1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday

The Tyranny of Now, #SoCS

Ah, what can I say, really? *throws hands in the air*

Some things feel so futile. Ah, the futility of it all.

Sometimes, I tell you…
mankind –
the whole thing blows my mind.

***

Your Memories on Facebook

Kerry, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 2 years ago.

(Awww, thanks Facebook. Apparently, I was feeling perplexed.)

March 18th, 2015

Yesterday I visited a Holocaust exhibit, a series of black and white photos of men and women who lived through it.

It was at the Kitchener Museum.

Then I went home and came across the mad rantings of a KKK member on television.

Last night apparently St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated with wild colours of green from the Northern Lights at several spots around the world. Proof that the beautiful things still exist and can outshine all ugliness.

It’s still all so baffling to me.

—Then and now…

***

I resist speaking of it here, trying to hold in my frustration, but this felt like the worst day yet, in some ways, full of ridiculous words and attitudes, and I can’t believe the dismantling of the U.s. happening before our very eyes.

This week we see, is Holland smarter than those who came before them, when deciding possible fate of their country? Is it, indeed possible, for man or woman to learn a lesson in this day and age?

Maybe so. Maybe.

Germany, standing stoic and silent in the presence of such nonsense and self interest.

Destruction. Such a farce. That a fool of a man can gain such power in this world, boggles the mind. And so the whole world gawks, laughs, and cries at what now exists, feels unstoppable.

And all I think the world feels about it too, a growing shame, but I respect so many who are citizens and throwing up their hands, just like me, feeling somewhat secure (for the moment) here I am, in Canada.

When I heard the prompt “man” I immediately thought of one…one man I avoid saying anything about here, whenever possible.

This is not a political or current events blog. It’s just me.

I can’t predict, from day to day, but it’s such a feeling of disgust, and in time this post could be scrutinized too, with reports of phones and other devices being checked upon entry, or possible non entry as the case may now be.

Does crossing over one border in particular even seem like the wise option for the foreseeable future anyway? How much will cross border visits, tourism fault from the tensions that keep increasing?

Places like Canada may suffer for the border share, a part of America, just as much as the U.S.

How it feels that we now have human beings sneaking across from them. The issues this creates, as humanity sometimes feels scarce and then, there are those, some willing to fight for a compassionate solution. And Canada then makes the papers, glowing reviews of our virtues, bestowed by the New York Times.

We are a country and we fumble as we try.

And then…the best and the brightest, hesitating to attempt the land of the free, once full of such promise. Now, will Canada reap the benefits?

Meanwhile, the whole world suffers and seems to spiral into turmoil. Of course, this could just be my personal theatrics. Who can say really.

Man, oh man!

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TToT: Alliance, Maladies, Rare – “Quiet, Screaming Desperation” #10Thankful

The news coming out of certain places, parts of the world, like the fighting in Aleppo keeps getting worse and worse. The only way I can seem to deal with it is by acknowledging the reasons I am thankful.

I am thankful it’s this year and not last. Yeah, let’s start there.

FHEuD8v.jpg

My animals love my tree. Dobby and Lumos.

I’m thankful for yet another medical checkup, my second last to my twenty-year anniversary checkup, which will come in June.

I didn’t ask what the record for that clinic has been. I don’t even think they are planning some giant party when I return in June. I just thought it worth marking.

Again, I felt like so many other patients needed the doctors a lot more than I did. I didn’t even see the head nephrologist, probably because I’ve been so stable, so I saw another doctor and he told me that, once again, my levels were good and I was out the door, after waiting for hours.

The service is not really something to complain about. It’s only twice a year. I didn’t mind sitting and waiting. And waiting some more. I know how lucky I am. It may not last forever, but until those numbers start going up, I am believing that it still could.

I’m thankful for my violin teacher’s patience as I don’t use enough of my bow or I don’t trust myself nearly enough.

We are learning Silent Night and I remember the notes, but my confidence is where the problems are.

She is always ready with suggestions for how I can keep improving.

I’m thankful for brave writers.

The Stripe – Full Grown People

Sometimes you read a piece of writing and you are immediately blown away by the guts it must have taken the writer to put those words out there.

When I read this essay I instantly felt floored at the gutsy person who would put such personal thoughts out into the world. I’m not sure I could. I don’t even know where a line should be, because not all people believe everything should be written about, and still people do it.

I’m thankful we finally got our newest episode of the podcast released.

The Great Gong Show of 2016 – Ketchup on Pancakes

This was a show about politics, but just this once likely. It is not our area of expertise. I get far too emotional when talking about it. I just thought it was worth doing at the time. It was a serious subject, but I hope we ended on a positive and we tried to throw in a little bit of humour, where applicable.

I’m thankful we made the decision and went for a year’s upgraded subscription for SoundCloud.

This means we plan to keep going with this project into 2017 and who knows where it might lead.

I’m thankful for the chance to meet new people, local writers, to build relationships and connections.

