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

Fearing The Unknown, #AtoZChallenge

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

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Was I afraid it would hurt?

The A to Z Challenge – E is for Earings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer

Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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Blogging, Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Run Time and Take Five – State Smash! #ShePersisted #10Thankful

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m fired up, in a lot of ways and by the positive signs of women persisting, remaining cautiously but still incredibly thankful.

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I know, I see, I’m not the only one.

Ten Things of Thankful, #10Thankful

So, to keep things in the proper perspective, I’ll just launch right into what makes me so grateful.

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(Makers, all, with Anado McLauchlin.)

I’m thankful for this group.

And for these girls.

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I’m thankful for friends, together, in one special spot.

I missed out on seeing for myself just how colourful this place was, but at least I got to take a break, for a minute or two, to sit on the couch with friends.

Thanks, Anado, for letting us into your home.

I’m thankful for newly introduced music, better late than not at all.

RIP Mr. Jarreau.

The guy sure could scat!

Speaking of music and birthdays, I’m thankful to have made it to a year with my decision to learn how to play the violin.

It was on my last birthday that I walked into a music store and rented a violin. I had no idea what I was getting into then. Well, okay, I kind of knew. I knew, but I didn’t really know. Know what I mean?

No?

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I’m thankful for a teacher, to take this photo of my re-commitment, one who hasn’t given up on me, even in those moments when I’ve wanted to give up on ever learning a difficult instrument like the violin in my thirties.

She taught me new finger exercises, ways to strengthen my left hand and the fingers on it. I spent most of my anniversary/birthday lesson wishing for new fingers, longer fingers, but I will get there, one day.

I’m thankful for another birthday.

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I’m still mulling over what that means, on a practical level of course. I had a rather subdued birthday, after spending a week in Mexico, but it did have its high points.

I had blood taken and both arms needed to be poked. I made a dentist appointment. I drank a lot of tea to fight off the beginnings of a sore throat. I had another bad eye day, noticing how blurry everything looked as I ate lunch out with my father.

I did wonder if I will still see anything by my next birthday. I am not freaked by being one age one day and another the next. I do realize, however, that I am getting older. A lot of things bring this fact home to me. I am trying to still live in the moment and enjoy all that life has to offer, but at a certain point I have to think about the future and what I want, really want and what is good for me.

Everything in life has its Run-Time.

I’m thankful for another successful, triple family birthday celebration.

It got off to a slow start, but really kicked into high gear there.

The lasagna was delicious. The kids were smarter than when we last saw them, all the way back at Christmas, if that is possible.

The best thing about each year I gain since they were all born is getting to see how they grow with every passing year, whomever happens to be the one celebrating the actual birthday.

They are all so creative and full of imagination. We adults have a ball watching them interact with each other and with all of us.

My family and I don’t likely agree on every single thing in life, but we are all pretty in sync on most things that really matter. It makes for a lovely coming together of the minds, not to mention senses of humour and attitudes on life.

There is always just the right amount of nostalgia and, this year, there are plans in the works for zip lining in Niagara Falls this spring.

Who else can you count on to try something as thrilling as zip lining with you, on a day that matters greatly to you, but your family? Mine are the best for those sorts of things.

It’s fun to sing Happy Birthday to three people at once. I only sing for two.

Happy Birthday Paul/Steve. You both crack me up and are the two best big brothers any thirty-three-year-old could ask for.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help in figuring out what I need to do, as part of taking some of my next, newest steps in my writing.

The writing is one thing. The business side is quite another. It’s all somewhat scary in its own way.

Filling out forms and paperwork is not my thing. Necessary, I realize. I truly appreciate any help I can get.

I am thankful my bracelet was found after I set it down, in my own house, and couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where I’d stashed it.

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A few of us got jewelry when we visited Anado’s home. We share this in common now and wanted to commemorate the fact.

I knew I would get home and set mine down somewhere, forgetting where that somewhere was. It scratches against the metal of my laptop when I’m writing, so I take it off, but I don’t like to.

Brian said it sounded like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find it, the bracelet reminding him of “My Precious!” and he had a point.

Thanks to my brother-in-law for spotting where I’d left it. I hope I would have remembered, sooner or later.

