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TToT: An Epoch In My Life – Equations and Conjugations #BlackSwan #OneWorld #TogetherAtHome #10Thankful

“’The matter with human beans,’ the BFG went on, ‘is that they is absolutely refusing to believe anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles. ‘” …

—The BFG by Roald Dahl

So much going on that writing here often now slips through my fingers and gets lost in the recesses of my brain, but I have plenty to be thankful for-so let’s go.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

With the novel coronavirus, covid-45 up to his bullshit, and now the worst mass shooting in Canadian history having taken place this past weekend. I am trying to find moments of joy, ways to distract myself and my racing thoughts, and ideas to harness the creativity I have inside.

I wish, oh how I wish the world could all be on the same page with this, to work together, which seems so very simple to me. Apparently not?

We can sit around and blame China or the US or anyone else, but where does that get us?

All the finger pointing and wide gaps in the seriousness of the way this virus is being taken and all those conspiracy theories floating around. Why can’t things just be what they are? Like the quote I started this week’s TToT with, humans refuse to admit until they see with their eyes, and during times like these, not even then.

I am thankful for this song.

The Book of Love – Gavin James

I am thankful for a new online writing class I’ve started and the community of writers who are willing to open up and share.

The instructor started a WhatsApp group for all of us and we’re all leaving audio messages there, for each other, and as a place for reflection and contemplation.

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She suggested we think up a name for the group and I thought of black swan because it’s a term being used to describe this pandemic and also, there are swans down at the park by my house now. I remember their white, graceful, loveliness as I watched them glide across water. Now I no longer see them, but I think a swan could be still beautiful, even a black one. Why not?

I know we’re often tempted to describe tough times like these as dark times, looking for the light, but I often get tired of these images we use to describe the bad and the good of life, but yet I know I can’t make every person stop describing life this way. It is what it is, as a writer, but I know the images that are created powerfully in words that bring to mind such metaphors.

I see it as a way to express how we are all going through an unprecedented period in history together, but also, along with all the negatives there can be beauty.

I am thankful for music to get me through hard times, like the live concert I got to see the other night.

Sarah Slean sold tickets, but for much much less than I’d pay to see a show in person, certainly less than I paid to see her live on a bitterly cold December night back in 2017.

Day One – Sarah Slean

I know Zoom has its issues, and I had to turn the voice off my iPhone while watching or else all the hundreds of people commenting would make Voiceover go berserk.

Sarah is so cheery, the kind of cheery you can hear in her voice, as her smile is audible when she speaks. Her singing voice is just brilliant and so is her piano playing.

She is excellent with a string section behind her, don’t get me wrong, but there was just something about the simplicity of a woman and her piano in her home in Toronto with 776 people listening to her performance.

I am thankful for the virtual camino walk I’m on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Ekot38tV8&feature=youtu.be

I have many places in Europe I’d like to get to, but Italy was never high on that list for some reason. I am not sure why, but now Spain is up there.

A writer who creates unique travel experiences put together something to occupy us and help us find our way through all this, starting a group on Facebook and every day she posts a file where she describes a chunk of a camino, Camino de Frances in this case. I would have trouble handling such walks in real life, with my blindness and my chronic pain issues, but this is totally doable. No blisters if I choose not to imagine them, though I know I get off easy in this case.

All these ancient routs that pilgrims went on, going back to the sixth century or the tenth. I simply can’t imagine. This music she shared told a story to perspective travellers. It puts me in that frame of mind.

I write a daily corona diary to my long since departed grandmother, but I also take her and all my ancestors along on the camino with me.

I am thankful for something called Annedemic.

Winter Green – The East Pointers

The band, The East Pointers, they’ve come up with something to help raise money for struggling musicians who have lost touring opportunities. Themselves or one of their friends or musicians they’ve played with read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables a night on Facebook live. It’s always entertaining and I forget how much I love that story. It’s just a lot of fun to distract from all that isn’t.

I am thankful I can travel even when grounded in place.

