1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Feminism, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Poetry, TToT

TToT: Where Rugged Coasts and Grassy Hills Collide – Don’t Look Back, #10Thankful

“the beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”

–Harriet Ann Jacobs

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What a week! (Read on to find out why…)

Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys

I remember not thinking this so much as it was in progress, but now that I am looking back on it, I have felt pure exhaustion, for some reason.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For my first official violin lesson.

I didn’t know if a whole hour would be too much for me. Playing violin is going to be a physical tax on my body, as I have a lot of pain, a lot of the time, but this is like going to the gym, for me, in a way. Sounds less taxing, but it isn’t much less, not really.

I have been just teaching myself, along with a few instructions from my uncle, so now it’s time to learn proper technique. It will be a slow process, a progress that takes time to build on.

I think of it like using an iPhone when you can’t see. At first, when I tried my brother’s phone, it all seemed tricky and difficult. But once I got a feel for it, where on the screen I could locate specific App’s or where on the keyboard to place my fingertip, if I wanted an A instead of a Q. Once you develop the sense memory required, like my new teacher says, it will come to you.

For my new violin teacher.

She has been playing the violin since she was four and teaching it since she was fourteen. I guess that means she is qualified to teach me.

🙂

She is outgoing and a willing participant in teaching violin to someone she can’t just show by doing. She must show me, most times, by hand or with verbal instruction, but she has been eager from the beginning. I am thankful and appreciative for the enthusiasm she has shown thus far.

For my brother’s faith in me, in asking me in the first place, to write the lyrics for his final assignment in his Music Industry Arts program.

The song is called “Don’t Look Back” and I hoped it would convey a feeling, but I don’t think many will pick it out from my words.

People’s first impulse is to think most songs are about love, but although this one could be, it’s about losing something else entirely, something valuable.

I was afraid I couldn’t write lyrics. I did it. The week started with only vague ideas and unclear groupings of words. It ended with a song, still in rough draft, but on its way to becoming a thing of beauty. This is because my brother had faith and put the lyric creation in my hands. I just hope he is pleased with the results. I know, after listening to what he’s come up with so far, that I am more than pleased.

For a slimmed-down Writer’s Circle.

Things come up and people get busy. I myself have missed a Wednesday or two, for my brother’s accident or for a bad night of my own. I understood.

It was just the three of us: Bernie, Theo, and myself this time. That’s okay. It was nice to have a smaller group once, but I missed a few other members who weren’t there.

There seemed to be a lot more silliness and a little less serious writing. Good times though. I brought a mystery object. It was a little bear with a heart shaped locket with my photo and my dad’s photo from my kidney transplant. Theo even took pics of it, to show someone, to go along with the wild talking bear story he came up with.

For Ireland.

I love the Ireland commercial narrated by Liam Neeson. His beautiful Irish accent is perfect for it.

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I know about the beer and the celebrating, as I have had a bit of that St. Patrick’s Day fun here in Canada, but no green beer can compare to the real place.

For one incredible, once-in-a-lifetime adventure in my favourite place in the world.

Luck of the Irish

It was my dream to visit Ireland and I had a blast with friends, old and new.

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I crossed this bridge with my travel companions, in front and behind me, and I made it to the other side.

She Travels Without Sight: Crossing Ireland’s Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Blind

I speak more about the experience in the above interview with an awesome travel blog.

I am thankful for that experience and that it taught me that sometimes, in life, you’ve just got to go for it.

For Irish music and Irish musicians.

Only When I Sleep – The Corrs

Of course, as much as I love that one, my favourite Irish group is, without a doubt…

God Be With You – The Cranberries

God I love Ireland and The Cranberries too.

🙂

I wrote a post to mark the twenty year anniversary of the release of my all-time favourite of their albums.

Ode and Lament: Ode to “No Need To Argue”

I am forever thankful that this album came along. It taught me about Irish history, about Irish poets, and oh so much more.

As I rode the tour bus along the winding highway I heard a familiar sound coming out of the bus’s PA speaker. It was a song by The Cranberries and then our guide announced we would be stopping at the grave site of W.B. Yeats.

I was blown away by the peaceful feeling I got from that spot. I thought back on that song and the words about the “Lake Isle of Innisfree”.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

World Poetry Day is in March after all.

For another chance to showcase a man, through an interview I conducted, who sets a brilliant example for the males of the world and the website willing to give me that opportunity.

