I started writing my “autobiography,” on my heavy duty Perkins Brailler, when I was fourteen. No technology because I didn’t rely on computers then. I soon changed the name of what I was writing from “autobiography” to “memoir” because I felt like I didn’t need to keep defending what I was writing, as memoir is about memory and living. We’re all in the process of living and all of us have the right to write about it. I look younger than I am often too. I still obtain wisdom and intend to use it, to share it, but I still (deservedly or not) get out of shovelling snow, though I like how the writer of this piece uses it as example for real writing life and struggle.
“What kind of writing do you do?” It is snowing heavily outside, and I am at a party, ice flaking off my quilted boots and melting into puddles on the hardwood floor. I get asked this question frequently, not just by buzz-cut, twenty-something, plaid-wearing, men like the one in front of me, but by people of all hairstyles, ages, and clothing preferences. I know what this man expects me to say: short stories; poetry; hot takes on pop culture trends. I am 26 years old, and anything I write must be imaginary or ephemeral.
I squirm in my boots, stare out the window at the weather I just escaped. I hate this question. “Memoir,” I say.
“Huh.” He looks at me skeptically. Even without asking my age, he has a general idea. I look younger than I am. “Kind of funny for somebody your age, don’t you…
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.
“(UN IDPD) serves as an important reminder that globally there are over a billion people with a disability. This year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” is especially relevant to our accessibility efforts…”
Making works of art out of the task of cupcake decoration.
Making something, all her own, and loving it.
I am thankful for this sly guy.
He likes to hide, but there’s a mischievous spirit just under the surface, behind the hands that sometimes cover his face when he’s playing shy to the camera.
I am thankful for such a smart and curious almost ten-month-old sweetheart.
Photo caption: Cousin hugs.
Her big cousin Soph adores her. It’s sweet to see them interact.
Mya is so interested in everything now. She is so close to walking, as she sees the rest of us doing it and wonders why she hasn’t managed it yet.
She is the happiest baby I’ve seen really. She likes to cuddle, but I can barely keep up with her when she’s on the move, and she’s not even a year old yet. Her mother and I are in no real hurry though.
I am thankful for the missing and missed one at last weekend’s gathering and the kind soul he is.
Old soul is my man Maxwell.
I am thankful he could enjoy his new friend’s birthday party. He got so excited. He was counting down the hours to his first party invitation since starting junior kindergarten in September.
I am thankful for a name given, from a friend, that suited my current state rather perfectly.
**Given what you’ve shared recently, I’d say the cauldron’s selection is a potent one for you. Your Embrace the Darkness name is “Good Night’s Sleep.”**
I had mentioned my sleep/dream issues lately and she generously handed this one to me, gifted me with it as a way to accept and deal.
I am thankful for a visit with one of the few people in my life who understand about living with chronic pain.
She brought me a coffee, doughnut, and a sympathetic ear.
She lives with pain and manages to hold onto her most original sense of humour and I take lessons from her on that front – where I find strength through some good sarcasm now and again, I see she does too.
I am thankful my friend arrives home from Ireland next week for the holidays.
I see her and her daughter just once a year, at this time, and it’s a fascinating way to observe the growing up of any child. They are quite the pair.
A little Christmas shopping with them maybe? I want to get her something memorable, as I only get to see her once a year and it takes her a little time, each time, to warm up to me again. A toy may help, but it can’t be anything too big because it must get back to Ireland.
Lots for them to cram into only a few weeks here back in Canada, with family and friends, but it’s always fun.
I am thankful for such kind and generous parents.
They bring me medication when I go away and forget it at home. They go that extra mile, in so many ways, and are flexible in so many ways too.
They are both unflinchingly generous people.
I am thankful for another job completed and well done, hopefully.
I wrote a memoir piece about our family, from the past, and the early December trips to a giant toy store we’d make as a family.
I turned it into a bit of a back-and-forth with me and Brian. We recorded it and added sounds and a bit of music to the piece.
We are submitting it for consideration on my brother’s favourite holiday Christmas marathon radio show he has listened to for the last three years.
