1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Song Lyric Sunday

The Hardest Word, #SongLyricSunday

“It’s sad, so sad, so sad. It’s a sad sad situation.”

—Elton John, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”

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It’s one of the sadder parts of life and love.

Song Lyric Sunday

Elton John sings about it well.

Sorry really is a hard word to say, for some reason, and I wish I didn’t need to say that, admit such a thing.

***

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there
What do I do to make you want me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I say when it’s all over And sorry seems to be the hardest word

It’s sad, so sad It’s a sad, sad situation And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad Why can’t we talk it over Oh it seems to me That sorry seems to be the hardest word

What do I do to make you love me
What have I got to do to be heard
What do I do when lightning strikes me
What have I got to do What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word

LYRICS

***

So many times, I become judgmental, when I hear of the end of something, a relationship, love, a life together. An apology isn’t enough or comes too late. It is too late if it was avoided for so long.

Even when it comes to leaders who are human like the rest of us, who have big and influential jobs, it makes it even more important that a good leader knows when and how to apologize.

If only…just say it…like it will be so uncomfortable, painful, such an impossible word to say. Some say it too easily, which may mean there is very little sincerity behind the word.

We make children say it. We make my nephew say it. Us adults have a hard enough time, like the word tastes highly bitter on our tongues.

Forever, I wonder…why?

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Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Hearts and Sunshine – Music To My Ears, #10Thankful

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

–From “Little Gidding” by T. S. Eliot

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Last week I wrote my TToT list, like I’ve done for nearly every week, for months now. I found ten things to be thankful for, as always, but I did preface my list with a list of three things I had to complain about. Christmas wasn’t all merriment and joy for me.

Christmas Through Your Eyes

But then there’s this, there’s them. This song I include because I know how much I still have to be thankful for, not least the way the children in my life help me see certain things in a new light.

If I can’t see Christmas lights like I used to, or colours so bright, I am grateful for the little children who teach me to appreciate the beauty of the world.

My niece’s birthday cupcakes had designs of rainbows, hearts, and sunshines on them. These are the things she loves to draw lately. They are what make me feel like there is just a tiny bit of me inside of her, as those are the things I loved to draw when I was her age, back when I could see enough and loved colouring and bright colours.

I see myself in her sometimes, the little girl I once was, and I feel a little less afraid. Thanks goes to my cousin for the amazing cupcakes, as always.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a second Christmas. A do-over if you will, with three amazing little people and the best family a girl could ask for.

Of course, there was nothing really wrong with the first one. I finally got to give my nephew the talking oven I’d been dying to give him and he loved it. Best part of Christmas Eve.

🙂

However, then I fell asleep with a headache, missing out on watching A Christmas Carol with my father, our little December 25th tradition.

Christmas number two was three days, after Boxing Day, with my brother and his wife and their two children. We all get together, at my parent’s house, and do Christmas on our own time.

For a spur-of-the-moment Sunday night trip to the movies, (to see the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens), with my two brothers.

I loved it. It was an awesome escape from reality for a couple hours.

I was not born yet, to witness the craze of the first Star Wars, back in 1977, so I probably don’t have the same attachment to what it was like when it first came out in theatres.

All I know is I liked the characters, the action, and the fact that I saw it all unfolding with my brothers. A few weeks ago now I wasn’t seeing any movie with Brian. Now here we all were.

For another excellent movie narration, by an expert in the art of movie describing.

🙂

I really need to write a letter. I really see no reason, in 2015/16, that all movie theatres don’t have audio descriptive track for the visually impaired.

I know it’s a small town movie theatre, with few people in need, but there are still some, me included. With all the technology we have, it’s possible, and I shouldn’t have to worry about what movie to go to, not feeling I can’t see a specific film, say if I were on a date.

My older brother is well practiced, after being the one to do it for my younger brother and me since we were little, but most people don’t know how to describe a movie. It isn’t something to come naturally to most people.

For my brother’s home electronics knowledge.

I haven’t had much in home audio for a while now. When my ex left, I told him I didn’t need the flat screen television, and that he should take it, that I could get by with an old television for the time.

This meant that the surround sound system I’d purchased, when we started dating, was sitting unused, but since I was the one who bought it, I kept it. I assumed I would use it again, at some juncture.

Well, I finally have the chance. I required help to set it up again. My brother came over and got it working for me.

For Canadian healthcare and a card to access it.

I resisted having to get the new, updated card, for as long as I possibly could. Finally, I couldn’t resist any longer and got my photo taken, waiting for the card to arrive in the mail.

