Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Song Lyric Sunday, The Insightful Wanderer, Uncategorized

Coming Clean and Being Free, #SongLyricSunday

I’ve learned, you can’t hide from yourself, if you’re going to be a writer. Believe me, I’ve tried.

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Letting it rain, this one feels heavy with some sort of shame:

Hopefully something’s being washed away.

Being “witness to the perfect crime,” whatever that is, are her words. Amanda Marshall was someone whose tape I once owned, when tapes were the way to go. This song always felt like such a powerful one.

***

I have given, I have given and got none
Still I’m driven by something I can’t explain
It’s not a cross, it is a choice
I cannot help but hear his voice
I only wish that I could listen without shame
Let it rain, let it rain on me
Let it rain, oh let it rain
Let it rain on me

I have been a witness to the perfect crime
I Wipe the grin off of my face to hide the blame
It isn’t worth the tears you cry
To have a perfect alibi
Now I’m beaten at the hands of my own game
Let it rain, let it rain on me
Let it rain, oh let it rain
Let it rain on me

It isn’t easy to be kind
With all these demons in my mind
I only hope one day I’ll be free

I do my best not to complain
My face is dirty from the strain
I only hope one day I’ll come clean

Rain, let it rain on me
Let it rain, oh let it rain
Let it rain on me

Come take my hand
We can walk to the light
And without fear
We can’t see through the darkest night
Rain, rain on me
Let it rain, oh let it rain
Let it rain on me

LYRICS

***

It sounds like she is shouting the lyrics, in frustration, in fear.

I chose this one for
Song Lyric Sunday
because I thought it could be referring to some kind of secret or secret causing such shame.

If the subject this week is truth, well I know writing and lyrics can be powerful tools for righting wrongs and revealing hard truths, even if through a minefield of twisting, turning lyrics.

There is truth in there, somewhere, in and amongst the demons that we all acquire in life.

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Silenced, #TheCranberries #JusJoJan

The folded up newspaper sits on my coffee table, containing words about another, taken too soon.

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I can’t see to read it and wonder why I bother to keep the paper anyway.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

This is not an official tribute…or is it?

Just how much do I want/need/have to say about a woman I’d never met before anyway?

I am rocked by the news, left meandering through
contemplation
of my own life and what it’s meant to be.

All her lyrics are on repeat in my head. They invite just this sort of examination.

I keep trying to grow, as I write, and to try a bunch of different things with it all. Some things are bound to catch on, while others might not. I have to trust in that process, to thrive in its randomness, but I won’t lessen the effort I put forth.

I have plans in my head, shifting daily perhaps, and then an unforeseen tragedy happens. A woman, middle aged dies suddenly, leaving behind teenage children in the world.

A man is celebrated every January who also was taken much too soon, in evil and ugliness, leaving the lives of especially his children forever changed.

I am lucky to have all I have, to have love and family and a safe place to be. I listen to lots of music, not just The Cranberries, to keep forging on.

I listen to Another Day In Paradise by Phil Collins and I feel the same as I’ve always felt when listening to that set of lyrics. I may feel better that I am feeling for the homeless woman in the song, but really I don’t know what kind of a person that really makes me in the end.

I see those on the street, just as the blind were often seen as beggars on the street, and I want to feed and house everyone. There is a shame and a stigma about it all.

I contemplate and then I hear Dolores’s words in my head: “Don’t analyze. Don’t analyze. Don’t go that way. Don’t live that way. That would paralyze your evolution.”

And oh the lump in my throat returns and I go back to the revolving thoughts in my head and I know I’ll always mourn her voice silenced far too soon.

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I Wanna See Me, Reflected #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

Don’t look back.

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That was the title of the song I wrote lyrics for a few years ago, a song my brother wrote and performed for a college project.

It’s a good notion, as I try to focus on my future and living my version of now, but reflection isn’t all bad.

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

It’s exhausting really, sifting through all the memories, as I write them down for posterity. Still, I write first-person essays and other non fiction, memoir pieces. All this is most undoubtedly good practice for the book-length memoir I am determined to someday complete.

