Bucket List, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel, TToT, Writing

TToT: A Tapestry of Blue – There Goes June, #10Thankful

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” ~Chinese Proverb

This weekend, I have been here, celebrating Canada Day with family and we have the perfect spot for it, right near all the action of the day’s events.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for our Ontario speeches being posted on Youtube.

I’m thankful to finally be taking an online creative writing class with a writer I admire.

Sonya Huber

I’m thankful for a walk through a downtown, town square, Thursday market.

I could smell fresh fruit/vegetables, garlic and spices, breads, soaps and we stopped, to sit and plunge our hands into the cool water of the fountain.

I’m thankful for fresh cherries.

I’m thankful for three/four person calls.

I’m thankful to live in a country, Canada, with accepting strong parents.

151 reasons why it’s better to be Canadian

I hadn’t even known about reason 118 until reading this.

I’m thankful to be someone’s go-to and trustworthy reader/editor, to look something over.

I’m thankful for a week of peas.

I’m thankful to be a part of a group of people, working for the same goal, even if this means calls to discuss the financial realities.

I’m thankful for a new Florence + the Machine album.

So long June.

I’m not thankful for this heat wave, but that’s why I’m leaving, for a cooler climate.

Wa! Wa! Ha! Ha! Just kidding. It’s Florida.

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The Incredibly Irritatingly Icky Second Last Day of January, #JusJoJan #SoCS

This is the final

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

and adjoining

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

all together for 2016.

The prompt is “an”.

Do you think Linda would mind if I wrote about “An” as part of a word?

As “an” is written about so well here already.

Well, I can do that too. She has taken the opportunity to ask an interesting set of questions.

😉

Today is an awful day, an incredibly icky, irritatingly bad day.

I was supposed to attend the third of a set of three Saturday morning creativity/creative writing workshops. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught some sort of bug.

I haven’t felt nearly as at peace lately as I’ve felt in that room with those other writers. I was crushed when I realized that attempting to be there with them would not be pretty. And so I stay home and write, by myself, again.

I suppose I’ve been attending a creative workshop of sorts, all month, with all these other writers and bloggers who have been doing Just Jot It January, writing from daily prompts, which has been an amazing way to start off 2016 for my blog.

But there was just something to the accompaniment of that with this in person writing retreat, for two hours on Saturday mornings that I needed. Why couldn’t this stupid bug wait just one more day?

But then, perhaps, I might have passed something on to the other writers or the lovely author/writer/instructor running the workshop. Not a nice parting gift to thank her for the excellent job she did.

😦

If I had been feeling better I would have liked to write more on the “Annes’” that matter to me, but since I was forced to miss out on so much quality writing this morning I will keep it brief.

There’s Anne Shirley (my favourite literary character), Anne Frank (a writer of great inspiration to me and my own grandmother (Oma).

That first Anne is, of course, fictional, but a source of great Canadian literary pride for me. The second has influenced me greatly, in the horrible circumstances she had forced upon her and an important lesson offered in history, to do better as humanity as a whole. Third, well, she is gone,

over five years ago now,

but she and her name continue still with my sister and her middle name.

These women are a mixture of fictional, non fictional and historical, and familial. I look to them for different sources of strength and lessons, helping making me into the person that I am.

P.S. Don’t forget the rule about using “an” before words that begin with vowels, instead of “a”, a accident many people make.

Oops.

🙂

Just thought maybe a reminder couldn’t hurt. Anyway…

Speaking of rules.

One more day of this, as January is coming to an end tomorrow and a new month will begin as I say goodbye to being thirty-one.

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If You Were a Tree, What Kind of Tree Would You Be? #JusJoJan

I’m

compelled to do it,

you’re compelled to do it, at least if you are a part of

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan.

Writing. Again I was writing, for the second of a three-part creative writing workshop I am in the middle of this month.

We were talking, in that workshop, about what the compulsion is that means we “must” write. The writer who was leading reads us a poem each time. She gives us an object. Last week it was

vehicles and animals.

