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Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

7yDZLec.jpg

I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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International Day For Persons with Disabilities 2016, #IDPD2016

Helen Keller…Stevie Wonder…Ray Charles…Rick Hansen…Stephen Hawking…

The Rick Hansen Foundation

There are so many more of us out here, only looking to have rich, full lives like anyone else, but what often stops us is not only society’s barriers, but our own.

***

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want” . This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.

***

One note on the society part – some of you may not want to think a lot about it, if you don’t have to, because then it becomes clear that the possibility for anyone to become disabled is indeed a possibility for anyone..

I am a Canadian woman, living with a disability. I didn’t acquire my disability through an accident later in life. I did not develop it overtime, but from birth and still, who knows which direction my remaining vision might take.

On the day before the
United Nation’s International Day For PErsons with Disabilities
I felt a tired feeling that I sometimes get. I panic and assume my sight is worsening, but I am not sure, if that makes any real sense. I close my eyes and decide I will try to get back in to see my retinal specialist soon.

I don’t know what, if anything, he will be able to tell me, offer me as hope that I won’t be completely blind one day. He will probably see no changes or signs of the mysterious eye disease that took my left eye twenty years ago. He will speak to me of gene therapies in various stages of development, but I don’t know what hope lies in that for me. Maybe it will be my future. Maybe not. I’ve learned not to bank on anything.

That’s a part of my DNA, just like the genetic eye disease. I am conditioned to either think the worst or simply not want to hope for the things I may really really want, always fearing that the disappointment from possibly not getting them will break me. It hasn’t broken me yet, which does give me reason to be optimistic though.

I wanted to be able to see the truly unique show violinist Lindsey Stirling put on recently. Instead, I listened to all I could and relied on my helpful sister to fill in the blanks. I wanted to throw my white cane away and yelled my displeasure, and through the wish, but instead I sat and listened even harder.

I want to draw like I used to when I saw colours and when everything in my world was more clearly and brightly defined. I can’t. I want to scream in frustration but I’m resigned instead.

I want to take up the latest craze of adult colouring books, but I don’t.

Of course, nothing is really stopping me. I may not, as an adult, see the lines I may have hardly seen as a child, which are now nearly invisible to me. I could still get myself a Harry Potter or any number of other themed colouring books with a theme which fits my interest, and be damned if I miss colouring in the lines by a mile.

But I don’t. I don’t scream or rail at the world in an uproar. I find other ways to spend my time.

I want to travel and to go through life with an independent spirit and loads of self confidence, but I don’t. I try and I work at it, but I’m scared.

I find a travel series, a BBC documentary, available to me on Netflix. It’s Stephen Fry, whom I love, and he is doing a road trip across the United States in his British cab. I know him from his narration of the Harry Potter books and for his intelligent and witty character. After watching him visit all 50 states I now know he hates being on a horse, dancing, and skiing. He loves science and culture and literature.

Stephen Fry In America

I watch him on his trip and I long to go on one of my own, but I fear getting lost in the big, expansive world and I worry that my white cane will attract only pity. I want to grip it with extra determination and go anyway. It’s all in my attitude, right?

I can’t drive a cab across the country. I want to believe I will see more of the world anyway, even without definition of sight.

I don’t try to revisit childhood experiences of mine by colouring. Instead, I watch a travel show which I’ve heard of but only now decided to give a chance.

HELLO GOODBYE, #HelloGoodbye

The host speaks to one woman in her sixties, widowed after her late husband’s long battle with illness, but who has now found new love with a man from England. Her happiness is infectious. Her newly found love walks down the ramp in the arrivals terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport and gets down on one knee. Love is lost and can be found again.

I feel warm just by watching and listening to her story.

The host also speaks to a young man and his parents. The son is on his way to participate in Rio, at the Paralympics. He was paralyzed from a diving accident and now plays wheelchair rugby.

And then there was the grandmother, daughter, and grandson saying their goodbyes. The young guy and his mother are heading back to Britain after a visit with Grandma. The mother has RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa). She carries a cane, but the son speaks of wanting his mother to have companionship with a guide dog, as he will soon be going out on his own and doesn’t want her to be alone. He has worried about her safety all his life. She admits to being unsure about going for a guide dog once they get back home, but her son’s words cause her to rethink things.

She grips her white cane. I grip mine. She has been losing sight for years. I’ve been blind since birth and losing since. Am I any further along in accepting my circumstances and my white cane than she is?

People ask me all the time if I am ever going to get another guide dog. I don’t quite know what to say. Yes, they may provide the necessary confidence boost for many. I consider it.

I don’t think any dog will ever compare to my Croche, But is that all it is?

I can’t put another animal through what I put Croche through. She was so well trained and so fittingly suited in temperament. She was given to me and I was trusted with her. A lot went into all that. We were a team, but I failed her.

My ever growing illnesses caused me to sleep and her to dutifully stay by my side, but she was prevented from shining. She was my pal, but I don’t take the responsibility of a working dog lightly. I don’t know what my future will bring and I can’t bring myself to bringing another animal into that.

I want to curse what stops me, but what often stops me is me. And so I would just end up cursing myself, again and again.

