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Jolt, #JusJoJan

Caffeine doesn’t give me a jolt. That is not why I sit in a relatively newly opened cafe, on a cold January day.

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It’s the chilled air of January in Canada that gives me that jolt, as I go on a downtown wallet hunt. Thankfully, I left it at a cousin’s hair salon.

I look through the lens of my writing. I visit this cafe to find a next great writing spot, a place where creativity may blossom and bloom, but I must learn my surroundings first.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Coffee, like everything else, seems to have a light and a dark. Huh. Hmm.

A bitter sip and my attention is on the super laid back atmosphere of this local joint, rather than remember the more bitter moments, those ones I am moved to write stories about.

This place doesn’t seem to live up to my deeply held expectations of what a writing spot should be. I view the rustic feel of cafes in my past, on my travels, in Ottawa and in Whitehorse and somehow Woodstock isn’t like those.

I am not in Ottawa. I’m no longer in Whitehorse. I am back in my hometown and in the middle of the cold of winter.

My writing is in freefall as I see it. I still hope to land somewhere solid.

I may land and be jolted by the rocky ground. I can’t tell at this early stage of a new year.

People just expect me to be on some kind of roll with my writing, as I ended off the previous year. I can’t say either way.

Coffee near my laptop scares me.

Maybe they won’t mind me coming in there and writing, without buying something. If they come to my table, I might request a drink or a snack.

So typical of me though, to only ask when asked, to wait to be spoken to, instead of doing the speaking on my own.

I stated my declaration: “stoker” will be my word for 2018 and that means having opinions and making them known.

Not to wait to be heard, to take a stand on what’s important. All the coffee in the world, the jolt it provides, may never be enough.

Most people can agree on coffee, if nothing else, and this prompt word is brought to us
by teleportingweena,
for the 9th day of January.

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“People Of Canada…” #CanadaDay #FTSF

A lot can change in a year.

Today is a celebration in my country. Today is Canada’s 149th birthday.

How perfect – this all lined up with Finish the Sentence Friday and its particular sentence for the week, which ties in with all I have been thinking about on countries, borders, and our one, global world.

Every year, on July 1st and since I started this blog, I have found it important to say something about Canada or what it’s like to be Canadian.

In 2014,

I listed ten things I loved about my country (Oh Canada).

And then, last year,

I decided to take a different approach,

Reconciling The Truth About Canada.

Last year we had another political party in charge and another politician leading Canada.

This year we have Justin Trudeau. Not all are thrilled, just like I wasn’t thrilled with the people in charge this time last July.

Stories in the news for 2016 are more often than not horrifying to me. I listen to the epic race for the White House and the Brexit referendum. I look around me here in Canada, and I hold on tightly, but the other night I listened to a speech put on in Ottawa’s parliament, by visiting US President (for the time being) Barack Obama.

He began it with the words: “People of Canada…” and I was unprepared for all I was about to hear.

What I wish the world knew is a simple enough word: peace. They often say they know (those leading the way), that they understand, but continually prove the opposite to be true. This leaves those of us, so desperate for peace, to feel like we’re the odd ones out, like what we’re asking for is so out-of-reach impossible.

Obama started to speak and I’ve never been so speechless and yet bursting with thoughts and things to say, all at the same time. I wanted to cry, more than once, as he spoke and the crowd cheered at various statements he made.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-obama-arrives-canada-us-mexico-summit-40217479

Just days after the Brexit vote, I listened to a speech by a certain UKIP politician, to the EU. It carried a definite, a continual tone of mocking and gloating. Totally uncalled for and unnecessary, in my mind, as mature adults, or thought to be mature adults should be conducting themselves and holding themselves to a much higher standard than was evident in that room.

Then, compare that to one given by Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, where she spoke of what may end up need to be done. She struck me as a powerful female voice, in the world of politics, where so often women’s voices are mostly silent. As she finished speaking, however, sirens could be heard in the distance, coming closer and closer. This felt ominous to me in some way.

Then, this week, it was the North American Leader’s Summit. The leaders of Mexico, the United States, and Canada came together to talk a wide array of topics, from the environment to Brexit.

Of course, on Canada Day and every other, I am glad Canada is is its own, individual nation, while existing as part of the North American continent. I feel bad to admit it, that I’ve been feeling a sense of relief, that perhaps Canada’s darker period is over, while the US’s may still be ahead of them. I don’t wish civil unrest on anyone, not the least on my neighbours to the south. I don’t think the United States fully realized how good they had it with Obama. However, I don’t think isolation is the answer and we need each other, more than we’d like to admit.

To be honest, I am dying for this summer to fly by, this year in particular, because I am feeling uncomfortable while the US elections are revving up, but perhaps (if the UK is any indication) I shouldn’t be in any big rush for the summer of 2016 to come to an end. I am dreading the results this November, yet I remain skeptically optimistic, after how Canada’s elections turned out last fall.

Obama spoke in Ottawa and it was his last visit to Canada as President. He was the first US president to come here since Clinton, twenty years ago. Particularly, Trudeau and Obama have been developing a friendly relationship, which is for the good of us all, but this pleasant environment could be short lived.

