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Happy 33 To Me, #FTSF

Twenty years ago, on this date, I spent my 13th birthday on dialysis, hooked up to a machine by an extremely fresh and painfully inserted central line in my chest.

So the nurses, me being the only child in a ward of mostly elderly patients, felt bad for the small girl on dialysis and they gave me a little birthday cake and all sang Happy Birthday to me.

How else do you make a small girl less upset to be stuck on kidney dialysis for her birthday, her first day as a teenager?

You present her with something sweet, that’s how.

It’s all relative. What made me upset then isn’t the same thing making me upset now, as a newly turned thirty-three-year-old.

I hadn’t even heard of him then…anyone by the name of…well, I’m not using the name on this blog from now on I’ve decided, even though in Harry Potter it says we should never shy away from using the name.

I am not afraid. Okay, well afraid for the world, sure, but I am more sad, enraged, frustrated, upset at where a lot of things currently are.

The other day, when I heard one of many in a string of a long line of blatant lies, it resulted in me giving myself a headache. These lies are going so far from the usual “all politicians lie lies” and into those that feel like they are so in-your-face that it almost feels like, when I hear them, they literally smack me in the face. So, I tried to act this out and my hand actually made physical contact with my own cheek.

I know, I know…ridiculous, right?

Upsetting, to be sure, but certainly not worth all that. Getting too upset in the moment means I don’t articulate myself all that well, for a writer, kind of like tonight apparently. I suppose it illustrates the theme of being upset rather nicely though.

Anyway…

I am celebrating twenty years of not having to spend birthdays or any other day tied to a dialysis machine. I am making big plans to celebrate that fact, come June. This is shaping up to be quite the thrill.

As for my birthday, people keep asking me how it’s been, how it’s going, and if I’ve had a good one. I try to answer, but how can I top the week I just spent in Mexico?

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some

I can’t and I’m not even trying to. Different thing.

My birthday present from family and from myself was that trip. This day can’t quite live up to that and I could now go on to list the specific reasons why it hasn’t, or I could just say I’m upset I’m no longer in Mexico. I could just leave it here, but it’s late and I am in need of sleep and I am trying to sort out how turning another year older makes me feel. So, I will go on, at least a little more.

As I stare out at a restaurant, one where I am celebrating my birthday by having a lovely lunch with my father, I see a lot of blurry space in front of my eyes, mixed with the constant noise of a loud lunchtime crowd. These things feed into each other and I wonder if I will still see anything at all, upon turning thirty-four next year or on turning forty-three in ten years time. Will I sill see anything at all, on any number of future birthday celebrations in my future?

When I get upset about these thoughts, these very questions that are asked, without much prompting inside my own head, I try to remember everything I’ve been lucky to see and all the brilliant living I’ve still got yet to do.

I get really upset by a birthday where I go to give blood and I leave with a bandage on each arm because veins were hard to come by, but a needle now and then is nothing compared to what once was.

After twenty years of needles for a lot of blood tests, there’s scar tissue in both arms and I didn’t drink enough before going in. It’s not the nurse’s fault. I was distracted, but it didn’t hurt, not by this point.

I then decided, since I was already in the building, to stop in at an adjoining medical office, which just so happens to be my dentist’s office, to make an appointment for a routine teeth cleaning. I’m long overdue. The only thing more celebratory than making a dentist appointment on one’s birthday will be the romance of a Valentine’s Day oral checkup, right?

I wished for something rather odd this year. It’s not the first thing I’d think of when blowing out candles, but I did wish that, if I were going to get one of my common colds, thanks to my somewhat lowered immune system, I’d rather get it on my birthday than having had it occur at any point while I was in Mexico.

It’s seemed, on the eve of my birthday, that I had gotten my wish.

And now, am I upset that I have a sore throat and other symptoms ongoing on my birthday, with a lively family triple celebration still to come tomorrow? It’s not so nice, but my week in Mexico was all pretty nearly perfect, so I am okay with it really.

I took a break all day, making it a point not to read Facebook and my newsfeed for my birthday, if it meant I could avoid all stories about the U.S. so-called president and whatever nonsense he was up to on the day of my birth. I did use Facebook to feel the birthday love from friends and family though. One makes me upset when I read and the other makes me smile.

When I’m upset, I think of all the things I have to be thankful for. When I feel upset because I am back from such a week of writing in Mexico and I worry I will never figure out my future, I remember the generous compliments about my talents as a writer that I received from my writing mentor and from the other writers in the group. I may have felt a fair bit of fear and uncertainty since I arrived home, but I can’t put so much pressure on myself, on my own birthday no less, to figure it out right away.