By chance I came across a Facebook group about writing and it just so happened there were a few other writers there from my area. We all three decided it would be a good idea to meet up to discuss writing and local discussion about events with a literary theme.

It was so lovely to speak to a woman with older children, who has a longer career in writing for magazines and other publications, who is full-time freelancing. She was full of ideas and willing to share valued experiences with us.

The other woman has a science background, now with a young child at home, trying to get into the world of freelance writing. We all had something to contribute. I felt like people understood something about me, writer to writer to writer.

I felt like just one of the girls. I felt understood.

I’m thankful for a newly discovered place to shop locally.

The Closet

I’m thankful my cousin runs it and took the time to help me find a few new/used things for my upcoming trip.

I’m thankful I can challenge my long running phobia of used things like secondhand or slightly worn clothes.

I am sensitive to smells and to the idea of old things. I am learning that many things have value, that it’s important not to continually contribute to the rampant consumerism and material waste, and that everything has a story. Finding a deal isn’t bad either.

I am thankful for snow.

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s kind of messy. I know all this and I complain in the moment, just like everybody else, but then I step outside on a silent, snowy night. I listen to the silence and I feel the light flakes falling on my hair and on the car. One hits the tip of my nose and I stick out my tongue. A snowflake falls there too.

I walk through the snow coated, snow-covered, cold ground. I hear my feet crunch in it. I love a snowy December night in Canada.

So much snow falling this week in Toronto, during rush hour, and the ploughs can’t possibly keep up. This is really what we choose to complain about?

It’s the kind of silence where chaos can begin and where any screams of parts of the world are too easily ignored.

I have so much to be thankful for and I know it. I don’t always feel like I deserve it, but I know.

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TToT: Shake, Rattle, and Roll – Roadblocks and Shake Ups, #10Thankful

link And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.

I was reminded of this, by way of my initial TToT quote from last week.

link It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.

So, yeah Robert Fulghum has all these great quotes, which apply to education and children, youth and imagination, with all the political rhetoric and campaign promises, all the talk of peace vs war and strength vs weakness.

Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)

Lots of shake ups happening here this week. Bad joke. Read on.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For “UNIVERSAL” healthcare here in Canada.

I do get irritated with the mis-information spread, that Canada is the BIG BAD “SOCIALIZED” healthcare, that it’s free. But nothing’s free, right?

So, someone in my family needed it, unexpectedly, at the beginning of the week. I am glad we have access to it here in Canada. When you are dealing with stress and fear and panic, you shouldn’t have to fear a giant bill in the mail on top of the close call of a family member’s health being risked.

It’s not free. It is there when we need it and I am thankful for that.

That my brother had excellent care and that someone found him so soon after he’d had a seizure.

He could have been alone for longer before anyone found him and who knows when he would have received medical attention.

How the brain can bounce back, like nothing happened, though not all residual signs were so soon forgotten.

Of course, those two nights in hospital through off his entire week.

🙂

Understandable.

But there he was today, helping or trying to do what he could to help me with yet another computer/technology issue I have.

As the days go on, you start to forget the feelings of terror that we felt when I got the call this past Monday, an immediate flashback feeling of dread, back to seven months ago when he fell and a head injury stopped him and those who love him in our tracks.

That nothing worse was revealed by the tests they did.

CT scan…EEG…MRI…and there is nothing new to see. Any of our worst fears of tumours or the need for brain surgery are put to rest.

So, I use the shake/rattle/roll image to deal with my remaining feelings (close call) and we keep moving forward.

For another lesson full of concepts conveyed and hope for the unblocking of any current roadblocks.

I have my own issues with learning to play the hardest of all musical instruments, the violin, but I am making gradual progress as the months go by.

Somehow, as slow as that progress often feels, my lessons are full of hope that I can, one day, arrive at the breakthrough.

My teacher and I discuss that feeling of being one with the violin. She comments on how it may sound cheesy, but I reassure her that it doesn’t, not at all. Beautiful is more like it to me.

I manage to feel uplifted and I leave my lesson, for yet another week, feeling like I picked the right instrument for me.

For a release date and clues of what’s to come with the new Gilmore Girls.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (First official NetFlix trailer)

My violin teacher, myself, and friends (both near and far) on Facebook share in the news of the November premier.

For the discovery of a new podcast.

Bjork Discussing “Stonemilker” On “Song Exploder”

This one is musical and discusses song writing and lyrics.

For a much more positive week in matters of politics for my neighbours to the south.

I don’t know if I can stand three more whole months of this, but at least this second week of political conventions was more “we” and less “I” and I just wish, now that they have both chosen their nominee, they could get on with the business of voting already.

No heads in the sand of denial about what’s going on in the world, but a little optimism and hope can make all the difference.

For glass ceilings coming one step closer to being shattered even further.

Without getting all political and such, as I try to avoid, but I was glad to hear the sound of breaking glass, when it came to ceilings of gender equality. If something has to break, better that than most other things.