This week it was different kinds of trees. We had to list trees we’ve known, from our lives somehow, and then write six short chapters on one of these trees. We have seven timed minutes, a chapter to explore our memories and recollections of what one of these trees has meant to us and our lives.

We are either coming from our perspective or that of the tree.

🙂

We’re asked to describe the tree and our relationship to it, using our five senses. This allowed me to think back to a time when I had sight as one of those five, as I have it less and less now.

I chose the tree from my front yard growing up. It is gone now, sadly, but it played an important role in my childhood. We played under it, around it, and even up in it. It looked down on our front yard, our house, and on us.

Carrie says not to stop writing, from the first minute to the seventh, and to even write out the alphabet if you are unable to think of something to say in that moment.

That sure made for some funny rereads at the end of the morning.

🙂

I brought my braille display, electronic braille machine, so I could write and then be able to read mine with everyone else at the end.

Maybe I will post some of that here, in a future post. I was quite happy with what I came up with, some of it anyway. What Carrie says is true, and that’s why I wanted to take one of her workshops.

It might all be crap, or nonsensical, or it might just turn out to be something great and completely unexpected.

I am compelled to write and I was compelled to take a creative workshop from Carrie Snyder.

Check out even more wisdom from Carrie here.

There is one more morning of the workshop left. I will be sad when it ends. I wish it could continue.

One more week of this jotting everyday in January thing too.

Today’s prompt is from

Willowdot21,

and the rules

can be found right here,

if you feel compelled to give it a try or to just find out what it’s all about.

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TToT: Making Winter Great Again – Take It Easy, #10Thankful

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

–Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

There was a tragic school shooting, here in Canada, at a high school in Saskatchewan. The snowstorm to rival all storms hit parts of the US. Sounds like a rough week, right?

As for me, I keep letting social media get to me, but if it weren’t for Facebook I still would have heard the news. The other day there was another birth announcement, in the family, and even though I am incredibly happy for the new parents, I found myself having a moment.

Why does it happen for some and not others? How will I be okay if it never happens to me?

paulbrianyousophiaonsled-2016-01-24-09-35.jpg

I need to keep writing it down, reasons why I am grateful, and marking the little things that are infused with beauty and sweetness. That’s why I am here, to find the good in life when sometimes, well sometimes it just sucks.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For finally getting to live in such a hip country.

The New York Times Gives Backhanded Compliment, Describes Canada as “Suddenly…HIP?”

Finally!!!

Trudeau praises Waterloo’s brilliant, innovative minds on world stage

Thanks for making us hip Justin.

🙂

Okay, so I’m aloud to begin with a bit of a sarcastic thankful once and a while, aren’t I? Can I still count it?

For snow, even when it’s cold, which it always is.

🙂

(Just a little something for any of the US bloggers who read the TToT, to maybe cheer them up, if the storm didn’t knock out power that is.)

Hashtags: #AwwHellSnow

I don’t know why, but I include snow in this list. Perhaps it’s one of those hip Canadian things.

🙂

littlesnowmanbetweendoves-2016-01-24-09-35.jpg

For perspective, as shown by this photo, and which connects nicely with my next thankful.

Both Sides of the Story – Phil Collins

For forgiveness and the chance to explore my thoughts on the concept.

Both Sides of the Forgiveness Story, #1000Speak

Getting a little perspective on a situation often leads to a better chance for forgiveness.

For rejection.

I can’t believe I am saying this. I sure didn’t feel it in the moment, but I am trying to let each rejection of my writing give me more and more of the determination to keep working at it.

It was painful, just like one of those first rejections I received, almost exactly this time, on another cold January day a few years back.

I don’t know yet if I believe all that stuff about not giving up, letting rejections fuel you, but I know it’s true deep down, somewhere. Even the biggest writers have been rejected at one time. Not every place is going to love or want your writing. I am just thankful I have found the nerve necessary to share, to try, and to get back up and try again.

