Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT, Writing

TToT: Thirty-five For Me and Five For Her Headache, #Blogiversary #10Thankful

Here, I hope to leave something behind when I go. Here, I won’t look back with any shame or regret at what I’ve said, what I’ve written. I am proud to be Her Headache.

I am
thankful
for this blog and all those who’ve found me here and read what I’ve written on these virtual pages, ever since that 2014 February of my thirtieth birthday.

As for how to celebrate my five-year anniversary with this space, I couldn’t quite settle on how to best show my gratitude and my pride on all that this blog has brought to my life.

In the beginning, it all started with me showcasing my
BUCKET LIST
of items I’d wanted to experience.

Since my kidney transplant, twenty-two years ago, I am all about not taking each day for granted and my list was a way of stating my purpose and no longer settling for less out of fear. Things like chronic pain and disability threatened to take away a life worth living, but I fought against that and found this blog as a part of that.

In this last five years, I’ve been lucky to check off several things on the list, though I am enjoying the ups and downs of the journey, as I’ve learned that to be the best part of the whole thing really.

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Still, I can’t stop wondering where life will take me and so here we go with the review of the things I have done and seen in five years that I may not have dreamt I’d do, during the most difficult days in my past:

I am thankful for the teacher I’ve had, for the last three years, since I decided to take a chance to learn to play an instrument in my thirties. Violin was beautiful to me and I wanted to learn to play with a bow, to produce those kinds of heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds I’d heard from the violin for years. I was drawn to it since I gave up on clarinet back in high school. (Too much air needed, blowing into that thing, which was hard on my head, prone to headaches already.)

She is leaving on a new adventure soon and I must face that thing I often dread, “Change”.

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I am thankful for my violin and the progress I’ve made so far, even when I get down on myself for not learning more, faster.

I am thankful for my autumn of 2018 visit to the Maritimes, Canada’s eastern provinces, even my short visit and the limited bit of Nova Scotia I saw. I am thankful I got to place a small item, a token of my appreciation for her gift of iconic literary characters like Anne Shirley in Canada’s cultural landscape, on her gravestone. I got to write a note of my gratitude, from one writer to another, in the guest book in the house Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in. I was brave to finally state, in writing, that I think of myself as a writer, even up next to someone as talented as Montgomery.

I am thankful I got to walk along those Prince Edward Island beaches, the coastline and the smell of the sea. Red Point. The End of the World P.E.I. and the force of the wind at that spot, lighthouse next to a drop down to fearsome ocean roaring down below me.

In these last five years, (not only out east) but I’ve traveled to Mexico, Yukon, British Columbia, and back to Florida for the fourth time.

I am thankful I got to make it to my twenty-year anniversary with my kidney, from my father, and that I got to celebrate that with him and my family and friends, zip lining at my favourite Niagara Falls on the Canada side. I hope to zip line in more places around the world in future.

I am thankful I technically did get my writing available in bookstores, when I wrote a short piece which was included in a print magazine called Misadventures. It was only available in Barnes & Noble, in the US, so a friend went into one and took pictures for me of that magazine on the shelf. I hold that book in my hands and am proud to know I have writing inside of it.

I thought it fitting to make my five-year blogiversary into a TToT post, one of the best things to come out of this blog since 2015 when I discovered other bloggers doing it and I joined their exclusive TToT blogging community.

Thank you, TToT comrads and all of you, for visiting me here. You’re the best.

All jokes aside on the wisdom of getting older, as I turn thirty-five and look back and look ahead, I know the fun is in the journey, not necessarily its destination. Still, I will always write about it all here, or for as long as I am meant to,

Where will I be in five years? And, how will I have gotten there?

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TToT: American Robin In Canadian Snow – Gnomes In The Shadows, #EarthDay #WorldBookDay #10Thankful

The snow was not quite all gone from the park; a little dingy bank of it yet lay under the pines of the harbor road, screened from the influence of April suns. It kept the harbor road muddy, and chilled the evening air. But grass was growing green in sheltered spots and Gilbert had found some pale, sweet arbutus in a hidden corner.