For a ride on the waves with the sun gleaming off the water’s surface.

I had one of those inflatable air mattresses and I found the perfect spot, directly in between two sand bars with crashing waves. In this spot, the water was going up and down, but it was a ride I could lean into and let take me where it might.

The sun was going down, as the best time to go to the lake is after four in the afternoon. Much less risk of getting a sun burn.

Fresh cut French fries and live music. It’s a long weekend here and it was Beach Fest.

BONUS: For balllooons and pufflings.

Who doesn’t love balloons, such as Bill Clinton on stage at the Democratic National Convention? And who doesn’t love puffins, especially little baby puffins?

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/puffin-patrol

Cuteness alert with the baby birds, just as long as we, as humans, remember to keep our balloons away from wild life and nature.

I needed a story of decent people, wanting to help baby birds, to counteract all the negative we constantly hear of in the news on a daily basis.

Still not feeling my best, but I suppose I owe modern medicine a whole lot this week in particular. This week’s 10 things list may not be my best, but I am at my most thankful.

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Music Makes Me Happy, #1000Speak #InternationalDayOfHappiness

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”
–Oscar Wilde

“Aw, Dobby’s sad,” my three-year-old nephew says about my dog, sounding sad too.

I am constantly in awe at how very small children sense sadness in other people and in animals. They sense it, feel it, and acknowledge it, hoping the big people in their immediate vicinity will recognize it and make it all better, like their parents do for them.

Sadness is the opposite of happiness?

I guess, but there are many shades of both.

On this,

International Day of Happiness,

I wonder if I am happy, if the world is all that happy either.

Standard of living, poverty, oppression all play a role, but I believe there are those who have very little (in material possessions) yet are happier than some who have more.

Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado

Of course material possessions don’t automatically guarantee happiness. This got me thinking on what does make people happy, all across the world, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one universal thing, other than love I’d think, and that one thing is: music.

This week I did what I never thought I could. I wrote lyrics for a song. I know my singing talents are few at best, but I know I can write, can convey a feeling through words.

Soon after I’d written and worked with my musician brother to set them to the song he’d written, he and a singer recorded it. I’ve heard a rough draft and, after the shock I felt at hearing my words laid out through song, I felt pride and happiness.

Music comes in so many forms and it evokes so many, varied, unique yet universally applicable feelings and emotions. It connects us all around the world. It brings people together. How can any of that not produce happiness?

So, as I’d seen recently on Facebook that people were listing the albums that most affected them, I thought I’d try it. Maybe someone will discover some new music that makes them happy or will be recalled to a time, of happiness, or something else, but at least we’re feeling something. I believe that is important to realizing we’re all human, fallible, deserving of love.

(These are all listed, not in the order of their original release, but in the order of which I feel happiest upon hearing them.)

🙂

First, Jann Arden even has an entire album she’s dedicated to the feeling of the day, as the album is called “Happy”, but here are ten other albums that don’t need to say it, although sometimes they do, to make me happy.

***

No Need To Argue – The Cranberries

“Unhappiness where’s when I was young, and we didn’t give a damn

‘cause we were raised, to see life as fun and take it if we can.”

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

I discovered this Irish group at a time when I was very confused and scared. This album in particular brought me peace from the storm that was raging in my world. Peace was much needed. Listening to this one, still to this day, makes me happy.

Heart of Stone – Cher

“Memories haunt you, feelings you won’t forget
Learn to live a lesson in love, walk away without regret.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Stone_(Cher_album)

Nostalgia is not a big enough word for what I feel about this Cher album. I listen and I am immediately brought back to a simpler time, to happy childhood days.

Vespertine – Bjork

“I have a recurrent dream
Every time I lose my voice
I swallow little glowing lights
My mother and son baked for me”

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

This album is a favourite of my youth. The lyrics are wonderfully weird and I feel wistful wild happiness when I listen.

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

“I’m broke but I’m happy. I’m poor but I’m kind. I’m short but I’m healthy. Yeah!”

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

I was still a little girl when this hit album was released, but it made me happy, even if I didn’t understand a lot of the things she sang about at that time. It got me through a really hard time and it helped me feel happy, sad, angry, scared. It taught me a lot about self expression.

Halcyon – Ellie Goulding

In March 1011, when asked about the album’s musical direction in an interview with gossip website Dean Piper’s World, Goulding stated, “It’s started to sound very dark and very weird. This album is going to be even more emotional (…) I wanted to make it so there is hope. I want to make an effect whether it’s happy or sad.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halcyon_(album)

Without sadness I don’t think happiness would mean nearly as much as it does. I feel both emotions, in quick secession when I’m listening to it.

Songs from the Big Chair – Tears for Fears

“And I believe that if you’re bristling while you hear this song
I could be wrong or have I hit a nerve?”

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

More nostalgia with this one. Simply a kick-ass bunch of songs. It is from my favourite decade of music, released almost exactly one year after I was born, and I consider to be a gift my father gave me. Well, my father or my big brother, but which one doesn’t really matter because they have both made me who I am. They both have done so much that has made me happy.

