Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Poetry, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

That Magic Number #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

I have written every day (excluding Wednesday’s and Saturday’s) for
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
2020 and now I come to it:

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I write to start my year off because I don’t have a clue what else I’m doing really.

I wonder what’s next for me, what sorts of
change
might be in my future, these next eleven or twelve months, but do I really want to know?

They say it’s inevitable anyway. Still, I am scared. Not of life in general. No, I’ve learned to be open to it all.

It’s when I’m going along and I get a call. Was I too cocky?

A sudden rising in my blood levels, the kind the nephrologists test for, the kind I’ve learned to watch too, as well as my family members do.

I’ve been at 70-80 or somewhere there about, for over twenty years now. I’ve been stable, no matter whether or not the rest of my life has felt that way.

Now I fear the kind of changes that could come, if that number were to keep rising, rising up above 100 and counting.

It’s an alteration within my blood that the doctors look at. I sit here, listening to a poet reading her poems to me, writing down words and phrases that strike me especially and I think, as she describes her medical history using words: muscles, veins, blood

She refers to her body being explored by Miss Frizzle and her school bus full of curious children and I think of my creatinine.

I can’t touch it, leaving the blood safe inside me, in my veins, but I don’t wish to explore it further. I want to leave it to a twice-a-year thing, no closer than that.

I don’t write poetry like Alana, but I think in terms of it.

I scare myself, hopefully, for no reason. A recheck and it will all be good again, go back down to the level I brag on.

My weekend is slightly ruined though, as I weight. Nothing I can do. Don’t worry too much, I tell myself, others might say. No point anyway.

I think of that girl I was, once so sick, my brain unable to do math. A zero on the test. It was time for dialysis to remove all that toxic sludge from my body.

I am not that girl now, a woman approaching middle age. I want to go out now and experience it all. So grateful for the fact of dialysis, but I run from any thoughts of being stuck to machines multiple times every week.

I want to walk along the Thames, to go back out west, to tackle my
bucket list
without restraints.

Of course, money is my biggest, but those machines threaten to hold me down.

I feel the mark on my chest where the tube once hung, connecting to tubes that carried my blood to be cleansed. Family stayed by my side, friends sat and we talked. I dreamed of one day visiting Ireland and Prince Edward Island and more with my grandparents, my family, a partner maybe.

Now I want to run from that little girl, into my future, but I know it will all come full circle.

I hear/read about the future of organ donation, of artificial kidneys, but I don’t hold my breath.

I think of lists with my name on them and rising blood levels and I want to sleep.

It’s in the waking that the thoughts come rushing back.

So many changes lately: people in my life leaving, missteps and moves questioned, and now…here I sit and I wonder over that magic number over the weekend.

It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will, it will.

I don’t tell my brother, one who can best understand the fear that comes creeping back in. He’s on the west coast right now and I don’t want to bother him or disturb the freedom and lack of worries while he’s out there. And so I burden you, blog, with this one, for now.

Breathe Kerry, just breathe.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Piece of Cake, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, Throw-back Thursday

Fearing The Unknown, #AtoZChallenge

I didn’t do it when all the other girls were doing it.

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Was I afraid it would hurt?

The A to Z Challenge – E is for Earings

My sister wanted her ears pierced and our parents got them pierced for her, for her tenth birthday. I remember sitting beside her, in that chair, thinking there was no way.

I am two years younger. Two years later, I chose a McDonald’s birthday party instead.

I couldn’t possibly be afraid of the pain, or was I?

Just a few more years and I had to face any fear of pain, fear of needles, as I was required to have a lot of them. A diagnosis for how sick I felt was badly needed. Blood tests (needles) confirmed the suspected diagnosis of kidney failure.

I would soon have many scars, including the scar tissue in my arms, from the needles.

I had no choice but to face my fears. In my early twenties I finally decided I should get my ears pierced.

I’d been gifted a pair of heart earrings, one day, while I sat at dialysis, by a favourite nurse. I could not wear them.

For years I liked to play with those stick on earrings, but one day I decided it was time, far passed time, and off I went.

Did I need to enter a medical crisis, in order to be forced to face my fears, before I could risk the pain of having holes punched in my earlobes?

