FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Special Occasions

Mother, May I? #TGIF #MothersDay #FTSF

“You didn’t raise us right.”

That might not sound like something a child (even a grown one) should say to their parent, but we say it all the time. It’s one of those inside jokes in our family and you’d have to be quite familiar with how we roll to get the humour in such a statement.

I see it as a commentary on just how hard it is to be a parent, something we’re all realizing as grown children and a fact my brother and sister (both fairly new to parenting) are especially coming to understand. Parenting is hard and our parents did well, incredibly well.

Our mother was half of that effort. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. XOXO

***

Oh, Mother sounds like the beginnings of a swear word to me, but I can see that being one of the many parts of being a parent, a mother, as motherhood sometimes causes swearing (hopefully under one’s breath) to occur.

I’m reminded, every March, that Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated the same time of year in all places around the world.

When I think Mother’s Day, I think floral arrangements, but a big reason for that is my mom’s particular love of flowers, plus spring in full bloom.

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The magnolia is one of my mom’s favourites.

As for Mother’s Day long gone, I think of bringing flowers to my oma, my dad’s mother.

Recently I have been thinking more about a serious topic, with the new video honouring the mother of a seriously ill child, especially as I think back twenty or so years to when my mom had her husband in an operating room, undergoing surgery in one hospital, while having her youngest daughter (me) in an operating room across the street at Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children.

What strength she had to have shown that day. I was so focused, at the time on myself going into surgery. I was just young enough that I didn’t really think of such things, per se, as what my mom might be going through, the thought of possibly losing a daughter and/or a husband that day, however slim the chances.

Now, this year, I wanted to write an article where I interviewed some of the moms in the video and mine, but I was unable to secure a publication spot. I will write this piece, sooner or later though. In fact, I think my own mom and I could co-author a book of our own together.

So much of what she did for me, fighting for the integrated education I had, she did with such determination. She would have gladly written/spoken about it, and has done. I hope to write about it, from my perspective, at some point too. The world needs to know there is a mother like mine out there.

My mom heard I was receiving a few odd and rather spammy comments on my blog and warned me to cut back on posting on my blog for a while, to lay low, and yet here I am.

It’s not like I don’t value her advice. In fact, there’s nobody whose opinion I value more.

I always take it into advisement and, this time, while I saw her point, I decided I couldn’t not write my blog. I recognized her suggestion as that of a worried mother, one always a little afraid of what the Internet might attract. I couldn’t very well fault her for worrying about me.

I can never express everything my mom did for me, to get me through the tough times, and to celebrate the happy times, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try anyway.

***

I spent a night at my sister’s house, the one we grew up in as kids, staying home with my infant niece while her mother went to a Mother’s Day tea with my nephew, at his school, the same school his mother and I attended growing up.

We discussed the soother, a tool many mothers choose to give their babies. My sister didn’t with my nephew and isn’t with my niece. She has tried to avoid it. This brings up the whole judgment thing, mothers judging each other and also themselves, and everyone knows how common that is and also how toxic it can become.

I respect my sister’s decision. I respect the soother rout many moms choose to take. Neither one is the wrong one, same as breast fed/bottle/formula or the many other choices mothers must make, both big and small.

I did wonder, as I held my niece and played with my nephew, hearing about the funny kick in the air thing he did when he got off the bus and heard that I was still there, about my own thoughts on Mother’s Day.

I leave all the hard decisions to my sister, knowing in my heart that she will make the best decisions for her children, just like our mother did for us. This leaves me and my thoughts once all the crying, cooing, and little boy questions and stories have given way to me being on my own again tonight.

Mother’s Day is a time where I’ve celebrated my grandmother, now my own mother and the mothers of my precious nieces and nephews. It’s when I hear all about mother/mom and try not to think too hard about what I might never be or have or do. Will I ever be a mother myself?

As each March/May comes and goes, I feel as though the possibility of my becoming a mom grows ever slimmer. Will I ever make peace with that, if that ends up being my lot in life?

I don’t know, honestly. It may, very well, be the best thing. Truthfully, it is painful for me, when I see a mother and their baby, no matter the age, even as being a daughter is one of the best parts of being me. I see the way a mother talks and interacts with their child. I wonder what that feels like.

Do I have that, to some degree, of course. I feel the force of the bond and connection between myself and my nieces and nephews, a feeling I was unfamiliar with, just over six short years ago. Is this the same, or even close to what they feel?

I do derive some comfort when I’m told that the two intensities of emotion and love aren’t all that far apart, sure I do. Is it enough to take away all the sting of it?

I am lucky. I know that. That’s about all I know. I love my nieces and nephews, my sisters who are mothers, and my mother too. I wish flowers and family for you all.

