FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Special Occasions

Happy 33 To Me, #FTSF

Twenty years ago, on this date, I spent my 13th birthday on dialysis, hooked up to a machine by an extremely fresh and painfully inserted central line in my chest.

So the nurses, me being the only child in a ward of mostly elderly patients, felt bad for the small girl on dialysis and they gave me a little birthday cake and all sang Happy Birthday to me.

How else do you make a small girl less upset to be stuck on kidney dialysis for her birthday, her first day as a teenager?

You present her with something sweet, that’s how.

It’s all relative. What made me upset then isn’t the same thing making me upset now, as a newly turned thirty-three-year-old.

I hadn’t even heard of him then…anyone by the name of…well, I’m not using the name on this blog from now on I’ve decided, even though in Harry Potter it says we should never shy away from using the name.

I am not afraid. Okay, well afraid for the world, sure, but I am more sad, enraged, frustrated, upset at where a lot of things currently are.

The other day, when I heard one of many in a string of a long line of blatant lies, it resulted in me giving myself a headache. These lies are going so far from the usual “all politicians lie lies” and into those that feel like they are so in-your-face that it almost feels like, when I hear them, they literally smack me in the face. So, I tried to act this out and my hand actually made physical contact with my own cheek.

I know, I know…ridiculous, right?

Upsetting, to be sure, but certainly not worth all that. Getting too upset in the moment means I don’t articulate myself all that well, for a writer, kind of like tonight apparently. I suppose it illustrates the theme of being upset rather nicely though.

Anyway…

I am celebrating twenty years of not having to spend birthdays or any other day tied to a dialysis machine. I am making big plans to celebrate that fact, come June. This is shaping up to be quite the thrill.

As for my birthday, people keep asking me how it’s been, how it’s going, and if I’ve had a good one. I try to answer, but how can I top the week I just spent in Mexico?

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some

I can’t and I’m not even trying to. Different thing.

My birthday present from family and from myself was that trip. This day can’t quite live up to that and I could now go on to list the specific reasons why it hasn’t, or I could just say I’m upset I’m no longer in Mexico. I could just leave it here, but it’s late and I am in need of sleep and I am trying to sort out how turning another year older makes me feel. So, I will go on, at least a little more.

As I stare out at a restaurant, one where I am celebrating my birthday by having a lovely lunch with my father, I see a lot of blurry space in front of my eyes, mixed with the constant noise of a loud lunchtime crowd. These things feed into each other and I wonder if I will still see anything at all, upon turning thirty-four next year or on turning forty-three in ten years time. Will I sill see anything at all, on any number of future birthday celebrations in my future?

When I get upset about these thoughts, these very questions that are asked, without much prompting inside my own head, I try to remember everything I’ve been lucky to see and all the brilliant living I’ve still got yet to do.

I get really upset by a birthday where I go to give blood and I leave with a bandage on each arm because veins were hard to come by, but a needle now and then is nothing compared to what once was.

After twenty years of needles for a lot of blood tests, there’s scar tissue in both arms and I didn’t drink enough before going in. It’s not the nurse’s fault. I was distracted, but it didn’t hurt, not by this point.

I then decided, since I was already in the building, to stop in at an adjoining medical office, which just so happens to be my dentist’s office, to make an appointment for a routine teeth cleaning. I’m long overdue. The only thing more celebratory than making a dentist appointment on one’s birthday will be the romance of a Valentine’s Day oral checkup, right?

I wished for something rather odd this year. It’s not the first thing I’d think of when blowing out candles, but I did wish that, if I were going to get one of my common colds, thanks to my somewhat lowered immune system, I’d rather get it on my birthday than having had it occur at any point while I was in Mexico.

It’s seemed, on the eve of my birthday, that I had gotten my wish.

And now, am I upset that I have a sore throat and other symptoms ongoing on my birthday, with a lively family triple celebration still to come tomorrow? It’s not so nice, but my week in Mexico was all pretty nearly perfect, so I am okay with it really.

I took a break all day, making it a point not to read Facebook and my newsfeed for my birthday, if it meant I could avoid all stories about the U.S. so-called president and whatever nonsense he was up to on the day of my birth. I did use Facebook to feel the birthday love from friends and family though. One makes me upset when I read and the other makes me smile.

When I’m upset, I think of all the things I have to be thankful for. When I feel upset because I am back from such a week of writing in Mexico and I worry I will never figure out my future, I remember the generous compliments about my talents as a writer that I received from my writing mentor and from the other writers in the group. I may have felt a fair bit of fear and uncertainty since I arrived home, but I can’t put so much pressure on myself, on my own birthday no less, to figure it out right away.

When I am upset about so many things I can’t control, things the world feels like it’s getting all wrong, I think of so much that has gone right for me lately and I listen to the things being said to me by people I love and trust and who know me and who think I’m special in some way.

I don’t let those who don’t know I exist speak nasty things to me inside my own head. I can’t control all those awful things that cause me upset and I can often do very little about seeing those I love or admire become upset either. I can offer a kind word or a compliment or a joke to break the tension. I can write, no matter how pointless it might seem in the moment of despair or cheerlessness.

