Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, The Insightful Wanderer, TToT, Writing

TToT: Forever and Ever and Always – “Inshallah” #10Thankful

“Another celebrity dies. And still it mystifies the people. Another icon is destroyed.”

—The Cranberries, “Paparazzi On Mopeds”

Last week I was writing about American royalty and this week British, with my memories of where I was in my year, month, and life twenty years ago this week, when Princess Diana was killed.

Biopsies and weddings and recriminations, oh my!

I may have been able to see swans twenty years ago, but I don’t know if I’d go back if given the chance.

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I had the best day in a long time with my sister and her kids.

Forever and Ever – Pooh’s Grand Adventure

We spent the day in a nearby town called Stratford, known for culture and Shakespeare’s plays, but I like it best for the swans at the park, the awesome chocolate shop, but mostly for the time the four of us spent there together.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for another fascinating interview.

I heard Sting speak about his music, then and now, and the world he’s worried about leaving behind for his grandchildren.

I love to listen to interviews, to learn about people, and I think he is a good one. I’ve always been a fan of his music, from his Police days.

Then he scored the IMAX film The Dolphins that I love. It’s remarkably beautiful.

When Dolphins Dance

It brings me peace.

“Be yourself, no matter what they say.”

—Sting

I’m thankful the roof is completed, all fixed, along with all banging sounds silenced.

The men are gone, scaffolding removed, giant bin for debris taken away.

Now the rain will stay where it belongs.

I’m thankful my brother is off on an adventure.

Adventure Is A Wonderful Thing

We drove him and a friend to the airport and I was so excited for them, even more so than if it were me going. I want everyone to get to experience travel of some kind.

I’m thankful to have discovered an out-of-the-way little pizza shop to enjoy with my mom on a drive out of town.

Super Choice!

It was.

I’m thankful the first of multiple pieces of my writing was published to round off the month of August.

My Pal Croche: Remembering My First Guide Dog – Paw Culture

I am grateful that Paw Culture gave me the opportunity and a place to write about Croche, for the tenth anniversary of her death, on Good Friday, 2017.

I’m thankful for September and the first of the fresh local apples of the fall season.

It’s practically all I eat for the next month or so. Perfect combination of sweet and sour. So crisp and crunchy.

I’m thankful my niece and nephew have had such an amazing person to take care of them for the early years of their lives, so my brother and his wife could be at work and have total confidence and trust in the care their children were getting.

Now that my nephew will be joining his big sister in school, this won’t be happening, but the bond will always be there.

I know it’s hard to have to decide to leave your precious baby with someone else so much of the time, as working parents, and especially in a city like Toronto, finding good childcare isn’t so easy.

This person helps shape how the child will be, from the first years of their lives, and I know this was a big weight off their minds. I am grateful to this person. I see how much my nephew and niece love her. Transitions are never so easy and pain free, but a part of life.

I’m thankful for the senses I still have to enjoy a day out with loved ones.

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I got kind of depressed after we returned from Stratford, because I couldn’t see the white swans on the water anymore, but I enjoyed juice boxes, walking along a path while my nephew looked for a campsite (pretend), and the drive there and back.

I felt the fresh air and sunshine of the day. I smelled the scent of chocolate as we entered the shop. I heard the ducks and geese, if I couldn’t see the others.

I’m thankful for the sweetest moments with my nephew and niece during our day.

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“Kerry, mommies and daddies always come back, right?”

I was blown away by that statement? Question? Hmm. I still don’t know.

I heard the small voice from behind my front van seat ask this. He’d heard it said on a children’s program that morning. He sounded certain enough, but still looking for a little reassurance from his aunt.

“Inshallah”

Then, as we walked through a store full of goodies, he soon asked if we could get chocolate for others, not just himself. I almost melted, right there, surrounded by chocolates, at his thoughtful request.

As my sister loaded him and our treats into the van, I held my niece in my lap. She’d hardly cried or fussed the entire day. Later that night, I’d hold her in my lap as she chattered away and watched her big brother playing, with great interest.

My nephew wanted me to come to his house to watch Pooh’s Grand Adventure and I did. I am so happy I did.

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin

I’d seen it before with him, but never had I paid as close attention to the dialogue and word choice. I was impressed at what a smart story it is.

As we sat, the song from above played, about being together forever and ever, as my nephew crawled into my lap and cuddled, sitting still for what could have been a shot at forever and I nearly cried, thinking of how many days there will be like that granted to me.

“Inshallah.”

It means God Willing. It’s an Arabic word I heard mentioned twice this week, from Sting during his interview and then in a piece I read somewhere.

