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TToT: Back After A Long While #OctoberSurprise #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #10Thankful

I could have posted my favourite quote about the month I most love, but that “October” quote from Lucy Maud Montgomery has been added here in previous years. I will stick to my own words today.

I’ve been out of this gratitude post activity for months now. I still practice gratitude in my head and in my heart, but I have my moments of self pity and fear also and so I wanted to break that block I had which kept getting in my way of sharing here.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am thankful for this, my favourite month. The air is fresher and crisper and cleaner than the earthiness of spring or the humid, heavy heated air of summer in southwestern Ontario. Winter is good also, with the smell of snow in the air all around, like a snow globe. I look forward to that, though I worry about people I love who find the long, dark months of winter a challenge to their mental health and energy levels.

I am thankful for my yearly seasonal fresh apples. They are giant, some I call pumpkin apples. They are special and tart/sweet and so crisp and sour at times. I am thankful for those who pick them from the apple trees this time of year.

I am thankful for how Canada is mostly pulling together and facing this pandemic with grace and a common goal of staying healthy, as many of us as possible. I lay low and protect myself, as I’m on my way to 25 years with my father’s kidney come 2022. Those I love are staying safe too.

I’m thankful for staying close to family during such strange times. I am lucky to have parents who taught their four children respect and love for the gift of a sibling, brother or sister, for the different things they bring to the table of sibling closeness. Our parents know they won’t always be here and how important it is to keep growing a bond with a sibling, no matter where life takes any one of us four. We’re here for each other and I don’t see that changing, but I hope I can do my part to keep the bonds strong.

I’m thankful each sibling and I have talks and they each keep me sane, in different ways, at different moments when I might be struggling to voice my concerns and fears over the state of things. I tend to let my imagination run wild with these things, am frightened for what’s to come in the US especially in the coming months. It’s hard here too, as helpless as I feel because I can’t contribute a vote against the man currently occupying the people’s house there in DC. I can only watch from up here, in horror and disgust and embarrassment for it all and the still real possibility that it could go worse still.

I am thankful for a more successful year for me, compared to 2019, dangerously contagious unknown virus that has come upon us in 2020 notwithstanding. I’ve started doing what’s called sensitivity reads for a children’s publisher in Toronto and now an accessibility review for a science journalist who was presenting at some sort of UK science journalism conference. She wanted to do all she could to make her slide presentation, with its images and alt text on those images accessible for everyone and needed someone with a screen reader to look everything over. I feel like I am doing my part in this world to improve accessibility for myself, others with the same needs as I have and that’s something at least..

I am thankful the show I do with my brother is
now available
in more places than one. We’ve had some incredible guests on the show in recent weeks and we’re not done yet.

I’m thankful for the nature documentaries on Netflix I’ve had to escape into for distractions lately.

Most of what’s available on Netflix now is audio described, allowing me to imagine the scenes of wildlife and the natural world in my mind as I’m listening.

Watching these, I felt peaceful for a brief but necessary break in my day, but also I’ve been reminded why I love nature (my religion) and the need for action to protect it.

I’m thankful I have an essay
about Braille
I wrote, published in my third print book, not counting the
magazine
I now have my name on as assistant-editor over the last year or so.

vcznKJ7.jpg

I probably should have confirmed, but I’m unfortunately unsure I can post the correct photo description, as I am unsure which one I went with here. I just chose one from my photos, one from that day, something with the print magazine my essay is in, me holding it or it being open and showing the page with my name or my story on it.

I’m thankful for the Women Who Travel online study course I’ve been taking, for the virtual walk around New Zealand next month, and the nature writing class I’m taking in January, 2021, all of which give me something meaningful to focus on, to work on, and to use as inspiration until I can travel again one day.

I’m thankful for the recent online fiction writing class I started, every Friday night until right before Christmas. It will keep me accountable..

Though we don’t know what will be by the time Christmas and the end of this wild year arrives, but until then I am doing my best to get by.

So, if you ask me that usual, general question from now until at least 2021 and the hope of a possible COVID-19 vaccine is perfected, even if I sigh, suck it up and answer “fine,” I won’t exactly be fine, but I’m doing what I can to stay hopeful and sometimes I fall back into that trap of answering in a way as to not make others feel uncomfortable to continue any further talk with me.

Thank you, Kristi and everyone, for still being here to show me the way on staying as accountable to being thankful as humanly possible and a recent Happy Birthday to our hostess here at the TToT.

And finally, this is a shot of my pal before I had to say goodbye and have him put down last month.

7My7QrQ.jpg

RIP and I’m glad there’s no more suffering for you. Staying positive here, as best I can. There’s always something to be thankful for.

