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TToT: Holy Humour, Creativity, and Family Guy Batman! – Cross Fading, #10Thankful #Panorama

Walking this morning through the old cemetery in Montreal, where the sun shone down, and flowers grew, and insects busied themselves about the grass and shrubbery, the gravestones stood collected and collectively silent. I observed the names carved thereupon, of generations come and gone, resting beside each other now. And I took note. All those names fading on the stones. Names from all number of nations. Names, all shuffled together on the hillside and beneath the trees. Scottish next to Italian, English and Irish next to French and Spanish, Greek side by side with Polish and German. Names of immigrants, each and every one, come here from the European continent to make and live out their short lives. Names all silent now, long gone, indifferent, forevermore in company, lying in the same ground.

Alexi Murdoch on Instagram

What is an electric blue cloud? What is red? What does an orange sky represent?

Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch

What a crazy world we live in. I usually write about that in a segment I like to call, “In The News and On My Mind.” However, I just can’t today. I know very little about all the bigger than big factors playing all parts concerned.

What’s happening, when British MP Jo Cox is murdered last week? Venezuela is apparently in crisis. And Brexit is all over the news?

Is it really every man/country for itself now? Do we help each other out, or do we tear each other down, only look out for our own best interest? How can the world survive if we all think like that?

On the other hand, as the US has told itself many times, especially in the last fifteen or so years, one country can’t fix/rescue/control all other countries.

I just don’t know. Canada, where I live, honestly feels more and more like an island in a drowning world. We may be one of the more peaceful, quiet players, but that can’t possibly last forever either.

Canada Day is coming up next week. Perhaps I can figure more out about it all by then, to write more of my thoughts on it, but for now, here is my list of thankfuls.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the chance to shout, through my words, to the world about the kind of man my own father is, on Father’s Day and every day.

Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth-Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That? – Good Man Project

Clever title, right?

😉

For my sister and mother and their help.

Update on my email and technology issues is that my sister and mother helped me delete many thousands of emails. I am an email hoarder. I appreciate their patience.

For fresh strawberries/a strawberry moon on the first day of summer.

I am obsessed with moons of all sorts, be they blue or red or super.

Summer solstice and it made me think of the story I wrote about strawberry moons, a few years back. May share that in spoken word format on the new podcast.

For the discovery of electric blue clouds, which I used as an image for my #1000Speak theme for June.

Electric Blue Planet – 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

For the chance to be a part of an important Kickstarter campaign, on a literary travel magazine start-up that is going to bring attention to all the perspectives of travel writing which exist and, up till now, may not have been heard.

If you love to read about travel, exploration, adventure, and place, check out the amazing work they are doing.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel – Kickstarter Campaign

They are working to raise a certain amount, before launching their first issue this coming September. They have a goal they hope to meet, so they can pay their writers and contributors a little something, which many places don’t do.

The debate over paying writers is ongoing and I know, like world issues, is two-sided. I just like what Panorama is trying to do.

Maybe journals like it can help stem further divisiveness between cultures, countries, human beings, in the wake of all that’s happened and is happening. Can’t hurt to try anyway. Could end up making all the difference in the world.

That Brian and I finally got our first podcast episode recorded.

Phew!

More work than I ever imagined it would be. Lovely feeling of accomplishment when we did finish though.

In the process, he taught me about “cross fades” and so much more.

It’s not only the recording, but it’s the editing too. We hope to make it sound somewhat professional, while holding onto our authentic style. Entertaining and educational at the same time.

We will be releasing it this coming week.

It’s like jumping off a cliff, metaphorically of course, but exhilarating.

For the challenge of writing new lyrics to a song my brother first wrote several years ago and of which has quickly grown very important to me.

This song is not your typical radio hit. It’s made up of several parts which are almost like their own little, individual songs, inside one longer musical framework. It’s a musical/lyrical journey.

🙂

The theme is getting lost for a decade of your life. What does that feel like? Well, I equate it with getting swept up and sent adrift on an ocean of endless uncertainty.

We just had to work to make my lyrics fit the parts of the song. It needed a melody and further arrangement. It had to be structured. I hope it comes together, just like “Don’t Look Back” came together in the end.

