1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer

Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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

TToT: My Weekly Antidote to Cynicism – Lest We Forget, #10Thankful

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

This week was less like the last, and more like it must have been forty years ago. It felt gloomy. It was windy and rainy, just like it was, this time in the month of November, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in lake Superior.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Okay, so I usually put a lot into these weekly posts here and enjoy doing so, but this week, for the first time, a lot has hit me all at once. Not sure I can keep it up to my usual standard.

This week’s been an emotional one, starting with Remembrance Day, Friday the 13th, and the unexpected horror of more terrorism and violent attacks came as a total surprise, but my week was not through with me yet.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the way the children in my life remind me to appreciate the simple things.

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For the honour to be asked.

A friend wondered if I would do something for her and her daughter, be a reference, and I was just so pleased to be the one she would come to.

For the work another friend put into something, she hoped I could use on my blog.

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She didn’t have to do this, but she did it anyway.

For the way history comes alive for me, even forty years later.

In the eighth grade I had a history teacher, Mr. V, who gave us the lyrics to a song as a school project. He played the famous song in class and I learned about the wonder and the power of our Great Lakes.

Gordon Lightfoot recalls the night of the SS Edmond Fitzgerald’s sinking

It was the first time, after studying Canada’s founding fathers of Confederation and being bored out of my mind, that I began to really care about history and I learned what it could mean, as a true teacher of the past and also future, as far as lessons go.

For freedom, even if I don’t always appear grateful for what I have of it. And for poetry, written 100 years ago, that gave me a way to connect to a long ago event like World War I:

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

Sometimes I feel like I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made, as is so commonly spoken about on November 11th (Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day) whatever you know it as.

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

This is not true. I know I am lucky because if those wars hadn’t been fought, who knows what might have happened, but I just feel so morally opposed to war that I have trouble.

I know. I know. Nobody likes war. I am thankful for other perspectives, even when I have a really hard time understanding.

I got the chance, on Remembrance Day, to listen to an interview with a Canadian soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost both his legs, fighting for a cause he believed in. Although I felt myself beginning to shout at the TV screen, a few times as he spoke of why he wanted to go and fight, I tried really hard to understand his point-of-view. I had to at least try and I am thankful I made the effort.

For the writing and the lessons from Anne Frank and her life and for my blog, the diary to my modern world.

My father saw that there was a new documentary on her life and he asked if I wanted to watch it with him.

The subject of World War II, in particular, he and I have both always been interested in. As completely horrible as it was, unthinkable, I am glad my father showed me that stuff, because it’s made me a more compassionate and empathetic person, and for that I thank him. I also thank Anne for being who she was, as courageous as she was, at her age and through all she went through. Her writing is what I admire most and I am thankful her work was shared.

For those who made sure, even after she no longer lived, that her writing lived on for her.

Her father, Otto Frank, and for the family’s friend and Otto’s employee, Miep Gies, who discovered the diary and kept it safe until Anne’s father returned and saw that it get published. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her. She seemed like a really cool old lady, even in the 90s:

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

I once more, after this past summer’s visits to the Anne Frank exhibit, and with this week’s reflections on wars, began to let myself fall down the path of listening to Holocaust survivor stories, through YouTube interviews. This can be a difficult place for me, so I had to watch myself, or it could become all too consuming. I know when and where to leave things, to remain positive and grateful.

For VoiceOver.

Just thinking about where people were during the thirties and forties even, compared to now and today’s modern age of technology. Truly amazing to think about.

Believe me, I don’t only think about this at this time of year, but all the time actually. I am lucky to have electronic devices that talk and read to me, opening up the world and providing all the information I could possibly need or want.

This makes things so much more accessible, of course, but it makes it harder to hide what might be going on in the world, compared to when Anne Frank and millions of others were suffering and being persecuted and killed.

These things are still going on, but we can’t pretend anymore.

For my safe home in Canada.

I know the fear of these times we’re living in, with terrorism as a global problem. I am not naive enough to think things can’t happen here or anywhere, but I know I am not a refugee who has no choice but to flee my home. I have not been caught in a terrorist attack. Not yet.

For the modern healthcare that is at my fingertips and at the ready when a family member is in need.

I felt the not-so-unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep down fear for my brother’s health and the kidney transplant that is only just over two years old. It is a fragile balance.