I am sometimes overly self aware, leaning heavily on reflections, in order to better see myself and others. I look back a lot, in total disregard of the lyrics I once wrote, as I reflect on the past thirty-four years. Yes, I will soon be turning thirty-four and I have a lot to look back on.

The waves of memory just keep on coming. I try to jot them down whenever and wherever I can, always holding back the force of each and every wave, so the threat of being washed away doesn’t ever come too near.

This Flashback Friday, flashing back to all the Friday’s of my past, the prompt word is “memories,” brought to us by
Cage Dunn
and feel free to share any of your own memories with me in the comments.

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TToT: Silver, Gold, and That’s So Weird – Go Train Phenomenon, #10Thankful

To drink from the fountain
Of the little you know about love and god

—Sarah Slean

I can’t see silver and gold anymore, but at least Canada still has net neutrality.

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Photo caption: Max and Auntie Kerry. My favourite picture, though I cannot see it.

I have been watching many of the holiday programs in the run-up to Christmas: Home Alone, Rudolph, and an old Frosty classic.

My jolly holiday spirit has been waxing and waning this year, all depending on the day, which is why I am still here with my third Christmas season with Ten Things, keeping the gratitude going and written for the record.

It’s funny, that the Christmas song I ended last week’s TToT post with (all about the kind of snow we get here in Canada) and then that is the one Christmas song Sarah Slean chose to perform at her concert that night, the one I am happy to report I got to enjoy. This leads me to my first thankful for this last week before Christmas finally arrives.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the weather holding back, if not the bitter cold, at least the blowing snow.

I live over an hour from Toronto and where most of the concerts are. I am thankful the weather cooperated and that I had family willing to make that trip, to drive me to see Sarah Slean and her band live.

December in Ontario, Canada can be unpredictable, but though it was so bitter cold, I was eventually warm inside the intimate venue, with some lovely music and a good friend.

I’m thankful for a truly uplifting early Christmas gift of a concert, with a friend and fellow writer.

Sarah sang beautifully, with a woman who doubled as backup and cello. She also had a guy on the drums, violins, and viola players. Slean herself, as well as being lead singer, played piano.

She even forgot the first line of her big single (Sarah) and had to stop the music and shout out for the lyrics. It was a sign that nobody’s perfect and we all forget things and make a mistake, if you can even call it that. We are all human. It happens. She has been writing songs for something like twenty years and her audience of all us fans were understanding.

Sarah spoke, in between songs, about the shelter she volunteers at in Toronto and the people she’s met there. The concert was raising money for food for Christmas for
St. Felix Centre on Facebook.

She spoke of the snap judgments we are all guilty of making in our daily lives, using one of many hashtags during the evening (#GOTrainPhenomenon) for what happened the night it was just her and one scary looking man on a GO Train. When you’re trapped on a moving vehicle, you have nowhere to run and hide, which can open your eyes in unexpected ways.

She considers herself something of a #SongWitch for what happens to her when a set of lyrics and piece of music come to her and become something special.

Her lyrics are heartbreakingly beautiful and wise.

Sarah Slean – Perfect Sky

I’m thankful my friend and guest (her birthday being the next day) and I could talk, even during intermission, and her spirit could be lifted just as mine was.

We struggle with writing, at times, but we shared our experiences, back and forth. I know we inspired each other to never give up and to continue on this path we’re both on.

It was different songs that spoke to the two of us, but all that matters is we got something special and unique out of it.

Mine was the first song Sarah sang, about there never being a perfect sky and right away I was listening. She had my attention for sure. I am often afraid I will one day no longer even see what sky is, but the message about not waiting for some perfection that will never come was duly noted.

For my friend, it was a song about finding the right words and that endless search to say exactly what it is any of us wants to say.

I’m thankful for more speaking up and activism from a powerful advocate and friend, after an unexpected piece of news.

I went to the Sarah Slean show, happy to avoid hearing the news of the vote in Alabama that I’d been hearing, frankly, too much about.