For the gift of colours in my life, even for a little while.

What Is Red?

Red is my favourite colour, but how to describe why and what it is to someone who has never seen it? Hmmm.

😦

My brother asked me, during the podcast, and I thought and thought and thought.

I am grateful that I ever saw orange, blue, red. I lose sight of that sometimes, as I’ve now lost colours from my life, but my brother reminds me to be grateful again.

Oh, and thanks going out to Kristi from

Finding Ninee

for having me along as a guest co-host again.

For hot June days. Hot but not humid.

Big contrast from the weather we had at the beginning of the week to the end of it.

Sure, getting into a car after being in somewhere was like entering a sauna, which I am not fond of, but at least it was a dry heat, not a humid, sticky heat.

For the chance to see Finding Dory in a comfortable chair at the movies (which is a bit of an oxymoron) and for getting to see it with family.

It’s a film about the ocean, which I love. It was my first movie theatre experience with my three-year-old nephew. It was comfortable seats and popcorn and other snacks for breakfast, as it was a children’s morning movie showing.

I also must praise the theatre, not just for their foot rests and lounge recliners, but for their excellent audio description services. I’ve had lots of problems other places, for other movies, but this time it all went smoothly.

Finding Dory was moving for me, in a few places, and I am writing a piece on why that was. Not sure where to try submitting it, but I think it’s worth highlighting.

So, I made something this week. I took a chance and went for it. The world had its moments of turmoil, but I choose to remain cautiously optimistic, for now at least.

Mercury Falling – Sting

I explain to my almost totally blind younger brother about colour and he shows me all the music I didn’t know I’d been missing.

I like the tone of “Mercury Falling” and I like the imagery of it, as sometimes it’s not so easy to feel our world is headed in the right direction, but even winter and lower temperatures aren’t all bad.

“I was free with every road as my home. No limitations and no commitments. But then summer passed and winter came and I fell short for safety. I fell for its spell, slowly humming me to sleep, because I was tired and small, too weak to take or handle those opinions and views, attacking me from every angle. Against my art, against my self, against my very way of living. I collected my thoughts, my few possessions and built isolated walls around my values and character. I protected my own definition of beauty and success like a treasure at the bottom of the sea, for no one saw what I saw, or felt the same as I did, and so I wanted to keep to myself.

― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories on Leaving & Arriving

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TToT: Busy Filibustering and Multiple Blooms, #10Thankful #Bloomsday #CityAndColour

“All your friends seem like enemies, when you’re broken down and empty. “So say goodbye to love, and hold your head up high. There’s no need to rush. We’re all just waiting, waiting to die.”

Waiting – City and Colour

Okay, so why are those lyrics so darn relatable?

Kind of depressing lyrics/quote to start things off with, no? Well, keep reading for further context.

Technology update from this week is just more of the same with my mail program. My new computer seems to be unable to function properly because there are so many. VoiceOVer’s favourite thing to say, when it just can’t work well enough to let me even send an email: “Busy…busy…busy…” I’m beginning to hate that word.

😦

Do you ever feel like you’re so far behind and you’ll never catch up, in emails or just life in general?

Well, I feel that way, but I know it’s small in the grand scheme of things, as this week has been full of more heartbreaking headlines and tragedies and some political filibustering too. (Just love that word.)

Once more, I make the effort to find things for which I am intensely thankful.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a successful video chat connection with my writing mentor.

She helps me narrow in on what I’m doing with my writing. I’m glad the technology allowed us to speak again.

She writes about “multiple blooms” – getting more than one chance in life, to become something or create something worthwhile, to bloom like flowers bloom.

This week, on June 16th, it was Bloomsday, like on every June 16th, going back one hundred years.

Irish writer JAmes Joyce’s Bloomsday explained.

I’ve spent so much energy and time coming down hard on myself because I haven’t read all the things there are out there to read. I haven’t written all I want to write yet. Talking to a mentor helps me realize that’s okay. I work on trying not to look at it like I am far behind in these things. It’s not a race.

So, Bloomsday is a day to celebrate James Joyce and his novel “Ulysses” which I haven’t managed to read, though I started it a few years ago.