Obama spoke about refugees and immigrants. He didn’t speak about building walls and closing ranks against the rest of the world. He addressed the dangers of the “us against them” mentality, which I’d like to tell the rest of the world, can’t possibly work.

Obama spoke of the US/Canada history. War of 1812, (some bad memories there).

🙂

Then there came the Underground Railroad. While things for minorities were never great here or there, there was a reason why we were the north that slaves of the time were willing to die to get to. We could be a refuge for so many then.

We could be, we can set an example once more. I want to think Canada can set that example, as politics in the US is soon to change, Obama’s time nearly up, but that Trudeau has only just begun his time in office. Some say he has been bad for Canada, and if they are talking budgets and economy, I am the last to say I know a lot about those things and how it will all turn out, but Justin Trudeau has made strides on many things humanitarian. I want Canada to show the world that opening up our hearts and home to people fleeing war will make the world a better place, but Obama spoke about doing all we can do to ensure a more peaceful planet earth, so wars and unrest can’t uproot so many from there homes in the first place.

I want to make all my bursting thoughts come out in a coherent statement for how I feel. I don’t go by the situation with currency or by the stock market. I go by my heart. What doesn’t feel true and compassionate to me, I know isn’t possibly to benefit the world. So much fear and shameful reaction to fear. I want my country to lead the way in doing better.

And so, as many celebrated their very first Canada Day in this country this year, I hope they feel welcomed, even if this place is still a strange one to them. As I hope for all this, I think always on the first Canada Day my grandparents spent, all those years ago. They left Europe after that continent had been nearly destroyed, devastated by war, and we can’t let that continue to happen. Surely, the world must realize this. Or am I just talking to myself here, banging my own head up against a brick wall? Am I simply too naive for my own good, when it comes down to what humans are capable of?

FTSF is thanks to Kristi from:

Finding Ninee

And I wish nothing but peace on this Canada Day, 4th of July, or whatever else may mark any other country’s place in the world.

To end with – my thoughts are with Turkey, after the latest run-in with the opposite of peace. Their country deserves the same level of support, just like Belgium, France, the US or anywhere else, as fellow human beings, living together and sharing this planet of ours, we need each other. We cannot fight hate with even more hate. Peace, going forward, always. Please. Don’t make me beg!

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Give It A Rest, #SoCS

I don’t envy politicians, but I also don’t excuse much of what they do to get where they are.

Mostly, the good ones aren’t entirely good, but nobody is.

For instance, President Obama is nearly finished and I know many won’t be all that sad to see him step down as the one in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world, but I will. I like his calm, or what I’ve mostly seen and felt of it. He is intelligent and well spoken. His voice calms and soothes me, when normally anything involving politics gets my stress level increasing.

The world is a complex place. I get that.

He’s going on an Asia trip. He will visit Japan and Viet Nam. These are both places where the US did serious damage, all in the name of security and righteousness.

I know the history. Japan wasn’t giving up, even after Hitler’s Germany, no longer controlled by Hitler, had surrendered. Still, Japan fought fiercely on and risked many more countless lives of soldiers whose only choice would have been to go and fight. So, the US dropped bombs on two Japanese cities, in theory, to put a stop to the madness. That must have sounded like a practical and a rational answer, the only answer at the time, in 1045 America. Well, I say “GIVE ME A BREAK!”

It didn’t put any end to the madness. The madness continued on.

Okay, didn’t intend to get so political in this post, but after all, it is stream of consciousness writing, and sometimes things happen. Surely, that can be understood.

Well, as if that wasn’t bad enough, twenty or so years later and another war, this time between the US and another Asian country transpired. More countless suffering and seemingly endless carnage. What for? What purpose did it ultimately serve?

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Politicians and powerful and power hungry countries behave worse than little children throwing temper tantrums. At least those don’t end up hurting thousands or millions of lives.

So, when politicians step up, years later, to apologize for things they weren’t directly involved in, yet take responsibility for as the latest leaders of the participating nations, people have the nerve to cry “publicity stunt” or “free vacation on tax payers money.” Well, guess what, better some tax dollars than more loss of life and denial of past wrongs and missteps.

More apologies this week, early on, as my country’s leader apologizes for Canada turning away ships full of fleeing people from safety 100 years ago. Again, his motives are challenged. Apology is refreshing from anyone in this world today, most especially from a politician. It’s the kind of action we demand of children when they fight or when they act up. Why jump all over any adult, most of all a president or a prime minister of a country when an apology and an amends is put forth?

Well, for those who think I love Canada’s leader, no matter what, I will finish this SoCS post with this little tale from the week that just was.

Finally, after so much nonsense with the 2016 US election cycle, all of which I am tired of hearing about, there came some news out of Canada’s parliament in Ottawa mid week, from a country like mine, who is always being labeled as super polite and mild mannered.

Headlines such as: “Justin Trudeau Elbows His Way” make the rounds in every Canadian publication, news outlet, and beyond. I can’t see the video, but look it up online if you want to see for yourself.

