Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, Piece of Cake, Podcast, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: In My Head I’m Swept Away – Collective Arts, #10Thankful

Things are changing. I guess that’s a normal part of life. I wonder when it might be that this concept doesn’t feel so strange to me. I complained that these things are fading away, like this here ten things of thankful exercise, and then I’m the one who has faded away from even attempting it. Since the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I’ve been preoccupied and all over the place. I still am.

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I liked Lizzi’s attempt at coming up with
fifty
and not just ten, back around Christmas. I thought, since I am on my way to parts unknown very soon, I’d try for somewhere between ten and fifty, to cover for those I’ve missed in recent weeks and the week I’m sure to miss coming up.

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

This is meant to be a bunch of things I’m thankful for from the year that just was and some of what I’ve been thankful for lately. I will set a timer and see how long it takes me to come up with fifty items for this list of mine.

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

For people willing to fight back, stand up, speak out.

For reason, logic, and common sense, which isn’t quite common enough.

For the challenge of learning to adapt and familiarize myself with new things.

For the discomfort that often causes because it helps me grow.

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

For a Spanish language program I can listen to, shuffled up in my iTunes library.

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

Sophia showing Auntie Kerry her journal.
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For treats made especially available at Christmas.

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

For the scent of cinnamon buns when I step foot in the mall.

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

For the sound snow makes, that crunching, when it is really cold here.

For a female Canadian on our money…the money with braille on it.

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

For hearing my name coming from the smartest of smart almost-two-year-old little girls, only here for a visit.

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

For the life lessons from those who push me to require more of myself.

For rice cakes.

For the coolness offered by the frozen food section of a grocery store.

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

For the ability to provide a jam space in my basement for a bunch of talented and creative musicians.

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

For personal invites to travel and write and meet others who love both those things.

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

For borders, be they on countries or the sections of a country.

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

For governmental programs that help make life easier and more hopeful.

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

For the chance to do an interview with an editor/writer I admire.

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

For fireside chats with a train to be heard somewhere far in the distance.

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

For my mother’s talents with a needle and thread.

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

For my first violin concert and my second and my third.

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

I should probably stop here. This is just a start to a list. It goes to show just how much there really is to be thankful for, if you take the time to look, list, and add them up. I topped 100 things in this list and I think I’ve made my point.

I am starting to panic about why I’ll be missing TToT next time. I have so much to be thankful for. I just must learn to trust in all of it.

Bonus Thankful: airplanes and the responsible pilots who fly them.

Mucho Gusto!

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, TToT

TToT: Major and Minor – Zones and Pods, #InternationalLiteracyDay #9/11 #10Thankful

“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”

—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter

Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.

I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.

I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?

What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.

If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.

Blue Lullaby

And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.

I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.

I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.

I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.

After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.

The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?

I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.

Sofar Sounds

Secret gigs and intimate concerts, all around the world – in 271 cities.

My brother and his friend have been playing music all around their city this summer, but this time they were scheduled to perform at something truly special and I just had to check it out for myself.

Sofar Sounds on Facebook

This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.

Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.

It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.

I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.

I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.

This week was

International Literacy Day.

I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.

I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.

I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.

I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.

I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.

The Elsewhere Region

This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.

I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.

I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.

I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.

The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.

Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.

I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.

The Fallow Period

I’m thankful for peace where I live, where my family lives, and where my niece and nephews can grow up without being directly impacted by war and violence.

I recently listened to a news story about hopes of a cease fire in Syria and then a man who was a child soldier, speaking on Facebook, about the plight of his people in the country of South Sudan.

No country is perfect. None is spared completely, forever.

I’m thankful for my country, both that I and others can recognize the bad that’s taken place and still celebrate what we are as citizens and what we could be.

Canada In A Day

Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.

So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.

I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.

One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:

***

STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable

Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable

September 9, 2016 clickable

Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable

Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable

All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable

I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable

I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable

***

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans.ca

It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.

Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.

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

New Month, New Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Life Threatening Cases of Pneumonia in Transplant Patients

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

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

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

I found it strange.

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

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

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

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

WALKING ON THE EDGE

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I will keep on taking my meds, drinking…

It’s all about the intake and the output.

🙂

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

BUCKET LIST

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

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

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

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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Writing

SoCS: Let Them Eat Cake

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***

The initial idea would have been to write about world peace. Honestly, who doesn’t want that?

If I could say anything really stirring on that goal I would have said it a long time ago, not waiting for a blogging prompt to say my piece.

Then there’s my love of cake. I love a big, delicious piece of cake, but then something else popped into my mind.

In fact, it’s always in there somewhere, so it just pushed a lot of other stuff in there out of the way and made itself at home, front and center.

When I was in the eighth grade I started writing a diary. Well truthfully, I called it a log, not wanting to call it a diary because I felt the word was becoming a cliche of sorts for young girls.

I wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts, somewhere with a name as different as I felt.

Silly of me. It was a diary.

🙂

From there, the idea sprung up in my mind, that I would write my autobiography.

What did a fourteen-year-old have to put into an autobiography anyway?

Well, I had just been through a year or more of illness, medications, missed school, and surgeries. I wanted to call it The Year and a Half From Hell.

This was back in 1998 and just barely was I using a computer at all.

I started writing it and I did this in braille, using the old, heavy-duty Perkins Brailler.

I soon had pages and pages of braille, a towering pile of pages filled with row after row of raised dots, telling my story, but only I could read it, with maybe the exception of my brother or maybe my mother.

Then, just as suddenly as the idea came to me, it faded. I ran out of steam, but the dream never left my mind entirely.

I didn’t know where to go from there.

Now that I have this blog, I wonder if my long harboured dream of writing, what I now call my memoir, if that is less necessary.

I now have a place where I can write, in a broken up manner, when I feel inspired.

The problem is that I didn’t know how to downsize something so integral to my life, into a book.

I didn’t know what to say and what to leave out.

Also, I have decided to scrap Year and a Half From Hell, in favour of a title that takes me back to that cliche question.

Piece of Cake:
It’s a phrase meaning a task that’s thought to be simple or easy to accomplish. No problem at all.

Of course that year I spent in hospital and attached to dialysis machines was anything but simple or easy, but I would have no idea as that fourteen-year-old girl, just how much harder the following years would be after the idea for a memoir first occurred to me.

I think it sums up the sort of sense of humour I possess. I am not overly funny in any real ha ha sense of the word.

🙂

I am more dry, ironic, witty sense of humour girl.

Both titles felt authentic to me, even if one is a highly repeated, widely overused cliche from way back.

I like it and, besides, it makes me think of that sweet sweet piece of cake I so often deny myself.

I would have used it as reward for all that hell I’d been through, and have done at times, but all in moderation.

Besides, those two things don’t go together for someone who was put on steroid medication from age twelve onward.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, I am just as sweet as any cake.

🙂

Plus, I don’t like pie, so Easy As Pie was never a possible title for any autobiography or memoir of mine.

***

That was my offering for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/04/17/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-1815/

I was sorry to hear that this weekly blogging prompt almost came to a halt, so soon after I came across it.

Would have been a real shame, but I would have understood if the blogger herself, in charge of SoCS, if she needed the break.

Thanks for keeping it going. It has come to mean something to my blogging schedule and to myself.

I may even take a stab at the Wednesday prompt next.

Note:
If you read the title of this post and expected me to write about Marie-Antoinette, sorry to disappoint. Perhaps I will work it into a future post on this subject, but for now…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_them_eat_cake

As for that pesky world peace question, I’m open to a discussion, if anybody has any ideas or suggestions.

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