Even the year of his horrible fall, when he was slowly recovering with a brain injury, he listened. The jingle bells accompany the radio guy and he plays some of the most obscure music for the season, to be heard on a New Jersey college station.
In the midst of all the musical pieces, he plays short holiday themed stories, recorded by friends and fans. This year we wanted to be included in that.
We shall see what he thinks when we send it to him.
I am thankful for fresh edits to a piece and that time away so I can come back at it with fresh eyes.
I wrote about the road I took through my Yukon visit and the road I’m traveling down in my life.
I worked on it with one editor and took a few weeks away from it. Coming back now, with fresh eyes, I can consider other editing suggestions and work to make it the best piece it can possibly be.
I just saw a Yukon documentary, playing in theatres for a limited time, and this virtual return to the north of Canada has given me new life to put into the writing.
I appreciate all I learn and how I can improve and grow as a writer, with the guidance of talented people I am lucky enough to get to work for/with.
I am thankful for a movie about the Yukon in my heart since I visited there, even without the DVS working.
It’s funny to have the story, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, but again we ran into issues with the audio description service at the theatre.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover they said they had it. A worker disappeared somewhere and came back with two headsets and wireless boxes.
Once inside the we turned them on. One worked and the other did not. The first worked, but it was describing a story that certainly wasn’t that of the Yukon.
We were offered their apologies and two free movie passes, but that won’t address this issue.
I did enjoy the film, despite all that, but a documentary, at least, has steady narration.
I don’t even think about going to an action movie or one with a lot of adventure, not without the proper assistance from a helpful person sitting next to me.
This is no answer. Perhaps not that many blind people go to movies, anymore or ever, but this must be improved upon.
As for the movie, I nearly came to tears more than once, as it brought back sense memory of my days there and my deep feelings about so much of that wild beautiful part of North America.
I am thankful for the day, December 3rd, to highlight disability, not just in North America, but around the world.
Every day is a day to talk about it, without becoming preachy. I feel this is something I have been called on to do, but it is a rather tricky balancing act.
I watched a Canadian national news broadcast and no mention at all was made nor any story aiming to shed light on some aspect of disability and what IDPD means to so many. I know an hour long news program can’t get to everything, but I think this should have been covered in some way.
I plan to do a lot more of this activism stuff in 2018 and beyond.
I am thankful for the final super moon of 2017 and the fact that, in spite of my worsening eyesight, I could still make it out on the horizon as we drove home.
I am all about horizons these days. Onward and upward, all while still making the effort to enjoy the final weeks of 2017 in the meantime.
Would you like to improve your writing craft today? By, say, 10%?
This doesn’t apply to everyone of course, but after editing essays and books and posts for the Brevity blog, for experienced writers and new writers and everyone in between, I’ve noticed a lot of repetition.
Not from book to book, although I see that. Not even from paragraph to paragraph, although I see that too.
Within the same sentence.
Sometimes it’s telling as well as showing:
He looked like an old man with his grey hair and gnarled hands.
Tell it once:
His hands were gnarled.
Better yet, show it in an action:
He ran a gnarled hand through his grey hair.
He picked at the tablecloth with a gnarled hand.
Sometimes it’s showing the same thing multiple times:
“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”
I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)
There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.
For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.
I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.
“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”
Well done once more Clark. Bravo!
Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.
Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.
I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.
Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.
This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.
Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.
My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.
Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.
I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.
I do feel lucky to live here. I do.
All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.
My latest freelance rejection of a pitch I’d sent out, early in the week, the editor in her email response said:
“I find this story objectively interesting…”
Oh, great. That sounds positive. As long as I stayed focused on her first few lines of the email, all looked promising, but then:
“but it’s not really a fit for us. We do very few personal essay stories of this sort”.
It is my responsibility to learn what any publication I pitch publishes, what sort of pieces, and a lot are journalistic in tone. I can write, could, and maybe I will get there.
She did proceed to include in the email, a pitch doc for what she said was:
“to help shape future pitches”.
Not sure if she meant that is encouragement to try again with them in the future or just as a general tool. Either way, I appreciated the gesture.