Well, it came the other day and I know I am lucky to live in Canada, to have the access to all the medical attention I might ever need, of which I very likely will at some point. That little card is my ticket.

For my brother, who continues to become his old self, a little more everyday and for the beautiful music he still makes.

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His language and memory are growing stronger all the time and I have him back. I’d feared that I’d lost him forever, in the way that he might never again be who he was. I was afraid we wouldn’t continue to have the connection we’ve always shared, that we could no longer have the talks we used to have. It’s a Christmas miracle. I don’t care what anyone else says.

At one point, during Christmas Part Two, my uncle came over with a guitar and his recorder. The two of them started to play and we all started to cry.

It was the best sound in the world, hearing my brother play the guitar, when we weren’t sure he ever would again.

Grenade

The above song doesn’t fit the scene, but I will forever think of it when I remember this next thankful on my list.

For the birth of a beautiful little girl, her existence, and the sunshine she’s brought to my family’s lives for these last five years.

I will never forget the night of New Year’s Eve, 2010 and celebrating, alone, in the kitchen of the house I was living in at the time.

It was just me, pizza, and wine, toasting the birth of my brother’s first child, my parent’s first grandchild, and my introduction into the best title ever: of Auntie Kerry. I couldn’t wait to get back to my family, to meet my niece for the very first time.

She has made the world a much brighter place, these last five years. She is smart and funny. She is so sharp. She keeps us all on our toes. We are constantly surprised by what she knows and what she thinks and what she says.

For one more perfect visit with my friend and her baby girl.

It was a chance to ring in 2016 with Chinese food, chocolate cake, and The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story.

🙂

For the fun of watching said unauthorized story with my old friend. She explained the wild outfits of the early 90s and the ways the actors playing the 90210 characters did or did not look like the real people they were said to be portraying.

It was highly amusing and entertaining. It was a surprise discovery, as we were looking around the television for something else to watch, other than all the to-be-expected New Year’s Eve countdown specials. We had fun, while my friend’s baby girl slept nearby. She wasn’t really old enough to watch, but my friend and I had fun discussing our memories of those days of 90210. It was my favourite show and this unauthorized movie was a fun way to spend the last few hours of one of the best years in recent memory.

Plus, in the morning I got to keep a sweet little girl company, while her mother got dressed, had something to eat, and packed up to leave.

They are gone now, back to Ireland, and I will miss them very much, but I got to have one last visit with them both. I will never forget that.

Unforgettable

RIP Natalie Cole

“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words – how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

–Elton John

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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TToT, Writing

TToT: My Week of Zen

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
–Lewis Carroll

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Politics is on everybody’s minds lately. There is enough going on, as I have to listen to nothing but, here in Canada, but at least it’s only for the next two months. It’s the US that will be going on about this insane popularity contest, masquerading as something deeper, that might actually change our collective futures, for more than a year still to come.

I probably sound very negative about it all. This is precisely why I am focusing on the things that bring me to a place of zen with this week’s:

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL.

Pardon me if I might seem like I’ve recycled a few thankfuls today, from weeks gone by, but I have put a new spin on the ones I’ve already used.

Not for cool summer weather or the central air I love so much, but for the fact that one leads to not needing the other. I am glad, where others may not agree, at the cooler temperatures. When I need it, I am thankful for AC. This first thankful for the week is now awarded to the lack of humidity, requiring the use of AC, which saves me on the cost, keeping my electric bills lower.

For summer vacations and road trips, may they be a relaxing week at the cottage or a spontaneous, east coast adventure.

I am just happy my brothers both are getting the chance to enjoy themselves this week, to make lasting memories with family and friend respectably.

I hope my brother has a blast out east and that his time, by the ocean, might bring some peace and tranquility and a bit of zen for himself.

They both work hard and deserve the chance to have a bit of fun.

For the opportunity, the need, and the openness to try something new now and again.

Habitual Chocolate on Facebook

I was over-the-moon when I first heard about a brand new chocolate store in my town. I hoped for a

Lindt Chocolate Canada on Facebook

or a

Rheo Thompson,

but was a bit surprised at what I got instead.

Okay, so it ended up not being my sort of thing. Sure, the chocolate is of the more healthy variety, but really, who wants that?

Well, we were given free samples and told that many people do, but frankly, I don’t see the point.

Dark chocolate is good for you. It is actually beneficial to have a few squares of a chocolate bar, if it is bitter and with no trace of sugary sweetness.

