1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Blind Reviewer, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Sadness, Euphoria, Sul Ponticello – “BELIEVE ME!” #Disbelief #10Thankful

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. a
link hashtag happiness
weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.

It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas.

And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.

And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.

~ Robert Fulghum

With all the reality TV run amuck this week, disguised as politics. With an unarmed mental health worker getting shot, right in front of his autistic client. With violence in Munich and Afghanistan and Syria.

I read the above quote and the image of that made me want to spread colour and vibrance and imagination. It made me want to create.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That I am not American in 2016.

I don’t mean that to come off sounding disrespectful to anyone I know there.

I just do not know how things have arrived at where they are. I can’t do anything about it. I feel like I am taking a front row seat to the spectacle of this election and I am afraid, so I tell myself I am thankful that I have at least some distance.

It’s not all that comforting frankly, but I’m just starting my TToT list. I’ve got nine more to go.

To be a Canadian, living here in Canada.

Honestly, as much as I do love a lot about the US and highly respect many people there, I am thankful to be living in this country.

I say it, I think it, and I feel it in my heart, any way you slice it. Luck of the draw. Again, the comfort is short lived, but it’s something. I don’t know what else to say.

I couldn’t resist the line in the title of this week’s TToT, the one the GOP nominee kept repeating: “Believe Me!” and I don’t. I just can’t believe what I’m hearing.

For a Canadian, female writer, whose blog I love to check in on.

“To be responsible is to be forced to confront vulnerability. That is my observation about growing up, generally. The older I get, the more fragile the structures around me seem. The more tenuous. The more invented , in a way. What I mean is that the security of everything I hold precious and dear, even my beliefs, is supported by a certain level of cognitive dissonance, but also by the suspension of disbelief. To dig in, to help build, to get my hands dirty, to make or unmake, is, for me, to witness the complexity and arbitrariness of experience, of life itself, against which there can be no absolute assurances of safety and security.”

Carrie Snyder – Welcome To My Office

She has taught me a lot and continues to teach me, including the fascinating resources she often shares with her readers.

In this post.

She writes about having lost her own physical voice from illness, but I believe it speaks to a bigger way in which so many people feel like they don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves.

For comedians who make me smile when the sadness threatens to overtake me.

Brexitbot 3000

Speaking of British comedy…there’s nothing better than Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver being interviewed by Jerry Seinfeld, for his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”.

With Oliver’s signature British humour and Jerry’s own unique brand of comedy, which he’s perfected for these fascinating interviews he conducts, with the sound of a soft trickle of coffee being poured in between clips of their coffee shop chatter and banter.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/john-oliver-what-kind-of-human-animal-would-do-this

For the developing of my violin muscle memory and “sul ponticello”..

I’m loving the possibilities and more of the terms I’m learning.

Sul ponticello is a style of playing, where you move the bow up closer to the bridge of the violin. It makes a higher sound with harmonics, or so I’m told and have read.

It’s like what’s often said about writing. It’s important to know the rules so they can be broken properly. I’m getting there.

That I can apply for a passport to see the world.

Who knows what will be going on in the world at any later date.

When I do use my newly acquired passport for the first time, who knows who will be running the country I will be flying over to get to Mexico.

So many people are afraid to travel, to leave the familiar of their everyday surroundings, thanks to perpetrators of violence and intolerance and the spreading of fear. I am lucky I can apply for a little booklet which allows me to explore place away from my immediate home.

Of course, I must pay attention to the very real concerns I face as a visually impaired traveler, while at the same time not allowing so much uncontrollable nonsense stop me, getting in my way. I wish that for all of us.

That I have writing group friends who show their concern.

I wasn’t feeling up to attending my writing group this week, which I hate to have to admit. It has slowly grown to be one of my favourite things.

So, imagine my surprise when I received an email later that night from one of the members, checking up on me, making sure I was okay.

For an excellent interpretation of a classic.

Victor Frankenstein

I remember listening to my friend, who was in medical school at the time, telling me a few stories of her classes. It was often more graphic than I was looking to hear, but that’s the reality of medicine, which I have benefited greatly from.

Now, of course, any story of Frankenstein is going to an extreme, but it explores the issues of life and death, challenging mortality.

This film was brilliantly done and the actors played their [parts very convincingly. Also, the descriptive narration I found was some of the best I’ve heard.

For the heartbeat of hope.

It beats in time, with rhythmic steadiness, and I hold onto that. It translates into a very real hope for the future, for so many.

It’s how I am able to go from sadness to euphoria, all in one week.

For beautiful lyrics to explain these times we’re living in.

Timeless really.

Summer, Highland Falls (Live at Shea Stadium) – Billy Joel

They say that these are not the best of times, But they’re the only times I’ve ever known, And I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.

Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes, And I can only stand apart and sympathize.

For we are always what our situations hand us… It’s either sadness or euphoria. And so we argue and we compromise, and realize that nothing’s ever changed, For all our mutual experience, our seperate conclusions are the same.

Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity, Our reason co-exists with our insanity. And though we choose between reality and madness… It’s either sadness or euphoria.

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies. Perhaps we don’t fulfill each other’s fantasies. And so we’ll stand upon the ledges of our lives, With our respective similarities…

It’s either sadness or euphoria.