Shining a Light on Preventing Abuse Against Women-an Interview with Garry Atkinson – Good Men Project

Thank you Jeremy McKeen and Garry Atkinson.

For the first day of spring.

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I like this photo, or what I’m told of it anyway, because although it is officially spring here in the northern hemisphere today, it is cold and snowing in some parts. I liked the image of spring flowers and snowflakes in the air.

For all the things that bring me happiness.

Music Makes Me Happy, #1000Speak #InternationalDayOfHappiness

So, as I said, what a week! What a week of music and of the growth promised by the colour green.

So Cold In Ireland – The Cranberries

For spring, music, Ireland, even when they are cold.

😉

For all these things and more.

Yeats’ Grave – The Cranberries

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

–William Butler Yeats

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

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

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

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

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

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

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

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

Ten Things of Thankful:

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

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For the honour to be asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

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

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

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

For VoiceOver.

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

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

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

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

For my safe home in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

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

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

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

🙂

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

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

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

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

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

–Kurt Vonnegut

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Special “In The News and On My Mind”: Original Bunker Punks Edition, #IStandWithAhmed

Discrimination and prejudice are real. I hear story after story, with discrimination at the core, and I look for signs that it is simply the media, blowing things out of proportion for ratings.

I don’t want to believe any of it of my fellow human beings. I really don’t.

I am a woman with a visual impairment. There are plenty of stories about inequality for both women and people with disabilities to go around. I am right in the middle of it and I would like to think I could recognize it when I see it, to be able to sense someone’s true intentions.

The two big stories this week both involve cries of discrimination and there are criticisms flying from all directions.

First, there’s the story of talk show hosts on The View and the remarks made about nurses.

Second, the case of a ninth grade boy who took a clock to school for a science project and ended up having the cops called on him, for fears of a bomb threat.

I am the first to say I am a fan of nurses and the work they do. The doctors get to go on their rounds and see their patients. They make the diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

It’s the nurses who are the ones to empty bed pans and change catheters. I’ve been on the patient side of this exchange, countless times, and I appreciate them. Believe me.

I’ve had two spinal operations, a kidney transplant, and several other surgeries and procedures. I don’t include this for any other reason, but to show that I support the work nurses do. I wouldn’t have gotten through any of that without the wonderful care nurses provided me with.

This particular nurse read a monologue for the talent part of the Miss America pageant. The View ladies weren’t the first, that I heard, to comment on it. I heard the clip of her and I could not see it, but I thought it a bit ridiculous myself.

Of course alzheimer’s is a terrible illness. This woman is doing good in the world. She probably deserves little of the attention she’s gotten. I don’t know why anyone would enter those competitions in the first place, but she could expect to have people make their comments, as she was on television. I am just as offended by the existence of those competitions as nurses are of the comments made about one of their own. Why would any intelligent, hardworking woman choose to take part in an outdated ritual, when what she does for sick people every single day is more than sufficient?

As for The View, well the name of the show says it all. They are live and giving their opinions. This is not scripted TV. These co-hosts spoke up , in the moment, and you get what you get. So they did not realize nurses use stethoscopes. It was said out of humour and Joy was doing the job that show hired her to do. She is a comedian.

The question then becomes, when is comedy going too far? Who is allowed to say something controversial? I love you all, nurses, don’t forget that the next time I find myself as a patient, but you need to lighten up. I could be offended, all the time, about so many things involving blindness and disability, but I would drive myself crazy. What is someone’s intention? that is the question we should be asking.

In this case, it was scathing, but it was made about a participant in an event that many women find offensive or ridiculous. Joy is likely one of them.

Of course the apology made a few days later isn’t enough for many. Nothing else to be done, but I happen to respect Joy more than I do anyone involved in a show which goes against the feminist I guess that makes me.

Then there’s Ahmed Mohamed, the teenager who dared to bring in his science project. Did the Texas school overreact? Would they have done the same for a white, caucasian student?

It was a clock, but they feared it was more dangerous. A cloak ticks and so does a bomb? Well, okay then.

In the end, he was not in trouble with the law, just a misunderstanding. He was suspended, but has decided to transfer to another school. Can’t say I blame him. I wouldn’t want to go back either. The charges were dropped and so many supporters have stepped up.

President Obama has tweeted:

“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has invited Ahmed to be his guest at the Toronto Science Show. He’s received support from Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, and has been invited to come to MIT.