TVO Original TRIPPING the Rideau Canal

I love the Rideau Canal and especially when it freezes over in winter and becomes a long stretch of skating surface.

I experienced that back in 2015 and I wish to go back there, since skating again with family in these last five years and most recently, right before the coronavirus took centre stage.

I went to Ottawa last year, right around now, to a conference and I brought a friend with me. I stood out on our balcony and recorded a soundscape of the capital city of Canada and I still plan to write some poetry of some kind and record my voice reading it over that city backdrop.

I am thankful to be in Canada during covid.

In spite of everything, this country is handling the pandemic better than many other places. When I heard an interview with Andrew Cuomo I heard someone who knew what he was talking about and who works hard. That’s what leadership should look like, but other so-called leaders are impossible to follow.

Here we have kept the numbers of infections and dreaded dead down to a lower amount than elsewhere. We come together during hard times, like this virus and now the shooting Nova Scotia has suffered.

I am thankful I got to speak with my family members, even if we’re social distancing for now.

My niece and nephew told me all about what they got from the Easter Bunny and then my niece gave me a book report, of sorts, about the BFG.

Snozzcumbers Soph, really?

The main character’s name is Sophie – close but we call our Sophia Soph.

I really should get a copy of a book my niece is reading and read along too. We could have a little Roald Dahl book club of sorts, even from a distance. My teacher read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, I believe, and the Glass Elevator in fourth grade, but I hardly remember except for some truly awful alien creatures in the latter story. I could use a refresher.

I am thankful that the re-test of my blood, creatinine level, it was repeated and has gone down again.

From 70-80 for years and years, up to 110 at the end of 2019, down to 100 at my birthday, and now down to 93 – I’ll take it, for now.

And I am thankful for this poem and the journey it relays.

David Whyte: Santiago

My writing instructor recommended it. I had not heard of David Whyte before.

As Anne Shirly would say, this is sure to be an epoch in my life, this virus, for better or for worse and everything/everywhere in between.

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TToT: 2020 and Feeling Good As Hell #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Once again, I have been absent from this
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
exercise in gratitude and I did mean to join in more, but life got in the way.

I am thankful for
Kristi
and her taking on the TToT and for making a lovely effort to ensure accessibility is as common as possible, even with all the things that are out of her control.

I will go back a few months to start things out – back to 2019.

I am thankful I got to attend an old friend’s wedding back in November.

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It was wonderful having a celebration with good friends and family too. The event wasn’t too big and I danced as much as possible.

I am thankful for a fun few days with friends (both old and new) at Social Media Week Toronto, only a few days after the wedding.

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Caption: Kim, me, Amy, and Victoria

It was a nice getaway to Toronto and it was cold, mid November, but I was mostly thankful for the slight warm up but still cold enough, on my last evening in the city, with the most delicate snowflakes falling as we walked to find some dinner before I had to catch my train home.

I am thankful for the chance to be a guest on a podcast about culture called
Culture-Hacking – “Seeing the World Differently”.

I am thankful for a fun-filled Christmas season with family.

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Caption: I’m with my nieces, watching The Simpsons on the tablet, with the tree in behind us. (Hmm, did I end up posting this photo more than once?)

I am thankful for a speaking gig I had lined up for January.

PROBUS Canada

It was good to get to speak to a room of women from the older generations, to share a bit about my blindness experience, including all the travel I’ve done and some of the obstacles I face, not to mention informing them of the existence of the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
here in Canada in 2020.

That website is where you can go to read the latest issue of The Blind Canadian, November 2019 where I am newly an assistant-editor.

I am thankful I had a meeting with the woman/writer I’m planning to walk the Thames River path with this coming September and with my friend and travel agent who is helping us plan the month long adventure ahead.

I am thankful for this new audio podcast platform.

anchor.fm

We may use it to record and share daily updates as we go and I have started a profile there and have recorded my first two episodes. I will probably make these, as an audio version of my written blog, capturing the months ahead and all the planning and preparing I’ll be doing. It’s a cool site/app I can even add music to my recorded voice and I can do it without having to depend on my audio expert brother all the time. I think this one, it will be nice to be able to do it myself.