I haven’t been able to map my writing road as such. Somehow, I ended up in a group on Facebook and there I saw editors asking for certain kinds of pieces. They were mostly about things from marginalized writers and voices and I qualified.
I had written pieces which were published on various websites, publications, and blogs, but none were paying, until this year. It’s nothing to retire on, but it felt like I was finally pulling my own weight.
So, I barely call myself a freelancer, just like I barely called myself a writer for a long long time.
Eventually, that changed. I moved up on this particular ladder. I now refer to myself as a writer. I am literary and would like to write memoirs and novels and plenty more, but if freelance work can find a spot in there somewhere too, I will do my best.
***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.
I’m spending this final Song Lyric Sunday
of 2016, talking about a song that explains something about me.
What best describes me this time of year?
Well, this one is a part of a Christmas from my past, my childhood, which is part of a bigger picture of myself.
The memoir I’ve wanted to write for a long time had certain songs ingrained in the narrative, as so many feelings at specific moments of my life define where I was at various stages of growth and development through the years, filtered through the truths of song lyrics.
This one denotes a Christmas, twenty years ago, one where I was ill and had been for months by December, 1996, on kidney dialysis for six months by that time.
A long December and there’s reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin’ Now the days go by so fast
And it’s one more day up in the canyons And it’s one more night in Hollywood If you think that I could be forgiven…I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it’s one more day up in the canyons And it’s one more night in Hollywood If you think you might come to California…I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m. And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower, Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it’s one more day up in the canyon And it’s one more night in Hollywood It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…I guess I should
“The smell of hospitals in winter. And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls,” stands out strongly from the rest of the lyrics, but a long long December/year for sure was how it felt.
All that year I had felt like crap and had felt unheard by doctors and a world who didn’t understand, but frankly, neither did I, for a long time before I received a proper diagnosis.
I heard this song on repeat, a big radio hit at the time, driving back and forth to the hospital and by December, 1996 I was ready for that particular year to come to an end, but the song and the memories would always stay with me.
My luck had been bad and I could only hope for a much improved 1997 and beyond.
This song is a snapshot of me at age twelve and it’s only so poignant because I can look back now, some twenty years onward, from that sick girl I was, to the woman I am now.
Sometimes life feels like things will never be better, like we’re destined to always suffer with something, but time does reveal how that can change.
: You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch / You’re a nasty, wasty skunk / Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk / Mr. Gri-inch / The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!
Two holiday favourites I like to watch this time of year are The Grinch and A Christmas Carol. I wonder at if the real life Grinches and Scrooge’s of this world could grow a heart and see the error of their ways, but sadly, I doubt it by this point.
Also, as I was sitting in the gymnasium from my youth, watching a new generation of children singing about Santa and snowflakes and all the other traditions of this time of year, I felt the ghosts of my own childhood, all the years I spent in elementary school. I also listened to songs about snowflakes and I thought about that.
I get on my own case for letting it bother me at all that the idea of a snowflake has been hijacked by those who have started referring to “liberals” as “special snowflakes” and saying all the “special snowflakes” need to go and hide out in their “safe places”.
So just what exactly is so wrong with that, anyway? Huh? Hmm?
I want a break from worries. As much as I love the advice I’m often given, to try not to focus on those things that upset me, I refuse to let something as beautiful as a snowflake be a negative thing. Or, as if a safe place is somehow a bad place to be.
Oh, no no no. I…Don’t…Think…SO!
So, here I am, starting this pre-Christmas TToT with a rant or two, but I wish I didn’t have it on my mind to rant about anything at all. I do plan to give myself the gift of a break from all that once Christmas does come.
(this is a real single snowflake showing all of the tiny details)
I’m thankful for snowflakes.
Snowflakes are special, this is true. They are nature at its finest. They are the most delicate things and I am lucky to have grown up with them, here in Canada. I recently had a fascinating conversation with someone who didn’t grow up with the kind of snow we have here. He spoke of his thoughts about it now. I enjoyed hearing his perspective, so different from mine.
