I am thankful that all of Canada has come together in a time of grief.
A GoFundMe page has been set up, which has already raised over 4 million dollars for families and survivors, and Justin Trudeau visited the injured. With all the bad in the world, even in moments of shock and loss, I feel better to sense a coming together of my country, from coast to coast to coast.
I read that one of the young men recently signed his donor card. This is a tough subject, but as the sister of someone who five years ago received a kidney from another person lost, I know the other side, that the side of organ donation.
I don’t have a clue about the tragic side of having to let go like that, but to know a gift is being given, I can’t pretend I don’t recall that relief I felt for my brother’s sake and for my own.
I don’t know what else to say. It’s one of the hardest things any person could experience, I’m sure. Still, I had to speak up about it, to include it in this list.
I’m thankful for beautiful art that remains after death.
One of the fifteen killed was not only a hockey player, but he could make brilliant music on the piano. (See performance link above.)
I will start and end this TToT post, speaking of music, but as things must and do go on…
I’m thankful I got a sudden call that a cancelation came up for me to get a physical therapy appointment finally.
I’ve been waiting for this call for over a year now.
I’m thankful the therapist took the time to go through my lengthy medical history with me.
It took up her whole allotted hour. We didn’t even have time to get to any stretches.
I’m thankful she plans to educate herself, to read up on my rare syndrome, before our next appointment.
I am thankful for the smooth and textured needs of two new bracelets.
Some are smooth, but other parts are made up of lava stone. They have tiny grooves in them and you’re supposed to drip the smallest drop of essential oil on them. Then, I can have a gentle and soothing touch of scent against the skin of my wrist, wherever I go.
My cousin, who runs a hair salon, also sells handmade items, such as jewelry and things. I like to shop, supporting local makers.
I’m thankful I got to attend my violin teacher’s masters recital.
I met her family after and they, along with her friends and other students/teachers, were all so proud of her, including this one student of hers in particular.
So many people, all there to support her. She has worked at it nearly all of her life. Her skill has taken years to develop. I will miss her and everything she’s done for me, once she moves on for further education, but this show was outstanding.
I was in a mood all that day, before her show that night. I don’t know what it was or why. I kind of wonder if it wasn’t me, feeling anxious and nervous, for her sake. I get more nervous for others more than for myself, if possible, when someone I know or care about is going to be tested or performing in front of people, like when my brother plays guitar.
This time, I am not sure, maybe it was just a bad day. Then, when I sat down, the song she played on her violin seemed to calm me, changing my mood and reducing my anxiety. The song was something I’d really never heard before. It was abrupt and anxious sounding, but it seemed to put, into music, the exact feelings I’d been experiencing. It took it all down several notches and I felt like it expressed precisely how I’d felt.
I’m thankful for not only a piece of music that speaks to me, but also a passage in a book.
This one is from A Wrinkle In Time. I read it and it brought together the elements of my own head, the themes that have been with me most of my life, something deep inside, of which I’ve put into my own song lyrics in the past. I’ve even dreamt this sensation:
“This movement, she felt, must be the turning of the earth, rotating on’ its axis, traveling its elliptic course about the sun. And this feeling of moving with the earth was somewhat like the feeling of being in the ocean, out in the ocean beyond this rising and falling of the breakers, lying on the moving water, pulsing gently with the swells, and feeling the gentle, inexorable tug of the moon.”
From the moon to the sea…RIP to those lost and deepest condolences to all those who’ve lost loved ones.
He was a friendly, grandfatherly man, the one who first made me feel safe and heard. No longer did I have to be afraid because, along with my parents, this doctor was going to do all he could for me.
So now I come out of surgery. My father does too. We hurt, but we were in capable hands. My father is down to one kidney and I now have three. Of course, two were the problem to begin with, and I’m left with one. I’m still running on one. Thanks to those surgeons I am where I am.
His soft voice was in contrast with the brighter than bright lights he shown in my eyes. The worst pain I’d ever felt, ever, and he would find out why.
Okay, not really, but he received an A for effort from this patient.
He is not going to totally save the sight I’ve got left, but maybe someone, someday can.
He tried all he could, x-rays held high, showing the degree my spine was curving. His Dr. name sounded like my first name. He straightened me out alright.