(Lyrics)

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Feminism, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Created, Creative, Creation – Boourns, #10Thankful

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

–Sylvia Plath

I’m spending my Easter Sunday under the weather, so I will be making this list uncharacteristically short and abbreviated, but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about creativity.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For drumming.

Our creation “Don’t Look Back” is all done. My brother has a friend who is a brilliant drummer and he agreed to play on it.

He wanted to be a part of this project so much he even took the morning off work to record his drum part for the song.

It definitely has a different sound to it with drums added. It fills it out and it is so beautiful.

Once my brother presents it in class I hope to be able to share all the hard work we all put into it. After all, what else is making music for but to share it with people?

For now and then.

I spent time this week hanging out with my youngest nephew, sitting in his favourite spot on the couch, while we watched a movie.

As we sat there, I couldn’t help thinking back to the first time the two of us sat in that corner of that particular couch. I held him in my arms when he was only days old, while he slept, nearly three years ago.

For family fish and chip dinners.

A lot of fun is had when you get a family, people all the way from two to sixty, around a dinner table.

We all crowded into one van, on a rainy Wednesday, and off we went.

For humour.

With all the crap going on around the world, sometimes it’s nice to just laugh a lot. My brother, father, and myself did just that, for a few hours the other night. It felt good.

We watched the Jerry Seinfeld series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and if you have not seen it yet, you really should check it out.

It’s available online, on YouTube and on a free streaming website:

http://www.crackle.com/about

Basically, Seinfeld goes out and rents a car, fitting to the comedian he is about to have coffee with. He then spends the first few minutes explaining what kind of car it is and why he chose it. Then he picks up his coffee companion and they go for a ride in the car to the coffee shop, discussing everything from show business and comedy, to family and hobbies, and cars of course.

We watched episodes with people like Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Will Ferrell, President Obama (one of the best episodes in my opinion, but they couldn’t acquire the proper security clearance to leave White House grounds), a few of Seinfeld’s former co-stars, and Howard Stern.

For literacy, education, and the grandpa there to pick up his granddaughter from school.

When I read about all the young girls around the world not allowed to receive a proper education and so many people who’ve never been given the chance for literacy I am particularly thrilled to know my niece is getting the opposite of all of that.

She’s learning to read and she has a good school to go to every day, with teachers who happily teach her, help her develop her own gifts and creativity.

And she has a grandpa who can pick her up after the day has finished.

For rain.

Okay, so I wasn’t really prepared to consider this one as a positive at the time.

I love to go for a nice long drive, but if rain is falling hard on the windshield I can’t quite relax in the same way.

This was our drive home the other night, in semi heavy traffic, but on reflection I realize I was lucky to make it home safe and even hard pouring drops of rain are something of beauty.

For another Friday up on Good Men Project.

For the second Friday in a row I had my writing featured on the site:.

Where Are We Since International Women’s Day Last Year?

Sure, being that the subject again involved the issues surrounding feminism, I received a few more somewhat angry comments from those who took my writing to mean I don’t think men around the world suffer at the hands of oppression and discrimination, or that I don’t believe men and boys deserve the same attention as women and girls and the issues we face.

I should expect a little backlash when writing about something that seems to divide many of us. I am still thankful I got my message out there and I know in my heart that I believe in fair treatment of both genders. You can’t possibly make everybody happy, all of the time anyway.

For date night.

I am thankful one couple in particular could have one night away, in a beautiful spot, as they truly deserve that.

I am happy that others can enjoy Niagara Falls like I do and they deserved some time to themselves now and then.

For inside jokes, group texts with brothers.

It’s nice to have a Friday evening group text with myself and my brothers, about a cherished eighties band (Duran Duran) and that we can share an inside joke that most people would be utterly confused about if they heard it.

For mendacity.

Feeling unwell of late has given me a lot of time to watch some films I’ve never gotten around to watching before.

This included one, based on a play, I’ve always wanted to see. I was aware of the main character, but I was unclear on just exactly what the storyline was for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.

Well, I like returning to those films that are mostly all dialogue. Of course, I was watching one with descriptive narration, but it would have been unnecessary really.

Well, I enjoy old movies, with dialogue so different from the films of today, and so many issues of the day, late 50s were interesting to me.

I also learned a new word. I’d heard of “menacing” but “mendacity” was a new one, repeated multiple times throughout. It means deception. I love learning new words.

It’s funny I started off the week watching “Ray”, one Jamie Foxx film and I ended it watching “Django Unchained”, which I’d heard was harsh and raw but to be expected when having to do with slavery, but Fox was so good, not to mention all the other actors.

It did really show how cruel we humans have been to one another. I’m sure this could lead directly into the themes of redemption surrounding Easter, but unfortunately I am far too tired now to explore those any further this year.

Check this out. Creativity and just lovely.

And Happy Easter everyone.

I’m starting to feel warm again so I think it’s off to bed with me. Have a good week.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, TToT

TToT: Do Or Die – Mercy! #10Thankful

“Writing and reading to me is synonymous with existing.”
–Gertrude Stein

kerport-009-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

What a difference a week can make.

Last week was the perfect autumn weather and this week all I keep hearing about is snow.