For a winner so far for best writing group night.

We are a lovely little core group who mostly show up each week. We help each other, cheer each other on, remember one another’s writing and ask how it’s going.

This time involved popsicles.

🙂

The challenge was to write as much as we could, while holding our popsicles, to see how far we could get before they melted.

This is where I feel irritated because I can’t fit in, necessarily do the same as everyone else, and so I adapt. I write on my Braille Display with one hand, while holding and eating my popsicle with the other. It’s not easy to type braille letters and words with only one free hand. I don’t like to get all sticky from a melting popsicle. I managed two sentences, which ended up turning into a pretty cool bit of writing by the end of it all.

This particular time just seemed to produce some awesome ideas and stories from all of us. A few of us may have been sleep deprived, but that lead to some cool storylines.

For a return from trouble with technology.

And so I’d started a story last time, thanks to unforeseen real life events with the group, mostly unexpected religious discussions, and I came out of that awkward situation with the seeds of the perfect story to submit to a Canadian short story contest.

Well, I finished it last week and brought it to read for the group. They loved it. I could tell they were moved. They commented on my incredible level of insight, which they really did say.

But then I pressed a wrong button, overrode that story with my new one, and so I had the opportunity to rewrite it, this time keeping the basic structure and plot points, but narrowing it down to the word limit of 750, as the contest requires. I plan to submit and I like what I’ve got.

Sometimes things work out.

That I get to witness another year of marriage for my wonderful parents.

They arrived at 37 and it is a beautiful thing to see. It’s teamwork at its best. It’s my foundation. (No pressure there guys.)

For time to sit and observe by the lake that bears my province’s name.

I am trying to become more aware of my surroundings. I can’t go to the ocean so easily, but I am lucky to live near the Great Lakes. This time it was Lake Ontario.

I sat and watched the boats and the listened to the birds and felt the breeze off the water.

For opening acts that don’t entirely suck.

Shakey Graves

Many concerts I go to I am unimpressed by the musical act that opens the show. This time, the guy was weird with some of the things he said in between songs, but I was undeniably swept up in how catchy his lyrics were. The sound was great and I was able to sit comfortably and enjoy his Austin, Texas accent. He was a bit of a musical Matthew McConaughey and, surprisingly, I liked it.

For a perfect night for a concert and a lovely outdoor venue to be able to make the most of it.

I love live music, but all the noise and commotion is often enough to cause me head pain that leaves me questioning why I put myself through that.

The answer is because I get headaches, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying music that I love.

Well, this is an outdoor venue, by the water. It’s open and I sit on the grassy hill and I let the evening air and the music wash over me.

For lovely time spent with my father.

It was Father’s Day Eve and I knew he’d like the band. I know many would do anything to be able to enjoy something like that with their own fathers. I was happy to be there, with as he said, was probably the oldest person at the show. Well, I felt old listening to all the twenty-something’s all around me. So we focused on the incredible show before us.

For the song lyrics I wrote getting their first live performance.

My brother and his musician friends played a selection of covers and the song he and I wrote, which has a phenomenal singer. The drummer is the best around.

A family reunion and the woman at the helm of it all wanted my lyrics to be played, as entertainment for her family day. I wished I could have been there to hear it, but my brother said the whole thing was a big hit.

For a band like the one I just saw live.

Music and family are, once more, at the heart of my gratitude list.

A band like City and Colour has a very mellow sound. That’s why I love them, the lead singer’s voice. Many of their songs allow me to express the sadness I feel, the crappier parts of life, but somehow, listening to these songs helps.

Comin’ Home – City and Colour

“I know that we’re takin’ chances, you told me life was a risk. But I just have one last question…will it be my heart or will it be his?”

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Sunday: Another Sunday – Looking Back, #SongLyricSunday

For my first official

Song Lyric Sunday

I will go generic and perhaps follow the theme for next time.

Today is a flashback-to-20-years-ago sort of a day.

Well, it was 20 years ago today that I got my father’s kidney. For the last 19 years it’s been more of a Father’s Day for the two of us, at least in my mind, than the actual Father’s Day – our own special day, just between us.

