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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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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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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.

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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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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

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I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

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All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

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For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

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Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

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I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

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For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

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My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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TToT: Words Glorious Words – Reed Running Amuck in the Reeds, #10Thankful

“But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”

–L.M. Montgomery

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Damn, do I love this Montgomery quote.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Not sure, but I believe this past week, here, felt more like summer than fall, but I heard few complaints.

Summer Breeze

This week has been all about nature, music, and words, the third allowing me to express my love for the first two.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For creatinine at 70 and my father to ask if it is possible for this level in the blood to be too low.

Another six month checkup behind me and my creatinine is lower than it has been in a few years.

Every time I go in to get my kidney function checked, I wonder: is this going to be the day everything falls apart?

It’s been eighteen years since I received a kidney from my father. Most days, I tell myself I can break records and I think about the huge party I’m planning to throw when I reach the twenty-year mark.

(You are all invited by the way.)

🙂

Other times, the reality hits me that, though the nurses keep reminding me nothing would happen that fast, I know I may have to go back on dialysis again, at any time, and nobody can say when and nobody can stop it.

Until that day, I keep on praying for advancements in medical science and for each six months I’m given, dialysis free.

For the reminder of the beauty of nature all around me, to remember to stop and take it in once and a while.

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My mother reminded me of this, my nephew reminded me of this, and our warmer-than-usual first-week-of-November weather reminded me of this too.

For the sound of rippling, not quite waves.

We spent an afternoon along the shore of the small lake in my town. With just the noise of a gentle ripple I let the warm breeze rustle my hair and looked out over the water.

It’s more of a subtle sound and it fit the slight breeze and the warmth of the day, a small break in the cooler fall temperatures.

For the discovery of some truly wonderful music I did not know existed.

Florence + The Machine – Where Are You Now?

For artists trying new things, doing things their own way, and making kick ass music.

For those who know you, parts of you, and what you like, even if you never would have liked something before they came along. Even as time marches onward, certain people know best the parts of you that nobody else might have been witness to.

For do-overs and the ability to still smile and find good memories, even after rough times. And for time, the best way to deal with heartbreak.

It’s not always easy, does not become so in any real linear way, but I know of no better option.

For my first week of my new writer’s group.

Words with Friends

I tried my best to write about my first experience, as a part of the group, as scary as it was at the time.

It was also exhilarating too. I wish I’d started months ago, but this group only began last January, I was told.

For the part where I was recognized, which made my first week in a group of strangers a little less overwhelming.

The woman who runs the group is a friend of a family member of my family.

This woman happens to work at the library and she knew who I was.

For the chance to talk about a favourite book of mine.

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

This woman just happened to mention her book club the following night and what they had read. She wasn’t sure how many were going to come out in favour of Watchman, with the deep attachment to Mockingbird which exists.

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

When I spoke up about my love of this book, she right away invited me to join her, to be at least one person on her side, in favour of the new one.

For a festival of words and a friend who accompanied me, even if she may have been a little bored at certain moments. She made it memorable.

I only made it to the opening night reception, but perhaps next year I will attend more of the events which were put on yesterday and today.

It’s both easy and hard to be somewhere where words are what it’s all about.

I love being anywhere (whether it be critique group, book club, or festival) where writing, books, or words are the sole topic of conversation.

However, as with the reception the other night, I looked around the room and listened to the remarks made and little bits of conversation. I felt a way, perhaps, that many others felt. Everyone else here is more literary and more experienced with books than I am, whether true or not.

I’ve learned about writing, that to share and read other writers is just as wonderful as anything. I want to include a few examples, from each previous week’s TToT, at the bottom of each post I write, every single week, from now on.

GIRLIE ON THE EDGE – On autumn and the falling back of the clocks.

THE MOM CAFE – On the struggles and rewards of motherhood.

GETTING LITERAL – On the poetics of certainty.

I am moved by words, now, on a weekly basis.

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“The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard.”

–Claudia Rankine

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, RIP, Special Occasions, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Redefining Disability, One Year Later: Glad To Be Here, Glad To Be Anywhere

Last week with

The Reality of My Own Perception, Or Something Like It

I can’t honestly say I actually answered the question, but I’ve been told that I made a strange kind of sense anyway.

I will try to give more of a straightforward answer to this week’s question.

But first, you can follow more about this challenge

Here.

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Q: How has medical treatment and technology changed in your lifetime?

A: Blindness is not life threatening. Whether I was born in 2015, 1985, or 1905 – my life would be much different, without a lot of the modern technology I take for granted, but I would have survived.