—ANNE OF THE ISLAND

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Canada comes together over tragic hockey team bus accidents one minute and we seem to be on the verge of splitting up, as a country because of oil and pipelines, the next. Okay, so I may be a bit dramatic here, but it’s how it all feels to me, in my more dramatic moments.

Now we’re, I hope, coming back together in support, as one, as the news of the van attack on a popular street in Toronto spread today, but who really knows.

I’m missing these, this exercise in gratitude, now and then lately, but I’m thankful still.

Ten Things of Thankful

It is World Book Day and I am thankful for books, old and new.

I got to visit the collection and exhibit of Lucy Maud Montgomery and I sat, for a long time, with an old journal she once wrote in, pasted photos and newspaper and magazine clips into.

I want to go back again and again and again, to find out what her life was like from different years, multiple decades, but I need someone else with me to read Montgomery’s words, and I hate to bother people like that.

I’m thankful for Logan, and people like him.

The kid was no longer a kid, which was how he’d gone out and been able to sign his donor card, to become an organ donor.

It wasn’t made a reality until harsh reality hit.

Still, I want to hug every one of him, people like him, who make such a final sacrifice as that one.

I’m thankful I could celebrate a birthday, attend the party I’d been invited for, even with the lousy freezing rain stuff we were getting that weekend, as a lousy farewell to winter.

My neighbour is someone I look up to, for many reasons, but because she is in her early seventies and she is starting over, on her own. She is doing it all, living life on her own terms, while she knows very well how precious life is.

She took the step I don’t take and decided to throw herself a birthday party, but the weather was horrible, and most people stayed at home. I am glad I live right across the driveway and could come over in thirty seconds.

She’d gone to all the work to make a table full of food. She bought beer, wine, and even coolers.

Happy Birthday CH!

I’m thankful for a “not normal” diagnosis.

I know, from personal experience, how “wonderful” it is to hear a doctor say that about you.

I was worried for a loved one, when that scary “C” word was being used, but the news was not quite that. Keeping an eye on things, for now, but I could breathe a sigh of relief, at least for the moment.

Not normal, huh? … … Um, yay?

I’m thankful for another wonderful meet up with my two writer friends.

These two ladies are such a wonderful pair to get to catch up with now and then. They are both at such different places in life, than each other and than myself, but we all love to write. We support that in one another. I learn from them. I am helped out by them. We, all three, cheer one another on and root for each other.

I’m so glad we met.

I’m thankful for warmer weather, as this is supposed to be spring after all.

I’m thankful for the sounds of spring heard out my window.

I’m thankful I got the chance to be interviewed about a subject that is of great importance in my life.

We hear about mother hood a lot, with so many writing websites being about motherhood. We hear about those women who struggle with infertility. I have seen that pain. I am in that group, the one that doesn’t have children, and I see how complicated the reasons for that can be.

It’s still a painful subject, like I should just get over it and move on, and though I focus on other things going on in my life, it still hurts.

I was approached to be interviewed, by a woman who has been working on a book about women, all around the world, who aren’t mothers. I like that I can speak about this and that she found me and asked me to take part.

Not sure where it will lead, but I’ve now met another lovely sounding woman. So many tough and awesome women in this world, you’d never otherwise know about.

I’m thankful for our first guests on the podcast this month.

The Earth Tongue Wiggled (feat. Liam & Crystal of Wildlife Gardening) – Ketchup On Pancakes

For the April episode, we thought a couple with the greenest of thumbs would be perfect. They talk all things green and growing, if you enjoy some gardening with your spring weather.

They are both funny, creative, compassionate souls and I am proud to call them family.

I’m thankful for a rap song about fungi.

No Sunlight

Nine people lost their lives today, when all they were doing was trying to get out and enjoy one of the first really lovely spring days of the year. RIP to those poor souls.

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TToT: Lions, Lams, Showers, and Flowers – Fools Not Withstanding, #HappyEaster #AprilFoolsDay #10Thankful

“When women speak truly they speak subversively—they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want—to hear you erupting.”