And I am thankful, last but certainly not least, for a mostly positive result on a blood level that had jumped in recent weeks for unknown reasons.

I have lived by that number for more than 20 years, creatinine to measure my transplanted kidney’s excellent function. I don’t remember it being more than 70-80 in years and suddenly I received a call that it had jumped up to 110.

On re-test, it did go back down, not down as far as I’d necessarily like it to, but 100 – and I will take that, for now.

I tend to lean into my more negative side with these sorts of things, but the doctor wouldn’t commit to the idea that my kidney is slowly declining. He said, at this stage, it could be that, but maybe 100 is my new baseline level. It happens and there’s no reason, at this time, to think anything further to be the case. I am getting re-tested in April and going back again in June for my once-a-year, usual doctor’s appointment.

But he did seem quite sure I’d be walking in England by September and that nothing renal related would get in the way of that. (Still…one more reason I want to do this walk, to help raise awareness, and to explore the world while I have the chance.)

I am thankful, extra thankful, to that hospital and the transplant outpatient program and the doctors that keep such a good eye on things for me. I am lucky to be living where I am living, as I hear more and more stories of the medical costs in the US that people live with.

To start 2020 somewhere, I was glad to participate in an entire month of blogging with prompts coming from certain participants of the yearly activity, participants such as
Wendy
and the blogger to run the whole thing. Thanks
Linda,
for getting my year started, with writing and blogging and your Just Jot It January #JusJoJan challenge, so I can at least begin somewhere for the year.

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Caption: a Just Jot It January completion badge

I am about to celebrate this blog’s six year anniversary and my thirty-sixth birthday – 2020 and I say “bring it on!”

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I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Serenity and the Frail Petunia

Dear Reader:

I am blind and getting more blind by the decade. It’s not all I am, not by a long shot, but it’s a core part of me that I wrestle with every day, some days more in a nuisance way and some days it brings me down.

I wrestle with how to balance that part of me with the rest, in my interactions with people: if I bring it up too much, I’m using it as a crutch; if I pretend it doesn’t have an influence, I won’t ever speak up for what I need or get those needs met in any way necessary.

Different blindness organizations have differing views, but as I grew and went along, I felt I had to get involved in something I felt represented me, without letting the activism and hard work of advocacy take over my life entirely either.

It’s hard enough to focus on ourselves, let alone having to work or worry on or about the issues someone else might be living with. Some prefer to get things squared away in their own lives and leave it at that.

I am like most in Canada and those living in North America in 2019 – I only recently heard of
the Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB)
recently, but I found people and projects there that did make me feel like I belonged and had something worthwhile to contribute.

Just a few of the things we are constantly fighting and working to improve:

The guide dog discrimination and misinformation issue just won’t go away. In fact, depending on who you happen to ask, it’s grown worse in recent years.

People get refused service from businesses and things like Lyft or by Uber drivers. Sometimes a cab will see the dog and then pull away, intending to pretend that they were never there, leaving the person waiting in vane for a ride.

Blind people are one of those groups of people who can’t simply get behind the wheel of a vehicle and get somewhere themselves. Public transportation and rides from helpful friends or family are our best bet if we want to leave our homes. PSST…we do.

Those who say: “no guide dog allowed” claim it’s an allergy issue or a cultural one. These do give the issue a two-sides-to-every-story feel for many people, but it matters to those who depend on their guide dog to give them back their independence.

Also, I am trying to get my local library to offer me as much access to literature as possible. People unable to read print have only about ten percent of the access to the written word and books as those who can see. A library should want to do all it can to get me access to books, as I can’t pick up any book on their shelves and read at will.

Being in my local library now makes me sad and resentful. I can deal with the fact that I’ll never see print again, like when I was a child reading large print, but I go to my library twice a month (to attend a local writing group) and I am surrounded by some of the things I love most in the world, yet they are just out of reach.

