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TToT: Hunters, Fishermen, and Other Liars Gather Here – Of Gold and White Horses, #10Thankful

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,

    And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless,

    And deaths that just hang by a hair;

There are hardships that nobody reckons;

    There are valleys unpeopled and still;

There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,

    And I want to go back — and I will.

—Robert W. Service

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Then and now.

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My dad and I have both come a long way. I thought such an important milestone deserved the landscape to go with it.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder

Land of the midnight sun.

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June was the perfect time to visit.

Ten Things of Thankful (And an extra bonus item)

I’m thankful I got to celebrate June 5th in a miraculous place.

I wanted to shout it from the rooftops – 20 years baby!

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!

I spent the actual morning of the 5th, standing on a suspension bridge, overlooking a place called Miles Canyon. The day was a perfect temperature for me, wind and sun, blowing my hair all around and warming my face.

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I thought about where I would have been, exactly twenty years earlier. I was so glad to have that hospital and those doctors then. I was so blessed to have all those years of a dialysis free life, thanks to my father. I was lucky to spend that moment, twenty years on, up on that bridge.

I’m thankful for a truly eye opening week.

I thought the Yukon seemed so far out of the way of most of the rest of Canada and thought of it a little bit like the Canada of Canada.

By that, I mean that in North America, to me at least at times, Canada goes somewhat unnoticed or under appreciated by the United States and such. We are here but can feel invisible. We are a small world player, in many ways, not making a whole lot of noise or commotion, but that’s how we prefer it to be. We are here and we are strong.

Then there is a part of Canada that is tucked away, far from what a lot of the gathered population ever sees. I wanted to go out and find this place.

By the end of my time there, I’d learned so much and was blown away by all of it. I heard stories of the people who have lived in that climate (months of mostly all light and then months of continuous darkness) for years upon years. I learned about myself and what travel can mean to me, through seeing places of intense and immense beauty, while not actually getting to experience the spectacular visuals of the north.

I missed out on a to, but I gained so so much.

I’m thankful I had the chance to see a part of my country of Canada, far far from my place in it.

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I have never traveled out west through Canada before, spending most of my time in the central part, the middle area, always curious about what lay in all that northern part. As we flew, I heard about the Rockies as we passed over them.

Though I could not see the snow capped peaks, I felt such a deep sense of wonder as we headed for the west coast. My country is so vast and amazing.

I’m thankful for pilots.

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I am somewhat anxious when flying, but it is a true miracle that a plane can even get up in the air, let alone stay up there and take people so far across the skies.

I hear their announcements on the speaker and they sound like they know what they are doing. I hope, every time I fly, that that is the case.

I really did enjoy my experience flying WestJet.

I’m thankful for local tour guides.

Big bus tours can be fun, like the one I was on in Ireland, but this time we had a smaller and more personal experience with a local tour company I’d highly recommend.

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They have had it in the family for 100 years and the woman in charge and her employees (one being her daughter) are highly knowledgeable about the region and so very proud of their homeland. They know about the environment, the terrain, and the people. They are Yukoners, through and through..

I’m thankful for the chance to learn about culture and nature.

Culture:

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I could smell the wet wood as they worked, using a tool called an adze. They had to keep the wood moist so it wouldn’t cracked as they worked on it. They only had it dug out a tiny amount, with a lot of hours of work still left to go.

It is one of several cultural events and demonstrations happening, there at the riverside, sponsored by the Canadian government and Canada 150 in 2017.

Nature:

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I missed the bright colours of the water. I missed the white caps of snow atop the mountains in the distance. I missed the severe cliffs and vistas.

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I smelled the fresh Yukon air. I felt the wind. I instinctually detected the wide open spaces. I listened to the ripples at the lake’s edge. I compared the silences to the sounds of rapids far down below.

I felt it all in my bones.

I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers while traveling.

I started the trip being given someone else’s seat on the shuttle bus to the terminal and I ended it with a generous gesture by a flight attendant.

