Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

What Was and What Will Be #FTSF

It’s almost 2017 and my neck is growing sore from looking this way and that. I turn my head back to 2016 and marvel at all that was hopeful and positive for me personally.

Of course, the rest of the world seems as out-of-control as ever, if not more so. I can’t say the year has been a bad one for me though. It’s a strange contrasting feeling. As bad as this year has been for many, January of 2017, for a lot of people isn’t looking much better. I can see their point. I plan on leaving all that behind for a week and focusing on my own personal growth and having new experiences.

Then I turn my head the other way and try to imagine the year to come.

I could list a set of goals I have for myself, things I hope to achieve, some I’m even banking on. I have this list in my own head. I just don’t know how to think of the months ahead in tune with those that I have to look back on.

The year 2017 feels like a momentous one, even when I stack the possibilities up against the things I never expected to do this year but surprised myself and did anyway.

I try to keep things in perspective. Sure, 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday and on June 5th, it will be twenty years since I received a kidney transplant from my father. It still works so well, that I pleasantly surprise myself that everything’s still looking good in there.

I plan to begin 2017 with a BANG, so to speak. I will take a leap of faith with myself and the world. From there, I can’t say what the year might bring.

I turn thirty-three in a few months and I wonder about growing older. One minute I think I am still young and I have lots of time to achieve my dreams. Then, at other less upbeat moments, I think I am past my prime, whatever that was.

I plan to keep taking violin lessons. I want to write and write and write. I hope to submit my writing and take more chances with it, to hell with my fears of rejection or those pesky feelings of never being enough.

To celebrate on June 5th I would love to go zip lining for the first time, with my family all around me, in my favourite place in Canada and in the whole world: Niagara Falls. I am not usually much of a social person, but this time why is it I feel like I want to invite the whole world to join in the festivities?

I feel like I need to top this past year with the year to come, but that’s likely putting too much pressure on myself and on 2017 and might also be putting down the year that just was, which was full of music and writing and a podcast I am so proud of.

In 2017 I am looking forward to having a new niece or nephew and I can’t think of anything better than that, to mark all that is so wonderful about a year like 2017 could be.

Then there are those empty blocks of time, days and weeks and months that are currently a void of the unknown. This feels daunting but doesn’t need to be. It should mean all the possibilities in the world and endless hope.

If I don’t think too hard, which I have trouble with at the best of times, all the scary events that are possible for 2017 in the world remain as background noise. I fear that noise will grow louder and impossible to ignore, but if 2017 turns out anything like 2016 in my own life, I refuse to let reckless world leaders ruin my year. I’ve been waiting for it to arrive for twenty years now.

My thorough, month-by-month breakdown of my 2016 year’s successes and slips is to come here by the end of December.

Also, check out what Kristi from
Finding Ninee
thinks of and hopes for, looking ahead to 2017 and beyond.

Happy Holidays, to you and yours.

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International Day For Persons with Disabilities 2016, #IDPD2016

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

The Rick Hansen Foundation

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Fry In America

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

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

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

HELLO GOODBYE, #HelloGoodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TToT: Narrative of a Floating Life – Jellyfish Armageddon, #10Thankful

When you’ve got nothing left, you’ve got nothing left to lose.”

Sweet Jane – Garrett Kato

This week I was reminded just how much I have to lose. That means I haven’t even come close to having nothing left.

Not everyone can say that. We here in Ontario, Canada, we experienced our own little incident with radicalism recently. He was attending a mosque just down the street from where my brother lives. They tried to help him, but unfortunately he was a very angry and disillusioned young man.

We are not immune here, in Ontario, in Canada, in North America, but that doesn’t suggest we should then turn toward hate all our own.

In a week where privileged young star athletes act poorly in Rio, when another image of war torn Syria features a small child, and where more attention is given to that athlete than to floods and fires and the suffering of children to begin with,

CQsZmIB.png

I search out blessings and I remember to look for the bright side of life.

1qKMVQk.jpg

That I got back to it, art I mean.

My Blue Period and My Decade Adrift: Water, Water Everywhere

I’m glad I got back to it and hope to do more of it.

That a friend saw my picture on Facebook and offered her knowledge from her art school days.

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

So unbelievably cool. That’s what I love about art, what I want to put into it, even if it comes out looking nothing like how I’d imagined it would.

For an empty theater to watch a sweet movie with the perfect person for the occasion.

Review found here. – Bad Moms

Touchy subject sometimes.