This student is obviously smart and inventive and we need more bright and innovative youth like him in the world. He did not deserve all the attention he received. Why do we, here in North America, why do we have such a fear of other cultures and religions?

Oh yeah, 9/11 right? Too many are sullying the memory of that event and those affected, by using it as an excuse to let their prejudice out without consequence.

It’s a bunch of bull. This problem is deeply imbedded in the western world. I just hope, as we really think about it, that we can do better.

Of course, there will always be prejudice in the world and the media will always be on the lookout for the next big, sensational story. That’s the way it is. Just remember to look for someone’s intent and signs of character. And don’t take yourself quite as serious. There is enough negativity in the world, so much so that we should try to find the good, but criticism, I feel, deserves a place because we will also always want to give our opinions on the things we see going on all around us.

Today I am participating in a Friday addition of my series, which usually appears on Wednesday:

In The News and On My Mind

with others on a linkup.

This can be found here:

http://originalbunkerpunks.com/blog-battle-zone-2/

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Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

My Perfect Day

Okay, so I am a week behind on this, but I like this particular writing prompt and wanted to still take my shot at sharing my dream for a perfect day.

“Our theme this week is to write a day in your life where there would be no boundaries and you could do anything you want.”

http://originalbunkerpunks.com/blog-battle-zone-1/

I have been published on this witty, satirical, thought-provoking website, full of writers who want to get the conversation going and who do that very well.

Check me out here.

Then, earlier today

I ended up reading a piece on this site

and I went on to expressing my feelings, which meant criticizing the authors involved in the writing.

They were only being humorous, provocative; yet, due to the news of a two-year-old girl and her father being murdered in Alberta (which could be the inspiration for a more on time response I could write for this week’s prompt), this heartbroken Canadian wasn’t able to see any humour whatsoever.

It made me think about writing and its possible consequences because I was able to have a productive discussion with these writers, after-the-fact, and I wanted them to know why I may have sounded at all harsh. That is not how I usually am. Just a bad day.

Thank you,

Original Bunker Punks,

and now…onto my perfect day.

***

Something seems odd about this day. What could it be?

Oh yeah, I am pulling into my driveway. Yes, me.

For years it was me, in the passenger seat, the passenger. Shotgun was where I was designated to be.

Now I am driving. All those self driving cars in the works, for so long, well they are out and they are becoming the norm. Sure, it could lead to some sort of science fiction nightmare, cars becoming intelligent and driving their riders into trees and over bridges, but I overlook this fear because things are perfect now, right here, as I don’t have to have sight to operate a motor vehicle.

I enter my house and notice a suitcase sitting out, ready for packing to commence. We are soon off on another trip.

We met at TBEX, a travel expo I finally made it to a few years back. It was in Honolulu, my dream spot. I’d always wanted to visit there and this travel writing/blogging conference was the perfect chance. Two birds with one stone as they say.

I didn’t expect to meet him, but, I must admit, I hoped it would happen, sooner or later. I am comfortable with some independent travel now, after a lot of practice, but it’s still nice to have someone there to experience the world with.

He is a photographer and knows about technology and websites.

I may be able to drive a car, but I haven’t wished hard enough for perfect sight, at least I guess not. Huh.

If I had that, I wouldn’t be The Insightful Wanderer, as the whole position of my travel blog would be altered. I am insightful, just as I am, but I will never stop wandering. It does not have to be a bad, lost, aimless way to go through life.

I struggled to learn about my blog and website, for a few years, but am glad I can leave that responsibility to him.

I am still The Insightful Wanderer and Her Headache. I am KerryKay.com too. Bought that domain ages ago, as my writing needed my real name to be known and featured more prominently.

Branding is a strange thing, but I have embraced it and now am known as three brands in one.

I haven’t given up on my writing, memoir and literary mostly, because fiction is a beautiful thing, but not where my natural talents are.

I walk past one of the many bookshelves in my house, and there are some of my books there, a few are fiction. I had modest success with that, beginning with the anthology I was accepted into, my first real big break really.

I have written three books and am currently working on a fourth, two memoir and two fiction: Piece of Cake, Connecting the Dots, Till Death, and Out Beyond the Hedgerows.

The first two are memoirs about my life, struggles, with disability, being a visually impaired woman in a mostly sighted world.