It’s funny to me, as someone who sees less and less as the years go by, that even when something is caught on video, it’s still up for tremendous debate. Those who like Justin Trudeau defend it and those who don’t won’t. That’s just how it is.

Of course, everything is up for interpretation. The government was in session, debating something as tense as assisted dying. I get that things were tense in that room. I also think everyone took it too far. One side pushed and the other pushed back. NDP party and Liberals want to fight. That’s their problem, but control yourselves.

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Justin saw another person being blocked from coming forward, during a debate, a vote? Whatever was going down. He elbowed a woman MP as he barrelled through? Was it on purpose? Is all his talk about feminism and equality a coverup for his real hatred and mistreatment of women? Give me a break please. If she felt assaulted, of course that is serious and she had the right to say something, but was most of this an uproar, after-the-fact? Was it all misconstrued? Was much of it planned to hijack the entire process? Were most of them, on all sides, acting badly and in a misguided way? No doubt.

Then Justin did it again, that is, he apologized. Oh, was it fake? Was it a sham? Give me a break!

Someone needed to put a brake or more than one on those proceedings, the moment things started to get out of hand.

I don’t doubt that Trudeau is a bit spoiled. Who wouldn’t be, growing up around politics their entire lives. His campaign nay sayers lines have returned, as most news publications think it necessary to rehash.

“He’s just not ready.” (To be prime minister that is.)

“Nice hair though.” (My favourite of the ridiculous attack ad lines from last fall.)

He is younger than a lot of leaders chosen to run a country. He is a Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau.

But he also lived under the spotlight his entire life. He was the product of a broken home and had to watch his mother live with depression. Not everything in life has been a ball for him, not even him.

He has done some good for Canada and he has only been here for six months. I just know Canada doesn’t feel like a cold and tight lipped place since he arrived.

I wish all politicians could grow up. That’s what I wish.

But Justin has issued apologies. What a concept.

These magazines and newspapers keep writing stories because they get attention and readers. Give me a break!

Will Justin Trudeau ever be able to live this down and go on to do anything more for Canada? Give me a break!

But I do have to say, Justin, seemed like kind of a Rob Fordian thing to do.

Just give it a break, all of you. Give it a rest, please. I beg of you.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS

With this week’s prompt:

brake or break

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My Top Spills and Thrills of 2015

Okay, so instead of a movie review for the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise (which I am postponing until 2016), I am attempting to sum up this past year: the good and the bad.

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It has been a year of huge surprises, stupid spills, and awful scares for myself and my family, but there were thrills to be had throughout. It all ended, with a bit of a bang, and now here I am. I see I am not the first to write one of these, but since I waited and just posted about my hopes for the coming year, last New Year’s Day, I thought I would follow that up with another review, of sorts, about how those hopes translated into one wild ride of a 2015.

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I say in that post that I am not a fan of resolutions at the end of one year, with the blank slate of a new year stretching out in front, but I did have a vision for what I hoped my year might look like.

Now that I can reread that post and see how I fared, I want to bring it all together.

This is how it’s done.

So I thought I would take a page out of this blogger’s book/blog and go month by month. Bare with me.

JANUARY

One of my first posts of 2015 was all about trying new things.

Speeding Up and Slowing Down

I hoped this would be a sign of things to come for the year.

I continued participating in something that matters to me, that is all about a subject near and dear to my heart and life. I would continue writing about awareness for equality and disability rights. This post was a kind shout-out to all that.

I Don’t Want Coffee. Here Are Some Links, Though.

This links to another blog hop I could participate in, if I had more time and more days of the week, but I read it weekly. I have found and left a few different circles of bloggers and blogging groupings over the last few years, but many of these circles intertwine with one another, here and there.

Speaking of blogging circles – January was the start of one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in in a long time.

We All Need The Village

&

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Thank you: Lizzi and Yvonne.

Also, it was a month of endings and beginnings.

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

The ending of an opportunity for the short story I’d written gave way for the beginning of a chance event, one for which I am so glad I snatched up my chance to be included in, in the months that would follow.

FEBRUARY

This, my birthday month, brought not only the day to celebrate my birth, but also the celebration of my first full year of blogging.

One Year and Counting: Kind and Generous

Then came

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

And after that, my first contribution of many for #1000Speak, there came more focus on kindness with a post I’d written, which was published on a site devoted to love and friendship.

A Friend In B By Kerry Kijewski

I continued to write about a vitally important cause to me, rare illness awareness

Rare Disease Day, 2015: Ventilation

There was a weekend in Ottawa with a friend. This I will never forget.

This year I took a step forward, in the right direction after lost love, and began dating again.

Dating in the Dark

This is my life.

MARCH

This was not easy for me and I didn’t want to do it, but I did it and hope to do more of it.

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

As the year went on I managed to keep a secret that I’d been keeping hidden for a few months. It would involve the struggle I constantly have inside about the fine line between truth and fiction, memoir or not?