In spite of that, I liked this film. I hope the mother I saw this with enjoyed it as much. Motherhood, toughest job around.

For a small step in the progress of my lessons and for my violin teacher taking the time to record herself playing the two basic songs I am learning technique on.

I thought the other day about how learning the violin, for me, feels meant to be. It feels natural, or oh so close to.

It’s as if I am walking in a forest and I’ve come to a stream just a bit too wide for me to jump across. I can see the opposite side and I just need to find a bridge or even some stones to get me to the opposite bank.

The other side, where violin music comes to me, flows through me, naturally, that’s in view.

For fresh food grown in my back yard.

u56h40x.png

Of course, without the work of a couple cousins who do this sort of thing for a living, a dedicated ex boyfriend, or the gifted hand of my mother and her knowledge about all things gardening, I wouldn’t have had any of it.

It’s a nice feeling to hold a fresh cucumber in your hands and bite into it, knowing it only came from your own yard. Something rooted in the natural world so close and yet so far from myself. I owe others who care to make nature such a part of things so that I can enjoy it.

For the extra effort some are putting into me and my future.

I often feel like an extra weight or burden for others, including family, friends, and any other relationship. I guess having most kinds of relationships with me can demand certain things of people.

I hope I give back, as much as possible, in my own unique ways. I hope I bring something to each situation as it comes. I pledge to do that once more, for all who took the time out this week to help me not to give up on my future growth and progress.

This is my promise.

That I got to speak with an amazing Canadian travel writer.

Breathe Dream Go

For me though, it would likely be more like: dream, breathe, and then go. Take the deep breath and dive in. My dreams are waiting for me, out there somewhere.

We had a brief but helpful phone conversation where we spoke about solo travel as a woman and finding the confidence necessary to become comfortable traveling alone.

Our situations are quite different, but she has experience and knowledge and I was grateful she took a few moments out of her day to return my call and speak to me for a short time.

For another full moon.

I understand the science behind the moon, its phases, and the pull of the tides of our oceans. I think it’s rather magnificent.

I also understand how some feel those forces mess with their mood. I can see that.
KN5wcMG.png
For me however, a full moon is my best shot of actually seeing it up in the night sky. When it’s at its brightest and roundest I have a better chance at spotting it and I cherish that opportunity.

But yet, when I can’t find it in all that darkness I still know it’s out there somewhere. That’s my best lesson in faith, whatever your beliefs or religion might be.

For medical and surgical advancement and the ability of doctors to perform gall bladder surgery.

My mother had it done and so did my sister. It causes a lot of women especially a lot of trouble.

Now it is needed again and I am glad those in need this time around can receive the surgery and hopefully recover from here on out. Modern medicine in this part of the world saves lives and halts so much pain and suffering. We are lucky and blessed to have it so readily available to us around here.

That we here in Canada could come together for one night.

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

I admit that The Tragically Hip aren’t my favourite band. I am, by no means, their biggest fan. Still, it was a strange feeling of oneness last night. The Rio Olympics were preempted and the CBC instead broadcast this final concert by a Canadian iconic musical group and their singer who may not have very long left to live.

What would it be like, what would any of us say or do if we knew we had so little likely time left to live?

Hmm. I wonder.

This month,

#1000Speak

focuses on

thankfuls

and

blessings,

with this final thought and the related song to go along with it.

Living On The Bright Side – Angela Saini

When a bulb burns out I see
Even in the dark, it feels sunny to me
Skipping in the shadows, every corner holds beauty
There is always light if you look closely

http://angelasaini.com/track/1039590/living-on-the-bright-side?feature_id=286532

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TToT: Crocs, Gators, and Peg Dope – Wil It Fly? #Podcast #10Thankful

I have no philosophical quotes or music to include here, to share, to start my TToT this week.

My head is just so full of thoughts. It feels crammed and ready to burst.

I returned to Lake Erie the other day and I just stood out in the water, up to my waist, and I looked out to the horizon.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That the podcast is finally out there.

Here is our Facebook page.

If you follow such pages, give it a like. That’s where we will be announcing, every time a new one comes out for now.

We are still playing around with place to host it and such.

Go here to listen to us directly.

Come on. You know you’re curious.

😉

Any feedback is very much appreciated.

For all the support people have shown so far for this project.

Thank you to all of you. This project has meant a lot to me and I hope it keeps going.

I thank every one of you who’ve liked our Facebook page and took some time, out of your busy lives and schedules, to give it a listen.

