FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer

Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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TToT: Run Time and Take Five – State Smash! #ShePersisted #10Thankful

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m fired up, in a lot of ways and by the positive signs of women persisting, remaining cautiously but still incredibly thankful.

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I know, I see, I’m not the only one.

Ten Things of Thankful, #10Thankful

So, to keep things in the proper perspective, I’ll just launch right into what makes me so grateful.

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(Makers, all, with Anado McLauchlin.)

I’m thankful for this group.

And for these girls.

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I’m thankful for friends, together, in one special spot.

I missed out on seeing for myself just how colourful this place was, but at least I got to take a break, for a minute or two, to sit on the couch with friends.

Thanks, Anado, for letting us into your home.

I’m thankful for newly introduced music, better late than not at all.

RIP Mr. Jarreau.

The guy sure could scat!

Speaking of music and birthdays, I’m thankful to have made it to a year with my decision to learn how to play the violin.

It was on my last birthday that I walked into a music store and rented a violin. I had no idea what I was getting into then. Well, okay, I kind of knew. I knew, but I didn’t really know. Know what I mean?

No?

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I’m thankful for a teacher, to take this photo of my re-commitment, one who hasn’t given up on me, even in those moments when I’ve wanted to give up on ever learning a difficult instrument like the violin in my thirties.

She taught me new finger exercises, ways to strengthen my left hand and the fingers on it. I spent most of my anniversary/birthday lesson wishing for new fingers, longer fingers, but I will get there, one day.

I’m thankful for another birthday.

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I’m still mulling over what that means, on a practical level of course. I had a rather subdued birthday, after spending a week in Mexico, but it did have its high points.

I had blood taken and both arms needed to be poked. I made a dentist appointment. I drank a lot of tea to fight off the beginnings of a sore throat. I had another bad eye day, noticing how blurry everything looked as I ate lunch out with my father.

I did wonder if I will still see anything by my next birthday. I am not freaked by being one age one day and another the next. I do realize, however, that I am getting older. A lot of things bring this fact home to me. I am trying to still live in the moment and enjoy all that life has to offer, but at a certain point I have to think about the future and what I want, really want and what is good for me.

Everything in life has its Run-Time.

I’m thankful for another successful, triple family birthday celebration.

It got off to a slow start, but really kicked into high gear there.

The lasagna was delicious. The kids were smarter than when we last saw them, all the way back at Christmas, if that is possible.

The best thing about each year I gain since they were all born is getting to see how they grow with every passing year, whomever happens to be the one celebrating the actual birthday.

They are all so creative and full of imagination. We adults have a ball watching them interact with each other and with all of us.

My family and I don’t likely agree on every single thing in life, but we are all pretty in sync on most things that really matter. It makes for a lovely coming together of the minds, not to mention senses of humour and attitudes on life.

There is always just the right amount of nostalgia and, this year, there are plans in the works for zip lining in Niagara Falls this spring.

Who else can you count on to try something as thrilling as zip lining with you, on a day that matters greatly to you, but your family? Mine are the best for those sorts of things.

It’s fun to sing Happy Birthday to three people at once. I only sing for two.

Happy Birthday Paul/Steve. You both crack me up and are the two best big brothers any thirty-three-year-old could ask for.

I’m thankful for my sister’s help in figuring out what I need to do, as part of taking some of my next, newest steps in my writing.

The writing is one thing. The business side is quite another. It’s all somewhat scary in its own way.

Filling out forms and paperwork is not my thing. Necessary, I realize. I truly appreciate any help I can get.

I am thankful my bracelet was found after I set it down, in my own house, and couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where I’d stashed it.

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A few of us got jewelry when we visited Anado’s home. We share this in common now and wanted to commemorate the fact.

I knew I would get home and set mine down somewhere, forgetting where that somewhere was. It scratches against the metal of my laptop when I’m writing, so I take it off, but I don’t like to.

Brian said it sounded like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find it, the bracelet reminding him of “My Precious!” and he had a point.

Thanks to my brother-in-law for spotting where I’d left it. I hope I would have remembered, sooner or later.

Made By Anado

This is my reminder of my time in Mexico. It is more than just any old bracelet. It was made by Anado McLauchlin and it reminds me of the makers of this world. It reminds me, when I hold it, of my purpose. It brings me peace to feel all the different bits of it under my fingertips.

And, finally, I’m thankful that this hasn’t ended.

Very grateful that someone has decided to take over the weekly running of the thankful blog hop, to give its originator a well deserved break.

I would have went ahead with these gratitude posts, one way or another, but it’s nice that it will continue on with more than just this blog.

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I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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Humbled and Hopeful, #JusJoJan

Well, I’m back. I’m back to this blog and to join in with the final few days of
Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

I’m not particularly thrilled about it to be honest. It’s not anything other than myself.

I’m not blue exactly. I do think of this month as the dark blue month, but now the red month is fast approaching and I am so tired.

