1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: A Pile of Sleeping Sharks – Idiots and Animals, #10Thankful

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.”

—From “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Recently, I’ve only wanted to stay home with my cat. Maybe I really am becoming a cat lady.

I’m so sick of the idiots (and worse) in this world. There is so much immaturity and lack of care or concern for other people. Animals are where it’s at.

All I wanted was an enjoyable visit with family, but I was the one who didn’t choose to leave my phone at home that day, the day of rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that my brother’s band got back together, to practice for a gig, by playing in my basement once more.

It was all the songs I love, those I became so familiar with after months of hearing them in my basement.

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Secrets Revealed

This is a photo of their set list from the show the other night. My brother wrote it out in braille. They thought their fans might like to see. My brother didn’t really need it. He had the list memorized already.

I’m thankful to join in with a friend in a worthy cause.

He wants to start a branch of the National Federation of the Blind/Canadian Federation of the Blind in Ontario. The one currently going is out west only.

The biggest organization for the blind in Canada is still the CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) and yet it isn’t enough. It isn’t fulfilling all the needs, according to us, the ones who are in need of the service.

This sounds like a lot of work, but my friend sounds up for the job and I want to do what I can.

I feel so helpless with so much going on. I need to be able to do something good.

I’m thankful for peaches and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday.

I may have had both a small sundae and then a small cone.

Fresh peaches are the best part of August. When you mix that with my favourite vanilla soft serve, I am in paradise.

For the birthday, we did things backwards: ice cream first and then dinner. Dinner was pizza anyway.

My nephew is still grasping the concept of what a birthday is. He isn’t overly interested in why people sing and light candles, depending on the day. You say Happy Birthday to him and he says it back to you, like it’s a greeting. He makes me smile with his total innocence. I need more of that to fight the overwhelming stress and gloom that often threatens to bring me down.

I’m thankful for a mild night out on a patio, listening to some relaxing music, until the rain came.

A friend of ours was playing at a local restaurant. We got through ordering drinks and appetizers before the rain started up.

Until that point, I was enjoying the guitars, both with his singing and as instrumentals.

I’m thankful for all the amazing art my niece made at art camp.

She is artistic, like her father. She is the little girl who loves to create things. She reminds me of myself at that age.

She is a natural at making things.

They made letters for their first names out of crystals and jewels. She showed me an ocean in a jar, made with water and oil and food colouring. She made a polar bear mask. She tie dyed a pillow and made another pillow, so soft and with many knots around the edges instead of sewing.

At this camp there was something called the splatter paint room. Nothing but bright colours, paint splattered all over the floor and walls. You can go wild, make as much of a splatter mess of colour as you want, and it’s all okay.

I thought, since I am so bad at interior decorating for my own house, even though I can no longer see colours: why not make myself a splatter paint house?

Her love and pride for the things she made, as she was showing us, made me miss colour, art, and made me so happy for her and so proud to be her aunt.

I am thankful for the bottle of water my newly four-year-old nephew gave me when I said I was looking for something to drink.

He just opened the fridge and got it for me.

He is the master of his fridge and his home at this age and it is so sweet to witness.

I am thankful for what a thoughtful little sweetheart he is.

He told us, the moment we arrived, that he wanted to get his mother some flowers. He had previously told his dad that he was “thinking” about getting her some flowers.

He’s been thinking about this. It constantly amazes me, the kind of kids they are, and the sorts of things they think about, before deciding to share with the grownups in their lives.

I am thankful for the Max Mix.

My brother is a music fan and he has a lot of it himself. When he noticed my nephew had a love of music, he made him a mix of all the songs my nephew seemed to love.

He remembers lyrics and loves to sing in the car. He is so cool, cooler than me anyway.

I am thankful for a beautiful day to sit outside for a five-year-old’s birthday party.

People gathered, kids running and playing, while I sat and had a cool drink.

They have a big yard, the yard we had as children, and so much room to run and play games.

It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t humid. The air was perfectly summery and pleasant.

