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Thunderbolts and Firewires: The Year That Was 2016, #Farewell2016 #Writing #Podcast

I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

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Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.

And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.

I did it at the end of 2015 with:
My Top Spills and Thrills
of which there had been enough of both to go around.

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

As the January 2016 quote from my blog showed,
I began my year afraid and uncertain and on a bit of a lower note,
with a little
Just Jot It January fun.

Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing.
Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.

In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be
thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push,
some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.

The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.

It began with David Bowie, but for me,
it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.

A new year maybe, but a new month meant another
#1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.

With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.

Thanks to Kristi from
Finding Ninee
I decided to participate in a new blogging exercise
for the first time.

Another first included
Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells
but, in the end, it wasn’t for me.

Turns out, the magic of this month has been that I could just write, jot really, and I started to see that I didn’t need to have the rest of the year all figured out in the first thirty-one days.

FEBRUARY

This second month of the year is designated for a cause I know well. It ended up to be my chance to speak my mind about my personal cause and became my first published article of 2016:

To the People Who’ve Never Heard of My Rare Disease – The Mighty

February would end up being a month of
mindfulness and music.

Ten days in, I turned thirty-two and decided to check a big one off of my
bucket list,
and so I went out and rented myself a violin.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore:
Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.

Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for
March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.

By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

March brought with it guest blogging spots and more opportunities for publication, other places than my own blog,
with my second attempt at the #BeReal challenge.

Following this, feminism seemed to be the topic of March as a month.

An interview I’d done with
a proud male feminist
and then a piece I’d written on
International Women’s Day
were both picked up by
The Good Man Project.

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

Patty Duke, at the end of Women’s History Month, March.

APRIL

I got myself a writing mentor and my lyrics were finally heard.

Don’t Look Back

I was trying to focus, to look ahead, and to plan for what I wanted.

Why Oh Why

The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

Once again, like during the spring of 2015, I was losing my tool for communication and self expression. This makes me feel vulnerable.

So I appreciated
the share from a friend
and another
guest posting opportunity
from a blogger, a young woman I really admire and have interviewed here before.

Spotlight On Single Strides

The end of April brought with it the death of Prince.

It also brought with it
the death of the loner laptop I was using
and a beautiful gift from a stranger, one which would allow me to write another day.

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

I’d been pondering the idea of doing a podcast for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then, I brought up the idea with my brother and an idea, our idea, was born.

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

I couldn’t do this without thinking back twenty years.

Frozen In Time

For May’s edition of #1000Speak I focused on
Loving My Self-ish.

The end of May and onward to June always causes me to pause and reflect.

Born Again and Forever Grateful

This time these thoughts would grow to become my next piece to be featured on The Good Man Project.

JUNE

My first Song Lyric Sunday on more than just any old Sunday day.

Following “the month of the Mother,” –
Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth–Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That?
June will always be a month for me and my father.

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

We started with a Facebook page,
and soon that followed with
Episode 1 – Intro To Us
with Ketchup On Pancakes.

On top of the release of the podcast, I jumped at an amazing offer, an invite, which would require a whole lot of planning and a wait of nearly six months.

Would the moment ever get here?

I bet my sister was thinking that same thing, we all were, but her good news was finally a dream come true.

A chance at independence and a new life for my writing and for me and a second child for her.

And so I applied for a newly updated passport and began to count down the months.

I read and wrote one of my rarer than I’d like book reviews.

Then I was approached and invited to write another
guest post
about my life and my day as a blogger.

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

More lyrics for a second song written and, in celebration of and motivated by that accomplishment,
I decided to return to the visual art of my childhood and an old, familiar kind of creativity.

Up next, speaking of being reminded of being a child,
I reviewed a movie about motherhood,
that I’d gone to see, with my newly pregnant sister, in our own empty theatre.

Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.

The World Can Learn a Thing or Two From Canada – The Planet D

One beloved Canadian spoke up about his oncoming struggle and we lost someone in our family. I’m glad I got to meet Gerti, at least once that I’ll always remember.

As August came to an end, I made a few hard choices about my writing and what I wanted done with it.

If I made a mistake somewhere in there, I guess it will be mine to make and to own and to learn from.

The questioning would and will continue, no matter the month or the year I’m in.

