Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday, The Insightful Wanderer

Striding Through Flickering Flame, #SongLyricSunday

“I yearn for comfort.”

—Sarah McLachlan

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There are a lot of songs with fire as the theme; and, indeed, with the word “fire” in the title or the chorus itself.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

Here is my pick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar6a1pkiGf8

It’s about continuing to walk into the fire, again and again, and a little at a time. It’s about doing this until I am immune from the heat of it.

***

Mother, teach me, to walk again
Milk and honey, so intoxicating
[
CHORUS]
And into the fire
I’m reunited
Into the fire
I am the spark
Into the fire I yearn for comfort

Open the doors that lead on, in to Eden
Don’t want, no cheap disguise
I follow the signs, marked back to the beginning
No more compromise
[
CHORUS]
Free the water that carries me to the sea
You I see as my security
[
CHORUS]
I will stare into the sun
until its light doesn’t blind me
I will walk into the fire until its heat doesn’t burn me
And I will feed the fire
[
CHORUS]

LYRICS

***

This is one of her earlier works. It has power. It has punch. It is a force to be reckoned with.

The guitar solos are attention-grabbing. It showed me Sarah McLachlan and the talent she possessed.

I love how she places together fire and the sea. The idea of those two different, yet, clearly powerful elements made me stand up and pay attention to her message here.

I stare at the flames of a fire, in a fireplace or outside, and I watch the bright flames flickering.

Their dark background always made them stand out to me, me and my fading eyesight, and I couldn’t believe something so sharp, its brightness in contrast to the darkness around it. It seemed unnatural, unreal to me, like something supernatural that I’d see in my mind or in a dream of some sort.

I’d imagine reaching out for it, passing my hand through it, passed the pain that would cause, to the other side of something. The smells of smoke, the crackling sound, the heat it’s emitting were all the senses I could trust (in it and in myself), but there was something more to it.

I don’t have to walk through actual fire to grow stronger. All the fires of life test me and my strength for coming out again on the opposite side of it all.

Then I hear of wildfires burning, out of control out west, and the smoke hanging heavy in the air, and I can’t imagine. All I think then is back to that image of the unnatural looking flames, against the dark background of nothingness.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, SoCS, Special Occasions

Mothers Are Saviours, #SoCS

Safe to say: Happy Birthday Mom!

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The idea came from a cousin when I couldn’t think of anything good enough on my own.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

How perfectly coincidental that the big 60 falls on a stream of consciousness day.

So many people care and wanted to be included in my present to my mom, and I am not done yet.

Whether birthday card greeting or nostalgia and memory, it isn’t hard to find positive things to say about her. The things flow from her, through her, if you’ve even just barely met her. I didn’t think the challenge I was putting out there was so hard.

Some people doubt their ability to use their words for self expression and toward another. They feel my expectation, perhaps, but I only wanted them to feel safe enough in saying whatever came to mind when they thought of my mom and the woman they all know and love.

Even those closest to her might have struggled, but that is just because the feelings are a little too close for comfort and, in having to put into words just what she means to them, it may have felt uncomfortable in the moment. I thought it, thought her, worth the immediate feelings of uncertainty as one sat down to write.

I wanted her to know how safe she made me feel, as her daughter, and how she has saved me, dozens and hundreds of times, from my biggest fears and from myself and the world at large.

Anyone can and soon does feel safe in talking to her, in opening up to her. That’s her gift to the rest of us who have the privilege of her in our world.

All the times I felt so sick, so much pain, and like nobody believed it, she saved me and made me feel safe again..

She was surprised by her gift and more is being added, even just today in fact.

A mother should want to do it, protect their children/grandchildren, and she does. My mother for the save.

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Kerry's Causes, Piece of Cake, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, #ChronicPainAwareness #SoCS

Do what is best for you, what works to help with the pain, I tell myself. You have that right.

Do something, everyday, that makes you happy, I tell myself, to distract from the pain.

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I do this, so I can find relief and discover, at least, some quality of life.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

Do something that will challenge you, I prod myself.

I pitch. I am accepted. I panic that I can’t do this and they couldn’t possibly know what they are getting when they have agreed to share my words with their readers.

Then I feel silly and stupid for my lack of confidence…because, though I have a lot to learn, I know I can write.

Those due dates from back in my school days are now out of a binder and my braille list of assignments I had in the eighth grade and into the organization I don’t quite have figured out yet for my freelance/writing work.

All over Facebook are people, those I went to school with and are now becoming mothers’ and posting their happy news.

The baby is due on this date or that.

I will likely never have this moment of joy, many moments of anticipation, with a baby growing inside of me.

