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TToT: Cherry Blossoms, Bluebonnets, and Clover Leaves # March Madness, #10Thankful

Stella! … Stella!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjHr-6Zl5P8

Okay, well if you aren’t already familiar with the play
A Streetcar Named Desire,
perhaps you won’t get my joke. I’m referring to the big “winter storm” in the eastern United States and here in Ontario and into Quebec and the Maritimes.

First it was the winter storm Stella and now it’s the Spring Equinox and first day of spring.

St. Patrick’s Day. World Happiness Day.

Either you’re drinking massive amounts of green beer or the day passes and you don’t do a single Irish thing, but you can’t help hearing about it. It’s the same with a day we are told to be happy.

World Happiness Day 2017: ticket to joy or time to ditch the smily face?

All these days.

Ten Things of Thankkful

I am thankful for snow in winter.

I like and appreciate it, during its season, but it is cold and I do happily move on from it by March/April.

I am thankful for flowers and birds and baby animals in spring.

Last year, I started off one of my TToT posts with some background about cherry blossoms, but today I am including a few others in this week’s title.

I can’t see them and their colours, but I am often obsessed with flowers, especially cherry blossoms at this time of year. I don’t know why those specifically.

Then I watched the new Anne of Green Gables series on CBC last night and there is a part where a cherry tree is featured.

If you know those books, Anne spots one when she first arrives off the train, before she meets Mathew and Marilla for the first time. She imagines climbing it and sleeping up in it if nobody had come to pick her up that day.

The blossoms are mentioned more throughout this newly updated version, and I took that as a sign of sorts, that spring has sprung.

I am thankful for anything Irish.

Don’t take my word for it. Don’t just drink some green beer. Visit Ireland and see it for yourself.

It was one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t regret it and neither would you.

That’s why, whenever March 17th rolls around, though I love the music (like what Ed has done in the song above, anything else can’t quite live up to the real thing.

I am thankful to be working on a new piece which should be published in one week.

I am thankful the editor informed me of the stock photo she thought about including with my piece before simply going ahead and using it, without my knowledge.

It was a photo of a girl with her eyes closed. Part of what I do regularly is to educate people on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. I wish, sometimes, I didn’t have to do this. I wish people could understand without me having to explain it.

This may sound like I’m being self righteous about this kind of thing, but even if a girl with her eyes closed may say, right away to readers, “this woman can’t see,” it feels highly stereotypical and won’t help progress with people’s understanding and acceptance of those of us with disabilities.

Touching Life

I am thankful for the feeling of my baby niece’s soft head under my chin as I held her against my chest.

I held her while she slept. She has so much hair and it is so lovely.

I am thankful for her ability to already raise her head by herself.

I held her while her oma warmed up her bottle and I couldn’t believe how strong she already is. She will be one month old this week.

I am thankful for my four-year-old nephew reading his books to me.

Okay, so he didn’t so much read as explain about his favourite dinosaurs, but he did spell out “L i t t l e” on the sign as we were picking up a pizza.

So, he’s on his way. I try to explain to him that I can’t read his library book to him because my eyes don’t work. His response still is “my eyes work” as a way of comparing or reassuring himself or maybe just to inform me. I’m not sure, but, If I’m going to have a bonus thankful this week, it’s that his eyes do, indeed, work.

I am thankful when one of my really bad headaches subsides.

I am thankful for a doctor who understands when I can’t make it to my previously scheduled appointment, do to said awful headache, and their ability there to reschedule so soon.

I am particularly upset when I hear all the talk, south of the border, here in Canada, of U.S. healthcare. I want the kind of care I get, for every person who has lived with awful headaches, needed major surgery, been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease or illness, or who lives with a disability to not worry about not being covered or having to pay giant medical bills.

People in Canada complain about long wait times, convince themselves that our neighbours have the better options for medical treatments, and some may have terrible experiences with Canada’s healthcare system. All I know is my own experience and that of my family.

Healthcare shouldn’t be about insurance companies, deductibles, premiums, and whatever else I keep hearing, is all I hear when I hear the debates going on in the U.S. They talk of consumerism and shopping for the best health plans. Healthcare isn’t about shopping, even if so much of our society is all about consumerism. This is, in some cases, about life and death. It’s about feeling unwell or being able to be happy for more than only one day a year.

Ugh! It all gets me so fired up honestly, because I know what it’s like to need my country’s medical system. I have disability and medical conditions I depend on being treated for. I am lucky here. I hate how too much of the world still doesn’t get it.

