1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting

Travel Ling, Lingering #TGIF #FTSF

“Oh, the places you’ll go.”

Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for that one. I love that and the travel it hints at, alludes to. It’s thrilling, just writing that quote and reading it back to myself. I recently carried that quote with me, on my first solo trip to Mexico, reciting it in my mind whenever I needed a shot of bravery.

When it comes to travel, I could go for days and days, writing about it I mean. That much travel, while sounding just as thrilling as Seuss’s quote, would exhaust me. I do it in my imagination though, all the time.

If I had the money and the energy, I’d be off. Sure, I’d always come back to my home, as that’s how travel is most appreciated, but I would not be satisfied to simply stay in one place all my life. I would suffocate in that bubble.

Pop!

***

I long to break out of that. I want to see new places. I have a list, a long, long list. I call it my
Bucket List (the very first blog post I ever wrote),
though that name is well worn with travellers the world over.

***

I thought it the summer my parents left on a road trip out west, through the U.S. and Canada. I came up with my travel blogger title and I was off.

The Insightful Wanderer (@TheIWanderer on Twitter)

It was in me, of course, ever since forever. My grandparents lived in just such a bubble, but they didn’t stay. They left sometimes, though always coming home again.

My most favourite treasure from my grandmother are the journals she kept, for years, where she jotted down the daily events of her life and family. Then, just a short distance from where she kept those, were the stakcs of photo albums, full of photographic evidence of the places her and my grandfather saw during their fifty five years together: all throughout Canada and the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Life and reality are just as important as a life of travel. Some can avoid that, I suppose, but not me.

I have limitations. I fully acknowledge those, but recently I challenged them too.

***

I immediately started thinking about what I would write, upon reading this week’s prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
and my first thought was Mexico.

I would write about my recent trip there. Why not? What else could I possibly write about now, while the memories are fresh? But wait…

I have things I want to say, but I can’t get back to it, whether in my own head or when trying to explain to others just why that trip meant so much. I try and try and try to explain the feeling, but somehow, my experience doesn’t come through. I feel unsatisfied with how I am describing it and how they are hearing it described by me. I guess the expression “you had to be there” is right. Oh, so right.

I travel back to every moment of that week, from my fear and intense anticipation. To my sense of peace and calm and rightness with the world and my place in it at that instant. I don’t want to say words now fail me, but perhaps they do. The envelope of photos I now carry in my purse of my trip don’t do the thing justice either, somehow locked in the past of the actual purse I carried with me. Nor does the bracelet I wear on my left wrist, every bead carrying that week’s sense memories within.

***

I went so far as to create a whole travel website, separate from this blog, while the force was still strong to attempt the world of the travel blogger. I had it all mapped out, saw things so clearly in my mind.

I wrote up an About Me page there, before the new site went live. It laid out all my most favourite spots: Niagara Falls and Ireland.

I put forth an illustrated list of the places I’ve been so far: Cuba, Florida/New York/Michigan/D.C./California, and Germany.

I spelled out everywhere I dreamt of going: Hawaii, Palau, Australia, and New Zealand. I wanted to be adventurous, surprising even myself, and in this dream I stood at the bottom of the world, surrounded by ice and penguins.

I didn’t truly believe I’d have the stamina, resources, or opportunity to make it that far, but, really, who could say?

Then, my website fizzled out. I let myself down. I studied travel blogs galore and somehow, I couldn’t become them, social media and pitching tour companies and all. I couldn’t. I was not a list maker and a personality so strong. My fantasy of becoming someone, I perhaps wasn’t meant to be.

I am a literary writer. That’s who I am. I can take all the travel blog success courses I want, have as many Skype sessions with an already established travel blogger as are offered in any given online course, and I still failed.

***

But I didn’t. I found a way to travel anyways. I found a group of my people, other literary type writers, somewhere full of magic and reality, all wrapped into one.

I couldn’t hold onto that week forever. It came and went. I may feel a little aimless since then, since arriving home, but that’s okay.

The world is a giant place. Anyone who doesn’t open their mind first, it doesn’t matter how far or how nearby they go or stay.

Travel all sorts of places, in your mind, through reading/watching a good book or movie. That’s just more ways to open your mind to the vistas (boy do I love that word).

Read travel blogs, as I still do, if that makes it all more real.

Acknowledge your limitations while challenging what still might be.

Meet people. Meander through a place. Taste a new food or sample a helping of another culture, far flung from your own.

***

I may not have that beautiful travel site I saw in my mind, but I am still wandering through this big, beautiful world and I am doing it with all the insight I can manage to unearth as I go.

I will linger here a bit yet still, but I know I will be off again, sooner or later. If you linger too long, you risk getting stuck. I hate to burst your bubble, but it must be done.

