Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

Time For A Change

Who are you voting for? Who am I voting for?

Good question.

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“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”
–JEG

***

From Harper Lee to Stephen Harper.

Another one of these “In The News” posts, two weeks in a row, but this one is a special edition, not my favourite topics, but definitely in the news here.

I read so many awful, nasty comments in the Facebook post from a local college. The question of refugees, Syrian and other, was being debated. It was shockingly sad to hear some of the statements people were making.

What would I do if I had a home no more and had to leave? What would I want?

I did one project, in high school, about the immigration process. I have no clue, being born a Canadian, what it takes to become one.

Is Stephen Harper pushing a cynical agenda, a lot of prejudice against any specific group of people? Could anybody be so wrong as to vilify any whole group of people for the actions of the few? Are there those living here who don’t feel safe, feel wanted, feel accepted?

I knew very little about much when 9/11 happened. I don’t see how bad it’s said to have gotten since. That’s not my experience, but I know how important it is to feel like a part of one’s country, society, treated like a real person who matters.

Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen

“It was great to be in London with hundreds of enthusiastic Conservatives last night. People here want lower taxes, balanced budgets, and more good Canadian jobs. They’re voting Conservative on October 19th. Will you be doing the same?”
–Stephen Harper

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has been leading Canada for, what seems like forever to me now.

Does that mean it is time for a change?

Research. Educate. Check the facts. Pay attention to your gut. What are the facts anyway?

I have felt an unease, a slide, a nagging in the pit of my stomach these last few years. I don’t think I like what’s happened to my country, the direction we’ve been led in, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been happy before that and I just wasn’t paying much attention.

I’m told Harper looks so staged when he speaks. He won’t allow for questions. He won’t answer, won’t address.

What’s going on with the environment? What is our stance on military issues, fighting, peace?

Harper’s talk is always about budgets and other boring things. Okay, so they are necessary for the running of any country, but I know very little about them. I try to educate myself, watch the news, but read a lot, honestly, on Facebook. Articles are posted there and I read about how other Canadians live and the concerns they’re having.

His threats are all fear based. I hate that. The other guys, Trudeau or Mulcair, they will screw our country up, Harper and all Conservatives keep saying.

Vote for him or they will raise taxes. Vote for him or spending will become out of control. We wouldn’t want that, right? What sane person would want that? Of course. No brainer?

I hear this again and again. I never hear him talk about the health of the environment. I never hear any feeling in his voice. Do I truly believe that he cares at all? Would anyone else, anyone, do a worse job than he’s done? Could it get any worse? How bad is it really?

Disabled Canadians Are Invisible In This Election

Promises. Promises. Promises. I am tired of broken promises. I don’t want to feel invisible anymore.

The US has the Americans With Disabilities Act. Canada has the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but I am looking or feeling for more of this. It is a big concern for me, even if many Canadians are more worried about taxes.

The rich, middle-class, poor. Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green Party…so much to keep up with and keep track of.

Who do I want to run Canada? Who do I vote for and do I only feel as strongly as I do because that is how I was raised? Hmmm.

How do people pick up their beliefs? I wonder all of this as the next federal election is coming in a few short days. I want to vote, make the right choice, and see it make a difference. Is this all possible?

These are some of the questions I have been pondering lately, in the run-up to October 19th.

Re-elect Stephen Harper? Vote Liberal and Justin Trudeau or NDP and Tom Mulcair?

I voted, for the first time, back in the last election. I have done it a few times only. I didn’t exercise my right to vote, as a Canadian citizen, up until recently.

I know why I didn’t vote before that. It’s the same reason many people don’t.

Oh, I can’t possibly make the slightest bit of difference. I hate politics. I don’t know who to vote fore, so why bother, casting a vote for someone I don’t even really like?

I said all of these to myself. It is true that I hate politics.

It’s rhetoric. It’s attack ads. It’s making false promises, only to not come through with them after being elected. I loath it all.

I guess I wish we didn’t have to deal with it, but there are worse things, like not having the ability to vote at all. I tell myself this now, in moments of pure annoyance, and I say to myself that I’m damn lucky to live in Canada, even with the parts I dislike. I should be grateful and thankful and I should vote, just because I can.