Another birthday has come and gone. I can’t say where I’ll be, what I’ll have just experienced or accomplished by my next birthday. I can fight feeling upset. I can acknowledge it and then I can move forward.

Finish The Sentence Friday

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy thirty-three! Happy Birthday to me!

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah HumBug! Whoosh! #SnowInTheSahara #10Thankful

: 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!

—Dr. Seuss

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.

Neil Gaiman Reads “A Christmas Carol” – NYPL Podcast

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)

cH6gv6W.jpg

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.

Snow Falls In The Sahara For First Time In Over 37 Years – Bored Panda

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.

Why Do People Tell Ghost Stories on Christmas? – The Smithsonian

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.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/obama-ban-offshore-drilling-arctic-atlantic-1.3905384

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!

Is Montreal’s Christmas tree ugly, or are we just looking at it wrong?

: 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.

—Dr. Seuss, 1956

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, TToT

TToT: Do Or Die – Mercy! #10Thankful

“Writing and reading to me is synonymous with existing.”
–Gertrude Stein

kerport-009-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

What a difference a week can make.

Last week was the perfect autumn weather and this week all I keep hearing about is snow.

Last weekend the Toronto Blue Jays were not expected to be in the game for much longer and this week they still have a chance.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I seem to remember something about a book of rules for the TToT and there’s one of those for baseball, not that I understand it, but more about that later.

It was a difficult week, in some respects, but only because I am finally putting myself out there, my writing and myself, and receiving feedback. This translates into criticism and that can be difficult to take sometimes. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my immune system.

Mine works for me. Okay, so I may be singing a different tune come the middle of winter, but at the moment I think all’s well.

I have been around several sick friends and family in the past month and I just assumed I would catch their colds, etc.

I haven’t. I have a lower immune system, as a transplant recipient, and it can seem to permit multiple colds each winter, every year, but it is unpredictable. I can’t predict when or if I’m going to get a cold.

I am visiting a friend in Toronto tomorrow and her niece is there recovering from a bone marrow transplant. As long as I don’t jinx myself and come down with something in the next twenty-four hours, I will be happy and thankful. Not to mention, my immune system hasn’t decided to completely attack my father’s kidney, in nearly twenty years, so that’s something to be grateful for.

For a delicious cup of coffee, some relaxing Lorde inspired tunes, and a couple of hours at the salon.

Portishead

The coffee and the half hour I sat there, listening to music playing and the hustle and bustle of my cousin’s salon, while my hair had foils in it and waiting for the dye to do its thing made for a most relaxing break.

For the chance to feel like I was dressed up and with somewhere to go for the evening.

For the deliciousness that is movie popcorn.

Who’s with me?

For a totally eye-opening documentary experience.

“Our voices are our most powerful weapons.”

I went to see He Named Me Malala and I found it to be every bit as inspiring and moving and sweet and real as I thought it would be.

This film needed to be made and it needs to be seen around the world. It makes me cry, but it forces me to be thankful.

For the game that kept Toronto in the running, for the first time in over twenty years.

It was a real rush to know that we had little chance, at that point, but that I never lost faith. It ended up being one for the record books, and I don’t pretend to understand all the little ins and outs of the game and its rules, but I know the tension and the energy felt, sitting there watching.

We were losing two games in a five game series. Nobody thought we would go on to win the next three, but I believed.

What is it about rooting for one’s sports team that can cause such strong feelings and stress?

For my white cane.

kerport-184-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

October 15th was White Cane Day or White Cane Safety Day. I feel like a lot of these days are more US based, a lot of the times, but it doesn’t really matter where or what day.

I will admit that I have had my battles with the white cane. I have truthfully felt embarrassed about it, like a little brother or sister, always tagging along, but being forced by a parent to let them join in the fun.

Yeah, I’m working on getting over my issues because without it, I would be in more danger and would have been left without the means to get somewhere, anywhere, unable to see my surroundings well enough. I can’t deny the importance it has played and must play to me in future.

For my first Internet radio show interview.

Traveling With the Speed of Sight

I think I’ll stick with writing my blog, but it never hurts to try something new.

For you never knows’.

I did not expect a lot of people to listen to that interview, honestly, but all it takes is one.

One of the writer/editor friends I’ve made online and on Facebook just happened to be listening and immediately messaged me after the interview ended.

I admire her and her work so much and her online publication is at the top of my list of places I am determined to see my writing on.

Full Grown People

For the good and the bad that comes from putting myself out there.

Sure, this week I received some hard to hear criticism, but I also received some personal invites to submit my writing and to do more guest posts.

This, to me, would be considered a week of triumphs.

The Canadian federal election tomorrow could be the change we need, but there is a bit of a clash of events happening.

Elections Canada vs Jays Fans On October 19

Oh, don’t we Canadians have problems in our country?

😉

At least we’re aware of the issues that are important to us and as long as we know our priorities, right?

Mercy Mercy Me

I’ve been inspired, again this week, to not be silent, in whatever way that might be.

I love the female voices I’m hearing lately: both young and old.

Do I look scared to you?

You tell em Hazel!

“There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.”
–Malala Yousafzai

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