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

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

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

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

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

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

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

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

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

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

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

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

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

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

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

APRIL

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

Don’t Look Back

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

Why Oh Why

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

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

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

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

Spotlight On Single Strides

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

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

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

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

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

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

Frozen In Time

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

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

Born Again and Forever Grateful

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

JUNE

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

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

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

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

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

Would the moment ever get here?

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

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

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

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

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

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER

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

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

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

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

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

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

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

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

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

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

The Brevity Podcast

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

NOVEMBER

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

Nano Nano Nano

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

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

Stalemate, #1000Speak

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

DECEMBER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TToT: Busy Filibustering and Multiple Blooms, #10Thankful #Bloomsday #CityAndColour

“All your friends seem like enemies, when you’re broken down and empty. “So say goodbye to love, and hold your head up high. There’s no need to rush. We’re all just waiting, waiting to die.”

Waiting – City and Colour

Okay, so why are those lyrics so darn relatable?

Kind of depressing lyrics/quote to start things off with, no? Well, keep reading for further context.

Technology update from this week is just more of the same with my mail program. My new computer seems to be unable to function properly because there are so many. VoiceOVer’s favourite thing to say, when it just can’t work well enough to let me even send an email: “Busy…busy…busy…” I’m beginning to hate that word.

😦

Do you ever feel like you’re so far behind and you’ll never catch up, in emails or just life in general?

Well, I feel that way, but I know it’s small in the grand scheme of things, as this week has been full of more heartbreaking headlines and tragedies and some political filibustering too. (Just love that word.)

Once more, I make the effort to find things for which I am intensely thankful.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a successful video chat connection with my writing mentor.

She helps me narrow in on what I’m doing with my writing. I’m glad the technology allowed us to speak again.

She writes about “multiple blooms” – getting more than one chance in life, to become something or create something worthwhile, to bloom like flowers bloom.

This week, on June 16th, it was Bloomsday, like on every June 16th, going back one hundred years.

Irish writer JAmes Joyce’s Bloomsday explained.

I’ve spent so much energy and time coming down hard on myself because I haven’t read all the things there are out there to read. I haven’t written all I want to write yet. Talking to a mentor helps me realize that’s okay. I work on trying not to look at it like I am far behind in these things. It’s not a race.

So, Bloomsday is a day to celebrate James Joyce and his novel “Ulysses” which I haven’t managed to read, though I started it a few years ago.

For a winner so far for best writing group night.

We are a lovely little core group who mostly show up each week. We help each other, cheer each other on, remember one another’s writing and ask how it’s going.

This time involved popsicles.

🙂

The challenge was to write as much as we could, while holding our popsicles, to see how far we could get before they melted.

This is where I feel irritated because I can’t fit in, necessarily do the same as everyone else, and so I adapt. I write on my Braille Display with one hand, while holding and eating my popsicle with the other. It’s not easy to type braille letters and words with only one free hand. I don’t like to get all sticky from a melting popsicle. I managed two sentences, which ended up turning into a pretty cool bit of writing by the end of it all.

This particular time just seemed to produce some awesome ideas and stories from all of us. A few of us may have been sleep deprived, but that lead to some cool storylines.

For a return from trouble with technology.

And so I’d started a story last time, thanks to unforeseen real life events with the group, mostly unexpected religious discussions, and I came out of that awkward situation with the seeds of the perfect story to submit to a Canadian short story contest.

Well, I finished it last week and brought it to read for the group. They loved it. I could tell they were moved. They commented on my incredible level of insight, which they really did say.

But then I pressed a wrong button, overrode that story with my new one, and so I had the opportunity to rewrite it, this time keeping the basic structure and plot points, but narrowing it down to the word limit of 750, as the contest requires. I plan to submit and I like what I’ve got.

Sometimes things work out.

That I get to witness another year of marriage for my wonderful parents.

They arrived at 37 and it is a beautiful thing to see. It’s teamwork at its best. It’s my foundation. (No pressure there guys.)

For time to sit and observe by the lake that bears my province’s name.

I am trying to become more aware of my surroundings. I can’t go to the ocean so easily, but I am lucky to live near the Great Lakes. This time it was Lake Ontario.

I sat and watched the boats and the listened to the birds and felt the breeze off the water.

For opening acts that don’t entirely suck.

Shakey Graves

Many concerts I go to I am unimpressed by the musical act that opens the show. This time, the guy was weird with some of the things he said in between songs, but I was undeniably swept up in how catchy his lyrics were. The sound was great and I was able to sit comfortably and enjoy his Austin, Texas accent. He was a bit of a musical Matthew McConaughey and, surprisingly, I liked it.

For a perfect night for a concert and a lovely outdoor venue to be able to make the most of it.

I love live music, but all the noise and commotion is often enough to cause me head pain that leaves me questioning why I put myself through that.

The answer is because I get headaches, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying music that I love.

Well, this is an outdoor venue, by the water. It’s open and I sit on the grassy hill and I let the evening air and the music wash over me.

For lovely time spent with my father.

It was Father’s Day Eve and I knew he’d like the band. I know many would do anything to be able to enjoy something like that with their own fathers. I was happy to be there, with as he said, was probably the oldest person at the show. Well, I felt old listening to all the twenty-something’s all around me. So we focused on the incredible show before us.

For the song lyrics I wrote getting their first live performance.

My brother and his musician friends played a selection of covers and the song he and I wrote, which has a phenomenal singer. The drummer is the best around.

A family reunion and the woman at the helm of it all wanted my lyrics to be played, as entertainment for her family day. I wished I could have been there to hear it, but my brother said the whole thing was a big hit.

For a band like the one I just saw live.

Music and family are, once more, at the heart of my gratitude list.

A band like City and Colour has a very mellow sound. That’s why I love them, the lead singer’s voice. Many of their songs allow me to express the sadness I feel, the crappier parts of life, but somehow, listening to these songs helps.

Comin’ Home – City and Colour

“I know that we’re takin’ chances, you told me life was a risk. But I just have one last question…will it be my heart or will it be his?”

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