1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF

Songs For My Soul, #InternationalWomensDay #TGIF #FTSF

Almost exactly two years ago, for something called 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion and for International Day of Happiness, I wrote
this post
of my top ten favourite albums.

This time
for Finish the Sentence Friday
I will choose my top ten favourite songs because it is top ten week.

“I’ve looked in the mirror, and the world’s getting clearer. So wait for me this time.”

Time – Chantal Kreviazuk

This first song is about time that feels like it’s running out and I’m still playing catchup.

“My scars are what got me this far. And now I can touch the stars. Cause’ it don’t matter who you are. Who you are. We’ve all got scars.”

Scars – Emmanuel Jal feat. Nelly Furtado

This powerful and poignant duet is about scars, real physical ones and the scars on the heart. I’ve got both, but I am proud to have them as a part of me.

“DJ’s playing the same song. I have so much to do. I have to carry on. I wonder, will this grief ever be gone. Will it ever go? I’m the
King of Sorrow.” – Sade

This is a truly sad one, but I love this artist because her songs range from sorrowful to sensual.

So that’s why I couldn’t pick one over the other and had to include two in this list.

No Ordinary Love – Sade

Next, I must include an all-time favourite, with the piano violin combo, that makes me cry every time.

“All my plans, fell through my hands, they fell through my hands on me. All my dreams, it suddenly seems, it suddenly seems…”
Empty – The Cranberries

And now, it’s all the more sad, since this singer died early this year.

“Everybody loves you when you’re easy. Everybody hates when you’re a bore. Everyone is waiting for your entrance. So don’t disappoint them.”

Black and White – Sarah McLachlan

Being afraid, not always feeling like I was enough, and this one is all about my fear of being one giant disappointment to the world and the pressures of that.

“Be a good girl. You gotta try a little harder. That simply wasn’t good enough, to make us proud.”

Perfect – Alanis Morisette

This is likely a song about one of those parents who is living through their child. That’s not why it struck a cord with me. It wasn’t anything like that. Yet, there was a time when I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough and was letting everyone down.

“I believe that when the hurting and the pain has gone, We will be strong, Oh yes we will be strong And I believe that if I’m crying while I write these words Is it absurd? Or am I being real…
I Believe – Tears For Fears

“I believe, no I can’t believe That every time you hear a newborn scream You just can’t see the shaping of a life.”

Okay, so you may be wondering, what’s with all the sad stuff.

This next one, I will write/quote no lyrics from, but see if you can tell the mood of it anyway.

Smile – Lily Allen

It seems more upbeat anyway, than some of what I’ve included here, though it’s a young girl who is acting rather petty. In recognition of yesterday (March 8th) being International Women’s Day, I thought I’d showcase what growth and empowerment can stem from.

Devil Inside – Inxs

We all have a bit of a bad bit, inside, somewhere. This song is my way to end this list, on a bit of a cheeky note.

Of course, there are many more and I could likely do this again, even if it’s sometimes hard to think on the spot. So many to choose from, songs are my fuel and my energy to keep going, but I will stop at these four for today.

I am excited to learn, hear the songs that made the top ten for
Kenya Johnson of Sporatically Yours
as a co-host with Kristi.

Plus, a bonus guest host:

Jen Kehl (one part of The Stereo Sisters)

I see I’m not the biggest music fan here.

And so, the above songs have changed me, made my life better, richer, have soothed my soul.

Thanks for listening.

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Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

When I Was Young, #SongLyricSunday

The whims and choices of life, like some roll of the dice, or the drawing of one card from a deck before or after being shuffled.

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The US has an age limit of eighteen for when someone can fight and die for their country, kill another human being (enemy) in battles, wars that shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

Yet, no alcohol until the twenties. Then, God forbid a twenty-year-old couldn’t buy guns, right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzpLMD1xb0Q

But I wasn’t intending this to become a political post of any kind. I just find it funny. Not haha funny, but unbelievable and rotten in fact, that for instance, those teens who died by all those bullets on February 14th will never see twenty-one.

Okay, I’m done. On I go to remember when I was twenty-one.

***

I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore.
You took my thoughts from me. Now I want nothing more.
And did you think you could just take it all away?
I don’t think it’s happ’ning, this is what I say.
Leave me alone, leave me alone, Leave me alone ’cause I found it all. Twenty one, twenty one, twenty one…

So I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I don’t think it’s going, To happen anymore.
Twenty one, twenty one, twenty one… [X 2] Today… [X 4]
Twenty one… [X 14]

LYRICS

***

As I picked my selection for a song about numbers, for this week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
I tried to remember, but I honestly don’t recall a whole lot from when I was the age Dolores O’Riordan sings about in this one.

She was a song writer, around that age though, when her biggest hit album came out. She was experiencing fame and notoriety around the world. I wasn’t famous, then or now, but I can’t imagine the power and the pressure.