—Ursula K. Le Guin

Snowdrops are back and in bloom. That’s how I know spring has arrived, even if it hasn’t made up its mind yet if we’ll get rain or snow.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the hope and promise of women.

While madmen running places like Russia, North Korea, and the US seem to be ramping up their egotistical boasting about how tough their nuclear arsenals are, I think of all whom March’s Women’s History Month represents.

I’m not saying we’d be at peace, completely if women were the ones mostly in charge, but I have to believe it would be more progressive, sensible, and acceptable than where we’re heading right now.

I’m thankful for another podcast and the brilliant production from my brother.

Episode 10 – Ketchup On The Current (March 2018)

If you enjoy checking out a new podcast. If you are doing things around home and needing something to have playing in the background. Give us a listen.

It is a professional sounding piece of audio and I’m sure you’ll agree. We are self deprecating and sometimes silly, but we are real.

I’m thankful for an online radio appearance with Accessible Media Inc.

I was contacted by this
across Canada broadcaster
of content for the blind.

It was their weekday afternoon talk show/news magazine called Kelly and Company and this was
My Tuesday, April 27th episode.

I am probably coming off desperate sounding, but this survey I’m conducting for data on audio descriptive services in movie theatres for the blind goes on through spring and summer still. I need to keep the reminders coming or people might forget what I’m attempting to accomplish.

I’m thankful for a delivery of literary perfume.

Anne Shirley/Avonlee Fragrance

It really is amazing to me still, that I can order something (all online) and have it show up at my door a few days later.

I’m thankful I adore the cherry blossom scent now that it has arrived.

I had no magazine insert I could scratch and sniff, to make sure I liked the scent. I had to trust the product wouldn’t be crap and that I’d like it. Now I wish I could send a sample of what it smells like through the WWW wires to anyone who might be reading this and curious.

I am a lover of perfumes and fragrances, but I can also be picky and sensitive. I am just glad I haven’t concluded that scents cause the headaches I have because my sense of smell is so important to me.

Perfume is a big part of that. I may not be able to know what I look like, but I can do my best to present myself by the kinds of scents I am most drawn to.

And so now I can feel like I am walking in the cherry orchards of a Lucy Maud Montgomery story.

I’m thankful for a recommendation to grow as a writer of many things.

I am not trained in journalism and I don’t know if that its where I’m meant to end up, but I do know that if I want to educate readers on some of the causes I am most passionate about, such things are often taken more serious when written in a more journalistic manner.

I was shown a program where I could find some guidance to become more efficient in this kind of writing and so I will give it my best shot.

I’m thankful for some yoga on a rainy, painful Thursday.

I don’t dislike rain in spring. I only know the rain and the pain, not only rhyme, but they seem to fit and the yoga was a nice way to break up my thoughts on that day.

I’m thankful for hopefully a happy ending in the news.

‘You were our heroes’: A survivor of the Balkin wars helps ex-peacekeepers move past their pain | CBC

It’s a story of PTSD, trauma lasting years and years, and hope for a future of less suffering in silence.

I’m thankful for another year celebrating a special birthday.

He can be witty and he can be wise, when I most need a laugh or a little wisdom. He loves the nostalgia and the authentic sound of vinyl and, at the same time, is totally open and eager to discover the newest releases in the music world.

He is loved by his friends and family alike.

He is helping me bring my dream of writing, into audio storytelling, all to life.

He shares his day of birth with Celine Dion and Vincent Van Gogh.

He is my brother.

I am thankful to know that all the children I love are waking to the excitement of hunting for Easter eggs on this first day of this new month.

“Spring is singing in my blood today, and the lure of April is abroad on the air. I’m seeing visions and dreaming dreams, …. That’s because the wind is from the west. I do love the west wind. It sings of hope and gladness,”

ANNE OF THE ISLAND

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TToT: Vanilla and Peppermint – Ringing in the Season, #10Thankful

“You look like you’ve been run over by a steam roller and left on our doorstep.”