Last weekend the Toronto Blue Jays were not expected to be in the game for much longer and this week they still have a chance.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I seem to remember something about a book of rules for the TToT and there’s one of those for baseball, not that I understand it, but more about that later.

It was a difficult week, in some respects, but only because I am finally putting myself out there, my writing and myself, and receiving feedback. This translates into criticism and that can be difficult to take sometimes. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my immune system.

Mine works for me. Okay, so I may be singing a different tune come the middle of winter, but at the moment I think all’s well.

I have been around several sick friends and family in the past month and I just assumed I would catch their colds, etc.

I haven’t. I have a lower immune system, as a transplant recipient, and it can seem to permit multiple colds each winter, every year, but it is unpredictable. I can’t predict when or if I’m going to get a cold.

I am visiting a friend in Toronto tomorrow and her niece is there recovering from a bone marrow transplant. As long as I don’t jinx myself and come down with something in the next twenty-four hours, I will be happy and thankful. Not to mention, my immune system hasn’t decided to completely attack my father’s kidney, in nearly twenty years, so that’s something to be grateful for.

For a delicious cup of coffee, some relaxing Lorde inspired tunes, and a couple of hours at the salon.

Portishead

The coffee and the half hour I sat there, listening to music playing and the hustle and bustle of my cousin’s salon, while my hair had foils in it and waiting for the dye to do its thing made for a most relaxing break.

For the chance to feel like I was dressed up and with somewhere to go for the evening.

For the deliciousness that is movie popcorn.

Who’s with me?

For a totally eye-opening documentary experience.

“Our voices are our most powerful weapons.”

I went to see He Named Me Malala and I found it to be every bit as inspiring and moving and sweet and real as I thought it would be.

This film needed to be made and it needs to be seen around the world. It makes me cry, but it forces me to be thankful.

For the game that kept Toronto in the running, for the first time in over twenty years.

It was a real rush to know that we had little chance, at that point, but that I never lost faith. It ended up being one for the record books, and I don’t pretend to understand all the little ins and outs of the game and its rules, but I know the tension and the energy felt, sitting there watching.

We were losing two games in a five game series. Nobody thought we would go on to win the next three, but I believed.

What is it about rooting for one’s sports team that can cause such strong feelings and stress?

For my white cane.

kerport-184-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

October 15th was White Cane Day or White Cane Safety Day. I feel like a lot of these days are more US based, a lot of the times, but it doesn’t really matter where or what day.

I will admit that I have had my battles with the white cane. I have truthfully felt embarrassed about it, like a little brother or sister, always tagging along, but being forced by a parent to let them join in the fun.

Yeah, I’m working on getting over my issues because without it, I would be in more danger and would have been left without the means to get somewhere, anywhere, unable to see my surroundings well enough. I can’t deny the importance it has played and must play to me in future.

For my first Internet radio show interview.

Traveling With the Speed of Sight

I think I’ll stick with writing my blog, but it never hurts to try something new.

For you never knows’.

I did not expect a lot of people to listen to that interview, honestly, but all it takes is one.

One of the writer/editor friends I’ve made online and on Facebook just happened to be listening and immediately messaged me after the interview ended.

I admire her and her work so much and her online publication is at the top of my list of places I am determined to see my writing on.

Full Grown People

For the good and the bad that comes from putting myself out there.

Sure, this week I received some hard to hear criticism, but I also received some personal invites to submit my writing and to do more guest posts.

This, to me, would be considered a week of triumphs.

The Canadian federal election tomorrow could be the change we need, but there is a bit of a clash of events happening.

Elections Canada vs Jays Fans On October 19

Oh, don’t we Canadians have problems in our country?

😉

At least we’re aware of the issues that are important to us and as long as we know our priorities, right?

Mercy Mercy Me

I’ve been inspired, again this week, to not be silent, in whatever way that might be.

I love the female voices I’m hearing lately: both young and old.

Do I look scared to you?

You tell em Hazel!

“There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.”
–Malala Yousafzai

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History, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Shows and Events, SoCS, Special Occasions

15, 20, 25, #SoCS

“Is there anything to feel. Is it pain that makes you real. Cut me off before it kills me. Long way down. I don’t think I’ll make it on my own.”
–Goo Goo Dolls

SoCS

Another Saturday has come round and that means it’s time for another Stream of Consciousness:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1015/

I need as a part of my week.

Celebrating!

I guess that’s kind of like “Winning!” and Charlie, wherever you are, if ever there were stream of consciousness, you were it.

I am celebrating a few things this week. First of them is the Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, where my family come together, eat my mother’s delicious dinner, and have a whole lot of fun and good times. I am certainly winning with this to look forward to.

Perhaps I will write about the events of the day’s celebrating in next week’s SoCS post.

As for other reasons I am celebrating, this week just so happened to be the anniversaries for three important things in my life.

It has been 15 years, this week, since the very first episode of Gilmore Girls aired for the very first time.

I can’t believe how fast time passes me by. Really.

I know many people think this show is irritating, but I was immediately, or nearly so, just so drawn into its characters and premise, from almost the very beginning.

I was glad to see that television could still be original. The writing was snappy and witty. So many references to literature, culture, music, and so many things I did not know, would go right over my head, but these girls seemed to come up with this stuff, like stream of consciousness was could and did come just so unbelievably naturally to them in their everyday lives.