They are all different, snowflakes, and that makes them special, not one being the same as another. They may be delicate on their own, but as more and more of them fall, eventually they become a collection of flakes, which makes snow and the results of enough snowflakes, all packed together, this can become the most unstoppable of forces: an avalanche.
I’m thankful for safe places.
Wait until war ravages where you call home and then see if you look for a safe place to run to.
In a world so full of harsh weather and cruel human behaviours, and a safe place is something we all would cling desperately to.
I thank everything I have for home, which is my safe place/space, where family are and where I know I am loved by someone. I desire greatly to explore the world, but I’m sure thankful I have the safe place right here to return to. If that makes me winy or pathetic to some, so be it.
I’m thankful for solstice. Man, do I love that word.
December 21st is the first day of winter. I am ready for it.
I think there is something beautiful about winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. People are thrilled this means the days, from here on out, begin to lengthen and commence in June. That will be another big month in my life, but for now, I enjoy what transpires in this part of the world and astronauts have seen it and word it best:
Generations of astronauts, after looking at Earth from space, have professed a profound new understanding of it. Edgar Mitchell, who, in 1971, became the sixth man to walk on the moon, said, “From out there . . . international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ” Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong’s crewmate on Apollo 11, expressed similar sentiments in his memoir, “Carrying the Fire,” which was published in the midst of the Cold War. Seeing our home planet from afar, he wrote, prompted an epiphany: “The earth
Must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.”
Mike Massimino, in his memoir, “Spaceman,” reports having spent almost a full day staring out a window of the Space Shuttle Columbia, watching sunrises and lightning storms (“like a form of communication, like a sequence, like the clouds are alien creatures speaking to each other in code”). On his second spacewalk, Massimino told me recently, he had a spare moment to “take in the view.” He recalls being struck not only by Earth’s incredible beauty—“We are living in a paradise”—but also by its fragility. From out there, he said, especially during night passes, “you can see the thinness of the atmosphere,” a bluish-green line. This sudden perception of Earth as a delicate, intricate system is so common among astronauts that the writer Frank White coined a term for it: the overview effect.
Astronauts are endlessly fascinating to me, in part because they have a knack for poignant quotations. Buzz Aldrin, for instance, described the lunar landscape as a vision of “magnificent desolation,” a grand phrase for a bleak truth. Unlike our paradisiacal, blue-and-white Earth, the moon has no atmosphere and no real sky—just gray dust and black space, such that color photographs from moonwalks appear mostly black and white, as though someone colorized the American flags after the fact.
NASA brought six flags to the moon, on poles outfitted with horizontal crossbars so that the stars and stripes would show, as though caught in a nonexistent breeze. The flags are still there, but radiation is presumed to have left them in tatters—monuments to our love of Earth, or maybe just litter.
I’m thankful for the chance to return to my childhood for an afternoon.
It was a tad emotional, I admit, but it brought back a lot of worthwhile memories that had me thinking.
I have so much wrapped up in that building, both good and bad. I found it highly moving to return there. It gave me a lot to think about.
Speaking of ghosts at Christmas time, they were everywhere there.
I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s Christmas concert.
Oh, aw, ah all those little boys and girls, trying so hard and singing their hearts out. They tried their best, especially the youngest ones like my nephew, to remember the words they practiced and my nephew, for one, was nervous when he walked on stage and saw how many of us there were in the audience.
I couldn’t pick out my nephew up there, as I am unable to see anywhere that clearly upon returning to that school as an adult with considerably less sight, but I am still glad I went, even if he couldn’t see me either.
I’m thankful for safeguards and protection for natural places.
President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau working together once more, for one of the final acts together, to preserve parts of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
They are protected against off shore oil drilling in those places. I don’t know how foolproof it will be, if what they’ve done will stand the test of time and Trump, but we shall see.
I am glad the two men are working together, once more, at something worthwhile. Sure, it may not be protecting everything that needs protecting, but it is something.
I’m thankful for a return to my library writing group.
I had missed a few, but I am glad I returned for this final meeting of “The Elsewhere Region” of 2016.