***

This has been another edition of
Finish the Sentence Friday
and an awfully special one at that.

Kristi is the host, like always, but this week she has
Lisa from The Meaning of Me
joining her.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies. Two of the best mothers I’ve met in recent years.

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TToT: Narrative of a Floating Life – Jellyfish Armageddon, #10Thankful

When you’ve got nothing left, you’ve got nothing left to lose.”

Sweet Jane – Garrett Kato

This week I was reminded just how much I have to lose. That means I haven’t even come close to having nothing left.

Not everyone can say that. We here in Ontario, Canada, we experienced our own little incident with radicalism recently. He was attending a mosque just down the street from where my brother lives. They tried to help him, but unfortunately he was a very angry and disillusioned young man.

We are not immune here, in Ontario, in Canada, in North America, but that doesn’t suggest we should then turn toward hate all our own.

In a week where privileged young star athletes act poorly in Rio, when another image of war torn Syria features a small child, and where more attention is given to that athlete than to floods and fires and the suffering of children to begin with,

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I search out blessings and I remember to look for the bright side of life.

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That I got back to it, art I mean.

My Blue Period and My Decade Adrift: Water, Water Everywhere

I’m glad I got back to it and hope to do more of it.

That a friend saw my picture on Facebook and offered her knowledge from her art school days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa

So unbelievably cool. That’s what I love about art, what I want to put into it, even if it comes out looking nothing like how I’d imagined it would.

For an empty theater to watch a sweet movie with the perfect person for the occasion.

Review found here. – Bad Moms

Touchy subject sometimes.

In spite of that, I liked this film. I hope the mother I saw this with enjoyed it as much. Motherhood, toughest job around.

For a small step in the progress of my lessons and for my violin teacher taking the time to record herself playing the two basic songs I am learning technique on.

I thought the other day about how learning the violin, for me, feels meant to be. It feels natural, or oh so close to.

It’s as if I am walking in a forest and I’ve come to a stream just a bit too wide for me to jump across. I can see the opposite side and I just need to find a bridge or even some stones to get me to the opposite bank.

The other side, where violin music comes to me, flows through me, naturally, that’s in view.

For fresh food grown in my back yard.

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Of course, without the work of a couple cousins who do this sort of thing for a living, a dedicated ex boyfriend, or the gifted hand of my mother and her knowledge about all things gardening, I wouldn’t have had any of it.

It’s a nice feeling to hold a fresh cucumber in your hands and bite into it, knowing it only came from your own yard. Something rooted in the natural world so close and yet so far from myself. I owe others who care to make nature such a part of things so that I can enjoy it.

For the extra effort some are putting into me and my future.

I often feel like an extra weight or burden for others, including family, friends, and any other relationship. I guess having most kinds of relationships with me can demand certain things of people.

I hope I give back, as much as possible, in my own unique ways. I hope I bring something to each situation as it comes. I pledge to do that once more, for all who took the time out this week to help me not to give up on my future growth and progress.

This is my promise.

That I got to speak with an amazing Canadian travel writer.

Breathe Dream Go

For me though, it would likely be more like: dream, breathe, and then go. Take the deep breath and dive in. My dreams are waiting for me, out there somewhere.

We had a brief but helpful phone conversation where we spoke about solo travel as a woman and finding the confidence necessary to become comfortable traveling alone.

Our situations are quite different, but she has experience and knowledge and I was grateful she took a few moments out of her day to return my call and speak to me for a short time.

For another full moon.

I understand the science behind the moon, its phases, and the pull of the tides of our oceans. I think it’s rather magnificent.

I also understand how some feel those forces mess with their mood. I can see that.
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For me however, a full moon is my best shot of actually seeing it up in the night sky. When it’s at its brightest and roundest I have a better chance at spotting it and I cherish that opportunity.

But yet, when I can’t find it in all that darkness I still know it’s out there somewhere. That’s my best lesson in faith, whatever your beliefs or religion might be.

For medical and surgical advancement and the ability of doctors to perform gall bladder surgery.

My mother had it done and so did my sister. It causes a lot of women especially a lot of trouble.

Now it is needed again and I am glad those in need this time around can receive the surgery and hopefully recover from here on out. Modern medicine in this part of the world saves lives and halts so much pain and suffering. We are lucky and blessed to have it so readily available to us around here.

That we here in Canada could come together for one night.

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

I admit that The Tragically Hip aren’t my favourite band. I am, by no means, their biggest fan. Still, it was a strange feeling of oneness last night. The Rio Olympics were preempted and the CBC instead broadcast this final concert by a Canadian iconic musical group and their singer who may not have very long left to live.