The third is a fictional story about how death and loss affect three different generations of one family.

And the fourth is an historical novel, based on family who lived through World War II.

I did not start to write a string of genre books, ones that get put on Amazon and Smash Words and of which I would have needed to keep on putting out to gain any momentum in the book world. I found my own path to success.

I have books everywhere, which brings me peace and solace when I’ve had a bad day.

It’s so nice to have found a partner who loves travel and we are a team. He takes care of the site and its visual elements, while I write. Writing has its place, but the world is and always will be a visual one.

I think a world of all blind humans is worse than the one where the cars take over, but I can’t say. Science fiction writing is not my area of expertise.

I have checked off many of the items on my bucket list, which brings me great pleasure, but it’s nice to know I will soon have a husband who is committed, not only to me, but to helping me achieve the rest. Life is precious and it goes by like that! We are making the most of every day.

I have broken the record for longest living kidney transplant recipient and the medications have made it possible that this won’t change anytime soon. When I reached my twenty year mark (June 5, 2017) I had a huge party to celebrate and everybody I know came.

In this fantasy, we have not cured cancer yet, but we are actually getting close this time, no fooling.

We’re still trying to decide what kind of a wedding to have and where to have it. Being the travellers we are, a destination wedding is most appealing, but I don’t want to put that pressure on the people I hope will attend.

I want to have it at the hotel in Niagara Falls, the one from my childhood and its precious memories, moving to the closest hotel to the falls for the wedding night. I will finally feel that vibration of the roaring falls through the window of our room.

Maybe we’ll get married on a beach or on top of the CN Tower in Toronto. I loved it up there, the first time I tried it, and a wedding on that ledge sounds strangely perfect to me. After all, isn’t marriage a little like standing on a ledge?

It’s scary but exhilarating. It’s freeing, once you find love and let yourself feel worthy of having and holding onto it.

I can admit, finally after years, that wanting marriage, a wedding, this does not make me weak. I am not some Disney fairy princess, waiting to be rescued. I want a partnership and that commitment is and always has been important to me. I’ve been shown what that can be like, through the examples of my wonderful parents and their parents before them. It’s in my bones, just like writing and travel.

I can make a living from my writing now. I was afraid that was holding me back from finding a guy who could understand, accept me for me, and not let money and pride and the pressures of that get in the way. I am not rich, but I am rich in all that I really will ever need.

I have seen my words in print, in a book, on my shelf and in a bookstore.

I have an advice column which helps people. I can write and offer my advice, which can be a tricky thing to give others, but I know I’ve had more experience with the hard stuff than most. Plus, this side work allows me freedom to travel. I can answer people’s questions from anywhere I might happen to be.

I hand out my business card:

The Insightful Wanderer

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

And on the other side.

KerryKay.com

Her Headache

Blog. Writing. Travel writing is my first love because the world is everything. It’s all around us. We are it.

I had to build up my writing portfolio. I had to practice my craft, art as pure as anything.

Now, I can admit that making a reasonable living off of that is no crime. People are paid for all kinds of things, some that might seem less deserving, but that’s how the world works. It’s all about money, for so many, but it doesn’t have to be.

We discuss having children, after we decide on a wedding spot, but the jury is still out on that. I can accept that, even as I know the rules of this writing challenge aren’t at all limiting, because sometimes life means accepting some realities and hard truths.

It’s still open for discussion. Age doesn’t have to matter because I want to freeze this day, in time, so my parents are here and the children currently in my life stay the sweet age they are.

We will deal with the future tomorrow, but let this day and the moment linger.

Anyway, we are off, to make our flight. I will finally get my chance to swim with jellyfish, in their lake home, on the island of Palau in the south pacific.

***

Why do we feel so guilty, why do I, just for speaking up and admitting what it is we want for ourselves?

Why do I feel so selfish and awful to be so open with the things I dream about having, the life I would ideally wish for myself?

Do you ever feel that way?

If you could have an ideal day in your own life, what might that include?

I know I am worth it, I am worth everything, and I want to say so. I know what some people say, about the universe and just by saying it, you are actually letting into your life the things you believe you deserve. This is what I am doing here, today, because I am tired of holding myself back.

Yes, believe it or not, this blog has been me holding myself back, up until this point.

🙂

I have been blogging for a year and a half now and I continue to be myself, to let my self shine through here. That is what is at the essence of Her Headache.

Check these guys out on Facebook.