So that old question, that I’ve struggled with, has been resolved in my mind. The next question, after the why, is the whom?

“Nice hair though.”

This has been a favourite line of Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau, along with the pronouncement that he’s just not ready yet.

I don’t know how anybody could be ready to run a country.

Do I vote for the liberals? NDP?

I ask my dad what he thinks. He tries to explain about the local politician in our area, which has been Conservative for a while. I grow weary of politics, but I must become more informed.

Minority government. Majority government. And my mind begins to drift. Blah blah blah.

I wish I had more interest in these things, but I honestly begin to doze. Politics, I can’t grow up and get away from the feeling of boredom I have always felt at thinking about government and all of its proceedings.

But then I listen to my father’s passion when he speaks of the country his parents came to, all those years ago, to start a new life. They gave him one, made one for him and his brothers. I truly believe hearing the passionate tone of my father, to understand what he cares about seeing for Canada, has been good for me. It’s taught me to figure out what I feel strongly and passionately about too. He’s shown me the importance of paying attention to how I feel and what my heart tells me is right.

I wonder how much family has influenced my thinking, but at some point we must all decide for ourselves what we believe.

I know what I truly think and feel, somewhere deep down, in my gut, I know. So why then do I still question it?

I know I want protection of our resources, our wild life, our oceans. Just the word “oil” has begun to leave a bad, you might even say an oily taste in my mouth.

🙂

I know I want freedom, to remain the welcoming people we Canadians like to think we are…to feel like we are accepting of all races, cultures, and religions.

People are going on about their discomfort with the niqab. It doesn’t affect me. I wonder what it matters to anyone else. I can’t see the coverings Muslims wear. Why do we fear this? We do not understand. It’s a sign of oppression, as we’ve been told, hear about in extreme cases that make the news.

Can we sit down and talk to those people, those women, to find out if they are happy. Do they have good lives? Are they afraid?

Islam and the Muslim religion are the targets in our world today, not only here in Canada, as we all know.

Culture and belief systems are powerful things. I don’t see to judge. Being blind helps me with that.

“This is Canada. If they don’t like it, they can go back to where they came from.”

This is something said repeatedly, at nauseam. I want us all to live our lives how we want, as long as that doesn’t include harming others. Why is that so complicated?

Instead, again there’s only more separation, more division, more one side against another. I want to feel like this isn’t always the case in Canada.

Fear of terrorism is real, but how much? How afraid should I really be that my safe home could ever see the kind of danger other parts of the world see? Do I fear or do I remain rational, find compassion, believing in a just and peaceful world?

Most people are good, only want to be left alone, to live their lives. Why must we make it more than that?

Okay, so after talking about all these things, what answers have I really found? What conclusions have I actually reached? Where do I stand?

I must go now and stop reading the upsetting things being said, the nasty back-and-forth comments on Facebook posts about who should run Canada after Monday, and move no to more important things, things that feel hopeful and positive. This afternoon’s game, the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers. It’s all up to Toronto now.

This is their shot. Can they do it?

#ComeTogether

All I know is I feel better when I hear how hyped people around here are. The impassioned back-and-forth of politics giving way to the pride in our only MLB team.

What is it about sports, a baseball team, a game that makes us all feel so energized?

I wonder, as I’m watching. I feel the excited tension in the pit of my stomach, a nervous energy, but a quickening of my pulse, my heartbeat. It’s just a game of course, but the feeling is contagious.

Of course there are those little funny things that make the game extra fun.

US broadcaster’s comments anger all of Canada

Not such a big deal. He didn’t know. He didn’t know I spent more time, as a child, not playing baseball because of my visual impairment, but playing around a baseball diamond. My sister, my brother, my parents all played. He didn’t know. Made a silly comment and suddenly Twitter was buzzing.

I focus on the positivity I get from my mom. They can win this. It’s possible.

As Scarlet O’Hara mused, in Gone with the Wind: I will go back to thinking about politics and the important issues of the day, in the news, tomorrow.

Indeed Sheryl, indeed.

Oh no! Will she sue me for using this song in my post, if she doesn’t agree with my political views? Hope she doesn’t see this.