There was just the right amount of drama and fun. The town and its residents were wacky and out-there. I most definitely did not have that relationship with my own mother, could not have had a more different family situation than the Gilmores’. That was the attraction, I suppose.

Watching that show was a way I could bond with a friend, even when I felt like I was losing touch with her and the rest of my world, in all other ways at the time. She and I could still get together and have an all night Gilmore Girls marathon, cup after cup of coffee consumed in her basement, until we both ended up falling asleep in the early hours of the morning anyway.

Back when I taped every single episode on VHS and then began collecting DVD.

Next, going back 20 years and this week in time. The huge Goo Goo Dolls album, “A Boy Named Goo” was released and this rock group was my best wishes/going away/good luck with your kidney transplant gift, presented to me by my seventh grade class, at the party they had for me before I left.

Sure…it was stolen…when my house was robbed…as I found out my transplant had to be postponed…due to a sudden and mysterious seizure I’d just had…but the robbers couldn’t have known, what that CD meant to me, or I’m sure they would have stayed home and lived to rob another day.

Insurance bought back all our stuff in the end, but I loved my present and loved the music.

Speaking of this particular Goo Goo Dolls album…I really first heard their songs on the season six finale of the show that turns 25 this week.

This week in history…Beverly Hills 90210 first aired and this time I was not there, would not be for a few years.

I wanted to write a whole post to explain, to commemorate the value of this show for my life during the 90s, but then I fear sounding frivolous and silly. How could some glam and superficial show about privileged teenagers, living in Beverly Hills, how could this mean something so great?

Maybe you don’t ask, but I write about it here, think stream of consciousness is the perfect time to write about it.

My sister caught on first, but we were both still quite young in the early to mid 90s. We weren’t prevented from watching the more adult type shows.

Summer episodes, at the Beverly Hills Beach Club were the summer later, after the show aired on Fox. It was then that it took off and the phenomenon started.

My decade would soon be shaped by 90210 and its 10 season run. I started to watch the recorded episodes my sister had, braille labelling the VHS tapes and watching the shows, over and over again.

When I would eventually get sick, in 96/97 I would watch to escape, to imagine I was a beautiful, blond bombshell with a credit card and a boyfriend. Yes, I use the word bombshell. I had the posters and the dolls. Barbie became Beverly Hillized. I was stuck in a world between little girl playing with Barbie and the grown world of nighttime dramas. Every Wednesday at 8:00 I would watch, I would record. I would learn the lines by heart.

Kelly’s mother: “What do you want to do?”

Kelly Taylor: “Smell the roses. Maybe ponder the question of why God bothers to give us life in the first place when all he seems to do is fill it with pain and suffering.”

–Kelly Taylor/Jennie Garth

This line made me cry. Over and over, when pain and fear in my own life were at their worst, during the 90s and beyond.

I wanted to acknowledge these three events, for the role they all three played in the significant moments in my young life.

Celebrating a show or an album and its anniversary and poignancy in my life is really celebrating a feeling.

But I guess, now, I’m really just rambling.

Long Way Down

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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TToT, Writing

TToT: My Week of Zen

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
–Lewis Carroll

10thankful-banner-2015-08-8-14-03.jpg

Politics is on everybody’s minds lately. There is enough going on, as I have to listen to nothing but, here in Canada, but at least it’s only for the next two months. It’s the US that will be going on about this insane popularity contest, masquerading as something deeper, that might actually change our collective futures, for more than a year still to come.

I probably sound very negative about it all. This is precisely why I am focusing on the things that bring me to a place of zen with this week’s:

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL.

Pardon me if I might seem like I’ve recycled a few thankfuls today, from weeks gone by, but I have put a new spin on the ones I’ve already used.

Not for cool summer weather or the central air I love so much, but for the fact that one leads to not needing the other. I am glad, where others may not agree, at the cooler temperatures. When I need it, I am thankful for AC. This first thankful for the week is now awarded to the lack of humidity, requiring the use of AC, which saves me on the cost, keeping my electric bills lower.

For summer vacations and road trips, may they be a relaxing week at the cottage or a spontaneous, east coast adventure.

I am just happy my brothers both are getting the chance to enjoy themselves this week, to make lasting memories with family and friend respectably.

I hope my brother has a blast out east and that his time, by the ocean, might bring some peace and tranquility and a bit of zen for himself.

They both work hard and deserve the chance to have a bit of fun.

For the opportunity, the need, and the openness to try something new now and again.

Habitual Chocolate on Facebook

I was over-the-moon when I first heard about a brand new chocolate store in my town. I hoped for a

Lindt Chocolate Canada on Facebook

or a

Rheo Thompson,

but was a bit surprised at what I got instead.

Okay, so it ended up not being my sort of thing. Sure, the chocolate is of the more healthy variety, but really, who wants that?

Well, we were given free samples and told that many people do, but frankly, I don’t see the point.

Dark chocolate is good for you. It is actually beneficial to have a few squares of a chocolate bar, if it is bitter and with no trace of sugary sweetness.

I say it, loud and clear, right there in my About Me page on this very blog. Chocolate, to me, is a delicious anti depressant. It instantly boosts my mood and only milk chocolate will do.

