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TToT: Stoking The Fires and Fanning The Flames, #WorldKindnessDay #Armistice100 #TToT

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

—Mary Oliver

I may have used this quote in one of these already, but I like it so much and am using it again.

On Remembrance Day, here in Canada, I pause for silent reflection. Then, I get pissed off.

I’m supposed to feel gratitude and I do, but I look at all the sacrifice and I can’t help seeing waste. Of course, we wouldn’t have the peace we now have if it weren’t for the actions of so many, but I am angry and can’t feel grateful that mankind continues to get itself into ugly, awful wars.

We teach our children to share, to play nice, and to work it out. Yet, adults repeatedly let greed and lack of compassion and a sense of entitlement for what they may have get the better of them. Nationalism is dangerous, while patriotism even gets stuck in my throat sometimes. I am thankful for peace and for Canada, but I see the wider world in pictures, clearly with borders and laws and still I look for more common decency in the face of the things we all deal with.

I’ve been away from
Ten Things of Thankful
for a month at least. I am returning, on this day in particular, because I am still thankful for so much.

Remembrance Day makes me more mad than anything, overshadowing my gratitude. I take peace for granted too, in my own way. I am sick and tired of conflicts and battles because there’s endless suffering and a long lasting mark is left on nations and on their people.

It’s still going on. Maybe not at a world level at this moment, but there’s no guarantee that things won’t worsen into more widespread destruction.

Saying all that…

I’m thankful for all the kindnesses I’m seeing. I’m thankful for those putting out the fires and those celebrating and highlighting peace.

Armistice Day: moving events mark 100 years since end of first world war – as it happened

I am thankful for the live performances, those willing to play their music on stage, and discovering new music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UALTaQeJhMs

These are Moscow Apartment and they are a young duo, two amazing musical girls from Toronto who are so musically accomplished at such a young age. I was so impressed.

Teenagers. I can still relate and empathize so much with that time of life, even as I approach my 35th birthday this February.

I am thankful for
Women’s Travel Fest
and my trip to New York in March. The prospect gives me something to look forward to in the new year.

It will be a challenge for me, traveling to New York City for this conference, but I need to keep on taking chances and going on adventures. I can sometimes get so down on the things I don’t have and focusing on things I do have makes it tolerable.

I’m thankful for my sister, who helps me go jean shopping and writing up invoices for my freelance writing work.

I am thankful for a six-week storytelling workshop. It’s getting me out of my comfort zone.

I’m thankful for a
fantasticly fun friend
on our latest podcast episode.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to talk about the issues of
accessibility, equality, and advocacy
on the radio.

So there’s so much going on and I’m just barely catching up, but I always swore this TToT was a positive thing in my life, getting me focusing on the good things. I wanted to return and I wish I hadn’t been gone for so long.

I’m thankful for this gratitude journal of sorts and everyone who has ever run it or participated in it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVYYpECTuvM

RIP Stan Lee.

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”

—L.M. Montgomery

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TToT: Under My Skin and Out of My Hands – Cascade and Concatenate #10Thankful

It’s March and I’ve been uneasy with the spring weather we had, just a few days ago, and right back into winter storms, Mother Nature not even missing a beat.

I dedicate this song and this week’s thankful post to my niece Mya Lynn on her 1st birthday, though it was last week already.

You Make Me Smile – Dave Koz

She is fourth in a row for nieces and nephews, all of whom make me smile everyday. Whether it’s Mya enjoying her first birthday cake and streamers, her big brother playing Ninja Turtles with his friends at the party, or my other niece and nephew set, making me a Happy Birthday video from the airport as they prepare to fly somewhere warm for a week – they all make my list, top of the list, each week I do this and all those weeks I’m not feeling well enough to do this. That’s when their ability to make me smile is needed all the more, though I happily take it anytime.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful my ERG test went off without any problems, rather painlessly, though slightly uncomfortable at certain points.

Look at the bright, red light. Don’t blink. Count to fifteen. Now you can look away, close your eyes.