Or, I could take hold of my white cane and use it for betterment, for working for some of my dreams, and for hardening my resolve and building my often feeble confidence.

My feelings of shame when I walk with my cane are hard to describe and hard to fight off. I will never be happy if I don’t try. Fear and disappointment stop me from even trying. What a waste that would be.

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The Good Old Days: “We’re Drowning In It!” #SoCS

I have a headache. I don’t know where to start.

It hurts, threatening to burst under the weight of it all.

It’s just another speech on the US 2016 election campaign. Still, underneath that, there were parts that were all, essentially about human decency.

Michelle Obama spoke and I listened and I felt the familiar stinging of tears starting to form in my eyes.

I put off listening, as Facebook’s newsfeed blew up with people sharing the speech and lamenting its sincerity and harsh reality. Finally, after a bad day of becoming choked up on New York Times Modern Love essays about children and adoption, I thought, “why not?”

Every day I can’t believe it. The days are constant: International Day of the Girl (which Michelle mentions), World Sight Day, Blindness Awareness, White Cane Awareness and people can never seem to settle on the correct word order for some of these. But I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it. We’re all just trying to get by and to be heard and valued.

I see less and less and yet it’s what I hear that I can’t believe.

I hear things on my television
screen
that I can’t believe I’m hearing.

I doubt my own hearing, one of my strongest remaining senses.

I feel vulnerable every time I walk out there, a visually impaired woman with her white cane. Am I standing out? Or am I invisible?

Michelle Obama Speaks Out

The line she spoke that most caught my attention and left a lump in my throat, my eyes burning, and a ringing in my ears was: “We’re drowning in it.” I believe she was referring specifically to sexism and misogyny. It’s no big deal to most people, most times, but it’s always there, somewhere. How much does it matter?

Women should feel it. Men should feel it. Over and over again, people talk of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. What are women, even myself, what are we supposed to think? What lessons have young men learned? What do those calling themselves politicians think they’re doing anyway?

I even doubt my ears here in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in charge for one whole year now, since the last time Canada’s baseball team made it to the play off’s. I had hope then, as someone finally starting to feel somewhat better about the state of my own country, hope for a future where women’s rights, all rights of people might continue to improve, that we here could be a living embodiment of what is possible. Nothing but a naive girl’s silly hope?

His reputation as a feminist has only grown here and around the world. But then I think about possible leaked tapes, recordings, information in the future.

We believe forward-thinking men in politics like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama are decent, would never treat women so disrespectfully. Then I imagine a time in the future where I will hear, with my own ears, something that could shake my confidence in these two men as concerned fathers and sons and husbands. Maybe they aren’t who they claim to be either. Power. Is it all one giant power trip?

A black man ran the country that supported slavery, segregation, and the targeting of black men as criminals. A woman may soon run a country where women who were black couldn’t even vote fifty years ago. This must represent change and growth, but not all want it, require it, hope and pray for it. Some attack and demonize it.

As for progress and decency, men in positions of power and capable of making sweeping and lasting change, I don’t want to be let down in that way, not ever.

But how sure can I be? When may the other shoe drop, the floor drop out on me?

I appreciate varied viewpoints and healthy discussions, but I too shy away from disrespect, inhumanity, bickering, anger, discrimination, the refusal to see beyond the nose on one’s own face.

I don’t call myself a believer in feminism lightly.

I try to find a balance. This isn’t easy.

I have not suffered at the hands of abuse by men in my own life, but I feel a wider societal pressure. I know only the most decent men in my own life. My father. My brothers. Those I have learned from about love. Those I have loved. We all make mistakes, say foolish things in a moment of weakness or ignorance, both male and female. Goodness can still thrive.

I’m just afraid to believe what I hear. Perceptions are realities.

13TH

I wasn’t around during slavery, but what slavery still occurs, and what can I do about it, if I happen to see it or if I hide from that which still exists?

How free am I personally? What am I a slave to in my own life? How dare I even ask, even think?

The 13Th Amendment. The 19Th Amendment. What can 100 years, 150, what can that passing time do? How slow is change really? How far have we really come with rights for all? What is truly being amended? What am I seeing, hearing, witnessing, neglecting to admit about this time I’m living in?

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-13th-doc-trump-20161014-snap-htmlstory.html

I recommend 13TH. It covers a long timeline of events and not just the small snapshot of time we’re currently living through. It’s not easy to see back into all the preceding time, into anything other than noticing the glasses on our own faces, even mine where no more literal glasses sit.

Trump. Hillary. Bill.

Reagan, like Trump, an actor/performer. Nixon, known, as Hilary Clinton, to be a liar. What really changes? What can we count on as the years pass us by?

I hear suffering. I feel it more and more as I age. the echoes of ghosts long gone. I recognized all their voices at different times.

I hear what I hear. I doubt what I hear. I know what I hear and wonder who may have isolated each clip, what it meant, as an overall statement of any intention. I believe it has all contributed and brought us all to where we currently are.

I did not need anyone to Tweet those selected Trump clips, used to illustrate a wider point, to know how awful I’ve felt at having heard them myself over the last months. I already felt ill upon hearing them.

I know much of the history. I know how humans have treated other humans. I felt my headache worsen as 13TH went on, but I watched the documentary all the way through.