I flashed back to a song from the mid 90s last night that I thought would fit:

Another Sunday – I Mother Earth

There is actually music going on in my basement, as we speak, but I thought this would be a little more fitting.

🙂

This sort of band “I Mother Earth” was one of the bigger rock/alternative bands of the mid 90s. Here in Canada, Much Music was the thing, and my brothers recorded the video and loved them. I tended to follow them where they lead, music wise, even with my own preferences, which did exist. They knew what was cool at the time.

This music was the backdrop for the hard times I was going through as a 12-year-old. I was feeling extremely unwell and was soon diagnosed with kidney disease. I think back on those years now. It all feels like someone else’s life, but it was all me. I remember certain songs, like this one, which take me back to those times.

“Another Sunday” lyrics

Thanks goes out to

Helen Espinosa

for her love of songs and their lyrics.

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TToT: Summer Solstice

“Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
–Henry James

This week started off and ended with a number of holidays, occasions, and celebrations.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Sunday: Father’s Day

For my amazing father.

Last June was the first opportunity, on my then relatively new blog, to let my own dad know what he meant to me and I did that by writing about a particularly meaningful memory from almost twenty years ago.

Father

I have recently, for TToT, explained the incredible things my father has done for me and I hope he always knows what he means to our whole family.

For the longest day of the year and for another summer to come around.

I pushed through last summer, though my heart really wasn’t in it, and I have good reason to believe this one will be vastly better then the last.

I am already trying new things, determined to live my life in different ways, and hopefully have more to add to these thankfuls in the weeks to come.

For National Aboriginal Day.

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

I consider myself lucky to live in a country full of all of the people who share it with me.

Monday: For the sweetest words in the whole world.

“I wuve you Keree.”

My nephew turns three this summer and he has begun saying these words to, not only his parents and his favourite toys and movies, but to his Auntie Kerry.

🙂

When he cuddles with me and I hear him tell me he loves me, I know how lucky I am that I get to see him, at least once a week.

I miss my other nephew and my niece. They don’t live that far away, but far enough that our contact is less frequent than I would like, but we always come back together as a family in the end.

Tuesday: My Heart Will Go On

For the unforgettable music of composer James Horner.

I was obsessed with all things Titanic in the eighth grade, with the release of the film just that Christmas. I was so excited when my parents gave me the soundtrack for my fourteenth birthday.

James Horner Dies In Plane Crash

That is not the part I’m thankful for, obviously.

😦

The world has lost a wonderful talent.

Thank you, James, for some beautiful music I will never forget.

Wednesday: For the incredible advances in medicine in recent years.

I am amazed, as I hold my nephew close, just what these advances have brought to our lives.

No matter what, we are lucky to have him, and we owe it all to these things, unheard-of only a few decades ago.

I dare anyone to look at the beautiful little boy I speak of and say one bad word on what some like to term, “playing God”.

Whatever is to thank, it is miraculous, what doctors can do.

For family dinners out.

We went to a place we’ve gone to for years. It was a common family dinner spot for my own family, for as far back as I can recall.

I am forever a child there, ordering my shirley temples, but my nephew only wanted the orange slice at the bottom of his glass.

Thursday: medical technology isn’t the only wonderful technology. There’s always the phone.

For the chance to reconnect with a friend. We ended up talking, on the phone, for over two hours.

She helped me tick an important item off of my bucket list last year.

And, who knows – we could embark on more adventures together in the future.

That is only some of what we talked about. She shared some important resources with me for the Canada Day blog post I’m working on about Aboriginal issues.

She is a ball of energy and enthusiasm. Speaking with her is like a tonic, getting me to look positively forward.

Friday: Supreme Court recognizes equal rights for all.

For the ruling that came down, in the US, giving all people the right to marry whomever they love.

The White House and other landmarks light up in rainbow colours.

I simply want all people to be treated equally and I hope what happened in my neighbouring country is a step in the right direction.

Saturday: Happy Birthday Helen Keller.

For the important role she has played in my life, ever since I was introduced to her in school as a young girl.

Helen Keller was born, on June 27th, 1880 in Alabama. She suddenly lost her sight and hearing, during a fever, as an infant.