Hope you found id amusing or entertaining. What did you think?

That someone shared a book with me and it was the best book I’ve come across in a long time.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

I heard it was a book about time travel and immediately, my first instinct was to move along, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Time travel isn’t all about science fiction. It means history. I love history.

It also had a lot to do with today and the issues we’re still seeing around matters of racial divides and those who’ve overcome such prejudices and defied those odds.

That I am headed to Mexico for a very special writing workshop.

This just sort of happened suddenly. I received the invite from my writing mentor. She is running the workshop and she made it possible for me to participate.

I will be traveling to Mexico this winter, for a whole week, to learn about writing and literary travel writing.

This is a huge thing for me, traveling so far away from home and family. It is scary, I won’t lie, but at some point, I have to go for my dreams and experience more of the world.

I’ll admit, it’s still far enough away that it doesn’t yet feel real. It’s such a big deal that I am still in some shock that it’s happening at all. Things like that don’t happen to me.

That I have those in my life who support my writing and believe in me, wanting me to have experiences and stories to tell.

I owe it all to my writing mentor, my family, and friends.

It’s months away yet, but I am so excited that I had to share the news on Facebook. Everyone seemed excited for me.

My family know what it means for me and to me, traveling by myself like that, but that I need a chance to grow as a writer and to experience life. They want all that for me and are making it possible.

Also, to my writing mentor, who is in my corner and, as a writer, believes in my abilities.

For another year with a working kidney for my brother.

It’s been three years now, but somehow feels longer.

I guess the whole experience was so new to us all, felt so gigantic, that three years later I look back in wonder.

For my violin teacher’s ability to fix what the music store got wrong.

So, remember, some of you, a few weeks back when I broke a string on my violin?

Well, it took three store employees to figure out why it wouldn’t fit.

So when I got back to my lessons this week, my teacher looked at it and said it was on sideways.

And so, she fixed it, telling me about a product known as peg dope, in the violin world, made for violin peg adjustment.

🙂

I just love these new terms I’m learning. I’m also glad I have a teacher who knows what she’s talking about. No offence meant to those hard working guys in the store, but I think I’ll let my violin teacher replace my strings from now on.

That my mother is a pro at sewing.

I hate bathing suit shopping and finding one that fits at all.

I know, as a woman, I am not alone on this one. It used to be that I needed to find one that would cover up any surgical scars I have. Now I was left with one that tied in the back, right below my head, which was uncomfortable and gave me headaches.

Well, when stores failed me and time became a factor, in came my trusty mother and her sewing kit. She transformed a halter top into a bathing suit where the straps actually now go over my shoulders, instead of around my neck.

For a lovely beach day with family.

Okay, so the weather wasn’t ideal. It was cool and cloudy for most of the day. The sun did finally show itself by late afternoon.

The water was still pretty cold, which didn’t stop my mother. She’s the tough one in the family, but my niece braved it with her. My nephew enjoyed the air mattress as a floating device.

My brother had his handy portable grill and we had enough food and snacks to go around.

I was thankful for that grill, as a makeshift fire to sit around, as a way of keeping warm before the sun made its appearance later on.

There was a washed out little stream up on the beach and a log across, which my niece used as a balance beam. Sand castles were made. My brother is a design man, an artist, and it’s possibly being passed on to his little girl. She also loved feeding the sea gulls, which is something I like to think she got from me. That was my favourite thing to do as a little girl, though now I felt rather uneasy when they were flocking all around our group. I prefer them off in the distance, hearing their cries against a backdrop of waves, but my niece was enjoying having them so close, she could almost reach out and touch them. She even put a piece of bread on her head to see if one would take it. They aren’t that bold.

The water was much calmer than the last time. The birthday cupcakes were peanut butter with Spider Man, The Hulk, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the birthday boys.

We had a bit of vehicle trouble in the family to end off the night, a flat tire, but luckily, the guy who ran the chip wagon knew about flat tires. All and all, a nice day all together.

That I was invited by another blogger to write about

A Day in the Life of a Blogger

Thank you, Life Through My Bioscope, for the invitation.

And there you have it. Lots of big things, memories (old and new), and I couldn’t sleep again last night, thinking over everything that happened this week.

I want to find the perfect quote or song, something that comforts me and something I could look to for confirmation that I am doing all the right things and that it will turn out the way I hope it will.

I just don’t think there is such a thing. I guess I can be thankful for mistakes and for nature and for the lessons of travel and life experience. I can be thankful for anonymous organ donation and for people willing to take a chance on little old me.