–Dr. House

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No, not that Dr. House. The real Dr. House is alive and well and a nephrologist, a kidney transplant doctor in Ontario, Canada.

I feel like I should add, before I go any further, he is nothing like the grouchy, dysfunctional, fictional doctor people can’t help mentioning when they hear the name.

The above quote is the first thing he said to my brother, when he visited him, on his Sunday morning rounds. A real word mincer.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

The season has begun. Whether it begins: (in retail) immediately after Halloween ends, after November 11th (as is the respectful way), at Thanksgiving (for Americans), or on December 1st is really up for debate.

All I know is: I attended my local Santa Claus Parade, there’s snow on the ground, and the Home Alone movies are being shown on television.

Christmas is on its way.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the common cold.

Okay, well I’m thankful that that’s all it was for my brother.

He was unwell at the beginning of the week. He was dehydrated. He had been sleeping somewhere between 16 and 20 hours a day, every single day the week before. He hadn’t been to school in days.

But once he was where he needed to be, in hospital, they began to assess him. They gave him intravenous fluids and antibiotics, plus a specific treatment for

CMV.

CMV is more common after transplant, but he is more than two years out from his. It took a few days to test for, but he did not have it. once they discovered he didn’t, when the fluids had a chance to work, once his blood pressure wasn’t so low, and once he could eat again he was released. Such a relief. Transplant patients just must be careful. My brother’s case is proof that even a common cold can cause a lot of problems.

For vanilla bean everything!!!

One thing I love about the start of the Christmas season is my favourite scents.

I stocked up on everything vanilla bean at

Bath & Body Works.

No photos or words can do it justice. If I could send the scent of my vanilla bean shower gel, hand lotion, fragrance mist, hand soap, and lip balm to all of you, through the screen, I would.

🙂

Or better yet, the products themselves. They make excellent Christmas gifts.

For more red.

My favourite scent may be vanilla, but my favourite colour is red. I have been working on finding red appliances for my kitchen.

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This week I found a microwave that would fit the theme.

For some wonderful praise of my writing.

It was my second time at the writing group I’ve started attending and this week’s mystery object, fittingly, was someone’s ticket stub for the Eiffel Tower.

I like this group. Wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I like that I am put on the spot. We all are. We find out the answer to the mystery object question and, within minutes, we’re all writing furiously.

We have about an hour to come up with a piece of writing, based on that object. This week I brought my Braille Display and was able to read what I’d just come up with.

Silence. Crickets, if there had been any crickets in the library.

🙂

And then someone in the group told me they were silent because they were still imagining the scene in their mind. It was one comment, but it meant a lot to me to hear it.

For a Saturday afternoon writing workshop.

More writing. Yes, I could spend lots of money on classes and workshops. Seems, these days, like every writer or editor teaches them. I’m sure it’s a good way to make money, as there isn’t always money to be made in literature.

I went on a whim. It was a workshop on dialogue. I learned things, as logical as they are and I should already know them, and got to share my writing with an old guy who is working on his own novel, crime I think he said it was.

These things, whether I learn a lot or not, are great places for me to practice writing and meet and hear from other writers, all at different levels of writing in life. It gets me out of my shell and feeling a little less afraid.

For snow.

In this case, for the first real snowfall, accumulation of snow for the season.

I love that smell. Maybe someday Bath & Body Works will figure out how to bottle it, but nothing will ever compare to the real thing.

I wish it wasn’t so cold though. I love to run my hands along a railing covered b snow. Unfortunately, my fingers won’t tolerate the soft, powdery texture for long. Gloves just cover up its wonderfulness.

For one cold Saturday evening family activity to ring in the holiday season.

The Santa Claus Parade was a favourite holiday ritual of mine growing up. We’d get our spot, all bundled up, and watch the floats slowly pass, with their Christmas lights, music pumping from loud speakers, and all the kids on the floats, yelling or singing.

And then always return somewhere warm and be thankful for heat all the more. I know I always was. And was again last night.

