Bucket List, Memoir Monday, Poetry, RIP, TToT

TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

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Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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TToT: Spectrum of Splendid Great Yellow #OrganDonation #10Thankful

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

—Neil Gaiman

TEDxToronto – Drew Dudley “Leading with Lollipops”

I am leading off my list of thankfuls this week with a story about lollipops.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a visit with family on a hard day.

Another year of summertime sadness comes around.

How does one provide solace? Flowers? A well written note? How about, a visit with a little baby?

There’s nothing like the sweet face of a baby to make people think of the good, but music playing and memories shared can also help.

I’m thankful for a long coffee/smoothie chat with a friend.

We speak at our writing group, but this was a nice chance to have a conversation, just the two of us.

I owed her a coffee for reading over my short story I recently submitted, but we ended up talking for very nearly three hours.

We talked about writing, cats, and our possibility of ending up the stereotypical old cat ladies someday.

It’s hard when you see family and friends, all coupling up, getting married, and starting families. It’s nice to speak to people who understand how it doesn’t all come so easily for some of us.

I’m thankful for feedback from an editor.

I was fearing my draft wasn’t what the editor wanted or expected, but she seemed happy with things, for the most part.

Could I work on the ending? Well, sure. I do appreciate feedback from an editor and that’s what I got.

Now to think how to end the piece. Hmm.

I’m thankful for a pleasant pitch surprise email.

I saw a call for pitches about the special relationship we have with our animals and I thought (since it’s ten years since my guide dog died) this would be the perfect time to write about her. I sent the pitch out the day before I left to visit the Yukon, more than a month ago. After a few weeks I didn’t think I was going to hear back. I figured the answer was a “no”.

I’d been expecting to hear from that first editor, but coming home to an email from this second one was such a welcomed surprise.

The subject matter is perfect and the pay is not bad at all either.

I’m thankful for a first successful conference call with people I know I’m going to learn from.

There were several of us calling in and it made it difficult to all get a chance to speak, not over each other either. Still, I think this will be good for me.

This organization gets together to discuss the topics that are relevant and might be of some interest.

Then we decide who’s going to write what. I offered to write a review for a book someone has written. I think I can handle that as my first assignment with VisionAware and I like reading and learning about self publishing.

Then I get to interview the writer. I think this will be an excellent opportunity for me to learn some editing skills and how to divide up work, to figure out who is the best person to write specific pieces.

Anyway, all of them seem like highly intelligent and curious people from many different walks of life. I can only benefit from that.

I’m thankful when the pain eases.

After two days of it, intense as it is, I can come out of it on the other side and view the rest of the pain I live with in a new light.

I can learn new lessons from the pain, even after all these years.

I’m thankful for another lovely talk with my neighbour.

We are almost forty years apart in age, but somehow we have arrived at this moment in time with similar outlooks on life, from some of the things we’ve both been through.

We both discussed what we know we deserve and the lessons we’ve had to learn, often the hard way, to arrive at this conclusion.

We are both on our own, sometimes uncertain whether we can do it, but that’s why I am glad we’ve found a friend in one another.

I’m thankful for a reminder of friendship.

It’s really one of those little Facebook friend reminders, but someone chose to share theirs with me.

Our first connecting online, then in person, but it all matters, adding up to the relationship of mutual respect we have today.

Sometimes, when I don’t get stuck reading the battles going on in comment sections of breaking news stories, I really do like Facebook. I like those I follow on it even more.

I’m thankful for a beautiful word from my mentor.

Sometimes, her words of advice or encouragement just completely blow me away.

I needed to hear those exact ones, as I prepare to work on the pieces I’m writing throughout the summer. I need to know other people have faith in me, then to build that faith in myself too. It is all necessary to believe I can do the work I have set out for myself.

I’m thankful for four years gone by.

Somewhere out there
are my family’s Angels.

Another year and my brother has graduated and is on his way into radio and so much more.