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

The first of two weekly blog hops I would soon come to depend on for both comfort and inspiration began as the third month of 2015 came to a close.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

And I finally published an interview, long worked on and awaited, with a female who is making a mark for herself as a smart businesswoman.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done

There were three deaths this year, in the entertainment world, of which were sad ones to me.

The first was Richard Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Edward Herman died almost exactly one year ago.

I did not write a post for this at the time, but wanted to include him here and now, with news recently of a NetFlix Gilmore Girls reboot, of which the man who played Mr. Gilmore will not be able to reprise his brilliantly portrayed role.

RIP Edward Herman

(He had an amazing voice and used it to read voiceovers, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Ken Burns documentary, of which I watched near the end of the year, after Herman was gone.)

Second,

Love and Despair

with the shocking death of Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert), the man behind the portrayal of a great literary heroic character.

Third, Christopher Lee.

Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

APRIL

Babies are born and babies die everyday.

Departed and Demented

Upon hearing of the loss of one precious life, for which I had to rant about the unfair ways of the world, next came a re-blog from my own blog, written one year earlier, the worst kind of anniversary imaginable.

The Dark Mark

These few things from early in the month on my blog only served to show the contrasted miracle, the wonderful shock I would get at the end of the month

I had no idea I was about to learn of the upcoming birth of a sweet child in the month of spring’s renewed promise.

Let’s just say, to say I was shocked to learn of my friend’s pregnancy was an understatement. Best surprise all year and, as I continue on with this 2015 summary, that is about to demonstrate how much this brand new little girl means to me because she is a part of my oldest friend. No publishing achievement or literary goal met can possibly compete.

I saw my aunt twice this year, in her new home, a senior’s long-term care facility, sadly. My uncle, my father’s half-brother, he visited from Germany. He wanted to see his sister because nobody knows when it will be their final time together.

Milestones and Siblings

I spent lots of time with family, not only during the month of April, but I make a point to do this every month, any time during any given year. This year, 2015 was no exception.

Orphaned

It was only by doing this that I could think enough about how lucky I am to have family of my own, that I was able to write the guest post about famous orphans in literature.

MAY

Into the fifth month of 2015, nearly halfway now, and things really took a lousy turn.

I was distracted and although the first computer problem was a simple mistake, a fluke thing and a sign of my naivete with technology, it was only when I was careless enough to have a sticky drink next to my precious laptop that I really had something to kick myself over.

Having to fall back and depend on an ex boyfriend to fix things was a hard thing to do. I knew he’d help, if I asked, but I didn’t wish to bother him. It was still hard to admit that he was the one person I would still need, in the desperation I was facing, when it came to computers and technology, the one person I would still trust most to help and help he did. He’s good like that.

If it weren’t for the honour of a request to write a post on a writer’s site whom I greatly admire, the month would have been a total disaster.

Writing the World, Sight Unseen

The girl’s got a way with coming up with titles. Oh, and she’s got the neatest sounding last name around.

🙂

Oh, and then there’s this.

The Second Chances Anthology

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At least some good came from the month of May.

Oh, and I can’t forget this either and never could.

Ten Things of Thankful

May was the month I joined this wonderful weekly blog hop. Many examples of what TToT stands for and looks like can be found in the comment section of this origin post.

There was, also, the series finale of a truly great show.

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World

End of an era really, or several, from the 60s onward to the end of 2015 and the start of 2016.

JUNE

And I had a publisher. Yay!

Little Bird Publishing House

And with that, I had to attempt to put into words what writing means to me.

How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

Still working on this, but I keep letting other things come first.

Close But No Cigar

The year 2015 was now halfway over. I was still working on both education and love.

New Month, New Me

Another milestone. I made it another year with my father’s kidney, working and keeping me well and off dialysis. Every year I avoid that is a reason to celebrate.

The year 2015 has been a spectacular one for music.

Every F****n Day – Lolawolf

“You must be curious. Even…just…a little.”

🙂

This song, among others, made my year and it was only half over.

Figure It Out – Royal Blood

I was trying.

This year, 2015, meant the anniversaries for my grandparents’ deaths:

**Five years for Grandpa

Ruby Red

**Five years for Oma

Gardens of Sunset

**And ten years for Grandma

You Are My Sunshine

Speaking of death, the composer of the wonderful Titanic soundtrack died, tragically, in a plane crash.

RIP James Horner

The US did make some progress this summer.

ROYGBIV

JULY

My country has made some much needed changes this year too.

Canada Day, 2015

We’re working on reconciliation and welcoming our differences, rather than hiding them away and spreading fear.

Life is all about the fireworks.

BANG!!!

Whether it was the stress of a first date or the unpredictability of a summer fling,

(Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus, and Then There’s Jupiter)

I had one hell of a summer.

One Last Kiss

I’VE BEEN PUBLISHED!!!

CHECK!

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That’s another item I can check off my bucket list.

Color, Light, and Magic

Plus another guest post on J.K. Rowling’s end-of-July 50th birthday.

AUGUST

It was a truly spectacular book and a fascinating study in literature.