When she learned I hadn’t known I had to download a certain update on my phone, one that would be able to work with the inflight entertainment system, she offered tablets (free of their rental charge) so we could watch a movie on the four hour flight.

I watched Beauty and the Beast, the 2017 live action version that I’d been wanting to see since it came out back in March.

Also, there was the politeness of many I met while there, the polite drivers letting me cross streets, and the woman at the glass blowing factory who showed me around and was so helpful.

I’m thankful my mom and I weren’t eaten by bears.

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We stayed down at the roadside, overlooking the lake, while the rest of the group walked a bit up the mountain. They were going up some to get a better look, but it was the two of us that got the show.

My mom was taking a panoramic shot with her camera when she suddenly told me of the mother bear and her cub only forty or so feet down from where we stood. She got a few pictures and then couldn’t see where they went. It was at that moment that she grew nervous and we were glad to have the unlocked van to retreat into, until she spotted the pair once more, making their way along the edge of the water, far off into the distance.

This was a good thing in my mind, as I couldn’t remember what action to take when approached by a grizzly bear vs a black bear.

Was I to play dead or fight back? I’d probably just fall to the ground and curl up into a ball either way.

I’m thankful for the comforts of home after being away from it.

I could choose to feel all down and depressed that I had to leave a place I may never return to or a city I felt at home in, or I could be glad to have my own things back.

I both love going out into the world and exploring what else exists, but I will always love having a home to come back to.

Just hearing a little baby crying on the plane coming home made me miss my baby niece.

I’m thankful for family and neighbours who agree to watch my dog and check on my cat while I explore the world.

I love to travel, but having pets makes that difficult. My dog is very attached to me and my cat is not one of those cats that likes his solitude.

I don’t like to put it on my family to take care of my animals, those I chose to have, just so I can run off galavanting. It’s just that I do feel the pull to wander sometimes, though I try to space it out somewhat. It is a responsibility on them when I dump my dog at their house, but I know our family looks out for each other. We help one another out when and where we can. I would do the same for them.

I’m thankful I got to see my nephew’s baseball game.

He is still learning (Lucky Number 13) and yet he may grow to love it. Only time will tell. They are all so cute though. The coaches and volunteer parents have quite the time, wrangling all those kids, shouting instructions to run or catch or pay attention. They are distracted easily and I can’t blame them. A lot going on.

It was just strange to return to the neighbourhood park where the game was being played. I hadn’t been there in years, but sitting on that bench, by that baseball diamond, it brought back a lot of memories of summer days long gone.

My sister and brother both played in leagues and we’d go to their games often. My favourite part was the snack bar, but being back there now made me remember old times, old friends, and things that felt forever ago, compared to the life I am living in 2017 and my transplant anniversary is a part of that.

“Forever can spare a minute.”

—Belle, Beauty and the Beast 2017

How Does A Moment Last Forever – Celine Dion

“Ever just the same. Ever a surprise. Ever as before and ever just as sure as the sun will rise.”

—Tale As Old As Time, Beauty and the Beast

The people of the Yukon know the sun will rise again. It’s just a question of when and for how long.

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Tongue Tied #Language #SoCS

“Language is your medium and use it to the max.”

—Anne Rice

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I think about language as I sit in the quiet room of my local library on certain Wednesday nights. I am trying to come up with a bit of story to read out loud at the end of my writing group and I want to use the right sort of words and sentences.

Anne Rice is one who believes in adverbs, even though many so-called writing pros condemn the use of them. Ugh!

How am I supposed to know what is the right way to go?

I’m just glad I’ve managed/mastered the English language this far, when I wish I’d focused harder and done better at learning French when I was in school. I am proud that Canada is a multi-language nation and it can only serve as a benefit.

My family doesn’t all speak Polish or German. I wish we did. My father’s parents didn’t teach him their native European languages, by speaking them at home when he was young. I think they were so focused on learning English, as still fairly new to North America, that they couldn’t be bothered. I hope they didn’t feel any sort of shame surrounding the speak of their birth countries, being recent immigrants to Canada.