So, I focus on the life I am living, the pain I do live with included, and the joy that my writing gives.

My due dates are for Catapult or SiriusXM or Hippocampus or Panorama. I am lucky.

The grass on an early morning: a robin hops across the ground and my feet are wet from the dew.

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TToT: Quaint Drinking Village with a Fishing Problem – Green Light Night, #10Thankful

Can’t stay long. Deadlines looming. I’m frankly terrified that I’ve taken on something too big for me to handle, but I was reminded of something important and so I write down what I am grateful for this week and then I get back to work.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for cheques in the mail.

It’s a bit of a wait this way, but getting paid is a nice thought.

I’m thankful for a hug from my little niece in a particularly stressful moment.

I was taking on big things and my mind was racing. Just hugging her was peaceful.

I did, however, tell her my advice was to stay little, not to grow up.

I’m thankful for the support of a neighbour with an ear to listen to all I’ve got going on.

She cheers me on and was helping me think about my timing, scheduling, as if she were my life coach.

I could likely use one.

I’m thankful my headache has eased.

I tried to cry about a television show, instead of from my pain. Some distractions work better than others.

There’s a definite gratitude when that particular intense pain dissipates and I feel the lack of it.

One of the greatest feelings that I wish would last, but I’ll take it while it’s given to me.

I’m thankful for family who help me out when I am dealing with such bad pain episodes.

Just knowing all of them are there, from the smallest to the biggest among them, it shows me I can get through anything.

I am thankful for this show, put together by Liz, all about travel for the blind.

No Limits Travel For The Blind – Native Traveler (SiriusXM)

My brother did an awesome job at the audio production, bringing it to life.

The other guests that follow my feature piece are great too. I am definitely going to look into taking a trip with
Travel Eyes
for future world exploration.

I’m thankful for helpful advice about how if something weren’t scary, it wouldn’t likely be nearly as worth doing.

Thanks, Jordan Rosenfeld, for this excellent advice.

I don’t know how exactly it happened. I think it started with the pitches I sent out and received acceptances for.

So, I wrote and was published, which lead me to believe I should pitch even more places, even ones I’d feared I wasn’t quite ready for.

Well, somehow, here I am anyway.

And now what?

I’m thankful for the Great Lakes.

Other than not being in salt water, I’d hardly know the difference between being in a lake or the ocean.

I am just glad these bodies of water are so close by.

You go into that water and you’d never know how hot it’s been the last week or more, even though autumn has now arrived.

I’m thankful for the sand and other things that cause me discomfort.

Like travel, there is joy in being at a natural wonder of the planet. And, yet, no sooner do I step onto that sand than I am thinking about getting home and into a warm shower so I can wash it all away.

These times and the yucky feelings sand brings up in me, at the feel of the gritty stuff between my toes, this is helping teach me that life carries lots of big and little discomforts, from sandy beaches to awful headaches.

I can handle that. Handy lesson, I must say.

I’m thankful for a good meal in Port Stanley.

Fish from Lake Erie and homemade fries.

I had both pepperoni and chicken on my pizza, along with green peppers.

Port Stanley Attractions

Nice spot to end the day at.

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Best Possible Advice, #ChronicPain #SongLyricSunday

Breathe, Kerry. Breathe.

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Chronic Pain Awareness Week is about to begin and so I thought this the perfect time to speak about it.

I will use Song Lyric Sunday and Helen’s prompt about breathing to do it.

Singer Ingrid Michaelson had a few songs that helped me through a bad breakup and things, but this one helps to remind me of how to cope, with both emotional and physical pain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fORAPkfVV_A

It’s a good one for after a breakup, for a stressful day, physical pain, or even for people living through an awful natural disaster like a wildfire or flood, anything any one of us can’t control.

Deep breathing…I am not the first to think of it and either is Michaelson.

It’s a yoga practice. It’s a coping mechanism. I don’t speak a lot about the pain I live with on a daily basis to most people. There’s a stigma to chronic pain that is hard to deal with, almost as painful as the pain itself. If I mention it, people can’t fully comprehend and many human beings feel the common need to problem solve or judge, even unintentionally.

Do I drink enough water? Do I get enough sleep? Do I get enough fresh air, sunshine, or exercise?

Am I depressed? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?

***

The storm is coming
but I don’t mind
People are dying,
I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing, now

I want to change the world
Instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more
than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

LYRICS

***

The song starts with a few lines of lyrics about more than just any one kind of physical pain. It also serves as a reminder that we all feel helpless about the things we see going on in the world and want to help. The helplessness I feel about so many of the world’s ills, human suffering, injustices, all that on top of the physical pain I live with every day and it’s enough to make me want to close my blinds and sleep through life, but I only allow myself a day or two of that before I must do something different.

