Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

I’m No Smuggler, #JusJoJan

I didn’t feel any sort of an ominous, heavy weight in the room until I was told of the real situation at hand.

5m1C1eQ.jpg

The men behind the desk had guns strapped to their sides and wore bullet-proof vests, or so I was told, a voice whispering in my ear.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Oh, there was still some lingering aggravation on my part, but by that point I was going along with the program. I would soon have my package.

I’d been aggravated for weeks, on account that my braille display (electronic braille machine) had stopped working after only one year’s use. I wasn’t particularly hard on it and I’d done nothing to damage it, unlike my dear departed first Mac laptop.

The line of braille is little metal dots, poking up, and then, one day, some on the left side just decided they no longer wanted to do their job. This made reading the first few words of each line nearly impossible. What a way to aggravate me.

I waited and finally I phoned the necessary number and requested a repair. Mine would be sent back, across the border, and a temporary replacement would be sent to me in the meantime.

Quite the switch. Still, I didn’t anticipate any problems until I was notified that the delivery service could not deliver it to me.

I needed to fill out, print out forms and take them to Canada Customs for clearance.

It was a whole thing, for a time there, but now that I have the loaner here, all that aggravation feels so far away.

I can, once more, read articles and essays, thanks to the magic of Bluetooth and my iPhone.

I can write and read back what I’ve written. I can spellcheck my writing and edit my own work.

It’s so nice to have all that aggravation behind me, for now, and I am thankful I held my temper and frustration/aggravation in front of those customs guys with the guns – only for precaution of course.

Easy gentlemen. I’m no smuggler.

End of the week prompt word for Just Jot It January
This, That, and the Other
with “aggravate/aggravation”.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

Stop Making Sense

Whether working on my novel, my memoir, or any number of essays or micro pieces I will look back to this. This could be included for writers doing National Novel Writing Month right now.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Have we got an offer for you!

Black and white picture of David Byrne dancing in a boxy oversized suit from the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making SenseHow did I get here?

Would you like to improve your writing craft today? By, say, 10%?

This doesn’t apply to everyone of course, but after editing essays and books and posts for the Brevity blog, for experienced writers and new writers and everyone in between, I’ve noticed a lot of repetition.

Not from book to book, although I see that. Not even from paragraph to paragraph, although I see that too.

Within the same sentence.

Sometimes it’s telling as well as showing:

He looked like an old man with his grey hair and gnarled hands.

Tell it once:

His hands were gnarled.

Better yet, show it in an action:

He ran a gnarled hand through his grey hair.

He picked at the tablecloth with a gnarled hand.

Sometimes it’s showing the same thing multiple times:

Jane patted my shoulder, gently massaging my…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer

The Good Old Days: “We’re Drowning In It!” #SoCS

I have a headache. I don’t know where to start.

It hurts, threatening to burst under the weight of it all.

It’s just another speech on the US 2016 election campaign. Still, underneath that, there were parts that were all, essentially about human decency.

Michelle Obama spoke and I listened and I felt the familiar stinging of tears starting to form in my eyes.

I put off listening, as Facebook’s newsfeed blew up with people sharing the speech and lamenting its sincerity and harsh reality. Finally, after a bad day of becoming choked up on New York Times Modern Love essays about children and adoption, I thought, “why not?”

Every day I can’t believe it. The days are constant: International Day of the Girl (which Michelle mentions), World Sight Day, Blindness Awareness, White Cane Awareness and people can never seem to settle on the correct word order for some of these. But I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it. We’re all just trying to get by and to be heard and valued.

I see less and less and yet it’s what I hear that I can’t believe.

I hear things on my television
screen
that I can’t believe I’m hearing.

I doubt my own hearing, one of my strongest remaining senses.

I feel vulnerable every time I walk out there, a visually impaired woman with her white cane. Am I standing out? Or am I invisible?

Michelle Obama Speaks Out

The line she spoke that most caught my attention and left a lump in my throat, my eyes burning, and a ringing in my ears was: “We’re drowning in it.” I believe she was referring specifically to sexism and misogyny. It’s no big deal to most people, most times, but it’s always there, somewhere. How much does it matter?

Women should feel it. Men should feel it. Over and over again, people talk of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. What are women, even myself, what are we supposed to think? What lessons have young men learned? What do those calling themselves politicians think they’re doing anyway?

I even doubt my ears here in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in charge for one whole year now, since the last time Canada’s baseball team made it to the play off’s. I had hope then, as someone finally starting to feel somewhat better about the state of my own country, hope for a future where women’s rights, all rights of people might continue to improve, that we here could be a living embodiment of what is possible. Nothing but a naive girl’s silly hope?

His reputation as a feminist has only grown here and around the world. But then I think about possible leaked tapes, recordings, information in the future.

We believe forward-thinking men in politics like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama are decent, would never treat women so disrespectfully. Then I imagine a time in the future where I will hear, with my own ears, something that could shake my confidence in these two men as concerned fathers and sons and husbands. Maybe they aren’t who they claim to be either. Power. Is it all one giant power trip?