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Sailing Away and the Bee Tree, #TGIF #FTSF

I hear it, that far off humming from the other side of the driveway.

What’s that noise?

My family start hinting at the origin, somewhere nearby, but not too near.

We’re standing around, in the driveway, with the fresh cut scent of grass in the air.

“Ooh, don’t tell Kerry,” they say, dancing around something they see and I don’t. I know them pretty well and can probably guess.

***

This was no Winnie the Pooh cartoon. I remember his song about being a little black storm cloud, as he attempted to disguise himself in mud, so he could sneak honey from a tree, attempting to avoid detection by the swarm of bees.

This time, in this driveway, it was a favourite tree of my mom’s. The late afternoon warmth of the day made conditions just right for pollination.

This was a nightmare of mine.

Not pollination. I think that’s cool and all, for the bees, but it took some coaxing from my sister, to get me to walk close to the Eastern redbud tree, as the closer I came, the louder the sound of the bees. They were clearly occupied, more concerned with the flowers they were working on, and weren’t about to stop their very important duties, to all land on me, like they would if I were dreaming.

***

I back away hastily, nevertheless, just in case. The sound of a swarm of bees makes me shrink back. That sound gets me moving, faster than most anything else I might hear. Not the fault of the bees at all.

***

Yu know that fear you have that something in your own life will inevitably reoccur at night, in your dreams?

Of course, we don’t normally control that. The things, at least for me, which I fear could show up in my dreams at night never show up, just because I think they will. Always, it’s a surprise, for good or ill.

***

This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday post is about

dreams

and

dreaming.

***

I need to start a dream journal. If I were to do this, I would need to write them down the moment I wake up, because within minutes the memories fade, unless extremely vivid. I have had some of those over the years, of which some really crazy stories could have been written. Ah well.

**I’ve dreamed about clowns. *Shudders

**I’ve dreamed the standard one where I’m being chased.

**I’ve dreamed I was stuck at the bottom of the ocean.

**I’ve dreamed that I moved out to the west coast of Canada, to fulfill my long held dream of studying marine biology.

**Some good and some not so good dreams, for sure.**

**I’ve dreamt I was in an old house, one that smelled rancid, and when I awoke I could still smell it on the insides of my nostrils.

The putrid smell in the dream carried on into my day and I still get that happening on occasion. A strange mix-up of senses, experience, and consciousness.

***

To round off this week’s answer to the sentence I thought I would address one of the most commonly asked questions about blindness:

Do I see when I dream?

I don’t suddenly drift off each night and enter a totally sighted realm. I believe, most times, the brain can’t simply create images where none have been known. I could be wrong, not wanting to speak for all who can’t see, but it also depends on if you’ve been totally blind all your life or not. I have had more sight previously. Perhaps my brain can use a recall method, but mostly I don’t think about it. I can’t even really give a totally clear and concise answer.

You’d think it should be easy to say, but it’s not so black and white. More different variations of grey.

When I sleep, I dream in, from what I can recall, faded light. I think, as my sight seems to be less and less, that element of my dreaming hours becomes less and less important. I like the break I usually get though. In my dreams, I don’t worry about being treated differently. I don’t worry how I’m going to get somewhere, or if I have someone’s arm to guide me, or if I’ve suddenly ended up without my white cane. I just don’t care and, I must say, that break from reality is the best part of dreaming, no matter what I see or don’t see while I’m in the midst of it.

***

This song came on in a restaurant where I found myself eating lunch the other day.

Sailing – Christopher Cross

While I was sleeping, I dreamt his song. I like it. It takes me away somewhere when I hear it, sort of like a beautiful and a peaceful dream should.

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What I Learned In 2015, #JusJoJan

Again, I am combining my prompts and link-ups. I am nearly through the month and

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

Also, I was lucky to get in first to get to co-host with a couple lovely blogger ladies on another weekly event I’m starting out with, as I liked this week’s sentence starter a lot after my enjoyment with last week:

If I Were a Crayon…

Hopefully, by combining these two very different blogging projects, one a weekly and the other more of an every-day-for-the-entire-month kind of a thing, perhaps I can introduce two separate sets of writers and bloggers to each other’s work.

The word today is “serendipity” and I can say I learned something that fits that. I learned the true meaning of the word in the year 2015.

I didn’t much like the film of the same name, not sure if I believed in fate, but if you want to call what happened to me an act of

serendipity,

I would go with that.