Metal rods in. Metal rod out. I’ve got one heck of a scar running down my back, but he stopped my spine and skeletal system from crushing my lungs.
And when the pain came and did not go, those I met were mostly kind, when many couldn’t seem to understand why. That scares doctors, when they don’t know, and some put up a brave front, mostly bravado.
But there were those who were kind and gentle and non judgmental when I told them how much it hurt, my head, my scalp, my skin, tender to the touch. They did not scoff.
Medical scientists could make a baby, using modern medicine in miraculous ways. Hope replaced despair. My nephew and now my niece bring my whole family joy.
When my brother goes through more medical crap, things I can not protect him from, or travel the road exactly as he must do, leading the way in ways only a big sister can…it’s those we meet whom can make us better, but more likely they do their best.
That’s all any of us can do.
So here we are again, after last week’s Finish the Sentence Friday,
and my idea of there possibly being more than one post to get out of the subject of the people who shape us seems to have stuck.
Things seem to happen in my family, every time she asks me to co-host.
Last time it was the birth of my niece. This time, another family medical event occurred, but I am getting back to the subject with Kristi of Finding Ninee.
Somebody that I met changed my life, my health, and that of those I love. Somebody else did the same for my loved ones, in their moments of searching for better and for happier.
I am grateful to those medical experts and professionals who changed my life and the lives of those I love and have in my life now.
: You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch / You’re a nasty, wasty skunk / Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk / Mr. Gri-inch / The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!
Two holiday favourites I like to watch this time of year are The Grinch and A Christmas Carol. I wonder at if the real life Grinches and Scrooge’s of this world could grow a heart and see the error of their ways, but sadly, I doubt it by this point.
Also, as I was sitting in the gymnasium from my youth, watching a new generation of children singing about Santa and snowflakes and all the other traditions of this time of year, I felt the ghosts of my own childhood, all the years I spent in elementary school. I also listened to songs about snowflakes and I thought about that.
I get on my own case for letting it bother me at all that the idea of a snowflake has been hijacked by those who have started referring to “liberals” as “special snowflakes” and saying all the “special snowflakes” need to go and hide out in their “safe places”.
So just what exactly is so wrong with that, anyway? Huh? Hmm?
I want a break from worries. As much as I love the advice I’m often given, to try not to focus on those things that upset me, I refuse to let something as beautiful as a snowflake be a negative thing. Or, as if a safe place is somehow a bad place to be.
Oh, no no no. I…Don’t…Think…SO!
So, here I am, starting this pre-Christmas TToT with a rant or two, but I wish I didn’t have it on my mind to rant about anything at all. I do plan to give myself the gift of a break from all that once Christmas does come.
(this is a real single snowflake showing all of the tiny details)
I’m thankful for snowflakes.
Snowflakes are special, this is true. They are nature at its finest. They are the most delicate things and I am lucky to have grown up with them, here in Canada. I recently had a fascinating conversation with someone who didn’t grow up with the kind of snow we have here. He spoke of his thoughts about it now. I enjoyed hearing his perspective, so different from mine.
They are all different, snowflakes, and that makes them special, not one being the same as another. They may be delicate on their own, but as more and more of them fall, eventually they become a collection of flakes, which makes snow and the results of enough snowflakes, all packed together, this can become the most unstoppable of forces: an avalanche.
I’m thankful for safe places.
Wait until war ravages where you call home and then see if you look for a safe place to run to.
In a world so full of harsh weather and cruel human behaviours, and a safe place is something we all would cling desperately to.
I thank everything I have for home, which is my safe place/space, where family are and where I know I am loved by someone. I desire greatly to explore the world, but I’m sure thankful I have the safe place right here to return to. If that makes me winy or pathetic to some, so be it.
I’m thankful for solstice. Man, do I love that word.
December 21st is the first day of winter. I am ready for it.
I think there is something beautiful about winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. People are thrilled this means the days, from here on out, begin to lengthen and commence in June. That will be another big month in my life, but for now, I enjoy what transpires in this part of the world and astronauts have seen it and word it best:
Generations of astronauts, after looking at Earth from space, have professed a profound new understanding of it. Edgar Mitchell, who, in 1971, became the sixth man to walk on the moon, said, “From out there . . . international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ” Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong’s crewmate on Apollo 11, expressed similar sentiments in his memoir, “Carrying the Fire,” which was published in the midst of the Cold War. Seeing our home planet from afar, he wrote, prompted an epiphany: “The earth
Must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.”