A black man ran the country that supported slavery, segregation, and the targeting of black men as criminals. A woman may soon run a country where women who were black couldn’t even vote fifty years ago. This must represent change and growth, but not all want it, require it, hope and pray for it. Some attack and demonize it.

As for progress and decency, men in positions of power and capable of making sweeping and lasting change, I don’t want to be let down in that way, not ever.

But how sure can I be? When may the other shoe drop, the floor drop out on me?

I appreciate varied viewpoints and healthy discussions, but I too shy away from disrespect, inhumanity, bickering, anger, discrimination, the refusal to see beyond the nose on one’s own face.

I don’t call myself a believer in feminism lightly.

I try to find a balance. This isn’t easy.

I have not suffered at the hands of abuse by men in my own life, but I feel a wider societal pressure. I know only the most decent men in my own life. My father. My brothers. Those I have learned from about love. Those I have loved. We all make mistakes, say foolish things in a moment of weakness or ignorance, both male and female. Goodness can still thrive.

I’m just afraid to believe what I hear. Perceptions are realities.

13TH

I wasn’t around during slavery, but what slavery still occurs, and what can I do about it, if I happen to see it or if I hide from that which still exists?

How free am I personally? What am I a slave to in my own life? How dare I even ask, even think?

The 13Th Amendment. The 19Th Amendment. What can 100 years, 150, what can that passing time do? How slow is change really? How far have we really come with rights for all? What is truly being amended? What am I seeing, hearing, witnessing, neglecting to admit about this time I’m living in?

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-13th-doc-trump-20161014-snap-htmlstory.html

I recommend 13TH. It covers a long timeline of events and not just the small snapshot of time we’re currently living through. It’s not easy to see back into all the preceding time, into anything other than noticing the glasses on our own faces, even mine where no more literal glasses sit.

Trump. Hillary. Bill.

Reagan, like Trump, an actor/performer. Nixon, known, as Hilary Clinton, to be a liar. What really changes? What can we count on as the years pass us by?

I hear suffering. I feel it more and more as I age. the echoes of ghosts long gone. I recognized all their voices at different times.

I hear what I hear. I doubt what I hear. I know what I hear and wonder who may have isolated each clip, what it meant, as an overall statement of any intention. I believe it has all contributed and brought us all to where we currently are.

I did not need anyone to Tweet those selected Trump clips, used to illustrate a wider point, to know how awful I’ve felt at having heard them myself over the last months. I already felt ill upon hearing them.

I know much of the history. I know how humans have treated other humans. I felt my headache worsen as 13TH went on, but I watched the documentary all the way through.

So then why exactly did I put myself through that pain?

What else should I do? How else should I handle what I can’t un-know?

Politics. Pride in one’s home. Culture. Religion. Propaganda, all of it?

It is more than six months since I really last wrote about these things here.

In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

I thought that the 2016 summer with unending stories in the news about the US election would never ever end. But it did and here we are. Less than a month to go, thank God! But I am so tired and I know I’m not alone. Speaking up is seen as “incendiary” and immediately turned into a political opinion, when really, all I’d like to make is a human one. I don’t write about it on Facebook, trying to be sensitive to my American friends. Here on my blog I feel somewhat safer, but I can’t agree with the sort of patriotism Americans often speak of, like Michelle in her speech most recently: that the US is the greatest country in the world.

I regret to say this Mrs. Obama, but go ahead and say whatever you need to say, to feel better about things.

I shake my head at such love of one place, run by capitalism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, from whichever country you reside in. Globalization. I am not a politician and never will be, but I care about not only myself and my family, but my country, and all others. I care about people, no matter where they live.

I love Canada fiercely, but I can’t just keep hearing people speak of their own country being the best, as pride gets us nowhere. I am lucky to live here and yet I fight to find my way. Canada has treated people just as poorly as any other country.

I stand on the border of my Canadian, English-speaking province and into the French-speaking province next door and I feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I smell the river. I hear the cars. I trust my senses in that moment, but rarely do I trust all else I’ve seen.

All politicians are caught saying things, things that have furthered their political purposes at one time or another, eventually revealing true intentions or previously held beliefs, hopefully altered. I don’t know how they really feel. Suddenly, thanks to an actual reality TV star coming this close to winning, it all feels like a huge reality show, like more and more politics and entertainment are melding, like we can’t tell them apart and there is no going back from that.

Human lives are at stake and 13TH makes that point extremely well. This isn’t a game. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

I can hardly believe what I’m seeing/hearing, but I suppose sensible people have always thought that way, and yet what was really done about it? What will the answer be now?

The thought that any one country is “the best country in the world” or that there ever existed “the good old days” is false to me, no matter the intended meaning behind either stated belief.

The “good old days” spoken of weren’t quite so good for us all. I just hope we can stay afloat going forward.

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Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: Greatness, Audacity, Tragedy – “Wow and Flutter” #10Thankful

“…Courage, my word. It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter. Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Courage – The Tragically Hip (For Hugh MacLennan)

I don’t know how much of a lot of Canadian music always makes it out of Canada sometimes, but the big news here this past week is the announcement that a nationwide musical icon has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. I just figured I would share one of my favourite songs from Gord and his band. I learned something new and interesting about the origin of the song “Courage” and it seems apt.