What happened in that state was and is a smaller scale example of the disbelief I have for who is POTUS right now. It is all so nonsensical and disgusting. I feel like I live in some kind of upside-down world, on a daily basis, even from my semi-regular life here in Canada at this time.

It’s a sign that sure things shouldn’t be assumed/presumed or counted on. It felt like all those who mocked anyone for their confidence in Hillary Clinton winning the presidency, like it was such a sure thing in 2016, were given a taste of their own medicine here in 2017. Cockiness is not such a good attitude to have when it comes to these things.

Enough people, the right people weren’t having it and I will let Kerra speak on the rest.

How black women saved Alabama — and democracy (CNN Opinion)

I am so proud to know her and that she has found this place for her opinions on the fate of her birth country.

I’m thankful for people to check on me when I’ve had a bad day and couldn’t be found.

I stay in touch with someone, as I am on my own a lot, and then I have my bad days when the pain makes me want to sleep and shut out the world.

I appreciate being left to this sometimes, but I know I am always being watched over and protected.

Whether it’s family or neighbour, it is a nice thing to know.

I’m thankful for a pleasant and successful final National Foundation of the Blind Peer Advisor conference call before the holidays.

We are a team in many ways. We support each other in our limitless pursuits. It’s a good group.

We speak, by phone, one Thursday evening each month. This was our evening to hear about holiday plans and traditions. Still, I am the only peer advisor from Canada in the group. One woman calls from Australia.

Maybe we will all meet in person one day.

I’m thankful for such fun kids in my life.

It was a wonderful pre-Christmas Saturday with my niece and nephew.

My niece has herself a dollhouse, which is actually for a family of bunny rabbits. My nephew played with his big sister and her rabbit family.

I sometimes like to join in their games. Other times, I love to just watch and listen as they play. They fight, like siblings often do, but they love to play together too. It’s super sweet to witness the fun they have with each other.

I’m thankful for Chippy.

I believe that is his name, their Elf On The Shelf, who shows up somewhere new every morning leading up to Christmas.

My niece and nephew enjoy looking for him in a new spot every morning, like hanging from a light, as he was the day we were there.

I guess, I don’t really know the rules, as this wasn’t a thing when I was growing up. Still, they seem to love it. It is one of the special holiday traditions they have as a family.

I’m thankful for such smart kids in my life, asking questions.

My brother had the new Blue Planet oceans shows all downloaded and my niece was all into learning about sharks. She could become a scientist (marine biologist perhaps) or an artist. That’s what is so amazing about her. Her future, with all that curiosity and intelligence, is wide open.

My nephew is settling in at school his first year and making friends. He is so inquisitive and full of life. He makes me smile, the sweetest little soul.

They asked questions and seemed to begin to understand, more and more, about what blindness means in their aunt and their uncle.

I am glad we could share a love for marine documentaries and colours.

I’m thankful for old champaign still tasting good.

Thanks for the hospitality goes out to my brother and sister-in-law, for the snacks, and the holiday cheer.

S…A…N…T…A
S…A…N…T…A
S…A…N…T…a
And Santa is his name-o!

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Best Possible Advice, #ChronicPain #SongLyricSunday

Breathe, Kerry. Breathe.

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Chronic Pain Awareness Week is about to begin and so I thought this the perfect time to speak about it.

I will use Song Lyric Sunday and Helen’s prompt about breathing to do it.

Singer Ingrid Michaelson had a few songs that helped me through a bad breakup and things, but this one helps to remind me of how to cope, with both emotional and physical pain.

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

It’s a good one for after a breakup, for a stressful day, physical pain, or even for people living through an awful natural disaster like a wildfire or flood, anything any one of us can’t control.

Deep breathing…I am not the first to think of it and either is Michaelson.

It’s a yoga practice. It’s a coping mechanism. I don’t speak a lot about the pain I live with on a daily basis to most people. There’s a stigma to chronic pain that is hard to deal with, almost as painful as the pain itself. If I mention it, people can’t fully comprehend and many human beings feel the common need to problem solve or judge, even unintentionally.