It was a week where I could care less about the actual March Madness, as I am no basketball fan, but…as for some other madness:

The Tyranny of Now

It’s precisely why I need to count my blessings and why everything on my list today is needed more than ever and deserves the recognition in my own life.

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TToT: Muddy Puddles and Horizon Blue, #FamilyDay #ClimateChange #GuiltyPleasure #10Thankful

This past week broke records in Ontario, with temperatures well above average for this time of year.

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February 20th was Family Day here in Canada and three days later we found ourselves even more of one than we already were.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I was going along, having a hard time, with putting one foot in front of the other. Then I found myself, suddenly and pleasantly surprised by just how thankful I could feel again. Spring come early. But…wait…it’s still winter.

This song captures that energy Mya brings into the picture, a fresh and new perspective on so many people and things I was already thankful for. Blue skies as I look toward the horizon.

I was thankful for a violin lesson where my teacher seemed happy with some of the progress I’d made.

I know, for some, it’s hard to see this. I challenge them to pick up a violin and give it a try sometime, to see just what I’m up against. Yet, still I forge ahead with it because it is the most beautiful thing.

I’m thankful for pleasant surprises that come along to remind of what hope looks like.

My sister gave birth a week-and-a-half ahead of her due date. All was well enough, but I am still thankful things went smoothly, once they were helped along some.

I am thankful that my family have each other, that we live in a country like Canada with the healthcare available, and have access to safe medical facilities.

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I am thankful for reminders that there is beauty and sweetness, whether that be the sound of a violin or the feeling of peace and calm holding a newborn baby brings.

I am thankful my nephew is a big brother to a beautiful baby girl. He is so proud and, at the same time, indifferent, depending on the moment he’s in, in his four-year-old world.

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He can’t wait to be able to play with her, brother and sister, to jump in muddy puddles and go to the park with Grandma and Grandpa.

I am thankful both mother and daughter are doing well.

I am thankful that I get to share a middle name with my niece.

She brought good luck it seems, first with the warm weather on the day of her birth.

Not that I really think such weather is appropriate in February. So many celebrated getting to be out on patios and wearing t-shirts, but I wasn’t celebrating, if it hadn’t been for my other news.

I am thankful for that luck I speak of, as I sent a writing pitch out, quite unexpectedly on the day of my niece’s birth, and received what seems like an acceptance.

Nothing is for sure yet, but after my piece being published in Bustle last month, I am taking all of it as a sign of the kind of year I could end up having, though I had a few bad days recently where I feared none of that would ever again happen.

We have over a dozen family members born in the month of February and now we add one more to the list.

Mya arriving in this most excellent month, to be born as far as I am concerned (and her uncle Paul and her daddy too) in the best month of the year,
only the second in any calendar year,
I am taking this as proof positive that anything is possible. Really, anything can change from one year to the next, one month to another, and even from start to finish of a single day.

We started out 2017, February, and this week without her in our lives, for real, and within a day of the news she would come early, there she was.

TzuDOVd.jpg

Introducing: Mya Lynne

Here she is, a forever part of our family, and that’s really the only thankful I need.

And it’s a lesson, in life, that as a child is born, someone will die.

RIP Bill Paxton, director of this epic 80s music video, among his other notable film credits.

“They can’t play baseball. They don’t wear sweaters. They’re not good dancers. They don’t play drums.”
—Fish Heads, Barnes & Barnes

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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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Driveways and Sideroads, #SoCs

“Shhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”

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“I’m trying to sleep,” is what my cat Lumos is probably saying, as he curls up in the place between my legs and the couch, but I type furiously for a little bit of stream of consciousness writing anyway, as he cuddles up to me and keeps my feet warm.

Now, I don’t usually write from any cat’s POV, not even his, but I was thinking up ways to start this post with an “sh” as the prompt stated, and that was all that came to me on this early Saturday morning in December.

I thought I’d begin with a little humour, as the rest of this post is of a more serious nature.

I did want to speak about a few
shows
I’ve seen this week, here.

It was both an odd contrast and, at the same time, alinement between a Canadian news program about one young husband and father who would walk down his driveway, attempting to sell his truck, and would never come home.

And then the American news program 20/20 and the young wife and mother who went out for a jog and was missing, abducted, but then finally released on Thanksgiving.

“It was just a truck!” That was the quote from the first program, from the widow left behind by tragedy, all a horrible, nasty, disgusting crime of a thing.

The Cali woman who would survive, has made it back to her loved ones, is now hopefully free to live the rest of her days with her two children and her husband, who never gave up and fought so hard to find her.