I’m thankful for his amazing little mind and imagination.

My nephews are both so smart. He knew people were coming and he worked on a show to perform for us, all week long. He prepared a screen with a border, like a TV, but when we were all outside, he set it up like a play or puppet show, using chairs as the stage.

It was a form of fan fiction with his favourites: Littlefoot (from Land Before Time), a T Rex, and Curious George.

It turned out to be this whole epic adventure story and it all came from him.

Desired Consolation – Bjork

Basically, it was the kids that kept me sane this week. Then I think of Bjork’s question in the song: How am I going to make things right?

I wonder if I can. What that will look like, I do not know, but I have to try something.

The woman who was mowed down was nearly my age. What made her come out, to such a place, on that day?

“If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.”

—Heather Heyer

RIP Heather

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Kerry's Causes

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

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!

The above is a status I came across on a Friend’s Facebook page a few weeks back and I thought it summed up the horrors and the confusion to be seen on the news every night, with a bit of her witty and intelligent sense of humour thrown in for good measure.

The following five things have been on my mind lately: Isis, measles, assisted suicide, Deflate-Gate, and Fifty Shades.

Note: I am writing longer versions of my thoughts on these topics, one a week, for the next five weeks. I just wanted to write a more trimmed down post, to coincide with:

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

The #1000Speak movement is coming to its dramatic finale in two short days.

On February 20th I and over 1000 bloggers will write about what compassion means to each of us. We will do this together, as one, and we will stand up and speak about acts of kindness and empathy, to rival any of the horrors to be found out there.

The news, like is illustrated at the be inning of this post, can be dreary and can bring you down within the first two minutes.

Watching this over and over again, night after night, will make it seem like there is no goodness left in the world. This is so very far from the truth of it.

I just wanted to highlight five things that have been going on lately, in the news, and on my mind. I want to share the compassionate view I choose to have for all five and I hope, by bringing my own personal brand of attention to these, that I can help share and spread the thinking of kindness just a little bit.

***

1.
Isis

It’s so hard to hear about such horrific and senseless acts as hostage takings and beheadings. It seems like this threat is growing and we are powerless to stop it.

It’s a part of the world that I know nothing of: Egypt and Libya, Syria, or Iraq. This, however, is not where it ends.

That part of the world wants nothing more than to live in peace, like anywhere.

The problem exists here too, although it may be harder to see.

I do wish there existed much more empathy and understanding for our fellow human beings.

Extremist terrorist groups are out there, like some invisible bully on steroids. This isn’t something I can wish away with my positive thoughts.

I just hope to partake in small acts and acts that spread, such as a newly started compassion blogging project, to show us that the world isn’t all bad, one hundred percent of the time. With one thousand speaking out for compassion, we can say our piece and hope to inspire peace in return.

2.
Measles

Fear and ignorance spread like wildfire when it comes to our children, most of all.

Rumours and myths aren’t so easily distinguished for some like for others. The measles vaccination is no exception.

I know how powerful conspiracy theories can become. Is that what fear of vaccinations is, like the moon landing and UFO’s before it?

I fall prey to thee sorts of thoughts sometimes, when I’m feeling suspicious and doubtful about the world. I wake up some days, and I choose pessimism over giving the world the benefit of my doubts.

I sometimes wake up feeling angry at a world that would allow such rumours to spread so rapidly. I have benefited, so very much, from medical science. I think about fifty years ago even, and the fact that I probably wouldn’t be alive now, to write these words.

It’s hard to imagine a time when illnesses such as measles killed with impunity. I think we take for granted the advances we now benefit from.

So I guess you could say I am pro vaccines, but the idea of forcing parents to give something to their children or themselves that they don’t freely choose, well that does not sit right with me either.

What will win out?

I have children in my life that go to school and I know how easy it can be for illness to spread through a classroom full of kids.

I hate that any kid might miss out on an education and a social life with friends because of a decision their parents or the government made.

No clear-cut and right answers here, I realize.