Then the song repeats the simple advice to “keep breathing” and the song is correct – all any of us can do is that. I remind myself of it, at least twenty times a day or more. I tell myself to remember to do it when the stress becomes too much to handle in any given moment, when even thinking about others feels like an impossibility because being me is hard enough.

As the lyrics “all we can do is keep breathing” repeat, the song builds to a climactic point and then returns to where it started.

That’s pain of all kinds. That’s life.

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TToT: My Morning Mangos and the Path of Totality – “Le Mot Juste” #10Thankful

To be honest, I didn’t even want to do one of these this week, not at first.

I was horrified at how many people seemed to be defending the wrong people, ones with hate in their hearts rather than those trying to stand up to them. I was railing at the unfairness of the argument, that I know how important free speech actually is.

I know all the arguments about freedom of speech and that anyone trying to silence that in any way, through protests, that this is not necessarily the best way. I wish I could come up with a better way to combat hate speech, even if it is still considered a part of free speech. Violence breaking out between people is the reason I dislike protesting, but I really have no new answers.

I heard firsthand that someone who was at that rally was from north of the border, from my province in Canada and I felt sick.

Then I heard there were white supremacist rallies planned for B.C. and Quebec City and I felt even worse.

All this had me rather depressed, but still…the saga continues and, yet, I am thankful.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for fresh peaches and for mangos.

Sometimes, my brain gets a little mixed up and thinks a mango is a turkey dinner, but in fruit form apparently.

Yep. You heard me right.

I’m thankful I had a doctor’s office to be seen at right away when I really needed it.

Once I said the magic words of bladder infection, I was in. After all the unknowns of invisible illnesses, no tests to show there’s even a problem or any pain at all, it’s nice and refreshing to take a test, of any kind, and have it tell the doctors something useful and something to explain my symptoms as I’ve reported them.

I’m thankful for an understanding violin teacher.

We are the kind of teacher/student that, I’d like to think, are understanding when life suddenly happens and canceling is the only option.

I do try not to do it last minute, but in this case I can’t say otherwise.

I’m thankful for antibiotics.

I know over use and all the news reports of over prescribing. There is a time and place for most everything.

I am just grateful we have them when we really do need them.

I’m thankful for an anniversary of a writing freelance resource that has been my ticket into that world.

It’s another of those good vs bad situations with a platform like Facebook. In this case, it is serving a helpful purpose in my life and in helping me to advance my writing career.

I never could have guessed, one year ago, that I would get work from such a spot.

I should have something to show for that in the next month.

I’m thankful things stayed relatively calm for the rallies that did take place here in Canada.

The ones rallying in Quebec swear they are not racist, that it’s about legal immigration, not white supremacy.. Even the difference between the wild and out-of-hand events of Charlottesville, Virginia and the rather uneventful ones here in Canada perfectly illustrate the tameness of this country in most things, compared to what happens in the US most times.

The protesters in Quebec came across looking like the aggressive ones, as the main rally couldn’t begin while the protesters were outnumbering the ralliers and, in the end, things went off rather quietly, for this country anyway.

I’m sure those there might disagree with my assessment of the situation.

Rally in Quebec turns violent after protesters opposing anti-immigrant rallies clash with police – Toronto Star

I did find it amusing and ironic that while the rally was happening and the protesters were protesting in Quebec City, there was a Pride parade going on with Justin Trudeau and the PM of Ireland in Montreal.

I’m thankful for my brother’s help in audio recording for the SiriusXM project I’m working on.

He is an audio wizard. He’d say there are others who can do such things faster than he can, but I know you all would agree if you could have been there today and when you hear what we’re coming up with.

My words and direction and a few sounds I picked up while I was actually in Mexico and he with his computer program that cuts, moves, fades, pastes, moves, etc.

He’s got quite the sharp ear for it.

I’m thankful the blind were taken into consideration to experience the eclipse with everyone else.

eclipsesoundscapes.org

It’s nowhere close to the real thing, but it’s a start.

Thanks scientists and app developers.

I’m thankful that a solar eclipse is even possible.

Isn’t our galaxy astounding?

I’ve loved all that since I was a small child. I never believed being an astronaut was in my future, because of the math thing, but I’ve never met a space documentary I didn’t like.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

And finally…

I’m thankful that nobody I know looked directly at the eclipse without protection.

At least, I don’t think they did. I’d better go and check with everyone I know to be certain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vGIfbHRepQ

I had to include an ode to the voice role Jerry Lewis did for one of the classic Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors Halloween episodes. That character was brilliant.

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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.

vHCXJCr.jpg

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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