What did I learn in 2015?

Hmm.

I learned what it felt like to have one of my dreams come true. I learned what it felt like to be able to cross off one of the top items from my bucket list and it all started off rather by luck and coincidence.

I had it all ready and waiting. I’d joined a group of indie writers on Facebook in the idea to write short stories and combine them in a charity anthology. I had a story written by the end of 2014 and I was going to get it published with the rest of them..

As 2015 began things took a turn and I no longer found myself included in the project. It wasn’t the right fit, but what to do with the story I had all ready, written, and waiting?

I guess you could call all the time I spend on Facebook a bit of a time suck, or else, in this case, it became a surprise and a timing thing. I just happened to follow a writer on Facebook who was an author for a small press in the UK. She was put in charge of getting a group of writers together, to submit romance themed stories for an anthology.

I saw the call on her page, messaged her, and in less than a month she was accepting my story. I knew what I was likely lucky enough to have found for myself when I arrived at my thirty-first birthday and first blogging anniversary. I was dying to announce this. I didn’t. I held back because it was so fresh, yes, but also because I was afraid something would happen, again, and nothing would come of it. I was unable to let myself go there.

I was getting my story published, in more than a small group’s idea on Facebook, but backed by a publishing press.

It’s been my dream to be published and to see my words in print, in a book, for a long time. Was this real?

By the summer it was really happening. Little Bird Publishing would be publishing the anthology.

If I had gotten my story published with that first opportunity I would have missed out on this one. If I had already given my story away, promised it to a book, I wouldn’t have had a story ready for this publication.

I call that positively serendipitous.

So, perhaps you thought I might get to the end of this and say that actually I learned that being published would turn out to be not all it was cracked up to be, that I would learn how things you dream of for so long aren’t really usually as wonderful as you think…well, you’d be wrong.

🙂

I kissed the book, held it close, couldn’t stop smiling and even possibly slept with the book next to me for weeks. Possibly.

I am co-host with two bloggers, hosts of the prompt “Finish the Sentence Friday” this week:

Kristi Rieger Campbell of

Finding Ninee

&

Vidya Sury of

Vidya Sury – Collecting Smiles.

If you want to join and find out about the prompt for the coming week, the place to go would be:

Finish the Sentence Friday on Facebook

To read more fabulous posts, to find out what other writers and bloggers learned in 2015, visit the linkie here:

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=602928

Finally, the blogger to come up with the final Thursday’s prompt word for the month is:

JT Twissel

and rules of which are found

right here.

Thanks JT for going with “serendipity” as the word because it really fit with the biggest thing I found out/learned from the year 2015 and maybe the story will be made into a movie itself one day soon.

Hey! You never know.

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

Funny, watching Tim Allen play the role made me want to write this letter.

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Monday, December 7th, 2015

Dear Santa,

It’s been a while. I would’ve paid more attention to getting this letter to you in time, but it’s not like the old days. Now there’s email. You should get this immediately, as is the way in our world, instantaneous.

I wrote you last a few years back, when I wanted something very badly, as an adult. As an adult, I suddenly no longer believed in the idea that even you could make any dream come true. I know you didn’t ever just bring a little girl a pony, just because she asked for it when she sat on your lap.

This does not make you any less magical. I had my doubts there, and still have my days, but then I tell myself you know what we want, as children, long before we ever know ourselves.

Children soon learn that dreams don’t always come true, but we adults do our best to postpone just that eventuality, and you play a vital part in that. I still thought I would talk to you about what I wish for, even if you can’t make it happen. I know, at least, you would never judge or argue with me. You will just listen and that’s all I could ask for, kind of what I need this year.

I never needed the fancy wrappings. In our house, on Christmas morning, the gifts always sat unwrapped underneath our Christmas tree. This never mattered to me. I love a shiny present with a bow on top just as much as the next person, but it’s a lesson for life. Material things aren’t everything, but as I grew up I learned, from you, that it matters not only what’s inside or outside alone. One does not mean more than the other, if it’s made up of love and care.

Of course, to a certain point with Christmas presents it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Maybe this is not such a selfish thing as we’ve been made to believe because people’s insides are what count too, not only what their outer wrappings might be. As bright, colourful, shiny, and sparkly as the outside wrapper might well appear, it’s the whole package that’s what’s truly important. The outer wrappings often only distract the eye from what else might be going on beneath the surface.