I hear back about what it is my retinal impulses say in a few weeks.

The woman doing the test was cheerful and friendly and helpful as she attached the electrodes to my earlobe, eyelid, and my wrist. Luckily, my right eye is my only real eye and so it was only that side I had to be tested on.

I’m thankful I haven’t caught the flu this year.

So many seem to have caught it, different bouts and strains, more than once. I don’t know. I did have my flu shot, though that topic is controversial.

I get colds, not flus.

I’m thankful a celebration of compassion returns.

Sewing The Seeds

It was February of 2015 when I heard a bunch of bloggers/writers hatching a plan to spread words of compassion throughout the online community, to combat all the awful events on the news, taking place all around the world.

It was a project with a lot of steam at first and it lasted several months, but slowly died down over time. People ran out of ways to write about the topic of compassion for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion and we all moved on.

Three years later and I found something to say to mark the occasion anyway.

I’m thankful our ninth Ketchup On Pancakes podcast episode was ready for release.

Ketchup On Pancakes – Episode 9 – What’s An iMate?

We are aiming for one a month for the entire year, but we’ll see.

I’m thankful for animal/pet therapy.

My cousin owns a hair salon in her basement. She got a new little puppy for her family last weekend. She is only nine weeks and is hanging out down in the salon with us customers for now.

So, she was the sweetest thing and likes to cuddle with people. She spent my appointment in my lap. It was majorly calming.

I’m thankful for something of a head massage for my sore head at a hair appointment.

As my cousin washed and blow dried my hair, it helped my developing headache, likely from my ERG the day before.

I did not want my appointment to come to an end.

I’m thankful for easy listening and new age nature sounds/music when I’ve got an awful headache.

I found some
Tony O’Connor
in Apple Music when I needed something comforting to listen to.

He has albums entirely devoted to soothing natural habitats such as ocean and rain forrest.

I’m thankful for my cousin who creates the most awesome cakes for any occasion.

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She made one hell of a unicorn cake for Mya’s first birthday. It was delicious, even with all that icing.

I’m thankful for a brother and a friend, both of whom are computer savvy, and who put up with my impatience and my tendency to over think most things.

We had a lot to take care of this last weekend (spread sheets), but we finished off our days together (unofficial CFB executives meeting) by making big plans to look forward to.

I’m thankful for all the renewed joy of having a newborn around this past year, to have that with a little girl who shares my middle name.

In a way, I am deeply sad that perhaps the final baby of the family is growing passed that sweet infant stage, but she is growing into an absolutely adorable little girl with an incredible need to explore her world.

The best is when I am standing there and she crawls over to me, pulls herself up on my legs, and reaches up with her arms out.

Happy Birthday little girl. Xoxoxo Mya Lynn.

March…and lion or lamb…which comes first where you are?

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Silence Is Acceptance, #MeToo #HolocaustMemorialDay #JusJoJan

There are many things I would like to speak about, on an ongoing basis. Listening to stories of survivors of the Holocaust, their strength and bravery in speaking on such horrid things, makes me feel like not enough is said as of yet, from all of us and that we all must say something.

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There are a lot of things going on, past and present, that I’d like to
address
and then something stops me from saying anything at all. Fear, but of what?

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am stuck on the Holocaust and I have been for a long long time. I take breaks from thinking about it, to preserve my sanity, but ultimately this historical event creeps back into my thoughts. I am lucky I can take those breaks. I didn’t experience it, though I know many who did have gone on to live perfectly wonderful lives. It feels haunting, even if I often wonder how I’d have moved on if it had happened to me.

I want to speak on things, to write about them, to make sure people don’t forget. Mistakes are repeated. Humans are doomed to repeat what once was. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

If I speak up on such things, I am told I worry too much, as if I am supposed to forget that if I had lived during the time of World War II I would be considered a waste, as one of the disabled.

Yes, if I’d lived in Europe during that time, if I lived anywhere back then, and even if I lived here, years ago, kidney disease would have killed me.

