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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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Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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White and Blue and Cinnamon Too #Synaesthesia #BlueJanuary #SnowDays #JusJoJan

The mall was pleasantly less crowded on this early January day, I spent it out browsing its many stores with a friend visiting from Ireland, and the sun made an appearance; a win win of a day for me I gotta say.

David’s Tea, The Dollar Store (don’t know if it’s actually called that anymore), lunch at the foodcourt and all the while that pleasant scent of cinnamon buns in the air; that was my day – here’s what’s been on my mind.

There’s the
possibility
of a snow day, on any given week, most weeks here in Canada every January.

This brings children joy all around this country, while my friend’s daughter was dying to see the snow Canada promises. No snow days for her in her Irish home.

Canadian kids can sometimes get what feels like countless days off from school every winter. Others aren’t so thrilled about how January seems to stretch out, what seems like indefinitely, because they can’t seem to see beyond these somewhat blue thirty-one days, so soon after the champaign cork popped and the new year was rung in.

Once the memory of a snow day fades and adulthood overtakes, a snow day for schoolchildren is simply the snow the adult must go out super early before work to scrape from the car.

The things that seem hard at one age, school assignments and least favourite subjects, these are replaced with deadlines and annoying coworkers, but it’s more than work stress that’s getting to many at this time of the year and no day off or work perk is going to thrill like it might otherwise have done.

It’s all relative.

There are those usual headaches if you’ve grown up here, lived here, and some thrills too, depending on what age you are.

I try to look ahead, even as January drags on into February and the snow persists. It isn’t the snow that bothers me so much. I feel refreshed by it, invigorated by it almost, but the month of January (while still holding the thrill of unknown possibilities to come in the remaining months of the year, feels like a blue month to me.

My synaesthesia colours January as blue in my head. I see it, even if nothing else, but it hurts me to see how many feel that blueness deep inside. I love the colour blue, but it means depression to so many I know and love and have known and loved. I see it in lots of places I look.

While the future is likely to bring new periods of colour and feeling and hope, that isn’t so easy to notice whilst in the middle of the month of January.

I wish I could make it all better for those people. I wish I could hug them and reassure them everything will work out, but while I can predict a number of possible outcomes for anyone of us, I can’t make them believe anything in the first month of a new year, not when their environment tells them the darkest days of a wintery January might never ever lift the cares and worries from their shoulders.

I wish, for so many who deal with a blue January, every day could be like a first snowfall for a visiting Irish child: pure joy in all that white stuff falling from the sky to cover the ground in a blanket of delight.

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Thanks,
Jill,
for all the possibilities this prompt offers for things to jot down our thoughts on.

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A World On Fire, #JusJoJan #SoCS

A quiet Saturday night in Canada, but
Wow
to what’s going on on the other side of the world from here.

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And to the news between the US and Iran. Wow!

I say it as an exclamation a lot, to myself, because it feels super redundant to utter out loud to anyone within earshot.

I love this time of year in my country, snow or no snow, because I like being cozy inside and then, when I step out my door, to feel the fresh air, so cold. I love the stillest days of winter most of all, those still, silent nights those of which songs have been named.

I can’t imagine what Australia is dealing with right now because I’ve never had to experience such a thing. I remember watching the news when western Canada was dealing with terrible wildfires, hearing people in California speaking of it on Facebook. I can’t imagine even having to deal with smoke clouding the air and choking my lungs and burning my eyes. Having to outrun flames sounds nightmarish.

Over twenty lives lost there now, millions of animals and wildlife perishing so far, and yet climate change denial is still rampant. Wow, really?

I “WOW” this more than anything because, even if you don’t believe things are as bad as all that, at least let situations like the one in Australia now help you see that we can and should do something. Even if we choose to not put the blame all on our shoulders, fine, but at least we can do something, in the smallest belief it could help dangerous and devastating situations like wildfires take less of a toll. Why not? What’s the harm?

We frame things as serious, as serious as it often is, in the hopes that people will, you know…take it seriously. Then, we’re crying wolf or portraying ourselves as Chicken Littles. The sky’s not falling, okay, but it is smoky in places. If we talk so serious all the time, people will tune the warnings out entirely we’re warned, but then what does that leave us all with in terms of options to address what’s making the news in the first place?