She was lost and locked away in the darkness and the silence, until her teacher came into her life at age seven, and from there she was unstoppable. She learned how to speak with her hands. She went on to become a first in so many things.

She was a feminist, spokesperson for social issues, disability rights activist, and an author who traveled all over the world.

She lived life to the fullest, as much as she possibly could, and she has taught me a lot about perseverance and resilience.

I give Helen the last word for the week…
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

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Everybody’s Got A Story, #1000Speak

“It’s the human condition that keeps us apart. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”
–Amanda Marshall

Sunday, June 21st is the first day of summer (longest day of the year), Father’s Day, and National Aboriginal Day here in Canada.

Iceland’s Midnight Sun

It’s funny how much has happened, in the last six months, since I wrote about the opposite to this day:

Solstice and the Big Red Dog

“See my eyes, don’t see what I see. Touch my tongue, don’t know what tastes good to me.”

Amanda Marshall sings, in this particular song, about our unique, human stories.

“Dig deep. Deeper than the image that you see. Lift the veil and let your true self breathe. Show the world the beauty underneath.”

I know there is a connection between these individual stories and the compassion we could all stand to give and receive.

Then there are those hard things in life that make compassion so vital, yet each time I hear about just such things I have to look harder and harder to find enough of it, but I keep on looking still.

I saw a moving and beautiful play this week:

The Diary of Anne Frank

I know the story of Anne Frank and her diary. I just recently had a chance to focus on the stories of the other people trapped with her, because they too had separate stories of their own.

Anne was a typical teenager, despite the chaos going on all around her. She did not get along with her mother, was jealous of her sister’s supposed perfection, and referred to the man she had to share a room with in the Annex as an idiot and a dolt.

This was only her side of the story.

Anne’s mother loved her two children, worried sick about them, and only wanted them to be safe.

Margot may have been more reserved and quiet than her rambunctious younger sister, but she had dreams of becoming a nurse and helping children after the war.

The man Anne was referring to had a life outside the Annex. He had a woman who loved him and whom he loved, a child, and had no family to lean on during all that time in hiding.

Anne loved her father above all others. She even had a special nickname for him and everything. She sometimes felt he sided with her mother against her, but she rarely, if ever said one bad thing about him. He was her hero.

Otto Frank was left to face the future, post war, without any one of his family left alive. He had to face the fact that his two daughters and his wife were never coming back to him and he had to figure out a way to go on without them.

He, with the help of friend Miep Gies, decided that his little girl’s story needed to be told.

I am here to make sure her story goes on being heard, but that the others affected and ultimately lost have their stories known too.

Then there’s some history of my own country and hopefully a better future. I must admit that I don’t know much about Aboriginal stories. These are people living in my own country and I know very little about their history, their heritage, and their stories.

I learned some in school, yes, but not nearly enough. I feel separate and cut off, I will say.

I am doing some research, for an upcoming Canada Day post, and I don’t like what I hear.

The facts about the residential schools must be told. It’s not just one story though, but a multitude of stories. I think it’s about time Canada heard these stories.

And then there’s the terrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that took place.

A twenty-one-year-old walked into an historic African-American church, sat down to join a prayer group in session, and eventually opened fire, killing nine innocent people.

I know a lot of people will be writing about this for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

I know very little about it, even though it has been all over the news for days now:

An Emotional John Stewart Drops The Comedy To Talk Charleston

I honestly feel numb. My brother and I both agreed on that lack of emotion.

This doesn’t mean I feel any less horrible. I just don’t know what is left to say.

I could rant about my feelings on gun control and a pervasive gun culture. I could speak about a country that is filled with stories, including those of the poor victims and their families and yes, even the shooter.

Well, I still don’t know where to start, so I will focus on the big picture.

“That ain’t the picture. It’s just a part. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”

Yes, thank you Amanda.

It’s funny how life works sometimes.

I was planning this #1000Speak post about everybody’s stories, when a friend brought my attention to a TED video.

Now, I love these and I’d actually listened to this particular speaker before, but I thank my friend still. I admire her and her spirit and for thinking of me.

Both her and the Nigerian writer below:

Chimamanda Adichie: the danger of a single story,

they are both strong and intelligent women, full of passion and compassion. Both their stories make them who they are.