There were cookies and chocolate with mint and chocolate and raspberry tea. I don’t normally drink tea like the rest of them like to do, always afraid I might spill mine all over my electronics, but this time the tea sounded just too good to pass up. I took precautions, but the tea was delicious. Just the perfect thing for the occasion.
I wrote a story, dialogue and a conversation between two young women. The mystery object one member brought in was a strange family Christmas decoration. It was a frog wearing a fancy outfit and hat and his tag said something about him being named Mistle Toad.
Okay, so I guess he was a toad, not a frog, but it made for some interesting ideas for a writing prompt. We discussed and most wrote about the popular idea of kissing a frog and making it turn into a handsome prince.
My story confused some, but it really illustrates how, like snowflakes, all our writing styles are so diverse and so very much our own.
My imagination is a lot different from many of the other writers in the group. This always makes for a fun time.
I’m thankful for understanding doctors and nurses.
I have a doctor who hasn’t given up on me, even though I am a bit of a difficult case, and who promises I can call and come see her if anything comes up, even if it’s before our next scheduled appointment. That’s the sort of empathy and understanding I have always hoped for.
Also, I have a nurse offering to give me an iPhone case she no longer needs.
I’m thankful for my flu shot.
I know many people think it totally unnecessary. Some have gotten sick soon after getting one in the past and feel it can cause more problems than it helps prevent. I must say that I do take my low immune system seriously enough. If I can ever prevent getting a bad flu one of these times, I will get the shot.
My arm hasn’t even really bothered me this year, since getting it, and after the initial stinging and burning of the injection itself.
For those who are in perfect health, who are young and strong, there’s likely no huge need for it. Either way. I don’t get too worked up. It’s easy enough to get and so I do.
I’m thankful for a surprise Christmas card.
Thank you Lizzi
for the surprise. I also enjoyed the tactile parts on the front of the card and the surprises to be found inside.
I admit I don’t do up Christmas cards myself. I find it hard, all so visual and I guess I’ve lost a little of my artistic streak, which I could draw on to make cards still for people.
As for Christmas cards, having them sent to me, not many are. I suppose many people think I won’t be able to see them anyway, so what’s the point? I don’t know. I may feel somewhat left out, but there are other ways of expressing holiday cheer. It’s just nice, once and a while.
: He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!
: Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.
The other night, on the news, a reporter did a story about how desperate of a situation it’s becoming in Syria.
She began to, not just lay out a few facts and statistics, but to compare the city of Aleppo to the city of Toronto, where her news broadcast was airing from. She went from one part of Toronto to another, explaining how it would look if what’s currently happening in Syria were to happen in a Canadian city
Okay, so maybe it’s a bad example or I’m just not describing it all that well. I have a cold and my right ear is plugged and I feel like I’m losing it a little, but I wondered why this reporter’s method was necessary in the first place.
She began her segment by saying something along the lines of:
?How does what’s happening in Syria relate to life here in Toronto anyway?”
I wondered if people really needed the story to be spoon fed to them like that, as if they couldn’t already put themselves in the shoes of a mother, losing hope for keeping her children healthy and alive. Hadn’t they all considered what it must be like to be stuck in a war zone? I guess, to a point, I use that distance between myself and such horrible events as a cushion too.
I may feel sad and disappointed in the Syrian government for being unable to keep its people safe. I may be frustrated that although my country of Canada has done more than many to help the Syrian people, our participation has dwindled. I may be sad and disappointed in myself for the fear that even the small gestures of compassion and gratitude I’ve made aren’t enough.
It’s obvious by the number of entries in the linkup. The terrible events around the world that inspired a handful of bloggers to act in the only way they knew how, nearly two years ago, is a small sample of what it was once.
That first month there were hundreds of entries. Now, with the linkup being open, not just one day, but a whole week. And yet, my entry is found to be one of the last, if not the last, at five or six along on the list. Where did everybody go? It’s frustrating to see how willing people were, when the excitement and energy were new and when a small discussion on holding on to compassion in times of hardship suddenly and unexpectedly grew into something a lot larger than anyone could have ever anticipated.
Five or six people, including me, took the time to write and keep the movement going this month. This makes me sad. I feel disappointed, but I have compassion for all those who haven’t kept up with it, though some come and go, taking it for granted that it should always be there.