That was the year though, (I was twenty-one-and-a-half) when I lost my dear grandma. I was experiencing loss and grief, as an adult, (for the first of many times) and I would soon move out on my own.

I was still stuck believing I had no control or power over my own life, or not much at least. I would soon buy a house and learn I could find something of my own path going forward.

I am trying to write a letter to my younger self, for a project called
Letters Anthology
and have been trying to think back to my early twenties. As I enter my mid thirties, I can reflect and try to remember that young woman I once was, but it is harder than I’d have thought. I have been through so much, some of which I’ve chosen, but I still see a lot of living as a roll of the dice.

I haven’t played any card games or games of dice in a long time (used to love playing our family’s version of Dice with my grandma when she was alive) and not as far as gambling goes. I stay as far away as possible from those loud places. So much so that I couldn’t even recall, when I started this post earlier today, if the game Twenty-one was cards or dice.

My grandma couldn’t always play dice with us for very long, as she had fibromyalgia and the use of her arms to roll the dice was hard on her. Now, and starting around the time I turned twenty-one, I got diagnosed also. Sometimes, just washing my own hair is hard on my arms now, raising them up above my head for too long.

I do know that living, truly living, is a gamble. It’s the kind of gambling I’d rather do. If I’m going to take a chance on something or someone, I’d like it to start and end with taking a chance on mmyself.

Now, back to writing that letter to the twenty-one-year-old me.

What do you remember about being twenty-one? Would you rather gamble with cards, a roll of the dice, or in/on life?

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Winter Waves, #FTSF #JusJoJan #SoCS

On winter waves that make their rushing sound through my tiny phone speaker, sounding still so mighty and just what I need.

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Another January is heading toward February, my birthday and my newest niece’s birthday, her first. I try to hold back fact.

What a week, but the winter soothes my mind. I stand, feet on the register, bringing such pleasant heat up to comfort my lower half.

My upper body faces the closed blinds of my window. This house is old and doesn’t have the best insulation, making the frozen winter night permeate through the glass pane. I like this half and half varied sensory experience.

After a long week, full of sadness and disappointment, I listen to a life feed of waves on the opposite side of North America, the west coast of California, at Monterey Bay. Some social media guy is holding a phone off the deck and into the ocean and its waves below, waiting “to soak the phone” he promises.

I think of winter and the ocean and those winter waves, where they originate from. Miles and miles of open ocean give such large waves the room to blossom and grow, unstoppable often, until they reach the breaking of the land.

I like winter in Canada, though many would choose California’s winter over mine. I like the fresh air here. It heartens me and keeps me alert to the life I am living.

But what would I do, where would I be, without the ocean, somewhere out there?

I meditate on it, on those waves, washing away some of the rawness of this week and I release some of the grief to the power of nature and the unstoppable changing of the seasons in Canada and to all that activity, out in the bay.

Finish the Sentence Friday’s first stream of consciousness.

Along with Linda’s
Just Jot It January/Stream of Consciousness Saturday
to end a long week.

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The Heather By The River, #SoCS

Journalists. Photographers. And I use the term loosely.

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As a woman in my thirties, one who writes about things as my oxygen, I wonder what any of us would do for enough money. Would I write about people, even intrusively, for a living if given the chance?

Have I done it now? Already? Before?

How can it make anyone feel good about themselves to hound another human being, with their camera or their pen?

Responsibility: direct or indirect.

A world’s grief. Anger toward someone, needing to direct blame somewhere, the press. The press reports. The papers are printed. People buy the papers and mags.

More. More. More. We always want more.

From birth,
the two boys asked for none of it. That’s mostly where my thoughts return to.

I am not British and barely knew who Princess Diana was when she died. I wasn’t alive for the wedding seen around the world.

A sea of people, rather than water. That is what Diana must have seen when she looked from her vantage point, after saying her vows.

I would rather see a sea of Red or Black, blue or green, but the press fed off of the woman and she fed off of them, in a way, at least at first and for a long time afterward.

She was a fashion icon and a princess, but not only that. She used her position as a bit of an outsider, under the thumb of the monarchy, to become a change maker, by reaching out to those in need, those no one else wanted to associate with.

HIV and AID’s, in the 80s, when the hysteria about both was growing and at its greatest fever pitch. She shook hands, hugged those diagnosed and dying of the feared and misunderstood disease.

She came here, to Toronto, to sit by the beds of dying patients in hospice care. She walked a minefield, literally and figuratively. Danger signs.

Such grief of so many, I would not cry. As a fourteen-year-old child, fresh off of a kidney transplant and a thrilling wedding – I attended, my first of my oldest cousin. That was my wedding of the century.

Of royalty, I knew nothing. A fairytale life gone wrong is more like it.