When I am upset about so many things I can’t control, things the world feels like it’s getting all wrong, I think of so much that has gone right for me lately and I listen to the things being said to me by people I love and trust and who know me and who think I’m special in some way.

I don’t let those who don’t know I exist speak nasty things to me inside my own head. I can’t control all those awful things that cause me upset and I can often do very little about seeing those I love or admire become upset either. I can offer a kind word or a compliment or a joke to break the tension. I can write, no matter how pointless it might seem in the moment of despair or cheerlessness.

Another birthday has come and gone. I can’t say where I’ll be, what I’ll have just experienced or accomplished by my next birthday. I can fight feeling upset. I can acknowledge it and then I can move forward.

Finish The Sentence Friday

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy thirty-three! Happy Birthday to me!

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Labeling Envelopes, #JusJoJan #SoCS

Pesos come in all different sizes. This is awfully helpful.

Just Jot It January/Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I used to be able to see the dark numbers on money or even feel it. Now, money here in Canada is smooth and it has braille markings on each bill, to distinguish the different currencies. This is key.

There could be cases of blind people getting ripped off because they gave the wrong dollar amount, unable to tell the difference. Coins are of all different sizes and textures, but it is often helpful having different amounts, to compare and contrast.

U.S. bills are not labeled and I don’t believe they come in multiple sizes. I don’t frankly see why it’s so difficult to put braille dots on the bills in the United States. They have the ADA don’t they (American’s With Disabilities Act) – shouldn’t they be the first to do this? One thing, of the many things, that baffles me about that country right now.

Blind people learn to come up with creative solutions for many many problems. They fold their money in specific ways and put it in places, so they know which dollar amount they might be taking out. Accidents do happen yet still.

I frighten people a little bit, when I let it slip that I enjoy the smell of things like gasoline, permanent markers, and car exhaust. To be clear…I DO NOT SEEK THESE THINGS OUT!

I used a lot of permanent markers, when I was younger, because I could see them to write. Smell is an important sense for me. I guess I just have to hope no permanent damage was done. No lasting affects on my brain.

I even enjoyed the odour of the saline solution, I believe it was, that the nurses would use to flush out my central line for dialysis. The throat and the nasal passages are connected and I would experience a strange sensation of tasting and smelling that I found to be quite pleasant, whereas most of dialysis was not.

As for scents of things I do not like, money is at the top of my list. Of course, we all use and need money. Some of us love it more than others. I appreciate having it, but not smelling it.

I hope I can hold onto it. I hope I can tell it apart. Please, let me figure out the conversion rates.

Gulp!

Please, oh please!

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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.

IqtN7Cr.jpg

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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Frozen In Time, #TGIF #FTSF

The sixth grade gym teacher said: “RUN!” And so his students ran. They ran and ran and ran laps around the school yard, a simple little country school.

The class ran and ran, including one tired classmate, being practically dragged along behind her sighted guide, finally unable to run another lap, not even one more step. She fell to the ground, feeling and smelling the cool tickle and scent of the grass against her cheek, but feeling close to death, hardly caring if she ever got up again.

She was. Close, horrifyingly close, but nobody knew it.

A long, long time ago and very far away, there lived a frightened little girl. She felt like she couldn’t hack it, any of it.

Homework was a nightmare. Math especially filled her with dread at the prospect.

The doctor dismissed her symptoms.

“Her stomach pains are just the start of menstruation,” the GP stated emphatically.

He said it, even as the mother kept bringing her daughter back, time after time. Finally, her shaky hand and general appearance of being unwell would seem to warrant blood tests and a referral. Thank God for that.

Twenty years ago seems so far away to me now. If it had been too far back or longer than long, things wouldn’t have turned out like they did. Medicine has come a long, long way.

Dialysis. Transplantation. Twenty years ago all this was possible. Just twenty years before that and the twenty before that, not so much.

Sometimes it feels like another girl lived all that, another life, and one that wasn’t me. Was I really that frightened little girl?

This week’s triumphant return of mine to Finish the Sentence Friday, brought to you by:

Finding Ninee

&

Life is Like a Hand Grenade

Life is a little like that. Sometimes, things blow up for us, all around us, and we’re left to pick up the pieces.

I’m still picking up those pieces, shards of the life I had then and a life that could have been.