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Blogging, Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

Spotlight: Mamarazzi

Mamarazzi

By Brooke Williams

Release Date: September 11, 2015 from Prism Book Group

Order

HERE.

Danica Bennett isn’t sure what she hates more…her job or the fact that she’s good at it.  As one of the many Hollywood paparazzi, she lives her life incognito and sneaks around trying to get the best shot of the latest star.  When she is mistaken for an extra on a new, up and coming TV show, her own star rises and she becomes the one being photographed.  Add that to the fact that she’s falling for her co-star, Eliot Lane, and Danica is in a whole heap of trouble.

My Review:

Who is The Mamarazzi?

Who is the one behind the disguise?

Danica is doing what she can, taking pictures of celebrities, to make a living. Her first love is photography and she has big plans and dreams, but must support her sick mother. How can she come out from behind her disguise and be the daughter any mother would be proud of?

Eliot is the big star and he has his eyes on Danica, from the first moment she works as an extra on set of his new hit show.

Heat, sparks, and water. She is nervous to be around him and is pleased to find out he is a complete catch, unlike his co-star.

The two of them are powerless to fight their mutual attraction, as Eliot shows her the acting ropes, but her secret threatens to blow it all apart.

She must get the perfect shot. What is she willing to risk for that?

She discovers someone else’s secret and there is someone out to destroy any chance she might have for happiness with Eliot.

I read this story, in nearly one sitting. It is a sweet read and William’s writing style makes you route for Danica and Eliot, from that first connection on set.

Hollywood chews and spits out many, and it’s due to William’s writing and her love story, given to two deserving characters, that makes Mamarazzi stand out.

It’s a fabulous reveal of the hidden world of Hollywood paparazzi and with the twists and turns of a love story, put to the test.

Note from the Author on the book’s inspiration:

I’ve always been fascinated by the Hollywood life and the idea that “they” are different from “us.” The idea for Mamarazzi has been with me for a long time. I’m not even exactly sure when I came up with it, but in college, I had a screenwriting class and I had to write a portion of a screenplay. I wrote “Paparazzi,” which was the same general idea only with a male lead character. When I began writing romantic comedy, the idea came back to me and I decided to chance the main character to a female and call it “Mamarazzi.” I even had a naming contest so that facebook fans and blog readers could name the characters in the book. Every character in the novel is reader named and approved!

Overall, I wanted to examine what happens when you take someone from one side of the fence and plop them on the other side. In the end, famous or not, we’re all just people. And in this book, they all have secrets…

About the Author

Brooke Williams writes in a sleep-deprived state while her daughters nap. Her romantic comedy is best read in the same state. Brooke has twelve years of radio in her background, both behind the scenes and on the air. She was also a television traffic reporter for a short time despite the fact that she could care less about hair and make-up. Today, Brooke stays at home with her daughters and works as a freelance writer for a variety of companies. When she isn’t working for paying clients, she makes things up, which results in books like “Accept this Dandelion.”  Brooke is also the author of “Accept this Dandelion,” “Wrong Place, Right Time,” “Someone Always Loved You,”  “Beyond the Bars.” She plans to continue the Dandelion story into a series and looks forward to her first children’s book release “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut” in June 2016. Brooke and her husband Sean have been married since 2002 and have two beautiful daughters, Kaelyn (5) and Sadie (nearly 2).

You can find her over at her website:

http://www.authorbrookewilliams.com/

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

Ruby Red

Lady In Red, Chris DeBurgh, YouTube

I absolutely love the colour red. Scarlet. Ruby. I love it all. Passion, fiery, love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

On this particular one I’m looking back:

one year,

five years, fifty.

***

I was nervous and excited, both all at once, as we drove to the college. I was taking the course online, Creative Writing, but I still had to show up and report to the Accessibility office to write the exams.

A grammar test, on my 26th birthday? I love writing but have never loved learning all the rules of grammar. This was no birthday present.

Along with the feelings of excitement at my birthday dinner, waiting for me on return from the dreaded grammar exam, there was something else: apprehension, but not at anything grammar related.

My grandfather had been ill for a while. As we drove we received a call on my phone that he wasn’t doing well at all. It all went downhill from there.