I went from wishing for doll houses and Brita water jugs (just like any eleven-year-old girl would do), to safe and warm homes for every child and fresh water for every person on the planet.

Anything I ever really wanted, or really all I ever needed, I got and I learned to appreciate how lucky that made me. You were the one behind that. You were a better reality than the magic and the story. Being born blind has taught me one thing:

“Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.”

Okay, I admit I haven’t believed in you lately, in a while. I have seen too much of the reality of adulthood to feel your magic and your impact, but we all need something to believe in, right? I see so little, less and less since I was a little girl, but I know and believe enough in many many things that I cannot and may never see again. Simply because I don’t see something, that does not mean it isn’t there or does not exist.

I know the reach of your talents, the rules of your job, and the pressures that go along with that, not wanting to let anyone down. I know you have a lot of girls and boys wanting something, different things from you. You do your best, just like any of us do ours, not to let those who may be counting on us down. I feel like I am constantly putting demands on other people, and I guess you are no exception.

I want less violence in the world. I want to make a difference with that, to be given the opportunity to achieve that through a future in writing. I want love. I want to see the world. All of this I don’t think you can give me, but if you could at least show me the way to find some of these things myself, that would be suitable.

All I really want from you is to give my niece and nephews as many years of being safe in their childhood lives. I want them to enjoy their childhood years together for as much time as you can provide. As long as you remain real as real can be to them I will once more believe in you with all the faith I had as a child myself.

For as long as you continue to represent the innocence and example of a safe male stranger, in a world where it feels so unsafe for our children to trust these things, I will remember that you were that to me too once.

your bright red and white on the outside contain all the best things about an adult, one children don’t have any reason to fear and every reason in the world to look up to. Your jolly magical spirit shines through and you give off an aura of a safe world, where people are kind, giving, and worth trusting.

You accomplish so much, in such a short amount of time, and we need to look to this example for the rest of us adults. Our children deserve that kind of determination for a better world, for more than we’re currently giving them.

The part of Christmas I need, more than any one present, is the childlike faith in things working out for the best. You can bring that back in me and all the rest isn’t what I need you for. I know this isn’t too much to ask Santa. I will always be grateful to you for that naive child’s view that I feel most strongly this time of year, of which you play such a huge role.

I believe in you through the hope you inspire and in the possibilities you represent to the children in my life. I can get back there, as much as is humanly possible for me at this time, as I get all these thoughts down and sent off to you in this letter.

I know you will read through this letter carefully and will understand what I am trying to say, even if nobody else quite does. A secret between the two of us, an understanding I hope we will always have, and that the consideration you give this will be enough to grant me everything I really want for Christmas.

I was given the challenge of writing a letter, but there’s nobody else I’d even think about writing a letter to at this time of year than you. I thought about writing it in braille, but worried it wouldn’t make it to you in your North Pole in time. I always was impressed you could read it. Email is a modern convenience I do benefit from, but it’s not quite the same thing, so I hope you will forgive me.

Your biggest lifelong fan,
Kerry

As Long As There’s Christmas

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TToT: Laborious, Notorious, Glorious – Go THANK Yourself! #10Thankful

“No man ever was glorious, who was not laborious.”
–Benjamin Franklin

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Someone asked me how my Labor Day was going and I wanted to answer with a little something different:

“laborious,” I replied.

🙂

A lot went on this week, both in my life and in my mind. School’s back in session, for my niece and my brother, and for me, in a way too.

September 11th was also remembered this week. I can’t believe it’s been fourteen years since 9/11 happened.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
–Winston Churchill

It is thought that twenty-six Canadians lost their lives that day.

On the eve of 9/11, a rainbow appears in the sky over One World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my latest travel writing piece to be published on the travel blog of someone I really admire.

Can you travel blind, crossing Ireland’s Carrick-a-rede- rope bridge?

Thank you, Megan, for giving me a second spot on your travel blog.

It has gotten dozens of RT’s on Twitter in the last week.

First it was our interview.

Can blind people travel?

Of course we can!

And now my guest post where I explain what taking a risk, is like, for me.

Night Swimming

It’s a little like swimming at night. I’ve long wanted to do this and I thought of it, again, on Labor Day.

It’s a bit of a frightening thing, the thought of being out there, at night. I guess it’s the way I live most of my life, stepping out, in the darkness of the unknown, but taking the plunge anyway.

For the chance to spend, what was said to be the hottest day of the year, in the water and so I didn’t even notice the heat they spoke of.