Think about organ donation. It isn’t the easiest thing to think about, but it matters to someone.

Low – Cracker

Here’s to all the lost angels, either from suicide or accidents. RIP and you are missed.

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TToT: Short and Sweet, Here and Gone #10Thankful

I never get these in on Friday. Never. Despite my best intentions, it just never happens, until now that is.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I can go for ice cream with my family.

We have a favourite place here and I thought about what it means to be able to enjoy such a simple pleasure and summer pastime, without fearing for our lives.

In Kabul this week that was not the case. How could someone plant a bomb at such a place, where families with their children gathered? How?

I’m thankful for a new friend who has a big heart and loves to help other writers, specifically women, to work to be our true selves.

Rebirth the Heroine

I recently liked the quote about being the heroine of my own story and this fits perfectly with the message in this video. I could use her peaceful voice and reassurances right now, in the midst of what is a pretty important month for me. (More on that next week.)

I am thankful the zip lining adventure has been officially booked.

We are ten or more. That means we get the discount. Wooooo! Five dollars off each ticket is five dollars. Better than nothing.

I just need to find out if they will allow my brother to photograph anything close to where the zip lining is. I hope to write a piece and use his photos in the newsletter for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. They may want you to buy their pricy souvenir photos though. I can do that too.

Maybe if I tell WildPlay Niagara I am a writer and doing a piece to be published and my brother is a professional photographer.

Cross your fingers.

I’m thankful for a doctor who has a family member with headaches.

Well, allow me to rephrase…I am not glad about the headache thing.

I mean that she seems to understand pain, as she lives with and loves someone who deals with it. This may be why she is as compassionate and empathetic as she is.

She is trying me on a new med because this one hasn’t helped one bit. I have high hopes for the next one.

I’m thankful for an invite to a lovely dinner as a guest of
The Writers’ Union of Canada
by the local members.

I was the youngest one there, but that’s okay. They were all so friendly and I feel I could learn a lot from them.

I probably can’t go back, as the rules are pretty strict and you must be a member, but I am not sure I qualify yet.

Either way, I was happy to be a guest that one time and I had some great conversations, ate some delicious food, and maybe I even made a few future connections. We’ll see.

I’m thankful for a friend who is speaking her mind for the causes important to her and which deserve more attention.

Sweatpants & Equality – Activism Is A Movement & A Practice — Not A Moment By Kerra Bolton

Feeling helpless gets old real fast. Some people find a way to act. Kerra is one of those people. She is strong and determined and I am happy we met. I look forward to reading her words in Sweatpants & Coffee in the future. Give this one a read though.

I am thankful Canada is vowing to move ahead with our promise devoted to the environment.

I don’t understand people and I will never understand 45 and the things he does. I don’t know when enough will be enough.

I don’t pretend to understand everything about the goals set out in the Accord, but I trust in what it stands for and am honoured to be one of almost all countries of the world working to protect the planet together.

I am thankful for another chat with my neighbour.

We could sit on her deck this time.

I love her vow to find peace in her life. She did something about her unhappiness and made a change. I admire her for that. I am glad she did and we can be neighbours.

She even said she will let my dog be leashed and hang out on her deck this summer. Whenever I go away I have to lock him in my entranceway and he barks a lot. She will have a key and can bring him out with her those days, so he won’t have to be alone and she won’t have to listen to him making all that racket.

I am thankful I am off to somewhere I’ve never been.

That is why I am getting this post in early. I will be back in a week’s time and I will have a TToT post in me, all about my trip to share.

I am thankful for some time with my nephew and niece.

With the brutal attacks, more this week, bombings in Baghdad and Kabul, I was feeling anxious and sad.

I sat with my almost five-year-old nephew, in the back of their new van like we used to do as kids in ours, with the hatch wide open to the driveway, where my dad (Grandpa) swept. Reed and I talked about colours, he got a juice box for both of us, and I relaxed for the first time in days.