It is what it now is, because of that long, long time and far far away.

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TToT: March Winds and April Showers – Lions and Lambs, #10Thankful

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”

–T.S. Eliot

Think this quote has been taken to mean “taxes” more recently, but I like to take the entire quote at its original wording.

Okay, so it’s more snow than rain around here at the moment. Lousy April Fools’ joke if you ask me. That was two days ago you know!

I don’t have a lamb or a lion, but Lumos is still a feline. I’d hoped to have a humorous shot of him to include here, but I seem to have misplaced it.

brianchristmas-2016-04-3-07-59.jpg

From the sounds of things around here this week, lots of regulars with the TToT are having trouble coming up with 10 T’s. Mine are to follow, minus any photos this week I’m afraid. Ooh, except for one…because we were celebrating him this week. It was taken back at Christmas, but you get the idea.

🙂

As for the TToT, some are borrowing thankfuls from other members. I am scrambling, somewhat and after a week of feeling sick, for mine, but here goes nothing.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For Patty Duke.

The Miracle Worker, 1962

She died this week, but she is remembered, for me, as Helen Keller, plus all her work as a mental illness advocate.

For my younger brother’s existence, while celebrating his birthday.

He’s the best brother anyone could ask for, one hell of a musician, and the strongest person I’ve ever known.

Can’t believe this is the final year of his twenties. Due to some extremely unforeseen events since his previous birthday, we came close to losing him, or at least the “him” we’ve become so accustomed to.

🙂

On this birthday of his in particular, I am thankful for the brother I know, better than nearly anyone else.

For organ donation and the newest friend to receive a new lease on life.

My brother has had this gift given and is making the most of it for the last three years now, but now it’s been another person’s turn.

My family have known her and hers since she was only a few years old and since I was first diagnosed with kidney disease. It’s been twenty years, in fact, since our families met.

She has gone through more than many people, a lot in her life, and she is finally free after years of endless dialysis treatments.

The whole organ donation thing is, I fully acknowledge, a touchy subject. If you’ve never known someone who was truly in need, you can’t possibly understand what it means to be free of machines and fatigue and fear.

I struggle because it means someone lost their life. I don’t celebrate that. I only see the good that can come from something so awful. I will forever be torn, even though my brother and myself have and will probably benefit from organ donation more in the years to come, barring major medical advancements.

For a lovely walk, fresh air, after being sick and cooped up for what felt like days.

It was growing dark and all it was was a short walk down the block in my parent’s neighbourhood. My nephew loved tossing stones into the water that had accumulated there.

The wind was biting, but it was also refreshing. I needed the air to flood my recently so stuffy lungs.

For not being sick anymore.

I was sick and tired of all the aches, coughing, and the monster.

Ozzy Osbourne sings a line in one of his songs that I love about “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” and this is not totally gone away from my life, but after a bad cold finally vacates my body, I am often able to realize how happy I am to have one less thing to deal with.

For the return of my normal voice.

It sounded, for a few days there, as if a monster had taken over my body, specifically my vocal cords.

I hope to finally have another violin lesson. Unforeseen events, my feeling unwell, these have resulted in me only getting one lesson this past month or so. Not cool.

For old memories, nostalgia, and endless laughter.

The Things I’ve Seen and Heard

My brother and I listened to old tapes he is digitalizing. All the laughter was hard on my body, after the cold, but it also felt nice, like shaking off cobwebs in the corners of a room that has been shut up to the open for too many consecutive days.

For the passing of yet another April Fools’ Day, for another year.

I am the first one to advocate for more humour in the world, as was one of my 10 from last week, but the day set aside for jokes and pranks is more of a nuisance than a laugh for me now.

I am highly gullible. Although a lot of the jokes played by and on me in person were a thing of my youth, now it’s all on Facebook. So much so, that I may stay off of Facebook entirely next April 1st.

For baseball starting up for the 2016 season.

Today was the first season game and Toronto won!!! Keep that up boys.

And for this song.

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TToT: Daylight Savings and Snowdrops, #10Thankful #PledgeForParity #WorldKidneyDay

“”They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.”

–Mexican Proverb

snowdropcloseup-2016-03-13-09-57.jpg

Spring is close now, an additional hour of light.

THE SNOWDROP – HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

The flowers are appearing. Growth is possible.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For an excellent spotlight interview on the American program 60 Minutes with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Not sure how many people saw it, but I was watching, and I was proud and thankful to have him speaking for my country.