He had been on his own for nearly five whole years without her. I often wondered how he did it. I don’t mean how did he manage to survive and feed himself without her, but how does anyone truly go on without the one person they spent almost every moment with for over half a century?

Ruby red, like the jewel, rare and one-of-a-kind like she was to him.

She was his Ruby.

They had been married for fifty-five years and had been together for nearly sixty. On this Valentine’s Day and every Valentine’s Day since he died, I think about the meaning of this day.

He did fairly well on his own, at first, in that little house they shared for almost twenty of their married years together. It was the only house I remember them in. It was strange to suddenly go to visit him there, to see how he was making do with looking after himself because she once did so much, but they had been a team.

He cooked his meals and kept himself busy with friends and family. We spent time with him as often as we possibly could, but she was gone and he and the rest of us, we missed her.

After five years of being a widow, he had suffered multiple strokes, his eyesight worsening with each one.

After sharing a driver’s education manual with his sixteen-year-old granddaughter, he passed his renewal driver’s test on his eightieth birthday, but he wouldn’t drive for long after that.

By this particular February, his last, he had been living in a retirement home for a while. He’d given up his little house he’d shared with her and seemed to settle in rather nicely in his new place of residence.

He had a spacious private room and the small table and chairs from their house had been placed by his one window. HE still liked to sit there and watch the birds and the squirrels, one of his favourite pastimes.

Occasionally he would still, even after a few strokes, take his cane and walk around the neighbourhood he now lived in.

I enjoyed having him there on Christmas morning once or twice and the drives out to pick him up for the day, for dinner, they were always enjoyable. He made the time pass with his stories of visitors he’d had that week or jokes he liked to tell.

But now here we were, on my birthday, and only days away from Valentine’s Day and things weren’t looking promising. He was having fluid issues with his heart and I had a feeling that this could be it for him and for our time with him.

It was strange, seeing him lying there. I can’t even really recall the last time I spoke to him and what our conversation was. That makes me feel deeply sad because I usually pride myself on my dependable memory, especially for things like this.

All I do remember is leaving the hospital: on a cold, winter night. All the memories I do have of him and hospitals where he actually was somewhat his usual self, they are blended and muddled.

On one of the last days we visited, but he wasn’t at all like he used to be, no going back.

I remember the sound his breathing made, gasping for breath, as we sat tensely, tapping our feet in that small hospital room. I could feel a cold coming on, a sore throat, as I sat and waited…for what?

For the end?

My parents kept more of a vigil by his bedside, along with my uncles.

I went on with my life, in a strange way, as we all unwillingly waited for the inevitable. I celebrated Valentine’s Day the night before, by going to a movie with my boyfriend; all normal Valentine’s Day stuff, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I awoke, on Sunday morning, February 14th, and got ready to go out for breakfast when my parents arrived to bring the bad news we all knew was coming.

HE was gone. He had passed away four years and six months after my grandmother, on Valentine’s Day and on my cousin’s birthday, missing mine by four days.

Of course it really didn’t make a difference, but whatever you believe, I choose to believe he left to be with his love, not wishing to spend even one more Valentine’s Day without her.

On this day I choose, not to focus on my own heart and loss or lack of love, but to focus on the love they shared.

In the end, with all the red roses and the red hearts of Valentine’s Day out there, it was his Ruby that he wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with.

***

I am a storyteller, a lover of stories and yes, even romance. I like to look past all the commercialization of this day and remember their love for one another and how they grew up together: in a sense, how they became the love story they’ve come to symbolize for me.

It will always be a romance story in my head, when I think of the two of them.

Picture a little girl, age four, with pigtails. At least, that’s how my grandfather used to tell the story.

Then picture two boys, age eight, one of them being this little girl’s older brother. The two friends are playing together, leaving the little girl to herself.

Jump ahead twelve or so years and that little girl in pigtails is now sixteen and her brother’s friend is twenty.

They date for four years and then are married.

Five children, twenty-one grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren and counting later.

I think of those two little children, and how they met and how their love grew, when I need to believe in the power and the magic of love. It’s on days like today that I need this image the most and it makes me smile.

So today I wish to recognize the man we lost that day and to honour the love of a lifetime: better, to me, than any fictional love story I’ve yet read. I hope I can find a love even half as devoted and true as theirs.

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