Here I was, just last week, complaining that I worry sometimes about my own kidney failing, but the truth is that I haven’t been hospitalized in fifteen or so years, but my brother has had to be plenty of times in the last five or six years alone.

Well, the reason I easily could have avoided TToT this week is that things are still up-in-the-air and that still scares me a lot to think about, because he’s always had a complex medical story and nothing is clear yet.

I haven’t slept, after what happened in PAris the other night (which already gets me on edge) and then I heard how unwell my brother has been all week. I hadn’t realized he felt this bad.

I spent the evening in emerge with him. I can’t help but want to go to him at times like this. We are close, in our sibling bond, but because we’ve both gone through some incredibly complicated medical crap together over the years, and I would never want anything to happen to him. I needed to see to it that he was going to be alright.

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

Over the next few days to a week I hope for that and I will go forward and let the start of the holiday season warm me, starting with my favourite Parks and Recreation character, to launch the season officially:

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

Forget Christmas music starting to be heard on the radio or the Santa Claus Parade. Nick knows how to usher in the Christmas season something fierce.

🙂

Last week, Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in. He has been big news and the New York Times even had an article where they referred to him as:

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

Well, as crazy as things may have gotten this week, Ten Things of Thankful is my antidote to cynicism.

After all that’s happened this week, I will try to go forward and into the holidays, and try to remember these words and to follow them:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, RIP, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

In Flanders Fields’: One Hundred Years Later, #JohnMcCrae #InFlandersFields

Somewhere out there there is a field, a field full of silent meaning and distant regret.

I’d like to see this field, to experience the meaning of a poem up close. I will get there one day. I will stand in that spot.

It’s a field full of red…red flowers that grew out of the mud and the graves.

Red blood, having made way to red flowers.

I don’t know why I’ve developed such an attachment to this particular field, so far away. Why does its sadness mean anything at all to me?

Most times I get concerned when November 11th approaches. I feel anxious, like I don’t feel what everyone else is feeling. I know it’s no jolly holiday to celebrate, but there is a certain intense pride that comes out in the hearts and voices of many Canadians, with the ceremonies and the laying of wreaths in remembrance. Canada has lost a lot in war and I can’t feel proud of this.

I am proud of the poem one Canadian doctor wrote, one hundred years ago. He lived, not so far from where I live. He did, what I know can be done with literature, he used words to mark so many things, a shared humanity.

He went to fight in France and Belgium and he lost his life, but not before he composed a poem that would one day be read to me, every single year, in school, when November arrived.

In Flanders Fields’: Canadian children recite our 100-year-old poem

What did my four-year-old niece’s school do, with her and the other children today?

What did they say to explain today to her and the other children?

I can’t even explain it to myself. I listen to stories of loss and death and suffering. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

I don’t always understand poetry, as much as I love literature, of all sorts. So why do I want to cry, any time I hear the lines about those red flowers?

Pieces of red velour, representing all that valour. A moment of observed silence. Eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The pride I can’t quite feel makes me worry about my level of respect toward so many humans, those who lost their lives, fighting for so many reasons, but I know it’s not about me anyway. I am not the point. I did not have to fight directly, to sacrifice, for the freedoms I have.

The closest I’ve seen the affects, happened, not in a distant world war, but in the 21st century.

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It happened to family, family of family.

I did not know Tyler Todd, but he was only one year older than I am, when he died. This fact practically knocks the breath from my body.

I feel like a jerk because I don’t know why we were there, why that happened, why why why?

Afghanistan is so far away, farther even than Europe, even as the veterans from the conflicts of the last century fade, there are those who are suffering the loss, new and again.

I am just some silly idealist, who doesn’t understand why peace can’t be maintained. I want peace, don’t understand why we can’t just have it. What am I missing? The realist in me knows.

And so I return to the poetry, because that, at least, is something strangely beautiful I can cling to, when I need to feel more. When I need to try hard to understand. It makes sense of the nonsensical, or at least attempts to put the images and the realities into an order out of all the disorder and the chaos.

It’s a hard life. It’s a hard life. It’s a very hard life. It’s a hard life wherever you go. And if we poison our children with hatred, then the hard life is all that they’ll know.

It’s A Hard Life

And so I look to the markers of the past, like poppies mark graves of unknown soldiers, unknown to me anyway.

Ever since I wrote about the start of World War I,

100,

I think about the war that began these rituals we follow.

And I will mark the occasions, as 1914-1918 and one hundred years hence.

