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Lights and Dots #JusJoJan

April In Paris is a favourite movie of mine. Billy Crystal and Marge Simpson. What could be better?

My parents and older siblings have been. I have not. Do I want to go? Of course I do.

Of course I want to experience
Paris
but I’d rather visit Normandy or the Brittany Coast.

Mostly though, I want to visit Coupvray, the village where the inventor of braille was born.

I don’t speak French. I heard a lot about dog poop after my family visited. I hear that’s been cleaned up since.

Just recently, a friend and I were discussing checking out the catacombs, if I ever get to the capital of France and if she ever gets to return there. She tells me stories of visiting, as a teen, on a school trip to Europe and I hear the emotion in her voice when she speaks of being up the Eiffel Tower.

Thanks to
Forty and Fantastique
for a travel related word because there’s nothing more, I enjoy jotting/writing about, than travel and place.

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TToT: Chameleon in a Room Full of Mirrors – Penblwydd Hapus #10Thankful

“You are strong because you are imperfect and you are wise because you have doubts.”

—Clementine Churchill

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This is a reminder of the little girl I once was. My sister found this card in the library book my nephew brought home from school last week.

What are the odds and my first thankful after musing on what it’s like to turn another year older, all while discovering those reminders of the girl you used to be.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the short story I managed to come up with at my writing group, even if my braille display did crap out on me (dead battery) right before I finished it.

It was a short story about a young girl, living in Europe, only a few years before the breakout of World War II and she is celebrating her birthday with a skating party with friends.

I will finish the story and read it out loud at the next writing group night.

I’m thankful for an inspiring first meeting with some new peers living with chronic kidney disease.

We met to discuss how those of us who’ve been and are currently living and dealing with kidney disease can help a new generation of those going through or about to go through it.

Some were on dialysis and some, like myself, were transplant recipients. One was even newly diagnosed and didn’t know where to start. I hope we didn’t overwhelm that person too much.

So much excellent discussion went on. It felt empowering, more than I’ve felt in a long time, as I’ve been off of dialysis for so long that you start to forget what it was like. I have this chronic condition, transplant or no transplant, and may need help from these same sorts of people again one day too.

I am thankful, also, for the guy next to me who got up and brought me a new plastic fork after I broke mine trying to stab a cucumber out of the pasta salad on my plate as the presentation went on.

I hate those cheap plastic forks.

I’m thankful for Apple Music.

Now, for a monthly fee (after the first three free months) I have millions of songs at my fingertips, right on my phone for streaming.

I’m thankful for a surprise right before my birthday.

Native Traveler, awarded gold in the audio story/blogging category from the NATJA

The host submitted the Native Traveler show with my piece on No-limits Travel for the Blind to the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) awards , among a couple of others.   The show won Gold in the radio broadcast category!.

North American Travel Journalist Association awards list for 2017.

I’m thankful for the card, flowers, and butterfly for my keychain, all from my wonderful neighbour.

The card was one of those singing ones.

The butterfly has now become a symbol with meaning between the two of us. I am keeping it with me. I like to trace my fingers around the wings. I used to love to draw bright, colourful butterflies when I was younger.

The flowers were fragrant, but the stalks were so heavy that my mom had to prop up the flowers, using a cooking pot and some cardboard.

I’m thankful for all the well wishes from family and friends, on Facebook and off.

I wasn’t feeling so well on my actual birthday, but it was nice to hear from people. It cheered me up a bit.

I’m thankful for the cake my mother made for me.

Cherry chip with a cheesecake swirl and white chocolate icing.

She is amazing with certain kinds of cake. It was made with love and care. Thanks Mom.

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I’m thankful for a snowy day on my birthday.

I felt unwell, stayed inside the whole day, but I was glad to know what was going on, a snowy world, just outside my window.

It was a perfect February day, even if the next one brought rain and then freezing to produce slick conditions for walking.