We decided to spend our Labor Day at the lake. We are lucky to live so close to all those fresh water sources.

For my flexibility.

In life, sure, I’m improving. However, I mean that literally because I have been told, by doctors on more than one occasion, that I am incredibly flexible. My muscular skeletal system can bend in strange directions.

So, when I decided to jump in the sand, right along with my nephew, I just so happened to land on a log that was sticking out at my feet.

Luckily my ankles are one of those highly flexible parts of my body and although I went down, landing hard in the sand, my ankle did turn over but did not sprain badly. I felt it go over sideways, but I have stretched out those muscles so much over the years, leaving little to no pain as a result.

The opportunity to chase seagulls with my nephew wasn’t to be missed. Just thankful I walked away from that and did not have to crawl back to the car on hands and knees.

🙂

For literacy and education.

International Literacy Day, 2015

I would be lost otherwise.

For the education we’re lucky enough to have in Canada, as my niece begins kindergarten this week.

She is smart and sharp and bright. She learns so much and loves to share it. She surprises us all with the things she’s learning everyday. and I know she will do amazing things as she grows.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=207&v=CQ2noSR1qdY

It’s a good thing John Oliver is not her teacher.

For the premier of the newest in late night television.

Late Show Recap

Stephen Colbert makes me smile and I look forward to his jokes and his unique style of interviews.

One of his first guests, on his very first week, was George Clooney. They discussed and even showed a clip of George’s new film: Decision Strike!

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, don’t go looking for it in theatres in the coming weeks or months, as it is only a fictional movie, as he did not actually have anything real to promote. Sounds impressive anyway.

With all the talk of the heating up of the late night show wars, now that Colbert has thrown his own hat into the ring, Stephen made light of this when he mentioned all the thoughtful first-week gifts the other late night comedians have been sending him. He joked that they could all be expecting the best thank you card ever, with the words: GO THANK YOURSELF, written in them.

TAKE THAT! … Jimmy, Jimmy, Conan, John, and the rest.

🙂

For whatever it was that got me a replacement battery for my iPhone 5 and finally, after talking about doing it for months.

I put it off for too long. Not sure why. I can actually go a whole day and my phone does not die, a beautiful thing. This will be necessary for my trip to Toronto later this month.

I went in one of those crazy Apple stores, so hip and which make me feel very uncool. They have the genius bar. Well, I was informed of some loophole which made it so I did not have to pay the $100 for a new battery. Okay by me.

🙂

It just so happened to be September 9th and the big reveal day for Apple. I did not upgrade to the newly revealed iPhone 6S. My iPhone 5 works just fine, but it’s amazing just how revolutionary the iPhone has been for so many, but for anyone who is visually impaired especially.

For the people, in my life, who have gone through the loss of a loved one to suicide. They teach me things, all the time, about survival and resilience.

World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015

Sometimes prevention isn’t possible, upon looking back, no matter what anyone could have done. That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

I know life is forever altered for them. It isn’t easy and life will never feel happy, truly happy again. I just hope they know someone is thinking about them, always.

Everybody Hurts

The day was such a beautiful one this year, the weather anyway.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
–Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

For a dream come true – a dream of clarity, reason, and shape.

😉

First I was accepted into an anthology, with my short story: One Last Kiss.

Then it came out, on Amazon, but first only as an ebook.

It wasn’t until this week, finally, that I actually got to hold a print copy of the book in my own hands. I could feel the weight of it, turn the pages, and smell that signature bookish smell, all knowing my words could be found within. It is an indescribable feeling, a dream come true for me, and I will never forget what that felt like.

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For a friend, somebody there on the day the book arrived in the mail. Someone to celebrate with.

We got Dairy Queen confetti cake blizzards to celebrate. Her five-month-old daughter sat, in her carrier, staring at me and I wanted to share, but unfortunately she isn’t eating ice cream, not just yet. I loved celebrating with her too, all the same.

🙂

Thanks, Mom, for bringing the book over.

For the best, most loving parents my nephew could ever have. And it all began on that warm day in September, back in 2009 – Happy Anniversary guys!

I will never forget that summer, that day, as long as I live. It was the day my sister had worked so hard for and looked so forward to. I got to be in the wedding party and was happy she allowed me to give a speech at the reception.

Storybook Love

My sister’s favourite movie is The Princess Bride and she wanted my uncle to sing the theme song from the film, at the wedding. It made it special, unique, and all hers. She wanted to get married in our back yard, of the home we grew up in. It was a wedding at home and meant so much to all of us.