Surfacing – Sarah McLachlan

“Make me a witness. Take me out, out of darkness, out of doubt.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfacing_(album)

Being a teenager is hard. This album brought me happiness through its powerful lyrics. It’s imprinted on my mind and heart.

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen

Don’t you just love the title of this one? Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode. Know which one I mean?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Not_Me,_It%27s_You

Jagged Little Pill was written when I was still a little girl, but I discovered this album when I was finally grown. It sort of became my outcry on so much I saw as I was now a grown woman myself. It makes me happy to hear it and to know I can do this. I can get past so much. I can handle whatever life throws my way.

Left of the Middle – Natalie Imbruglia

“‘cause intuition tells me that I’m doin’ fine
Intuition tells me when to draw the line
Should have turned left
Should have turned right
But I ended up here
Bang in the middle of real life”

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

This one reminds me of my first taste of independence. I loved it then, it made me happy, and I will love it always.

Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

“Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop. It’ll soon be here. It’ll be here, better than before. Yesterday’s gone. Yesterday’s gone.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumours_(album)

Before my time, again, but I like it for the classic record it is. It makes me happy to listen to its snappy beats and its catchy melodies.

***

There you are. There were the ten albums that make my list, music to make me happy.

I am listening to music as I write this post. It’s increasing my level of happiness. I do it often.

Now, I realize this, of course isn’t always possible. Since Bobby McFerrin told us to simply “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in the eighties, it sounded like a good solution to all of our problems. Unfortunately, not all that practical all the time, but I hope there exists, somewhere out there, a piece of music…or an entire album for that matter, that makes you happy.

And so I hope everyone can find a little piece of their own brand of happiness, on this day set aside for that very thing, if not all the days of the year.

I have no doubt there is a deep connection between happiness and compassion. When we are happy we want to spread it around, (like the sharing of a song), which is compassion in my mind.

I am happy also that I can take part in yet another

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

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TToT: The Tempestuous Sea That Is Jan-uary – Circles and Rectangles, #SundayFunday #10Thankful

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien

I have more photos from Christmas.

youandbrianwithyourphonestoyourearssidebyside-2016-01-10-00-14.jpg

I will be featuring some of them here, over the following TToT posts, to help pass the first month of 2016 a little faster.

#SundayFunday – MAGIC!

One last shot of the holidays, I hope, before they are a distant memory.

christmastree-2016-01-10-00-14.jpg

It always makes me a bit sad when all my mom’s hard work and creativity is removed for another year.

birthdaycupcakes-2016-01-10-00-14.jpg

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a genius and the world of Middle Earth he created.

There are so many wise quotes to choose from him. I could hardly decide which one to start of this week’s TToT with.

Happy Birthday to Professor Tolkien, who gave me something amazing with his writing. It opened me up to the possibilities, showing me that I shouldn’t close myself off to something like the fantasy genre, like so many other things in life.

For the birth of another genius, so long ago.

http://www.sylvianenuccio.com/louis-braille-the-french-inventor-that-changed-blind-peoples-life-2/

The inventor of braille makes my thankful list on a continuous loop, as he is all of why I have words to love so much to begin with, but I am recognizing him now, as he would have celebrated his birthday on the beginning of the week, beginning of the year, with a second early January birthday.

I can’t fully express in words what it has meant to my life to have the groupings of six raised dots, forming words, that one man dreamt up once upon a time.

Braille literacy is one of the skills I am most proud of. I owe this man a great great debt of gratitude, forever and always.

For the news that my friend, her baby girl, and mother/grandma arrived safely in Ireland.

There was, apparently, a little bit of a snag with their rental car, on a deserted Irish road, but a couple helpful policemen showed up on the scene and saved the day, helping to repack all the baggage in a replacement vehicle.

Or so the Facebook status update said.

I read the word “police” and my heart nearly stopped, before I went on to finish reading.

For a brand new year beginning and my inclusion in and amongst so many who are looking back with gratitude and looking forward to a year just as great or better.

Proudest Single Stride of 2015 From People All Over the World

I was quoted, with my pride in the story I had published last year, in one of my favourite blogger’s 2015 posts.

For a return I made this week to my writer’s circle.

I was even missed. How about that.

🙂

For the bonding time afterward.

We all went out, as a group, and I got the hangout with them that I missed out on just before Christmas, thanks to unforeseen events. One was even kind enough to pay for me because I hadn’t come prepared, asking for nothing in return.

For my schooling on Dungeons & Dragons and other nerdy things.

The best thing about this group, other than all the writing and talking about writing we all do, is when we aren’t just discussing writing. We are all geeks for whatever it may be: literature, video games, television or movies and trivia. There were a few Simpsons quotes thrown in by myself and a few other members throughout the evening too.

😉

For my brother’s remarkable recovery in just one month and his triumphant return to his college program.