So then why exactly did I put myself through that pain?

What else should I do? How else should I handle what I can’t un-know?

Politics. Pride in one’s home. Culture. Religion. Propaganda, all of it?

It is more than six months since I really last wrote about these things here.

In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

I thought that the 2016 summer with unending stories in the news about the US election would never ever end. But it did and here we are. Less than a month to go, thank God! But I am so tired and I know I’m not alone. Speaking up is seen as “incendiary” and immediately turned into a political opinion, when really, all I’d like to make is a human one. I don’t write about it on Facebook, trying to be sensitive to my American friends. Here on my blog I feel somewhat safer, but I can’t agree with the sort of patriotism Americans often speak of, like Michelle in her speech most recently: that the US is the greatest country in the world.

I regret to say this Mrs. Obama, but go ahead and say whatever you need to say, to feel better about things.

I shake my head at such love of one place, run by capitalism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, from whichever country you reside in. Globalization. I am not a politician and never will be, but I care about not only myself and my family, but my country, and all others. I care about people, no matter where they live.

I love Canada fiercely, but I can’t just keep hearing people speak of their own country being the best, as pride gets us nowhere. I am lucky to live here and yet I fight to find my way. Canada has treated people just as poorly as any other country.

I stand on the border of my Canadian, English-speaking province and into the French-speaking province next door and I feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I smell the river. I hear the cars. I trust my senses in that moment, but rarely do I trust all else I’ve seen.

All politicians are caught saying things, things that have furthered their political purposes at one time or another, eventually revealing true intentions or previously held beliefs, hopefully altered. I don’t know how they really feel. Suddenly, thanks to an actual reality TV star coming this close to winning, it all feels like a huge reality show, like more and more politics and entertainment are melding, like we can’t tell them apart and there is no going back from that.

Human lives are at stake and 13TH makes that point extremely well. This isn’t a game. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

I can hardly believe what I’m seeing/hearing, but I suppose sensible people have always thought that way, and yet what was really done about it? What will the answer be now?

The thought that any one country is “the best country in the world” or that there ever existed “the good old days” is false to me, no matter the intended meaning behind either stated belief.

The “good old days” spoken of weren’t quite so good for us all. I just hope we can stay afloat going forward.

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TToT: Major and Minor – Zones and Pods, #InternationalLiteracyDay #9/11 #10Thankful

“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”

—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter

Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.

I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.

I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?

What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.

If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.

Blue Lullaby

And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.

I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.

I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.

I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.

After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.

The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?

I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.

Sofar Sounds

Secret gigs and intimate concerts, all around the world – in 271 cities.

My brother and his friend have been playing music all around their city this summer, but this time they were scheduled to perform at something truly special and I just had to check it out for myself.

Sofar Sounds on Facebook

This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.

Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.

It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.

I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.

I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.

This week was

International Literacy Day.

I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.

I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.

I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.

I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.

I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.

The Elsewhere Region

This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.

I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.

I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.

I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.

The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.

Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.

I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.

The Fallow Period

I’m thankful for peace where I live, where my family lives, and where my niece and nephews can grow up without being directly impacted by war and violence.

I recently listened to a news story about hopes of a cease fire in Syria and then a man who was a child soldier, speaking on Facebook, about the plight of his people in the country of South Sudan.

No country is perfect. None is spared completely, forever.

I’m thankful for my country, both that I and others can recognize the bad that’s taken place and still celebrate what we are as citizens and what we could be.

Canada In A Day

Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.

So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.

I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.

One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:

***

STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable

Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable

September 9, 2016 clickable

Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable

Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable

All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable

I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable

I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable

***

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans.ca

It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.

Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.

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In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

It’s a funny thing, but the prime minister of my country of Canada was featured on the US news magazine program 60 Minutes, before being honoured with a state dinner at the White House last week. This week he’s in New York at the UN (trying to secure Canada a seat on the Security Counsel), speaking at an event about why he is proud to call himself a feminist, and he hasn’t once mentioned anything about the size of his genitals.

GO FIGURE!

***

“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

***

Super Tuesday…Mega Tuesday…what?

Comparisons are being made between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump: Louis C.K. said it. Now I’m saying it.

But so many aren’t about to go there. Oh no! Perish the thought!

I am saying it and I am not going to back down from it. I am afraid.

America is full of beautiful places and kind and compassionate people. I know many citizens, writers and bloggers and friends, who don’t want the US to feed off of violence and divisiveness.

At the same time, North American culture thrives on celebrity. Media matters, has influence, seeks headlines and hype.

Is it any surprise then, (not to me), that a reality star, part of the reality TV craze, is so close to securing the GOP nomination?

With celebrities fighting over Twitter about naked Instagram shots, roses and marriage proposals that hardly ever last, and a show about a religious family with 19 kids…dismissed when sexual abuse comes to light and still a network brings such a mess back for ratings.

Is it any wonder? Yes, I wonder.

Donald Trump is a white, privileged male, who has likely had to fight for very little in life, mostly unaware of the struggles many minorities face. He has been a reality star for years, now the ultimate challenge, nomination of the highest office in the land, modern North American king, royalty, this is just much too much of a challenge to pass up, to see if he can take that title for himself.