I know I have looked to these lyrics, searching for courage at different times in my own life, and now it appears courage “couldn’t come at a worse time” for Downie.

😦

Here’s what I learned about a Canadian writer who inspired “Courage” the hit song:

Who’s Hugh MacLennan?

Onward and to my thankfuls for the week and there are some, for sure.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For just how good my parents really are to me.

I honestly, sometimes, feel I really don’t deserve them as my mother and father. This was brought home to me in a big way this week.

I was on the phone with my mother early in the week about something. When I hung up, I found myself feeling emotional about how they have always looked out for me, in both big and small ways, and how even now they are preparing for the future. It is a hard thing for me to think about sometimes, how much they have had to worry about me, but that’s how life goes. I can’t fully express, as we’re in the middle between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, still upcoming.

For that ability to turn on my AC when spring suddenly makes the leap into summer earlier than one might have expected.

For a local, provincial television station.

TV Ontario

I guess it’s like PBS or something, but again, this one would be something only those living in Ontario, Canada would likely be aware of.

I watched this channel since I was a kid and now I watch it for so many fascinating nature, science, social issue and travel documentaries. I love a lot of their historical programs. I learn a lot, as far as media goes, from TVO.

For the sharing of ideas that make me better and believe I deserve to strive for more in my own life.

Lidia Yuknavitch: the beauty of being a misfit, TED2016

This woman’s words made me cry because I’ve felt out-of-place too, many many times in my life, but I still want to believe I will figure out where I fit in.

For hash tag Greatertorontoday and the good deeds that were done.

All across the city of Toronto, for one day, acts of kindness were done for others. I would hope this isn’t just a one shot sort of a thing, that it could go on for more than just one single day, but it was nice to hear the reporter on the Toronto news reading the Tweets from the random acts of kindness that were happening.

#Greatertorontoday

My feelings on Toronto as a city run deep, but I know it has a great respect around the world, for its multiculturalism. I hope this, in itself, helps people to realize we are all human and deserve the same kindnesses shown to us all.

For gestures put forth and peaceful acts, amongst so much nasty rhetoric and angry attitudes throughout the world.

First, mid week, it was nice to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, taking one day off during his trip to Japan, to celebrate his anniversary with his wife.

Many thought this worth commenting on, criticizing, but I was glad to see that he values his relationship with his wife, while still performing his duties for Canada.

But then came the real uproar, at the end of the week, when President Obama visited the site of the bombings, on Japan, at the close of World War II.

Misinformation spread like wildfire, that he was offering an apology. He was simply pausing, at a place of great significance and destruction, while already in the country on official business.

It was the respectful thing to do. I know all the arguments, I realize I didn’t have loved ones directly affected by Pearl Harbor, but I know when peace is called for. I’m thankful he made the gesture.

For several more steps forward in the planning and execution of this podcast idea with my brother.

We did a trial run and it was not bad, but I couldn’t truly focus until I was happy with the name and then my brother’s friend reminded us of something memorable, an image that comes to his mind when he thinks of our family: Ketchup on pancakes.

That’s right. It’s a family favourite around here, for breakfast, or whenever.

🙂

Our podcast is officially “Ketchup On Pancakes”.

So now we think we’ve figured out the microphone issues, settled on a catchy name, and have begun a proper outline for our introductory episode. We hope to record next week. I am excited and just hope my brother doesn’t get sick of me too quickly, as I can actually see this podcast going somewhere in time.

For a rebounding, a super positive, as in my latest violin lesson.

Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Other times, everything, the energy in the room, it seems to flow and I leave feeling super pumped about this choice to learn to play the violin at thirty-two years old that I’ve made.

That was the difference between the previous lesson, as I prepared to play Happy Birthday for my sister and this latest lesson, where I felt I could handle it, whatever it may be, and I took in every single word and concept my teacher explained to me.

For the support (past, present, and future) of audacious women writers, editors, dreamers who make their dreams come true and who show me guidance and kindness along the way.

Every week, twice a week, I read one particular website religiously. I have been trying to get a feel for the sorts of essays they publish, in the hopes of writing one. I have the idea all ready to go and again, this week, I came across one essay and it spoke to me, being about a similar topic.

REPAIR – FULL GROWN PEOPLE

Well, the editor of the site has been supportive of me submitting (actually resubmitting, as I was rejected early on, but feeling more and more confident to try again), as she seems to be encouraging me to give it another shot.

And, of course, there is my long developing support from an editor who reads my blog occasionally, who has followed my progress, and sounded intrigued about the podcast.

Change It Up Editing

And…

For the premiering of a brand new website, publication, and a truly panoramic take on literary travel writing

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

The word “panorama”, as I’ve understood it in the past, seemed out of my reach, as something visual. Now, I see things differently with this project,, begun and run, in part, by my writing mentor.

I may actually have used the following quote before, but again it fits. It is all about the writing, the courage, the courage to write.

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

—Gloria Steinem

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