He spoke about being born into a politically royal family, his feelings on boxing and how it’s all about risking being knocked down but then getting right back up again, and he was asked what Canadians would like from our neighbours, what we’d like the US to know.

Oh boy! This was the interviewer’s attempt to start something and some Americans were very definitely offended and showed it on Twitter.

Justin Trudeau on 60 Minutes: Twitter Pulls No Punches For New PM

But I thought it was funny when an image on screen of Justin’s Father, with his supposed wife and mother to his children, actually turned out to be a shot of Pierre on a date with Kim Cattrall. Thought Americans at least were familiar with “Sex and the City”.

🙂

For the ability to be there when my sister needed me.

I want to be available to watch my nephew when she is at work, whenever possible. He’s learning, growing, changing so fast.

The other day, when she walked out the door, he stood there and clung to me for what felt like ages and ages. It was as if, without words, he was reassuring himself it would be okay…that his mother was gone but that he still had me. I never wanted that moment to end and wished it could have gone on longer than it did.

For snow drops.

There are flowers all over the place, starting to spring up.

😉

Then, the other day my mother (lover of all growing things) placed a small flower, on its stem, in my palm. It felt droopy, and I was then informed it was called a “snowdrop”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galanthus

I personally would have named it a snow-flop, but I liked the name and the transitional image of winter evolving into spring again.

For IWD2016

International Women’s Day 2016 – Pledge For Parity

I was trying to cut back a little on blogging during the week,

(Cracks in the Ceiling)

but I felt I had to write on March 8th, to say my piece, my peaceful piece.

🙂

Speaking of recognizing female voices…

Sophia Bush Speaks Her Mind On Feminism

For the discovery of a new song and artist.

She came on the local college radio station and I immediately liked the song, its signature Electropop sound.

I looked into her further later and discovered I knew one of her songs already, but I found a new favourite.

Halsey is another young and emerging artist, like Lorde for example, but she has a definite Ellie sound to her.

I am happy to have found another like Ellie Goulding, but a change from Goulding too because sometimes certain memories that go along with a specific singer or voice can still hold painful recollections. I’ve found a new voice to focus on for a while, even though I will always love Ellie in a way nobody else can top.

For bookstores.

I love standing in them. I love being surrounded by my favourite things, books, but I can only be in them for a short time before the fact that I am unable to simply reach out, grab a book, and start to read will wash over me and I will realize my limitations. It is at this point that I am thankful and grateful, but I must flee because the urge to burst into tears becomes a difficult one to hold back.

For World Kidney Day

Exactly twenty years ago was when I was first diagnosed with kidney failure. It was March, 1996, and finally my family doc sent me to a paediatric specialist, who immediately confirmed what my blood tests already showed. I was very sick and needed dialysis within a few months.

That was a scary time and, even all these years later, I will never forget what it felt like to be so ill.

For the option of doing dialysis to treat end-stage renal failure, like the kind I was in twenty years ago.

I am lucky to have a kidney from my father, for nineteen years now, and I was lucky, at that time, that there was such thing as dialysis as a treatment for kidney failure. Other organ failure did not and does not have just such a stabilizing treatment option, which is no cure, but is better than nothing, better than the alternative. I am lucky to be here.

For a successful visit in Washington, D.C. between the first families of the US and Canada.

The two men (Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama) they are a lot alike, see the world similarly.

No matter what else is going on with the US and their elections for a new president for November, now, in Washington, I liked to see peace, lighthearted humour, and harmonious relations between our two countries.

Trudeau might just be starting his time in office, while Obama and his rational good sense is on the way out, but I just liked the week that was. It made a nice “bookend” to the interview that started my week off right.

Finally, for the fact that I seem to be able to escape many people’s issue with losing that hour last night.

I had a nasty headache, sure, but I really don’t think I can blame that on Daylight Savings.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night from the pain, but I usually don’t detect a problem in my sleep pattern.

I am choosing to give this whole Daylight Saving thing the benefit of the doubt because I get headaches all the time, and I have a feeling I can place the blame squarely on something else entirely.

As I finished off my weekend and welcomed the lost hour and its additional light to come, my head began to pound. This song and all the signs of spring promise better days ahead.

Haunting – Halsey

In this song Halsey speaks of “diving in deep” and the song ends off with her, or it sounds like she is under water, scuba diving. It’s awesome!

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake

Uneasy Me, #FTSF

“It’s not easy to be me.”