What would it be like, what would any of us say or do if we knew we had so little likely time left to live?

Hmm. I wonder.

This month,

#1000Speak

focuses on

thankfuls

and

blessings,

with this final thought and the related song to go along with it.

Living On The Bright Side – Angela Saini

When a bulb burns out I see
Even in the dark, it feels sunny to me
Skipping in the shadows, every corner holds beauty
There is always light if you look closely

http://angelasaini.com/track/1039590/living-on-the-bright-side?feature_id=286532

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TToT: Catch and Release, Push or Pull #10Thankful #WorldOceansDay

Ever have one of those weeks?

ORdinary Day – Great Big Sea

The bad news stories keep going from bad to worse. What can I do about all that?

😦

One day everything just seems to work out and fall into place. The next, all seems to go wrong.

Figuring out new computer stuff, wanting to go back to the old, even if that can’t really be. Wanting to punch something, cry, give up on technology all together because it’s just too damn hard.

Well, it was then that it hit me, at certain moments this last week, few days, I realized I needed this TToT more than ever.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the oceans of this world.

We don’t treat them right. We need them. I need them. They are peaceful, tranquil, or fierce and wild. Either way, their depths astound me. Their vast array of life boggles my mind, fills me with thrills.

June 8th was World Oceans Day.

Did you know? What do you love about the oceans?

For the chance to treat a friend to a birthday lunch.

For a lovely day of sunshine and music in the park.

I could have shared photos of this, after being unable to share any in these posts for a few months now, but the new mail program I have, coupled with the fact that I have saved far too many emails and now feel like I’m drowning in them, this prevents me from even accessing the email just sent to me with pictures of my brother and his friend playing their music in the park.

They were hired by the London Arts Council to play at various events and locations for the summer.
It was a beautiful day of sunshine and no humidity and I sat and enjoyed it. So proud of my brother for getting out there and taking these opportunities that present themselves.

Any time I happen to walk past someone playing music, in a park or on the street, in London or Toronto wherever it may be, I stop and take it all in.

Music is art. It is peace. It is passion. It is truly a gift and our society doesn’t appreciate it nearly enough for what it brings to our lives.

For music.

As I was just saying…as always, but then, I am stressed or tense or whatever, and then I listen.. I relax. I become a little less tense.

And so I post music in my thankful post, to start and also at the finish, instead of the photos I cannot see and cannot get to.

For heroes.

Karl Frederik Arndd.

LArs Peter Jonsson.

I am thankful for people like these, the Swedish P.H.D. students who stepped in and stopped a terrible crime, violation-in-progress, from even further damage done by a coward I won’t even name.

Instead, I list the names of the two decent human beings who deserve to be recognized.

That shows me, even when things seem bleak, that humans aren’t completely irredeemable.

For a transplant tape.

I have so many boxes in my basement. I went looking for a tape and, shock of shock, I found it. I just happened to place my hand on a random cassette tape, sitting free in a box full of so many different bits and pieces of my life.

Well, my brother had lost his copy, the one he made of that day, those days and weeks and months in June, 1997 and bits of those who aren’t here now, of that girl I was.

For lessons and stories.

Next we digitized a treasure of a cassette.

One afternoon my grandpa sat with my brother and he told stories of his childhood, long gone by.

He was a one-of-a-kind storyteller. My brother and I listened, more than ten years on, and we laughed, we contemplated, and I know we both took to heart the values he passed on to us.

I want to transcribe his stories and make them into a short book. I think all the world could stand to read it, to learn some of the lessons a man like my grandfather had to teach.

For a beautiful burst of creativity,.

We will make our podcast, one of these days, but it takes more planning and preparation than I really realized I guess.

But we worked together and came up with what I think is the catchiest, most kick ass intro.

It incorporates sounds of sizzling, flipping of pancakes, along with clips from our childhood, set over top us today.

My brother is a pro with his audio program, which allows him to put musical sounds and audio clips into separate folders, and then put them all together.

I don’t know how he does it, like editing in writing, but with sound.

I guess I produced it with him. I call myself producer of the segment. I gave my thoughts on what sounded good and we created something, together, that I think starts off our upcoming podcast on the perfect note.

For my ever-present, calm mother.

All wasn’t smooth sailing.

😉

When we’d feared damage to some of my brother’s recording equipment, we were both expecting the worst, but then, in comes my calm and steady mom.

I’ve often heard motherhood can be a thankless job, but I think my mother deserves to be celebrated, even if Mother’s Day is only technically once a year.

She calmed us both down and stepped in to fix the problem.

For violin teacher and lesson and instrument.