Of course he can’t back down from this. He’s already practically hijacked the whole entire world into watching him/listening to him talk. It’s the ultimate reality show, on a world stage.

But what happens if he actually gets there?

Hitler. Trump. Of course I don’t think they are the same men, with the exact same plans or intentions. I don’t know what Trump has in mind for the kingdom he wants to rule. I do know that Trump is only the symptom of a larger problem in the world.

I’ve studied pre-World War II history, the great depression, and the uprising of anti-semitism somewhat. Now I watch the news and often I wonder if I am witnessing the sorts of things that those in the 20s and 30s witnessed. I have this yucky feeling inside that I might just be.

Demagog. Xenophobic. These are terms I didn’t even know five years ago.

People see things, with their own eyes, hear things with their own two years, but choose to dismiss them. They are in denial, don’t want to believe it, if it is not happening to them in that moment.

“That couldn’t possibly happen again, oh no. Not on my watch, on ours. Not with what we know, in the world today. That would never happen in 2016, in America.”

But they forget the past, or never fully acknowledged it, and are then on the way to repeating the mistakes of history, at break-neck speed.

Horrible things do happen again, are happening right now, and they are just as cruel and unfair as ever before. My father taught me, as difficult as it is and as negative, to love and appreciate history and the hard lessons it can teach us, if we pay attention.

I wish I could have all the positivity of my mother, but I sometimes think she is counting on the rest of the world being as logical, rational, and genuinely good as she is.

I wish I had all that faith in humanity that my prime minister who, amidst endless questions from reporters about his thoughts on Trump, repeatedly takes the high road over.

He says very little, only that he has faith in the better judgment of the American people to make the right choice when the time comes. He doesn’t resort to insults and petty name calling, like Trump is caught doing in so many sound bites, some I will never be able to un-hear.

Trudeau stays dignified, as us Canadians are famous for, but what does he truly think? Is he worried, like me? Perhaps I can’t figure out how to remain quite so tactful any longer.

Jokes are made all the time now, as a Trump win for the presidency starts to look more and more possible – Americans saying they want to move to Canada if Trump is elected:

Cape Breton: The Canadian island for Americans who want to escape Donald Trump

The fighting spirit going on during these tense times has those in favour of Trump, his own family included saying they will help them pack. I hate to hear all the ugliness, all a bunch of bickering children on the school’s playground.

Some Canadians would say no to this escape plan anyway, turning away our neighbours, immigrants (refugees is a stretch, but who knows). Some Canadians go on to say that Americans must clean up their own messes, but where do we draw that line? For those Americans who don’t vote for Trump, depending on what were to happen after he took office, wouldn’t they have a right, a reason to get away?

In the media, Canadian islands like Cape Breton talk of inviting Americans. If Trump becomes president, not even a US/Canadian border feels like enough space and separation to me. Our world may have borders and oceans between continents, but we can’t remain separate from our fellow countries. Our globe has become much too global in the nearly 100 years now since the World Wars.

I know Hitler used the dissatisfaction that a lot of Germans felt at that time. Then it was the Jews, Communists, us against them. There had to be someone to place the focus, to lay blame, to be afraid of, as fear has always evolved into a lot worse things.

Now Trump is using the dissatisfied state of America to win, something he loves to do, and he’s doing it at the expense of Muslims or Mexicans. I don’t know his true intentions, but he is egotistical and narcissistic.

He has slogans like, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”. Of course, politicians use slogans, but his sounds ominously like something Hitler shouted to crowds at his rallies in the thirties.

The world has always been ruled by white men. We know the history, but some places, the US and Canada, we don’t like to think about the bloody, greedy details so often white washed over in the history books.

Canada and the world at large aren’t perfect either. The North American continent was inhabited by Natives and it was the white Europeans who came over and took all that we have today. Most of us, since then, our ancestors were immigrants at one time or another, but we choose to forget that fact. We must not forget that part.

George and Amal Clooney on 5 years of conflict in Syria

People who know me know I tend to get easily upset, and so I am told not to read Facebook comments, but I sometimes do. I can’t always help myself and I sometimes think it helps me remain compassionate.

I hear from Canadians all the time that they don’t want refugees over here, taking our resources away from us. It can be a chilling reality to hear what some people are really thinking.

It’s the individual stories that frighten: One Florida woman spoke of her family being of a different kind of immigrant. They weren’t like the lazy, bottom feeder immigrants of today. This was her rationale for her feelings. This is a scary position to take, if she really does believe what she says. No empathy, no compassion, not even from most of us who’ve had our ancestors come from other countries in the past. This baffles me most of all.

Hitler believed his success couldn’t be attributed to anything other than divine providence.

Trump said his success, even after the riots and violence at rallies in recent weeks, not even he can explain that one.

All the conflict in Chicago for example only serves Trump’s purpose. No violence is acceptable, but things shouldn’t have gotten out of hand. I wish it hadn’t. Will this continue? Will it escalate?

I am not American and won’t be able to vote against Donald Trump for President. I am Canadian and glad of it, but I have a stake in what happens in the world. I may be in a separate country, but no “wall” (real or metaphorical) could ever possibly keep me secluded and unaware of the scary rhetoric that many are spouting.