Then I had a peaceful moment with Mya in my lap, as she stopped crying for her mom for a minute as I called to find out if she was coming to pick her up soon. She stopped crying, suddenly, and we just sat there together.

I kept thinking about Louis Armstrong and his famous song:

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

“I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

—Louis Armstrong

I am now off to experience that world, the part that makes it as wonderful as Armstrong sings about that is.

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Picking Up The Pieces #FTSF

I have always helped the children in my life understand my blindness by explaining that my eyes don’t work, that they are broken. This may sound harsh, but I’ve found this to be the best and most concrete way to explain things. This is not an easy concept for a three-year-old to grasp, no matter how it’s worded, but it’s the best I’ve yet come up with.

Still, they don’t automatically see this as anything bad. They think it over a moment or two and then we go on with our day. I think it is such a difficult idea to imagine for them at that age, to understand that anything like that can be the case. I am happy to see myself through their eyes for a time.

Was I broken when I was born without perfect eyesight?

Of course not. No baby could or should be called such a thing.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is that of all the poor birds we found on our deck or on the lawn growing up. My mom would bring them in, carrying them delicately in the palm of her hand, and would give them time to see if they could recover. a helpless bird with a broken wing is how I felt a time or two. Sometimes the broken wing spells the end for the bird and sometimes they just need some peaceful and restful recovery time.

My mom would release the bird if this healing were enough. In this simple yet selfless act, she taught me how to heal from the things that might break me.

After all the medical stuff I would endure, I often thought it odd how I never did break a limb. That is one break I have managed to avoid.

I felt the most broken when I became so sick and lost at age eleven.

It broke me the day I lost a loved one, had to hear my oma’s heart break at the words she had lost a grandson, or when I had to tell my own mother her baby brother lost his son/she lost yet another nephew.

It broke me in pieces for a long time after my first experience with love and relationships, as a teenager, when things turned out worse than I ever could have guessed. It kept me from looking for love, for letting it into my life, for many years.

Another piece of myself was broken off when I had to admit I couldn’t handle anymore school because of the pain and I had to take a break from all the stress.

Sometimes we’re left scrambling and searching all around us for our missing pieces, for a long long time.

These things broke off pieces of me and yet love and hope and the most pleasant surprises yet to come helped me put the pieces back together.

Life can be like this sometimes. I feel like a broken person sometimes, when I think of how some might see me, incomplete or whatever. I have lost more eyesight than I was born with, in years gone by, including my left eye now being artificial. Does this leave me broken, not entirely whole?

Whatever that might mean, when something is broken, can it be fixed and even should it?

Any broken part of my physical body or any blow to my spirit, any blow to my heart, I make up for all that by remaining as whole a person as I can be in other ways that matter.

I will take broken eyes over a broken soul anyway. It’s those who are broken in personality are the ones who could most benefit from some repairs.

My eyes may be broken, my heart a time or two, but my personality and my character are in tact and solid. I know that for certain. There is no quick fix, no repair man to call when the soul is irrevocably damaged. I can heal my cracks. They may still exist, but they make the whole of me stronger, in spite of all the breaking there ever was.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post with
Kristi from Finding Ninee
with some thoughts on the things that break us.

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My One and Only #AtoZChallenge

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to stay away from you, not to hold you close to me every minute of the day.

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I love you deeply, but lord knows, you don’t make it easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

The A to Z Challenge – V is for Violin

This is a love story of a different sort. Last year I discovered my love for the violin.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. From the moment I laid my hands on its body, I wanted to make beautiful music with it. I’d soon find out it wouldn’t be quite so simple as that.

I love everything about it, but it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted, to try and make anything resembling music with my hands, a bow, and four strings. There’s so much more to the violin than I ever imagined.

Angle. Pressure and weight. Force. Technique.

Most times I can get a decent sound from it, if I don’t think too hard, but that’s the trick. I work at just feeling the music, letting it flow through me, but there’s something missing.