My teacher works with me. She gives me keen and clear instruction and guidance. She guides my bow, my arm, my technique.

I am learning new things about my violin, my instrument, my bow, my arm/hand, things I need to know to become a better violinist. I hope I can, one day, call myself that for real.

Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – Paul Simon

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Bigger Than Sheezus

Wednesday once more and it is time for the final instalment of a series of sorts I’ve been writing all month long, focusing on strong female voices in such areas as:

Music,

The Media and Culture,

and

literature.

I decided to include this final mid-week post on more female star-power and strength.

I returned, last month, after two years to the Toronto waterfront and The Sound Academy.

Lily allen recently came out with her third studio album: “Sheezus”. Following her debut of “Alright, Still…” and my favourite, her sophomore record, the cleverly titled: “It’s Not Me It’s You”.

Finally, after being a fan for about five years, I was getting to see her perform my favourite songs live.

I didn’t mind the overpowering smell of pot in the line outside, standing room only, or continually having strangers rubbing up against my butt because Lily Allen is one-of-a-kind and worth seeing.

It isn’t often that I come away from a performance, loving not only that performance, but loving too the new discovery I’ve found, but on this particular night Lily’s opening act was one of those rare times. I’d never heard of Lolawolf before, but her song “What Love Is” caught my attention immediately and I definitely recommend her to anyone reading this. Look her up here:

LOLAWOLF on Facebook.

***

Who’d Have Known:

And even though it’s moving forward, there’s just the right amount of awkward. And today you accidentally called me baby.

***

Lily Allen did a nice mixture of songs from all three of her albums, including some of my favourites. She included her first big single “Smile” and songs from “It’s Not Me It’s You” such as my favourites (in part) shown above and below.

***

22

It’s sad but it’s true how society says her life is already over. There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say. Until the man of her dreams comes along, picks her up, and puts her over his shoulder. Seems so unlikely in this day and age.

***

Lily Allen sang about the things young women were experiencing in their own lives. She sang about cheating and sex, drugs and fame, family trouble and society’s unrealistic expectations put on young people, women specifically.

Her newest album came out right around the time of her concert and so I was unfamiliar with it, other than the few singles I listened to on YouTube beforehand. Sometimes I prefer doing this. The show takes on a whole new vibe this way.

I miss out on such things as the visually eye-catching or, in Allen’s case, the ultra strange elements to the live performance. I was told something about multi-coloured flashing lighted baby bottles, yellow and pink and blue, behind her on stage.

This I don’t pretend to understand the meaning of. And she didn’t agree to an interview with me, so I could not find out the origin of this.

🙂

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she is, on returning to the spotlight, a different person from when she left it last.

She took a break of several years, from making records and mostly stayed hidden. She suffered at least one miscarriage, from what I read, but now she has returned and she has grown a lot it seems.

She is a wife and a mother of two children. She no longer sings about a life of dating and single girl status strictly.

the first thing I noticed as I stood and listened to her sing and speak to the audience in between songs (about taking her kids up the CN Tower earlier that day) was that she seemed happy and maybe not as angry as she once was. Relationships are complicated and being young isn’t easy. I found a connection and felt understood, in a way, when I listened to her singing about her own struggles.

It’s her songs about the helplessness of the end of a relationship that I first clung to when listening to her latest album. That feeling of wanting to scream and hold on for dear life, all while knowing it just wasn’t meant to be.

***

Take My Place:

How can life be so unfair? I can’t breathe in fact I’m choking on the air. It’s all over. I can see it in your eyes. Hold my hand. Don’t ever leave my side.

If I could then I would scream. I’d wipe the tears up off my face. Wake me up if it’s a dream. This is more than I can take. I’d give everything I own, if someone else would take my place. Would someone else please take my place?

***

OR the fear that the worst moments, days, weeks, or months of your life could replay themselves all over again, like a bad broken record or a bad dream. Such a relatable feeling I had not felt in a long long time.
This is what the most powerful of lyrics can do, at least for me and of which I have always experienced when listening to Lily Allen’s music.

***

Holding Onto Nothing:

Oh I’ve been there before. No I won’t go back. Couldn’t take anymore. I’m not going back. Going back. Going back.

***

She isn’t afraid to curse in her songs. She is constantly standing up for things and I admire her for that.

Her voice is an important one, I believe, for today’s modern female artist and she sings on issues such as feminism in a way that is hard to ignore.

***

Hard Out Here:

We’ve never had it so good. Uh huh we’re out of the woods. And if you can’t detect the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood.

***

Her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We know” is, in my opinion (like Lights and her rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song). Better than the original. I may be alone on this, but again one of my favourite female artists is taking a well-known song and making it their own. Allen sings this ballad in a slowed down version that is both sad and wistful.