For an unexpected reminder of what colours look like, something I miss everyday, and from the beautiful mind of a child.

If I Were a Crayon

I apologize for all the pingbacks Lisa.

🙂

For a successful vidchat with blogger friends.

It took a couple weeks to get back to it, but I’m glad it worked out for so many.

There they all were, and there I was, communicating through my phone.

That technology really is pretty cool. Speaking of technology…

For past, present, and future.

As I wrote out some homework of sorts for the writing workshop I was attending in the morning, I thought about days of homework past.

I needed to be able to just read out loud in class, so I pulled out my old, heavy duty Perkins machine. I had forgotten how hard on the arms it can be to jam away at those keys.

The next morning, at the workshop, I brought my Braille Sense, instead of my laptop this time. A Braille Sense is an electronic typewriter of sorts. I could write braille, like with an old broiler. There are three advantages: not so heavy a machine to carry, easier on my arms, and much quieter in class. My old schoolmates know what I mean and only wish I had today’s technology back then.

😉

Technology is always improving, bigtime since I was growing up, and a full tactile/braille tablet is up next. I can’t wait to get me one of these.

For the second of three Saturday morning writing workshops I’ve been attending with a wonderful instructor and for the one who made sure I didn’t miss out. Thanks for the ride. Thank you both for giving me the chance to do what I love.

In the creative writing workshop I am doing at the moment the writer/instructor is helping us appreciate moments, as we write, small things in life.

This is kind of what Lizzi is speaking of here:

In Small Moments

It’s what Carrie was speaking of, to one of the mothers in the group, that the special things and the funny things and the wise things come and go and come again, but some things are over and gone. Small moments. Then Lisa found a way to capture one of them, a snapshot of what her own child is thinking and how she sees the world at a young age. The world will never get something quite like that again. Now it’s caught in writing.

For some new friends showing me a new experience.

I don’t know how many of you know anything at all about Dungeons & Dragons, but I knew only what The Big Bang Theory showed of the game.

I didn’t want to go in with too many preconceived notions. I did not want to judge until I saw for myself.

I guess what I was thankful for about it was the chance to not be myself, not really, but instead to become whatever else I wanted, for a few hours. I was a neutral sorcerer. I wasn’t Kerry for a while and that break from the harsh realities of life was the welcomed part, that and laughing with some interesting people.

The Eagles – Take It Easy

“Take it easy. Take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. We may loose and we may win, but we may never be here again.”

We say goodbye to Glenn Frey, another rock musician, but these words calmed me down this week when I needed to hear them.

“Life is terribly deficient in form. Its catastrophes happen in the wrong way and to the wrong people. There is a grotesque horror about its comedies, and its tragedies seem to culminate in farce. One is always wounded when one approaches it. Things either last too long or not long enough.”

–Oscar Wilde

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Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells #JusJoJan #SoCS

I’m good with this week’s

Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt,

but only because Linda promises it doesn’t require doing any math to take part, swearing she wasn’t even thinking of math when she decided on the prompt.

🙂

Such a huge relief when I heard that.

#SoCS

How strange that she didn’t even think of math (odd and even). How odd really.

😉

But you wanna hear something even odder?

One moment I’m taking another creative workshop (creative writing) and the next I’m creating in a whole other way, the Dungeons & Dragons way.

Now if there’s ever anything I never imagined myself doing, it would be playing that game. Well, now I can say I did it, can tick it off of my bucket list of things to try, even though I never even had it on my bucket list to begin with. Learning to play violin, like I intend to begin on my birthday next month maybe, but not this.

I immediately think of

odd/even

as a math thing and there was plenty of math involved in this game, but there was also a lot of using your imagination. That I knew I could do.

Admittedly, the only place I’d really ever seen anything about this game was on Big Bang Theory. Well, when I actually got invited to find out more for myself, by a few people from my Writer’s Circle group, I figured I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see for myself, the real thing in action.