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What Is Courage Anyway? #1000Speak

I’ve always wondered…

How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front

Then there’s the Cowardly Lion’s take on the word.

If I Were King of the Forest – Wizard of Oz

But I like Yvonne’s take on courage most of all.

The Courage to Have Compassion – A 1000Speak post

Courage and compassion really should go hand-in-hand, but most times, they do not.

Courage. Bravery. These have, historically, been male characteristics. They’ve meant the strength to head off to war, to fight, and inevitably, to kill for the good of a cause. This meant enemy and victor. Someone won and someone else (one country or another) lost.

But who was it to really win in the end?

Where were the courage and valor in death, destruction, lost, pain, and grief?

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree – The Andrews Sisters

I will never agree with war. Silly, right, to even say those words because nobody would, nobody does, right?

I may sound unaware of the hard realities. I may be a privileged, naive little Canadian, living in a time and place of peace. I may.

This doesn’t mean I don’t comprehend or appreciate what it must take to fight in a war, to step up when there is a clear and present threat, but I want better for my fellow humans. I make it my mission to put myself into any number of other pairs of shoes, but some things simply cannot be grasped through mere wanting and determination.

I want the reasons we go to war in the first place to be eliminated. I want to imagine, to require from people, a world of peace because the alternative sounds crazy/stupid to me.

I have no clue what I’m talking about, maybe. Maybe. Who knows.

I don’t know where the world is headed. I wanted to write a coherent and thoughtful piece for July’s 1000 Speak For Compassion. I know there are much better examples of courage I could come up with. War just came to my mind firstly, as that is what comes to most people’s minds when the word “courage” is mentioned.

Of course, I sound ignorant, but just stop the wars. They aren’t glamorous. We may not have fully realized, one hundred years ago, but now we are a much more connected world, with social media and 24-hour news. This is both better and worse.

As for other examples of courage, it would be a child fighting for his or her life in hospital.

I think my family are courageous for different reasons.

I think my grandparents were courageous, when war came to Europe in 1939 and they were only just two young people, starting their lives.

My parents were courageous when they were given me as a blind baby girl, my brother three years later, to navigate the world of disability.

My sister is courageous to fight for the family she wants for herself, her husband, and to give a sibling to my nephew.

A good friend of mine is courageous for going it alone, making a life for herself and her little girl.

Even I will hope for a little courage, if I am ever going to take a chance on myself and my writing, by going after a dream and traveling through a busy airport, unable to see my surroundings as I go.

I like to watch programs, documentaries, about war. I do see the value in learning from such an extreme human experience. I just don’t happen to think that is all we as humans can ever do to be truly courageous.

More and more, we need to show compassion and find our own courage when faced with the world we have to work with now. Courage, to me, means trying to keep a cool head when dealing with anyone who thinks or feels something different from myself.

I just wish more of us realized this. Our differences are varied, but our humanity can make us braver than we ever could have imagined.

Fight for peace and compassion, not wars and hatred. Be courageous enough to be compassionate.

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Never Forgotten: My Promise to Those Who Came Before Me, #TGIF #FTSF

I write about my family often.

With stories of

Bloodroots and Blood Ties,

I discovered there was such thing as a bloodroot, on one particular family hike in April.

Had you ever heard of such a thing?

I think it is a wonderful metaphor, as far as the natural world, as we are all connected, to it, and to each other.

Roots go deep and this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday is a deep one, with Kristi of

Finding Ninee

As for my own family story, I’ve discussed things like

Milestones and Siblings

and also

The Ties That Bind

ties, blood, roots are all common themes in my writing, as you can see.

Long ago, my family came to Canada, from living in Europe. I really don’t know that far back, especially on my mother’s side. They’ve been here longer.

It all seemed so far back in time that I didn’t know how to reach it, which has left me focused more on the events of the 20th century and the two world wars that have left their mark on the 1900s.

My father’s parents lived through World War II. My father’s mother spoke of those years often, and her childhood that proceeded them. Her thick accent and often mixed up German/English made it hard to follow a lot of the things she’d say. I would listen, focusing hard, banking on my sharp memory to be able to recall the stories and the details later on.

This was a mistake. I was only just beginning with writing back then, as an interest, and (like a person not wanting to miss something in the moment, who does not take a photo to capture the memory) I did not write down what she spoke about, as she spoke it.

There are a few occasions where my brother recorded my grandfather and his marvellous storytelling abilities. He grew up on a farm, in a small, close community. His stories, though life was likely hard in ways I can’t really understand now, his anecdotes are mostly humorous in nature, silly schoolboy pranks or things he and his brother and sister got up to.

