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Thunderbolts and Firewires: The Year That Was 2016, #Farewell2016 #Writing #Podcast

I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

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Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.

And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.

I did it at the end of 2015 with:
My Top Spills and Thrills
of which there had been enough of both to go around.

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

As the January 2016 quote from my blog showed,
I began my year afraid and uncertain and on a bit of a lower note,
with a little
Just Jot It January fun.

Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing.
Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.

In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be
thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push,
some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.

The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.

It began with David Bowie, but for me,
it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.

A new year maybe, but a new month meant another
#1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.

With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.

Thanks to Kristi from
Finding Ninee
I decided to participate in a new blogging exercise
for the first time.

Another first included
Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells
but, in the end, it wasn’t for me.

Turns out, the magic of this month has been that I could just write, jot really, and I started to see that I didn’t need to have the rest of the year all figured out in the first thirty-one days.

FEBRUARY

This second month of the year is designated for a cause I know well. It ended up to be my chance to speak my mind about my personal cause and became my first published article of 2016:

To the People Who’ve Never Heard of My Rare Disease – The Mighty

February would end up being a month of
mindfulness and music.

Ten days in, I turned thirty-two and decided to check a big one off of my
bucket list,
and so I went out and rented myself a violin.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore:
Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.

Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for
March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.

By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

March brought with it guest blogging spots and more opportunities for publication, other places than my own blog,
with my second attempt at the #BeReal challenge.

Following this, feminism seemed to be the topic of March as a month.

An interview I’d done with
a proud male feminist
and then a piece I’d written on
International Women’s Day
were both picked up by
The Good Man Project.

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

Patty Duke, at the end of Women’s History Month, March.

APRIL

I got myself a writing mentor and my lyrics were finally heard.

Don’t Look Back

I was trying to focus, to look ahead, and to plan for what I wanted.

Why Oh Why

The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

Once again, like during the spring of 2015, I was losing my tool for communication and self expression. This makes me feel vulnerable.

So I appreciated
the share from a friend
and another
guest posting opportunity
from a blogger, a young woman I really admire and have interviewed here before.

Spotlight On Single Strides

The end of April brought with it the death of Prince.

It also brought with it
the death of the loner laptop I was using
and a beautiful gift from a stranger, one which would allow me to write another day.

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

I’d been pondering the idea of doing a podcast for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then, I brought up the idea with my brother and an idea, our idea, was born.

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

I couldn’t do this without thinking back twenty years.

Frozen In Time

For May’s edition of #1000Speak I focused on
Loving My Self-ish.

The end of May and onward to June always causes me to pause and reflect.

Born Again and Forever Grateful

This time these thoughts would grow to become my next piece to be featured on The Good Man Project.

JUNE

My first Song Lyric Sunday on more than just any old Sunday day.

Following “the month of the Mother,” –
Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth–Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That?
June will always be a month for me and my father.

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

We started with a Facebook page,
and soon that followed with
Episode 1 – Intro To Us
with Ketchup On Pancakes.

On top of the release of the podcast, I jumped at an amazing offer, an invite, which would require a whole lot of planning and a wait of nearly six months.

Would the moment ever get here?

I bet my sister was thinking that same thing, we all were, but her good news was finally a dream come true.

A chance at independence and a new life for my writing and for me and a second child for her.

And so I applied for a newly updated passport and began to count down the months.

I read and wrote one of my rarer than I’d like book reviews.

Then I was approached and invited to write another
guest post
about my life and my day as a blogger.

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

More lyrics for a second song written and, in celebration of and motivated by that accomplishment,
I decided to return to the visual art of my childhood and an old, familiar kind of creativity.

Up next, speaking of being reminded of being a child,
I reviewed a movie about motherhood,
that I’d gone to see, with my newly pregnant sister, in our own empty theatre.

Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.

The World Can Learn a Thing or Two From Canada – The Planet D

One beloved Canadian spoke up about his oncoming struggle and we lost someone in our family. I’m glad I got to meet Gerti, at least once that I’ll always remember.

As August came to an end, I made a few hard choices about my writing and what I wanted done with it.

If I made a mistake somewhere in there, I guess it will be mine to make and to own and to learn from.

The questioning would and will continue, no matter the month or the year I’m in.

SEPTEMBER

The first day of this new month was one I’d been waiting for, with the release of a new publication, focusing on what travel should be, the kind I’d like to see.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

I remembered what it was like, moving into my house that I bought with my sister, ten years ago.

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

Ten years later, my nephew started school and my niece began the first grade. Another loved one passes away. RIP Erica.

I got to feature an interview I’d done with one of my favourite editors/writers.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

This felt like a giant win and one of the best things to ever happen to this blog.

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

But we weren’t the only ones with the idea of doing a podcast. Apparently, the idea had spread.

The Brevity Podcast

I took an autumn trip, to say goodbye,
with more than just the fall colours
as backdrop.

NOVEMBER

The U.S. makes a big mistake and it’s time to get writing – all the more reason to write.

Nano Nano Nano

“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”

Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of
RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.

Stalemate, #1000Speak

Could this possibly spell the end of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion?

DECEMBER

Canada announces the first woman, other than the Queen, to appear on Canadian money.

Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

One month after November’s U.S. election, we share our Canadian perspective.