There are places to get more access to books:
National Network For Equitable Library Service
and
Centre for Equitable Library Access,
but they are not just duplicates of each other. If one has even one more book than the other, that the other does not, don’t I deserve access to both?

Libraries in Canada have always kind of passed the buck of literacy for the blind onto the
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB),
but (in my opinion) they should care for every client and want to offer inclusivity and a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Instead, I am disregarded and left not wanting to even step foot into the building most times, even to see writer friends I love and to share stories with them, because the library has become a bittersweet and even painful place.

And finally, there’s this…

****

The antidotes to job-seeker deceptions presented here reduce but don’t eliminate employers’ risk of getting snookered. For example, I’ve had clients with a disability who withheld that information, knowing there now are laws that limit the interviewer’s ability to ask about them. And then as soon as hired, they disclose the disability because now they’re protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

****

Go ahead and read the
full article (for full context),
but many do not and so I’ve decided to paste in the above paragraph separately.

I really don’t want to give this article more views, but I also think people should be aware of where stigma like this persists from. I happen to believe the written word is a powerful thing.

I am not into shaming or attacking anyone/not without cause or reason, but I do believe we should do more calling people out on something if it is hurting a whole group of people.

I believe this writer disguised this attack by inserting this as one of his final points of proof of his main article’s point of view.

Most people won’t see this because attentions are short in 2019 and reading to the end of an article is often not practical for those on the go and with mile long to-do lists. I probably shouldn’t have even made this blog post this long and left this part for the end. This is not an accusation, as I understand people’s time is precious. I just wish people were more thoughtful about things )like this writer) and I hope someone does get this far in my post.

I believe, in life, we should all pick our own battles, but I am getting tired of visible ablism and the perpetuation of stigma.

The reason I wanted to start a support and resource group, which we’ve called our Employment Mastermind Group or EMG, and through some Canadian Federation of the Blind members and others, we are doing it, is because of writers such as Nemko.

We can argue all day about the real unemployment rate for people with disabilities and who are blind, but either way it’s much too high still.

Of course, the ways in which we’re told we can reach people and change minds are things like social media, Twitter private messaging, but I don’t really think a tweet sent from me to him will get me anywhere. I came here, though I write here less often than I used to, because I have a place to speak openly and honestly about something that hurts, as much as I try not to take it to heart.

Do guys like this truly think he’s helping anyone, to warn unsuspecting employers? What was the editor of this article thinking, putting the Psychology Today name on this?

I may have thought, as a freelance writer, of writing for this publication at one time, but I don’t think I want to now. (One to cross of the list.)

The question of whether to disclose disability on a resume or application for a job is often asked in the blindness community. People only want to find meaningful employment like anybody else, to feel useful and for independence and self sufficiency.

We are honestly afraid we’ll be weeded out before we’re given a chance to prove our skills. We’re not saying we deserve special treatment, given a job even if we aren’t up to it, but employers are often afraid to hire someone with a disability because they think it’s not going to be worth their time/money/energies, that it will be too much of a hassle or a risk to them because not everyone understands that blind people aren’t helpless and don’t need to be watched over every minute.

Who would admit they do this? Doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what some employers (not all) would do, hoping not to be caught doing it.

It’s like when you want a person to like you, on a date, so you hold back on something you think it may be too soon to share. You do have to take the risk sooner or later, but you have no idea how they will take it when they find out. This is where it can get tricky. Maybe…you think…if they get to know you a bit first, then when you do finally bring it up, you’ll have left such a wonderful impression that all will work itself out. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

I happen to think being upfront, as soon as possible, is best (in all types of relationships/be they personal or professional), but I know it’s a nerve racking thing when you think you’d be good at a certain position and you don’t wish to be pitied for the rest of your life, wishing to carry your weight and support yourself, but fearing the injustices of the real world.