She sings songs about the pressure to be perfect, the constant need to be validated by a man, and the pain that these things can cause when self-esteem is low or when life seems impossible when fearing loneliness.

How a successful, capable, tough girl like her could bee feeling all these things and more makes her highly relatable.

In “Miserable Without Your Love” She seems to have all the control or toughness in the world and it can all be hiding something else.

She sings in a way that it seems like some things should be challenged. Or the question asked, is it all really worth it?

In the song: “Life For Me”, there is a sound reminiscent of Paul Simon’s hit album Graceland, heard unmistakably in the plunky-sounding guitar.

In songs like this one she sings about motherhood and family life. Even when you finally find happiness and love, the bad days and the stressful moments can still make you feel like you are drowning.

***

I’m not complaining but last night I hardly slept at all. Well actually yes I am complaining.

***

Her frank honest delivery of the lyrics and the feelings that inspired them is refreshing in a world of culture shock and vanity. Her dry sense of humour comes out so clearly even through the song.

She aims to show that nothing is perfect.

Again, on this new album she alludes to, not only the hard time of being a parent, but again returning with: “Who Do You Love”, that her relationship with her own parent isn’t all that easy or simple either.

She speaks on all the insincerity out there in the entertainment world in such songs as: “Insincerely Yours” and the title track:

“Sheezus”.

Here she lists some female artists by name: Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lorde, and Lady Gaga.

It seems the competition for female singers and performers is tough and relentless. In this title track her apprehension of stepping back into this world with her new album’s release, after some of the changes she’s seemingly gone through with marriage and motherhood is a scary thing for her. She seems to challenge whether or not it’s all really worth the aggravation of trying to keep up.

I would say the biggest difference in this one is that she is happy. Sure, not all her songs are cheerful and lighthearted, but the overall impression I got both from her life show and from the record itself is that she is a happy woman now. There is none of that early twenties upheaval and uncertainty of the dating world and of the partying and the feeling of being lost, that young women so often get stuck in.

Her anger is still burning bright on some key issues as I’ve mentioned, but she can not hide it. She never seems to hide it, remaining as transparent as ever.

In a way this takes away from the true Lily Allen spirit that I guess I’ve often responded to because she is known for her angrier lyrics at times. She doesn’t seem to take any crap from anyone and I don’t believe this will ever change. Her British charm is all a part of this attitude.

***

Sheezus:

Been here before. So unprepared. Not going to lie though. I’m kind of scared.

Laced up my gloves. I’m going in. Don’t let my kids watch me when I get in the ring.

I’ll take the hits. Roll with the punches. I’ll get back up. It’s not as if I’ve never done this. But then again, the game is changing. Can’t just come back, jump on the mic, and do the same thing.

There goes the bell. I know that sound. I guess it’s time for me to go another round. Now wish me luck. I’m going to need it. I’ll see you on the other side if I’m still breathing.

***

All boxing metaphors aside, these feelings of trying to fit in could be applicable to almost any situation.

As for Lily, it’s clear she is wary of putting herself back under the microscope of fame, but she does it. She is back to competing with the other female stars of the day.

She sings about the love she has found and the guy she has found it with, up front about what fierce pride she has in him, challenging any other girl to try anything to mess with that. Here again her tough persona shows itself. She may be happy, but she is still Lilly: cheeky and wise-cracking. I pity any girl who would mess with her. She doesn’t seem like the type of person to hesitate in kicking some ass if the occasion called for it.

She seems to be struggling, at times, with balancing being a wife and mother with her life in the world of fame.

She still holds all the same insecurities that any mother has after pregnancies and giving birth. Being thin in this thin obsessed culture is a concern facing her too, not being any more immune from these stresses than anyone else.

She even mentions the very WordPress I post this on, with a song about technology, social media, the bloggiasphere. Words can be written and posted by any old person hiding behind a screen and keyboard. Empathy not required.

Songs on this album range from strange to suggestive, from silly to sad.

She can convey all of this through her voice and her lyrics like no one else I’ve heard in recent years.
Whether it’s the affect she puts on her voice or the simple simplicity of the sound that is so uniquely her own.

I’ve listened to the deluxe edition of “Sheezus” over and over now, to take something away from each lyric every time I hear it.

As I stood out on the dock just feet from Sound Academy, I rested against the railing, looking out into the the night and over the water. Lake Ontario and the city beside me, the CN Tower out there somewhere nearby. I had gone from a psychiatric hospital to the docks all in one day, but more about that in a future post.

Lily Allen: you’ve done it again girl.

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