So we have to sit with the realization of all those poor creatures, not understanding what’s going on, unless somehow instinctively. I sit here, in the northern hemisphere and January cold, thinking of all those poor animals, my two animals safely here with me.

Canadian firefighters and those from other countries have gone to help. What are the politicians doing?

Are there not enough natural events occurring these days for our world to contend with that humans have to go and create more havoc with their own real life choices? What is it with clueless, greedy, selfish, brutal men running the world, making serious decisions that will impact so many, creating an environment of fear and anxiety? What if we let women run the world, just for a little while, to see if things might turn around? What’s the harm in giving it a try? All men, stand down!

I saw how serious news stories were handled on the ground and up close when they involved New Zealand recently, (mass shootings and volcano eruption) by their PM, a woman. I wish there were more of her.

I don’t generally like to generalize, but I’m tired of the anxieties. If it’s this way, this greatly weighing on my mind and heart, I shudder to think of what it’s like for anyone immediately, directly effected in in the path of destruction, whether natural weather and climate or manmade disasters in progress.

I say my wow’s and my huh’s? I say it till I grow weary of saying it. I long to be a child again, not to block out news by simply not seeking it out because that feels irresponsible, but to be a kid again and simply not grasping the significance of all these things going on.

Oh two-year-old Mya my dearest one, how I envy your child’s cluelessness, in great contrast to that cluelessness I spoke of above from adults who should know better.

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Ahead by a Century (Recap of Anne with an E, Season Three / Episodes Two and One) #AheadByACentury

Ahead by a Century (Week Two):

(Spoiler alert! Read on, however, for a wider discussion of issues from stories.)

I put off writing this second week’s summery of Anne with an E (of Season Three) because I needed time to think about what I’d seen, but I do wish I could go back to find my summaries of all Season One episodes and I wish I’d taken the time to write recaps for all of last season that I missed. I was distracted, but I’m back and ready to recap!

(Either on Facebook, or here, or both.)

Only into episode two and I’m reeling from the sharpness of the storyline in this new adaptation. It’s not what many would want for L.M.’s Anne Girl character and her world, both at Green Gables and out beyond. It’s harshness is what makes it feel authentic and we can’t hide from that which is true authenticity, no matter what year we’re in.

If you want to escape from our world into the world of a century ago, to forget all our modern troubles, this show does that. The characters ride around in buggies, pulled by horses, and homosexuality isn’t spoken of. Perhaps a certain impeachable US pres’s grandfather is across Canada at this time, making money off of the greed for gold, but that doesn’t mean that this storyline isn’t going to be full of the realities of life that made it so harsh at the turn of the 20th century.

Anne is given permission and a blessing, by her adopted family of Marilla and Matthew, to go to Charlottetown and then to the mainland, Nova Scotia, to look for information on her birth parents. She must be accompanied by Gilbert, which she resents, and he is rebuffed by her moments of irritability as she is too preoccupied to see how much he already cares.

She arrives in PEI’s capital city to meet up with her gay best friend who will go with her to the orphanage she grew up in.

While Gilbert goes off and explores newly discoverable romance with another, for the time being, a whole other strange B storyline, Anne is brought back to some of the worst times from her early life. While Gilbert has a date in a tea room with a snooty young woman, Anne tries to find out if the orphanage has any record of her parents.

Again, I watch and wonder what places like that were really like for all the abandoned and orphaned little ones in the world, while wishing places like these weren’t still existing. Anne says that place is better than some and much worse than others of its kind. Sure, I like to see characters in fiction that I can relate to, blind or disabled or writers or whatever, but I’m also curious about the kind of fiction which explores lives I, myself, have never lived for good or for ill.

The woman in charge is cold and of no help at all, sipping her tea with disdain that Anne would even deem to return for anything. The man on his way out, after admitting he can’t take care of his flesh and blood children since their mother died, makes Anne start to wonder if the stories she kept going along with about her own two parents were really that of truth, that they both died of scarlet fever when she was still newly born. Was she really so loved and/or wanted at all?

Cole sees her starting to pull apart all the stories and her imagination that got her through such loneliness, as she finds old pieces of paper with her own stories written hidden in the bell tower of the building. She wonders if it was all foolishness and he tells her how brave she is to him for doing whatever she had to to survive it all those years.