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

For rainbows, literacy, firsts, celebrations, dreams, and anniversaries.

I am thankful I’ve gotten to share my words, more and more, in recent days and weeks. I guess, for me, the need to share my words with the world goes back to all that stuff I said about night swimming.

It’s scary, certainly, but the idea of being swept up and away, washed out there and with no sign or footprint to show that I was ever here, that is what I am most afraid of.

Sure, the chance for rejection is ever present in the present, but not nearly as great as that there could be no proof that I ever existed in the first place.

“I don’t know how long I kept at it…
I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still.
It didn’t seem to be summer anymore.”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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One Last Kiss

You put everything into love and into a relationship, another person (good or bad).

This is what it’s like to be in love.

But what about when that love comes to an end?

Then come the questions…

Do you miss me?
At what point did you realize us was not something you wanted anymore?
Was I a bad girlfriend?

http://elitedaily.com/dating/what-i-would-ask-my-ex/1093489/

There are a lot of irrational thoughts. I had them. I desperately needed a way to make me feel like the thoughts I was having weren’t completely crazy.

I needed to write this story (although based on true events, turned into a work of fiction from my own imagination).

I was going through an incredibly difficult breakup at the time I started writing. My story became the one thing I found, to help me deal with how my relationship came to an end, but also the exact thing to help lift me up and out of the fog and the pain. It became an exercise in much-needed catharsis.

ONE LAST KISS

***

We are very proud of Hazel’s first anthology, and a lot of that is down to your powerful and beautifully wrought stories. Reading through them was a privilege and clearly many of you have researched or the issues have touched you in some way.

The anthology is full of experience, sensitivity and most of all hope.

Little Bird Publishing House
London

www.littlebirdpublishinghouse.com

giveaway

http://katiemjohn.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/a-conversation-with-author-hazel.html

buy links

UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B011LW085W?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

USA

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011LW085W?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

BLURB

A moving, inspiring and hopeful collection of women’s voices.

“We will rise from the ruins of our broken dreams and stand tall.”
(Angela A. Fardellone)

An anthology of fiction about moving on and standing tall after experiences of emotional and physical abuse. Stories about women searching for freedom, recovery and love.

In this collection of stories, Hazel Robinson, author of ‘Something Missing’ has brought together some of the best emerging voices in the Romance genre to create a collection of stories that are both emotional and inspiring. A collection of stories written by women for women in order to explore the ideas of self-discovery, rebirth and finding love and hope after periods of darkness.

Interwoven into these stories are poems that offer beauty and reconciliation.

***
http://romanceanthologieshfbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

I am incredibly grateful to Hazel. She not only had the idea to pursue the anthology, but she took a chance on my story, allowing it to be a part of this collection of women’s narratives on love, loss, and rebirth.

https://www.facebook.com/thesecondchancesanthology

Thank you to her and to Little Bird Publishing House over in London, England.

Letting go isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright hard to do – hardest thing I’ve ever done.

One year later and I hope time has healed and provided me with some much-needed perspective.

Next week I will write more on my thought process for One Last Kiss, why I needed to write it when and how I did, and the universal questions I still continue to ask.

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Day 23 of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, Blogger Challenge: Dreams Dashed and Dreams Reborn

Dreams are extremely important. Everyone should have them and as long as they are alive, in someone, there is hope. John Lennon spoke of dreams and of imagining. Words like his, and his song lyrics help us find a voice within ourselves. A voice to share our own dreams, no matter what we may be facing in life; they help us reach out for what we deserve.

I had many dreams as a child and growing up. I thought I would attend university and become something, able to contribute to the world. My blindness never got in the way of that or stopped me from doing what I wanted. It wasn’t until the headaches set in that I began to question whether my dreams would ever come true.

It was a dark cloud or a shadow, rolling into my life and covering my world with despair. In my darkest moments of pain and fear I thought I could never find the light of my dreams again.

During this month of awareness and all year long I believe it is important to let the world know that pain is debilitating, but it doesn’t have to define the sufferers’ life.

My dream of being someone in life was dashed during the dark times and I felt all alone.

Since then I have come out on the other side. I have taken up a dream of mine and am working on writing my first novel. I have a blog to speak up for myself through my words. I still have pain in my life, but I am firm in my dreams of becoming a person who uses writing to make a difference in the world. This dream is alive and well and is being achieved as best I can. I will never give up on my dream and I wish the same for all others.

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