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Broccoli and the Blue Moon

What a week it has been, the final week of July.

It began with a post I wrote being featured on Confessions of a Broccoli Addict.

Yes, broccoli addict.

🙂

Any blog with a title like that is one I am more than happy to be found on.

MMMMMM. Cooked broccoli.

I love cooked broccoli, guest posting, writing and blogging, Harry Potter, and the moon.

The week is ending with the birthday of J. K. Rowling and her fictional Harry Potter character.

Also, tonight is a blue moon, not really blue at all. It just happens to be the second full moon in a month.

Blue Moon

The moon is so distant and beautiful. It is mysterious and full of longing and wonder.

I thought I would wait to post about my guest appearance on Confessions of a Broccoli Addict, for this final day of July, because my guest post just so happens to be about Rowling and Harry Potter.

Monday Inspirations: Color, Light, and Magic – guest post by Kerry Kijewski

There are so many people, of all ages, who would claim to love Harry Potter just like I’ve done. They are just as obsessed and I sometimes feel lost in the crowd, like I have nothing unique to add, no claim to love it like I do.

I wanted to write about Rowling and Harry Potter, when thinking about what topic I might choose for Urszula’s Monday Inspiration series, because I realized that my reasons for why I love this author and the world she created are uniquely my own. Nobody else has my specific reasons and that is why I believed I had something new to say.

I had no thought of connecting the two when I pitched my topic. I didn’t put together the fact that it was Rowling and Harry’s birthdays in the same week, as I wasn’t the one to choose the date for when my guest post would be featured.

There is an onslaught of Hp/HB articles surfacing online today, Happy 50th Birthday messages for Rowling herself.

50 things you might not know about J.K. Rowling

This July 31st falling at the same time as the blue moon, an ushering in of a new month, all seems lucky to me.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2015/07/eleanor-wachtel-interviews-jk-rowling.html

Just as lucky as the connected timing of my second chance (kidney transplant in 97) and the beginning of Harry Potter as a series were.

I want to go on writing about why I love Harry Potter, about how Rowling has inspired me to want to write, and how something as simple and beautiful as the moon can be just one more thing to provide inspiration.

“I can’t understand why the whole world doesn’t want to be a writer. What’s better than it?”

I agree J.K. – I agree.

Thanks again, to Confessions of a Broccoli Addict, for a spot on her blog this week.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:

Ten Things of Thankful

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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.

Ordinary Miracles

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.

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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.

KEEP CALM AND GET YOUR HAIR DONE

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,

“What Kind of Man”,

had me finding a place and a way of releasing a little bit of my anger. We all need this from time to time, which helps us learn what we are most thankful for once more.

Also, I am thankful that I can share interesting music with my brother, when on a rare occasion it is me sharing with him what I’ve found, not the other way round.

I showed him this song from LOLAWOLF,

“Every F—in Day”,

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?

So thanks to:

Lizzi and the rest of the Ten Things of Thankful group.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone and don’t forget to be thankful for your health when it is good.

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IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TGIF

New Month, New Me

Every so often, I feel the strong urge to do something wild or rebellious. This could mean experiencing great heights or a radical new hair style/colour.

June has begun so I figured, new month, so why not new me?

Of course there’s nothing so wrong with the old me, but it can’t hurt to continuously attempt a reinvention of oneself, from time to time, just to keep things fresh.

That is why I asked my hair stylist for something new and different. I felt the urge, but couldn’t adequately express to her what that might look like. This is what’s hard when you can’t even really see yourself and what your hair looks like in the mirror.

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I did it. I chopped it all off. I’ve done this a few times before, but not for a few years now.

I felt the weight lift as the piles of hair vanished, but what did I really achieve in the end?

I came away feeling slightly restless and disappointed. It wasn’t the stylists’s fault. I myself didn’t know what I meant about something wild and rebellious, so how could I truly expect her to?

I don’t know if what I wanted could even be done. Or if I just don’t have it in me to really let go completely. Maybe that version of myself never existed or ever will.

It’s days like this that make me want to try new things and experience as much as I possibly can, while I am still able.

***

This doctor was new to me, but he came across friendly and intelligent – just what you want a doctor to be. I’ve seen many different doctors at the kidney transplant clinic over the last ten or fifteen years (since moving from the children’s hospital to the adult clinic), making hard to keep up with them all at times.