If it were easy, I’d be better by this time, one year and counting. If it were so simple, I’d have gotten farther by this point. If I didn’t adore the violin, I’d have taken the easy way out and given up by now, saving myself the pain and frustration.

You don’t make it easy to love you, but I do. After all, some things can’t be explained. Love. When you know something is right, you just know.

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

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Only When I Breathe #SongLyricSunday

How can I put this? How can I possibly make people understand how it feels?

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I struggled with these kinds of questions for many years. Pain can be physical or emotional. Both, I know now, are comparable.

This song is not her biggest hit. I’d say Melissa Etheridge was at the top of her game in the nineties, but this one came out a few years after I’d started experiencing daily pain around the year 2000, from either headaches or somewhere in the rest of my body, mostly my limbs, but really a sensitivity to the touch.

This song was likely about emotional pain, which most songs are about, but by this time Melissa probably experienced both, within relationships or physically because of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with.

***

I, played the fool today
I just dream of vanishing into the crowd
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
And I can’t ask for things to be still again
No I can’t ask if I could walk through the world, in your eyes
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
My window through which nothing hides And everything sees
I’m counting the signs and cursing the miles in between
Home
Home, is a feeling I buried in you, that I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Yeah, it only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Oh,it only hurts when I breathe

LYRICS

***

It’s hard to make people understand. We all experience emotional pain from loss of a loved one or other family troubles. Love ends. People leave.

Most of us get a headache or the flu or a broken bone at some point in our lives. I know that child birth can be painful, not from personal experience but from those who have felt it, but I know that pain fades because of the reward for it in the existence of a precious child. Most acute pain fades from our memory as time passes.

It’s chronic pain that is hard to explain because most people, like the thought of living life as a blind person, can’t or don’t want to think too hard about it, don’t want to imagine that happening to them, but living with chronic pain changes you. It’s changed me.

The awful pain scale is a familiar way to help people understand, but pain is subjective and one’s ten is another’s seven. If ten is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, what was that worst pain? Everyone has had such varied experiences with pain that it makes it hard to rate sufficiently.

Stabbing…throbbing…dull…sharp…pounding…and so on and so forth.

I’ve only found a few people in my life who truly understood it. One of them is gone, so I am greatly familiar with both emotional and physical pain from many sources.

I decided this
Song Lyric Sunday
I would focus more on the physical side, as I’ve written plenty on emotional pain already.

I don’t talk a lot about living with chronic pain, here or elsewhere, because I don’t believe people truly want to hear about it too often. This song brings it up in the chorus though, as saying “it only hurts when I breathe.” While coming off sounding dramatic, this one line certainly gets the point across.

Don’t get me wrong, I love breathing, but I could do without the pain.

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Fearing The Unknown, #AtoZChallenge

I didn’t do it when all the other girls were doing it.

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Was I afraid it would hurt?

The A to Z Challenge – E is for Earings

My sister wanted her ears pierced and our parents got them pierced for her, for her tenth birthday. I remember sitting beside her, in that chair, thinking there was no way.

I am two years younger. Two years later, I chose a McDonald’s birthday party instead.

I couldn’t possibly be afraid of the pain, or was I?

Just a few more years and I had to face any fear of pain, fear of needles, as I was required to have a lot of them. A diagnosis for how sick I felt was badly needed. Blood tests (needles) confirmed the suspected diagnosis of kidney failure.

I would soon have many scars, including the scar tissue in my arms, from the needles.

I had no choice but to face my fears. In my early twenties I finally decided I should get my ears pierced.

I’d been gifted a pair of heart earrings, one day, while I sat at dialysis, by a favourite nurse. I could not wear them.

For years I liked to play with those stick on earrings, but one day I decided it was time, far passed time, and off I went.

Did I need to enter a medical crisis, in order to be forced to face my fears, before I could risk the pain of having holes punched in my earlobes?

I love my pierced ears now. They allow me to walk around with a little bit of adornment and ornament, as I am not usually a jewelry and accessories kind of a girl.

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

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