I can’t believe how intricate and complex it is and how many rules there are. I could hardly keep up. There is so much that goes into it, but I tried not to judge, for one day, instead to just find out firsthand.

I chose to be a sorcerer.

🙂

I could do magic. I was neutral. Hmmm. What else? What else?

I could throw my spear, send out my cat on missions, daze my enemies, or detect magic.

It took something like three hours, just to choose characters and their traits, powers, abilities or whatever the proper terms are. There are manuals and manuals for this thing, I discovered. There are several additions, as it’s been around for so many years now.

It’s a strange and alien world to what I’ve known thus far, but now I can add it to the ever growing list of experiences I will likely never forget. I am just trying, as the new year progresses, to go for it, taking any opportunities that come my way. I couldn’t not go and see what it was all about.

What’s odd to one person is another’s normal. Who’s to say what’s “odd” anyway, even if something has a cultural oddness attached, even if most people wouldn’t play a certain game, others love it for so many reasons.

I got to see a few of those reasons. I got to watch it, in all its imaginary glory, as so much adventure and danger and fun, sitting and rolling a few dice and going on quests in your own head and with the heads of those around you.

Odd, but there was no sign of a dungeon or a dragon at all. Oh, but there was a crypt and a giant celestial fire beetle? Huh?

🙂

There are so many rules for so many things,

in role playing games and in this blogging challenge,

but you just never know what you might discover through it all.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

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TToT: 1000 Voices, 1000 Goodbyes – Stardust and Lilies, #10Thankful

“As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. … I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death,” said Professor Severus Snape.

–Harry Potter

Unfortunately, this is fiction and Alan Rickman wasn’t so lucky this past week. Neither was David Bowie or Celine Dion’s long-time manager and husband, Rene Angelil.

Cancer is a bitch!

Since I can’t think of a less thankful item, when this whole week cancer has been in the news, I will just focus on some things I am thankful for.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the gifts, talents, and art left behind, even when the creators of these things are lost to us all.

I have never been a huge David Bowie fan. I missed the boat, all throughout the 70s and when he was first making his mark.

I think, for better or for worse, not being able to see Bowie is part of why I am unable to totally grasp what a unique statement he made. This isn’t to say I don’t believe he was talented, as I can tell from the outpouring of tributes since his death how much of an impression he made on the world of music and more. I did have my favourite Bowie songs though, for sure.

Modern Love – David Bowie

For art, even when it is frightening, sad, or painful to watch.

Some forms of art and creative expression are understood, fully, only by the original producers of that piece of art, but that’s perfectly okay.

I’m just thankful there are those who are free, who feel comfortable enough to express it.

For a very special one-year anniversary, not a relationship or marriage, but still a happy one, unlike the deaths I started this TToT out with.

We Are One

The first time so many bloggers and writers all got together on the same day (the 20th of the month) to write about compassion was not until next month, but this was the day the idea first started to take shape.

I am so thankful it did. I am so thankful the original creators thought up the idea in the first place. I keep thanking them, but it’s because I am so much more better off since they decided to make a difference in this way

For the chance to stay with my brother again.

brianportrait-2016-01-17-11-43.jpg

It will take a while before I will run out of these because every time I do something with him, even and especially those things we’ve done many times before, I can be grateful that he recovered and we are still able to have all the fun we’ve always had together.

I go to hang out with him, for visits, and it’s always a lot of fun.

This one is not only my thankful. His friend is thankful that they can play music together again.

Trusty Fox – Whiskey and Beer

I am including a link to some music of theirs, which was just put up on YouTube.

For a good piece of pizza.

May be hard to believe, but it’s not as easy to find as it sounds.

First-world thankful right there, but pizza can be a comfort, at a rough moment, especially when eaten with loved ones.

For those loved ones.

yousophiaandkimatthechocolatefountain-2016-01-17-11-43.jpg

I know I am lucky to have them and I am reminded of this at the worst of life’s moments.