I’m thankful for my boys.

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Never before had both Dobby and Lumos sat on either side of my chair like that.

I think Lumos was still wanting me all to himself, as Dobby had been away the previous few days because of all the commotion with the roof repairs.

And to end the post, a song that one of my favourite bands wrote after Diana’s senseless death.

Paparazzi On Mopeds – The Cranberries

Goodbye summer/August, the final long weekend of the season, and welcome to a new month and season of autumn to come.

And to my nephew, starting school for the first time and his big sister and cousin, I want you all to know:

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

—Pooh’s Grand Adventure

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

The Heather By The River, #SoCS

Journalists. Photographers. And I use the term loosely.

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As a woman in my thirties, one who writes about things as my oxygen, I wonder what any of us would do for enough money. Would I write about people, even intrusively, for a living if given the chance?

Have I done it now? Already? Before?

How can it make anyone feel good about themselves to hound another human being, with their camera or their pen?

Responsibility: direct or indirect.

A world’s grief. Anger toward someone, needing to direct blame somewhere, the press. The press reports. The papers are printed. People buy the papers and mags.

More. More. More. We always want more.

From birth,
the two boys asked for none of it. That’s mostly where my thoughts return to.

I am not British and barely knew who Princess Diana was when she died. I wasn’t alive for the wedding seen around the world.

A sea of people, rather than water. That is what Diana must have seen when she looked from her vantage point, after saying her vows.

I would rather see a sea of Red or Black, blue or green, but the press fed off of the woman and she fed off of them, in a way, at least at first and for a long time afterward.

She was a fashion icon and a princess, but not only that. She used her position as a bit of an outsider, under the thumb of the monarchy, to become a change maker, by reaching out to those in need, those no one else wanted to associate with.

HIV and AID’s, in the 80s, when the hysteria about both was growing and at its greatest fever pitch. She shook hands, hugged those diagnosed and dying of the feared and misunderstood disease.

She came here, to Toronto, to sit by the beds of dying patients in hospice care. She walked a minefield, literally and figuratively. Danger signs.

Such grief of so many, I would not cry. As a fourteen-year-old child, fresh off of a kidney transplant and a thrilling wedding – I attended, my first of my oldest cousin. That was my wedding of the century.

Of royalty, I knew nothing. A fairytale life gone wrong is more like it.

Fairytales. I was familiar with these…the concept, the ideals, as a young girl. My Disney fairytale movies were my favourite. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the bright pink dresses and dancing with their handsome princes. I may have had similar dreams at the time, but what did I know? A lack of life experience and my own understandable immaturity.

What do titles represent, really? Sometimes, they bring just the right kind of attention and sometimes the wrong kind.

Now, upon reflection, twenty years later I do feel sad. I know of celebrity of her two sons. They are the British royalty of my generation.

I do perk up when I hear their names on the news. I bought the fake imitation giant ring, modelled after that of the one worn by both Kate and her mother-in-law, still lounging in my drawer. I woke to watch the wedding, once again broadcast live.

Prince William and Kate came to Canada after their marriage, the same date as my big brother’s own marriage took place. I hope one generation learns from the previous one, in certain cases, that sometimes it happens we grow wiser with enough knowledge.

They’ve come again since, since then, and with their two small children, touring parts of the country in which I live, that still sees itself as the child of Britain, past and present.

What is Kate wearing? Where are the couple going next? Are they in love, for real, or is it all just another fairytale?

But I do feel for two boys who, in August of 1997, woke up to the loss of their mother when I clung to mine for dear life, during some of the hardest and scariest times of my own childhood.

Are those boys/men in some ways like their mother, under scrutiny of duty, feeling hunted or like outsiders, wanting to reach out to those in need, perhaps not born with some of the advantages? They grew up with cameras as their mother tried to navigate a life of celebrity and being followed. She was hunted, more even than Prince Charles.

Now that I am more aware, I watch documentaries on the weekend after the anniversary of her death. I listen to stories of a nineteen-year-old who got married much too young, to an older man who shouldn’t have ever proposed to her in the first place, who was likely always in love with another woman. He should have been with this other lady all along and now appears that he is.

People marry the wrong person all the time, every single day and have babies with them. In these cases it is my hardest task not to judge because none of us are perfect. This challenges me as an adult who wants to see everyone happy, no matter whether they’re famous or not.

As a writer, this is my obituary of sorts, no matter how stream of consciousness based it may be, twenty years on.