He is so close to graduating later this spring and I know it’s hard to know for sure when is the right time, not wanting to push himself. We didn’t want him to take on too much, too soon.

He still has time to make a final decision, but he did well.

For January.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.

For a newly discovered blogging challenge that came around at precisely the right time for me.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I was struggling a bit, wondering what the next twelve months might hold for my blog and my writing and my life. This extension of the weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday I participate in was welcomed strongly by me.

It’s giving me an entire first month of 2016 to just imagine what my writing could look like this year.

Lights – Ellie Goulding

“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge and that is vitally important for us if we (the blind) are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

–Louis Braille (1809-1852)

Braille’s above quote may sound critical, to some, but he was a product of his time. I wonder what he would think if he were alive today.

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In The News and On My Mind: Seeing Red, #BlueSkyFriday

Remember, back a few weeks ago, when all we had to debate were a bunch of red coffee cups?

didyoureadmylatestblogpostyetimage-2015-11-18-01-18.png

***

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

***

Okay, so there was always a lot more going on in the world than that, but still…

It’s nearly a month till Christmas, and now the world is, once more, seeing red on the events of Friday the 13th and the latest November terrorist attacks by ISIS.

It began with Starbucks and their solid red cups, but it did not end there. It never does.

I had a conversation with my parents recently. In this conversation, my mom stated emphatically that, in the end, there is no way the US would actually elect Donald Trump as their president. My father and I aren’t so sure. At this point, a lot wouldn’t surprise me. That wouldn’t surprise me. This world is a crazy crazy place.

Listening to another one of Trump’s rants, about the popular coffee chain choosing just plain red, as their Christmas cup design, I was baffled by the attention America has given this man.

I was also baffled by the things that people obsess over, but there’s always something else, coming along, to shift the discussion to another outrage or outcry. People like to be angry about something: sometimes warranted and sometimes not.

Speaking of red…

that expression (seeing red) is one I’ve been thinking a lot about. It fits with my series: “In The News and On My Mind” and yet, going from some silly coloured coffee cups to the level of outrage at those poor people injured and killed in France has me thinking about my favourite colour, as the holiday season approaches.

I went slightly numb when I heard the news in progress last Friday night. Here we go again, I said to myself. It was approaching suppertime, and then…

Gun shots. Crack. Bomb blasts. Bang. Not again.

But just a few days earlier I’d heard about the cracks and the bangs, but in countries and cities I didn’t know.

Everyone knows Paris, but this had been already going on elsewhere in previous days. These attacks happen in other places, but that’s just what happens in places like Iraq, Turkey, Beirut, but not in France. Oh no.

I listened, through the night, until I could not listen anymore. I wanted to wait for more information because I wanted to know what we were dealing with, before my outrage flew out of control, like the rest of the world.

So, my Facebook newsfeed burst with people’s status rants, condolences in solidarity with France, and news stories from every angle. I tried to read it all, to educate myself and remain as informed as possible, but after a bit of a family emergency, a distraction from the wider world’s events, I had something closer to home to focus my attention and all my worry on.

The events of the wider world were silenced, as if someone turned the volume way down, in the background, and I may not have wanted that, but I almost welcomed the change and this other place to put all my energy.

What a lot to happen to my country’s brand new prime minister, a test of his capability, only a few weeks in. On his way to summits, dealing with economic matters and soon to be in PAris for talks on the environment.

Justin Trudeau’s big promised plan to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by New Year’s was going to be challenged. Some of the Canadian premiers are urging Trudeau to pull back, to think carefully.

Governors are calling for similar caution from President Obama. If even one extremist is allowed entry and the chance to do what was done in PAris, even amongst the larger group, this would be too much, right?

I’ve listened to all this and I am not the one in charge, thank God, but I do not wish to fight fear with fear and violence with violence. That is where the world is heading, where most countries start to head in times like these.

Again, where would I want the world to go with that? If I were innocently fleeing from my home, surrounded by violence and fear, what would I want from the rest of the world?

All the stories I heard with November 11th being just last week. All of what was known and what wasn’t done during the Holocaust. If the rest of the world knows people are suffering, and we all sit back and ignore it, what does that make us? If, one day, it is any of us in the other position and in need of help, what should we expect?

I’m born from a line of those who only want to see the best in people. I am also the granddaughter of two immigrants. We are all, for the most part, immigrants from one time or another.

Us and them. Those and we.

The Islamic State. Islamic religion. Islamic terrorists. It’s all so mixed up in people’s minds, but these are not the times where people should be excused for saying awful things and remaining uneducated. It hurts my head to stay educated on the world, forever changing and moving, but I have no choice now. It’s the world my niece and nephews will inherit, which means I have to care. I have no more choice to stay sheltered and hidden, as I was and did as a child.

I am slightly removed still, an entire ocean between myself and France, but I can imagine what it must be like, having something so threatening right in my back yard. I want the appropriate action taken against anyone who has an express purpose of destroying human life, no matter the reason. I know what he had to do, as president of the country attacked. I know all of Europe is under a whole lot of stress and strain, as more and more Syrian refugees keep coming. Canada just wants to help, but are we next?