Where does it end? I am not fleeing my home right now. I live in Canada, a peaceful place, but I can empathize. Where is the empathy? It’s clouded by fear, misinformation, and stereotypes.

It helps my own ability for empathy to listen to the personal stories: like the young Syrian refugee who now lives in Montreal and studies psychology, all the while keeping an eye on what’s going on back in her home country, all the while remembering the painful and cruel interrogations she underwent when she was arrested for protesting, five years ago back when the conflict in Syria began.

All of Europe are dealing with the fleeing people up close, on the front lines. This can’t be easy. Countries who were accepting at first now experiencing push-back from some citizens, bigotry increasing, stereotypes free flowing.

Hillary and Bernie both made their mistakes, said the wrong thing at the wrong moment and offended someone, but Hillary apologized. Trump has never done this. Anyone who has never apologized or recognized the mistakes they’ve made, because we’ve all made them, is nobody I want running anything. This equates him with someone as dangerous as Hitler was proven to be and I am saying it without hesitation.

More and more are beginning to call him out, but is he a joke (like so many late night comedians would like to think), a harmless nuisance, a guy who will do anything necessary to win, or something worse? I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I have never met him in person. How can we really judge another person if we’ve never met them? I don’t want to believe I am living in another 1930s, but we don’t tend to learn all that much from our past mistakes. I hate to say it.

I am scared. If refugees, immigrants, Muslims can be targeted, where does it stop? Women are still suffering in many places around the world. People with disabilities and LGBT face prejudice in both big and small ways. We can’t continue to support white supremacy. If you can’t bring yourself to mention Donald Trump in the same breath as Adolf Hitler, at least call his talk what it is. He may not be in the KKK, but his statements, the things he’s said to get where he’s gotten, they can only be said by someone living in his extremely privileged position. As chaotic as things are in his country these days, such a situation is something so much of the world would kill for. Terms like that are worded that way for a reason.

I know what’s happening around the world is awful – in the five years since the war in Syria began, when I hear word coming out of the atrocities happening in South Sudan for example, and the problems feel far too huge for any solutions to be found.

But there are those looking for compassionate solutions.

I feel optimism when I listen to this expert from Oxford or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I am uplifted when I realize there are still those using common sense, compassion, and intelligence to figure out this complicated world we live in.

I keep up on what’s happening in the US, not only from the news, but from one writer/blogger in particular who writes thoughtfully about politics and in a way I can begin to understand about a system that I often find highly confusing and complex:

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

We all have an opinion, but so much of it is backed by anger. A lot of what can be found underneath that anger is fear. What are we teaching our children? What is being modelled for them?

What Our Children Are Learning

It’s really hard to let kindness, understanding, and empathy show through all that, but we need to make the effort for the hope of the future generations.

Like I so often think: I wonder what the state of things in my country of Canada, in the US, in North America, and all around the world will look like, one year from now?

One year from now? Fifty? One hundred?

I wish I could turn off the news for good, as I can’t really stand to hear Trump’s smug, ranting voice much longer, but I may not have much of a choice by this time next year, no matter what anyone says, what my prime minister says or does not say out loud.

Does Trudeau have a duty, as the person running Canada, to speak up and stand up to Trump, especially if he’s saying such inflammatory things about all manner of types of people? Or is he showing tact by keeping quiet?

When is it important to speak up? I think none of us, even Trudeau, would hate to think Trump could be compared to Hitler in any way whatsoever.

Trust me, I don’t want to think it (don’t even like using these two men’s names if I can help it), but am following a gut feeling.

Or perhaps I am just using the comparison to prove something through my writing.

Who knows which one it truly is. Not even I’m certain at this point. Some of both I’d say.

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

kerport-005-2015-12-30-09-04.jpg

It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

In The News and On My Mind: Blue October/Red October, #TBT

“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

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I love October. I love the cool scent in the air, one that brings me back to a different time – fall recesses in the school’s playground.

I love Halloween, despite all my comments to the contrary.

I know the month is usually associated with colours such as black and orange, but today I am talking more about blue and red.

I love colours that I begin to forget. I always will, no matter how vague their shades become to my mind, but I don’t like when a colour is associated with a political party. I love blue: blue skies, water, even and especially I love blue Powerade.

I love red. I would say red is my favourite colour. I love its connotations. I love its fiery, passionate, brilliance.

Blue can be associated with sadness. I can relate to that too. Red is the colour of my favourite literary character’s hair and the colour of hearts and love.

Now I’m supposed to give over my favourite colours to Conservatives or Liberals? No no no!

This October is becoming a mixture of excitement and tension, at least around here in Canada, for the hope that our Toronto Blue Jays will defy all odds and make it to the World Series and then there was our big election.

People in Toronto are dressed in the team colours. Our Boys in Blue. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are blue.

Blue and red.

The Jays play the Kansas City Royals again on Friday and all our hopes rest on this game, again, and I can’t really stand to watch the whole way through. It’s like when my brother or someone else I care about happens to be performing. My heart beats in anticipation for their success and I can hardly stand it.

As for our Canadian election: blue is out. Red is in.

Isn’t red associated with Communism? What?