My mom learned German, as my grandparents always spoke it, but a certain dialect of the language. My grandpa used to tell me stories of how he didn’t even speak English before going to school. It was always German in his home as a child.

My mom speaks some and understands it. This allows her to speak to my uncle who visits from Germany every few years.

I was recently blown away by the beauty and rhythm of Spanish, as I prepared to travel to Mexico. I tried, for months, to learn some so I wouldn’t be totally lost when I went down there. By the end of my week, I’d gotten better at recognizing what was being said around me, but I would have needed many more weeks there to be able to speak any with much confidence.

Language is hard. It is one of those things that gets harder and harder to learn as you age. I am so set on learning to play the violin, at age 33, that I can’t possibly fit in learning any other language on top of that.

Ah well…there’s always my forties.

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Bullets and Bones, #Vimy100 #AtoZChallenge

Nope. Even though the title of today’s post might suggest I have forgotten what letter we are at with this April challenge, I assure you that I haven’t.

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I heard it on a series about Canada and I thought it makes the point.

The A to Z Challenge – H is for History

That famous quote:

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”

I believe that wholeheartedly. I don’t ignore. I listen and I learn.

A lot of history is bullets and bones. Wars seem to be all we talk about when we speak of historical events and the bones of those who have gone before us, who lost lives, they are everywhere.

The series I was watching spoke of the War of 1812 and the battles between the United States and the Canada that wasn’t quite Canada yet, but a colony of Great Britain. So much colonialism throughout history.

What year did Canada become its own country?

I am a big history buff. I focus on wars too, though I despise them and all they have ever been about.

I do not like to refer to the United States of America because I do not approve of how the country started, by actively attempting to take the entire continent of North America for themselves. They wanted what is now Canada, the Canada that I love. Sure, when I listen and learn about that war, one often neglected, I think of what would have happened if the U.S. had won the war. What would be, where my country now lies?

The U.S. wanted all the land. They fought British and Natives, in what is now the Detroit and Windsor area, Niagara, Toronto, and all along borders we now hold dear.

There were battles fought where the capital city of Toronto now sits. We don’t now realize. Bones are buried there.

There has been remembrance ceremonies here in Canada and over in France. April 9th, 1917 was the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. And 100 years on. That, it is said, is where young Canada became a country, but fierce debate about just whose war they were fighting caused great tensions between French and English-speaking Canadians at the time, a set of tensions that still exists, in some ways, today.

Many died and were wounded for that fighting. I don’t look fondly on such a thing, but I try to respect the lives that were lost. Many bodies buried in fields in northern France. I am emotional about history. I don’t know any other way.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Lamb vs Lion, #SoCS

This is supposed to be the time and place to just write, whatever it is that comes to miming, through my fingers on the keys.

Right? Yeah. I’m working through it all.

I focus on one month at a time, trying not to look too far ahead of myself in this year that feels vital somehow. It’s 2017 and it’s only the third month in. I still have a chance to do something great.

January was great. January was Mexico. So far, not much can top that. It’s hard when starting a new year with such an adventure, so long waited for, but I try to keep an open mind about the possibilities I could still discover are on the way.

I feel like I want to do something. As the day of that January
march
was taking place, I was not in the crowds of faces, all carrying signs and there to fight back.

I was in a hotel room, in Detroit Michigan and watching it all unfold on the television. I had other things on my mind, as I felt traveling alone was enough of a sign, symbolic that I would not hide away any longer. I would be seen and I would do something for me.

I, as a woman, I had my immediate goal of making it to Mexico by myself, which I didn’t know would turn out so well, not at the time.

I want to do something, since then, all the more. I will take steps, in this month of newness of a season.

With both Women’s History Month and recently it having been the International Women’s Day, I wonder still what we women should be, what we are expected to be from society.

Are we the gentle, feminine lamb or the strong, fierce lioness?

I fear being lost in those crowds. That day wasn’t only an U.S. thing. It was done all over the world. It’s sometimes like the U.S. is the only place that matters, or that’s how the world sees it coming from the centre of North America, but we all want justice and respect.