I have seen an amazing eruption of invention for the technologies I depend on so very much, all within my lifetime of the past thirty-one years.

There is no cure for my sort of blindness. I try to stay away from fad ideas and don’t let myself hope for sight in my lifetime, but then I visit my eye doctor and he assumes I am up on the latest in gene therapies.

I am not.

He said the testing of gene therapy is coming along, which gives me hope for the future.

I didn’t have parents who rushed me all over the world, since discovering my blindness in the eighties, searching for desperate cures. I have lived my life, for the first several years, not really thinking of blindness in any medical terms at all. It was simply a part of me and my brother’s lives, a part of our family’s uniqueness.

I am glad for prednisone. It saved me from going completely blind back in the late nineties, I am sure of it.

In the eighties, technology like what I have now, it was in its infancy. Apple was nowhere near what it is today, for so many visually impaired and blind people everywhere.

The IBM computer we had in our family, in the early nineties, was equipped with the large print I required at that time. My brother could not see even that. His love for technology was, at that time, limited to tape recorders and stereos.

Now he is all about his technology and he has a knack for it. I, on the other hand, struggle with it, but would be nowhere without it.

We did okay, as children, without all the gadgets we now have. We had to lug around a brailler, so heavy it could break a toe or even a foot.

Now, the only thing that could break, if dropped, might be a cell phone.

I suppose there are advancements in research for blindness, but I don’t keep that close of an eye on that, to be honest. The eye, as a whole, has never really interested me. I couldn’t name all its parts, just because I happen to be blind.

I was born in a time before Internet and now I depend on it for so much, it’s scary to me sometimes, to think about ever going back, but I don’t see that being a problem.

What are my odds of seeing a cure for blindness in my lifetime?

It’s not as simple as that. The eye and the brain, although I am no expert, are truly complex systems. There are no simple answers.

I know medicine and technology are closely connected and related. We can’t really have the first without the second, and going forward the two will merge more and more.

As for more seriously life threatening matters, I am lucky there too.

Organ transplant was in its earliest of stages as well, when I was born. I waited until 1996-97 to need dialysis and a kidney transplant. I received both. If I had been needing it, just a few decades earlier, I probably wouldn’t be here now.

That thought first really hit me when we stood in line, for breakfast, at the resort in Florida for Wish Kids. It was our family trip to Disney. I was feeling uncomfortable. I looked all around at the children with deadly cancers and brain tumours. I did not think I should be included there. Then I knew the reality that I was lucky to be there or anywhere at all.

I am haunted by the stories my grandma used to tell me about her baby brother, the great-uncle I never got to meet.

She was twelve when he was born. She was sixteen when he died.

Her and her two older siblings must have loved having a new baby brother, but any joy there would have been did not last long.

I don’t know what the reality was. He was diagnosed with diabetes. I know insulin had been invented years before, but he did not get it.

Was it still so experimental? Was it not widely used? What chance would he have had to live if he had gotten some?

This was a poor, rural farm family. No easy access. His parents didn’t drag him around the world in search of some fad cure. He died at home, surrounded by his loved ones.

My grandma told me about her memories of her little brother, resting out in their front room, on the sofa as he grew sicker and sicker. His small body was building up with toxins. The sugars in his blood were taking their toll.

She’d been dating my grandfather for only a short time when her brother died. She cried on his shoulder, as I am sure the grief must have been terrible.

I don’t know what it must have been like for my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, to lose their baby.

I know what it’s like to feel nauseated and weak. I know how it feels to have horrible abdominal cramps racking you. I believe these symptoms of kidney failure are similar to what it must have been like, what it would be like to die a slow death from diabetes. I sometimes felt that I was doing that. I feel for that little boy, all those years ago, who must have suffered in his last days, on that couch. I can’t even imagine and yet I can, a little too much.

Blindness or no blindness, I wouldn’t have survived if I had been born much earlier than 1984 and I can’t forget that.

Both medicine and technology, whether I like it or not, play an important role in my life and always have.

The medications have improved for transplant. The future for kidney failure, I hope, is looking bright. I would love to get my sight, but I would love even more to never have to go back on dialysis or need another transplant in my life.

At least, this time around, I will have technology to keep me company.

***

I usually do these things on Mondays, but today is the first day of September and I started

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

one year ago today,

Awareness

being my first post. I should complete the entire series of questions by the end of the year.

Next week:

Have recent advancements in medicine or technology had any affect on the way you manage your disability?

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