“Patronizing, well-meaning pity.”

The above TED speaker sums it up nicely, exactly what happens when we jump to conclusions about people, without first looking at who they truly are, in all their glory and depth. Is the story we’ve been told about something really the right story?

I too have a story:

**It’s made up of the wonderful family I have and the happy childhood I experienced.

**It’s made up of the challenging and character-building experiences living with blindness all my life instills in me.

**It’s made up of the additional medical issues I’ve had and the barriers that were put in my path as a result.

“single story.
A balance of stories.”

I know we all have our perceptions and our realities. We all make our minds up, when we hear someone’s story.

People meet me, see that I am blind, and right away they may think they can paint a picture of what my story must look like.

Chimamanda says it best: stereotypes are not untrue, but incomplete….

Stereotypes about blindness are deeply ingrained in people’s consciousness. I have felt pity and longed for more, for compassion, understanding, and connection in pity’s place.

I don’t know enough about all those who lived and died in war, those I share Canada with, the victims and perpetrators of gun violence, or what life’s really like on the African continent.

I say I have become numb to tragedy and senseless violence, but I realize that is not at all what I want for myself, or for any of us.

“Stories matter. Many stories matter.”

I want to be passionate and compassionate. I listen to passionate speakers like this and I want to be passionate about things like literature, writing, and social issues.

I want to tell my story and to tell the stories of many other people. That is why I love this blog and I love writing. I can tell stories, not one single story, but every story I can possibly tell.

Adichie says about stories: they can empower and humanize. Break or repair that broken dignity.

I am glad to take part in

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Check them out on:

Facebook,

Twitter,

and there you can use #1000Speak to share the compassion.

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TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:

Ten Things of Thankful

d8fc4-tenthingsbanner-2015-06-7-01-03.jpg

Tuesday: for precious gifts and beautiful flashbacks.

I was babysitting my nephew. I can’t believe how much he’s grown, over these last few years. He celebrates his third birthday this summer, but it feels like just yesterday that he was born and I was there the moment he came into the world.

Ordinary Miracles

As the first year of his life flew by, many times I used to hold him while he slept. I did this, the first few weeks, at night so my sister could get a few hours of restful sleep and then many times afterward. He used to sleep against my chest, so small, peaceful, and still.

As I was babysitting him this week, he fell asleep in the afternoon, for the nap he still takes and I decided to have a little rest with him.

I am thankful for the chance to feel him sleeping on my chest, maybe for the last time. I held him tight and felt his steady breathing as he slept and it brought back those early memories, reminding me of those early days as his aunt.

Also, I am thankful for old friends and my desire to stay in touch.

I have been afraid to contact this one certain old friend of mine recently. I got over my ridiculous fear, borne of unnecessary worry that I might be bothering her, and I am glad I did.

I was worried over nothing, like usual, and I got to here her voice and feel better about things I was letting make me crazy these past several weeks. I also got to hear her remarkable newborn baby daughter through the phone.

Wednesday: for countless opportunities for reinvention.

I get the sudden urge, every year around this time (for reasons of which I will explain a few thankful’s down) to make a change, to reinvent myself and do something bold and daring.

This doesn’t always work out like I hope it will, but I did decide to cut off my long hair and go short, at least through the hot summer months.

fb_20150605_10_55_59_saved_picture-2015-06-7-01-03.jpg

It’s only hair, after all. It will grow back, if and when I want it to.

Along with this, I am thankful for the fact that I’ve got my very own hair stylist in the family.

Okay okay – so she hasn’t yet agreed to sign on as my personal, daily stylist, but I’m wearing her down, slowly.

It sure would be nice to have someone to do my hair every morning, as I have so much trouble knowing what looks good and thus, I rarely do anything with it at all.

For now I am just happy to have a cousin with a lovely salon here in town.

KEEP CALM AND GET YOUR HAIR DONE

It’s a place I can go, where I know the stylist and trust her to do a good job.

Also, I am thankful for the fresh and plentiful food I get to eat.

As I ate dinner out with my father, we sat in the warm June air of the evening, out on the patio.