SEPTEMBER

The first day of this new month was one I’d been waiting for, with the release of a new publication, focusing on what travel should be, the kind I’d like to see.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

I remembered what it was like, moving into my house that I bought with my sister, ten years ago.

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

Ten years later, my nephew started school and my niece began the first grade. Another loved one passes away. RIP Erica.

I got to feature an interview I’d done with one of my favourite editors/writers.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

This felt like a giant win and one of the best things to ever happen to this blog.

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

But we weren’t the only ones with the idea of doing a podcast. Apparently, the idea had spread.

The Brevity Podcast

I took an autumn trip, to say goodbye,
with more than just the fall colours
as backdrop.

NOVEMBER

The U.S. makes a big mistake and it’s time to get writing – all the more reason to write.

Nano Nano Nano

“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”

Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of
RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.

Stalemate, #1000Speak

Could this possibly spell the end of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion?

DECEMBER

Canada announces the first woman, other than the Queen, to appear on Canadian money.

Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

One month after November’s U.S. election, we share our Canadian perspective.

Episode 3 – The Great Gong Show of 2016 with Ketchup On Pancakes

I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.

A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:

I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.

Joseph Mascolo, ‘Days of Our Lives’ Villain, Dies at 87 – New York Times

No villain was ever more evil than Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah Humbug! Whoosh! #10Thankful

I featured a George Michael shoutout, in my final 10 Things of Thankful post for 2016 and this was before the Christmas Day announcement of his passing.

I am no fortune teller, but some of my predictions did happen,
as I sit with what did indeed come to pass and look back on what 2016 became.

Ketchup On Pancakes (the podcast) had a final episode for the year, a catch up on all that was 2016, by a cozy fireside.

Episode 4 – Farewell 2016…By The Fireside with Ketchup On Pancakes

And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.

My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

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TToT: Yearnings of the Heart and Soul – Seriously? #10Thankful

Red or blue? Coke or Pepsi? Apple or Android?

What a week. Ruined colours for me forever.

Okay, not really, but my examples do showcase our differences and what separates us, the teams we often feel we’re on and the people we most closely identify with, as opposed to those other people. I wanted to cry all week, but couldn’t quite get the tears to come. So I play this song.

By now, we all know who the next guy in charge of the US is going to be, and he’s eating that worldwide attention up like we all knew he would. Then Leonard Cohen died. People say these things are final and we must get over it, well that first one, and so I can’t simply listen to a song like Don’t Worry, Be Happy and accept the way things in the world seem to be going. I am afraid of that and I’m afraid I can’t.

Saturday Night Live found the best way to help out the grieving Americans and to pay tribute to a favourite poet/artist at the same time.

Then there is this song which comes from the “This American Life” series:

Seriously?

I was afraid of where this election was leading and this song is the perfect mixture of intense jazz, sad realism, lyrics that make me want to cry and cry out because I don’t know what has gotten into the US and not just them. I am critical but I know that if it were happening here in Canada, I wouldn’t want to be forgotten and forsaken. I would want help in understanding and whatever else and these things tend to spread eventually anyway and already seem to be doing just that. My knowledge of history has me rooted in fear and apprehension, but thankful to be Canadian at this time. I feel powerless amongst my existing and somewhat even more clearly defined thankfuls.

I’m thankful for the chance to express my thoughts and distract myself with a task during the night of the US election.

We thought we would do a before/after, from our Canadian perspective. Our hope was to focus on a lot of tough issues discussed and a few laughs thrown in there from time to time also, to try and lighten the mood a little wherever possible, but I haven’t been laughing for a while, not about this stuff.

It didn’t look good to me, not from the start, and in that case I did not relish being right with my instincts. We recorded a bit during the night, as the results came in and again the next day, once the results had time to sink in somewhat.

Bad dream or a sign that the end is near? Yes, either way, I had a sound effect for the occasion. If you aren’t sick of hearing about it in a few weeks, our podcast and the third episode should be available on iTunes. After all, we wouldn’t want to forget this event would we? Well, now we have it recorded forever.

I’m thankful the election is over.

I did feel relieved. It was painful and surreal. Now those long months are behind us and the nightmare of the next four years is just beginning.