Mike Massimino, in his memoir, “Spaceman,” reports having spent almost a full day staring out a window of the Space Shuttle Columbia, watching sunrises and lightning storms (“like a form of communication, like a sequence, like the clouds are alien creatures speaking to each other in code”). On his second spacewalk, Massimino told me recently, he had a spare moment to “take in the view.” He recalls being struck not only by Earth’s incredible beauty—“We are living in a paradise”—but also by its fragility. From out there, he said, especially during night passes, “you can see the thinness of the atmosphere,” a bluish-green line. This sudden perception of Earth as a delicate, intricate system is so common among astronauts that the writer Frank White coined a term for it: the overview effect.
Astronauts are endlessly fascinating to me, in part because they have a knack for poignant quotations. Buzz Aldrin, for instance, described the lunar landscape as a vision of “magnificent desolation,” a grand phrase for a bleak truth. Unlike our paradisiacal, blue-and-white Earth, the moon has no atmosphere and no real sky—just gray dust and black space, such that color photographs from moonwalks appear mostly black and white, as though someone colorized the American flags after the fact.
NASA brought six flags to the moon, on poles outfitted with horizontal crossbars so that the stars and stripes would show, as though caught in a nonexistent breeze. The flags are still there, but radiation is presumed to have left them in tatters—monuments to our love of Earth, or maybe just litter.
I’m thankful for the chance to return to my childhood for an afternoon.
It was a tad emotional, I admit, but it brought back a lot of worthwhile memories that had me thinking.
I have so much wrapped up in that building, both good and bad. I found it highly moving to return there. It gave me a lot to think about.
Speaking of ghosts at Christmas time, they were everywhere there.
I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s Christmas concert.
Oh, aw, ah all those little boys and girls, trying so hard and singing their hearts out. They tried their best, especially the youngest ones like my nephew, to remember the words they practiced and my nephew, for one, was nervous when he walked on stage and saw how many of us there were in the audience.
I couldn’t pick out my nephew up there, as I am unable to see anywhere that clearly upon returning to that school as an adult with considerably less sight, but I am still glad I went, even if he couldn’t see me either.
I’m thankful for safeguards and protection for natural places.
President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau working together once more, for one of the final acts together, to preserve parts of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
They are protected against off shore oil drilling in those places. I don’t know how foolproof it will be, if what they’ve done will stand the test of time and Trump, but we shall see.
I am glad the two men are working together, once more, at something worthwhile. Sure, it may not be protecting everything that needs protecting, but it is something.
I’m thankful for a return to my library writing group.
I had missed a few, but I am glad I returned for this final meeting of “The Elsewhere Region” of 2016.
There were cookies and chocolate with mint and chocolate and raspberry tea. I don’t normally drink tea like the rest of them like to do, always afraid I might spill mine all over my electronics, but this time the tea sounded just too good to pass up. I took precautions, but the tea was delicious. Just the perfect thing for the occasion.
I wrote a story, dialogue and a conversation between two young women. The mystery object one member brought in was a strange family Christmas decoration. It was a frog wearing a fancy outfit and hat and his tag said something about him being named Mistle Toad.
Okay, so I guess he was a toad, not a frog, but it made for some interesting ideas for a writing prompt. We discussed and most wrote about the popular idea of kissing a frog and making it turn into a handsome prince.
My story confused some, but it really illustrates how, like snowflakes, all our writing styles are so diverse and so very much our own.
My imagination is a lot different from many of the other writers in the group. This always makes for a fun time.
I’m thankful for understanding doctors and nurses.
I have a doctor who hasn’t given up on me, even though I am a bit of a difficult case, and who promises I can call and come see her if anything comes up, even if it’s before our next scheduled appointment. That’s the sort of empathy and understanding I have always hoped for.
Also, I have a nurse offering to give me an iPhone case she no longer needs.
I’m thankful for my flu shot.