I meander and linger and meander some more. I look over those vistas I can no longer see. I meander with these words and with myself. Still figuring it all out.

I’ll be sure to let you know, here, when I’ve been everywhere. In the meantime, Dr. Seuss’s words keep me going, moving, living.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Piece of Cake, Shows and Events, SoCS

The Elsewhere Region, #SoCS

The group ranged from ages twenty to seventy years. Mention of a CBC radio program about a battle of the generations, baby boomers vs the millennials. This is a place to feel safe, a non-judgment zone, but one

view

won’t necessarily be the same as any other in this room. Age and generation gap, these are just two reasons why.

As with life, in all areas, no matter which generation we’re in, out in the wider world there is plenty of judgment. This world is full of it, which is why this room serves such a useful purpose. It’s not easy putting oneself out there. Reading back to the group helps immeasurably.

Social awkwardness threatens to pull down into the depths of an abyss of social anxiety. It taunts and teases, trying to usher its person away and keep up streams of negative talk. You may have guessed it’s me, that person.

These views and voices echo around inside an otherwise sensible brain.

One viewpoint, in this room, is just as valid as any other. The people gathered around this conference table, in a library, in a town many have heard of, only by its famous shared name, one which any baby boomer should know well enough.

It’s important to listen to the poems of the baby boomer, as well as the somewhat hastily recited stories of the opposite generation, seated across the table. Stories are read, yes, but before, during, and after the stories, there are viewpoints to absorb. There are multiple lives lived and experiences of hardship or hard work or hardly anyone to listen at all. It all comes back to the writing here though. The listening and the writing.

Writing is where view takes shape, in this scenario, as story. It is disguised by made-up characters and varied storytelling styles, but the views are there, if you take the time to look for them. When is a story just a story anyway?

I listen to so many viewpoints in the media and I then repeat to myself how vital it has been for me to take a break this week. On the world stage, there are just too many views to ever possibly take any of them seriously, when often they feel utterly ridiculous. So hard to believe you’re hearing what your ears and your brain find they have to work with.

But then there’s that elsewhere region, where the ridiculous is encouraged, if not in made-up rhetoric than in fiction, but these days it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference either way, any way at all.

Stories need to continue to be told, in such safe places, places where I choose to return time and time again.

I can not say just how much I am learning about the actual act of writing, though each time I receive a comment from one of them I learn to look at a situation in a different way, but I am sharing a laugh and my view with the laughter and views of the other writers/readers.

I grab hold of all that tension in the form of my own social awkwardness and I turn it into the knowledge that my views are just as valid as the next person’s. I sit back while they share something of themselves, okay with the idea that I can share something of myself too.

I’m in yet one more place where my own viewpoint is likely to be miles from that of the person sitting at the other end of the table. I listen then, to that viewpoint from opposite myself, and I let it all just sink in. What brought them to the conclusions they’ve arrived at? How can I possibly hope to understand? Are we more similar than we are different?

The night before and it’s ONLY millennials here. No baby boomers to be found.

Oh, what exactly do I know of the musician I heard perform live the night before? What’s revealed through their music? Do lyrics tell the real story of that lived experience, by any stretch of the imagination? Mine stretches to find common ground, as this night I am the oldest person here, at thirty-two, most likely.

The view from this room, from this plush chair I’ve staked out for myself, as a way to avoid the unknowns of leaving its safety, will this mean the night was a lost cause? Do secret locations, first times experiencing musical shows like this, do the many bodies moving about in this tight space of a bachelor apartment, does it all help my placement in or out of the elsewhere region?

I want to open up. I start and stop and start again. Some things aren’t to be missed and the lack of regret for missing them is enough of a victory for the night, for the week. Yet, going forward I must require even more of myself.

The view from here is one of low vision, hardly any at all, which makes that social awkwardness seem, at some moments, to be insurmountable. It’s not, and there’s a way of putting it in its proper perspective, but it makes me tired. Very tired. Oh so mentally and emotionally spent.

Sometimes it makes me want to speak my truth, in one long and meandering sentence, which becomes stream of consciousness writing gone wild, with no end in sight.

If I feel that heavy social awkwardness threatening to pull me under once more, I repeat to myself all the comforting things I can, which today I’m choosing to explain by my unique position in a place I now lovingly like to call “the elsewhere region,” and I tell myself I can come back from that place or I can find peace in it, if need be.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, SoCS, Spotlight Saturday, This Day In Literature

Reviewing “Kindred” #SoCS #BookReview

If I used to doubt I could like a book about time travel, I sure have been proven wrong this week.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

If framed in a way that reminds me of how time travel books are just stories about history, I am likely more willing to take a chance and read on.

My writing mentor has helped me see that I could travel to another country to have new experiences and go for my goals, so why not be the one to prove me and my dislike for time travel novels wrong too?