Fairytales. I was familiar with these…the concept, the ideals, as a young girl. My Disney fairytale movies were my favourite. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the bright pink dresses and dancing with their handsome princes. I may have had similar dreams at the time, but what did I know? A lack of life experience and my own understandable immaturity.

What do titles represent, really? Sometimes, they bring just the right kind of attention and sometimes the wrong kind.

Now, upon reflection, twenty years later I do feel sad. I know of celebrity of her two sons. They are the British royalty of my generation.

I do perk up when I hear their names on the news. I bought the fake imitation giant ring, modelled after that of the one worn by both Kate and her mother-in-law, still lounging in my drawer. I woke to watch the wedding, once again broadcast live.

Prince William and Kate came to Canada after their marriage, the same date as my big brother’s own marriage took place. I hope one generation learns from the previous one, in certain cases, that sometimes it happens we grow wiser with enough knowledge.

They’ve come again since, since then, and with their two small children, touring parts of the country in which I live, that still sees itself as the child of Britain, past and present.

What is Kate wearing? Where are the couple going next? Are they in love, for real, or is it all just another fairytale?

But I do feel for two boys who, in August of 1997, woke up to the loss of their mother when I clung to mine for dear life, during some of the hardest and scariest times of my own childhood.

Are those boys/men in some ways like their mother, under scrutiny of duty, feeling hunted or like outsiders, wanting to reach out to those in need, perhaps not born with some of the advantages? They grew up with cameras as their mother tried to navigate a life of celebrity and being followed. She was hunted, more even than Prince Charles.

Now that I am more aware, I watch documentaries on the weekend after the anniversary of her death. I listen to stories of a nineteen-year-old who got married much too young, to an older man who shouldn’t have ever proposed to her in the first place, who was likely always in love with another woman. He should have been with this other lady all along and now appears that he is.

People marry the wrong person all the time, every single day and have babies with them. In these cases it is my hardest task not to judge because none of us are perfect. This challenges me as an adult who wants to see everyone happy, no matter whether they’re famous or not.

As a writer, this is my obituary of sorts, no matter how stream of consciousness based it may be, twenty years on.

From birth to death: Diana, 1961-1997

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The Only Sure Things #FTSF #AtoZChallenge

“grief is the price you pay for love you see.”
—Miss Josephine Barry, “Anne The Series”

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Truer words have never been spoken.

The A to Z Challenge – T is for Taxes

How we pay for everything else.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and nothing free either.

After love, all we are left with is grief, but that love is always there.

Then there are those dreaded taxes. I consider myself lucky that my sister works at a tax office. She is learning the ropes. It’s nice to have that in the family because I am absolute rubbish with numbers.

So this time is a tense one, for many people and reasons, full of stress. April is tax time and time for bloggers to decide on whether or not to tackle doing the dreaded A to Z thing. It’s a lot of work and I haven’t even arrived at the hardest letters of the alphabet yet. Oh boy.

I’m tempted to keep this post light, but talk of grief is on my mind, as it is impossible to escape forever. Love and loss are wrapped up in one another. It’s inevitable. I may keep my distance, afraid of loss and getting hurt, but love is still the best thing I know. I can’t close myself off from it, simply because one day it will end in heartbreak.

I’m facing down thoughts of death all the while, I’m leaving the tax part in my sister’s more capable hands.

***This is my late contribution to
Finish the Sentence Friday
(three days late) because the prompts just happened to fit.

Finding Ninee’s perspective is an interesting one: nothing to lose and everything to lose, all at the same time. Check it out.

***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. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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TToT: Being the Heroine of My Own Story – Lucky, #EarthDay2017 #WorldBookDay #10Thankful

“There, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As my knowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister’s hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature and made me feel that ‘birds and flowers and I were happy peers.”

—Helen Keller, The Story of My Life

I’m trying to have the sense to live in the moment and to enjoy myself in that moment, whatever it might be, like Helen Keller and her teacher Miss Sullivan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rlQqWbp7rY

The only time things seem to make any sense is when I am with my nieces or nephews, holding my niece.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for more time spent, just myself and my little buddy Mya.

She didn’t want to sleep the entire time. She didn’t want to miss one second of her time with Auntie Kerry.

Then Kim told me there are a few photos recently taken where Mya looks like me. I may never have my own children. My sister will never know how much this small thing, one I won’t ever likely fully understand because I can’t see the pictures, means to me anyway.

I am thankful for my last violin lesson for a few weeks.

Last time we missed multiple weeks it was I who was going away. This time my teacher is traveling.

I hope, like last time, I don’t fall too far back in my progress.

I hope her trip is everything mine was to me, all she hopes.

I am thankful for my return to the library.

I haven’t been to my writing group (The Elsewhere Region like I like to refer to it) since February, for a few reasons.

Everyone there seemed pleased to see me, a few even saying they missed me. I missed them and their wonderful imaginations.