So, my inability to see my way through such massive bunches of people means I fight in other ways, I march in other manifestations.

I use technology to my advantage. I look to those who have seen more and are working to bring change.

We don’t have to be one or the other. We can be lambs and lions, as this month suggests, even when that scares some of the less enlightened among us.

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Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

It all began with a Facebook post:.

With all the news lately of asylum seekers coming across the border between the U.S. and Canada, in through Manitoba and other places, I can’t help wondering what has made them take such chances. I guess we in Canada aren’t quite as used to it, though we’ve heard all the stories about people from South America and Mexico crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. always.

Humans have always been on the move, but often spurred on by fear and desperation, feeling unsafe where they currently are.
It made me think of the two times I have crossed a border recently.
First it was the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. We crossed by car and I never even would have known we’d crossed into another province because I couldn’t see to read the signs. I soon got out and stood for a time on the border, on the river, with the wind-tunnel blowing my hair every which way. I remained there and thought about a loss I’d newly experienced and how that person had crossed the ocean to come to Canada many years earlier, for different reasons.
I then thought about what makes us draw lines between ourselves and other human beings. I understand why we’ve had to map out these markers between us and other countries and states and provinces. I even understand why some must be watched and even protected/defended, which leaves us frightened we are under a constant threat from other places and people.

The second time was when I crossed, by car, over the border between Canada and the U.S. but I felt so strange leaving my home country, though I wished I didn’t feel any such separation. I then crossed the border between the U.S. and  Mexico, but by plane I once more noticed nothing, until I landed and felt the thrill of being in a country I’d never been in before.

***

All week long, on our nightly National Canadian news, I have watched a series that attempted to answer my question: just who are these asylum seekers, those who feel so unsafe in the U.S. and are now coming so so very far?

I learned it has been somewhere around 140 of them since January 1st of this year, walking for hours in the freezing cold of winter. Some in Canada fear this number will only increase, from a trickle of people to a stream that’s unstoppable, as weather improves and spring arrives.

Well, I thought about the fear I had, not only of my recent writing workshop ending and having to return to my reality, but also I feared having to cross back over the U.S. to get back home to Canada.

I knew, as the end of the week drew nearer how silly it was for me to be afraid. I had no real problems. I still felt unwelcome, even with the kindness I was shown by so many who helped me travel safely through airports in both Dallas and Detroit.

Mexico and Canada and in between, now, is this dark spot, which I realize is totally unfair and uncalled for in many ways. Sometimes, in my mind, I see the continent of North America being carved up, split apart like cracks caused by shifting plates, deep underneath us.

I still can’t believe 45 ever ran on the promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. From the first time I ever heard that ridiculous idea, up to this moment as I write this, I can’t believe it. I know I am not alone. That thing many have said about how we should be building bridges that will connect us, not walls that will separate us even more than a border already does, this is what runs through my mind every single day.

Now, according to the series, there are those fleeing danger and worse in certain African countries and Asian countries, making it all the way to South America, often just as dangerous. This report I saw sent a reporter to investigate and speak to some, mostly from Somalia, who were crossing the border of Guatemala and Mexico’s most southern part. They have come so far, but because of what has taken place in the U.S. they are wanting to get to Canada, but remain trapped where they are, unable to get there without crossing through what lies between.

Canada is a long way away and suddenly, the distance I felt on that last day in Mexico, to make it back to my home, it doesn’t look nearly as wide a gap to go now that I’ve seen what those people are up against.

I hope Canada is kind with these asylum seekers. I hear our border guards and RCMP officers reporting seeing families, pushing strollers and coming across with infant seats, a heartbreaking thing to witness, as I imagine an infant I love having to travel like that.

Our country has those driven by fears, like the ignorance growing in the U.S., fueled by so much misinformation and a lack of ability to open their eyes.

In Canada, today a phone conversation apparently took place between our leader and the new leader of the U.S., after the face-to-face meeting that took place, last week in Washington, D.C.