As they head for the door to leave, mission NOT accomplished, Anne is stopped by a young woman scrubbing the floor. It’s another orphaned girl who once bullied Anne for daring to dream or have an imagination of any kind. She recognizes Anne and angrily shouts about how she isn’t still there, but is now paid to work there, but the whole scene is disturbing and ugly as Anne and Cole leave that place behind them.

From orphanage where children are left without love to the ferry back to the island. Cole won’t let Anne give up, but all the work Ms. Stacy and Matthew are doing to repair the old printing press so the children of Avonlea School can print a newspaper is about to lead to an unsettling ending to episode two when Marilla reads Anne’s article about meeting and visiting the village of the young Indigenous girl.

(Oh, what times these were where the fear in a white, Christian community of the “other” is so intense they refer to that other group of people as “savages” when such a term is so horrible to hear now that 2020 is the time we’re nearly living in.)

**Side note – Interfering neighbour Rachel is a woman of her time, thinking she must find the new teacher a replacement after Miss Stacy’s widowhood, whereas Muriel would be just as happy on her own as to receive any match making help from anyone, let alone Rachel Lynne. Once Lynne sees Stacy with a man, all alone in a barn, even if that man is Matthew, all that talk of impropriety gets thrown in Miss Stacy’s face. How dare she be working, out in the barn, like a man, with a man that is not her husband.

Marilla is afraid of losing Anne, now that she loves her so much, which will have Marilla acting out in all the wrong ways, but she can hear very plainly how much Anne is praying for word that she was loved by her real parents once upon a time.

To top it all off, we have the character of Sebastian (new to this adaptation) having a not so sweet second episode. He has a step son to learn how to handle, one who feels like his mother has found her do-over in new baby daughter and husband, and this young man sees with his own eyes the farm and house where his mother now lives with her new family, including Gilbert, a white boy…away from the black neighbourhood in the area known as “the bog”.

Elijah is not dealing too well with having a new baby sister and stepfather, bringing all his pain and his coping mechanisms, which primarily include alcohol and saying things he doesn’t really probably even mean, throwing insults at his own mother and accusing his mother’s husband of having an alternate plan to get rid of their new white friend and roommate, to take over the land. Sebastian is disgusted by the suggestion and the two almost come to blows.

By the morning, all Gilbert’s tangible, valuable memories of his dead father have been taken from the room and Elijah is gone. This family stuff is hard in any century.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ166DTIV-o

Ahead By a Century:

I am back with my Anne with an E updates (season 3), after skipping this writing ritual for all of last season’s events.

It starts with a girl and her horse, Anne and Belle riding through the snow. … Pine cones. Silver coins. Anne turns 16 and desires to discover her lineage.

I’ve been long drawn to stories like Harry Potter, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, and Anne of Green Gables because the life of an orphaned character is so far from my own reality.

I may wonder sometimes about my ancestors, though at least I know of them, and I have always had present and supportive parents around. I wondered about those who never knew that kind of security and/or love.

It starts with Anne and Bell. It goes into the theme song for the show, a Tragically Hip hit that denotes the time period of Anne, as I sit here in 2019 and love this adaptation of the classic Green Gables story.

Ahead by a Century – The Tragically Hip / Anne with an E-Theme

One year ago this day I was on Prince Edward Island. I miss PEI in September as I watch this first episode of season three, expecting and seeing ads for Find Your Island with PEI Tourism making me recall it all. What a special place, an island (seen visually in red and green for many) but forever trapped in my head and heart as the setting for tragical events in a beautiful place, surrounded by water.

Sad that time moves on, even after the death of the lead singer of song Ahead By A Century, as I watch this series…from a time more than a century ago and I think of Gord’s work for connection with all who share this land before he died.

Anne and the girls watch the boys play hockey on a frozen pond and soon boys are declaring their intentions toward the girls. This is a timeless ritual, though somewhat changed in 100 years. Anne and Gilbert are meant to end up together, of course (poor Ruby), even if now it’s nothing but misunderstandings and awkward teenage encounters in the schoolroom. They will have their time, but in the meantime, brief interactions that mark a future love.

For now, as a newly sixteen-year-old Anne, she is the Bride of Adventure in her mind and that will and must suffice for now.

When season two premiered, we were introduced to Afro-Caribbean character, Sebastian, a new friend Gilbert has made far from Avonlea. Nothing like this exists in the 80’s series so many worship. I love both now, for different reasons, but Representation matters.