I have plans to go back and listen to his recorded stories, to see how many I could now get down in written form, in the hopes of possibly, one day, writing a short book of his adventures. This, along with my grandmother’s diaries (which I’ve spoken of here often) are things that tie me to their lives, even now and that helps me feel closer to them, even though they are gone.

That’s how stories have made it this far, through generations, even as I sometimes doubt my plan, worrying that I am telling things someone may not have wanted. The last thing I would ever wish to do would be to misrepresent another’s words or life in any way.

I think about what my grandparents did to get through those tough years, war and hunger and fear, and I want to honour that somehow. My plans for that would be to try and write a fictional story, a novel, loosely based on their lives and that time in history. I have not figured out how to go about that yet. It seems like such a daunting project.

Then I watch documentaries and read about World War I and I wondered why I was so obsessed with that war too. I’ve decided that I can’t help imagining what my great grandparent’s lives must have been like during that time period. I know so little. I want to know so much, much much more.

When it comes to my roots I am spellbound, mesmerized, haunted by thoughts of what once was, as a direct result of where I am now, at this exact moment in time and where it is I’m going. I would not be here if it hadn’t been for them, for all of them. I just don’t want them to be forgotten, as I don’t want to be forgotten a century from now.

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Ghost Stories

The ghosts of your past shaped your reality, moulded your future, and haunt you only to remind you how much you deserve. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be me. So, acknowledge your ghosts. Because without them, who would you be?

–Sonya Matejko

If It Weren’t For You: Acknowledging Your Ghosts

Last year, this was what I had to say about the topic of ghosts:

Phasmophobia

Then, last October, as Halloween drew near, my family and I went for a weekend in Niagara Falls. On the last night some of us went on a haunted walk at Fort George, in Niagara on the Lake.

NiagaraGhosts.com

It was my first time doing one of these. I’d been spending the month writing about phobia and how to face it. I wanted to see if I could handle a ghost walk.

Well, I wrote about the experience, but then I lost my laptop. I can’t be certain, but I think I’ve lost what I wrote. Theory could suggest that it was the ghosts, that they didn’t want me to write about them, and so they got rid of the evidence.

Reported sightings.

Well, I don’t really believe that actually. I ended up being incredibly touched by the history we learned about the site, a soldier’s fort during the War of 1812, between Canada and the US.

There were so many stories, sad and mysterious, about those soldiers and their families. The tour guide was animated and knowledgeable. He spoke of history, lives lived, and I couldn’t say if I totally discounted ghosts or not as we drove away at the end of the tour.

I was with cynics and yet, I didn’t like to say anything for certain. I try to keep an open mind, but I do believe most things can be logically explained. People believe, but I can’t really blame them for wanting to feel close to those they love.

This was billed as a special Halloween themed tour, different and more than the regular tours, but it was a beautiful autumn evening and I am glad I went.

Months later, in the middle of winter, I tried another ghost walk, through the streets of Ottawa and through the old Ottawa Jail. There are so many stories of haunted places and people, especially at this time of year, love to be scared.

I believe ghosts aren’t actually real in the way most might think, but that ghosts are the memories of people, those no longer in our lives and that they can be felt, if one pays close enough attention, as the imprints of what once was.

There are those who are not here now, in my life, but I feel them and they haunt me where I live.

It might be the memories of old friends or those of a lost love:

Ghosts Are Real

Then there are sites of history, old abandoned sites, like these:

Abandoned America

I watch a lot of documentaries, whether about those pour souls murdered in the Holocaust or those patients who once lived and died in the mental institutions, you can feel the spaces they inhabited, and I believe it is important to acknowledge the spaces they took up in life.

It could be a cemetery, like where I visited the graves of my grandparents. I toured, not only old and abandoned forts, but also jails, and sites of torn down mental hospitals and I felt the people who once lived in those places. They lived and died there. Their souls are hopefully at peace, as the living pass by, but it feels slightly disrespectful to traipse over these spots:

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

These were human beings once. I believe they are gone, but I can understand recognizing the energy of their existence, which I have felt, myself, when I’ve visited where they once dwelt.

Now, with the popularity of touring asylums, forts, relics from years ago – this could be seen in a negative light. These people had families and people who loved them, but they make for good stories to tell for a thrill.

The ghosts of the past, the memories of my loved ones who, for whatever reason, are just not here anymore.

If you need a way to explain the lack of people in your life, as to the question of where they go, because I’ve always had issues with facing the fact that certain people may be in my life one day and gone the next.

All the fun and games of the holiday of Halloween are great and all. I’m more into all that than I’ve ever been before.

I just am more interested in the stories of the real human lives, the love, the loss.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

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