From birth to death: Diana, 1961-1997

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Beyond the Reach, #MindfulMonday #LoIsInDaBl

“You’re twenty…something years old. It’s time to get over birthdays.”

–Don Draper, Mad Men

Oh really Don? I will be thirty-two.

🙂

On what was practically my Birthday Eve I could not sleep. I was finding it hard to turn off my brain long enough to drift off. I went from watching Friends, to Stephen Fry Live: More Fool Me, to Mad Men. I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head, so much inspiration in the words and lessons and themes, and I wanted to say everything, right then and there, but my body and also my mind craved rest and a few hours of reprieve from the onslaught.

I wondered if all the modern conveniences of things like NetFlix actually make it worse for insomniacs like myself. As much as I enjoyed all three of these distractions, I kept thinking about what it means to grow ever older with each passing year, with all the modern connections and conveniences at our collective fingertips.

Don’t know if you are familiar with Mad Men, but Don and Peggy are in the office, after hours, mostly alone. In my opinion, upon re-watching this particular episode, it seems to me to be the most pivotal turning point of their relationship, both professional and personal. It’s brilliant really, in all of its stripped-down rawness.

It’s easy to watch a show about what life was like in the 60s, to look at my own life fifty years later.

The whole episode is based, like many of them are, around an actual true historical event that took place, in this case being some all important boxing match, not unlike Super Bowl 50 of 2016 that just took place.

And then, as I first listened to the NetFlix special, the one-man show put on by the brilliant Stephen Fry, for the 2014 release of his memoir, I thought still more about time, reflection,

and MINDFULNESS.

Fry is a brilliant brilliant man. He is full of stories of his eventful life. Some made me laugh and some made me think. I did not grow up in Britain and thus I had no clue about his fame with another well-known and talented Brit, in the 80s and 90s, as I was a Canadian child who did not see British television programming all that often.

My first intro to one half of this dynamic duo was Hugh Laurie in his role in the early 2000s, as the perpetually grouchy and complicated Dr. Gregory House.

Then I learned of my favourite Harry Potter audio books being narrated, over in the UK, by someone named Stephen Fry.

Fry has stories to tell, about his long-time friendship and career with Hugh, one memorable New Year’s Day tea with Prince Charles (Charlie) and Princess Diana, and his childhood and discovery of the work of Oscar Wilde.

His time working on The Hobbit movies in New Zealand with Peter Jackson and his connection to Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling make him someone of great interest to me already, but also because his knowledge of literature and his gift for linguistics and storytelling make him a man I am to be in awe of.

He begins his one-man show by going through a list of countries that showed him on screens in their cinemas, offering up some little anecdote or story of each country as he goes along. He speaks with sagacity of how the world is connected today, in ways both he and Wilde never could have imagined, and how we’re all so different yet the same all at once. I can’t help but to love him for his creativity and his genius. I want to listen to his words of wisdom and know I, too, will be alright.

I want to not let each passing birthday make me bitter or hard. I want to take Don Draper’s words and put them in the proper perspective, although the episode I reference here includes moments of pure disgustingness, with a business/personal rival attempting to defecate on his desk and even after Don proceeds to vomit horribly, from all the liquor he consumes throughout the show. These moments juxtapose nicely with those of deep, honest truth and sadness between the characters.

Don tells Peggy: “No use crying over fish in the sea.”

At one point Peggy (on turning twenty-six) is told by a colleague’s wife that “twenty-six is still “very” young), as the wife is referring to Peggy’s still good chances that she can find a man, settle down, and have a baby, but is that what Peggy wants?

It made me think about the phrase, most common for women of multiple generations now: having it all.

I don’t have it all. You might even say I don’t have any of it (husband/children/career) at this time. Not by a long shot. What are we supposed to want, at what age, and how do we learn to live with what we may never get?

Men don’t have to deal with this in the same way as women have and continue to have to. I don’t have to face some of the things Fry has had to face, but I feel I understand what it’s like to feel different in some way. I hope to use language and literature to help me in some of the same ways Fry has used it during his lifetime, to help make sense of the biggest parts of life, things I can hardly fathom otherwise.

To believe in something bigger than ourselves is to be mindful.

And thus I present the App I have found, that I love, that helps me stay grateful and mindful, that I have been using to keep track of songs and lyrics for Love Is In Da Blog and for my own love of music.

“Shazam!”

It allows you to take a couple seconds of a recording of any song you come across in your daily wanderings and it will tell you exactly who is singing/performing. Next it keeps a record of any of these songs, which has allowed me to return to so much music I love, anytime I want. It’s a right handy little thing.

Try Everything – Shakira

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