I know many people think it totally unnecessary. Some have gotten sick soon after getting one in the past and feel it can cause more problems than it helps prevent. I must say that I do take my low immune system seriously enough. If I can ever prevent getting a bad flu one of these times, I will get the shot.
My arm hasn’t even really bothered me this year, since getting it, and after the initial stinging and burning of the injection itself.
For those who are in perfect health, who are young and strong, there’s likely no huge need for it. Either way. I don’t get too worked up. It’s easy enough to get and so I do.
I’m thankful for a surprise Christmas card.
Thank you Lizzi
for the surprise. I also enjoyed the tactile parts on the front of the card and the surprises to be found inside.
I admit I don’t do up Christmas cards myself. I find it hard, all so visual and I guess I’ve lost a little of my artistic streak, which I could draw on to make cards still for people.
As for Christmas cards, having them sent to me, not many are. I suppose many people think I won’t be able to see them anyway, so what’s the point? I don’t know. I may feel somewhat left out, but there are other ways of expressing holiday cheer. It’s just nice, once and a while.
: He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!
: Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.
This will be part gratitude post and part music review, I’ve decided. Music always causes me to be thankful.
Here’s what else’s going on.
I am thankful for some of the best October weather lately.
Okay, so that weather decided not to hold on for our family day, when we’d planned on visiting a pumpkin patch, to have a good time like we did last year. Ah well, can’t win em all.
Before that though, well I would stop at my favourite spot in my house, my stairs, on the landing, and I would put my chin on the window ledge. It is high enough that I just meet its height. It makes me feel child-like when I stand there. It offers perspective.
With this weather, first it was a couple of extremely breezy days and I just loved the sound of rustling leaves in the trees, some far off hissing. Such mild breezes and the smell in the air was just glorious.
I am thankful for Canadian healthcare.
I tried to feel indignant on some comments DT made about our healthcare, but decided that is nothing but wasted energy.
Nothing is perfect, as I continue to have symptoms that become difficult to treat, but when it really counts, Canada is the best place to be.
Again, I worried about my brother’s health, three years post kidney transplant. He needed medical help this week suddenly, to be treated for shingles immediately, and he was. Hopefully, he is on the road to total recovery. Knock on wood there are no further complications from the virus. It is his second time with it.
I am thankful for live music.
Shawn Hook was the opening act.
I am thankful that I was able to attend a live musical performance like no other, with my sister and my unborn niece or nephew.
Lots to say about this show, which was a lovely surprise of a performance, but I still want to write a full review another time.
This song just makes me want to get up and dance.
I was looking forward to seeing Lindsey Stirling live for a while now and, once more, I found myself becoming transformed by what I heard and felt.
I am thankful for another Wednesday evening in “The Elsewhere Region” (which just means my twice-a-month writing group), that you just never know who might show up there.
This week we had a surprise guest from Denmark. She was a friend of one of our members, just visiting for the week, but it was nice that she came along. She is a writer too, which was obvious from her piece that she wrote and read aloud to the group.
I am thankful for the love of certain kinds of music that my father has passed on to me, from his generation, of the kind that a lot of people my age don’t have.
My father taught me to love and appreciate The Beatles. I owe him for that.
This documentary was sweet and sad and it brings you back to the 60s, a time I did not live through, but when I watch things like this, I feel I can understand a little of what that time was like.
I am thankful for a violin teacher who shows me lots of compassionate patience and who lends me a chin support so I can keep hold on my violin with just my neck and head.
I am thankful for my brother’s quiet support of my attempt to learn to play the violin.
Recently, my discouragement has been growing, but I will not give up.
Some things we really want, we soon learn just aren’t meant to be. Learning to play the violin, for me, isn’t one of them.
Doesn’t mean I don’t doubt myself on a regular basis. I may not be the most dedicated player, devoting hours and hours to learning, but I am a slow yet determined learner.
Just when I was beginning to doubt that I was doing all of this for the long run, I practiced, on the sly, while most of my family were elsewhere. I did not draw attention to it, but my older brother was present.
We both think the violin is just so neat and I felt better in that moment, when I acknowledged how hard it’s been and when he offered up his signature style of quiet support as I fumbled to get through a song.
I vowed then that I would not give up on my dream.