Someone on my blog wished me this and I had to look it up, but was super glad they’d said it:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/penblwydd_hapus

I’m thankful I can learn new things, even and especially at thirty-four years old.

Penblwydd Hapus to me.

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Silence Is Acceptance, #MeToo #HolocaustMemorialDay #JusJoJan

There are many things I would like to speak about, on an ongoing basis. Listening to stories of survivors of the Holocaust, their strength and bravery in speaking on such horrid things, makes me feel like not enough is said as of yet, from all of us and that we all must say something.

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There are a lot of things going on, past and present, that I’d like to
address
and then something stops me from saying anything at all. Fear, but of what?

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am stuck on the Holocaust and I have been for a long long time. I take breaks from thinking about it, to preserve my sanity, but ultimately this historical event creeps back into my thoughts. I am lucky I can take those breaks. I didn’t experience it, though I know many who did have gone on to live perfectly wonderful lives. It feels haunting, even if I often wonder how I’d have moved on if it had happened to me.

I want to speak on things, to write about them, to make sure people don’t forget. Mistakes are repeated. Humans are doomed to repeat what once was. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

If I speak up on such things, I am told I worry too much, as if I am supposed to forget that if I had lived during the time of World War II I would be considered a waste, as one of the disabled.

Yes, if I’d lived in Europe during that time, if I lived anywhere back then, and even if I lived here, years ago, kidney disease would have killed me.

Morbid, perhaps. Speaking up, or addressing the things that haunt my mind, this unsticks those cobwebs from the furthest corners of my brain.

I am lucky to have an address and a roof over my head, even if my heat does keep crapping out on me. I am lucky to be living in 2018 and celebrating that I was born after the inventions of dialysis and organ transplantation.

I saw Nazis marching in North America, I hear that Poland just made it illegal to mention Poland’s involvement during the Holocaust, and I wonder what to say, what I can say about these furious subjects.

I see people are saying things aren’t so bad, and they aren’t really, but they are for some people and they could be, any day, for more of us. We need to stay vigilant and on guard to halt dangers from reoccurring.

Sexual misconduct and resignations as a result are happening in Canada, in Ontario politics now too. Forget presidents and porn stars. This is not so hard to get, is it?

The men who complain this is going too far, that they can’t even talk to women now, make me want to bang my own head against the wall repeatedly.

Pop culture. Politics. Personal space. Is it really so hard for men to not act inappropriately with women and young girls? Really? Reeeeeeally?

It is maddening. I want to keep addressing all these things, to make people get along, and to practice tolerance and compassion. What is it going to take?

TELL ME!!!

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TToT: Of Sight Or Vision and of Look Or See #10Thankful

“I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next.”

—A. A. Milne.

A lot of emotional moments this week and in this run-up to the Christmas season. I can feel it, an energy of sorts.

In the meantime though, I’m going to allow myself to coast through the next month or so because I am already feeling the pressure of the coming year, to make it everything this one was…and more.

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My Misadventures issue on store shelf.

So, I have some projects on the go, sure, but I want to enjoy the final weeks of this momentous year before they are gone.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the struggle of writing that keeps me thinking and learning and growing and moving.

This novel thing is harder than I realized, but I don’t stop. I research and learn so I can keep on writing.

I don’t ever really get writer’s block. There is always so much to discover and share.

I have plans and goals to conquer.

I am thankful for perhaps smaller groups but new people still showing up amongst them.

Our writer’s group lost a few this week because of illness and other things, but I walked in and was unexpectedly met by a new voice. A man from New Zealand came to check out what our little writer’s circle was all about.

It helps. I had someone in the group read something I’ve been working on, out loud to everyone, and I received interesting feedback from them and someone new helps with a fresh perspective.

I hope he returns. All the different life experiences in our group can only be a benefit.

I am thankful that I haven’t given up on the violin and my mastery of it.