The Ontario woman will never get that sort of a happy ending with her love.

I was ill to watch the first program, to hear even more of the gruesome details, of which I managed to miss back in 2013 when the crime came to all our attentions, happening less than an hour away from me. She has her faith and family and little girl to bring her joy again, but a part of her will forever be missing.

Who knows what happened while that California woman was gone, as she is only now starting to help the police piece things together. Her trauma at this time likely intense.

One has, seemingly had a happy conclusion, though the case is still ongoing. Hopefully, whoever these women are, the ones who lured the victim into their vehicle, hopefully they don’t hurt anyone else.

The two men charged and now spending life in prison are paying for their deeds, one charged with two other murders before the truck owning husband and father was senselessly taken. Entitled. Rich and spoiled. Thinking themselves invincible. Murder never should have been the result.

The similarities and differences, matching an fitting in an odd way as the two programs followed each other, it all felt strange to take in.

I was just struck by the contrasting outcomes to these two evening news programs, as the holiday season approaches and so much good is highlighted. The presence of evil in this world hit me with an extra, additional, forcible blow because we all look to stories of good will around this time of year, but there are those bad ones still going on, somewhere.

Not all is well, though both stories felt like they were read as transcripts, more like Hollywood movie scripts, but are true crime, real life in motion.

I put myself and my family in their places. Then, I immediately wanted to push that thought out of my mind.

Sometimes the world feels like such a scary place and I am afraid to leave my house at the thought of it. What are the chances, really, right?

The young Ontario woman who is now raising her daughter as a single mother said, “If it could happen to us, it could happen anywhere.”

You could meet danger or genuine decency in your own driveway or on a deserted side road. You could meet it, no matter where you might be, all depending on the sort of outstanding or rotten humans who come across your path.

I watch these shows, as the Ontario case touched me deeply and this Thanksgiving miracle was a happy story, still in progress.

I also know I can’t be afraid.

These shows weren’t fiction , not this time. They happened. It looks like I’ll get to spend another holiday with my family, whereas some people will not. I don’t take that lightly. I also don’t want to feel paralyzed with fear to go out into the world, to live my life, and I hope I never have to hear stories like these again, but I know, realistically, it can’t be completely avoided.

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TToT: Blood Red, Royal BLUE, andd a PINK Bun – Lichen and Lightning, #10Thankful

Here I am and bursting with thankfulness, just like the fall colours now at their peak. My favourite season will be gone before I know it.

I missed last week, which I don’t like to do, but I had a good reason. I was filling up on things I’m deeply thankful for, living my reality, starting with this.

Fall colours and violin
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It soon became tricky, trying to hold my bow, as my fingers grew colder and colder. I wished I could see the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows which were in full display up north east, earlier than where I live. I am thankful that such views bring my mother such happiness.

I am thankful I got to play my violin, as brief as it was, even with the few songs I know, in a place of natural splendour.

Algonquin Provincial Park,
in the midst of my favourite time of year.

I went on a road trip, to say goodbye to a loved one. Upon returning home I was so emotionally spent that I decided to take a week off and come back again, here and now, with a double dose of reflective thankfuls.

Phone booth

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I’m thankful to have gotten to know a remarkable woman. My aunt started a life on her own, away from anyone when she arrived, and built a life for herself and a family, here in Canada. She worked hard, raised two children, and made a mark for herself in the restaurant business.

It wasn’t until later, the mid 90s, that I was around to meet and to get to know her. I just thought the past was well represented, as we passed a remnant of days nearly gone by, with the phone booth, saying farewell to what once was, with the introduction of modern technology of cell phones, becoming the unavoidable reality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RA4MykPm4s

My aunt was tough and resilient, like her mother, my oma.

She did not want a funeral or even an obituary. Was it because she did not want to bother anyone, even after her death? Or was it just that she couldn’t deal with the thought of us making a fuss after she was gone?

Well, on the chance of incurring her displeasure, I have needed to grieve and pay tribute to her, in my own few ways anyway. I am thankful I got to do that and to know how other loved ones are finding their own peace. It was important that I see them all again, to know they are going to be alright without her.

I learned to love “Operator” thanks to my father. Now though, it’s going to be forever the song that I now dedicate to my aunt, whose fierce spirit I felt as I stood just inside the booth, on a chilly autumn Sunday, in a Canadian national park, near her home, in Ontario. We all have regrets. I just hope my aunt is now at peace, wherever she is.

I’m thankful for lichens and morning glories.