It’s reported that border security issues were not discussed, but I find that so hard to believe. I don’t know what will happen. It worries me. When it comes to borders and boundaries, we may be two very different countries, but it’s like a horizon I can not see. It feels strong and weak, all at once.

I do know that Canada’s Immigration Minister was a refugee himself, from Somalia.

So, what would certain people say about the series I just spoke of? Would they call it fake news, created to tug at the human heartstrings, but disguising hidden dangers for all good, law-abiding citizens?

Some here in Canada argue we need to worry about real Canadians first, before helping everybody who just so happens to show up on our doorstep, no matter their reasons.

I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need. That’s because I feel I am one who benefits a lot, is carried on the backs of other Canadians, requiring services my country provides and this is painful to think about when I hear all the talk that’s been growing, as I’ve always been receiving help from so many hard-working Canadians. I am just as much a risk and a drain on the system, even if nobody ever bothered to know me and what my worth is as a fellow human being, just trying to live peacefully and share this planet. I guess that’s why I am so passionate about this sort of thing, though I admittedly know very little about all the ways humans cross borders. I want to learn more. I want to keep up and stay as educated as possible.

The whole thing makes me want to cry. I am really no less expendable, to so many who complain, as any refugee or immigrant ever was or will be.

We need to remain real and human to each other. Being unnamed, just a number or statistic, and cold distance is seen as sensible and becomes contagious.

***

February is, of course, Black History Month and I have been watching a documentary series on Thursday nights, all about the colonization Great Britain has been responsible for, for so long.

Where were borders when that was going on? What boundaries existed, what limits, when the Mighty Great Britain was subjugating so many?

Here in Ontario, I watch a lot of programs on the provincial station, which is affiliated with England and the BBC. A lot of documentaries from over there are aired here and I see a lot of a place I really know very little about, though Canada and they are forever connected too.

I am glad I am learning about the history of Britain’s colonization of anywhere and everywhere and the multi-cultural place it is, with its problems and all that has transpired there for all these years.

***

I ended my Facebook post by stating:

Notice, I say “border” instead of “borders” because I want to highlight the fact that two places share it, rather than being on one side or the other. Also, the term “alien” should never have been used to describe other human beings. Such terms allow us to think of ourselves as “us and them” and divide us even more than we already are.
You could cross an entire ocean or a border, guarded by someone with a gun or a deadly serious tone in their voice. Or, you could cross one in a car or airplane, and if you’re not looking, not even know you’re doing it.

***

When it comes to borders and boundaries, if we dare to look within ourselves, where do our hearts and our humanity begin and end when it comes to empathy and compassion? Where do we draw lines in the sand of our lives and those of other humans who are just trying to live life on their own terms, just like any of us feel we deserve to?

***

I realize this one was fairly lengthy, but I have had all this building up in my mind and heart and it all came out through my fingers, as I am a little wound up by recent events on all fronts. I do appreciate that Kristi read my Facebook post, included here, from earlier in the week and asked me to co-host with her this time.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=699286

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Good Luck, Bad Luck #JusJoJan

On this special Friday the 13th edition of
Just Jot It January
we must all pay extra attention, so we don’t end up in the hospital.

Okay, so is this day supposed to be lucky or is it supposed to bring bad luck?

I wrote about triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13 on my blog a few years ago. I am skeptical and sometimes pessimistic in life, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I am superstitious.

I have been in the hospital plenty, but not because of bad luck. It’s all scientific, something that is being railed against a lot lately, but it has saved my life.

I owe science and medicine. I owe my life and my brother’s life to it. I owe the existence of my nephew and “niece” to science.

Hospitals are avoided by most, clearly. I read about how we humans shape our own narratives in life. Mine was shaped by being in hospital more than the seventh grade. I choose to see the good in that, even if I felt lousy at the time. Hospitals are vital and, though sometimes we abuse their availability in North America, when we are in real need I am glad of them and all the stories on the Internet will never ever match up.