Superman’s Dead (It’s Not Easy) – Five For Fighting

Superman was always one of the last of the superhero stories I would choose. I was always more of a Batman girl. I don’t know how many Superman films I watched there for a while, but none of them stuck with me as being particularly interesting. I didn’t understand the whole backstory or even the definition or importance of kryptonite.

That’s why, when I read this week’s FTSF prompt, I froze in my tracks, unsure if I would write anything at all, have anything to link up with.

I looked up the meaning, refreshed my memory, but still drew a blank. Kryptonite meaning, basically, weakness and still I was coming up with nothing.

Come on, I nudged myself over the last few days. You’ve got to have a weakness. What is it? What would be the main one?

I am working on writing my memoir. It seemed like a perfect moment in time to start again, as I think back on the twenty years, exactly, that I was diagnosed with kidney disease as a frightened twelve-year-old.

Since that point I have been called brave and inspirational many many times. How did I do it? How was it that I managed to survive feeling so sick, dialysis, and surgery to have a transplanted kidney from my father?

I am not as strong as all those well-meaning family, friends, medical professionals, and acquaintances assumed. I don’t want what happened twenty years ago, what was only really a few years out of my whole life, to define me forever. I try to get past it, really, but I keep going back to it and writing my story down is a big part of that.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s even a good idea. Maybe I should just move on and look ahead. That’s what I am doing, but then I turn my head round and admit to myself that what happened during those rough months, all those years ago now, that stuff left its mark on me and I can’t honestly say I don’t look back in reflection.

My kryptonite is the past. It’s the affect a physical illness had on my body, my mind, the girl I was trying to grow into.

It influences my body image even now, as a grown woman.

When I was treated I was clearly under-weight and malnourished. I was lacking proper vitamins and minerals, things the kidneys are supposed to take care of.

I stayed stable on dialysis and I had the transplant. This got me back to a healthy state, but I went from being barely eighty pounds, maybe less, at age twelve. My puberty was hugely disrupted. I was not growing.

Once I had a working kidney, one being all you technically require, I began to gain weight. I gained weight as a side effect of more than one of the medications I had to go on.

I remember standing on our bathroom scale, realizing I was ninety-two pounds, and starting to panic. I wasn’t relieved I was gaining. I was horrified.

I was weighed every time I went on and off the dialysis machines. This was necessary, to monitor my fluid loss and gain, but it played havoc with my head. I was shown to focus on weight, at a time I shouldn’t have had to, when only months before I was pushed to put on the pounds.

Now, the weight was coming on abnormally quickly and I was visited by dieticians who went over the list of foods to stay away from if I didn’t want to gain even more weight.

So now I like my chocolate but I also like my fruit.

At Easter I love chocolate eggs, but come summer I go nuts eating strawberries, peas straight from the pod, peaches, and apples for weeks and weeks on end. They are really all I want to eat.

All in moderation. Diets don’t work. Or avoid some foods entirely?

I can list all the excuses in the book as to why exercise and weight loss hasn’t been easy for me, but I know I am not alone. I must keep plugging away at it, remaining mindful of it. I don’t want to make excuses, to use chronic pain or my blindness as reasons why I am now gradually gaining weight over time. I only get my kidney checked twice a year, but they still take my weight at the start of these appointments, and I am forced to look back and try to recall what the scale read six months before, to keep track, somewhat, of where I’m at. So although I don’t keep checking my weight on my bathroom scale every morning, I’m made to be accountable, every time November/April rolls around.

Yes, the meds have decreased, things are more moderate now, but the damage is done – floodgates have been wide open for twenty years. I deal with something so many people deal with, I know. Emotions also play a part and my psychological state becomes a factor.

Can I keep things under control? Can I not let the events of my past rule my present or influence the future?

My kryptonite are the stretch marks I’ve had (not from a pregnancy, like most women my age), but since I was on high doses of prednisone, when I was fourteen years old. I can feel the clear visible evidence of how it all began and I feel weak because I can’t keep things in balance as much of the time as I’d like, but that’s why I write about it all. I hope that part doesn’t make me weak. I don’t feel all that brave or inspirational and I don’t want the weaknesses I live with to bring me down. They do serve as reminders of the scars of my past and the toughness, as they’ve driven these bits of my past in deep.

Now I’m off to go eat a mango and some chocolate.

🙂

The brains behind this week’s FTSF is

Lisa Crisp Witherspoon

of The Golden Spoons.

Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down

And, as always, Kristi of

Finding Ninee.

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