I love my pierced ears now. They allow me to walk around with a little bit of adornment and ornament, as I am not usually a jewelry and accessories kind of a girl.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

Maybe You Don’t Need to Write Every Day

There’s an urge and then there’s the hunger. Then there’s the fear that both won’t return. To be a writer, one must write something, somewhat, somehow. It’s like the violin, which I am learning. One must keep at it, in some capacity.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zAnnie_Scholl_Mug.jpgBy Annie L. Scholl

I’m not sure how I got the message that I had to write every day to be a “real” writer, but I’ll blame it on Julia Cameron and her book, The Artist’s Way. I read it when it came out in 1992. Cameron suggests a daily practice of “Morning Pages:” Three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing you do first thing in the morning.

To be fair, Cameron makes it clear that your Morning Pages don’t have to be “high art.” You can rant, write your shopping list over and over, whatever you want. She does insist, though, that you fill three pages—every day.

I did Morning Pages religiously—for about a week-and-a-half. Over the years, I’ve tried again and again. Although the daily practice of Morning Pages didn’t stick, the idea that I had to write every day to be successful did. After all, Ernest Hemingway…

View original post 791 more words

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Podcast

Stalemate, #1000Speak

The other night, on the news, a reporter did a story about how desperate of a situation it’s becoming in Syria.

She began to, not just lay out a few facts and statistics, but to compare the city of Aleppo to the city of Toronto, where her news broadcast was airing from. She went from one part of Toronto to another, explaining how it would look if what’s currently happening in Syria were to happen in a Canadian city

Okay, so maybe it’s a bad example or I’m just not describing it all that well. I have a cold and my right ear is plugged and I feel like I’m losing it a little, but I wondered why this reporter’s method was necessary in the first place.

She began her segment by saying something along the lines of:

?How does what’s happening in Syria relate to life here in Toronto anyway?”

I wondered if people really needed the story to be spoon fed to them like that, as if they couldn’t already put themselves in the shoes of a mother, losing hope for keeping her children healthy and alive. Hadn’t they all considered what it must be like to be stuck in a war zone? I guess, to a point, I use that distance between myself and such horrible events as a cushion too.

I may feel sad and disappointed in the Syrian government for being unable to keep its people safe. I may be frustrated that although my country of Canada has done more than many to help the Syrian people, our participation has dwindled. I may be sad and disappointed in myself for the fear that even the small gestures of compassion and gratitude I’ve made aren’t enough.

Lots of sadness and disappointment to go around. Excellent choice for the month. If I’m honest, to come right out and say it, I have been sad and disappointed that
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
and
Ten Things of Thankful
seem to be losing steam.

It’s obvious by the number of entries in the linkup. The terrible events around the world that inspired a handful of bloggers to act in the only way they knew how, nearly two years ago, is a small sample of what it was once.

That first month there were hundreds of entries. Now, with the linkup being open, not just one day, but a whole week. And yet, my entry is found to be one of the last, if not the last, at five or six along on the list. Where did everybody go? It’s frustrating to see how willing people were, when the excitement and energy were new and when a small discussion on holding on to compassion in times of hardship suddenly and unexpectedly grew into something a lot larger than anyone could have ever anticipated.

Five or six people, including me, took the time to write and keep the movement going this month. This makes me sad. I feel disappointed, but I have compassion for all those who haven’t kept up with it, though some come and go, taking it for granted that it should always be there.

You have to feel it to write. I can be honest about how I feel, but I have a lot of compassion for everyone who didn’t show up. I have been one of them. I can’t say I won’t be one in the future. All the praise goes to those keeping it going this long.

Nothing goes on forever. Everything starts and stops somewhere.

Life gets busy. People forget. Times are hard. They’ve moved on.

This is a time where sadness and disappointment are commonly felt emotions. I am sad and disappointed.

I am sad that we have arrived in this place, where compassion feels strangled by suspicion and self interest.

Taxes. Rising bills to be paid. Mortgages and kids and stressful jobs and relationships and social media.

I am disappointed in America for giving up and giving in. Donald Trump is where he is. I am sad and I am disappointed.

In these times, I believe honesty is best, if we’re ever going to face the ills of our society, like racism and class, job, and economic uncertainties. We’re all fighting for our own, equal slice of the pie.

Where, then, does compassion come in? I am trying desperately to fit the pieces together.

I am trying, underneath a steady undercurrent of sadness, to listen to people and to respect different beliefs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. This situation is unique in that most times, after a time, I can see where someone may be coming from. In some of these situations, where prejudice is at the core of it, I can’t understand.

Then I lose all compassion for myself, as I feel like it’s something on me, like I’m just not trying hard enough to understand.

It’s mostly based on fear. That much I’ve surmised. I can have empathy for that, to a point, as I know what fear looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like.