Occasionally, as with this particular trip, a certain kind of dark chocolate, when mixed with something like mint and a good cup of coffee, this can hold its own pleasures. I am glad I went and gave it a shot. The latte was delightful and my nephew found a toy he liked, even if he’d much rather have played with the in-house chocolate-making machinery instead.

You have to make it a “habit” to keep an open mind and experience new things. That’s what I try to do, as often as possible.

For surprise peas.

🙂

Yes, these bring me just as much pleasure and enjoyment as chocolate does.

I believe I’ve mentioned them in this forum before, but I am doing it again.

This time they were a pleasant surprise, as I was always used to early July being the only time, a very short window, when I would get fresh peas to pod. My mom’s garden only had them available for a few weeks and that was it for the year.

With the discovery of my favourite peas at a local market, I was surprised to learn that I have been granted an extension.

They are not only delicious, but they provide a zen-like feeling to me, as the act of podding them offers me a very specific kind of nostalgia and a flash back to another time, and my deceased grandparents. They always picked peas and knew how much I loved them and would always save me a grocery bag full.

For living in Canada.

Sure, our political debates may not have the same sort of hype as our neighbours to the south, but at least I can be grateful for one thing:

No Donald Trump trying to run my country.

He’s a bully, who has probably never admitted he was wrong about anything in his entire life. He’s a spoiled, entitled petulant child, which actually insults all the children I know.

Of course, if he were to become the leader of the United States, that would have some effect on all other countries, including my own. I don’t know what the serious odds are that he could win, but stranger things have happened.

Yes, I can’t believe I am conceding that point, but who would have ever imagined the Terminator would become Governor of California.

🙂

I admit to not watching the debates. I saw things about both sets, but just in the news the next day. Politics is not my thing. So, in lieu of me being the one to run my own country or the world (I know…what a shame), I must learn what I can about those who will have the job and to stay positive.

For smart, witty, and engaging entertainment from The Daily Show’s John Stewart.

He also brought us more talent from the likes of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.

We will have John’s monologues, on YouTube, for years to come:

BULLSHIT IS EVERYWHERE

It was the news, but from a different perspective. It wasn’t dry and stuffy. It was entertaining, but you never doubted the show did its homework.

I could feel Stewart’s passion and his compassion, in every satirical word he spoke on that show.

For the encouragement I receive from other female writers and bloggers, even if they don’t realize it:

The Key to Publishing Personal Essays – Alana Saltz

and

Announcing new FAQs page: one question, sort of answered

from Obscure CanLit Mama, Carrie Snyder.

These ladies have things I want for myself and they make it look easy, but as I go ahead and read more about them, I learn this is not the case. That helps me deal with the dreaded writer’s jealousy, of which I am certainly not immune, but more than that I know what it’s like to truly admire their work and, for that matter, their hard work.

For the shift forward in accessibility this week, with the Pan Am Games at an end and the start of the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, this was the news I was thrilled to hear:

CN Tower Launches Accessible Wheelchair EdgeWalk Experience with Paralympian Rick Hansen and TORONTO2015 Games on August 7, 2015, TORONTO2015 Parapan Am Games Opening Day

I know CN Tower has had their safety guidelines for the EdgeWalk, but I wasn’t about to accept that I could not walk up there, out around the edge of the CN Tower last year:

Manifesto: Walking on the Edge

I will never forget my walk on the edge of a tower in Toronto and I want that same experience for everyone.

For the pride and the hope.

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays is doing well again. Will it last?

Well, currently they are on a seven or eight game winning streak and are beating the popular New York Yankees.

The memory of the two consecutive World Series wins (92-93) gives Toronto something to strive to find again, the glory of the championship.

For the presence, of two very special boys, these past few years.

Right now, this week, I am right smack dab in the middle of two birthdays for two amazing boys in my life.

I always think of the Elton John song “Your Song”, when I think of the blessings my niece and nephews are to me, but it’s the Ellie Goulding cover that I go to when it comes to my favourite lyric:

“I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

They are two fun, sweet, and smart kids and I am proud to be their Auntie Kerry.

And so with July firmly behind, I am looking ahead into the rest of August. I have a feeling the stakes are going to become higher in the next few weeks, with what is meant to be and I am glad I have these things to be thankful for, whatever that might look like.

So there you have it: my week of zen.

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, TGIF, Writing

Not My Interview With Robert Munsch

Hi Kerry:

Thank you for writing. I am sorry but Mr. Munsch is not available for
interviews. He had a stroke a couple of years ago and more recently a heart
attack. He is no longer visiting schools, touring or doing interviews. He
is concentrating on his over 200 unpublished stories.

I have copied below an interview he did. I hope it answers some of your
questions.

***

Lunch with Munsch

Canada’s most beloved children’s writer goes nuts with story-telling but
takes kids seriously

by Barb Williamson

Journal Staff Writer

Edmonton

When Robert Munsch tells a story, kids listen.

Perhaps it’s the animation in his face or his booming voice or the way he
waves his arms wildly to illustrate a point.

Munsch has kids captivated.  At 54 he has sold over 30 million children’s
stories.  About 20,000 letters from fans reach him in Guelph, Ontario every
year.