Why do we ruin our beautiful colours, all of you forgetting how lucky you are to see them, with these differing affiliations?

No! I will not give up my precious colours to any one group of people or one set of beliefs.

I was not alive when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada, but I hear it was quite the time. Scandal of the day. His son Justin was born into this circus.

It’s strange to think that our Prime Minister is only a little more than a decade older than I am. This leaves him up for a lot of criticism because some say he is too young, unexperienced, as the attack ads always claimed.

Sure, eleven weeks for a political race may sound laughable to the US, for instance, but it was eleven weeks too long for me, with all those “he’s just not ready” attack ads.

Others say he is the fresh, new, younger leader this country needs. The world is moving forward, progress and all that, and I tend to agree.

As I’ve said before, who would want the job anyway? He’s got to be a little crazy, but he must have his reasons. Maybe he really does feel like he can make a difference. Running a country, even Canada for whatever that’s worth, must not be easy.

The fear mongering continues. Justin will raise taxes. People don’t feel safe anymore, within the first few days since the election took place. What are they afraid of? Should I be afraid too?

I wrote a blog post, pre-election, about the question of voting: who should I vote fore, should I give into the fears being raised, and how do I really and truly know who I believe can run this country?

Time For a Change

Throw-back to a few weeks ago and before the election.

Time to look ahead, to the future:

A New Day In Canada

Was our prime minister racist? Was he xenophobic? I hate to think it.

I probably should have stayed away, but I have been reading the Facebook comments on two posts in particular, both reflecting and looking back, with sadness to one year ago today and the death of Corporal Nathan Zirillo.

Ottawa shooting: Day of chaos remembered 1 year later

Stephen Harper, still technically in charge of Canada and Justin Trudeau, soon to be – come together to place a wreath for the dead. They both make use of social media, a sign of the times, but today they were, the two of them, offering their sincerest condolences for the loved ones affected in the tragedy of exactly one year ago.

I visited that spot, on Parliament Hill, last winter. It was a cold and grey day, but it was quiet, people milling about, with no sign that just four months earlier, on October 22nd, there would have been fear and panic of the unknown.

Of course, it should be all about the tragedy, the sacrifice, the bravery and remembering those we lost. Harper’s words were about remembering, but quickly things moved into comments about how people loved how safe they felt with Harper in charge and how afraid they are now that Trudeau is at the helm.

The Trudeau posts’ comments were full of people who are looking forward to a future with a new leader for Canada. Then, more back-and-forth.

I understand. These men aren’t responsible for what some commenter writes, but if I were Harper, all this time, I would be horrified that people are making such drastic statements in the name of Conservatism.

I could stay off places like Facebook, the comments, but it’s out there and I don’t want to close my eyes to it either.

There’s a page on Facebook, with 5641 likes, called Ban Islam In Canada:

“Islam is the world’s leading death cult! Please keep in mind we do not insult other religious beliefs here – IF YOU DO YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED! This page is about the dangers of Islam – so please respect other viewpoints about God.”

Excuse me! What did you just state?

What do I do when I realize this nonsense exists? I want to cry at the awfulness. I want to get angry at the ignorance. I want to make people understand, make them stop spreading such poison. If I were Harper, I would be horrified that anything like this uses Conservative politics on its page to help deliver its message. Canada is better than that.

I do get that There are going to be sides, but I don’t like it. I’ve said all this before. I hate it, in fact, but my mom always told me not to use that word unless you really meant it. She’s always right. I…um…dislike that.

🙂

I simply couldn’t believe some of the racist, sexist, awful comments made by my fellow Canadians. One man even went so far as to use the word “vaginas” when exclaiming he thought Canada will now sit on the side lines of fights he evidently believes canada should remain in. Really? I kind of wish I wasn’t sharing a country with that, um, farthest thing from a gentleman I can think of.

People are not wanting other groups, ethnicities, races in Canada. They tie them up, immediately, as being Muslim, AKA terrorists. No distinction. No difference to them.

Anytime a white man commits murder, we don’t start blaming all white people. This prejudice that has taken hold of our world, not just Canada, it must stop.

Yes, it was a horrible crime that was perpetrated on October 22nd, 2014 in Ottawa and with the death of Patrice Vincent in Quebec.

Zirillo was on duty. He wasn’t in a coffee shop or church. He knew the risks in such a job, as remote as they were. That doesn’t make it any less tragic for his family, for his child, but there it is.

I don’t know where it was proven the one responsible was a terrorist. If it was, correct me. It was one lone extremist, a radical.

Was he mentally ill or did he know exactly what he was doing? This debate will continue. More attention on mental health? Always.

Did our prime minister use those things to push his agenda? Would someone do such a thing? Did he truly believe Canada was being attacked, because the guy attacked where and who he did? The perpetrator didn’t just attack someone in a cafe or on the street, but terrorists do that as well.

Should I be more afraid than I am about Canada being attacked, being in the wrong place at the wrong time myself one time?

This happened while Harper was in charge. What if it happened when Trudeau was? People would blame him for being soft on terrorism. What do people think of the fact that it ended up happening on Harper’s watch?

It’s all perception really. Facts and events are concrete, but the way they are perceived is an entirely different story.