Creator of this update:

“I was troubled by the lack of diversity in the book, especially since Canada is such a diverse nation, both then and now,” she said.

And so, of course the novel was written in a different time, but it’s the 21st century now and the changes have only added to an already rich story with a lovely facelift.

Anne meets a young Indigenous girl and visits her community. The white people (Christians) stay separate from other groups then, but this inclusion started episode one of season three off right. I hope the friendship between the two girls continues.

Anne is open to meeting and making new friends and that’s all there is to it. She is supposed to represent the kind of openness of heart and mind that so many lack, then and now.

The scenes with Sebastian (Bash) and his wife Mary and their new baby girl made an already sweet episode even sweeter. Love scene between the still newly married couple made me grin, wanting love for others, fictional or no.

I have high hopes for this new season on CBC here in Canada, (to appear on Netflix in the new year).

That’s it for this instalment of Ahead by a Century, though most don’t have any knowledge or interest in the world of Anne, either Montgomery’s original creation or this re-imagining for a new century, but I’ll keep writing them anyway.

Here’s to all the Anne and Gilbert fans out there. What will this new season bring in the journey of their relationship?

How to be happy and content with oneself and still the possibility of finding true love with another?

I ask myself those last questions, those I posed after Season Three, Episode One, to myself all the time.

Also, I decided to go from most recent episode re-cap to the previous week’s recap here on the blog. I will return with Episode Three next week, here, but I’ve moved from Facebook to this blog because I want to catalog these and yet most people on Facebook know nothing of Anne with an E and could really care less and won’t bother to read, especially the longer my recaps end up being.

Maybe, after reading my recap here and after checking out the scene from YouTube I included above, both fans of the original Anne story and non fans alike might be curious enough to watch an episode. I say, to Anne fans everywhere, give this new adaptation a chance. I didn’t regret it. You might not either.

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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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Still Searching #Anniversary #Compassion #1000Speak

Four years ago, I joined in with many other bloggers and writers, all wanting to speak up on the need for more compassion in the world.

I was fresh off of a lot of rejection and I needed a reminder of something good:

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

was that goodness.

I wrote my first post
“Planting the Seeds of Compassion”
along with I believe, more than 1000 other writers. We wrote about good deeds, selflessness, rejecting anger, and now we come to that one, four years later.

What have I learned about compassion in the four years since 1000Speak?

Since this blogging movement took place, #45 has come into the picture. Before he became leader of the US, I could ignore him, turn from his fake television show and to something worth my time. Now, being America’s neighbour, I can’t simply turn the channel. I wish I could.

I can look for compassion in myself, offer it to other people, but he is a good example of one time I cannot.

The creators of #1000Speak have stated:

“Due to current world events between Trump-era America and the Brexit Shambles, the theme for 2019 is how to get beyond complacency or apathy to find compassion in times of division, and how to be compassionate towards people we disagree with, without condoning cruelty.”

Anyone who can judge character could spot the lack of it in the current president. That is me, lacking compassion in not even trying to understand what someone (#45 voter/supporter) may be thinking, but there are times that I come to a brick wall and there’s nowhere else to go.

I can try to understand what brought the US to voting in such a man. I can do this. I can’t give compassion for the man himself. I could try to imagine him, as a child, to wonder at what made him into the man he is today. I can and have done this, but unlike with the same for his base, I know he is who he is and he won’t ever change. It’s nice to be able to believe in redemption, but reality smacks you in the face like walking (face-first) into that brick wall I just mentioned.

Ouch! Now my nose, your nose is broken and bloodied.

Of course, I condone no cruelty toward anyone, not even him, but the world took an ugly turn since we first wrote about compassion, and there’s no point in covering that fact up.

I still try to live the best life I can. I am not at all complacent or apathetic, though I feel so helpless most times. I have done several things since 2015’s 1000Speak, including making an effort to improve life, here in Canada specifically, for those who are blind like myself.

I discovered the benefits of yoga and I learned the basics of how to play the violin. I let the music sooth my jangled nerves. We need to take care of our own well-beings, if we even have a hope of showing compassion toward those we disagree with, fundamentally.

Those who are self-serving can and will do what they please. I can let myself live in disgust and anger, or I can focus on the better world I’d like to see.

I can see that there is more going on in the world than what’s happening in the US or in the UK, though those places are major players in the world.

