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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Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights

Love Is In Da Blog: Intro to Mindful Monday, #LoIsInDaBl

It’s February and, as they say, “love is in the air”. Or, as some say instead, “Love Is In Da Blog”.

🙂

Sliding straight from one month-long blogging project to the next with

“Love Is In Da Blog” 2016.

My first idea was to write about love and heartbreak. I’d only planned on a post or two on the subject, using music and song lyrics to help illustrate my thoughts, but recently I made the decision to devote the entire month of February to the topic. After all, I have enough wonderful music to make my feelings known, but then I found out about another of these blogging things, after participating all January in one to kick of 2016 with a little bit of a direction, as directionless as I was feeling.

I like these. They are not nearly as huge as some month-long challenges, which makes them a lot easier to manage and I like the nice size community of bloggers. It’s big but not overwhelming.

I usually have Memoir Monday on my blog, but for this month I will follow with

Mindful Monday,

as I focus on the subject of learning to love oneself as a big part of February’s proceedings.

I will be returning with Memoir Mondays, starting in March, as I begin to write more about what was going on in my life, twenty years ago.

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. The opposite of love’s indifference.”

–The Lumineers

The month of February isn’t just about romantic love with Valentine’s Day in the middle. There’s also my birthday before and Family Day after. These two days are necessary reminders that there’s all sorts of love: love for myself and for my family.

I will try to make loving myself a priority, even with all the talk of prayer, validation, or meditation. I write. I write and I think I am mindful, but I can’t really say.

I discovered this Lumineers song recently, with the spectacular violin solo at the beginning, as one of the things I intend to do to celebrate my birthday next week is to learn a new skill, one I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while. I’m going to rent a violin and start taking lessons. Perhaps one day I can play along with the solo in this song.

Stubborn Love

That’s one part of paying attention and loving oneself that I do believe strongly in. I never want to stop learning, discovering, and finding new interests. I want to do this, for me. I want to always stubbornly follow my heart and listen to what its telling me, to do the things that will make me happy, when and wherever possible.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes

Everybody’s Got A Story, #1000Speak

“It’s the human condition that keeps us apart. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”
–Amanda Marshall

Sunday, June 21st is the first day of summer (longest day of the year), Father’s Day, and National Aboriginal Day here in Canada.

Iceland’s Midnight Sun

It’s funny how much has happened, in the last six months, since I wrote about the opposite to this day:

Solstice and the Big Red Dog

“See my eyes, don’t see what I see. Touch my tongue, don’t know what tastes good to me.”

Amanda Marshall sings, in this particular song, about our unique, human stories.

“Dig deep. Deeper than the image that you see. Lift the veil and let your true self breathe. Show the world the beauty underneath.”

I know there is a connection between these individual stories and the compassion we could all stand to give and receive.

Then there are those hard things in life that make compassion so vital, yet each time I hear about just such things I have to look harder and harder to find enough of it, but I keep on looking still.

I saw a moving and beautiful play this week:

The Diary of Anne Frank

I know the story of Anne Frank and her diary. I just recently had a chance to focus on the stories of the other people trapped with her, because they too had separate stories of their own.

Anne was a typical teenager, despite the chaos going on all around her. She did not get along with her mother, was jealous of her sister’s supposed perfection, and referred to the man she had to share a room with in the Annex as an idiot and a dolt.

This was only her side of the story.

Anne’s mother loved her two children, worried sick about them, and only wanted them to be safe.

Margot may have been more reserved and quiet than her rambunctious younger sister, but she had dreams of becoming a nurse and helping children after the war.

The man Anne was referring to had a life outside the Annex. He had a woman who loved him and whom he loved, a child, and had no family to lean on during all that time in hiding.

Anne loved her father above all others. She even had a special nickname for him and everything. She sometimes felt he sided with her mother against her, but she rarely, if ever said one bad thing about him. He was her hero.

Otto Frank was left to face the future, post war, without any one of his family left alive. He had to face the fact that his two daughters and his wife were never coming back to him and he had to figure out a way to go on without them.

He, with the help of friend Miep Gies, decided that his little girl’s story needed to be told.

I am here to make sure her story goes on being heard, but that the others affected and ultimately lost have their stories known too.

Then there’s some history of my own country and hopefully a better future. I must admit that I don’t know much about Aboriginal stories. These are people living in my own country and I know very little about their history, their heritage, and their stories.

I learned some in school, yes, but not nearly enough. I feel separate and cut off, I will say.

I am doing some research, for an upcoming Canada Day post, and I don’t like what I hear.

The facts about the residential schools must be told. It’s not just one story though, but a multitude of stories. I think it’s about time Canada heard these stories.

And then there’s the terrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that took place.

A twenty-one-year-old walked into an historic African-American church, sat down to join a prayer group in session, and eventually opened fire, killing nine innocent people.

I know a lot of people will be writing about this for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

I know very little about it, even though it has been all over the news for days now:

An Emotional John Stewart Drops The Comedy To Talk Charleston

I honestly feel numb. My brother and I both agreed on that lack of emotion.

This doesn’t mean I feel any less horrible. I just don’t know what is left to say.

I could rant about my feelings on gun control and a pervasive gun culture. I could speak about a country that is filled with stories, including those of the poor victims and their families and yes, even the shooter.

Well, I still don’t know where to start, so I will focus on the big picture.

“That ain’t the picture. It’s just a part. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”

Yes, thank you Amanda.

It’s funny how life works sometimes.

I was planning this #1000Speak post about everybody’s stories, when a friend brought my attention to a TED video.

Now, I love these and I’d actually listened to this particular speaker before, but I thank my friend still. I admire her and her spirit and for thinking of me.

Both her and the Nigerian writer below:

Chimamanda Adichie: the danger of a single story,

they are both strong and intelligent women, full of passion and compassion. Both their stories make them who they are.

“Patronizing, well-meaning pity.”

The above TED speaker sums it up nicely, exactly what happens when we jump to conclusions about people, without first looking at who they truly are, in all their glory and depth. Is the story we’ve been told about something really the right story?

I too have a story:

**It’s made up of the wonderful family I have and the happy childhood I experienced.

**It’s made up of the challenging and character-building experiences living with blindness all my life instills in me.

**It’s made up of the additional medical issues I’ve had and the barriers that were put in my path as a result.

“single story.
A balance of stories.”

I know we all have our perceptions and our realities. We all make our minds up, when we hear someone’s story.

People meet me, see that I am blind, and right away they may think they can paint a picture of what my story must look like.

Chimamanda says it best: stereotypes are not untrue, but incomplete….

Stereotypes about blindness are deeply ingrained in people’s consciousness. I have felt pity and longed for more, for compassion, understanding, and connection in pity’s place.

I don’t know enough about all those who lived and died in war, those I share Canada with, the victims and perpetrators of gun violence, or what life’s really like on the African continent.

I say I have become numb to tragedy and senseless violence, but I realize that is not at all what I want for myself, or for any of us.

“Stories matter. Many stories matter.”

I want to be passionate and compassionate. I listen to passionate speakers like this and I want to be passionate about things like literature, writing, and social issues.

I want to tell my story and to tell the stories of many other people. That is why I love this blog and I love writing. I can tell stories, not one single story, but every story I can possibly tell.

Adichie says about stories: they can empower and humanize. Break or repair that broken dignity.

I am glad to take part in

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Check them out on:

Facebook,

Twitter,

and there you can use #1000Speak to share the compassion.

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