George Bush was in charge during 9/11 and not Obama. Did Bush make things safer so something like that did not happen for Obama?

Who knows.

I am proud to be Canadian. I feel for the family. It affects me when something like that happens, in the capital of my country or anywhere else.

I choose not to follow the line of fear so many do. I choose to believe that most people who want to come to Canada want to come for the best reasons, reasons having nothing to do with terrorism.

If they choose to follow more of the Canadian traditions and beliefs or if they intend to remain immersed in whatever religion or culture they came from. As long as we are good to one another, what does it matter?

What will that do to Canada? Oh please!

It was said Harper’s campaign failed because he was running on a message of fear. People got sick of it. I only know that I felt it and I was sick of it.

Now, will Justin magically fix all the problems going on in our world today and in Canada? Of course not. No politician can, does, or ever will.

I do happen to like a younger and fresh take on things. He has been in politics, surrounded in it all his life, which you could argue gives him the ultimate dose of experience, as he’s seen firsthand what the job is like.

I’ve learned Justin Trudeau was/is a teacher. He seems to have a more stable family life, compared to his parents. Let’s hope the stresses of his new job don’t damage that.

I hear that Pierre Trudeau was known as a brilliant man, an intellectual, but people are saying Justin has an emotional intelligence and sensitivity that I would like for Canada’s PM.

How is Margaret Trudeau feeling about her son taking on the position? She knows what it’s like and only wants the best for her child and his family.

Let’s give Margaret Trudeau the respect she deserves

It’s the dynasty, the Trudeau family. I don’t know much about that, but as I am now an adult and observant of things, even as I try to resist it, it shall be interesting to see how those who keep pushing the fear tactic will handle whatever happens.

Are we allowed to call Justin Trudeau hot?

I can’t see Justin and his apparent good looks. That’s certainly not why I would have voted for him, as so many are claiming was done. Really? Does anyone really believe another would vote for a guy to run the country, on his appearance? Do sighted people do such a ridiculous thing as this, ever?

So the “Blue” Jays go on to fight another day.

And the red Liberals have the majority.

I choose to go with sunny yellow. Hope, bright times ahead, sunny skies and green lights for Toronto, Ottawa, and the rest of Canada.

The Daily Show gets the last word, practically.

It is my blog after all.

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

Who Is Malala? #1000Speak, #StopGunViolence

Malala Yousafzai has just three words for you: BOOKS NOT BULLETS

Malala.org

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

I write with many things in mind today.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

This is part movie review, part

1000 Speak post,

and part outcry against gun violence.

Note: possible “He Named Me Malala” spoilers ahead.

I want to answer the question, just in case it isn’t already known: Who is Malala?

The word “Malala” means grief stricken or sadness and she was named after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous warrior woman from Pakistan, who fought and died.

Malala’s story went differently. Bullets did not stop her, on that bus, back in 2012 and hatred did not silence her.

He Named Me Malala

This film shines a light on Malala’s everyday family life, in and amongst the news clips from the shooting.

Just like any other teenage girl, when an interviewer asks her about crushes and boys, she replies with shyness and giggling.

She appears on television, doing many interviews. On The Daily Show, she states the idea that girls are more powerful than boys. John Stewart replies, feigning shock at just such a thought.

The scenes with her arm wrestling and bickering with her younger brothers showed the sweetness and the love of a family who only want to live in peace.

Her mother does not speak, for the most part, throughout. She loves her family, her daughter, but she has found settling into the new life they have in Birmingham, England and far from their home, which is now too dangerous, a struggle to adjust.

Their Islamic culture has taught her things about modesty, as she still points out to her daughter, when they are out. Her mother notices any man that appears to be looking at her. She was raised in a place and time when it was the norm to cover the woman’s face in public, but Malala tells her mother that “he may be looking at me, but I am looking at him too.”

It isn’t easy to blend these two countries and cultures for Malala’s mother, who is unable to speak the language and, despite all that’s happened, misses her home.

She says, in the film, that she looks up at the moon and reflects on how everything is different, in their new home, except the moon. She knows this is where her daughter is safe from those, in the Taliban, who would still want her silenced, and so she adapts.

Only those filled with hate could be threatened by an innocent child. Nobody who understood what love means and the power it has could or would act with such cowardice.

Malala tries to educate, about what is said in the Quran:

“Allah says, if you kill one person, it is as if you kill whole humanity.
The profit of Muhammad is the profit of mercy. Do not harm yourself or others. And do you not know the first word of the Quran means “read”?”

Malala Yousafzai’s 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

I can hear her bnervousness, during her acceptance speech, by the sound her mouth makes as she speaks. It’s as if her mouth is extremely dry, but she makes a hugely important statement with her words..

“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.”
–Ursula K. Le Guin

Malala is the candle. The shadow barged onto her school bus and shot her and her friends.

These monsters, under the guise of the religion of Islam, made their way onto that bus and asked, “Who is Malala?”

Now, her story and her documentary shines a light on that shadow and on the candle that brings the world’s attention to what must be done to keep candles like hers burning.

Malala went to her father’s school, studied and played with her friends, and then things began to change.

The Taliban came to her village and began to worm their way into people’s heads, to seize control and to indoctrinate. They would, soon enough, turn to the only thing they know: violence.