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part One

&

Jean Louise The Silent: My Review of “Go Set A Watchman”, Part Two

The summer was full of not only literature, but also some amazing theatre performances, culture, and history.

Read a review of the play here:

Stratford’s Diary of Anne Frank

And the summer ended with a bit of nature by Future of the Ocean.

Big Blue Live

And one more guest post I had published on Hasty Words.

Be Real

My summer of 2015 was full of new experiences, harsh realities, and missed opportunities.

Rural Pride, County Wide

Sometimes, some things just aren’t meant to be.

SEPTEMBER

When the anthology with my story first came out in the summer it was only available as an EBook, but finally I could hold a book with a story I’d written in my own two hands. It was an indescribable feeling and a dream come true.

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With the arrival of autumn there’s the twenty year anniversary for Jagged Little Pill.

Perfection

At the end of the month I had a trip to Toronto which was full of surprises and adventures.

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Faith and a Spinster’s Gratitude List – Harvest Moon

OCTOBER

I tried my hand at Writer’s Digest’s month long October Platform Challenge, but I messed it up and did not finish. Admittedly, it was a bit of a half effort and I misread the instructions.

Check it out here.

This year marks three anniversaries for television and music I’ve loved:

Gilmore Girls, A Boy Named Goo, Beverly Hills 90210

By the time we were nearing the end of 2015,

Canadians felt it was time for a change.

I also decided to try something a little different, when I was invited to do an interview for an online radio program.

Travelling with the Speed of Sight

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, Toronto Blue Jays, came closer than they have in more than twenty years, to winning the World Series. It was a wild ride.

NOVEMBER

The eleventh month of 2015 found me trying something new, something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Words with Friends

Being a part of a writing group is exactly what I have needed to progress with my own writing. I hope to continue with this in the year to come.

Remembrance Day and November 11th had a special significance this year.

In Flanders Fields: One Hundred Years Later

An unassuming Friday the 13th in November turned into much more, so much devastation,

with the attack in Paris.

Then came the first of the hospitalizations for my brother for 2015 and this one was frightening enough, but it was only a prelude to what was to come for our December.

And with one one hundred year anniversary there came a forty year one shortly after,

with a Great Lakes ship wreck and a song written more like a tale set to music.

It was time to celebrate a great man.

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My Father Turned Sixty

On the final day of November.

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DECEMBER

As Long As There’s Christmas: My Grownup Letter For Santa, 2015

We almost made it. We’d arrived at mid month, only a few weeks left in 2015 and then the bottom dropped out.

My brother had a bad fall and suffered a brain injury.

For a few days we weren’t sure what kind of Christmas we would have, but my family and his friends never stopped believing he would come out of it the same old Brian.

Decade Adrift

The doctors didn’t want us to get our hopes up, but we had a Christmas like the others.

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We were all together and Brian played music again.

My last guest post of 2015. – Advent Calendar Day 20: One Tradition After Another

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Now I end 2015 with a huge Happy Birthday wish for the most special five-year-old around and I ring in 2016 with a friend. Girl’s night!

In the world of feminism, 2015 was a fabulous year for discovering awesome female voices in music, literature, travel, social issues, and history.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: NEW SINGLE PACKS A PUNCH

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Talking to Amy Gigi Alexander

He Named Me Malala

&

The 1994 Miep Gies Lecture

Not all of these are current, but the act of me finding them this year is the point. All examples, of females who are or were strong, which gives me the push to keep moving forward.

Women of the Year: 30 Canadians Who Rocked 2015

On the continually fascinating subject of wickedly special females, three albums and their artists are worth mentioning this year:

First, Vulnicura.

Black Lake

by Bjork.

Second, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.

Ship To Wreck – Florence + The Machine.

And third, Honeymoon.

High by the Beach – Lana Del Ray

As for The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, it was an every Monday sort of thing for the previous half of 2014 and I continued, missing a week here and there, but I have not forgotten about its importance in my own world and here on my blog.

This coming year I plan on really starting something that I want to focus on though. The year 2016 will be 20 years since I began the journey that matured me before my age likely would have otherwise.

Let Them Eat Cake

I have imagined writing a book about it, memoir called Piece of Cake, for years. Now that I have this blog I will start by writing about those days, as the next few years pass.

I have goals and dreams for 2016 and beyond, but I hesitate to speak of them all out loud, in fear of falling short.

FGP’s Virtual Holiday Party

I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.

I want to keep working on the one and only “resolution” from 2014/2015: jealousy. I hate that part of myself and I wish I could let that go. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for others and don’t cheer other people on. It just means I do both and feel conflicted.

Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

We in Canada made a change and took a stand in 2015 and, the question for 2016 is and will be: America, will you?

Okay, so I just went through my entire blog for the year, to prepare for this post. I know. It was a long one.

Wow, I wrote a lot. I did not receive an end-of-the-year WP blog stats report like I did last year though. Hmmm. Wonder if that means I didn’t do well with follows, comments, and views this year. Ah well. Staying true to myself and remaining authentic is all I can ask for.