Made By Anado

This is my reminder of my time in Mexico. It is more than just any old bracelet. It was made by Anado McLauchlin and it reminds me of the makers of this world. It reminds me, when I hold it, of my purpose. It brings me peace to feel all the different bits of it under my fingertips.

And, finally, I’m thankful that this hasn’t ended.

Very grateful that someone has decided to take over the weekly running of the thankful blog hop, to give its originator a well deserved break.

I would have went ahead with these gratitude posts, one way or another, but it’s nice that it will continue on with more than just this blog.

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Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

My Mystery Object Speaks

It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.

Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.

🙂

Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.

It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.

The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.

Past mystery objects have included:

— A painted model of a dragon

And

— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.

I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.

Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.

This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.

They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.

🙂

The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.

“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.

“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.

My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.

I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.

This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.

I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.

I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.

This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.

I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.

I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.

I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.

Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:

— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)

— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.

— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.

— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.

I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.

People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.

The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.

For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.

This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.

Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, SoCS

#SoCS, Engraved

I am finally going to be one of the first to get my #SoCS post out there this week.

A few weeks ago, I could not think of something to write – not one thing, with that week’s prompt not inspiring enough ideas for me.

Then, last week, the prompt gave me too many possible choices and I chose to do none of them.

Well, with this week’s prompt I am back and ready to share a little stream of consciousness with you.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SATURDAY

***

On my sixteenth birthday, my oma gave me a big bar of my favourite chocolate and something in a little triangular box.

“This belonged to my parents,” she told me, as I lifted the lid, revealing an old ring inside.

She always wore them, several rings on her fingers.

“This one,” she informed me, as I touched the band on her finger, “Opa bought for me. I give you this one when I die,” she would say to me, as matter-of-factly as she often could be, but I chose not to think of a time when my beloved Czech grandmother may not be there, rings and all.

I kept the little triangular box with me, not letting it out of it’s home like I did with my other rings.

I often wonder about where my ring has been, what life it lived, long before I took possession of it.

I would sometimes think it is a part of my life, but really I am, for a little while, a part of its’.

I don’t know much about my great-grandparents. I don’t know where the ring has been or what it may have seen during it’s early years.

How had it survived – traveled all those years and miles, from Europe to Canada and from them, to their daughter, to me?

I can not read the engraving on the ring, but I believe (if memory serves me) it is dated 1919 and will soon be 100 years old.

I haven’t been able to wear it often, as it was a little bit too big for my small fingers. I still don’t like to wear it, for fear that it could slip off and be lost forever to me.

I have lost precious things and precious people in my life, never got a chance to meet my great-grandparents, but I won’t lose this symbol of their love.

Okay, so although I do not know their story like I wish I did, I like to imagine things about them and their love for one another.

I keep the ring, securely in its box, hidden under my underwear in a drawer, away from the inquisitive hands of my nephew. He likes to play in my room, looking at my jewelry, specifically putting my many rings on his fingers. This one ring he can not, he must not find, as he is too young now, not able to understand the history and the memory wrapped up in that little ring.

“Tweasure,” my nephew cries, whenever he spots anything even resembling a treasure box. He thinks my mom has one at her place, but in it, to his disappointment, he finds only boring slips of paper and other things.

He has found an old tin chest I have to remember my oma by.

He likes to open it up, like a “door,” he says.

I always remember that same chest sitting on my oma’s dresser, in what once was the bedroom my dad’s two older brothers shared, where I slept any night I stayed with her.

It had a metal rose with a magnet on the bottom stuck on the lid and was often locked with a tiny lock. I was dying of curiosity, but the only treasure inside it was a bunch of pennies and other coins. It was still my favourite thing in that entire room.

Treasures are relative things, subjective to each and every one of us.

I will treasure the ring I received on turning sixteen and I will hold onto the memories and the history before my time, if those who are gone I can no longer have with me.

Those people and their stories and lives will, forever, be engraved on my heart.

1919-2019 – Time will go on, but nothing will ever change that.

***

Linda speaks of treasures here:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/10/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1115/

Every day is to be treasured, I say, as I plan my next post:

https://summat2thinkon.wordpress.com/ten-things-of-thankful/

Thanks to Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Ten Things of Thankful, I love weekends again.

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