I try to write in eloquence, as McCray wrote on that battlefield, but I fall short of the mark. When I hear the stories, when I think about the life that was lost, of the family who know loss now…

I can’t just sit back and feel pride, when I put my own brother in that place, when I think that he could be that one taken by war, in a day when we should not romanticize the idea of war, as was done in 1914 and I am unable to let go of my reaction to this day.

This is not the time or the place, some would say.

Or is it the perfect time to say so?

I can’t speak the words “sacrifice for one’s country” without the lump in my throat and the feeling of something so wrong. No disrespect meant, really, to all.

With the swearing in of Justin Trudeau I hope for peace, with Canada leading the charge. I hope for it, while so many acknowledge the losses suffered.

I want to explain myself, to discover my own paying of some tribute. Instead, the lines of “In Flanders Fields’” run continuously through in my head.

I am sure the feeling must be strong there, on 11/11/11. I have never experienced those bagpipes up close. I’ve only listened on the television. I hear the pain in the voices of the families. I watch the broadcast, live today.

What War Memorials Say About Us

I can now say I’ve been at the memorial, in Ottawa, but the crowds weren’t there. The day, though just as grey, was silent and still.

I don’t wish to stand amongst the crowds, but I do long to stand in that silent field.

I want to write (a blog post, a poem, a work of fiction about WW I/II). I want to pour out my idealist/realist thoughts. I need to see it for myself, that field.

I’m rambling, I realize this now, and still I press on. I’m free to pour out my thoughts, to write, and no war rages on around me as I do so.

John McCrae fought and wrote, in that war so long ago now, so one hundred years later I could write in a peaceful time and place, about war, about peace.

My country is silent now, but I write. And as I write…

“Fire!”

The planes fly low and the bagpipes play their mournful song.

Gun shots. I will never understand such symbolism as this and I hope my insensitivity isn’t a problem, but I need to speak.

Isn’t that why all the fighting was done? So I could be free to state my feelings on what war means to me, how we mark the peace and the lives lost to achieve it, and why I just can’t follow the crowds?

McCrae wrote of poppies, crosses, larks, guns, torches, loved ones…

***

We are the dead.

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

***

I feel pride in the poetry and I always will. This is why I keep writing, why I wanted to write, not to let these words ever be forgotten.

Why I am proud to be Canadian.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, TToT

TToT: Don’t Count Your Owls Before They Are Delivered – Now and Then, #10Thankful

ISn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive-it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?

–From “Anne of Green Gables”

Ten Things of Thankful

So, once more, a lot has changed in a week.

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Canada now has a new majority government, with Justin Trudeau as the chosen one. Our twenty-third Prime Minister.

🙂

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Canadian Election

And our Toronto Blue Jays are finished for the season.

😦

Ah well. Can’t have everything.

Two stories, big in my newsfeed this week anyway, were the 20th anniversary of the movie “Now and Then” and the date (October 21st, 2015) which Marty and Doc arrived at in Back to the Future II.

I am pretty sure I saw the first in theatres, with my friends. I’m not certain though. Funny how even twenty years can feel like a long time now. It was the perfect coming-of-age movie for young girls.

Now and Then

Then, the big deal made about Back to the Future. I personally disliked the second of the trilogy, most of all, preferring the first or the third.

Back In Time

I’m not sure if I’d want to have the ability to go backward or forward in time, but as everyone around here have been remembering Toronto’s two World Series wins, back to back, over twenty years ago and then people are comparing what BTTF predicted the world would be like in 2015, back in the late eighties, I don’t quite know where to look. I guess I will focus on the present, or I guess the immediate past, in the week that just was.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my right, my chance, my freedom to vote.

I wasn’t sure of this, still, as I made my way into my old high school, to the voting station set up in the gymnasium. I wondered if anything I did could really make a difference. I thought how silly it all seemed, with the ads and the fighting between parties, the lies and the broken promises, not to mention the unknown of it all.

Then I voted and I felt empowered. I felt blessed to be a Canadian. I felt satisfied with the contribution I’d just made.

When I’d learned of Justin’s win, on the same night that the Blue Jays won fabulously, I was thrilled for both, for Canada.

I guess, when the person you did not want to win comes out on top, you feel like your vote didn’t matter, but suddenly, when the winner turns out not to be that guy, that’s when you feel as if your vote just might have made a difference.

For the change that’s finally returned to Canada.

For those of us who still aren’t sure, this letter makes it clear.