This writer is including people with disabilities as “the deceivers” of those poor employers. Aren’t we just so incredibly evil, pulling the wool over innocent eyes and those eyes must be warned that we’re coming?

Maniacal, aren’t we?

Inaccessibility is everywhere you look. I couldn’t and wouldn’t include everything it is here because I would be writing for days. Let’s just say that even the comment section for the article, when I went to share my thoughts, was no simple thing to tackle.

So if it sounds as though I’m complaining too much, you’re right because I do get tired of having to bring these things up all the time. Really, I do. I wish I didn’t have to and I could go back to staying quiet and saying nothing, just so I don’t rock the boat, but that doesn’t get us to a better place.

If you are on Twitter and you feel like helping this writer and career coach learn why what he said was so harmful, he can be found @MartyNemko and you can also try @PsychToday.

Thank you for listening/reading/considering.

Signed,

KKHerheadache/Kerry

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The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TToT

TToT: From Beach to Bog and Through the Pages of a Storybook #ByeCoolBog #10Thankful

“Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.”
—Robert Bresson

I am struggling with my own life/self/situation and with that of the wider world. Still, I always have things to be
thankful for
and that’s what keeps me going.

I’m thankful for a lovely weekend with siblings, parents who are grandparents, and with nieces and nephews.

I’m thankful for those times when my niece or nephew takes my hand to walk somewhere.

They know I am blind, learning it by degrees as they grow, and all they really know is to be helpful. I am proud of the kind little people they are.

I’m thankful for lovely weekend weather to enjoy family time out in.

I don’t like the humidity and this final, full weekend of August was not too humid-just perfect.

I’m thankful for a beach day.

The water was cold, on initial immersion, but the water out beyond the rough shoreline was pleasantly refreshing, but felt great being out there.

I’m thankful for a niece who loves rides and a nephew who loves the water park facilities at
Storybook Gardens
in London.

I’m thankful for the fresh smell of the water park. I enjoyed lounging on a chair while they played. It smelled so fresh there and the air was cool and breezy.

I’m thankful my niece and nephew from out of town came on
Outlook CFB
with me and Brian.

They were their silly, sweet selves and we wanted to ask them about having an aunt and uncle who can’t see, but that question wasn’t one they could verbalize.

We think this is a good thing because it means our blindness is simply something about us, the aunt and uncle they love and know, but that it is not a big deal. They are often asking questions and their curiosity means they are learning.

We wish, in a way, that every child was born into a situation where someone in their family had a disability of some sort, blindness specifically. Then, instead of people never having come across someone who is blind and being totally unprepared to react/interact, everyone would just know about it and have lived with it. Only saying, this would be helpful, but not the way it is of course.

I’m thankful for glimpses of the Downton Abbey movie.

I’m thankful I’ve had someone to talk over what’s been going on lately. It helps because it’s a fresh take on things.

I’m enjoying time with family and trying to klook toward the future.

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Caption: my family with Humpty Dumpty at Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario.

I’m thankful we packed Storybook Gardens and the bog and ice cream all in in one day.

We have been talking about checking out a local bog for a while and the kids were fascinated. It was a lovely walk, along a boardwalk, and we all stuck a foot out into the muck of the bog.

Bye cool bog and bye August/summer.

The northern sky was amber and pale green over the fir tops. The air was cool, for August was nearing September

ANNE’S HOUSE OF DREAMS

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Wrong Washroom, Who Cares? #Disability #JusJoJan

Sometimes I let it slip on by and other times I take hold of it and don’t want to let it go.

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There is likely somewhat of a
cathartic
feeling I get, during those times I can’t and don’t let it go.

This week, I come to discover that public washrooms at a local university aren’t labeled in braille and I feel stunned, but I don’t know why I’m surprised at all. I guess this is just simply one of those little things blind people are supposed to live with?

Our blindness does require we take risks, face fears, and don’t let so many things hold us back, even from using the washroom.

We can wait for someone to come by, which is how we ask for help when we can’t first solve something ourselves. Or else, we have to go, bad, and that means we must pick one and walk in. Whatever happens after that…who can say.