Do I drink enough water? Do I get enough sleep? Do I get enough fresh air, sunshine, or exercise?

Am I depressed? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?

***

The storm is coming
but I don’t mind
People are dying,
I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing, now

I want to change the world
Instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more
than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

LYRICS

***

The song starts with a few lines of lyrics about more than just any one kind of physical pain. It also serves as a reminder that we all feel helpless about the things we see going on in the world and want to help. The helplessness I feel about so many of the world’s ills, human suffering, injustices, all that on top of the physical pain I live with every day and it’s enough to make me want to close my blinds and sleep through life, but I only allow myself a day or two of that before I must do something different.

Then the song repeats the simple advice to “keep breathing” and the song is correct – all any of us can do is that. I remind myself of it, at least twenty times a day or more. I tell myself to remember to do it when the stress becomes too much to handle in any given moment, when even thinking about others feels like an impossibility because being me is hard enough.

As the lyrics “all we can do is keep breathing” repeat, the song builds to a climactic point and then returns to where it started.

That’s pain of all kinds. That’s life.

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TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

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Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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Past and Passing, #SongLyricSunday

Okay, so I decided to try the A to Z Challenge, on a whim yesterday, but the trick of it is that you are supposed to blog for every letter of the alphabet, each day except Sunday. Well, the challenge began on a Saturday this year, so I guess I can use today to prep for Monday’s post.

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And also I can do my favourite thing of the week.

Song Lyric Sunday #SongLyricSunday

In the month of March (of which we just completed a few days ago) a friend was posting for an 80s music challenge on Facebook. She shared a song from that decade, every day, and then she extended it. I discovered some great ones from her. I joined in for a week, stopped for a week or two, and then thought I would end the month (on the final days which were 30/31st) by posting two more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NvsMKYgCsM

This is the first of the final two I posted, on March 30th.

I like it because it is a beautiful song by Richard Marx and I love the saxophone solo and the fantasy feeling throughout. Apparently he wrote it about him and his wife and a trip they took to Hawaii together.

Endless Summer Nights, 1988

Sounds like paradise to me.

***

Summer came and left without a warning
All at once I looked and you were gone
And now you’re looking back at me
Searching for a way that we can be like we were before
Now I’m back to what I knew before you
Somehow the city doesn’t look the same
I’d give my life for one more night
Of having you here to hold me tight; oh, please
Take me there again Oh, oh

[Chorus:]
And I remember how you loved me
Time was all we had until the day we said goodbye
I remember every moment of those endless summer nights

I still recall the walks along the beaches
And the way your hair would glisten in the sun
Rising in the afternoon Making love to you under the moon, oh
Do you remember all the nights we spent in silence
Every single breath you took was mine
We can have it all again
Say that you’ll be with me when the sun brings your heart to mine Oh, oh

[Chorus]

There’s only so much I can say So please don’t run away from what we have together
It’s only you and me tonight So let’s stay lost in flight Oh, won’t you please surrender


[Chorus]

Endless Summer Nights (Lyrics)

******

So, I went with A to Z Lyrics because that kind of mirrors the A to Z Challenge and I like coincidences like those.

I like this Richard Marx song because it feels nostalgic and that’s what the eighties feels like to me. He’s looking back on a past memory, a passing thought, vacation in paradise with a lover. The story is told well from Marx’s POV.

I, myself, was born in 1984 and so it’s the decade where I was able to just be a kid, with my family, a simpler time in reflection.

I’ll never get that back and that makes me sad, despite everything I’ve been lucky to have and experience since those years of innocence, when everything was under control in my world and I was taken care of. It feels like so long ago now, a time long gone by.

In the moment, sometimes, it feels like it will last forever, an endless perfect moment or night with someone you loved. Sadly, realistically, it never does.

And one more, likely lesser known 80s song, from my favourite movie of the decade: 3 Men and a Baby.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aznod0Ij43g

BONUS.

Boy, do I love 80s music.

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