Goodbye 2015…hello 2016. Be kind.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Poetry, RIP, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

In Flanders Fields’: One Hundred Years Later, #JohnMcCrae #InFlandersFields

Somewhere out there there is a field, a field full of silent meaning and distant regret.

I’d like to see this field, to experience the meaning of a poem up close. I will get there one day. I will stand in that spot.

It’s a field full of red…red flowers that grew out of the mud and the graves.

Red blood, having made way to red flowers.

I don’t know why I’ve developed such an attachment to this particular field, so far away. Why does its sadness mean anything at all to me?

Most times I get concerned when November 11th approaches. I feel anxious, like I don’t feel what everyone else is feeling. I know it’s no jolly holiday to celebrate, but there is a certain intense pride that comes out in the hearts and voices of many Canadians, with the ceremonies and the laying of wreaths in remembrance. Canada has lost a lot in war and I can’t feel proud of this.

I am proud of the poem one Canadian doctor wrote, one hundred years ago. He lived, not so far from where I live. He did, what I know can be done with literature, he used words to mark so many things, a shared humanity.

He went to fight in France and Belgium and he lost his life, but not before he composed a poem that would one day be read to me, every single year, in school, when November arrived.

In Flanders Fields’: Canadian children recite our 100-year-old poem

What did my four-year-old niece’s school do, with her and the other children today?

What did they say to explain today to her and the other children?

I can’t even explain it to myself. I listen to stories of loss and death and suffering. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

I don’t always understand poetry, as much as I love literature, of all sorts. So why do I want to cry, any time I hear the lines about those red flowers?

Pieces of red velour, representing all that valour. A moment of observed silence. Eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The pride I can’t quite feel makes me worry about my level of respect toward so many humans, those who lost their lives, fighting for so many reasons, but I know it’s not about me anyway. I am not the point. I did not have to fight directly, to sacrifice, for the freedoms I have.

The closest I’ve seen the affects, happened, not in a distant world war, but in the 21st century.

http://www.honourthem.ca/masterDetail.cfm?ID=165

It happened to family, family of family.

I did not know Tyler Todd, but he was only one year older than I am, when he died. This fact practically knocks the breath from my body.

I feel like a jerk because I don’t know why we were there, why that happened, why why why?

Afghanistan is so far away, farther even than Europe, even as the veterans from the conflicts of the last century fade, there are those who are suffering the loss, new and again.

I am just some silly idealist, who doesn’t understand why peace can’t be maintained. I want peace, don’t understand why we can’t just have it. What am I missing? The realist in me knows.

And so I return to the poetry, because that, at least, is something strangely beautiful I can cling to, when I need to feel more. When I need to try hard to understand. It makes sense of the nonsensical, or at least attempts to put the images and the realities into an order out of all the disorder and the chaos.

It’s a hard life. It’s a hard life. It’s a very hard life. It’s a hard life wherever you go. And if we poison our children with hatred, then the hard life is all that they’ll know.

It’s A Hard Life

And so I look to the markers of the past, like poppies mark graves of unknown soldiers, unknown to me anyway.

Ever since I wrote about the start of World War I,

100,

I think about the war that began these rituals we follow.

And I will mark the occasions, as 1914-1918 and one hundred years hence.

I try to write in eloquence, as McCray wrote on that battlefield, but I fall short of the mark. When I hear the stories, when I think about the life that was lost, of the family who know loss now…

I can’t just sit back and feel pride, when I put my own brother in that place, when I think that he could be that one taken by war, in a day when we should not romanticize the idea of war, as was done in 1914 and I am unable to let go of my reaction to this day.

This is not the time or the place, some would say.

Or is it the perfect time to say so?

I can’t speak the words “sacrifice for one’s country” without the lump in my throat and the feeling of something so wrong. No disrespect meant, really, to all.

With the swearing in of Justin Trudeau I hope for peace, with Canada leading the charge. I hope for it, while so many acknowledge the losses suffered.

I want to explain myself, to discover my own paying of some tribute. Instead, the lines of “In Flanders Fields’” run continuously through in my head.

I am sure the feeling must be strong there, on 11/11/11. I have never experienced those bagpipes up close. I’ve only listened on the television. I hear the pain in the voices of the families. I watch the broadcast, live today.

What War Memorials Say About Us

I can now say I’ve been at the memorial, in Ottawa, but the crowds weren’t there. The day, though just as grey, was silent and still.

I don’t wish to stand amongst the crowds, but I do long to stand in that silent field.

I want to write (a blog post, a poem, a work of fiction about WW I/II). I want to pour out my idealist/realist thoughts. I need to see it for myself, that field.

I’m rambling, I realize this now, and still I press on. I’m free to pour out my thoughts, to write, and no war rages on around me as I do so.

John McCrae fought and wrote, in that war so long ago now, so one hundred years later I could write in a peaceful time and place, about war, about peace.

My country is silent now, but I write. And as I write…

“Fire!”

The planes fly low and the bagpipes play their mournful song.