I am also thankful that he doesn’t give up.
He keeps helping me with things I struggle to do on my own, now that it’s just me.
I think music sounds so much better in surround sound. He made it so much easier for me to go from cable TV, to movies, to my computer. The fewer steps there are, the easier I will pick it up and do it on my own, even if it takes me forever to master it all.
And my brother keeps coming back, helping me, over and over again.
I love hearing my niece and nephews playing. They even allow me to get in on their games now and again as well.
We played and I watched how the game was constructed. How my niece acted out what she sees every day, with the grown ups in her life, how there’s a repeated order to the imaginary day we were living. Wake up. Going shopping. Eating lunch. Having a day where we just rest. Back to bed. My brother was the best at these last two.
Children are the best and I watch the children in my life, reminding me of the child I once was myself. This is a priceless gift.
“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”
—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter
Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.
I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.
I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?
What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.
If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.
And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.
I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.
I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.
I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.
After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.
The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?
I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.
This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.
Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.
It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.
I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.
This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.
I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.
I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.
I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.
I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.
I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.
I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.
This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.
I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.
I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.
I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.
The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.
Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.
I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.
Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.
So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.
I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.
One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:
STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable
Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable
September 9, 2016 clickable
Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable
Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable
Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable
All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable
I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable
I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable
It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.
Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.
Merry Christmas or whatever it is you say, each one of you. I am looking for some peace. Do you know where I could find some?
Nothing goes together more suitably than the Christmas season, peace, and compassion, right? So it should be easy to write about compassion at this time of year.
So then why do those stories of last minute shopping woes and packed stores threaten the peace and compassion I try to focus on?
It’s all about perspective. The last time I spent time in a hospital, visiting a loved one, it happened – all the chaos of the world I couldn’t get away from, (with 24/7 news and social media), all that stuff vanished. As soon as I feared for a loved one’s health I left that chaotic world of sensationalism and drama. What is truly important? It was right there in front of me, staring me in the face.
I saw plenty of compassion for our fellow humans, but I also saw plenty of the other side of things. I didn’t choose to be lifted, so suddenly, into an alternate reality, but I was.
Then it happened again, almost one month later exactly. The first episode in the hospital with my brother was a trial run, for a much worse experience. Again, all the politics here in North America, the horrors of ISIS, and the tragedy of refugees in Europe all took a backseat to my family and the compassion we would receive from other sources.
It started with the way my immediate family come together in the hard times. We rally. We close ranks.
We went into a state of adrenaline, as we did not know, minute to minute, what the situation was. That did not matter, though, in the end. We would be able to handle it, whatever “IT” was. That’s just how we roll.
We found compassion from hospital staff, doctors and nurses alike. We did not have a clue what we were doing. We still don’t. I know we got through it and will continue getting through, no matter what.
We sent word to the rest of our family and friends. They jumped to our aid and supported us. I clung to hope and the positive words of those who seemed to be more sure than I could manage to be, sure that my brother was strong and would fight back against whatever might be holding him down. It wouldn’t win, they were sure of that.
Technology and social media went from being sources of continuous and maddening news articles to a place where I could listen to the proclamations of those positive thinkers and friends. I found compassion there for my current situation and I held tight to that life raft in the ocean of uncertainty and fear I felt lost in.
Then I just happen to hear the news on a television, as I sat in a hospital lounge, just down the hall from where my brother was sleeping. All the horrors and the stress out there in the world crept in. I tried to keep it out, but it felt like cold water thrown in my face, waking me back up to a world out from my own private concerns. I couldn’t ignore the fear I now felt, both close to home and in the wider world. I still felt compassion for those refugees, the ones I wanted to write about, who have made it here to Canada and those still fighting for basic human necessities, out there somewhere.
I again wished and searched for some peace, in and amongst the craziness. It’s almost Christmas now and I still would like to know where that elusive thing called peace is hiding out.
I found compassion. It’s out there. People are doing good things. Those like
Last year I was a wreck. I was feeling blue and Christmas, a time where I’ve always felt cheerful at the mere approaching of December 25th. Something only made me more apathetic deep down, as last year came to a close.