I’m thankful for fall colours (red, orange, yellow) and for the possibility of either pink or blue. I’m thankful for the red blood that makes up a family.

I’m thankful for delicious food and the supporting of important causes.

pink hamburger bun
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to find out what a pink hamburger bun tasted like.

It was obvious to those I asked on Facebook and to my mom, even though my father and mother both said, up close, it could have been a sweet, dessert red velvet hamburger bun. The correct answer was it was dyed pink with beet juice, which I wasn’t so sure about at first, but did end up giving just a hint of sweetness.

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Then there was a wonderfully tasty bbq chicken salad, from
The Kitchen Eatery and Catering Company,
located in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. It also just so happens to be my cousin’s lunch counter/store front and the catering business she is growing. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend you check it out. Beef sandwiches and pies named after her family members. She has not yet named a signature dish for my aunt, but I see that happening in future.

Pies were the order of the day, with Thanksgiving in Canada being in October. The coconut cream pie was delightful, with every bite of fresh cream and coconut I tasted. She explained her lessons in crusts for meat pies vs dessert pies, one taught to her from her mother and the other from her father, a big part of her team.

She has worked a lot of years to build up a dedicated crowd of regulars. She makes good food and puts her all into everything, and it shows. Both her parents taught her all they ever knew about the restaurant business and preparing the best tasting and quality food for any potential customers. We were lucky to be some of those, this time round.

I am thankful that I got to check out her place and the food. She was very gracious as a host. I am thankful I got to see the kind of family love that exists, even after losing her mother, my aunt. It isn’t easy, but we discussed what my aunt would think, if she could truly see what my cousin is creating. She would say she is crazy, but she would be proud I am sure.

I am thankful to get to experience the timeless hospitality of
the Grey Gables Inn (Bed & breakfast)

It’s a little like my favourite fictional Green Gables, as in the age of the building. It is the type of older building I’ve always felt uncomfortable in, yet as I grow older, I continue to see the value in the history and the ghosts of those who may once have lived there. It’s a place with great character. Leave it to my mother to find such a place.

I am thankful for the discovery of meditation music, when my mind is full of memories of loved ones, and sleep is not always so easy to come by.

He had many relaxation albums, going back to the 80s.

Tony O’Connor – Live in concert at the Sydney Opera House

This composer put on a brilliant live show before his own death. I wish I could have been in attendance, but I’m thankful for his haunting nature sounds, mixed with piano, guitar, and the authentically Australian sound of the
didjeridu.

I am thankful for some much needed guidance with my writing and the path I’m attempting to walk..

Next year will be twenty years with my father’s kidney and I feel like I need to recognize that, to do something big, possibly using my skill with writing.

I’ve felt a bit stuck on that lately, likely because, as the date of June 5th, 2017 grows ever closer, I fear not paying proper attention. What if my time with my transplant is coming to an end? I’m just afraid to get my hopes up too high.

I also am working really hard to find a healthy balance between the every day tasks of growing as a writer, the actual act of writing, with the ones I often suppress, which must include getting out and taking chances to meet people and make connections.

And so there you have it. A few extra thankfuls to catch me up with what I missed during my absence.

And, before I forget –
it’s the second episode of Ketchup On Pancakes, our podcast.
So check it out.

Ottawa River
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And so I’m glad I got to go there, as hard as it was in some respects, to stand on the border of Ontario and Quebec, to feel the wind tunnel, once past the shelter of the trees, and into the openness of the river.

Song lyrics.

But isn’t that the way they say it goes
Well let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine, and to show
I’ve overcome the blow
I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words
Could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real
But that’s not the way it feels

—Jim Croce, “Operator”

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TToT: Wave Form Audio – Drop and Drag, #10Thankful #RoaldDahl100

“Don’t analyze. Don’t analyze. Don’t go that way. Don’t live that way. That would paralyze your evolution.”

Analyze – The Cranberries

I love autumn and am glad when the days cool off from oppressive summer heat waves. Lots of waves. Waves at the beach this past summer. Waves of fear that I am making wrong choices or not making choices out of fear to begin with. There are audio waves too, I’m learning. Letting that wash over me.

September has arrived and I feel a lot of pressure. I feel tense a lot. I feel the turmoil going on everywhere around me, in this giant and complex world. I try to find my place in it. I try to not allow things I have no control over to drive me to even more stress and distraction. Such anxieties are common, universal, and I can get through and keep moving forward.

And so, here I am, I will try not to analyze everything and I am more thankful than ever.

I am thankful for the perfect title for an essay I’m working on.

It was provided by one of my brother’s friends on Facebook.