All I can do is have compassion for each side of the debate, hoping that we don’t regress to a pre-vaccine, tragic, society.

3.
Assisted Suicide

I know this is one of the touchiest subjects there is in our world today. I know the idea of stepping in and taking one’s own life or someone else’s is beyond controversial.

I know things like religion, ethics, and consent are all twisted up and even breaching the topic is taboo.

I know that what constitutes a life worth living is up for furious debate. Nobody wants to use this as an excuse to rid the world of all those poor people who we shy away from because of disabilities beyond our imagination and handicaps we hate to think about.

I can’t help but putting myself in the place of anyone who lives with pain constantly, no end in sight. I keep going back to those poor souls and, although I too hate to think of what this means, I know this issue is not going to go away, no matter how much we look away.

I think we all have compassion in our hearts for these people, but then the fear of “playing God” stands in our way of anything more.

Think of those in real need of empathy and consideration. If there were any time to put ourselves in their shoes, this would be it.

4.
Deflate-Gate

I almost wrote a blog post about this after the news broke that the New England Patriots, on their way to the Super Bowl, were under suspicion of having tampered with their team’s footballs.

Now I fully admit to having no prior knowledge of the rules and regulations of how the footballs are handled. I considered writing about my outrage, that this team was suspected of cheating and yet, off to the biggest football championship they were going, but I ultimately decided that I really had no business writing about it.

Maybe my own personal issues were getting in the way.

This lead to more of a broad concern with the Super Bowl as a whole. I looked at all the hype with Katy Perry set to perform and I felt unsettled.

With all the talk of feminism these days, and all my interest in it, I felt uncomfortable.

It seemed like the NFL was trying too hard to bring themselves out of the recent scandals in their franchise. Katy Perry, for me, did not wipe away all the bad judgement and the celebration of star players and athleticism our world idolizes.

I don’t want to feel this way about anything that brings such joy to others. I’ve seen it. I try to understand the passion with which they express their love of football. I just wish we could value such things as criminal behaviour and spousal abuse not at all, instead valuing things like playing fair and no cheating. These values and rules of the NFL and organizations like it are hard for me to wrap my head around, but it seems to be a powerful force that I have to accept. I just hope it remains all fun and games, yet I know there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Finally…

5.
Fifty Shades

I read the books. As both a reader and a writer I was curious.

Since then the love for these books (originally Twilight fan fiction) grew for so many, but I was unimpressed by the silly catch phrases and the silly banter between main characters Ana and Christian;.

A fantasy come to life, from one middle-aged woman’s brain to millions of women, looking for a thrill.

I do not ignore or underestimate the cultural value of a book like this, come to life on screen.

I know it is nothing more than a romantic experience for so many ladies. I know how I take it, as nothing but a story. It’s fiction and I put it in its proper place.

I don’t know if impressionable youth are able to do the same thing. However, I am not prepared to hide and shy away from the things people like James are thinking.

Feminism is an important issue for me and I can’t begin to imagine what a movie like this says about our society, both men and women.

If any person has been hurt by a serious issue like controlling and abusive behaviour, and this movie reminds then of those traumatic experiences, I think we should be sensitive to that.

If Fifty Shades is enough to open wounds for those who have experienced real abuse in their lives, then I want to recognize that, instead of simply brushing it away.

Something like this doesn’t make the money it does and draw in the number of movie-goers it does if it hasn’t made an impact. That is impossible to ignore.

I want to remain willing to have an open dialogue about issues of gender equality, sexual rights, all with the proper amount of love and respect.

Women should be able to make up their own minds, as to what they want to watch or read, without completely dismissing the very real feelings of shame and regret that exist for so many, both women and men alike.

***

All these stories are, for the most part, not going away. These things rarely vanish, but rather are changed and altered with time.

Today I wanted to speak my mind and hope to show that compassion, even in the face of disagreements and differing opinions, is indeed possible. It is the common thread we all must not lose sight of.

Two days left and I will continue to share my view of what compassion means to me. It isn’t over just yet.

🙂

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