The challenge continues, won’t go away because it is something one must keep working on. I won’t master playing such an instrument, not in a year and not in two. I know it feels like a long road, but I am working and developing parts of my brain I didn’t know I had.

Seriously, this lesson I felt energized and wiped out, all at once. I think that’s a sign that I am right where I am supposed to be with it.

I am thankful for two Foundation of the Blind meetings in one week.

I started with the US NFB ((National Federation of the Blind) and those few months of being a part of their organization (VisionAware) has given me some idea of what to expect with this new challenge of the Canadian CFB.

I listened in on the AFB call on Tuesday and the CFB on Thursday.

We had a guest speaker at ours. We are working to get a new national system of sharing books and other reading materials in libraries all across Canada and I was super emotional about it.

I love the library, but I feel like I feel when I am in a bookstore. I am surrounded by the things I love most in the world…and yet, I can’t access most of it like everyone else.

I hope I can be a part of changing that, for myself and many others.

I am thankful for a chance to write about my chronic pain journey.

LIVING MY BEST LIFE – A JOURNEY WITH CHRONIC PAIN

I am thankful for friends who can access US bookstores.

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Thanks, Sara, for doing that, since Canada has no Barnes & Noble stores.

She went to a Barnes & Noble and found this.

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Sara, you rock!

I am thankful for movies that aren’t the biggest box-office blockbusters.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

This is one of those not-a-super-hero movies that people might not know about or care to see, but I think we need more like it.

I am thankful for seeing things (like biographical movies) at the moment I am meant to see them.

I love biography because it tells the story of a person’s life. Every person has a story.

I am trying to write a novel about life for everyday people in Europe and such, during the two world wars that dominated the 20th century. It felt like a strange bookend. I think it helped me put some thoughts together though.

I am thankful for a simple fix for my phone from my handy techy brother.

It suddenly froze up on me and went mostly quiet. I need it to talk to me.

So, instead of feeling stuck and being about to take it to an Apple store, my brother thought of another way to reset a phone. I tried it and it worked.

I am thankful for another newly discovered cover to a song I already know and love.

Chasing Cars

“Those three words…are said too much…or not enough.”

—Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Which words are they?

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TToT: Words Don’t Make The Rain Go – And So Forth, #10Thankful

“No dress rehearsal. This is our life.”

Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie dead at 53 – Toronto Star

A man who was never widely known outside of Canada for his musical abilities is now gone. Maybe, though, he was meant never to have worldwide fame, but instead to be Canada’s musician and to do what he did, to speak powerfully about how we’ve treated Indigenous people in this country, Indigenous youth for more than a century.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful Canada has a leader who can show emotion.

A friend died, a fellow Canadian, and I know people still thought it silly that Justin Trudeau became emotional.

Why not?

He is human, isn’t afraid or so unfeeling and dead inside as to let his emotions out, and I will take that over other options, in other countries, right now and any day.

I am thankful for a comforting and hopeful yet bittersweet mid week medical appointment.

I felt a true disappointment when I realized she was coming to the end of what she, herself, could do to help me.

She is one of the best physicians I’ve ever seen and that is not always so easy to find. She did her best for me and I could sense she felt truly bad that I wasn’t feeling better from any of her treatment ideas. Again, hard to find, feel from some doctors.

So, she is always open to seeing me, if I ever need something, but has given me suggestions for what to try next and where to go.

I really did feel sad when I left her office this time. I guess that is a sign I’ve seen too many doctors in my life.

I am thankful for the ability to go into my local bank and deposit a cheque I earned all by myself, into my account.

This shouldn’t be such a big deal for someone my age, but it is.

That’s just the honest to God truth of it. More where that came from, but my fear is always there that it won’t last.

The pressure now feels compounded, though still thankful, this week anyway.

I am thankful for a writing group evening that started out moodily and ended wonderfully.

I must have been in a bit of a mood, myself, but the personalities of the writers in that room soon brought me out of my funk.