Morbid, perhaps. Speaking up, or addressing the things that haunt my mind, this unsticks those cobwebs from the furthest corners of my brain.

I am lucky to have an address and a roof over my head, even if my heat does keep crapping out on me. I am lucky to be living in 2018 and celebrating that I was born after the inventions of dialysis and organ transplantation.

I saw Nazis marching in North America, I hear that Poland just made it illegal to mention Poland’s involvement during the Holocaust, and I wonder what to say, what I can say about these furious subjects.

I see people are saying things aren’t so bad, and they aren’t really, but they are for some people and they could be, any day, for more of us. We need to stay vigilant and on guard to halt dangers from reoccurring.

Sexual misconduct and resignations as a result are happening in Canada, in Ontario politics now too. Forget presidents and porn stars. This is not so hard to get, is it?

The men who complain this is going too far, that they can’t even talk to women now, make me want to bang my own head against the wall repeatedly.

Pop culture. Politics. Personal space. Is it really so hard for men to not act inappropriately with women and young girls? Really? Reeeeeeally?

It is maddening. I want to keep addressing all these things, to make people get along, and to practice tolerance and compassion. What is it going to take?

TELL ME!!!

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TToT: Lightbulbs and Lightning Strikes, #LookBackMarchForward #10Thankful

January isn’t making anything easy on me, but it too shall pass.

Somehow, I’ve had Billie Holiday on my mind as this month stretches on, painfully on and on.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the never ending list of ideas that come to me, as potential topics to write about.

Writer’s block, no way, at least not in the usual way of things.

When I am given the job of writing something, I may get a block, but that’s more from my fear of not being able to do the job I was asked to do, not being good enough.

I’m thankful for a return to my writing group in 2018.

It was a difficult day/week/month, but those people are there for me.

I wrote about a young woman, musician, who was hearing the news that Kurt Cobain had died, and wondering how to navigate the perils of fame.

It is a question on my mind. The group listened to my clumsy story and seemed curious, as curious as I am about what I’ve been thinking since I heard Dolores O’Riordan was gone.

I did smile and even laugh, with my group of local writer friends. Worth it.

I’m thankful for a list of tough questions to answer, to better know myself.

I am a writer, but I have a lot to learn. Sometimes, it requires that I look deep into myself, to find the truth. Otherwise, my writing will not keep on the forward momentum I hope to have.

It’s hard work, difficult and painful and sensitive stuff, but I am determined to see things more clearly on the other side.

I’m thankful for a first successful meeting of
The Canadian Federation of the Blind,
Ontario, in 2018.

I’m thankful for a contract opportunity to write about something so important to me.

Braille is not a well understood thing, for many, even as technology takes on bigger parts of all our lives.

My early literacy is thanks to my parents and to the school I was in and braille is a large part of all that.

So, to share about the value of braille is so important to me. I just hope I can do it justice and give to it as much as it has given me.

I’m thankful Canada’s government didn’t shut down.

Disfunction at the highest level.

I know very little about trade agreements, but Canada is doing the work and staying involved with other countries, while moving away from what the US seems to be heading for.

They are being run by someone who only pitches America, America First, or whatever, all things made in America. Whatever, to bring more jobs. I guess that is left to themselves, in their own country. Isolation.

If his government can’t even work together, to stay open a year after his inauguration, how well will they do, on their own, if that is what they prefer?

I’m thankful I could be in on a meeting to discuss traveling out west, for a convention in British Columbia.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind have a convention, every May, where issues important to blind Canadians are discussed.

This year, Ontario is coming to western Canada and we are going to make our mark.

I was only in B.C. in the airport, changing flights to the Yukon. I intend to go back, to speak about the project to make audio description in movie theatres a common thing, and I will see the Pacific Ocean while I’m at it.

I’m thankful that the marching continued, one year later, with all the more reason to do so.

I wondered, did worry, that it was a one year hit action/movement and those who like to criticize would be able to point at the one time visual as a sign that making our voices heard isn’t needed or productive.