A small thing, unthought-of by most, because they don’t live with it every day. Understandable, on one level for me, but am I speaking up for the greater good or just making a fuss?

That word, activism is a push away word when people hear it too often. It becomes tiresome, but I get it.

Then I want to bring attention to a scam, people thoughtlessly asking for money in grocery stores, representing the grassroots organization for the blind I have found empowering. People say, what’s wrong with raising money, as a rule? Nothing. Many organizations do it. We, as our organization made up of blind people, wish to show that we can be more than symbols of pity and need.

But of course, there is a need, a lot of need. We have the need to be understood and accepted. We can’t sit back, all our lives, waiting for the rest of the world (mostly sighted) to get those things for us and more.

Some saying, oh these things are hard to deal with, when a scam spreads across Canada and I still need to do something to stop it.

It might be a bit of a
catharsis (thank you Enthralling Journey),
to tell people they’re not being thoughtful, or else I am a scene maker who loves the rush it offers when feeling self-righteous about any given situation when up against the insensitive.

Call it what you like. It is my reality. I often long to hide from it, but that only works for so long before I need to be doing more, doing something.

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Bad Words and Battlefields, #FTSF #SoCS

As the days grow darker, I wonder about why darker is harder for people.

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Sleep and internal clocks and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are the ones that are most felt this time of year.

I get my time from my iPhone, which turns back an extra hour automatically, (will do so again tonight) rather than the clocks on appliances. I like that hour, as there’s a time for everything, even the chance for more sleep, something I blame pain more on than anything else when I don’t get enough of it.

Darker is the start of winter, but it is summer somewhere. Australia and New Zealand are down there, waiting for me, but life goes on until then. I go in to the colder, darker season in Canada with an appreciation for where I live. Christmas means darker, but with that five o’clock darkness, come Christmas lights. Christmas makes me happy. I let the additional hours of darkness bring me peace and reflection. I try not to focus on word meaning all of the time, letting my sensitivities get the better of me, but why is dark bad and light good anyway?

Our fears hide out there, just waiting for the right moment to leap out and scare us?

I’ve written about this before and probably can’t sum it up any better now, as Daylight Savings comes upon us for another year. I do wonder why and then my answer comes, as to why blindness is feared like it is. The idea of being left in darkness for the rest of one’s life is scary, I get it. Still, black and dark are so entrenched in our consciousness as things unwanted and feared. Whether it’s skin colour of another or a state of seeing/not seeing the world. Will we ever get away from such associations?

November is one of those more difficult months for me, at certain moments at least, as I look back over past experiences with these thirty days. Things happened to me in this month I won’t ever forget, things that have left solid impressions on the person I am.

Zooming out to a broader picture, it means solemn thoughts of war for Canada, with Remembrance Day (November 11th) and this year’s 100year anniversary in particular. I feel worse about the subject of war (the lessons we’ve learned and those we yet haven’t) than I do any dark morning or evening come too soon. Just as many lives were lost in the four years of World War I during bright, daylight hours, just as much death and carnage. Likely, more, as the armies needed the daylight hours to see what they were doing. Night would have been when it was smarter to hunker down in separate trenches wherever and whenever possible.

I think of every ghost, set adrift across those European battlefields, and I am haunted by the heaviness of so many souls lost.

And I go onward to November 11th this year with a heavy heart once again, though I don’t know exactly why that is.

I think of that word often and I don’t need Halloween or a day devoted to wars to do so. This month holds memories, like the hauntings of a shadowy realm.

I have all things monsters and ghosts on my mind still, even with Halloween in the rearview mirror for another year. Darker days mean winter and winter means ice.

I had to go to the easiest accessible book to me and that was my shelf of all seven Harry Potter stories to find my random word.

I did
point
and a wintery word is what I got.

Black ice can be a danger on the roads in Canada, in the months ahead. Scary.