I have compassion for everyone. It’s when some people’s true feelings come to light that I jump back in shock and the sadness and disappointment wash over me with no warning.

Is this the end? By which I mean, are we coming to the end of this experiment in writing for compassion here? Or will we keep going forward with the participants we still have? Couldn’t compassion sustain itself, even through blogging, just a little longer? Perhaps not.

Will I even be here next month, to write about compassion, or will I have moved on? I honestly can’t say for certain.

I don’t see any end to this stalemate, these feelings of intense sadness and disappointment at my fellow human beings.

I can’t look the other way when the progress with women’s rights or disability rights or any other rights are threatened. I wish I understood. I wish I could.

I just finished listening to
a podcast
about writing, about memoir, and about trying to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. This is my mission these days, but is it fruitless, when such serious issues are at stake?

I continue to see gestures and acts of compassion in many different places and that softens the blow. It isn’t all bad. This has been and continues to be a difficult time for a lot of people, but a lot are doing the best they know how in the moment.

I go ahead and focus on what makes me feel the opposite of sadness and disappointment. I hope things will continue, that very likely will not. I can’t blame anyone for that. I can only control my own actions and remain compassionate yet honest when the sadness or the disappointment threatens to drag me down next time, hoping what I’m left with is a little piece of compassion left over to spare and to share.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

The Grimmest of Grims, #HarryPotter #TGIF #FTSF

I love Harry Potter. I was late to the party though, on becoming one of the obsessed. I was twenty-four to be exact.

I often say,
like here on my About Me page,
that my three most visited topics throughout my mind and my writing are birth, death, and love. At the heart of most of what I write, those are the three subjects that are fueling it all.

The Harry Potter books are about the transformative effects of love, but it is also, in many ways, a book about death, if you look at the books critically. It’s about a villainous wizard who is so afraid of dying that he does whatever it takes to make himself immortal. I understand that, to a point.

It is easy for many young people, as I often hear, to believe that they are invincible and that death is so far off that it’s pretty well preventable. Maybe a cure to death will be found by then, they think. Maybe I can avoid all the darkness of the unknown of death, for myself or those I love.

But is that what we really want?

I had a discussion once, on a long drive home with a boyfriend, about death. There’s the science that’s working to put a stop to the inevitability of death. There’s the discussion about aging and suffering that often accompanies an aging human body. Then there was the added level of disability and medical conditions we both knew a little something about.

Did we want to live forever? We were several decades, ideally, from death. I don’t recall how this conversation came up.

Suicide is heard a lot more about these days, while stigma and misinformation still exist. A sudden or not so sudden end to a life, by choice is a frightening topic for most people. It’s a reality faced, by friends and families, for many of us.

Then there’s the fact that I never had my own brush with youthful carelessness or exuberance in the face of death, thought to be yet many many years down the road of life.

I lost dogs, several by our family’s admitted rotten luck. I’d lost a grandparent when I was ten. It didn’t get any easier with age to accept that I wouldn’t see certain people again.

While most kids are going through puberty I was also going through multiple surgeries. Then my little brother followed my medical path in a similar fashion. I then truly worried for someone else more than I cared and worried for myself. I wanted to take his pain away, add it to my own, still in progress.

As we got older, some of his medical issues became more serious and life-threatening and I feared death more than ever.

I can’t say I ever thought, right as I found myself on an operating table and about to do the paediatric anesthesiologist’s suggested countdown from one hundred, that I might never wake up. I just didn’t think it. I wasn’t worried, in some strange way. I can’t say now how I would feel. I have been lucky to avoid surgery for anything in many years, but I will likely face it again in the future, unless a cure for kidney disease is found in the meantime.

Now I am past losing grandparents. I just lost an aunt. I fear losing my parents. I fear the topic even being breached, as when my father brings it up in a nonchalant manner, as I know he is afraid too.

I live with a lot of fear about many things. I wish this weren’t just one more of those. It is inescapable and Voldemort is just a fictional character, but it’s his strangely relatable characteristics that I found most fascinating as I read, as fear of death is universal. It’s his deeds to avoid it, with how extreme and evil they are, that make him one of the greatest villains in literature, in my opinion.

I would like to write an essay of some kind, but it feels like such a huge undertaking. I feel like it would, by necessity, end up becoming a form of college term paper. I am not experienced with those.

If I did write it, it would be about the theme of death in the Harry Potter books.

Through the obvious, as I mentioned before, but also through J.K. Rowling’s use of other characters and symbols, such as ghosts and a black spectral dog, which when seen in the wizarding world, means death is near.