I did not see all the signs, but had a few read to me. Some smart sign writers in those marches.

This is a current US president thing, true, but it is bigger than that guy. It is a stand against what has been.

It leaves a bunch of us out, those who find marching in the streets difficult, but it is heartening to me anyway.

I want things to only get better, going forward, in the years to come. I have a vested interest in that, in compassion and in empathy, for not only one gender or class or whatever.

I understand the fatigue that can set in, but we all must keep doing something, however small. I am still working out what that something is for me.

I’m thankful for a chance to listen to a local orchestra, playing my kind of a symphony and to see a movie live, that I missed the first time around.

I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the film, on a big screen at a sport stadium.

Then, I saw the soundtrack being played by live orchestra. It was a strange experience of my senses.

I heard parts of the soundtrack, differently than I’d ever heard them, when blended into the background of the movie on DVD at home.

Int was strange, seeing with a crowd of other major Harry Potter fans, with all the cheers and the comments made by nearby fans.

The bells and the percussion section and the other main instruments that make up that famously known and heard Harry Potter musical sound.

I’m thankful for things that happen (or don’t happen) for a reason.

Maybe I don’t get what I want, in one moment, but that leads me to something else. Maybe I am getting what I can handle, what I need to teach me what I need to know.

Who knows.

I resisted the “door/window” line of optimism.

I am ending, this week, with another comforting song from The Cranberries, the Irish band that was and is no more.

My brother generously added it to his playlist on the radio show he hosts, every Friday morning, on a college radio station in London, Ontario.

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Humbug: Review of “The Man Who Invented Christmas” #Humbug #AChristmasCarol #Review #SoCS

A little
yuletide and humbug for you
on Christmas Eve Eve, or however one might say that.

And now, here we are, and you’ll forgive me if it’s now officially Christmas Eve. I am about to watch A Christmas Carol with my father, a Christmas Eve tradition.

Please enjoy this brief summary/review of the tale of the man who came up with the story in the first place.

Light in places, nearing the absurd, but it took me back to the times, those days.

The year was 1843 and Charles Dickens was under pressure to come up with his next big hit. He’d toured the United States of America and the crowds there loved him, but Christmas was coming and he wanted a seasonal story for the ages.

He swore he could come up with one in a matter of months/weeks.

His home was filled with beautiful new things, purchased from his previous book’s success, and a family full of life. The more he pressed himself to come up with a Christmas tale, the more consumed by it he became.

His household employed a young Irish woman who loved to tell the children old Irish ghost stories. What a thing to share at Christmas I say.

Ghosts at Christmas…well I never!

Charles overheard her telling on of these tales and ran with it and a story of an old miser being visited by three spirits came to life in his head and soon onto the page.

Literally, it came to life, as soon I was confused, as a viewer without sight or an audio track to explain.

Scrooge was there and Dickens was talking out loud. Soon, his room was spread out with papers and his characters, talking to him.

Tiny Tim was apparently inspired by a real life nephew who was ill and whose progress was uncertain when the family came to visit the Dickens’ home.

How did A Christmas Carol come to be? – BBC

Charles deals with a father who was the root of many of his son’s issues, growing up poor and with debts owed. Charles fears the fame drying up and his own future debt, making his own family suffer the way he did as a boy.

His memories of going to a poorhouse and having to work in a factory, being teased by other boys, and all this with deadlines for what was shaping up to become A Christmas Carol.

So, we all know the book does get written, obviously. No mystery there. He did it when he was younger than I am now. Times were different then, or not so much as we’d think. This story still applies.

I only read it (the novel that is), for the first time, a few years ago. To me, the title of this film is apt, as Charles Dickens, in many ways, was the inventor of Christmas, to me, a lot more recent than two thousand years.

My father has been watching that old version of the classic story, the film, since my childhood. When once I couldn’t quite grasp the whole story, finding it boring in parts, I now treasure it for its lessons on compassion and humanity.