We can’t keep all the danger removed from us over here, as much as we might want to. I want to live in a bubble sometimes, to avoid getting hurt, but what kind of a life would that be? People are afraid. I get that.

Out for a night, in Paris, and nobody thought there would be so much blood. Out at a soccer game, to listen to a concert, or simply out for dinner and now there’s more anger and fear than ever.

Oh, of course there’s plenty of kindness, compassion, and love. Facebook shows both the good and the bad in people, just like in other ways. I have read plenty of both. I’ve read some of the ugliest statements from people and some of the most compassionate.

I may be the naive one, the one seeing the best in people, even as it fades in and out. I just can’t bring myself to think ignorant thoughts and make judgments about people I don’t know.

In the week since Paris was targeted:

A Peterborough mosque was torched

and

a Muslim woman was attacked in Toronto while picking her children up from school.

Indifference leads to fear, which often leads to outright hatred.

We expect certain rights and freedoms over in North America and in Europe. We expect the Middle East to be violent and evil.

Fighting between Israeli and Palestinian sides.

More us and them.

Christians and Muslims.

Us and them.

ISIS is getting more creative apparently,

communicating through PlayStation gaming systems.

What?

So many stories and new information coming in and how can anyone possibly keep up or know what’s true and what’s reality?

Facebook can be a curse at times like these. The debate over the changing of profile pictures was everywhere the other day. This is exactly why my mother’s advice to stay out of commenting and debating on Facebook is so smart. So what if someone wants to show their support or their emotion this way. And if they choose not to, that’s fine too.

On and after Friday night I wrote and posted how I felt, on my blog pages and my personal page, but I did not change any profile pic of mine.

All the gun safety talk of late was pushed back with this newest terrorist attack. That’s how it goes in the media.

Before this, I was working on my thoughts for these “In The News and On My Mind” posts. Here’s what else I was planning to talk about:

On the morning before the attacks on Paris I woke up to alarming news. I don’t wish to use his name here, but he is one of Canada’s most notorious murderers and he supposedly wrote a novel.

Read more about it here.

As a writer I was disgusted, but I suppose even Hitler wrote a book once.

Freedom of speech and all that, but I could not read such a book. I believe someone should, to find out what we’re dealing with, but I’m just glad it is not me.

Who, on earth, would help him do this in the first place?

These next two items have to do with the ethics of aquariums, zoos, and marine parks and the role my country plays in the global risk for the environment.

Embattled Sea World to overhaul killer whale show

As this article states, I am not sure Sea World has seen the light. They want to redeem themselves, after Blackfish, but upon seeing it myself and on further reflection, I want better for those majestic marine mammals I love so much.

And then there was Obama’s rejection of Canada’s Keystone Pipeline project.

I don’t want to sound like an environmental nut, because God knows I am not. I know oil has its uses and how much we all depend on it. I also know that the whole topic of oil makes me feel yucky. I don’t like the thought of it being pumped underground. I don’t like the alternative, which resulted in

something like this,

but how often does just such a tragedy happen? I don’t know the political elements that were involved in Obama’s decision or the plans Canada has going forward, but I think of poor marine animals, when the inevitable oil spill happens again, and I want a better option. I know all the fighting and the greed that goes on over oil and Canada has lots of it. I can’t say I was totally unhappy with President Obama’s choice, as uneducated on all the rest as that might make me.

And so it’s my own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who made a promise during his campaign: 25,000 refugees would be brought to Canada by the end of the year. Is this a good idea? More naive liberalism?

Liberals and conservatives.

Us and them.

Perhaps Canada needs to rethink things a bit? Not go back on Trudeau’s promise, but maybe, in the shadow of Friday the 13th attacks, slow the whole process down some.

We’re seeing, learning more and more about the process and how it will all come about. Skeptics ask if everyone so welcoming of refugees is willing to take some into our own homes:

First of all, I want to understand and to hear the individual stories.

From one refugee to another: What you need to know about Canada

It warms my heart that there are, in and amongst the uninformed and fearful comments, stories like these:

Canadian Couple Cancels Big Wedding to Sponsor a Family of Syrian Refugees Instead

We all know about boats full of migrants: women, children, and men too. Women and children are one thing, but the young men are all clearly terrorists, right?

I shake my head at this. I don’t let fear rule my notions of every single man coming off of those boats or fleeing Syria and into a refugee camp. What about the violence and the persecution these men are running from in their countries? Men can be in danger too. It’s the isolation and the desolation that leads to anger and vulnerability. This is what ISIS prays on. We can’t give in. We can’t let them win by making us afraid, using that fear against us, so we end up frozen by our suspicions.

I do not have any answers in this case. I still don’t know how to write about most of this, as it all feels much too big and broad. There are good and bad people everywhere and I refuse to give in to the fear, but more and more it seems that’s what leaders, politicians, and the media suggests.