I can worry about a new friend’s birthplace in the brewing nastiness between Pakistan and India that’s going on, has been for many years. The world is full of greedy, selfish men who run things, not to mention a few women who are making giant moves on the world stage, in charge of countries too. It’s all about power and it sickens me, but I can’t let that feeling of being so small in a big, big world get me down. If I do that, compassion for others or not, I would drown in the despair of it all.

I’m afraid of where the world is heading, that we’ve allowed the fascination with something so destructive as nuclear weapons even become an available option baffles me to no end. It is so easy to lose control of many things, of it all.

So I let other bloggers and writers I’ve been blessed to know since starting to blog myself speak to the beauty that still exists,
like here for example,
and I keep searching, determined to stand with those finding silver linings.

I owe a lot to the instigators of this compassion movement:

Lizzi and her Silver Linings
and
Yvonne Spence and her inspiring compassion stance.

Though it has fizzled out somewhat from the original explosive response to the idea of writing on compassion.

It won’t ever fade away completely. It is a necessary effort, but I am still fighting with my internal bewilderment at the choices of other people, not wanting to call them out on it, but being unsure how to find a way to better understand.

I guess I can’t claim any great victory over my emotions on many things going on in the world today and since 1000Speak. I wish I had come to some grand revelation on the path to seeing the other’s side. I am still searching for a way to that place of comprehension.

I still wanted to participate, on this four-year anniversary, though my wisdom is lacking in my contribution. I am showing up, anyway, and showing my willingness to keep trying. I will not give up on the search for more and greater compassion.

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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT, Writing

TToT: Thirty-five For Me and Five For Her Headache, #Blogiversary #10Thankful

Here, I hope to leave something behind when I go. Here, I won’t look back with any shame or regret at what I’ve said, what I’ve written. I am proud to be Her Headache.

I am
thankful
for this blog and all those who’ve found me here and read what I’ve written on these virtual pages, ever since that 2014 February of my thirtieth birthday.

As for how to celebrate my five-year anniversary with this space, I couldn’t quite settle on how to best show my gratitude and my pride on all that this blog has brought to my life.

In the beginning, it all started with me showcasing my
BUCKET LIST
of items I’d wanted to experience.

Since my kidney transplant, twenty-two years ago, I am all about not taking each day for granted and my list was a way of stating my purpose and no longer settling for less out of fear. Things like chronic pain and disability threatened to take away a life worth living, but I fought against that and found this blog as a part of that.

In this last five years, I’ve been lucky to check off several things on the list, though I am enjoying the ups and downs of the journey, as I’ve learned that to be the best part of the whole thing really.

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Still, I can’t stop wondering where life will take me and so here we go with the review of the things I have done and seen in five years that I may not have dreamt I’d do, during the most difficult days in my past:

I am thankful for the teacher I’ve had, for the last three years, since I decided to take a chance to learn to play an instrument in my thirties. Violin was beautiful to me and I wanted to learn to play with a bow, to produce those kinds of heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds I’d heard from the violin for years. I was drawn to it since I gave up on clarinet back in high school. (Too much air needed, blowing into that thing, which was hard on my head, prone to headaches already.)

She is leaving on a new adventure soon and I must face that thing I often dread, “Change”.

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I am thankful for my violin and the progress I’ve made so far, even when I get down on myself for not learning more, faster.

I am thankful for my autumn of 2018 visit to the Maritimes, Canada’s eastern provinces, even my short visit and the limited bit of Nova Scotia I saw. I am thankful I got to place a small item, a token of my appreciation for her gift of iconic literary characters like Anne Shirley in Canada’s cultural landscape, on her gravestone. I got to write a note of my gratitude, from one writer to another, in the guest book in the house Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in. I was brave to finally state, in writing, that I think of myself as a writer, even up next to someone as talented as Montgomery.

I am thankful I got to walk along those Prince Edward Island beaches, the coastline and the smell of the sea. Red Point. The End of the World P.E.I. and the force of the wind at that spot, lighthouse next to a drop down to fearsome ocean roaring down below me.

In these last five years, (not only out east) but I’ve traveled to Mexico, Yukon, British Columbia, and back to Florida for the fourth time.

I am thankful I got to make it to my twenty-year anniversary with my kidney, from my father, and that I got to celebrate that with him and my family and friends, zip lining at my favourite Niagara Falls on the Canada side. I hope to zip line in more places around the world in future.