I can think of a few souls, in need of a lesson on mistakes of the past that cannot be undone, realities of the present in other places and in the lives of other people, and the chances still available in the future to make things better.

This film told a behind-the-scenes story that made for a pleasant and sometimes gritty glimpse into poverty and one’s life work, in this case being writing. Such a career and success can dry up as fast as from whence it came.

I am inspired, as a writer myself, by a story created, as Charles did, in those stories that span the test of time, from England to North America and around the world.

I’d add this one to any list of movies to view around the Christmas season, for sure.

Humbug and Scrooge to view, for you.

“And God bless us, everyone!”

The Real Reason Charles Dickens Wrote A Christmas Carol – Time

I once mistook the author’s main character for the author himself. Charles Dickens was no humbug!

You’ll forgive me, Mr. Dickens sir, won’t you?

Yule tidings to you all.

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Colours of the Season, #FTSF

I listen for the wishes my niece and nephews have made to Santa this year. They ask for superhero toys and surprises.

So far, last week, I’ve written of
feeling like a misfit
and now
Silver and Gold
after watching Rudolph on television last week.

I wish I could still see colours. Selfishly, I wish that for me, instead of all the endless wishes I wish for the world..

I don’t wish for riches, but sometimes I wish I could see what silver and gold look like again: sparkle and shine.

Of course I wish for world peace, no more manmade wars, and a return to common sense and compassion in so much of the world today, but today I really wish I could see the yellow of my yellow crayon.

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My nephew asked us all our favourite colours yesterday and mine is red. I told him it was red. I wish I could have seen the picture he drew for all of us, superhero stickers included, that he presented to his grandpa.

He’d call out from the kitchen, asking what our favourite colours were, running into the room and running back out again.

I really love all colours and I miss them all. I miss them like dear departed loved ones, when I see the enjoyment colours bring to those I love.

At this time of year, I wish I could once again see red, green, white, silver and gold.

Not trying to dwell a lot on what I can no longer see, colours are missed still most by me.

I dwell. I don’t wallow. Yellow, oh yellow.

Kristi has some
wise and thoughtful
ideas as well, to fit the season of peace on earth and wish making.

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Radical Tenderness, #Compassion #1000Speak

How do we do this, find compassion in these times of insanity and chaos?

I was watching an interview with Stephen Colbert and writer George Saunders last week and the term “radical tenderness” was used to explain how compassion and understanding can be applied, even to those we strongly oppose. Is this possible?

I try to be compassionate and to write and share compassion, but my struggle is just as real, even as I write through my feelings.

I recently wrote about compassion, the other day was Pink Shirt Day, and bullying is real and damaging. I think name calling is unnecessary and immature, but we all do it. I struggle with the fact that I say name calling is wrong, and then I go and call someone something. The new U.S. leader is offensive to my every fibre. I don’t consider this name calling, but more like I’m simply speaking my truth. Whereas, I have vowed not to use his name on my blog, so I now call him 45 and that’s not so bad. It’s when I slip and swear under my breath at something he’s done that has made the news, because of course he has all that power now, power to command all that attention he craves. When I call him a foolish old man, then am I crossing the line into name calling? Is that compassion? Can I tap into my stores of radical tenderness?

This compassion thing isn’t easy. It’s the two year anniversary of
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
this week and I am still sad how the original steam of the movement started here has declined so rapidly.

There is ugliness going on in the world right now, truly, but there is also immense beauty and wonder.

All that ugliness could be part of the reason so many don’t know what else to say about a topic like compassion, I get that, but I can’t stop speaking out about it. I can’t.

The children in our lives deserve the best world we can give them (and so I dedicate my two year anniversary post on compassion to my niece, Mya Lynne, and to all the children, constantly teaching me that compassion is worth it):

I look down into your face, your beautiful face, and I see only a blur wrapped in a blanket. There’s no getting around that. I wish I could see you, but you are real, really here. I hold you tight. You restore my faith, now that you’re with us, and I find new stores of compassion in me.

You are beauty and sweetness and all that is good and right with this world.

And how!

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