Munsch made a stop in Edmonton last week on tour to promote his latest
book, Up, Up, Down, a story about a girl named Anna who loves to climb.

Set all expectations aside when sitting down for lunch with Munsch.  His
best-seller status has not turned him into a snob. What you see is who he
is, not who he pretends to be.  Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, Munsch is
surprisingly the exact opposite of his boisterous stage persona.

He smiles a lot.

Sitting down to lunch, he begs the waitress for black coffee and orders a
tropical fruit plate with two croissants.  It comes with banana bread.  No
complaints from Munsch.

Throughout the interview he is honest and direct, and most refreshing,
seemingly untouched by his success.

*What were you like as a kid?*

There were nine kids.  I was in the middle. There was no individuality.  And
I was a kind of very smiley nutcase.  The older kids had all the sane
family roles.  I guess I tried to be a clown.

*What intrigues you most about children?*

Kids are so new.  They’re so open-ended.  I can look at a kid and wonder
what they’ll be. The job of children is to be professionally appealing to
adults.  That’s how they get what they need.

*Tell me how Up, Up, Down came about.*

This is an old story that started in 1978 as just a finger play with
two-year-olds.  I gradually turned it into a book for older kids.

*What’s the best way to read to a child?*

People do it a lot of different ways and they’re all right.  But I have a
few general rules.  If the book isn’t working, say “The end” and get
another one.  Feel free to change the text.  That’s what I do when I tell
stories. Reading can be an interactive game.  It can be more than just
decoding the text.

*What do kids really want in stories?*

They want to be able to identify.  To kids there’s only one character in a
story and that’s themselves.

*Is there anything you won’t write?*

I won’t write stuff that kids don’t like.  A lot of kids’ books are
actually adult books in disguise.

*How do you define your success?*

I guess sales or recognition or something like that.  One of the nice
things about audiences of little children is they’re not impressed by my
reputation.  They don’t care.  Here’s a man who’s going to tell stories.  If
they like the stories they’ll be nice and if they don’t like the stories
they’ll be brats. Their impression is not filtered through some idea of
reputation, which it might be with adults.  They’re sort of like, what has
he done for me in the last five seconds?

*What’s the best thing about being a writer?*

Being able to construct my own life.  It gives me a lot of freedom.

*When people ask you how to become a writer, how do you answer that
question?*

When people say I want to be a writer, the first thing I say is get a
job.  First
get a job, make sure you’ve got a job to make money.  Adults will say,
“Well, I’ve decided to become a writer” and I’ll say “Well, what have you
written?”   They say, “Well I haven’t written anything yet but I’ve decided
to become a writer.” There’s something wrong with that.

*Do you still climb trees?*

I still climb trees.  I take my dog on walks out in the country.  There’s a
couple of really big white pine trees.  First I have to climb up a spruce
tree, go across at about 10 m up, then I climb a white pine tree so I get
really high and deathly scared because the tree is swaying in the wind.
Yes, I still climb.  I’m the only 54-year-old I know that still climbs
trees.

*What did you do before you wrote children’s stories?*

In high school I was a dweeb who just read.  I went off to study to be a
Catholic priest for seven years.  That didn’t work massively.  I left that
job, moved to Ontario, went into day care because I wanted a year off to
figure out what to do with my life.  I thought, “What could I do with a
degree in philosophy?” But I decided I liked day care.

*How did you become an author?*

I started telling stories in day care because it was just something I was
good at.  I actually started, and this is what I still do, I make up
stories in front of kids and see how they do.  In day care I was making up
one story new every day and then they’d ask for one old one.  So the kids
were a filter.  A lot of my first books were in my head in day care but I
didn’t know they were books.  I thought they were just stories.

*You have a reputation as an amazing storyteller.  Where does that talent
come from?*

I don’t know.  I used to think anybody could do it. Then I tried teaching
it to people and I found out they couldn’t do it.  I’m not sure where it
comes from.  Maybe a little bit that I’m a bit of an obsessive compulsive
manic depressive who goes nuts with stories.

*What’s your favourite colour?*

Black, because nobody else has the favourite colour black.

*What’s your favourite food?*

Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot chicken wings or Indonesian coconut and lemongrass
soup.

*Favourite book?*

Of mine?  I Have To Go.  I also love The Cypresses Believe in God, by Jose
Maria Gironella.

*What kind of dreams do you have?*

I have a lot of dreams where I’ve lost something and I’m trying to find it
and I can’t.  It’s just sort of those panic sort of dreams.

*What are you most scared of?*

Getting burned.  Flames.  I love fires and I like to build fires but I’m
deathly afraid of getting burned.

*What do you find most comforting?*

Pancakes with real maple syrup.  That’s my big comfort food. I make my own
pancakes from scratch with real maple syrup and black coffee and the world
is just fine.

*Why do you write children’s stories?*

I don’t know.  Why are carpenters carpenters?  Because it’s something
they’re good at.  I’m good at this.  Why not do something I’m good at
instead of something I’m lousy at?

*Do you have children?*

I have three kids: Julie who was the kid in David’s Father AND Makeup Mess,
Andrew who is the kid in Andrew’s Loose Tooth; and Tyya who is the kid in
Something Good. All three of my kids are in the book Finding Christmas.