Well, so what if the parade from two years ago had us out in hardly a coat at all. This year, with the blankets, hoods, and gloves was better. It started out with rain, but by the end of the parade the snow was falling steadily. It had to be shook from our umbrellas.

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My nephew thought, upon hearing the first sound of sirens in the distance, that we should hurry up and run. He’s still figuring out parades and Santa Claus, for that matter, but I hope he grows up with as much wonder for all these traditions as I did.

For my trusty little iPhone 5 and for the fact that it still works.

I “may” have dropped it, a short drop, after I lost use of its original case. It was a short drop from the porch swing, onto the porch, but it still operates.

However, if you were to shake it just hard enough, a shifting sound inside the phone would make things seem worse than they apparently are.

Every time I receive an email though, the sound it makes to notify me causes the phone, if I am using it at the time, to reverberate throughout. It is a strange sensation, if I happen to be holding it at the moment, and, let’s face it – I’m holding it most of the time.

😉

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For a book review.

After the Scars #bookreview

A friend, writer, and blogger read my short story and the anthology it is in and wrote her review on both.

I haven’t heard a lot of feedback, so this was important, I believe, for me to grow as a writer.

She also wrote a post, on one of her multiple blogs. This one,

3 Writers Dine Together

is a lovely summary of our very first in-person meeting in Toronto.

For my fellow Lord of the Rings nerds, especially when they’re Stephen Colbert.

No One Confuses Smeagol & Gollum On Stephen’s Watch

The man makes some excellent points and uses humour to make them.

🙂

And…on that note…

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and let it snow, snow, snow!!!

“November-with uncanny witchery in its changed trees.”

–L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I know I include a lot of Lucy Maud Montgomery quotes in these TToT posts, but the woman had a way with words.

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TToT: Thanks and Thankfuls – That Was Awesome! #10Thankful

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”

–John Lennon

Not sure why,

😉

but I love this one.

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“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”

I often have my eyes closed in pictures taken. I am told this is a pretty good shot, so they should be open.

🙂

The Lighting of the Peace Tower.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8

Should I say thanks, be thankful for the thanks or thanks for the thankfuls?

This week I am not sure.

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Yes, I am Canadian and that means October is when we celebrate Thanksgiving, not November like the US does. Okay, so the actual day isn’t until the 12th, officially, but I celebrated two days early.

For me, this holiday is not and never has been about pilgrims coming across and landing to a grand celebration with The Natives. In Canada, for this Canadian girl in particular, it’s more about celebrating my favourite season (and we get em all in this country), the pumpkins, and the colourful leaves as they fall. Family is the best part, not the pie.

Sure, my family have always eaten turkey and It is true, that I am thankful, but I am just as thankful at Christmas and every other day of the year.

I am a little muddled, as this is my first Thanksgiving as a part of the TToT group – lot of being and feeling thankful going around here. I am a little overwhelmed with that word, “thankful” and all the thankfuls I have running around in my head.

Here I go anyway.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For friendly and down-to-earth writers like Anne Rice.

A couple years back I went ahead and read Interview with the Vampire – my first and only Rice book so far. I am not her biggest fan, but not in a “not a fan” sort of way. I just couldn’t quite let myself grow comfortable with her dark and mysterious writing style I suppose. I look down the extensive list of books she’s written in her three or four decades as a writer and I am impressed, even if the world of supernatural she’s continuously creating remains still unfamiliar to me.

It’s her devotion to her fans, as shown on her Facebook page, that really draws me in and of which I truly admire. As someone beginning to think of herself as a writer, I don’t necessarily think social media is for every author, but I do admire Rice’s dedication to her readers.

Anne Rice Fan Page on Facebook

She is quite obviously the one to handle the page. She doesn’t just post occasionally. She only has her assistant post when she herself isn’t feeling well. She posts daily and is clearly glad to do it.

She engages regularly with her millions of fans, saying good morning and goodnight to them, and having discussions, posing questions, and posting articles.

For friends and graciousness and people willing to help spread the word.