Women were rounded up, flogged in the town square, and people were killed. Schools were destroyed.

“Education for girls went from being a right to being a crime.”

Girls were forbidden to go to school, to speak up, to have a future. Most people were, understandably, too scared and remained silent. Not Malala and her father.

Malala was still young, but not so young that she couldn’t be afraid, for her father more than herself. She speaks, in the film, about checking and double-checking all the doors and windows in their house before going to bed because she was afraid they would come for her father in the night.

This is love and it can drive out hate. No young girl should have to live with this fear, I realized as I thought how I would feel if my own father were under threat like that.

Her father taught her and believed that if you have to live under the control of someone else, enslaved, that becomes a life not worth living. Some might find it controversial, for a child to do what she would do, but try living under such a regime and then judge.

Malala did speak up about her right to education being taken away, the rights of her female friends, and she did it in a blog for the BBC. At first she was anonymous, but eventually, as she did more speaking and interviews, her identity was revealed. This made her a threat.

She is sometimes asked:

“Why should girls go to school? Why is it important for them? But I think, the more important question is…why shouldn’t they?”

Brave brave girl.

Malala has only ever wanted children to receive education, women to have equal rights, and for their to be peace for every corner of the world.

These aren’t too much to ask, are they?

She wants all frightened children to have peace, for the voiceless to have change.

“It is not time to pity them. It is time to take action.”

She says it is not enough to take steps, but that a leap is needed instead.

Her story of hearing from a girl she once went to school with, after losing touch with her, only to discover this girl has two children sticks out in my mind most sharply.

Malala is asked what her life would be like if she were just an ordinary girl and her response is that she is still an ordinary girl:

“But if I had an ordinary father and an ordinary mother, then I would have two children now.”

Nothing ordinary about this young woman. Number one thing that makes a difference in any child’s life is getting the love they deserve, that all children deserve, but that so many don’t receive.

“It is not time to tell world leaders to realize the importance of education. They already know it. Their own children are in good schools. It is time to call them to take action for the rest of the world’s children, to unite and make education their top priority. Basic literacy is no longer sufficient.”

Watching her documentary and her Nobel Peace Prize speech make me cry, but they empower me too.

When she talks about that moment when you must choose whether or not to stand up or remain silent, I get chills and I want to cry. I know about feeling voiceless and powerless. I am sure we can all relate in some way, to these words, whether it’s due to prejudice against women, inside the oppressive walls of old fashioned cultural beliefs, or against people with disabilities.

You don’t know how lucky you are to have an education, until it’s being taken from you.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

She demands to know why governments find it so easy to make weapons, tanks, and wars but building schools, bringing education, and spreading peace instead of violence is so hard.

This is the same question I’ve had for a long time, when I see my own country of Canada (who have made Malala an honorary Canadian citizen) saying goodbye to one prime minister and welcoming in the next, when a new president will be decided upon for the US next year.

Why do we value weapons like guns and tanks and bombs, over words and books and education?

Malala asks why is it so easy for countries to give guns and so hard to give books and build schools?

Speaking about her attackers:

“Neither their ideas nor their bullets could win.”

Guns, in the wrong hands, the hands of a violent group of terrorists like the Taliban put Malala in a coma, have damaged her smile, her face, her hearing on one side of her head, but they really ended up doing the opposite of what they were hoping to do. Instead of silencing her, living or dead, she survived and is louder than ever.

“They shot me on the left side of my head. They thought the bullet would silence us. I am the same Malala.”

And does Malala hold any grudges or feel any hatred? Has she forgiven them?

No and yes are her answers to those questions. No hate. She has decided to focus on love, compassion, and peace.

“I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban.”

Some men, spoken to on camera for the documentary, go so far as to claim that Malala’s story is simply a publicity stunt and that her father is behind it all, that he wrote every word supposedly attributed to his daughter.

I couldn’t believe this when I heard it. What arrogance. The fact that a girl is thought to be unable to say anything of any value is the saddest thing of all, but it is so often the reality.

Malala’s father is proud to be known as such.

“Thank you to my father, for not clipping my wings, and for letting me fly.”

This film is about love. It’s about the love one father has for his family, for his daughter.

My Daughter, Malala – Ziauddin Yousafzai – TED Talk

It’s easy, for some in the west, to think of all men in the Muslim culture as being oppressive towards women. Ziauddin is a father, just like my own, just like any other. He and his daughter are squashing stereotypes and showing the world that most families, no matter where they come from, only want peace, safety, and an education for their loved ones and for themselves.

This father has taught, not only his daughter to stand up for her rights, but he’s shown his two young sons the value girls and women deserve. He’s imparting, into these two impressionable boys, the respect that is going to make a kinder, gentler generation of men everywhere.

“My father only gave me the name Malala. He didn’t make me Malala.”

So then just who is Malala Yousafzai?

“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls: 66 million girls who are deprived of education.”

I chose Malala’s story for October’s #1000Speak because I saw nothing but compassion and love.

“I had two choices: remain silent and wait to be killed or speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.”

I can speak up, without the fear of being killed and hopefully now so can Malala.

Love triumphs over hate.

EDUCATE.

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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.

***

“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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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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