You have to feel it to write. I can be honest about how I feel, but I have a lot of compassion for everyone who didn’t show up. I have been one of them. I can’t say I won’t be one in the future. All the praise goes to those keeping it going this long.
Nothing goes on forever. Everything starts and stops somewhere.
Life gets busy. People forget. Times are hard. They’ve moved on.
This is a time where sadness and disappointment are commonly felt emotions. I am sad and disappointed.
I am sad that we have arrived in this place, where compassion feels strangled by suspicion and self interest.
Taxes. Rising bills to be paid. Mortgages and kids and stressful jobs and relationships and social media.
I am disappointed in America for giving up and giving in. Donald Trump is where he is. I am sad and I am disappointed.
In these times, I believe honesty is best, if we’re ever going to face the ills of our society, like racism and class, job, and economic uncertainties. We’re all fighting for our own, equal slice of the pie.
Where, then, does compassion come in? I am trying desperately to fit the pieces together.
I am trying, underneath a steady undercurrent of sadness, to listen to people and to respect different beliefs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. This situation is unique in that most times, after a time, I can see where someone may be coming from. In some of these situations, where prejudice is at the core of it, I can’t understand.
Then I lose all compassion for myself, as I feel like it’s something on me, like I’m just not trying hard enough to understand.
It’s mostly based on fear. That much I’ve surmised. I can have empathy for that, to a point, as I know what fear looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like.
I have compassion for everyone. It’s when some people’s true feelings come to light that I jump back in shock and the sadness and disappointment wash over me with no warning.
Is this the end? By which I mean, are we coming to the end of this experiment in writing for compassion here? Or will we keep going forward with the participants we still have? Couldn’t compassion sustain itself, even through blogging, just a little longer? Perhaps not.
Will I even be here next month, to write about compassion, or will I have moved on? I honestly can’t say for certain.
I don’t see any end to this stalemate, these feelings of intense sadness and disappointment at my fellow human beings.
I can’t look the other way when the progress with women’s rights or disability rights or any other rights are threatened. I wish I understood. I wish I could.
I just finished listening to a podcast
about writing, about memoir, and about trying to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. This is my mission these days, but is it fruitless, when such serious issues are at stake?
I continue to see gestures and acts of compassion in many different places and that softens the blow. It isn’t all bad. This has been and continues to be a difficult time for a lot of people, but a lot are doing the best they know how in the moment.
I go ahead and focus on what makes me feel the opposite of sadness and disappointment. I hope things will continue, that very likely will not. I can’t blame anyone for that. I can only control my own actions and remain compassionate yet honest when the sadness or the disappointment threatens to drag me down next time, hoping what I’m left with is a little piece of compassion left over to spare and to share.
No quote full of wisdom can possibly be any greater than the ones that come from young kids and their imaginative little minds. I am feeling that most acutely and holding on, looking for a little bit of that in me, while the little ones in my life remain this age and teach me so much.
For some reason, some reason we can’t figure out, his mother can’t quite explain, my nephew calls his lungs boulder slipper lungs.
The things the children in my life continually come up with are things that are constantly surprising me and making me smile.
My nephew, for example, he loves noodles and he wants them plain, with only butter. He loves what he refers to as “Grandma’s noodles,” but I think my brother, for example, may pick out the Simpsons quote from the title of this week’s TToT post if no one else has the foggiest clue what I’m referring to.
I was thankful my sister, brother-in-law and nephew made it home safe from their first vacation together out west to visit family. It was my nephew’s first airplane ride. Western Canada and Alberta means dinosaurs for my nephew and fishing for my brother-in-law. My sister was just glad to get away with her two favourite boys. With my nephew starting JK in a couple weeks, things are about to get busier.
For their affect on my life.
They teach me to keep an open mind, even though they often feel like they are right, so who’s to say who’s right anyway?
For instance, if you were to try and convince my nephew that lungs are not called boulder slipper lungs, he likely might not believe you, but school will soon start and who knows what sorts of logic and teachings he will be introduced to then and there.