*And what kind of a father are you?*

I was lucky because I didn’t have a regular job by the time my kids were
growing up.  My kids just got used to the idea that daddy was always around
to play with or to come and talk.  I really liked having kids.

*Do you consider yourself a big kid?*

No, I just take kids seriously.  If you look at my books they’re mostly
about apparently trivial situations.  They’re everyday events in kids’
lives.

*What was your favourite book as a child?*

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss.  The little kid kept
getting in trouble no matter what he did. That seemed to be my role in my
family.

***

On this Fiction Friday I decided, if I couldn’t get an interview with the man himself, I’d at least share one done by someone who had.

🙂

I have sent email requests for interviews to three writers since I started this blog: Alice Munro, Jean Little, and Robert Munsch.

Thanks to:

Sharon Bruder, Assistant

I at least received a response back this time.

http://robertmunsch.com)

Looking forward to hearing more about some of the 200 previously unfinished stories, mentioned above.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Social Media

It’s Monday and time for another Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.
Before I get to the answer to today’s question,

Redefining Disability on Facebook.

Rose is the brains behind this whole thing,

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

but I invite anyone who is interested in this subject to feel free to visit, not only her original post, but also the extended community I hope will grow on Facebook.
I read Rose’s questions and have been answering them, along with others, but I think a Facebook page could be a wonderful place to share posts and articles about disability.
I think RDAC and the Facebook page are a place to redefine what disability means to the people who live it, to bring awareness to the issues that surround it, and to express the challenges that come up when living with any sort of disability imaginable.
Hope to talk to you all there.
***
Q: What would you like the general public to know about your disabilities, disability in general, or any other relevant subject?
A: I have been seeing a lot of stories on the news lately.
There have been the multiple features about customers being denied entry into public buildings in Toronto, with their service animals.
Is it up to the police to do anything about this?
What is their duty to enforce the law that a guide dog or any other service animal is legally permitted in any public space?
I have had this happen to me in the past. I can feel these people’s outrage, to be denied the right to enter a cafe, to get something to eat, with their guide.
Then there was the story of a cafe which is run by all visually impaired workers.
The workers say, in the piece, they want to illustrate to the customers and the world that people with visual impairment are just as capable as anyone else.
People in the piece said they made excellent coffee.
I make coffee all the time. I can understand why they want to showcase this to the world. I think it’s great, but I didn’t like that there was a part of me which felt they could become a thing of entertainment. People sitting there and enjoying the show of blind people trying to serve their customers.
Are these stories becoming entertainment, like watching animals in the zoo?
I know, I know. This could all be in my own head and I don’t mean to be over-sensitive.
I just felt strange, as I watched all these stories on the news over the past few weeks.
In my gut, I understand, it’s important and it’s all a series of steps to educate and eventually enough awareness will make them see…
The stories and the feel-good articles are increasing, more and more lately.
On one hand I like that attention is bring awareness. I don’t wish for any “but” I might add to take away from that fact.
So I say however…
🙂
I feel an undercurrent, a squirming in my stomach as I sense the awareness heightening and the barriers being removed.
I want the public to know everything these media covered stories have been speaking about. I feel the urge to educate, to protest, and to advocate.
Then I feel the discomfort that I have to do this at all.
I think, I worry, that these stories are becoming our feel-good dose of the warm-and-fuzzies for us all, a mass media love-fest.
As someone with one of these disabilities, I realize a lot of this is my own issue, my own unresolved issues.
I want to show this discomfort in one more example:
I came across this article in the Huffington Post.
Is this real? Is it true? How authentic is this?
A woman is going blind and her husband struggles to help her and to go on loving her, the best way he knows how.
Awwww.
Is it right? Is it sweet?
Read for yourselves:

Here
and for the short film, on its own, go
Here.

The acting feels forced. The script feels odd, to me.
People read this stuff and think so many things. I simply have no control on how this sort of thing is seen when it’s put out there for the public’s viewing pleasure.
It makes you feel good to read a headline like that. Publications like the Huffington Post come across stories like this and it’s an immediate jackpot. They know their readers will eat that stuff up with a spoon.
I can certainly understand the way she has of feeling like more of a patient or a child, the sense of feeling like a burden rather than an equal.
I know the sentiment. I just don’t know about its delivery.
I want to have frank and open discussions when I can, which isn’t always possible. It’s more likely that people will see articles and short films on YouTube, coming to their own conclusions, which may or may not help.
Here is the only place I can speak what I feel and know to be true.
Please think about these things when you read or watch them. These situations are rarely simple. They involve feelings and emotions. They are reasons to get worked up, to feel concern, and to register emotions that are often disguised from view.
I want to keep speaking and keep writing because that’s how I can be heard.
***
What are your thoughts on these stories? Do you read articles like this often? How do they make you feel?
Next week:
If you could cure the disabilities that affect your life, would you?
I get asked this question more than most and have all my life.
Stay tuned for the answer, which has evolved some as I’ve gotten older.
And please feel free to like the Facebook page I linked to at the beginning of this post.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Dating in the Dark

All joking aside:

Blind Bonus.

There are some questions I’ll probably never totally come to a decision on.

***

Q: In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities?