Amy Boviard Author

and

Original Bunker Punks

in particular.

I thank you for your thoughtful shares and I am thankful that you took the time to talk about or publish me, and then go ahead and share that with your website’s readers and then on your Facebook pages.

For the ability to go and turn on the heat.

The weather is turning to the autumn crispness I love so much, which means I have been going back and forth, unsure which type of weather there might be outside my door in the mornings. Things are changing

On a particularly rainy and windy day I broke down and, instead of just loading up on heavy sweaters, took that step and turned on my home’s heat. I am thankful for this because I have it so easily accessible to me. I’ve been going on and on about humidity, heat, and my air conditioning since I began with TToT, but Canadian winters always end up as cold as Canadian summers are hot.

For familial beta readers and editors.

I am not a writer with a publishing contract and an editor on hand to read the things I write, able to give their feedback and offer their suggestions. I don’t have the money to pay people to read all the stuff I’m writing nowadays, but I have managed to cultivate and maintain a number of relationships with these people. I don’t ask them to help, as I am glad to just have their expertise and knowledge to occasionally learn and draw upon. This is where the family obligation comes in.

🙂

Okay, they wouldn’t say it that way, but I still feel bad imposing. Of course, I could impose a lot more often than I do, only asking them to read over something when I really need it.

I apologize eternally to any readers of this blog, as I edit myself, as best I can, but don’t have someone read over my post before hitting publish each and every time.

If a capital letter or punctuation is missed now and then, or perhaps more often than that, I am sorry. These days, with the VoiceOver and Mac, my writing and blogging programs usually catch any incorrect spelling.

As for a week where I have written a piece I’m sending off somewhere to be evaluated and possibly published, to grow a more expanded readership, I look to my family to read my work and offer ideas and first impressions. Usually, this means my big sister. She has a life of her own, you know, with a husband and young son to attend to and spend time with. She works some days and has her own interests, so when she takes the time to help me out I am incredibly thankful.

For my mother and the very fact of her birth. This is worth celebrating and declaring my thanks for, as without this and her, I would not be here to write these words.

For everything she does and everything she is, I am thankful and grateful. I may not always show it, but I mean it from my very soul, with all the feeling words can muster.

I have never been more thankful than for her. Happy Birthday Mom. Xoxoxo.

For purring.

My cat will come over to me and walk across my legs. I don’t know, but I choose to believe he knows the pain therapy he is providing in that moment.

My chronic pain is an all over sort of deal. My legs are sensitive and just the right amount of pressure helps.

As for the purring, when he rests himself against my legs and purrs, I feel better. This is worth a bunch of irritating cat hair on my clothes and furniture.

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For a fun Thanksgiving day at the farm, pumpkin patch, and corn maze with the fam. Got an excellent view of the place from my watch tower perch.

Leaping Deer!

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My first time through a corn maze. I loved the sound of the rustling corn stalks in the cool fall afternoon, but it would have been creepier in the dark. They said you were supposed to give them your names when you went in, presumably in case they needed to find us in the event that we became lost, but we were rebels and told nobody – well, the family knew, I think.

For the pleasure of getting to give my niece and nephews a little something, a small gift, out-of-the-blue.

It wasn’t a holiday where presents were expected, and that made it all the better. They were surprised and I am thankful I got to make them smile.

They are learning and growing, with each Thanksgiving that passes, and that makes me sad, but in a really grateful way. I get to love them and be there, and that’s worth an unplanned and a surprise puzzle, book, or sticker set now and again.

For optimism, without which, I could never find a thing to be thankful for at all.

Whatever else I give thanks for, I am thankful for the TToT and others who have thankfuls in their lives as well.

This one, from this week’s group, is the perfect example of finding the silver linings, all done with beauty and humour.

A Moment In Time – Summertime Wandering

I can use all the optimism I can muster today. I am off to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play, what could be their last game, and the end of any possible hopes their fans had of a World Series win after more than 20 years eager anticipation and hope.