Harry Potter stories use ghosts and monsters to great effect. The ice forms when the monstrous, hideous dementors show up. (Read the series to learn more about those.)

A fascinating representation of the things that scare us, threaten to remove all happiness, like the depression that is sometimes seasonal and sometimes all year round.

If you can, look at what darkness brings that is pleasant and happy, rather than those things it hides or covers up or frightens you with. Maybe, one day, we can change some of the feelings around what darkness represents.

What’s good could be bad and what’s bad could be good.

This is the weekend of
stream of consciousness prompts
for another
Finish the Sentence Friday
in early November.

I am back and taking part, after several weeks of distractions and elsewhere’s. Also, I’m writing blog posts and prompts, while avoiding something I should really be doing instead. This is okay, I suppose, but I know I need to get back to it shortly.

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TToT: Man Who Ate The World and Other Losses – Dive In and Go Deep, #10Thankful

Well, that didn’t go well – not well at all. A big bust you could say.

Trade war looms as Trump and adviser lob insults and accusations at Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Britain. France. Germany. Italy. Japan. All their support is welcome, but all good intentions aside, none of them must share a border with a foolish reality TV personality, one whose spokespeople said openly Canada and Justin Trudeau were mocked to look tough for the most serious meeting any president could ever be having.

If I ever wanted #45 to succeed in something, it was now, when the world could possibly end up exploding into nuclear war. The rest of it, if we in Canada had to swallow his insults for that purpose alone, I’d say we could gladly take that on. I fear we haven’t heard the last of it though.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for marking June 5th, transplant anniversary, with a dinner with my dad to celebrate 21 years.

I have my father and I have a working kidney. Makes me the luckiest woman around, I’d say.

All one needs – one of each. Top notch.

I’m thankful for an inspired writing prompt to make us all write better at my writing group.

“Love was a hallowing man with a home and only I knew that.”

And the stories just sort of spun loose from there, from all of us, getting us to write in styles we weren’t often known for amongst that room of our creative peers.

I’m thankful for a delicious vanilla latte and catch up with a friend.

I’m thankful for biscotti.

I’m thankful for the right and access to vote.

The accessibility issue is a different story, but not nearly so bad as it could be. These are the times I wonder if I have the right to complain, to think I should try for betterment.

It was a braille sleeve that the voting card slides into and braille and raised numbers for each party’s offering for my riding, not that I claim to understand all the lingo. So, I was with someone I trusted, to help make sure the card was lined up properly and to let me know the order the names were going with the numbers. I learned later alphabetical. Should have known.

So, I counted down, to the correct number, and made my X in the small cut-out circle provided.

Now, all the strong wording was that Ontario’s possible next provincial leader, if chosen PC/Conservative Party, would basically be giving Ontario its very own copy of the guy put into the Whitehouse. Enough to scare anyone.

Was that all they were trying to do? (Whom I’m not really sure.)

And thus I was lucky to live in Ontario, Canada, where I could vote, where my blindness didn’t prevent me from voting, my right in a democratic society. And some of you will not have known much about this, but the PC was voted in, and he is the brother of deceased Toronto mayer, known around the world a few years back, Rob Ford, who even made it onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

What have we gotten ourselves into, I wonder? Is he a #45 wannabe?

He sure feels like it, but as we don’t do anything really to anywhere near as dramatic of a degree as our neighbours to the south, I don’t know if he’s going to be as bad as all that. (See my opening for this week’s post.)

As switching from one party to another often goes, in politics, the Liberal Party had a lot of years to run Ontario and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just hope all the scare tactics were playing on mine and other people’s greatest fears, though sometimes my dramatic side feels totally justified.

I’m thankful for the ocean, on World Oceans Day and every day.

The morning after Thursday’s election, I was feeling low about everything, when it seemed the party to beat had started to seem like the NDP, but no big surprise, as my negative side kept whispering in my head. All I wished for was to be by the ocean.

I’m thankful for Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and her mission.

Mission Blue

I’m thankful for my sister helping me shop for what looks/feels good on me, even without being able to see any of it from my end.