I’m thankful for The Paris Climate Agreement, a step in the right direction.

So many countries have gone together on this. Who knows what will happen going forward, but I am proud Canada is represented and hopefully doing our part.

And then there’s the setting aside of ocean reserves, with the three oceans Canada exists within and the work President Obama has done. Oil spills, like the one on Canada’s west coast recently, these can do a lot of damage, and hopefully Prime Minister Justin Trudeau understands this. I am proud to be flanked by the three, Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic.

Whether it’s the ocean in the northern hemisphere or the opposite pole, down at the bottom of the world, I hope we realize how valuable it all is.

I’m thankful that my family reads my blog as much as they can.

And they put up with me and some of the things I say here.

They never quite know what to expect I’m sure and, truthfully, neither do I most times when I sit down to write.

They are incredibly supportive and I can say the things I want to say, though I hope I never hurt any of them too much in the process. I am lucky to be able to speak my mind, as I do appreciate at this time of year.

I’m thankful that I discover new and different music through the music expert in my life.

My brother is the music guy and he has so so many internet radio stations and is always playing something new and different to my ear. This one was just the kind of fast tempo I needed to perk up my spirits. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it.

I’m thankful for strong women who are fighting for women and minorities, even as I feel the bleakness of powerful forces out there.

What Hillary Clinton’s Fans Love About Her

So many wanted to see a female president and a secret Facebook group for her popped up and certainly left a mark.

Then there are wonderful women like this one.

She is a strong woman too and she is leaving her own mark, on me certainly.

I’m thankful for those who fought, though I do find it difficult to wrestle with my conflicted feelings on war and everything that goes along with it.

Leonard Cohen recites “In Flanders Fields'”

Instead of sharing one of his songs, I thought this might be better.

It’s one of my favourite poems, though the subject matter is one I struggle to understand.

I’m thankful for beautiful TToT bloggers and their messages of hope and peace.

Bluebell Sounds,
which sound divine.

Just Remember This,
a kiss is just a kiss.

Cruising Through,
most of us just doing the best we can do, but with lovely memories and photos in this case.

I’m thankful for the peek into the rest of the world from a story I’ve loved since childhood.

‘there’s always more to the story’

This song is for you Clark and for Almira.

I’m thankful for more comedy to keep me smiling.

I love Vince and Jimmy.

I was escaping into some Lord of the Rings movies to distract myself from the things I fear, but the similarities to the power men crave and the ring, a physical symbol of that greed, it was all too obvious. But there is hope amongst the uncertainty.

And so I am determined to end this post on a positive note, among all the bad news, the protests going on around the US, and my spot, from where I sit, feeling helpless, here in Canada.

What are the things that bring us together? These are the things we have in common.

If we cut our fingers, we all bleed.

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Violin On Fire, #RIPLeonardCohen #SongLyricSunday

Why am I writing twice in only a few days about Leonard Cohen, a star Canada is proud to say was born here, who’s music has left such an impression on so many people’s lives, when I’ve never written about him before now?

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I guess I didn’t realize how beloved he was. I readily admit I was never his biggest fan. It could be a bit of a generational thing, but really, it just never took hold, his music in my mind or heart I mean. Now, I just found his death, two days after the shock to so many with the news out of the US, that his dying and the spreading of his soulful lyrics has been a great condolence and consoling of so many. As a true fan of anyone who can create such brilliant lyrics, I think it well worth all this focus on what really matters in life, so much of which Cohen wrote about for so long.

I just must share a few of his songs, but I am choosing not to share his versions. I still offer up my greatest respect to the man, the Canadian legend he will always be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8AWFf7EAc4

I first heard this one on one of my favourite television teen dramas at the time, The OC. I thought it was one of the saddest songs I’d ever heard, though at the time to be fair, it was being played over the scene where Marissa and Ryan were dancing for the last time. That may have played a part for me at the time.

🙂

Now it just feels prudent.

😦

Covers are fascinating replicas of the originals. To be honest, some covers are better than the covered, but is that an insult to the artist who first created the song being re-imagined? I wouldn’t know. I have no song that another has been eager to redo but I am left wondering what it must feel like.

***

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Lyrics

***

But then there’s the song my brother showed me after the news broke. This cover was contrasted with the original then. I include it here, but it was some of the lyrics that I was drawn to.