This particular nephrologist told me what I already knew because my brother had already been put on the medication. All transplant patients were being put back on a drug most of us haven’t been on since immediately after transplant. My brother, being only two years out, well it seemed like a no brainer. Both our immune systems are compromised, in order to keep the transplanted kidney working, but I have been stable for almost twenty years.

Life Threatening Cases of Pneumonia in Transplant Patients

He explained it in simple and direct terms, being very thorough in his explanation. There was no question – of course I would go on it. I would start taking this antibiotic, three times a week, for the foreseeable future. It was just strange that here I was, getting ready to celebrate my eighteen-year anniversary, and I was being put back on one more medication.

Right after transplant, you are on so many medications you need a chart to help you keep track. As time goes on, these can be reduced and almost always dwindle down to only a few. This felt like a step backwards for me, but a necessary one, just to be safe.

He was great, making me feel at ease, or as much as possible. This was not a huge threat to me, but I would do what I had to make sure I never had to face the worst.

I found it strange.

How much am I drinking? How much am I peeing?

Most people give little to no thought about these things, but as the doctor told me my blood levels, we discussed the importance
of keeping up on the liquids. It was a slight increase, but nothing to worry about at the moment. In the world of being a kidney transplant patient, it all goes back to a slow creeping up of the bad levels in the blood. After years the kidney slowly stops functioning like it was, eventually leading back to the need for dialysis and another transplant.

After eighteen years, admittedly, I’ve become somewhat complacent. I drink what I want, when I feel like it or even, when I think of it. after speaking with this latest physician, I make a more consorted effort to do better.

Last year, on June 5th, I did not speak about another year with my father’s kidney, here. Instead, on that day, I rode an elevator up to the top of a tower and stepped outside, looking down on the city of Toronto.

WALKING ON THE EDGE

I did this for several reasons, but mostly because I’ve decided to make it my mission to take risks and chances, to try new and exciting things, as my way of appreciating the life and the second chance I’ve been given.

It was sobering to learn there was this horribly dangerous strain of pneumonia that has been hitting, not the newly transplanted, but those who have had their kidneys for years, people like me. If taking a preventative medication three times a week could help avoid this; I wasn’t about to take any chances.

It just made me think. This pneumonia has hit people who may have become complacent too, not meaning to let themselves slip. Then, suddenly, some random antibiotic resistant virus hit and cost them, not only the function of their transplant, but their lives.

***

I don’t think of the possibility of rejection of my kidney or even death, not often, but on the occasion of my most recent checkup, the thoughts crept back in.

In that moment, it hit me how much I don’t wish to ever go back on dialysis. I don’t want to have to feel that way, unwell like that, ever again, but we don’t get a say in what ultimately will happen with a transplanted kidney. This particular chronic illness has not been cured for me, but I fool myself into thinking otherwise. Then I am brought back to reality, unable to stop wondering when it all could come crashing down.

As I touch the scar from that surgery, eighteen years ago to the day, I am grateful for these last eighteen years and hopeful, appreciative for however many more years I may have.

Think positive, right? I could be the exception. I could be the first to keep my first and only transplant for the rest of my life.

This is a flame of hope that burns bright inside my heart.

Thanks Dad, for being responsible for this hope in the first place.

It seems only fitting to me, that this transplant anniversary and Father’s Day share the June spotlight. Of course, I could never thank him enough, even if I had a million Father’s Days in which to try.

So I will keep on taking my meds, drinking…

It’s all about the intake and the output.

🙂

I will keep on living my best life, checking items off my

BUCKET LIST

as I go along and as the years pass, and remembering how far I’ve come.

June will, forever, represent change, transformation, and new beginnings. It was the first day of the rest of my life really. My anniversary and yet, my birthday, a new me in the month of June.

And come June 5th, 2017: PARTY – and you are all invited.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

We got to the hospital, that spring day, not knowing what to expect…

I had just spoken to my brother a few hours earlier and now here we were, waiting for the doctors to come out and tell us what was going on, if his kidney transplant of over ten years was a total loss.

It would be a crazy and chaotic spring that year, five years ago already. How time passes.

After losing Grandpa,

Ruby Red,

that February and something mysterious going on with my brother and one remaining grandparent hospitalized too.

We felt worn out, running from one to the other, the sterile halls became our temporary home.