This year stands out for me, and it’s still within the first few weeks, because of the significance of a twenty year mark of sorts, one which hospitals played a big part. So, I may not be superstitious, not in the black cat crossing your path way, I do like to recognize times and dates that feel like they should be acknowledged, for both the good and the bad.

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A Post-truth World and I Keep Breathing, #TGIF #FTSF

“I want to change the world. Instead, I sleep.”
—Ingrid Michaelson

Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson

With everything happening in North America and around the world, I want to do something, to jump to attention and act. Instead, as the above quote illustrates, I end up in my own position of relative privilege and comfort. It feels bad, but nothing’s easy.

Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries – Thee Guardian

I keep breathing to squelch my anxiety. Breathe Kerry…breathe.

*Now I’m talking about myself in the third person, great!

***

Breathing exercises are very important when learning to swim. I never quite got the hang of putting my face under water. The timing was bad when I was learning. My kidneys were failing. I was anemic and under weight and frail. I wasn’t receiving vital nutrients and nothing was being filtered properly from my system. The water would become my nightmare. So much frustration.

***

Squelch, squelch, squelch is the sound of wet feet.

I must remove my shoes if I want to observe my nephew’s swimming lesson. Barefoot in the pool area. That’s the rule.

I enter the space where the indoor pool is and immediately I feel the warmth and the mugginess of this place I know from another time. I want to witness this, even though the many sounds of splashing and shrieks of mirth make it impossible for me to hear the one little voice I’d recognize here.

My sister describes my nephew’s many actions, in a roped off section of the shallow end, a platform underneath him and the other children while they learn to push off the side of the pool and swim. Being on his back still makes him squirm because he feels he has little control over himself. I totally understand this. As in swimming as too in life.

***

This has been arranged through my school, my special ed/braille teachers, and my parents. I will take swimming lessons to make up for the big chunks of physical ed I am unable to participate in because I can’t see.

**Yes, this was back when schools still had a lot of gym classes. 🙂

I am twelve and I like the pool, but this is where I am now forced to risk getting water in my nose and eyes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I hardly have the strength to swim from one side of the pool to the other, on my front as I prefer it.

My teacher is nice enough, but she doesn’t understand. Nobody understands why I even struggle to float. I swim front stroke and my teacher shows me how to move my arms to get me further ahead in the water. I can’t stay up, can’t keep moving my arms anymore. The echo of the indoor pool is drown out by the underwater roar in my ears.

I am weak and I am in water. Bad combination.

***

Now I sit with my sister on an aluminum bench at the side and watch as my brother-in-law has to tell my nephew to listen to the teacher. He’s being obstinate, wanting to jump off the platform by himself, while the instructor is working with one of the others.

I feel the roughness under my bare feet which prevents slipping on the wet floor next to the l-shaped pool I’ve known since childhood. Rough times come flooding back to me as I thought they might.

***

I can’t do this, I try to tell them. I want to let my arms drop and sink under, only because I can’t do this right now. I am sick and I don’t know how to tell them. What’s wrong with me? It’s not only my eyes that fail me, but my strength that feels like it has abandoned me also.

I love the smell of the pool and the water is pleasant. I love the feeling of weightlessness, but I like the sound of the echo still, as I just can’t make it to the opposite wall.

***

Why do they put candy machines right in the lobby on the way out? Of course, I know why and my nephew falls for it just like I used to.

***Beg parents for some change.

“I need some money Mommy,” my four-year-old nephew says.

It was a short visit to the pool, but it was one I needed. I needed to be in that place, with the sound of fun and learning. I needed to see this being a pleasant and even fun activity for someone, for my nephew, even if it didn’t happen that way for me. He may just learn to love swimming. He can only be safer for it.

Just breathe.

***

We do just need to remember to breathe, whether it’s for the purpose of not sinking in life or in the water.

I took my cue from
Kristi from Finding Ninee
for this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday post.

We all need to remember, in this post-truth world we’re living in, to just breathe, if we can.

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