Any way you slice it, with whomever sings this one, it is the most mournful thing to fit the ending of such a week as this.

***

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon Show me slowly what I only know the limits of Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love

Lyrics

***

The image of a burning violin is an interesting one to me, as mine is currently my obsession, one which I can’t get out of my head.

I need music badly, more than ever on this particular
Song Lyric Sunday.

That is why this is a two for one offering this time.

RIP Mr. Cohen. (1934-2016)

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A Variety of Various Positions, #LeonardCohen #TGIF #FTSF

This week, as is so often to be found in life, was full of both the expected and the unexpected. Change comes round, now and then, whether we want it to or not, whether we’re ready for it or we aren’t.

I expected that the US might bring round a change in things, from one political party to the other. I wasn’t all that surprised by their election results, to be sadly honest. As much as I hoped that the change would be for that country to elect their first female president, another white, rich male came out on top.

Anger is expected. It is felt by so many. So many people let anger cloud the fear underneath, at the heart of things. I admit, I have anger, especially after the events of a week as bad as this, but I am mostly afraid. I am afraid for our world.

The stories in the news this week, like for months, have been all about events in the US. I knew though that soon enough other stories would come along and shift focus, even for a few days time, and that happened with the announcement that Leonard Cohen was gone. This, I admit, I was not expecting.

When it comes to the unexpected or to change, I struggle, like most people. Can I right myself though?

If we tilt very far toward one way of living or thinking or being, we’re more likely to topple over. So, I try to remember to remain within some level of my own middle ground. Much of the world struggles with this, in terms of governments or communities or families or individuals.

Change, we think, often means progress, going forward. Suddenly, then along comes the kind of change that feels like it threatens to take us backward. What feels wrong to one person feels oh so right, like going home, back to the way things used to be, should be.

I am not a poet, or am I? I try harder. I try to learn from a man who was, a Canadian legend of a man, who wrote poetry, and novels, and lyrics.

I try to listen, even now, to his voice, in interviews. As he aged and his voice became lower and lower, and deeper and deeper, he kept on learning and discovering what it all meant to be alive.

As I experienced his voice, Growing up, his voice in the songs I had no real connection to, it made me uncomfortable. I can only describe the feeling as one of unsettled. It was all so somber and even frightening. Life, as I realize more and more, is often about allowing oneself to feel the discomfort and all that is often so very unsettling.

A lot of these things that happen, that happened this week, are unsettling in a whole new kind of way. They aren’t all about peace and live and let live, not like a batch of Leonard Cohen lyrics. I realize now that he was sharing all that life can feel like.

We all have our position on a number of issues, key issues that affect us. Some things don’t touch us, hardly at all, or not at all. We can’t possibly listen to every song ever made.

For a long time I have done my best to respect that everyone of us has various positions on the things that matter and those that matter not as much, perhaps, to different people. This becomes harder and harder, which just means the stakes are bigger and bigger.

I stay in my bubble of a life, surrounding myself with other people that often share my sentiments on most things. This can be dangerous, or has proven to be, for not just myself. No wonder, then, that it comes as a shock how other people feel. We do ourselves a huge disservice by not trying to learn what else there is, going on, that another person might just be feeling, in the place where another lives. It’s so very hard to meet another, somewhere in the middle of the road. Some of us would rather walk alone than even try.

Not everybody can write poetry. Not everyone wants to. I should say, anyone could, if they acknowledged the anger but allowed themselves to feel the fear. Art makes things that are so often unbearable, bearable, or just a little less unbearable anyway.

I see greed and fear and unbending, unyielding unwillingness all around, the unwillingness to let life teach us, to admit we don’t know it all. I label these things, as being what is, though I really can’t say, should not say, for sure, at all.

I want to never stop hearing beautiful things, as the ugly is so easy to find, and to produce my own lyrical thought. I want to learn what makes people do and say what they do and say. Human beings will never stop being fascinating to me, for what causes them to be and do it all.

So, why should I be surprised at both the expected and the unexpected in life anyway? I’m not, of either one.

It’s time for another
Finish The Sentence Friday
after a particularly rough week. Though, surprise surprise, whether expected or not, life was always like that.

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