Gun shots. I will never understand such symbolism as this and I hope my insensitivity isn’t a problem, but I need to speak.

Isn’t that why all the fighting was done? So I could be free to state my feelings on what war means to me, how we mark the peace and the lives lost to achieve it, and why I just can’t follow the crowds?

McCrae wrote of poppies, crosses, larks, guns, torches, loved ones…

***

We are the dead.

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

***

I feel pride in the poetry and I always will. This is why I keep writing, why I wanted to write, not to let these words ever be forgotten.

Why I am proud to be Canadian.

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Bucket List, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

Ghost Stories

The ghosts of your past shaped your reality, moulded your future, and haunt you only to remind you how much you deserve. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be me. So, acknowledge your ghosts. Because without them, who would you be?

–Sonya Matejko

If It Weren’t For You: Acknowledging Your Ghosts

Last year, this was what I had to say about the topic of ghosts:

Phasmophobia

Then, last October, as Halloween drew near, my family and I went for a weekend in Niagara Falls. On the last night some of us went on a haunted walk at Fort George, in Niagara on the Lake.

NiagaraGhosts.com

It was my first time doing one of these. I’d been spending the month writing about phobia and how to face it. I wanted to see if I could handle a ghost walk.

Well, I wrote about the experience, but then I lost my laptop. I can’t be certain, but I think I’ve lost what I wrote. Theory could suggest that it was the ghosts, that they didn’t want me to write about them, and so they got rid of the evidence.

Reported sightings.

Well, I don’t really believe that actually. I ended up being incredibly touched by the history we learned about the site, a soldier’s fort during the War of 1812, between Canada and the US.

There were so many stories, sad and mysterious, about those soldiers and their families. The tour guide was animated and knowledgeable. He spoke of history, lives lived, and I couldn’t say if I totally discounted ghosts or not as we drove away at the end of the tour.

I was with cynics and yet, I didn’t like to say anything for certain. I try to keep an open mind, but I do believe most things can be logically explained. People believe, but I can’t really blame them for wanting to feel close to those they love.

This was billed as a special Halloween themed tour, different and more than the regular tours, but it was a beautiful autumn evening and I am glad I went.

Months later, in the middle of winter, I tried another ghost walk, through the streets of Ottawa and through the old Ottawa Jail. There are so many stories of haunted places and people, especially at this time of year, love to be scared.

I believe ghosts aren’t actually real in the way most might think, but that ghosts are the memories of people, those no longer in our lives and that they can be felt, if one pays close enough attention, as the imprints of what once was.

There are those who are not here now, in my life, but I feel them and they haunt me where I live.

It might be the memories of old friends or those of a lost love:

Ghosts Are Real

Then there are sites of history, old abandoned sites, like these:

Abandoned America

I watch a lot of documentaries, whether about those pour souls murdered in the Holocaust or those patients who once lived and died in the mental institutions, you can feel the spaces they inhabited, and I believe it is important to acknowledge the spaces they took up in life.

It could be a cemetery, like where I visited the graves of my grandparents. I toured, not only old and abandoned forts, but also jails, and sites of torn down mental hospitals and I felt the people who once lived in those places. They lived and died there. Their souls are hopefully at peace, as the living pass by, but it feels slightly disrespectful to traipse over these spots:

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

These were human beings once. I believe they are gone, but I can understand recognizing the energy of their existence, which I have felt, myself, when I’ve visited where they once dwelt.

Now, with the popularity of touring asylums, forts, relics from years ago – this could be seen in a negative light. These people had families and people who loved them, but they make for good stories to tell for a thrill.

The ghosts of the past, the memories of my loved ones who, for whatever reason, are just not here anymore.

If you need a way to explain the lack of people in your life, as to the question of where they go, because I’ve always had issues with facing the fact that certain people may be in my life one day and gone the next.

All the fun and games of the holiday of Halloween are great and all. I’m more into all that than I’ve ever been before.

I just am more interested in the stories of the real human lives, the love, the loss.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

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Blogging, Bucket List, Feminism, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Throw-back Thursday, Travel, TravelWriting

One Year, Two Blogs – #tbt

kerport-105-2015-10-29-08-55.jpg

One year ago, with the help of

Fresh Idea Websites,

I launched a website of my own.

Not only did I have this blog, where I wrote more from a literary perspective, but I wanted a separate place to focus on my love of travel. I thought a lot about persona and branding and I guess Her Headache wasn’t enough, wasn’t quite expressing all I had to say.

The idea came to me that previous summer. My parents were away on a whirlwind road trip out west, through Canada and the US, I had travel on the brain, and I was trying to reinvent myself.

I was sending out my writing more and more, starting to learn how to handle rejections, and trying to figure out what I was truly passionate about.

Within a few months,

The Insightful Wanderer

was borne.

So, though I think I was ahead of most when I came up with the name, I had no idea if I could handle two sites. I decided to jump in and go for it, but it’s been a year and I admit, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d liked to.

I came across this article this morning:

Why Travel Blogging Needs More Storytelling

This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to combine my love of writing and stories with my travel obsession.