I am thankful for all the togetherness that is shown around here, after being in Toronto a few weeks back and feeling the energy of the baseball fans, the Toronto supporters growing, and I know today is their last hope and the odds are against them, but until that hope is dashed for certain I choose to be positive and optimistic.

It could happen. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Okay, I’ll see where things stand by this evening, a week from now, at next week’s edition of the TToT.

OK…BLUE JAYS…LET’S…PLAY…BALL!

I’ll end this week’s post with one of the most optimistic quotes I know, in the hopes of something sticking, and, as Anne Rice always says to her FB fans,

Signing off.

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Oh Canada

Today is Canada’s 147th Birthday and so I wanted to celebrate by bragging about why I love my country. I don’t usually brag about anything, but Canada is worth it to me.

Okay, so I don’t like maple syrup or poutine, (yes, I realize this could get me kicked out). There are, however, plenty of things I do love in their stead. Here are just ten.

1. My Oma and Opa chose Canada and they came here and worked hard to make a new life. They raised a good family and that is how I came to be here at all. I love that they were welcomed here and that they were given the chances to make all this possible. They were proud to be Canadians and to raise their family here and I am proud because of them.

2. I love our flag. The red and white always made such a bright contrast for a visually impaired person like myself. Maybe my favourite colour is red because of this and my earliest memories of the main symbol of our nation.

3. I love the music Canada has produced. I love artists such as: Sarah McLachlan, Jann Arden, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Chantal Kreviazuk, Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell, Blue Rodeo, and Alanis Morisette. These musicians represent Canada with their beautiful voices, their moving lyrics, and their distinct sounds. I love them for making me smile, making me cry, and for helping me deal with the hard things in life.

4. I love the literature of my country. I love brilliant writers such as: Lucy Maud Montgomery, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro. When Alice won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature I was so very proud and I felt honoured to be a woman, a Canadian, and an aspiring writer.

5. I love the land itself. I love how vast and sweeping it is. I love all the open space and our Canadian north. I love how we value nature and all its natural resources. I love the Great Lakes and the St. Laurence River and the oceans surrounding us. I love the Prairies, the Rockies – from the lush forests to the expansive Arctic .

6. I love the places I’ve traveled and the ones I have yet to explore. I love Niagara and its power which awes me every single time I stand at the railing overlooking the Falls. I love Toronto (Ontario’s capital) for its acceptance of all humans (coming off of 2014’s World Pride celebrations) and for the mixture of cultures and countries it houses all in one city. I love the Maritimes out on our east coast and Vancouver Island out on our west. I love having a little piece of another language and culture right in the middle of all the English-speaking provinces. Quebec is where I received my beloved guide dog all those years ago. I hope to see as much of Canada in the years to come as I possibly can.

7. I love the pride Canadians have in this country and as a result, in themselves. Despite the things the rest of the world think about us and the stereotypes that exist; it is true we are kind and welcoming, for the most part, and are known for it all around the world. We do come off quiet and reserved in contrast with some other countries, but as a quiet and reserved person I feel I am living in the right place. In fact, in my opinion these qualities are highly under-rated. We may not treated our native peoples properly over the years, but it is because of them that Canada is what it is today. I hope we are on the way to making it right and to righting the wrongs of our past. We disagree about the environment, politics, and when it comes to Canada’s role in foreign matters and militarily. Sure we have our problems and don’t always agree. We are by no means perfect but these disagreements just make for a successful democracy.

8. I love how this pride extends to our sports teams. Again, I could get kicked out for admitting I am not quite as enamoured with the game of hockey as the rest of the country, but I do love the image of a backyard or pond rink in winter. I have good memories of Saturdays at the arena with my family or late night roaming an empty one with my siblings while my father played. My brother loved playing hockey in his youth and my father loved being a part of a team as goalie. My family are not Leaf fans or any other Canadian team in particular, but what hockey means to our fellow Canadians it means to us too.