I say it, loud and clear, right there in my About Me page on this very blog. Chocolate, to me, is a delicious anti depressant. It instantly boosts my mood and only milk chocolate will do.

Occasionally, as with this particular trip, a certain kind of dark chocolate, when mixed with something like mint and a good cup of coffee, this can hold its own pleasures. I am glad I went and gave it a shot. The latte was delightful and my nephew found a toy he liked, even if he’d much rather have played with the in-house chocolate-making machinery instead.

You have to make it a “habit” to keep an open mind and experience new things. That’s what I try to do, as often as possible.

For surprise peas.

🙂

Yes, these bring me just as much pleasure and enjoyment as chocolate does.

I believe I’ve mentioned them in this forum before, but I am doing it again.

This time they were a pleasant surprise, as I was always used to early July being the only time, a very short window, when I would get fresh peas to pod. My mom’s garden only had them available for a few weeks and that was it for the year.

With the discovery of my favourite peas at a local market, I was surprised to learn that I have been granted an extension.

They are not only delicious, but they provide a zen-like feeling to me, as the act of podding them offers me a very specific kind of nostalgia and a flash back to another time, and my deceased grandparents. They always picked peas and knew how much I loved them and would always save me a grocery bag full.

For living in Canada.

Sure, our political debates may not have the same sort of hype as our neighbours to the south, but at least I can be grateful for one thing:

No Donald Trump trying to run my country.

He’s a bully, who has probably never admitted he was wrong about anything in his entire life. He’s a spoiled, entitled petulant child, which actually insults all the children I know.

Of course, if he were to become the leader of the United States, that would have some effect on all other countries, including my own. I don’t know what the serious odds are that he could win, but stranger things have happened.

Yes, I can’t believe I am conceding that point, but who would have ever imagined the Terminator would become Governor of California.

🙂

I admit to not watching the debates. I saw things about both sets, but just in the news the next day. Politics is not my thing. So, in lieu of me being the one to run my own country or the world (I know…what a shame), I must learn what I can about those who will have the job and to stay positive.

For smart, witty, and engaging entertainment from The Daily Show’s John Stewart.

He also brought us more talent from the likes of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.

We will have John’s monologues, on YouTube, for years to come:

BULLSHIT IS EVERYWHERE

It was the news, but from a different perspective. It wasn’t dry and stuffy. It was entertaining, but you never doubted the show did its homework.

I could feel Stewart’s passion and his compassion, in every satirical word he spoke on that show.

For the encouragement I receive from other female writers and bloggers, even if they don’t realize it:

The Key to Publishing Personal Essays – Alana Saltz

and

Announcing new FAQs page: one question, sort of answered

from Obscure CanLit Mama, Carrie Snyder.

These ladies have things I want for myself and they make it look easy, but as I go ahead and read more about them, I learn this is not the case. That helps me deal with the dreaded writer’s jealousy, of which I am certainly not immune, but more than that I know what it’s like to truly admire their work and, for that matter, their hard work.

For the shift forward in accessibility this week, with the Pan Am Games at an end and the start of the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, this was the news I was thrilled to hear:

CN Tower Launches Accessible Wheelchair EdgeWalk Experience with Paralympian Rick Hansen and TORONTO2015 Games on August 7, 2015, TORONTO2015 Parapan Am Games Opening Day

I know CN Tower has had their safety guidelines for the EdgeWalk, but I wasn’t about to accept that I could not walk up there, out around the edge of the CN Tower last year:

Manifesto: Walking on the Edge

I will never forget my walk on the edge of a tower in Toronto and I want that same experience for everyone.

For the pride and the hope.

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays is doing well again. Will it last?

Well, currently they are on a seven or eight game winning streak and are beating the popular New York Yankees.

The memory of the two consecutive World Series wins (92-93) gives Toronto something to strive to find again, the glory of the championship.

For the presence, of two very special boys, these past few years.

Right now, this week, I am right smack dab in the middle of two birthdays for two amazing boys in my life.

I always think of the Elton John song “Your Song”, when I think of the blessings my niece and nephews are to me, but it’s the Ellie Goulding cover that I go to when it comes to my favourite lyric:

“I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

They are two fun, sweet, and smart kids and I am proud to be their Auntie Kerry.

And so with July firmly behind, I am looking ahead into the rest of August. I have a feeling the stakes are going to become higher in the next few weeks, with what is meant to be and I am glad I have these things to be thankful for, whatever that might look like.

So there you have it: my week of zen.