I just hope they know they have me, my support, anytime they need it and to not hesitate to reach out, whenever they need anything, anything at all.

For the life of a brilliant performer and the life he brought, on screen, to a certain literary character.

Alan Rickman passed away this week, from cancer, and I am grateful he played the role of Severus Snape, in the Harry Potter films, eight times, not to mention all the other wonderful roles he played during his lifetime.

Read my tribute to Rickman here.

It isn’t always easy to have a character from literature come alive in just the right way when the film of the book comes out, but Rickman WAS Snape. I owe him for that because he made a beautiful dream come true/to life just a little bit more for me, and that’s worth my gratitude here.

For a win for NHL team Chicago Blackhawks.

My brother and his wife were looking forward to this night out together, just the two of them, and I couldn’t think of two people who deserve it more.

I am not a big hockey fan, but my brother loves this team. He deserved to see his team win this time.

For another excellent exercise in creativity and creative writing.

I wanted to attend this particular one because it is being held by a fairly local writer, a Canadian author, whose blog I read regularly and whom I met, for the first time, last year at one of her

author readings/book signing.

Check out one description of what art is, from the writer who held the workshop from my final TTOT of this week, as she uses David Bowie’s final music video as her reference.

On Lazarus, David Bowie’s last-released video

And that is why I love her writing so much.

Speaking of love.

For love. Yes, simply, for love.

It is precisely why I plan to devote the whole of next month to the subject here.

I see it all around me, between couples, families, friends, and even from fans. It is powerful and it is ever-lasting, in one way or another. It’s at the heart of so much of what we do and who we are. It offers hope and makes life worth living.

I may choose to wait to talk exclusively about it on this blog until February, the month known for romance, but I write about it now, when times are toughest because it’s right now when I feel we could all use it most.

My Heart Will Go On

Rest in peace, all those we’ve lost this week, may they be spouses, fathers, or grandfathers.

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Just Jot It January: Circles, Spirals, and Song Lyrics #JusJoJan #SoCS

What a morning I had.

This is one of those mornings I am afraid to venture out into the world. It would be so easy to stay in bed and to not go out there, to hide away from other people and meaningful experiences possibly had.

What if I embarrass myself? What if I get lost? What if…what if…what if…

I have been reading this Canadian writer’s blog and her writing for a while now:

http://carriesnyder.com/

Last year I wanted to finally attend one of her author readings:

How I Celebrated World Book Day 2015

I wanted to meet her in person and to put a voice to the words I’d become so accustomed to reading.

This time I had the chance to learn from her by taking one of her workshops. I jumped at this chance frankly. Carrie Snyder is a writer who uses powerful images and all the best words to express so much of what life is all about. I wanted to get to know a fellow Canadian, someone who has had some success as a writer, but who was still fairly local. She doesn’t live all that far from me really.

She doesn’t call what this morning was a writing workshop. She says she prefers to look at it as a creativity workshop, using writing as the medium.

The room is fairly full, when we all make it into a conference room of an office building, the second floor of a building in the downtown area, above a fancy restaurant that doesn’t open until noon. Now that I know where to go, through the door in the entrance way and up a double flight of stairs, in through another door – I think I can relatively confidently find it on my own next time.

The number attending is more than a dozen. It was icy on the roads early this morning, but we all made it. I bring my laptop because I can’t find my cord to my braille display. This means I won’t be able to read back what I write today to the room, but it’s better than nothing.

Some days I don’t have it all figured out. There are those days where being visually impaired (blind), well it just sucks!

I want to be spontaneous and a discoverer of my inner thoughts, my deep well of creativity I want to tap. I want to be able to walk into that room with a beautiful notebook and a pen. I want to write by hand, as messy and unreadable as that might make me, but I can’t.

All that talk about accepting life and how it is is all well and good, but today I wish I could be without this limitation on my senses.

Of course, writing is all about the senses. I have my others.