He read from the newspaper, an article about the play of Anne Frank that we are going to see in a few weeks, and it made me think of Anne. I know this article was just about the actress who plays the role, but I couldn’t help thinking about the real family and the young girl who were stuck in that attic all those years and the war they were all in.

I have been watching a lot about World War II lately actually. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day also. I know the food shortages that went on and the starvation. I know it is still a problem around the world.

I am thankful for a fresh salad. I ate my salad, out on that patio, and let my taste buds fully take in the fresh, crispness of the lettuce. I had a huge menu of items to choose from, right there in front of me and at my disposal. Not all today nor in days past are/were quite so lucky.

Thursday: for the release of new songs and albums.

This week I discovered music from a music group and an artist I listen to.

On June 2nd the newest Florence + The Machine album came out (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) and also the newest single by LOLAWOLF.

The first has a voice infused with raw power. This song by Florence,

“What Kind of Man”,

had me finding a place and a way of releasing a little bit of my anger. We all need this from time to time, which helps us learn what we are most thankful for once more.

Also, I am thankful that I can share interesting music with my brother, when on a rare occasion it is me sharing with him what I’ve found, not the other way round.

I showed him this song from LOLAWOLF,

“Every F—in Day”,

which is the band of Lenny Kravitz’s daughter – Zoe Kravitz. It’s a strange song, likely not to everybody’s taste, but it’s the weird songs I send my brother’s way, just to see what he thinks.

I’m thankful for the tiny perfection of baby clothes. I got to pick some out for a little girl I already love and I haven’t even met her yet, but she is the daughter of someone I couldn’t love more if she were my own sister.

I love clothes, and these small garments are perfection, just like the little beings who wear them.

Baby clothes are so cute and I have only really gotten the chance to buy them, on any regular basis, in the last five years. I hope to buy even more now.

This includes the softest of soft little baby blankets.

Friday: for anniversaries, good health, and lack of dialysis.

I couldn’t let a week of things I’m thankful for go by, specifically this particular week, without mentioning the importance June 5th has to my past, my now, and my future health and well-being.

I wrote about it just the other day on my blog, my thoughts on this particular June 5th.

It’s now eighteen years and counting since I received a kidney transplant. My father donated his kidney to his youngest daughter and I owe him more than most children owe their parents.

June is Father’s Day for many fathers, but for myself and my dad it can’t quite compare with our anniversary.

Most fathers and daughters don’t have anniversaries. That is what we call it, but in many ways (like I said in “New Month, New Me”, I also think of June 5th, 1997 as my birthday of sorts. It was the day when my life began again, after feeling so sick for the previous couple of years. It was one of those life-changing days that you look back on as being when your life was forever altered, one of those days when your life would never be as it was.

So I am thankful to my father. He went above and beyond what a father usually does and he gave me a new lease on life.

I hope I’ve made him proud of me since then and that I continue to do so. Our connection as father and daughter grows ever deeper.

Saturday: for vanilla lattes.

McDonald’s really does make the best ones. Who’s with me?

So thanks to:

Lizzi and the rest of the Ten Things of Thankful group.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone and don’t forget to be thankful for your health when it is good.

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IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TGIF

New Month, New Me

Every so often, I feel the strong urge to do something wild or rebellious. This could mean experiencing great heights or a radical new hair style/colour.

June has begun so I figured, new month, so why not new me?

Of course there’s nothing so wrong with the old me, but it can’t hurt to continuously attempt a reinvention of oneself, from time to time, just to keep things fresh.

That is why I asked my hair stylist for something new and different. I felt the urge, but couldn’t adequately express to her what that might look like. This is what’s hard when you can’t even really see yourself and what your hair looks like in the mirror.

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I did it. I chopped it all off. I’ve done this a few times before, but not for a few years now.

I felt the weight lift as the piles of hair vanished, but what did I really achieve in the end?

I came away feeling slightly restless and disappointed. It wasn’t the stylists’s fault. I myself didn’t know what I meant about something wild and rebellious, so how could I truly expect her to?

I don’t know if what I wanted could even be done. Or if I just don’t have it in me to really let go completely. Maybe that version of myself never existed or ever will.