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Bigger Than Sheezus

Wednesday once more and it is time for the final instalment of a series of sorts I’ve been writing all month long, focusing on strong female voices in such areas as:

Music,

The Media and Culture,

and

literature.

I decided to include this final mid-week post on more female star-power and strength.

I returned, last month, after two years to the Toronto waterfront and The Sound Academy.

Lily allen recently came out with her third studio album: “Sheezus”. Following her debut of “Alright, Still…” and my favourite, her sophomore record, the cleverly titled: “It’s Not Me It’s You”.

Finally, after being a fan for about five years, I was getting to see her perform my favourite songs live.

I didn’t mind the overpowering smell of pot in the line outside, standing room only, or continually having strangers rubbing up against my butt because Lily Allen is one-of-a-kind and worth seeing.

It isn’t often that I come away from a performance, loving not only that performance, but loving too the new discovery I’ve found, but on this particular night Lily’s opening act was one of those rare times. I’d never heard of Lolawolf before, but her song “What Love Is” caught my attention immediately and I definitely recommend her to anyone reading this. Look her up here:

LOLAWOLF on Facebook.

***

Who’d Have Known:

And even though it’s moving forward, there’s just the right amount of awkward. And today you accidentally called me baby.

***

Lily Allen did a nice mixture of songs from all three of her albums, including some of my favourites. She included her first big single “Smile” and songs from “It’s Not Me It’s You” such as my favourites (in part) shown above and below.

***

22

It’s sad but it’s true how society says her life is already over. There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say. Until the man of her dreams comes along, picks her up, and puts her over his shoulder. Seems so unlikely in this day and age.

***

Lily Allen sang about the things young women were experiencing in their own lives. She sang about cheating and sex, drugs and fame, family trouble and society’s unrealistic expectations put on young people, women specifically.

Her newest album came out right around the time of her concert and so I was unfamiliar with it, other than the few singles I listened to on YouTube beforehand. Sometimes I prefer doing this. The show takes on a whole new vibe this way.

I miss out on such things as the visually eye-catching or, in Allen’s case, the ultra strange elements to the live performance. I was told something about multi-coloured flashing lighted baby bottles, yellow and pink and blue, behind her on stage.

This I don’t pretend to understand the meaning of. And she didn’t agree to an interview with me, so I could not find out the origin of this.

🙂

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she is, on returning to the spotlight, a different person from when she left it last.

She took a break of several years, from making records and mostly stayed hidden. She suffered at least one miscarriage, from what I read, but now she has returned and she has grown a lot it seems.

She is a wife and a mother of two children. She no longer sings about a life of dating and single girl status strictly.

the first thing I noticed as I stood and listened to her sing and speak to the audience in between songs (about taking her kids up the CN Tower earlier that day) was that she seemed happy and maybe not as angry as she once was. Relationships are complicated and being young isn’t easy. I found a connection and felt understood, in a way, when I listened to her singing about her own struggles.

It’s her songs about the helplessness of the end of a relationship that I first clung to when listening to her latest album. That feeling of wanting to scream and hold on for dear life, all while knowing it just wasn’t meant to be.

***

Take My Place:

How can life be so unfair? I can’t breathe in fact I’m choking on the air. It’s all over. I can see it in your eyes. Hold my hand. Don’t ever leave my side.

If I could then I would scream. I’d wipe the tears up off my face. Wake me up if it’s a dream. This is more than I can take. I’d give everything I own, if someone else would take my place. Would someone else please take my place?

***

OR the fear that the worst moments, days, weeks, or months of your life could replay themselves all over again, like a bad broken record or a bad dream. Such a relatable feeling I had not felt in a long long time.
This is what the most powerful of lyrics can do, at least for me and of which I have always experienced when listening to Lily Allen’s music.

***

Holding Onto Nothing:

Oh I’ve been there before. No I won’t go back. Couldn’t take anymore. I’m not going back. Going back. Going back.

***

She isn’t afraid to curse in her songs. She is constantly standing up for things and I admire her for that.

Her voice is an important one, I believe, for today’s modern female artist and she sings on issues such as feminism in a way that is hard to ignore.

***

Hard Out Here:

We’ve never had it so good. Uh huh we’re out of the woods. And if you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood.

***

Her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We know” is, in my opinion (like Lights and her rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song). Better than the original. I may be alone on this, but again one of my favourite female artists is taking a well-known song and making it their own. Allen sings this ballad in a slowed down version that is both sad and wistful.