That’s why I go. Sure, it’s nice to write and hear some good old stories, but it’s those minds where the ideas for said stories come from that I am most grateful for, why I keep on going back.

I am thankful I was able to keep up with my first evening of secretarial duties.

We had our first official meeting of Ontario’s chapter of Canada Federation of the Blind.

I wanted an app to record the conference call, but I couldn’t be sure any were accessible and so I took notes. I did better with that than I thought I would.

We have multiple issues I feel are important enough to take on and hopefully tackle, to make even a slight difference.

I may never have a child to leave behind, but I do want to leave behind something. Maybe I can make a difference somehow.

I am thankful for a day of rejection and acceptance.

I pitched to two places. One came back thrilled for me to tell my story and the other had to pass.

I had a feeling on the second one and it hurt at first, but what I have to say isn’t right for every place. It might be the wrong time, though I would like to write about being a woman who may never have a child, not because I don’t want one, but for several different factors.

This writing journey brings both acceptances and rejections, and from what I’ve heard and read, it isn’t always about the writing. Sometimes it’s timing or luck. I’ve been very lucky this year so far.

I do like the lessons I am learning, over and over again, and I hope that sting of rejection will continue to happen and teach me that it isn’t the end of the world and that maybe something else can come along another date and time.

I am thankful for a lovely dinner with family and friends.

My mom went to a lot of work to make everything look nice. She is a lovely hostess. She put coloured peppers in the chicken. She baked a new fluffy casserole recipe for the yams. She put time and attention into welcoming a new friend into her home.

We all had a lot of fun and laughs.

I am thankful for wine.

And the wine I had with the evening didn’t hurt any either. It was nice to be able to wind down, at the end of a busy week, wind down with wine.

I am thankful for a short walk for mail.

I still haven’t been sleeping well and I needed a brief Saturday morning walk in the sunshine, with my neighbour, down the street to the mailboxes.

It was a beautiful morning and I came home refreshed and fully awake for the day.

On a day like that, it isn’t so bad that my mail doesn’t come right outside my door anymore.

I am thankful for the attention a dying man brought to what Canada’s next 150 years should look like.

Gord Downie cared about his country and knew he was leaving it and leaving this life. He wanted to take a step toward bringing us all together before he went.

I watched the live broadcast of the concert he put on a year before his death. It is a sad story, what happened to this one boy and so many other boys and girls and their parents and families for so long.

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans (READ THIS)

Different circumstances of course, but I see it as Chanie Wenjack was a symbol of so many other children here in Canada being forcibly removed and reprogrammed, just like Anne Frank went on, after her death, to symbolize all the children during the Holocaust in Europe during World War II.

I can easily imagine being taken from my home and forced into residential school. What a scary thing, especially if forced to speak another language and be separated from everyone and everything you know and love.

What were Canada’s governments and churches thinking?

RIP Gord, (1964-2017)

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Travel Ling, Lingering #TGIF #FTSF

“Oh, the places you’ll go.”

Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for that one. I love that and the travel it hints at, alludes to. It’s thrilling, just writing that quote and reading it back to myself. I recently carried that quote with me, on my first solo trip to Mexico, reciting it in my mind whenever I needed a shot of bravery.

When it comes to travel, I could go for days and days, writing about it I mean. That much travel, while sounding just as thrilling as Seuss’s quote, would exhaust me. I do it in my imagination though, all the time.

If I had the money and the energy, I’d be off. Sure, I’d always come back to my home, as that’s how travel is most appreciated, but I would not be satisfied to simply stay in one place all my life. I would suffocate in that bubble.

Pop!

***

I long to break out of that. I want to see new places. I have a list, a long, long list. I call it my
Bucket List (the very first blog post I ever wrote),
though that name is well worn with travellers the world over.

***

I thought it the summer my parents left on a road trip out west, through the U.S. and Canada. I came up with my travel blogger title and I was off.