I had begun checking out all the travel blogs the Internet has to offer. I read dozens and dozens of these things. I saw the serge of these sites. I wanted to be one of them, but yet I didn’t.

I could easily have become caught up in the hype.

How do you make money as a travel blogger? How to work with brands and travel companies?

I focused on my own bucket list. I found the travel blogs, same as my more literary ones, that really spoke to me.

I ate up all they had to say about their travels. I admired their adventurous spirits. I thought

Annette White

and

Amanda Williams

were super women and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I didn’t want to use my blindness, but yet I saw it as the best way to express myself and capture a reader’s attention, in the travel world.

I liked my idea. The Insightful Wanderer just seemed to shape itself. I know many struggle to decide on a name for their travel blog, but the name was the easy part for me.

Then, I feared I had made a mistake. If I couldn’t be completely comfortable using my blindness as a hook, why did I think Insightful Wanderer was a good idea after all?

I’d gotten the ball rolling by then and I feared I wouldn’t be able to make something of it, but something still propelled me forward.

I had become comfortable with this blog. I had my MacJournal program, for writing my posts, and I knew how to transfer them over to WordPress.

The new site would require a whole new process. It did not seem to connect to MacJournal.

How would I do this? I barely knew how to do anything. Okay, so I was improving, but it always seemed to happen at a snail’s pace, in my own time. I haven’t had help to learn in a while, and the help I do receive is sporadic at best.

I needed a teacher, but where would I find one who knew VoiceOver?

I have had all the website work done for me. That’s why I found Fresh Idea Websites, but since then I have found it difficult to communicate with them just what I need.

I have written a handful of posts. I don’t know why I haven’t written more. I have a whole thirty years of travel I can write about. It’s all in my head and I know I could write, do what the article said, and bring the art of storytelling into the travel blogging world.

I know these things take time. I know that.

On this Throwback Thursday I needed to look back on all this, to see where I hope to be in one year from now.

I have no idea how I’m going to get there. I’d planned to work on the other site for a few months and then have this big reveal here, to connect my two sites, but this revelation has not happened.

Instead, on this one year mark and approaching two years with this here blog, I needed to say something.

I feel anxious a lot because I want to say so much, write so much, share so much. I can’t get it all out. So much was rushing to come out that there seems to be a clog somewhere, a bunch of it seems to have plugged up the line and now I hardly say any of it.

I don’t believe travel needs to be big, grand trips all the time. I’ve been to Niagara Falls and Ottawa this past year. I haven’t published about that on the website.

sany0533-2015-10-29-08-55.jpg

I still don’t feel comfortable posting over there. I have no help, as even though I say it’s not about the visual aspects, I sometimes have pictures I’d like to include.

People like Amanda travel, independently most of the time. People like Annette travel with her husband, I believe.

I have no partner who wants to experience the world with me. I know the real risk of traveling solo, as a woman who is also visually impaired.

I wanted to be this brave, tough, independent woman and do it anyway, but I continue to hesitate.

I saw how relationships were made and I wanted to form these cool friendships with other female travel bloggers, to connect and travel along with them, but my lack of independent travel made this an unrealistic dream.

I know female travel bloggers are out there, that it’s not all fun and games, but that they’re making it happen. I wanted to make something happen, but I was trapped between wanting to have that life and to write about something more.

I know there is no rush and that I am on no clock, but I feel like I am. I want to write, to make a difference, to do something great with my writing, but I know I have a lot to learn.

If I’m not totally decided on what I want to do, travel or write, or both, how will I combine the two?

I know I am interested in insight. That’s why I write in the first place.

I also feel like I am wandering and how that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. That’s just where I am with my life at this time.

On the Internet radio show interview I did a few weeks back, I said that I hoped my thirties would be this whole decade of discovery, when I would get back into the world, to find what I was looking for. I hope having both these sites will be a part of that. I hope, in the next year and the years after that, I can figure all this out.

I don’t have The Insightful Wanderer as I’d like it to be, not yet. It’s hard to completely lay out how I’d like it to look, when I can’t even see it. I hear it through audio voice, reading it to me, but I don’t know how to explain my vision for it.

I still know nothing about CO and stats. I don’t write top ten articles that get travel bloggers on the map. I don’t have a mailing list. I hardly know how to handle the comments for my posts. Relaying what I’d like hasn’t been easy and it’s down to me to get that all straightened out.

I’ve met travellers who are taking a more literary approach and I would like to see if that’s where I belong, but I’m still unsure.

Maybe I’ll carve out an entirely new path for myself, doing something nobody before me has really done, and that’s why I haven’t been able to decide. I try not to focus too much on the destination, and just enjoy the journey as is said, but that’s really hard sometimes.

I like to know what’s going to happen, how things are going to turn out, but I also want to enjoy the learning process. I know that’s the only way, with writing, and that’s what I am all about, in the end.

Happy One Year Anniversary to TheIWanderer.

Sorry I’ve let you down, let myself down, but I believe in you, in us, in possibility.

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