She sings songs about the pressure to be perfect, the constant need to be validated by a man, and the pain that these things can cause when self-esteem is low or when life seems impossible when fearing loneliness.

How a successful, capable, tough girl like her could bee feeling all these things and more makes her highly relatable.

In “Miserable Without Your Love” She seems to have all the control or toughness in the world and it can all be hiding something else.

She sings in a way that it seems like some things should be challenged. Or the question asked, is it all really worth it?

In the song: “Life For Me”, there is a sound reminiscent of Paul Simon’s hit album Graceland, heard unmistakably in the plunky-sounding guitar.

In songs like this one she sings about motherhood and family life. Even when you finally find happiness and love, the bad days and the stressful moments can still make you feel like you are drowning.

***

I’m not complaining but last night I hardly slept at all. Well actually yes I am complaining.

***

Her frank honest delivery of the lyrics and the feelings that inspired them is refreshing in a world of culture shock and vanity. Her dry sense of humour comes out so clearly even through the song.

She aims to show that nothing is perfect.

Again, on this new album she alludes to, not only the hard time of being a parent, but again returning with: “Who Do You Love”, that her relationship with her own parent isn’t all that easy or simple either.

She speaks on all the insincerity out there in the entertainment world in such songs as: “Insincerely Yours” and the title track:

“Sheezus”.

Here she lists some female artists by name: Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lorde, and Lady Gaga.

It seems the competition for female singers and performers is tough and relentless. In this title track her apprehension of stepping back into this world with her new album’s release, after some of the changes she’s seemingly gone through with marriage and motherhood is a scary thing for her. She seems to challenge whether or not it’s all really worth the aggravation of trying to keep up.

I would say the biggest difference in this one is that she is happy. Sure, not all her songs are cheerful and lighthearted, but the overall impression I got both from her life show and from the record itself is that she is a happy woman now. There is none of that early twenties upheaval and uncertainty of the dating world and of the partying and the feeling of being lost, that young women so often get stuck in.

Her anger is still burning bright on some key issues as I’ve mentioned, but she can not hide it. She never seems to hide it, remaining as transparent as ever.

In a way this takes away from the true Lily Allen spirit that I guess I’ve often responded to because she is known for her angrier lyrics at times. She doesn’t seem to take any crap from anyone and I don’t believe this will ever change. Her British charm is all a part of this attitude.

***

Sheezus:

Been here before. So unprepared. Not going to lie though. I’m kind of scared.

Laced up my gloves. I’m going in. Don’t let my kids watch me when I get in the ring.

I’ll take the hits. Roll with the punches. I’ll get back up. It’s not as if I’ve never done this. But then again, the game is changing. Can’t just come back, jump on the mic, and do the same thing.

There goes the bell. I know that sound. I guess it’s time for me to go another round. Now wish me luck. I’m going to need it. I’ll see you on the other side if I’m still breathing.

***

All boxing metaphors aside, these feelings of trying to fit in could be applicable to almost any situation.

As for Lily, it’s clear she is wary of putting herself back under the microscope of fame, but she does it. She is back to competing with the other female stars of the day.

She sings about the love she has found and the guy she has found it with, up front about what fierce pride she has in him, challenging any other girl to try anything to mess with that. Here again her tough persona shows itself. She may be happy, but she is still Lilly: cheeky and wise-cracking. I pity any girl who would mess with her. She doesn’t seem like the type of person to hesitate in kicking some ass if the occasion called for it.

She seems to be struggling, at times, with balancing being a wife and mother with her life in the world of fame.

She still holds all the same insecurities that any mother has after pregnancies and giving birth. Being thin in this thin obsessed culture is a concern facing her too, not being any more immune from these stresses than anyone else.

She even mentions the very WordPress I post this on, with a song about technology, social media, the bloggiasphere. Words can be written and posted by any old person hiding behind a screen and keyboard. Empathy not required.

Songs on this album range from strange to suggestive, from silly to sad.

She can convey all of this through her voice and her lyrics like no one else I’ve heard in recent years.
Whether it’s the affect she puts on her voice or the simple simplicity of the sound that is so uniquely her own.

I’ve listened to the deluxe edition of “Sheezus” over and over now, to take something away from each lyric every time I hear it.

As I stood out on the dock just feet from Sound Academy, I rested against the railing, looking out into the the night and over the water. Lake Ontario and the city beside me, the CN Tower out there somewhere nearby. I had gone from a psychiatric hospital to the docks all in one day, but more about that in a future post.

Lily Allen: you’ve done it again girl.

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