It was my one and only younger brother who came to the rescue then. He lifted my spirits. He showed me an alternative to the Christmas seasons of my past, and I took hold of it gratefully: never-before-seen Christmas movies and music you would never hear on the radio. His compassion for how I was feeling, lost and alone, that brought me through, got me through.
Now here we were and I felt no peace. I felt around, in the darkness and the emptiness and the ever widening hole in my heart, reaching and grasping for anything I could offer my brother when he needed me. I could not help. I felt incapable of giving him anything close to what he’d given me one year ago. I could not fail him now.
Where was the compassion for myself? I knew I was scared and feeling entirely unable to handle much of any great weight. I feared I would never be able to write again, that my words were no solace to me when I needed something, anything. I knew I needed to eat, to rest, to take care of myself, but I couldn’t function. I had no way of knowing how long that might go on.
And then I heard her words. She spoke of her struggle, watching over her husband, hurt in a car crash. She saw him suffer and she stood by him. That’s what love looks like, I thought. My head in my hands, ready to throw them up in the air in frustration, I let her uplifting message of thinking positive and using any and all available energy to think best possible outcome wash over me. I listened to her words, her simple words of encouragement, my hands closing tight over my face, to squeeze all the panic I was feeling away, I raised my head up finally.
With all the rushing around that people do at this time of year I try to think of those who are sitting, still and quiet, with their loneliness at Christmas. This time of year brings up a lot of bad memories, beautiful memories, all things long gone now and I know how that feels. Suffering does not stop, indeed heightens, when the rest of the world is off celebrating somewhere. I like to have an added bit of compassion for what someone else may very well be dealing with. Sharing that isn’t always so easy, as we’re meant to feel like we’re doing it wrong if we can’t seem to find the spirit of the season.
A lot of compassion has been shown lately, by family and friends and near strangers, and that helps make the worst things bearable. Compassion is when a bunch of the people my father works with come together and raise money to give as a gift to my brother, recovering from a recent brain injury.
It’s not hard to find it: compassion, if you’re aware and open to finding it, but you must be willing to give it too. I want more compassion, for us all, as I return to the awareness of a wider world around me, full of suffering and need. I want it for those refugees who need a helping hand. For Muslims who feel like the world is ganging up on them for things beyond their control. I will join in the holiday traditions with my family and I will be grateful for my brother’s recovery and for the fact that we could have spent Christmas in a hospital. Small blessings are big things.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or all the best, for whatever it is you celebrate and believe. Whatever you want to call it, it’s all about compassion, when you boil it down. I will be back, to spread as much compassion as I can, with the help and encouragement of 1000Speak, in the new year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.”
The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:
Ten Things of Thankful
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.
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.
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.
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,
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?
For this week’s post I thought I would highlight the need for integration and awareness, for a cause so important to me: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Canada.
Q: Do you think that its more important to emphasize medical treatment, life skills, community integration, or a combination of these things?
A: I am a big fan of not choosing one thing. In this case, just one won’t cut it.
Of course physical health is important. Any medical treatment that is required should not be ignored, whether through denial or fear.
In my case, eye doctors were vital when my remaining vision was in question and in danger.
Yet, there is so much more to the picture than eye health. Life skills and community integration are things that can not be ignored, or suffering and isolation follow.
I can’t express enough how vital my parents were in these elements. Once the medical condition of blindness was established it was time to get on with the business of living.
I do for myself as much as I can and those skills were taught to me as a child, as they were for any other.
Community integration brings me back to the start of this post.
Of course nothing is yet easy and simple. It is important to feel like you are a part of something bigger, community is that something. I know a lot of the work of integrating people with disabilities is still needed.
Nowhere is this as clear as in employment. We are not yet at a place where the numbers of people with disabilities, especially visual impairment, are high, integrated into the community and working alongside.
Integration can be a big and daunting word, for everyone. Both sides need to be able to communicate and play their part, if there is to be any real success. There needs to be an effort put forth by all involved.
My blindness doesn’t have to impede everything. There are certain jobs I could perform very well, if given the chance. This is really only possible because I was once taught many life skills others take for granted and don’t really think about.
The integration is then required to complete the process.
Medical treatment, life skills, and community integration are accomplished, for people with disabilities, in steps, one building on the other until the person is as well-off and well-adjusted as possible.
For more information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month, go