Reminds me of that song by Canadian band Rush, “The Logical Song”.
That my family puts up with my writing and this blog, are as supportive as they are, when I know many writers aren’t quite so lucky.
A lot of people write memoir and non fiction which involves stories of their family members in it. This can create resentments and other issues. Recollections are different for everyone. I needed to express myself, but how to do that without alienating those I care about?
Of course, if I write (even in my fiction), people in my life are going to appear because they are most of what matters to me.
I know they respect my need to express myself through words, but I never want to sacrifice their trust in me or their needs for that self expression.
Hmm. Perhaps I really should just quit with these pesky words and return solely to visual art instead.
That all my family survived the destructive, unpredictable tornado of August 7th, 1979
I wanted to mark the anniversary and write an interview with my parents. It was too late to speak to my grandparents about their recollections, as I only started this blog after they both passed away, though I had spoken to them both about it many times before.
It’s raining as I type these words, hard and noisily just now, and I imagine or I try to. One of those things I can’t really fathom without experiencing how it must have felt firsthand, which I am lucky and hope I never have to do. I am just glad my father survived to tell the tale, or else I wouldn’t have been here to be able to help him tell it in the first place.
For that moment that I often find myself awake to witness, at three or four in the morning, when the sound of the nighttime crickets and the start of the early morning first chirping of the birds intermingle with one another.
If I am unable to sleep in those moments, at least I am awake and tuned in to hear such a natural thing as that.
For a nephew who just turned four.
We had spaghetti and meatballs (noodles) and cake (which I received a big bite of just icing when finishing). We may need to whisper Happy Birthday for his fifth birthday, if he doesn’t grow out of the shyness he had this time when we sang out loud.
I will never forget his birthday, as I was there the day he first arrived.
It was a very special day for me for so many reasons.
This includes “THE DEEP UNDERGROUND” from my nephew’s favourite movie “The Land Before Time”.
The underground, in this case, is the front entrance which is down two steps. The Sharp Tooth is inevitably pushed off the edge by Mother, Littlefoot’s mother with the long neck.
For a chunk of days of rain, whether the weather is a loud, hard downpour or a sprinkle off and on throughout the day. We needed the rain, something to break up all the intense humidity.
For a gift from my father. I know he feels bad when he hears how much I miss the vision I used to have, but he still brings me markers when I speak of wanting to revisit all that anyway, despite my worsening sight, an activity which will likely bring back both joy and sadness all at the same time.
I heard my favourite scented markers from childhood, a somewhat brighter time in my life, visually I mean.
I have been thinking about colours, flowers, rainbows. I am going to try art, which I have been aching inside to give myself another chance to do for a while, but kept on putting it off because it will never be what it used to be for me again.
I sat down with my pack of colourful markers this afternoon, with a piece of braille paper because it is the perfect thickness, at my kitchen table because the light from the window there is the best place for maximum brightness.
Well, it was frustrating some moments and at others I had hope, with the slightly damp texture these particular marketers leaves behind and with the correct colour of marker fitting to the corresponding scent all coming back to me. I want to make something for Ivy’s Art Challenge and maybe involving 10 Things of Thankful because it has been so important for bringing light and colour back into my life these last fifteen or so months of extra reminders of the things I have to be thankful for.
That my five-year-old niece has a love of art and colouring and drawing pictures.
She got that from my brother I’m sure, her burgeoning artistic talent, but she reminds me a little bit of myself at her age and I feel somehow comforted by that notion.
I know she will continue to create beautiful things because that’s just who she is and where she comes from.
For this old favourite of mine from fifteen years ago.
This song perfectly incapsulates my feelings about the August birthday boys in my life. I celebrate their birthdays and I selfishly want them to remain young like this and never grow old, as Dolores sings, but I know that’s neither fair nor plausible.
August, within ten days of each other but spanning a year apart in age, are my two amazing nephews. They have inspired these songs today.
It’s the two boys and my niece who inspire my attitude that all art is open to me because I’ve seen the amazing things that come from their imaginations and my own imagination is the one thing I haven’t lost. They help me never to forget that.