***

I had my transplant in 1997 and two years later he had his: me from my father and then it was our mother’s turn. Her kidney never seemed to work like the one my father had given me. It was nobody’s fault, hers, or my brother’s behaviour that did it. It just was what it was.

It lasted him ten years though, which got him through his teen years.

Things started to go downhill eventually. He felt sicker and sicker as time went on. He had low energy and found it hard to walk far at all. His blood levels were low and he started needing transfusions. His hemoglobin dipped all the way down to forty-five or fifty. It should have been well over one hundred.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/low-hemoglobin/basics/definition/sym-20050760

It all seemed like a blur. He ended up in hospital eventually and the doctors were scrambling to figure out what was keeping his levels as low as they were. We all knew his transplant was nearing its end, but we hoped, he hoped it could be dragged out as long as possible, before dialysis or another transplant would be his only option once again.

Weeks in hospital, second time in one year. He had test after test and this included a bone marrow biopsy. They had tested to find out, if his blood was so low, that maybe he was bleeding somewhere inside, a slow leak of some kind. This seemed strange, but it had to be more than a failing kidney.

***

We had been visiting him in hospital on a daily basis because that’s what we did in our family.

We were used to being in children’s hospitals. Now we were grown, but our family still needed each other. I needed to be there for him.

On that one particular day we were on our way to visit, but he spoke to me on the phone first and was feeling a lot of extreme pain. Something wasn’t right and things went downhill fast.

Within a few hours, between him and the nurses saying something was going on, we raced to his side, but by then he had been taken into the cath lab.

He would report to me later that the pain he experienced that day was the worst he had ever felt, even after years of surgeries as a child.

We were brought into the ICU to see him. The bleed had been found, a tiny coil had been placed in his pelvis to stop it, the cause of the pain he felt and the reason for all the blood loss he’d had in recent months or even years.

We walked into his private observation room in the ICU and were shocked to see the state he was in. The shock of it hit me like a tun of bricks. I expected to hear his voice and instead I found silence, pierced only by the steady push of the machines, breathing for him, as he lay in a purposeful sedition, brought on by the doctors.

I hadn’t been well prepared and never imagined it was that serious. How serious I couldn’t quite grasp even in that moment.

He was silent, unconscious, still.

All I could see was his dark shape against the light pillows. I heard the sound of the ventilator and it hit me. Tears filled my eyes then, the burning, so well known to me, pressed against my eyelids.

We stayed a while, talking at first in whispers, not knowing why.

Then, needing to let him rest, we went for dinner, like we often did.

I felt numbed by the urgency and the unexpected situation we were dealing with. The bleed was stopped, but he was looking at a week in ICU and who knew what else. I faced the fear of losing him.

Would that, could that be a possibility, even remotely?

I had never before felt so scared of that possibility. What would I do if that happened? HE was so much a part of who I was, my little brother, my best ally and the one who knew me best in the world.

I picked mindlessly and miserably at my dinner, but all I wanted to do was return to his bedside, to watch over him and stop any further harm from coming to him.

***

He had a scratchy voice lasting for days, from the breathing tube that day. HE had the nurses pipe some music through the speakers of the ICU for a distraction and something to focus on and help to pass the hours he lay there in that bed.

We stood at his bed, my sister and her husband and myself. HE had been awake, in horrible pain, and then out of it for he had no idea how long. A shock for him when he finally woke up again, when we told him what happened and how much time had passed.

HE would be back on dialysis within a week. The doctors wanted to do more tests that had high risk of the dye used damaging the kidney to the point that, if it weren’t already done for, it would surely be then.

He was confused and on the fence. It was a week of disorientation and at the end of it he was on the way to being on the organ donation list, for the first time.

***

Kidney disease is common enough, but he had gone through something none of us had expected or understood. He must have been bleeding internally somewhere, and then he wasn’t. It had ended, not as quickly as it had begun, but was a slow build and a quick improvement.

He would be on dialysis, three times a week, for the next three years, before the day he would get the call that a kidney was available.

I wrote about Rare Disease Day for the first time last year, only weeks after the first post I wrote for this blog.

My brother is strong and resilient. I know it is hard to deal with medical issues that leave confusion and uncertainty in their wake. HE still deals with this, but it has returned from a serious kind to a slow lingering of symptoms that only he really knows.

HE deals with things every single day, but they are not internal bleeding that turns dangerous. He does well now. HE feels great, for the most part, and doesn’t let things out of his control stop him from living his life.