I need a spot in the room near a electrical outlet. I come early so I can set up. The room begins to fill, as steadily other people who have signed up start arriving.

Carrie hasn’t forgotten my name since we met last year and with all the times I have commented on her blog since then.

😉

There is one large conference table in the room and another table set against the wall. I sit by the wall, in the corner. It is going to be a bit crowded around the table, we discover, but that means it is me and one guy of the two guys who are in attendance, who sit at the table separate from the main one.

Why is it two guys to a dozen women at this creativity workshop? Don’t guys like to write?

I feel a bit out of place, being separate from most of the others. I am just glad the chairs are those office chairs on wheels, which allows me to turn to face everyone.

Carrie speaks very softly, but she is full of creativity and ideas. She has experience, not only as a writer, but teaching creative writing courses. That is how most writers make a living to supplement their own writing.

There are short introductions (surprising how many around this table don’t consider themselves a writer) and she reads us poems, one to start the morning off, the other left until the very end. These poems are meant to get us thinking and to open our minds up. This is not a critique group. We are just supposed to write, to not think too much, and to turn off our inner critics. I could definitely use some practice with this particular skill.

She tells us to write a list of ten cars or other vehicles we have known, have been in during our lives, something with a memory attached. I don’t know enough of how cars are spelled, different kinds, and I worry someone will read and see this. I need to stop being afraid of criticism. That’s not what today is about.

We have seven minutes for each chapter, she is calling them. She will be timing us. We must build on the car list. We must write, using our five senses, and dig deep into a memory or develop the writing from there.

There is no right or wrong here. I can’t do this incorrectly. I don’t know still, if fiction is my speed, so I will write. Mostly it’s memoir that comes from the typing I am doing in rapid succession.

I end up writing about my family’s old blue van, the one we drove to Florida in when I was in the second grade. I write about the bed on the floor, where the middle seat normally was. My mom made it, so we could sleep while we drove, but this is unheard of, considering modern safety requirements.

By Chapter Six I have traveled to Florida, told of how my mom’s map was sucked out the front window, how we visited Disney, and finally arriving at my favourite Sea World. I explain, from a child’s point of view, what I thought of the whales, but with a bit of my adult perspective on marine animals in captivity.

My dream was to have a killer whale as a pet, in a tank in my big back yard, at my house. Eight-year-old me starts to realize this will never happen.

They are to start a new page with the sound of the timer, at the end of every seven minutes. I hear the flipping of notebook pages, but all I can do is hit enter and go down a line or two.

She tells them to draw a spiral in between each. I don’t quite know what this would look like anymore, but I try to picture it as I hear their pens scribbling away. Carrie loves creativity, and is incorporating a tiny bit of art into the exercise. I miss art.

We all go around and read one of the chapters we’ve written. We aren’t to offer any comments or suggestions, but instead just thank the writer/reader for what they’ve just shared with us. I listen to all the different stories and bits of people’s lives, as it could be truth or fiction they are speaking. No rules, but Carrie did read a few rules about there being no rules. Go figure.

🙂

The two hours flies by. I am last. Carrie asks another woman, sitting nearby me, if she might read my chapter. She reads it well. I worry she won’t be able to read, that I’ve made many mistakes, but of course my computer would have already caught those. I am happy with how my writing sounds read aloud back to me and to the rest of this room. I haven’t always been able to say that about my writing. She reads the part where I included the first song lyrics that came to my mind, as we were all instructed to do. Somehow this fits in with the rest of the story we’ve written.

(See my About Me page for the lyrics of the song I thought of.)

I loved it. Even though I felt separate, like I often do in the world, and even being unable to write by hand – the morning was a success because I made the effort and had the experience. I wanted to learn from Carrie and I did.

Words. Glorious words.

#SoCS

For Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

Linda debates what she should write about, from a quiet hotel room, all by herself:

Just Jot It January 16th – What #SoCS

This is also another

#JusJoJan post,

the rules of which can be found

HERE.

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