I know. I know. I need to finish writing the entire essay, but I get inspiration and a direction to my essays if I have the right title to begin with.

This one is just so perfect, so fitting, and then I took his idea and I ran with it.

I am thankful I have started to learn a new song on my violin. It’s a special one, something I’m learning for someone special who’s on the way, before we know it.

This required I start playing a new string, the D string. Up until now I was only playing on half of my strings, E and A, but now I need to learn to move my fingers over just a little more and to hold my bow on a slightly differing angle.

I am thankful to have such a smart niece, one who seems wiser than her nearly six years on this planet and who knows how and when to ask the right questions.

Okay, so she may have done that thing where you answer a question with another question, but when you have something important to ask, I say go for it.

I am thankful that we got the second episode of our podcast all done and recorded.

All we need to do now is a little bit of editing. We were aiming to keep Ketchup On Pancakes at sixty minutes, which episode one just magically seemed to be. This one’s looking more like seventy minutes, but we think we can cut it down a bit more before we release it.

We just need to research more about podcast platforms and how it all works.

I’m thankful, especially, that we got one segment in particular completed.

We decided to read one of the short stories I’d previously written on my blog, as more of a dramatic reading, and you don’t realize how difficult that is until you keep messing up words.

It took about eight or nine takes to get through the small story with the least amount of mistakes throughout. We were both reading from our braille devices and you can actually hear our fingers moving across the dots as they pop up, as we move through the lines. We decided we like that sound in the background.

I am thankful for awareness for pain.

It’s something I don’t talk a lot about on my blog. The stigma and judgments are out there and sometimes I feel like people don’t want to keep hearing about it.

September is Pain Awareness Month and I do believe that anyone living with pain should not have to hide away. I know that must sound contradictory, but I do believe fear of judgment is often what it boils down to.

I am thankful and grateful because I actually have a pretty wonderful support system, where others do not. I do want to bring this silent suffering out into the open.

I have found some things that help and that work to make things bearable, but I thought it worth mentioning at this time.

I am thankful for even more awareness of a different kind.

Whether it’s the awareness of feminist issues or disability awareness, this week I was reminded a lot and heard from those speaking out and up.

Rick Hansen Interview – CBC’s The National

Again, people fight it. They become angry and defensive, on both sides, but if you’ve never experienced something yourself, I would hope there would be compassion and a little understanding for something someone else may have gone through to make them feel they need to say something or do something.

There are some who say they don’t want to identify themselves as feminist. That probably means, once again, they haven’t had many problems with something, be that a woman who has lived a somewhat privileged life and has had no reason to feel the need to fight for something.

I don’t care what you call it. I call it feminism and people freak out. I use the word equality and it’s pointed out that nobody has total equality with everything. I just speak from my unique experiences. I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also felt extremely limited in the world. I am taking steps toward empowerment, but it’s not as easy as it might seem.

I am thankful for a relatively stress free visit to a school for the blind in a city not too far from me.

I did not go there for my education. I went there this week to check out some computer equipment, to see about getting some new technology.

A lot of that is now becoming more accessible with the introduction of Apple products. They don’t require, for the first time, extra software or programs to make things square. It’s all built in.

But there’s still the braille readers and they can be thousands of dollars. Here in Canada, in Ontario where I live, there is a governmental program which helps out with the cost.

I am thankful my nephew made it through his first full week of school.

We ask him if he likes school, if his teacher is nice, and we get mostly “yes” to our questions.

He’s probably wondering why we are so curious. Things are more likely to come out at more random moments, like the rocks from the playground he kept bringing home in his pockets, or the little girls who are likely a few years older than him and who help him with his backpack when it’s time to get off of the bus.

It’s both exciting and anxiety inducing. He’s getting so big. All the children in my life are.

I am thankful for the connection made possible through WhatsApp.

It’s how my friend living over in Ireland sends family back here in Canada photos and videos of her one-year-old daughter.

I am honoured to be added to such an exclusive group. She includes descriptions of the pictures when she sends them so I know what’s going on in them.

Oh, and, Happy Birthday Mr. Dahl, who would’ve turned 100 this week.

My grandfather Roald Dahl, the magician

This article written by his granddaughter in The Guardian made me miss my own grandfather, who never published a book, but who was a magical storyteller himself.

“I will not pretend I wasn’t petrified. I was. But mixed in with the awful fear was a glorious feeling of excitement. Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death. They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.” So says the boy hero of Danny, the champion of the world.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Spotlight Saturday, The Insightful Wanderer

Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

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