We had little scraps of paper with a few lines of story prompt written on them, thanks to one of the members of our group, and mine included: a frog prince, a talking donkey, a cloud castle, and Betty’s wish list.

Who is Betty you ask…well I asked myself that same question. It was the first try for me, in a while or at all really, at writing fantasy. I liked what I came up with, though I have no idea where I was headed with it, but then my equipment decided to cause a problem.

I was reading my story in progress out loud to the group, they were riveted, and then the second half of what I’d written seemed to vanish. I am sure I wrote it, but my technology doesn’t always cooperate.

I am thankful I could answer a few questions about how I’ve learned and lived as a blind person, for a good cause.

My sister’s sister-in-law works with a young boy who is blind. She helps him in his neighbourhood school, but she had some questions about how I’ve grown up, how I learned, and how my mom saw it all from the parent perspective.

She had the coolest keychain on her keys. Instead of a cube with coloured squares, she has three blocks that move from one side to another, and they contain tactile dots. They are braille dots and they make different letters in braille when you mix and match them.

A fun thing to do with your hands. She sounds like an excellent teacher who wants to keep learning the best possible ways to teach her student to be as successful in his life as possible and it seems he is lucky to have her.

I am thankful for a friend reaching out, mentioning me to her friend, and a new and possible connection made in the world of women writing and women’s storytelling.

Thank you Lizzi. Women helping and supporting other women. We can always use the help. I appreciate it.

Who knows what will or will not come of it, but that is what making connections is all about.

I am thankful for a lovely first visit with my new neighbour in my home.

We had a nice talk. Many more to come.

She even warned me about the roofers coming to her house and called me this evening, to check on me, when she thought she heard a noise over here.

I am thankful for this earth.

I watched Bill Maher say that 45 needs to forget “Make America Great Again” and instead “Make Earth Great Again.”

I totally agree. Mars is cool and everything (says this fan of planets since childhood) but we don’t have licence to be careless, reckless, and destroy this planet, just because some want to get there. It is not the answer to our problems of environmental and climate changes. Taking care of this place, the one already with plenty of water and life and the air we breathe, that will benefit us all in the end.

As many said, every day should be Earth Day for us all.

I am thankful for science.

All Around Us and Everything Essential

I thank all the scientists in my life: my oldest friend, my many excellent doctors over the years, my cousin and his wife, my new friend who is also a writer, Bill Nye The Science Guy (for teaching me to love our solar system when I was a child), and to so many who are much smarter than I am in these matters.

I owe science big and I believe those who marched all around the world were warranted in doing so. We need to make a statement. Science is worth fighting for.

I am thankful for another excellent episode of Anne The Series.

A young girl runs through a dark, snow covered forrest, carrying a lantern and wearing only a thin layer of night clothes.

Ahead By A Century.

I am glad Anne and Diana are allowed to be friends again so soon, but I didn’t expect these three things to happen, all in this one episode of Anne The Series: Diana’s sister almost dying, Anne meeting Great Aunt Miss Josephine Barry, and Gilbert suffering a huge loss.

The fist fight is one of the memorable parts of this one, likely brought on by grief and a need to defend a newly growing love and respect, even if the source of that love and respect doesn’t make it easy, like one before her.

Though Anne is conflicted about what her future should be, between romance that most young girls are desperate for and her strong ambition, she knows when she listens to her heart.

This episode is all about letters, long lost pleas that will now never be addressed and unfinished business and apologies.

More flashback with Marilla this time, as a young girl, about Anne’s age. Sadly, youth cannot last and family obligations altered everything, but not necessarily for the worse, for some more than others.

Matthew offers to help Gilbert, Marilla and Gilbert have a enlightening conversation about place and time, and Anne finds a kindred spirit in old Miss Barry, who the writing hints as having had a long same sex relationship with another woman. This was never even alluded to in the series I loved growing up, but the times are changing and I am glad for that. It was one of the pleasant surprises of this week’s instalment.

Some of my favourite themes explored in this narrative are those exploring grief, loss, stubbornness, regret, and how decisions can or may influence the future.

Anne goes to give her apology when she finds an abandoned house, Marilla is stuck with her regrets, and Matthew goes to the bank to make some mysterious financial transaction.

Season finale already next Sunday. That went fast and I hope the break isn’t too long, that a second season is in the works.

“Romance is a pesky business. No sense to be made of it.”
—Miss Josephine Barry

I am thankful for books, but not only them, but books in accessible formats.

On World Book Day, I am not just thankful for books, though I am always thankful for those. It’s being able to read them, hold them, learn from them, and to access them in either e-format, audiobooks, or in braille.

This wasn’t always possible if you couldn’t see to read and it still isn’t always made easy. I just want to be like Helen, with her love of reading and learning. Or Anne and hers.

And so one more week ends and another begins. It’s all still an endless, giant enigma to me.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

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Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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