Justin Trudeau is part of a political dynasty, a little like the Kennedy family, the Clinton family, or the Bush clan. Justin was born in our version of The White House, 24 Sussex Dr, but I discovered that the use of the home for the prime minister is quite recent. Pierre Trudeau was one of the first to live there as Prime Minister of Canada. I did not even know this. I was not far from this place, last winter, yet I knew little about it.

History of 24 Sussex

I am learning a lot about Canada since Justin was voted in. I guess I feel a renewed sense of pride in my country and am curious about things that are going to make a difference, as is the hope of so many fellow Canadians I believe.

For crepes with friends.

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It’s a little like Words With Friends. Okay, well actually it’s not, but there were a lot of words exchanged.

🙂

I met a friend I’d made online, for the first time, in person. We went to a little restaurant in Toronto, one she’d recommended, called Crepes Club.

At first I wondered if you needed a membership or something, but turns out it was just a place with a lot of crepes, both of the first course and dessert varieties.

Here’s the interview I did with Lorraine last year.

For a delicious latte.

Nothing goes better with crepes than a latte, I think. I was told it looked pretty, with a design made with the chocolate and whipped cream on top, but all I noticed was the taste.

For a chance to tour the new Toronto location of Ronald McDonald House.

“The oldest and the most devastating pain there is: not the pain of childhood, but the remembrance of it.”

–Toni Morrison

I’d stayed in the old one, with my family, back in the late nineties. I admit, I was a little sad when I’d heard about the move, as I loved that place when we’d stayed at the old one. It made me remember those days wistfully, but things must change and the improvement was undeniable.

For the existence of just such a place, for so many families with sick children.

These families don’t need to be worrying about things like lodging and meals, when they are dealing with fear and pain, life and death.

Everything is there for them. Groups and organizations volunteer to come to the house and make meals for the families, multiple times a week, so that parents can have a break.

This is something relatively new, not available when we stayed there, but I see what a difference it makes.

For the little touches that make Ronald McDonald House feel like a home, temporary maybe, but still a home.

I liked the library, of course, but there was a giant moose on the main floor, a fireplace, big fish tank, and a colourful painting on the wall.

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I could not see this painting, but it was raised and I felt the lines and the bumps. I immediately thought of that famous Bobby Ferrin song from the eighties. It’s hard to be happy and to just put on a smile, when you are feeling sick and/or scared. It’s hard to be a child and to be ill, but there is plenty to be happy about if you’ve got your family around you, nurses and doctors who care, and a place like Ronald McDonald to depend on.

For another box of my books.

After the Scars: A Second Chances Anthology

We sent for more. I’ve given a few to people and I’m waiting, still for mine, but it should be arriving, with a bunch of bookmarks.

As exciting as this still is and as thrilled as I still am about my words being in print for the first time, in published form, I want to continue to grow with my writing.

For the discovery of a local writing group in my area.

I don’t know why I waited this long to look into its existence, but it meets at the library in my town, every first and third Wednesday evening of each month.

I will go and check it out in a few weeks. I am excited to see what it is all about, what sort of people, from what age group, it is made up of.

Speaking of libraries:

Twitter battel alert: Toronto and Kansis libraries face off over Jays/Royals series

For the graceful and winning way the Toronto Blue Jays went out, with a rain delay, a bang, and in glory.

They played a great bunch of games, coming back from where they’d been during the summer, to give Toronto and all of Canada something to hope for and cheer for, all the way into OCtober.

Sure, there was disappointment, the to-be-expected claims of tampering and fixing of the game, conspiracies, outcries, but for the most part, we accepted our loss with pride and resignation, with renewed hope for next year.

It was just nice to see us all being proud of our team, our players, ourselves and the coming together of so many, big sports fans and regular fans, like me I would say. I felt the disappointment, going to bed before the final score came down, so I can only imagine how one of the die hard fans took the news.

Geez! I really hope my going off to bed didn’t jinx them or something. Imagine if the whole loss was all down to me and something I did or did not do?

We still handled it well and it was a great few weeks we had there.

Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

The TToT is brought to you by: The Internet – all those wires running at the bottom of the ocean

Would you go back in time, or ahead, into the future, if you had the chance?

Now and then: I can get just as drawn into what once was as the next person, I often can’t stop thinking and worrying about the future, but I am trying to zoom in more on what’s going on in the here and now.

Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

–Doris Lessing

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