Examples might be that it’s harder to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.

A: Yes. Yes. Yes.

🙂

One way this is the case is in dating, but today I will speak specifically about online dating.

I could write a whole book on this subject, with the experience I have had with it over the last five years, but up until now I have resisted writing anything to do with this fast-growing method of finding love.

I have resisted, not sure why that is.

Dating is one interpersonal relationship issue I have yet to write extensively on.

It is, indeed, harder to form this kind of relationship when you can’t locate a stranger, out of a crowd, with whom you might have an interest in. It can narrow down the places where meeting someone is possible. All of this, and yet I was determined and I have had some success.

The question here is one I struggle with every time I begin speaking with a new guy online.

Of course, in person it is obvious, often glaringly so. I like to think I can fit in, in public, and not stand out as the blind girl. This isn’t always very realistic for me to think.

Online, I have never been able to decide when and how to bring it up.

Do you, perchance, know the answer to this?

🙂

Do I mention it first thing in my online dating profile? Do I casually attempt to sneak it in the middle somewhere? Or leave it until the last few lines?

Am I looking like I mean to hide the fact, if I don’t come right out and say it? Do I ruin things before even getting started, scaring someone off, if I make it the first thing they read?

I don’t want my blindness to be all I am; it’s not.

I want to be able to show that I am a well-rounded person, with many interests and passions. My blindness is a factor, for sure, but it can’t be how I define myself overall or that is how others will start defining me too.

Yes, people do treat me differently when I do reveal this one detail in particular. This, I understand. I can empathize.

Whether I reveal it in my first message, during a subsequent phone call, or when they show up to meet me face-to-face.

I have experienced different amounts of shock and surprise. I have heard it all, from the pause of several seconds, to the stuttering response, to the normal array of curiosity and its companioning questions.

Like anything else, it isn’t a good idea to leave it out and just show up for coffee, cane in hand. This, like being less than honest about current weight or age, it can result in a bad rapport from the start. I know not to pull this on anyone. It really is not fair and it leaves me awkward and fumbling too.

I like to know, somewhat, what I am getting and I want the other person to have the same courtesy from me.

At the moment I am watching a tribute special for Stevie Wonder.

Of course, it is no secret that Stevie is blind. He doesn’t seem to have had any trouble meeting partners in his own life. I doubt this “wonder” has never had to utilize online dating to find women.

then again, who knows.

At one point, host LL Cool J asks everyone to take a moment and close their eyes, even going as far to darken the screen, while the song Stevie wrote for his baby daughter years ago is being performed by a few fans and fellow performers.

http://entertainthis.usatoday.com/2015/02/16/stevie-wonder-tribute-beyonce-john-legend-lady-gaga/

This is certainly an interesting part of this special. I was wondering when they were going to address his blindness. I figured they would.

Now I am no Stevie Wonder.

🙂

I haven’t had his talent or fame to help me meet people.

Stevie Wonder has been the main spokesperson for the blind community, world-wide. When most people think of blindness, they think of him. He has been extremely successful in his life, blindness notwithstanding, but dating, love, and children are experienced differently when unable to see the faces of loved ones.

I know it is a touchy subject sometimes. I wish there was a one-hundred percent agreed upon answer to my main question of this post.

I know online dating works. If I keep my eyes open, pardon the pun, I can and have found those who are willing to be flexible and give dating a blind woman a shot.

I have never been accused of trying to hide my blindness when commencing conversations with anyone online. I’ve found the right time to slip in my blindness in there. It works and I am always navigating the turns and the bumps of dating online.

I guess some questions will never have definitive answers to them. This, I greatly dislike. I like to know which way to go when I am struggling with a question and when no answer presents itself to me, I rail at the uncertainty.

I don’t want to be treated different, but unfortunately this is unavoidable in most instances.

Someone who has never before spoken to a blind person will not usually know, right off the cuff, how to handle themselves.

I try to make them feel at ease, by simply speaking of your normal, run-of-the-mill things that anyone who’s just getting to know another person might discuss.

This is often all it takes to keep things moving forward. And forward is the only way any hoped-for relationship will have a chance.

Sure, some may halt any further conversation, but there’s always more out there. Sometimes, the shock of it is just too much for a person to handle. That is their prerogative.

I could always start a new series on this blog, online dating adventure series, but i think I’ll continue to resist this impulse.

🙂

You never know. Maybe this week’s question will have started something, but then again I am not sure people want to hear about such things on a regular basis.

I wonder if there’s a site out there, devoted only to online dating stories, good or bad.

Well, while I’m off to investigate that further, please offer your thoughts and/or opinions on my question and I will leave you with my favourite of Stevie’s lesser well-known hits.

Stevie Wonder – PArt Time Lover – YouTube

***

Have you ever tried online dating?

Did you ever find out something about someone you were talking with that surprised you? When is it important, do you think, to provide certain details?

How have others reacted when you’ve offered up something you’ve been nervous to mention?

On next week’s Memoir Monday post, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

is a question that is at the heart of this whole thing.

Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability?

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Travel Tuesday, Uncategorized, Writing

Starting Fresh

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

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

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

A Dangerous Business.

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

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

Fresh Idea Websites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Speakers Association,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oxford Kitchen Restaurant

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

🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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