Satisfied – Jewel

So if you are one of the many, “seeing red” at the crazy world we live in, I can understand and, believe me, I have my moments. However, I beg you to try to keep to your compassionate side, to look towards those who have let anger go, in favour of productive strategies and kindness.

As much as I love red, I leave that for the celebrations that are coming around the holidays, for most of us. The colour red is better suited for holly berries and ribbon. I would remind us all to remember that we are all human, all of us.

For more views on this, here are some posts written by fellow bloggers:

http://sisterwivesspeak.com/2015/11/19/is-your-love-big-enough-the-syrian-refugee-crisis/

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

–Martin Luther King Jr.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, RIP

In The News and On My Mind: Sticks and Stones

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”
–JEG

Here we are again, going in circles.

Again, President Obama, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver are compelled to speak about gun violence.

And, I guess, so am i…

President Obama Speaks At Press Conference For Oregon Mass Shooting

There are more causes with days or weeks or month recognition in October than I could shake a stick at.

😉

This week I focus on mental illness, because it is the week to recognize that people are suffering and, once more, we are forced to talk about it because havoc has been caused in its name.

In my Facebook newsfeed, I can’t keep track of the causes and their turns to be highlighted, but most of it hits me hard, has touched my own life in some way.

I’ve been rereading some Harry Potter lately and I began to think about weapons in that magical world. They have their wands, which are like our guns, and then there’s Hagrid’s trusty bow and arrow.

Okay, so just this week, in Toronto, a man was found dead after being shot with an arrow. It happens, in all sorts of ways. We kill each other and we can’t seem to stop.

I think about the way it was, hundreds of years ago, when there were arrows and swords.

Now we have guns.

People are going to die, be it from an arrow, a bullet, a blade, or a drug.

Those who feel alone or have no support will lose the battle sometimes. It’s up to those who have had the support, to give that support right back to others.

Stephen Colbert said, “Insanity is changing nothing and pretending something will change”.

I hope we never lose the humour, his type of humour and honesty, in the face of these hard and harsh realities.

The LAte Show, Stephen Colbert – Some Thoughts On Pretending

Rowling’s wizards could and did horrible damage and caused horrific cruelty with their wands, but this was mostly due to evil groups such as Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

Law abiding wizards used their wands, more than we use guns, specifically speaking in Canada, but still I say you could compare it to the world a lot of people want to live in, most often in the US. They want a gun accessible, for a feeling of security and a way to protect themselves and their loved ones, in the case of a dangerous intruder threatening them.

Whether it’s a bow and arrow or a shot gun, hunting was and is a way of life for people, for need or for sport, in Canada and elsewhere.

I don’t know a lot about guns and I don’t know the laws and the loopholes. I do know that the battle is between us and them, one side against another and I don’t like it. It’s about one side saying “they” want to take “our” guns away from us.

Then the other side says they want less mass shootings.

I can’t help but think of a time when settlers came to this continent, us against them, and guns were introduced.

Us and them. Us and them. Us and them. It never ends.

It never ends and I’m sick of it.

I know which side I am on, but then I realize just how futile being on any side is. Where has it gotten us? Why can’t any sort of compromise be reached? Why are humans so stubborn, immovable, and unwilling to bend at all?

And then the two sides fight over mental illness.

Mental illness or guns?

Where does that put the people with those illnesses, the vulnerable? How do they feel?

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and my next post will be one I’ve wanted to write for over a year, but I couldn’t resist including John’s clip here because it is part of this conversation.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Worst Time To Talk About Mental Health

His idea is a radical one, a drastic one, and one the one side would totally discount, but again his honesty in the humour he dishes out is worth listening to.

I’ve enjoyed John Oliver since I first saw him with a role in the show Community, but take a look at John’s segment because I want to do more for mental health, as my next post will continue to demonstrate.

I think we need to not focus on one over the other. We need to focus on both. Why oh why are we always so quick to pick one side, divide, separate? Why do we go to extremes?

Don’t we use the term “extremist” for violent and evil terrorists?

Someone who would storm into a classroom, movie theatre, shopping mall with a gun or guns able to take down many people is committing an act of terrorism, aren’t they? They are terrorizing people.

Are they mentally unstable, ill, sick, disturbed? Call it anything you like. It’s an extreme and it is terrorizing.

Oh, but those people are going to the extreme of an extreme, right? We all like our extremes, our sides, but we aren’t like them, oh no.

Most people with mental illness aren’t ever going to shoot up a place. Some could commit an act of violence, but mostly it ends up being on themselves, as with conditions like self harm, cutting, or suicidal ideation.

When a mother drowns her three children and then herself, that makes the news. When the mother kills her children and not herself, we see her face as she stands before the judge and jury to accept the verdict.

We condemn her for hurting the innocent, but how do we prevent that from ever taking shape to begin with?