I admire him for this. He doesn’t dwell on the what if’s like his big sister. I wish I had his view of the world sometimes.

I stopped myself, just short of including “Wind Beneath My Wings” in this post. No need to embarrass him anymore than I already do.

🙂

I will include a link that explains what he is doing with his life now though, the hopes and dreams he has for his future,

HERE.

***

Rare Disease Day, 2015 – Official Video – On YouTube

Tomorrow is Rare Disease Day, 2015 and I will never forget that I could have lost him, five years ago, in a second.

Having a rare disease,

like I wrote about last year,

can be incredibly frustrating, when others do not understand, including the experts who have all the medical knowledge.

I just wanted to celebrate, on this day and every other, that whatever might be our lot in life, I still have my brother in mine.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions

Angels

Today is a day to celebrate!

It’s one year since Brian’s kidney transplant and I wanted to share something I wrote only days afterward. There are ways to write a letter to the family of a donor. I hope I am not stepping over a line here, but this is my way of speaking to the people who gave my brother his life back.

***

July 20, 2013

Dear Anonymous Angels,

I will try my best to keep this letter brief, but because my gratitude to you is both endless and boundless, it can’t possibly really be expressed using any words to any real satisfaction. Yet, here I go anyway …

This is fresh because I am writing to you all one week after it happened, after the accident that would change your life forever…and the gift you would give to my family as a result. I go back and forth as to whether or not I want to write this, at all, but I am doing so now because I need to say this. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to hear it, but maybe that’s just my own guilt talking; maybe you’d grasp for what I have to say…if only because it is something to show for your loss, when there is nothing I nor anyone else could ever truly say to make your pain any less.

Before one week ago you were alive…full of life and laughter and love. You walked and spoke and thought. You had a beating heart. How do I know this? You signed your donor card. You spoke to your family about what your wishes would ever be if the unthinkable happened and your family had to make the ultimate in painful and heart-wrenching choices. The ethics of organ donation are so widely debated, but the real discussions are had between couples, families, and inside each individual’s own thoughts. I have been directly involved in such discussions, on the one side, for years and I still find myself torn deep to my core. Your selflessness is evident, no matter what else I could say or wonder about you. I don’t know you and never will, but I get to know a little piece of you now, inside my loved one.

I went first. I got sick. That wasn’t what I wanted for my little brother. I want you to learn a little bit about the life you’ve just saved:

I have read and heard many a definition of the word “soulmate” and I know what most people think when they hear it. To me, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with romantic interest or attachment. My younger brother is my soulmate. He is one person out of billions that I have an attachment to which I won’t, don’t and will never have with anyone else. He is my brother, my support, my friend, my pal, my conscience, and my hero. He challenges me, calls me out on things, pushes me when needed and pulls back at just the right time. He is my best friend and my toughest critic. People make jokes about how they must be adopted…well I say my brother and I must be twins, but not fraternal or identical: just twins of every other name.

We are the youngest two born out of four: we share the same syndrome, with its lack of sight, damaged kidneys, and the rest. We think so similarly that it often frightens me to think of it. He knows me, sees me, and reads me more clearly than anyone I’ve ever met. We’re family, but so much more…we’re accomplices in crime and two-of-a-kind. We’re quite the pair. I am his protector and he is mine. No one has my back and my best interest at heart like he does. His humour makes me smile whenever I need cheering up. We laugh until our sides hurt, about our own private jokes, the private language we two alone share. We talk and philosophize about the world and everything in it, desperate to understand our place.

I want you to know all this about him because you gave him back to me. You have given him his new lease on life. Nothing will stop him now. His determination and his strength continually astonish me and they are there more than ever; now his physical limitations can’t hold him back.

We’ve done this before, been here before, but that last time was different. There’s no question in a parent’s need and desire to give a kidney to their child; my father and mother…I got his and my brother got hers. This was never the end of the story and we all knew it, but I could never have imagined how it would feel now. I ache for you all; I hurt, and for unnamed and unknown people somewhere out there whom I have never met. You didn’t know us, or have reason to help, but yet here we are and you did. Why …?

***

I realize the abrupt stop above. I got to that point and my emotions took over. That is as far as I got and thought it best to leave it there.

Please! Today take the time to be thankful for the life and health you and your loved ones have. Not everyone has that now.

Thanks for listening.

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