

Sure, if E.L. James can handle it, so can I, right?

😉

Others may have an opinion of my story. Along with the good there inevitably could and will come the bad.

I wanted to share my good news with you here. That’s all I have control over.

I am bad at self-promotion.

Oh sure, I do it, but not because I live to promote.
I am one blog, in a galaxy of millions, and I wanted to announce that I have written a short story: One Last Kiss.

It is coming out, in June, assuming all goes as planned.

Okay, so I have a hard time believing it’s really happening because things like this don’t happen to me. Well, rarely if ever, but there’s always got to be a first for everything, right?

If you were to ask anyone who believes in the power of positive thinking, they’d say I need to scrap talk and thinking like that because no good can come of it.

So I choose to believe in this and to be excited.

I can’t see the cover, but the day the email was sent out to everyone of us, included in this anthology, the one in which the cover image was first revealed to us, I admit I couldn’t stop smiling.

I wanted someone to describe it to me, where exactly everything was, and where my name appeared. I gobbled up every single detail I could, so I could picture things exactly in my mind’s eye, the most powerful tool at my disposal.

Now I can finally share it with the rest of the world, or with my little piece of the world anyway, because I was told the Queen is much too busy with her birthday celebrations to offer me her opinion.

🙂

Right, well I never promised a humour anthology.

http://romanceanthologieshfbooks.blogspot.co.uk

The one to organize all this made the official announcement, over on her own blog, this past Sunday:

Author Hazel Robinson’s Blog – After The Scars Cover Reveal

This title fits perfectly because this was, indeed, my second chance, in a lot of ways.

More to come, but check out the Facebook page:

The Second Chances Anthology

I should be featured, with a short bio and synopsis of my story, on the page in May sometime.

Finally, I just wanted to share the GoodReads link. I can’t believe I am on GoodReads!

After The Scars – The Second Chances Anthology

Speaking of…I’m off to shout this from the rooftops.

Feel free to tell me to shut up: in your head, under your breath, or even out loud if you really deem it necessary.

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Lara Fabian – I Will Love Again (slow version)

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Blogging, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Writing

SoCS: Dear Grandma

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***

Dear Grandma,

I started this blog with an entry on my birthday and in that entry I talked about your diaries.

They are still upstairs, in the perfect chest I found for them, protection against any possible damage.

You wrote in those every night, for so many years. I tried to follow your example, many times, but always lost interest. I guess I didn’t believe I had enough to say.

I don’t feel that way anymore Grandma. In fact, it’s become quite a problem now, now that I have too much to say and I can’t stop myself.

I think what you had to say, all written by hand up in those books, I think that was all important stuff and I wish I could see to read it myself.

I remember how you used to read from your diaries, to me, at your kitchen table sometimes.

You sometimes even stumbled and had trouble reading your own writing, from so many years gone by.

You loved your ritual of writing in your diary at night. I loved that about you.

Now I don’t know if you would think it quite so good an idea, if you were still here, if you knew I wrote my blog for so many to see.

You were from a different time and you didn’t understand the Internet. From the few conversations we had about it, you didn’t seem all that impressed.

I have good reason to believe you would understand though, if you knew what it means to me to have a journal, a blog, a diary.

You knew I couldn’t write by hand anymore.

I would show you my blog, but you wouldn’t buy a computer, so I would have to print out my blogs for you to read.

I know you’d want me to. You’d ask when I saw you, if I had any more journals written since we saw each other last, because you loved reading my words.

I miss the unconditional love and acceptance you gave, that pure pride I heard in your voice when, on those rare occasions, I showed you something I’d written.

I write with you in mind, all the time, Grandma.

I want to keep a journal, a record of all the thoughts and all the experiences I’ve had since you’ve been gone, that I wish I could share with you.

I dedicate today’s stream of consciousness Saturday post to you.

Love,
Your granddaughter.

***

This was my post for this week’s SoCS, with today’s prompt, “Jour”, from:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/04/10/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-1115/

I didn’t feel very French today.

🙂

I thought of journal and immediately thought of my grandmother’s diaries, the ones that are my most treasured belongings, since she died ten years ago.

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