This isn’t my favourite of the Harry Potter films, by far, even if Emma Thompson is one excellent actress. I just include this clip to show you, if you’ve never read the books or watched the movies before. Though the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was one hell of a roller coaster ride when I first read it in 2008.

There’s some connection, a connective circle, as I mentioned dogs above, but I don’t know yet what it all is or what it all means.

I don’t know what that’s like when death looms ever closer, but I have come closer than many at my age and younger often do.

All these myths of black cats bringing bad luck and black dogs bringing news of demise. I will write about these things, as hard as they sometimes are to face, until the day I die.

This was
Finish The Sentence Friday
with host Kristi from Finding Ninee.

Read her feelings on the FTSF prompt for this subject if you can. They are lovely. As for myself, I have been away from this particular Friday prompt for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t resist coming back for this one.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF

Sailing Away and the Bee Tree, #TGIF #FTSF

I hear it, that far off humming from the other side of the driveway.

What’s that noise?

My family start hinting at the origin, somewhere nearby, but not too near.

We’re standing around, in the driveway, with the fresh cut scent of grass in the air.

“Ooh, don’t tell Kerry,” they say, dancing around something they see and I don’t. I know them pretty well and can probably guess.

***

This was no Winnie the Pooh cartoon. I remember his song about being a little black storm cloud, as he attempted to disguise himself in mud, so he could sneak honey from a tree, attempting to avoid detection by the swarm of bees.

This time, in this driveway, it was a favourite tree of my mom’s. The late afternoon warmth of the day made conditions just right for pollination.

This was a nightmare of mine.

Not pollination. I think that’s cool and all, for the bees, but it took some coaxing from my sister, to get me to walk close to the Eastern redbud tree, as the closer I came, the louder the sound of the bees. They were clearly occupied, more concerned with the flowers they were working on, and weren’t about to stop their very important duties, to all land on me, like they would if I were dreaming.

***

I back away hastily, nevertheless, just in case. The sound of a swarm of bees makes me shrink back. That sound gets me moving, faster than most anything else I might hear. Not the fault of the bees at all.

***

Yu know that fear you have that something in your own life will inevitably reoccur at night, in your dreams?

Of course, we don’t normally control that. The things, at least for me, which I fear could show up in my dreams at night never show up, just because I think they will. Always, it’s a surprise, for good or ill.

***

This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday post is about

dreams

and

dreaming.

***

I need to start a dream journal. If I were to do this, I would need to write them down the moment I wake up, because within minutes the memories fade, unless extremely vivid. I have had some of those over the years, of which some really crazy stories could have been written. Ah well.

**I’ve dreamed about clowns. *Shudders

**I’ve dreamed the standard one where I’m being chased.

**I’ve dreamed I was stuck at the bottom of the ocean.

**I’ve dreamed that I moved out to the west coast of Canada, to fulfill my long held dream of studying marine biology.

**Some good and some not so good dreams, for sure.**

**I’ve dreamt I was in an old house, one that smelled rancid, and when I awoke I could still smell it on the insides of my nostrils.

The putrid smell in the dream carried on into my day and I still get that happening on occasion. A strange mix-up of senses, experience, and consciousness.

***

To round off this week’s answer to the sentence I thought I would address one of the most commonly asked questions about blindness:

Do I see when I dream?

I don’t suddenly drift off each night and enter a totally sighted realm. I believe, most times, the brain can’t simply create images where none have been known. I could be wrong, not wanting to speak for all who can’t see, but it also depends on if you’ve been totally blind all your life or not. I have had more sight previously. Perhaps my brain can use a recall method, but mostly I don’t think about it. I can’t even really give a totally clear and concise answer.

You’d think it should be easy to say, but it’s not so black and white. More different variations of grey.

When I sleep, I dream in, from what I can recall, faded light. I think, as my sight seems to be less and less, that element of my dreaming hours becomes less and less important. I like the break I usually get though. In my dreams, I don’t worry about being treated differently. I don’t worry how I’m going to get somewhere, or if I have someone’s arm to guide me, or if I’ve suddenly ended up without my white cane. I just don’t care and, I must say, that break from reality is the best part of dreaming, no matter what I see or don’t see while I’m in the midst of it.

***

This song came on in a restaurant where I found myself eating lunch the other day.

Sailing – Christopher Cross

While I was sleeping, I dreamt his song. I like it. It takes me away somewhere when I hear it, sort of like a beautiful and a peaceful dream should.

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