As with the latest mass shooting, we hear about it for a long time and the ripples can be felt spreading out, in every direction. People do use these occasions to back up whatever facts or points they want to get across, for their own reasons. It becomes political instead of social or humanitarian. Then we do move on, or most of us do.

We don’t hear about the every day struggles of mental illness in someone’s life. We don’t want to, we choose not to, would prefer to avoid hearing about that part of the story, the ugly, that part that comes before the possible tragedy. I read a lot of these stories on the blogs I come across. The ones I read about are the stories that will hopefully have a happy ending.

Like this one, for instance.

When suicide can be and is avoided, it’s a wonderful thing, but it is an ongoing struggle for most people. We need to be aware of it, be honest about it, find humour in the good parts of life to help combat it.

I don’t know why we listen to the news or a press conference really. Can what’s being said really mean anything lasting or practical? I must, like everyone else, try not to let the negative futility take over my thoughts.

Like John says, we owe people more than just words. We owe them a plan.

For me, here, words are the plan, but I don’t know the answer for a plan to prevent tragedy like we see again and again and again.

I am not afraid. I don’t live in a dangerous part of town. I have support and love in my life. I don’t live in poverty.

I do not fear for my life. I do not carry a gun. I think you would probably agree that not being able to see and guns don’t mix and I would agree too.

🙂

I wish they weren’t in the hands of anyone who couldn’t be sure of being proper and safe, but are any of us truly guaranteed safety with a gun in the picture?

Some would say yes. They would feel powerful and in control. Us against them. Me against them.

😦

Then another shooting makes my television’s news program and the insanity continues.

An eleven-year-old boy shoots an eight-year-old girl.

And I curse guns all the more. They didn’t keep that little girl safe. They didn’t keep her alive. They won’t permit her to grow up and have a future.

I can’t find a smidge of humour in that, honestly.

Dear Congress – Sincerely, A Mass Shooting Survivor

Not only has this particular, firsthand account received a huge amount of attention, but even my comment I left, from my perspective as a Canadian has received several likes, more than I would normally get.

We need different perspectives and we need to pay a little more attention and learn a little something from all of them.

I see a climate of fear and one that perpetuates violence. I see that being so deeply ingrained in US culture specifically.

I may be blind, but I am not blind to what things might be like here in Canada. I know it’s not my experience, but my somewhat sheltered life has put me at a greater position of hopefully having a better understanding, somehow and somewhere among all the chaos.

Nothing will change, as fatalistic as that might sound, as long as this deeply ingrained fear persists, if the “them against us” view of the world continues, no matter what country is in the headlines.

As the well-known rhyme says, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Sticks. Stones. Words. Lies.

Then there was the story that just broke about a comedian/actor who told an awful lie. He’s been busted and a lot of Americans would like to see him hung out to dry for it.

Words. A few little words and a story of exaggeration, told in a small group of people, and nothing more might have come of that, if it weren’t concerning the sensitive subject of September 11th.

Steve Rannazzisi Comes Clean About 9/11 Lie

He speaks about this to Howard Stern and Howard listens, gives the guy the chance to explain and to begin to apologize, but does not take calls. Probably a good idea. There’s always Twitter and the rest of the Internet for that.

I wasn’t involved in 9/11 and so I’m not quite so raw over the matter I guess.

That September 11th, it seemed bigger than I could possibly comprehend on that day, but these things happen in the world.

I am a fan of The League, ever since I was introduced to it by someone a few years ago. Who would have thought that a show about fantasy football would be my kind of show, but when I actually sat down and gave it a chance, I liked the humour and the guys and the characters they played.

Steve didn’t directly hurt me. I can give the guy a break. Others can’t. Outrage and anger for some. Forgiveness for others. Compassion from me because I am able.

Listening to the interview was interesting. With my interest in psychology, it is fascinating to hear someone explain, justify, rationalize something so irrational as pretending they were involved in something so horrible. What kind of a person would or could do that? A lonely one. An insecure one. A misguided, attention seeking, weak guy in a weak moment.

I just recently saw a program about a woman who insinuated herself into online grief chat rooms with 9/11 survivors and the families of those who lost their lives.

She did it for money or for a hole inside. How is Steve all that different?

People’s intentions matter. Their actions, for some, matter more.

Compassion is the way we should be leaning. Anger is the tempting route to take. Violence and weapons go hand in hand. Hatred and anger feed off of each other.

Guns kill. The line, guns don’t kill people, people kill people has been bandied about so much. It’s becoming a cliche. People kill other people with guns. I am not for banning things altogether because I know, like with drugs, that doesn’t solve the problem. I am for compromises, understanding, and care..

Terrorism kills.

I firmly believe we can not bend under the pressure, snap, and let the hate win. Words can be used for good, for positivity, for kindness. I use my words for that.

Next week, for In The News and On My Mind I will talk more about immigration, refugees, and the federal election here in Canada.

Do I vote? Will I vote? Will it make any difference whatsoever if I do or don’t?

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