It’s days like this that make me want to try new things and experience as much as I possibly can, while I am still able.

***

This doctor was new to me, but he came across friendly and intelligent – just what you want a doctor to be. I’ve seen many different doctors at the kidney transplant clinic over the last ten or fifteen years (since moving from the children’s hospital to the adult clinic), making hard to keep up with them all at times.

This particular nephrologist told me what I already knew because my brother had already been put on the medication. All transplant patients were being put back on a drug most of us haven’t been on since immediately after transplant. My brother, being only two years out, well it seemed like a no brainer. Both our immune systems are compromised, in order to keep the transplanted kidney working, but I have been stable for almost twenty years.

Life Threatening Cases of Pneumonia in Transplant Patients

He explained it in simple and direct terms, being very thorough in his explanation. There was no question – of course I would go on it. I would start taking this antibiotic, three times a week, for the foreseeable future. It was just strange that here I was, getting ready to celebrate my eighteen-year anniversary, and I was being put back on one more medication.

Right after transplant, you are on so many medications you need a chart to help you keep track. As time goes on, these can be reduced and almost always dwindle down to only a few. This felt like a step backwards for me, but a necessary one, just to be safe.

He was great, making me feel at ease, or as much as possible. This was not a huge threat to me, but I would do what I had to make sure I never had to face the worst.

I found it strange.

How much am I drinking? How much am I peeing?

Most people give little to no thought about these things, but as the doctor told me my blood levels, we discussed the importance
of keeping up on the liquids. It was a slight increase, but nothing to worry about at the moment. In the world of being a kidney transplant patient, it all goes back to a slow creeping up of the bad levels in the blood. After years the kidney slowly stops functioning like it was, eventually leading back to the need for dialysis and another transplant.

After eighteen years, admittedly, I’ve become somewhat complacent. I drink what I want, when I feel like it or even, when I think of it. after speaking with this latest physician, I make a more consorted effort to do better.

Last year, on June 5th, I did not speak about another year with my father’s kidney, here. Instead, on that day, I rode an elevator up to the top of a tower and stepped outside, looking down on the city of Toronto.

WALKING ON THE EDGE

I did this for several reasons, but mostly because I’ve decided to make it my mission to take risks and chances, to try new and exciting things, as my way of appreciating the life and the second chance I’ve been given.

It was sobering to learn there was this horribly dangerous strain of pneumonia that has been hitting, not the newly transplanted, but those who have had their kidneys for years, people like me. If taking a preventative medication three times a week could help avoid this; I wasn’t about to take any chances.

It just made me think. This pneumonia has hit people who may have become complacent too, not meaning to let themselves slip. Then, suddenly, some random antibiotic resistant virus hit and cost them, not only the function of their transplant, but their lives.

***

I don’t think of the possibility of rejection of my kidney or even death, not often, but on the occasion of my most recent checkup, the thoughts crept back in.

In that moment, it hit me how much I don’t wish to ever go back on dialysis. I don’t want to have to feel that way, unwell like that, ever again, but we don’t get a say in what ultimately will happen with a transplanted kidney. This particular chronic illness has not been cured for me, but I fool myself into thinking otherwise. Then I am brought back to reality, unable to stop wondering when it all could come crashing down.

As I touch the scar from that surgery, eighteen years ago to the day, I am grateful for these last eighteen years and hopeful, appreciative for however many more years I may have.

Think positive, right? I could be the exception. I could be the first to keep my first and only transplant for the rest of my life.

This is a flame of hope that burns bright inside my heart.

Thanks Dad, for being responsible for this hope in the first place.

It seems only fitting to me, that this transplant anniversary and Father’s Day share the June spotlight. Of course, I could never thank him enough, even if I had a million Father’s Days in which to try.

So I will keep on taking my meds, drinking…

It’s all about the intake and the output.

🙂

I will keep on living my best life, checking items off my

BUCKET LIST

as I go along and as the years pass, and remembering how far I’ve come.

June will, forever, represent change, transformation, and new beginnings. It was the first day of the rest of my life really. My anniversary and yet, my birthday, a new me in the month of June.

And come June 5th, 2017: PARTY – and you are all invited.

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