Episode 3 – The Great Gong Show of 2016 with Ketchup On Pancakes

I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.

A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:

I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.

Joseph Mascolo, ‘Days of Our Lives’ Villain, Dies at 87 – New York Times

No villain was ever more evil than Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah Humbug! Whoosh! #10Thankful

I featured a George Michael shoutout, in my final 10 Things of Thankful post for 2016 and this was before the Christmas Day announcement of his passing.

I am no fortune teller, but some of my predictions did happen,
as I sit with what did indeed come to pass and look back on what 2016 became.

Ketchup On Pancakes (the podcast) had a final episode for the year, a catch up on all that was 2016, by a cozy fireside.

Episode 4 – Farewell 2016…By The Fireside with Ketchup On Pancakes

And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.

My 2016 Resolutions were:
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.
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.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, RIP, TToT, Writing

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

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

–Harry Potter

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

Cancer is a bitch!

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

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

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

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

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

Modern Love – David Bowie

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

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

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

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

We Are One

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

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

For the chance to stay with my brother again.

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

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

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

Trusty Fox – Whiskey and Beer

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

For a good piece of pizza.

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

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

For those loved ones.

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

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

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

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

Read my tribute to Rickman here.

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

For a win for NHL team Chicago Blackhawks.

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

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

For another excellent exercise in creativity and creative writing.

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

author readings/book signing.

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

On Lazarus, David Bowie’s last-released video

And that is why I love her writing so much.

Speaking of love.

For love. Yes, simply, for love.

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

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

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

My Heart Will Go On

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

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RIP, Alan Rickman – Always!

What a week!

It’s the sort of week that only a Harry Potter movie can sooth.

First it was David Bowie, then Alan Rickman, and finally it was the death of Celine Dion’s long-time manager and husband Rene Angelil. This cancer is a real jerk.

I am a fan of some Bowie songs and I am glad Dion was discovered, but it was the news of Alan Rickman’s death, on Thursday morning that threw me for a loop. All these men were no longer young, but still it was the dreaded cancer that took them from their families and from fans around the world too soon.

Of course I did not need this sad occasion, or any occasion at all, to get me to watch a Harry Potter movie marathon. As it is fifteen years since he first played the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, this time I am watching and paying particular attention to the brilliant Alan Rickman’s portrayal of one of the favourite literary characters ever created in my opinion.

This is a beautiful overview of Snape’s story.

Tributes have been pouring in, from fellow actors and fans alike, since the news broke suddenly of Alan Rickman’s passing from cancer, at age sixty-nine, on Thursday, January 14th.

Of course this isn’t really him,

in this fake guest voice spot on Family Guy,

but his voice was always so well-known. I’d like to think he wouldn’t have been offended by it.

I did not think of him as a joke. I saw only dedication in the roles he played. I just needed to smile from something since I heard he’d passed away and the clip from Family Guy came back to me.

The tributes, as I say, have been coming fast since news broke, on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media and online:

From J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, and other British stars.

to

Evanna Lynch

and her heartfelt post.

Then there came a statement from The Late Show’s

Stephen Colbert.

Rickman’s close colleague and friend Emma Thompson wrote a moving tribute of her own

Here.

I don’t remember Ricman from the role that made him famous in Die Hard or the next role, where he played the villain in Robin Hood.

I do know he came to embody the character audiences always loved to hate on screen, but who was he, as a man, in his off screen life?

I knew him in such roles, perhaps a little lesser known, such as when he starred alongside Johnny Depp and his Harry Potter co-star Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon barber of Fleet Street”. He was positively evil in that,

but Rickman and Depp sing beautifully in that together.

It was in Harry Potter that I first heard his voice. I don’t forget a voice like that. It was infused with intensity and control over the words he was saying, whatever they just so happened to be. His slow speech grabbed hold and kept hold of my attention, anytime he spoke lines on screen.

I can honestly say that not everything about the movie versions pleased me, as big of a fan of the books as I’ve been since I first read them, but Rickman’s performance as Snape was never a part of my disappointment. He nailed that character, as one of the best cast parts from the entire story.

He was absolutely, terribly mean and you couldn’t help but hate him, as cruel to Harry and everyone else as he always was, but that’s what made him so great as an actor.

He could go from the world of Harry Potter to Shakespeare and almost everything in between. His start with the British Royal Shakespeare Company must have been something to see.

But whether he was playing a Shakespeare character on stage, the Blue Caterpillar from a tale like Alice in Wonderland, a modern literary villain in Harry Potter, or the bad judge in a musical, he was magnificent in whatever he was doing.

It’s strange how the death of someone you’ve never met can get to you, but from a closer source than I ever thought I would have when I first saw him take on the role of Severus Snape, I heard it confirmed what a warm and amazing person he was in real life, not just a fact made known through the celebrity reports and tributes.

His portrayal of Snape brought something important to life for me, as in he jumped off the screen in an extension of the character I loved to hate in the books.

It was Rowling who came up with the sad tale of a life that Snape lived, but it was Alan Rickman who made it real for me. He made that sadness real and I feel that same sadness now.

Rest in peace Allan Rickman.

It will always be Alan, for me, the man who was meant to play Snape. Always and forever he will be it.

Always!

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