It is the strangest thing, to go by fabric and texture and shape, rather than how a colour looks or how it looks on the body. Again, I’ve learned that yellow isn’t my colour. Shame really.

I’m thankful for documentaries about puffins, grey seals, and the coast of Ireland.

The Parts Unknown host visiting the closest thing to Ireland, this side of the Atlantic.

And travel storytellers like the one that was lost for good.

Anthony Bourdain and the Missing Piece – Longreads

RIP to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain became one of #MeToo’s strongest allies – The Lily

Earle said to “dive in and go deep” and that’s the way Bourdain seemed to live his life, right up until the end.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”

—Anthony Bourdain

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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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It’s All Around Me, #JusJoJan

It’s just past midnight as I write this and so obviously it’s dark out, right?

PaY1Jnp.jpg

I am headed to a routine eye appointment next week and nothing feels like it is routine. It feels much more like I am hurtling towards darkness.

There are all kinds of darkness.

People are scared of that, the dark, and “blindness” means darkness. Thus, most of the sighted world is more afraid of blindness and what that would mean, what that might look like, as the case may be, than being buried alive.

Okay, well I hear that was the case in one of those “what would you rather?” games. Since I am a definite clausterphobic, I thought that unbelievable. To be buried alive would be my worst fear.

I could never be a coal miner, for several reasons.

I am not afraid of the dark however. People are afraid of it because they are afraid of the unknown, all they cannot see, and afraid, in the practical sense, of falling down a flight of stairs or running into the wall.

There are ways we who are blind or mostly so learn to adapt to such practical concerns. I did run into the corner of a wall once, bleeding and leaving a scab in my eyebrow for weeks, but that doesn’t happen with any semblance of regularity because I try to take my time and move slowly. I don’t remember my hurry that day my eyebrow made such forceful contact with that wall.

I slide my feet, if a floor is messy. I know when there are stairs, in a familiar place, or I walk so slow because it isn’t familiar enough, unless I use my cane.

It isn’t always so easy to accept the need for a white cane or any kind of cane, for mobility or assistance because that cane is a visible symbol of perceived human weakness.

I need help and I keep learning to ask for it, to not be afraid of it, as some are afraid of the dark.

I am afraid too. I lived with some vision for my childhood, then lost a lot as I grew into an adult, and now here I am.

I don’t use my little remaining vision, as blurry as it is these days, but then it hits me how much I still do use it, as I contemplate the darkness that could be in my future.

The eye doctor might see something during his tests, but it’s more likely he will not. That is a good thing, but like with the invisible chronic pain I live with, sometimes there is nothing to see. This is both good and bad too. Nothing urgent showing up to attack with modern medicine.

I am drawn to the north, far up from the part of Canada I live in, where darkness means something different. I went to check out Yukon skies and June’s extended light. Strange to see vestiges of daylight at midnight.

I hope to return to Canada’s north in winter. I want to experience all that darkness, as a representation of that darkness that means blindness to so many.

I think it’s more like a fallen screen of dimness, fuzzy, foggy, twilight, which wouldn’t be all bad, but the fear still hovers there in my own head.

And so I count down the final days until my eye apt and, though I know it won’t probably be the giant thing I tend to build up in my own brain, I know these topics will continue to attract me, always giving me something more to say and to write about.

I didn’t even get into the symbolism of darkness and light in terms of contamination vs purity, good vs bad. It’s tied up in religion and in so many things, but so much negative is in the news every day and I think about all that far too much.

It’s this appointment that’s on my mind, front and centre.

I wish I could convince myself and other people that the darkness isn’t the worst thing in the world though, that we’ve made it that way in our own heads.

And so, the debate continues and the question goes on. I will continue to write about this. Stay tuned and look to the skies, but, if you can, watch where you’re going too.

I’m thrilled to be the provider of the Friday prompt word
for Linda’s #JusJoJan
to end off a long week, as January passes us by, on its own time.

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