It’s a good tired of course. Those who know me, they would tell me to stop complaining. I just got back from a week in Mexico and I had something happen to me that was beyond description. I will still try though, as that’s what I do.

I just had a long travel day yesterday. The news here in Canada and around the world sucks. I am trying to take in all I did and all I saw and everything I experienced when I was away at my writing workshop paradise.

Yes, that is what it was for me. How can I feel blue at all when I so recently had such an enriching time?

I don’t know. I didn’t want the week to end truthfully. I had my own oasis, a beautiful and comfortable room and a perfect balcony place to go and write or just to take in the world from a magnificent viewpoint. I never wanted to leave that spot. I recorded, with my phone, simply the world from up there. No talking. Only birds singing, distant dogs barking, church bells clanging, and children and families going about their days in houses nearby. I heard a continuous rumble of the traffic out beyond and I knew the world didn’t stop while I was hidden away and writing with a group of the most intelligent, friendly, and compassionate people and other writers I’ve ever known.

So, if I am blue, it’s not for the fact that I don’t realize what I am lucky to have or having had just gotten to do with my week. It’s just that I had such a time that the rest of my life, in this moment, seems like it can never compare again. These are silly musings, perhaps, but I feel them right now. I can’t believe, when I reflect back, what I just did and I fear I will never do it again, though I’ve been told by many that I absolutely will and I know in my own heart that they are right.

Now I am home again. I am here and I am listening to my brother and his band playing superb music. I think about that beauty of art, the kind which was all the incredible works of writing that I heard the other night, and the visual art I was shown that is Mexico’s to share. I put that against all that is cruel and ugly and I grip the stunning bracelet I bought myself to remember Mexico by. It gives me strength to face life. I am humbled and hopeful.

I may allow these final days to be forever known as my two blue days and then I will begin a new month, a new birth year, to be the start of the rest of my life. What just happened to me in Mexico is proof positive that anything is possible.

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So So Close, #JusJoJan

Hmm. Let me think.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Sure, I spent all that time coming up with over one hundred things I am thankful for just the other day, but coming up with the opposite is no problem, now that today is a new one.

New beginnings. New start. Starts and stalls and stops.

I can be restrained about it though. I won’t list quite so many things I am ungrateful about. I really still am grateful for everything I listed the other day. Promise. I am lucky to be me, right now especially, but since I am here…might as well jot down a few thoughts, after the day that just was.

I am keeping an open mind and heart. I am trying to let more of life roll off my back, as I am about to embark on one of those rare adventures in life.

If I had nothing today to write about especially, nothing to complain about, I would simply move along, right past this prompt in particular. Today was one of those tricky days though, and it just so happens that a complaint was what my day was all about, though I am still grateful for a brother who is happy to help me out. I can listen back to all this music, ready on my laptop, for my entertainment needs as I am soon to be on my way. He did that, made that possible.

I can receive and send email on my new phone. Yes, I had no choice. Not new, as far as the newest phones on the market, but new to me. After several years, even a slight upgrade is new.

It requires a lot of updating contacts and other prep crap. I can not complain because I have a portable electronic device to carry with me everywhere, to keep my family apprised of my whereabouts. They appreciate that too.

Sure, okay so I have a few little complaints. My contacts were updated, but not the names. It’s funny how we get so used to not needing to remember people’s actual phone numbers anymore. So, all these numbers in my phone, but ah…to whom do they belong?

Complaint number one.

Then there’s the fact that both myself and my brother received new braille displays that are meant to work with Bluetooth, with our phones. First, he tried to help me and he screwed himself in the process. My braille display can’t seem to recognize my phone, or is it the other way around? I don’t even know anymore. Long long longest of days.

I could complain that I don’t feel one hundred percent physically, but I could be grateful I have a doctor who is thorough and consistent and reliable and kind. She is doing her best to make sure I feel as well as possible for my adventure. She just feels bad she hasn’t been able to help me feel better still.

I could make a complaint that technology is awful, as it looks like my braille display won’t work, in time for my adventure, to work with my phone. Or, I could just be thankful it still works with my laptop. I need to be able to use it to read my writing out loud and that I can still do.

So, my brother is persistent too. He would and could work on something all day and night, until he had it figured out. So, did my silly newish phone do an update to the latest OS in the night, without my knowledge and permission, and could that be the reason it no longer recognized the braille display it recognized just a few days ago?

I don’t know all these answers. I don’t, unfortunately, have the time to get to the bottom of it all this week. I have things still to do to be ready for my adventure.

I have a complaint, sure, but I am trying to look on the brightest of bright sides. I don’t have to look very far for that, not today.

Thanks Willow,
Linda,
and Shan Jeniah’s Lovely Chaos,
for a place to register a formal complaint about technology and life in general.

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

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

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

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

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

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

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

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

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

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

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

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

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

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

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

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

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

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

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

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

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

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

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

For rice cakes.

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

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

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

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

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

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

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

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

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

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

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

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

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

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

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

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

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

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

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

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

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

Mucho Gusto!

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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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