I am thankful I technically did get my writing available in bookstores, when I wrote a short piece which was included in a print magazine called Misadventures. It was only available in Barnes & Noble, in the US, so a friend went into one and took pictures for me of that magazine on the shelf. I hold that book in my hands and am proud to know I have writing inside of it.

I thought it fitting to make my five-year blogiversary into a TToT post, one of the best things to come out of this blog since 2015 when I discovered other bloggers doing it and I joined their exclusive TToT blogging community.

Thank you, TToT comrads and all of you, for visiting me here. You’re the best.

All jokes aside on the wisdom of getting older, as I turn thirty-five and look back and look ahead, I know the fun is in the journey, not necessarily its destination. Still, I will always write about it all here, or for as long as I am meant to,

Where will I be in five years? And, how will I have gotten there?

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Poetry, RIP, Shows and Events, This Day In Literature, TToT

TToT: From Longest Month To Shortest #AllOverNow #10Thankful

“January so far has been a month of cold gray days, with an occasional storm whirling across the harbor and filling Spook’s Lane with drifts. But last night we had a silver thaw and today the sun shone. My maple grove was a place of unimaginable splendors. Even the commonplaces had been made lovely. Every bit of wire fencing was a wonder of crystal lace.”

Letter from Anne to Gilbert ANNE OF WINDY POPLARS

Though I took a few weeks break, I am still full of gratitude and I am finishing off the month, looking ahead to February and beyond.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the sound of Canada geese out my window.

I heard them out in the cold January sky, just as I heard sad news from the literary world, and something about it felt less coincidental and more like a sign of a poet leaving this world.

I am thankful for poetry like that of Mary Oliver and her love of nature and the natural world, which she showed through her poems.

I am thankful for orchestral musicians and their conductor who keep up and play the beautiful music of a Harry Potter soundtrack, as I watched the movie on the big screen with a bunch of other crazed HP fans.

I am thankful for snow that’s like cotton balls, like the kind that makes me feel its cold, but also like maybe I’m living inside of one of those snow globes.

I am thankful for the energy of a productive violin lesson where I know why it is I love the instrument so much.

I am thankful for a few minutes of time with my niece playing beside me, even while on the phone. She is the sweetest, coming and sitting beside me and cuddling, then hiding under the blanket.

I am thankful for our thing together where I sing the Elton John line: I’m still standing … and she then sings the next part, yeah yeah yeah.

As cute as it is that she now does high fives and fist bumps, that’s more of a silent action, whereas the singing is an audible one.

I am thankful for new Dido music:

I am thankful for classic love songs, duets, and for beautiful musical talent.

Lots of sadness in the music world, with love song guru James Ingram dying and I end off January with one more glimpse of the voice we lost, one year ago:

RIP to them both and to Mary Oliver too.

I am thankful for the end of January and February arriving, a short month (my birthday month) now beginning.

Well, if I am living inside of a snow globe, time to shake things up! Bye bye January and hello February to come.

The Garden In Winter

Frosty-white and cold it lies
Underneath the fretful skies;
Snowflakes flutter where the red
Banners of the poppies spread,
And the drifts are wide and deep
Where the lilies fell asleep.

But the sunsets o’er it throw
Flame-like splendor, lucent glow,
And the moonshine makes it gleam
Like a wonderland of dream,
And the sharp winds all the day
Pipe and whistle shrilly gay.

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie
Rainbow buds of by-and-by;
In the long, sweet days of spring
Music of bluebells shall ring,
And its faintly golden cup
Many a primrose will hold up.

Though the winds are keen and chill
Roses’ hearts are beating still,
And the garden tranquilly
Dreams of happy hours to be­
In the summer days of blue
All its dreamings will come true.”

—L.M. Montgomery

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, RIP

No Going Back, #JustJoJan

Two crime proceedings happening in Canada this week.

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One, a monster pleads guilty for his crimes. Good. His victims are not here to
testify,
but family is always more than willing.

The other, a senseless crash between a bus and a truck last spring and bereaved loved ones
testify
about how they’ve been forever affected.

The first, evil. The second, a careless accident.

A bunch of young men, athletes, and coaches were killed. Many were badly hurt and injured. A man must live with that fact all the rest of his days. The forgiveness, though it may not have been found by all at this time, was shown with moving offerings from families toward the man who was at the wheel of that truck.

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