Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, Writing

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.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Shows and Events, Special Occasions

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.

7apBLHf.jpg

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.

Standard
Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Shows and Events, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, The Insightful Wanderer, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel

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.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

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.

6SaOVvt.png

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

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Special Occasions, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer

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.

Standard
FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, TGIF

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.

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, SoCS

Nice, Nasty, and Deplorable, #SoCS

A few years back, late one night, I sat in silence and I thought. I thought and I wrote a letter to a special little girl in my life, about how she could be a superhero or a princess, or both. I wanted her to know she could do anything, be anyone, and go anywhere.

I wish I believed that, even here and now, for her and for myself and for all girls and women. I don’t, but I believe in our feminine spirit. We will. We are already accomplishing so much, more than women long ago likely ever would have hoped for, dreamt of.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

It was really only one hundred years ago now since women were to be granted the same rights as men, voting rights, to help decide the direction of their own country. Canada started with Manitoba.

Women had to be polite, nice, and ladylike. They had to be whatever men wanted or needed them to be, but of course, not all of them were. I can’t judge, either way, as I can scarcely imagine what it was like in those days.

Heck, these days it still feels like we haven’t progressed nearly far enough. I must be patient, keep telling myself to look again at how far we’ve come, but then I say to myself that I don’t need to stay quiet and just be satisfied with the progress thus far. I can and should want more, expect more from the world. Us nice women are never happy I suppose.

We can all pretend misogyny didn’t play a part in the US election of 2016, but that would be as dishonest and disingenuous as saying that neither did racism show its true colours…yes, even after a black man was in charge for eight years. There were many factors, of course, but all the denial is nothing new. It just continually surprises me how prevalent the need is to pretend we’ve come far enough in our efforts to accept each other, to recognize all we have to offer for our gifts and talents and viewpoints.

I am not from the country that just voted yet another man to run the show. Actually, I am from Canada and we did that last year. He will do, for now, but somewhere in Canada there is a young girl who will be the woman next in line.

We had a female prime minister, over twenty years ago, but for only a brief moment in time, set up against all the nearly 150 years of being run by men.

This means we keep moving forward, not going back. Any good election slogan is one that will stick in people’s minds. The most recent example, Make America Great Again, this is one of the most baffling things I’ve heard in a long time. No part of North America was all that great for women, during this period of “again” everyone loves to reference.

I miss all the memes meant as activism, because I can’t see, that circulate on Facebook nowadays. I read and I write because I can. I blog about all that will never stop being important to me and to the better world I want to see the next generation grow up in.

It’s funny how the slogan from a century ago fits into a lineup of words that can’t possibly hold down or peg down any human being.

What else is there to do when “nasty” is used to describe a strong woman or when “deplorable” is used to label any sized group of your opponent’s voting base? If you can’t beat em, join em, is that it?

All I can say is, we’ve all got our work still cut out for us.

Standard