9. I prefer baseball over hockey. I love The Toronto Bluejays and no…I am not just saying this because they happened to win today of all days. I remember sitting tight between my father and brother in our basement, on the couch when Joe Carter scored the home runs to win the 1992 and 1993 World Series and I could hear the pride in their voices as they cheered. The Bluejays are our only team here and we have high hopes for them making the playoffs this year. Going to a game at the Sky dome is an experience in fun and an atmosphere of high energy and enthusiasm.

10. And last but certainly not least, I love the health care we are lucky enough to have here. Again, many could voice their complaints and sure nothing is perfect, but I know of what I speak. I am proud of innovators such as: Dr. Frederick Banting and Tommy Douglas for insulin and universal health care. I know nothing in life is completely free, but after all the surgeries, hospital stays, and medicines my brother and I have needed over the years I am thankful for the universal health care we have. I would feel forever guilt-ridden if I had caused my family to end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for the care I required. Not all countries around the world would have payed for all the care me and my brother received over the years and my family would be so far in debt if we weren’t living in Canada.

So there are just ten reasons why I love being Canadian. I will now enjoy a wonderful firework display from the comfort of my front porch with my nephew and be thankful I live where I do and enjoy the freedom and the beauty I enjoy.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians today and I want to wish my neighbours to the south an early Happy Fourth of July. We all need to be grateful for the blessings we have and celebrate our countries and how lucky we truly are to live where we live.

What are you most thankful for where you live?

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Fiction Friday, NANOWRIMO 2013, Writing

One of Those Days

Did you ever have one of those days, one of those days where everything you read back of your own writing sounds terrible?

Just one of those days where nothing sounds right at all, where on hearing the words read back is torture inflicted.

Fingernails scratching along a blackboard, the sound of your own voice when heard.

Everyone, with very few exceptions,
Hates the sound of their own voice heard back.

The writer’s curse.

Rubbish!

Blah!

Self-doubt with every syllable I hear.

One of those days.

This past week brought the seventy-two-year anniversary of the death of one of my literary idols. Lucy Maud Montgomery passed away in Toronto and left behind a loveable character with red hair and a temper, who is a big part of Canada for me. For me, Montgomery’s imagination was one-of-a-kind. It was her escape from a life of loneliness and hardship, of which I can not imagine.

A glimpse into the woman she was can be found in her journals. I have heard snippets of them in the past, but have yet to find full versions easily accessible. I guess this blog is mine. I can’t help wondering if Montgomery would have a blog if she were alive today.

I am sure she too had times of feeling like her words were rubbish, off days where nothing came out right. I think about this on just these off days in my own writing. How did she deal with those feelings of inadequacy? Where did she find the courage to move forward?

http://lucymaudmontgomery.ca/resources/

I find it again. My inspiration returns and I live to write another day. I find things about my own writing to be proud of once more. I am constantly inspired by Montgomery’s sweeping imagination and I strive to become the best writer I can be.

I have a file-in-progress on my laptop. It contains the first draft of a story I’ve had in my head, muddling around in there, begging to be written down for several years now. I saw my chance last November, when I heard about something known as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I am sure I had it in me all along, but this was the thing I seemed to need to offer the right amount of motivation. Of course it has been sitting there since November. I reached their fifty thousand word goal, but it is in need of an ending.

I planned, from the start, to post bits of my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel in progress on Fiction Fridays, but yesterday I chickened out. I read the first few paragraphs to myself and cringed, not ever-so-slightly. I just couldn’t post them.

I guess that’s how it goes sometimes, for writers. I am sure others feel the same way with their own artistic interests. I have the NANO swag now, but my story felt unworthy. Just one of those days or the truth; sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I still plan on posting it, in the weeks to come of course. I am not sure how happy with it I am, seeing as it’s the first try. I recently heard an excellent term used when describing that awful pieced-together attempt: Franken-Draft. I could immediately relate to this image.

In a few weeks I will have some new photos of myself for this blog, the benefit of having a talented photographer in the family. I know he can understand what I speak of here.

Just one of those days…

“I cannot remember the time when I was not writing or when I did not mean to be an author.” – L.M. Montgomery

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