The Insightful Wanderer (@TheIWanderer on Twitter)

It was in me, of course, ever since forever. My grandparents lived in just such a bubble, but they didn’t stay. They left sometimes, though always coming home again.

My most favourite treasure from my grandmother are the journals she kept, for years, where she jotted down the daily events of her life and family. Then, just a short distance from where she kept those, were the stakcs of photo albums, full of photographic evidence of the places her and my grandfather saw during their fifty five years together: all throughout Canada and the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Life and reality are just as important as a life of travel. Some can avoid that, I suppose, but not me.

I have limitations. I fully acknowledge those, but recently I challenged them too.

***

I immediately started thinking about what I would write, upon reading this week’s prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
and my first thought was Mexico.

I would write about my recent trip there. Why not? What else could I possibly write about now, while the memories are fresh? But wait…

I have things I want to say, but I can’t get back to it, whether in my own head or when trying to explain to others just why that trip meant so much. I try and try and try to explain the feeling, but somehow, my experience doesn’t come through. I feel unsatisfied with how I am describing it and how they are hearing it described by me. I guess the expression “you had to be there” is right. Oh, so right.

I travel back to every moment of that week, from my fear and intense anticipation. To my sense of peace and calm and rightness with the world and my place in it at that instant. I don’t want to say words now fail me, but perhaps they do. The envelope of photos I now carry in my purse of my trip don’t do the thing justice either, somehow locked in the past of the actual purse I carried with me. Nor does the bracelet I wear on my left wrist, every bead carrying that week’s sense memories within.

***

I went so far as to create a whole travel website, separate from this blog, while the force was still strong to attempt the world of the travel blogger. I had it all mapped out, saw things so clearly in my mind.

I wrote up an About Me page there, before the new site went live. It laid out all my most favourite spots: Niagara Falls and Ireland.

I put forth an illustrated list of the places I’ve been so far: Cuba, Florida/New York/Michigan/D.C./California, and Germany.

I spelled out everywhere I dreamt of going: Hawaii, Palau, Australia, and New Zealand. I wanted to be adventurous, surprising even myself, and in this dream I stood at the bottom of the world, surrounded by ice and penguins.

I didn’t truly believe I’d have the stamina, resources, or opportunity to make it that far, but, really, who could say?

Then, my website fizzled out. I let myself down. I studied travel blogs galore and somehow, I couldn’t become them, social media and pitching tour companies and all. I couldn’t. I was not a list maker and a personality so strong. My fantasy of becoming someone, I perhaps wasn’t meant to be.

I am a literary writer. That’s who I am. I can take all the travel blog success courses I want, have as many Skype sessions with an already established travel blogger as are offered in any given online course, and I still failed.

***

But I didn’t. I found a way to travel anyways. I found a group of my people, other literary type writers, somewhere full of magic and reality, all wrapped into one.

I couldn’t hold onto that week forever. It came and went. I may feel a little aimless since then, since arriving home, but that’s okay.

The world is a giant place. Anyone who doesn’t open their mind first, it doesn’t matter how far or how nearby they go or stay.

Travel all sorts of places, in your mind, through reading/watching a good book or movie. That’s just more ways to open your mind to the vistas (boy do I love that word).

Read travel blogs, as I still do, if that makes it all more real.

Acknowledge your limitations while challenging what still might be.

Meet people. Meander through a place. Taste a new food or sample a helping of another culture, far flung from your own.

***

I may not have that beautiful travel site I saw in my mind, but I am still wandering through this big, beautiful world and I am doing it with all the insight I can manage to unearth as I go.

I will linger here a bit yet still, but I know I will be off again, sooner or later. If you linger too long, you risk getting stuck. I hate to burst your bubble, but it must be done.

I meander and linger and meander some more. I look over those vistas I can no longer see. I meander with these words and with myself. Still figuring it all out.

I’ll be sure to let you know, here, when I’ve been everywhere. In the meantime, Dr. Seuss’s words keep me going, moving, living.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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