Travel. Time travel. These two share a few similarities.

With both (one fictional and the other super easy with the invention of aviation especially), we learn a lot about another place and people we’d never met otherwise.

I often wonder how I would react to find myself in the situation the characters found themselves in here.

I like to think I could cope. We all make do. I would adapt. I am good at that.

I don’t have practice living without luxuries like plumbing and running water and indoor toilet facilities. I guess I would do poorly in a time travel situations, not that anyone swept up by it in this particular book had much of a choice.

I do love history a lot, especially the history of the last few centuries.

My writing mentor shares books and I likely wouldn’t have found this one:

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler,

if it hadn’t been for her recommending it.

It was an audio book. I like to do the reading sometimes, but other times, I like to be able to just sit back and let someone else bring the story to life through their own storytelling ability. It’s like its own little piece of performance art. I’m not sure I would have the skill to make any story I might read come alive to the listeners in this way myself.

This story was a lot more than time travel, but really that has its place. I should have learned from the whole Lord of the Rings and fantasy genre experience.

Kindred is about an interracial couple in California in 1976. One day, while moving into their first home together, Dana is putting books away on a shelf when she starts feeling strange. Before she knows what has happened, the room, her husband, and the year she is living in all vanish and she finds herself on a riverbank.

After she suddenly hears cries and ends up saving a young child from nearly drowning, she finds herself in another time and about to embark on a strange back-and-forth adventure, from 1976 to the early 1800s. She and this child will become linked, through time and space, for reasons beyond either one of their comprehensions, until that link is finally severed for good.

I would recommend reading this book, as it is written so much better than I could ever sum up here, but instead I can speak to what this particular story ended up meaning to me.

Whether it’s 1819 or 1976 or 2016, some things are radically different and yet others aren’t really so different at all.

The biggest difference is, of course, that in the early 19th century, slavery was in full force in the United States of America. But, even if it was abolished one hundred years or more prior to the year 1976, a lot of the deeply ingrained cultural beliefs were still evident. Even though the 1960s was known as the decade of Civil Rights, things hadn’t evolved all that much by the 70s.

A lot of things take years and years to know in reality. A country hardly changes enough for all of its citizens in the years of any one person’s lifetime, or multiple generations.

All the racial tensions that seem to be building once more in the US of today have always been there. Rights have been fought hard for and laws eventually changed, but changing hearts and minds of a country’s people can’t be legislated.

Far from me to lecture, but denial that the problem was as bad or still is, this is more common than most people would like to think or are capable of even hearing.

So many of the scenes in the pre-Civil War era of Kindred involved life on a plantation and vivid descriptions of the mistreatment of slaves, the deep seeded ranking of white people and slave owners being above the dark skinned people they had control over, this was all stuff I’d heard about. How anyone could ever truly believe another human being who looked different was less human is beyond me. But that is the point I suppose. That time was beyond me. I like to take the holier-than-thou stance that I never would or could’ve stood for treating a dog let alone a person like people were treated then, but I know I can’t say that for sure.

My mind struggles to try and understand it. I can’t.

Even while I read and learn, even fictionally about that time in history, I can’t comprehend fully. Of course I can’t.

It was the repeated descriptions of whippings that were hardest to take. Many times I reflexively began to reach over to turn off the book or to get up, to distract myself from the words and the meaning behind them, but I couldn’t. Something held me there.

I felt as baffled when the black and white couple (Dana and Kevin) told their families about their plans to marry in 1976 and were met with nothing but disdain, as much as by many of the things I heard when time travel had taken them, (in a way me), back in time to 1819.

I think a lot of us would much rather live in a bit of a denial state, than to almost force ourselves to hear things we don’t want to hear and learn the facts that we can never unlearn. I know I would, but then my mouth would always be so full of sand from my head being stuck in it.

Linda Hill’s prompt for this week can be found here.

Not sure a so-called book review can be written through stream of consciousness writing. Most times, we think of book reviews as the book reports we were told to do in school. I don’t think this necessarily has to be so.

These are just a few of my thoughts while reading. I just wanted to take a moment here, on record, to make note of one book I am very glad I listened to. I think books like this are more important than ever.

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TToT: Busy Filibustering and Multiple Blooms, #10Thankful #Bloomsday #CityAndColour

“All your friends seem like enemies, when you’re broken down and empty. “So say goodbye to love, and hold your head up high. There’s no need to rush. We’re all just waiting, waiting to die.”

Waiting – City and Colour

Okay, so why are those lyrics so darn relatable?

Kind of depressing lyrics/quote to start things off with, no? Well, keep reading for further context.

Technology update from this week is just more of the same with my mail program. My new computer seems to be unable to function properly because there are so many. VoiceOVer’s favourite thing to say, when it just can’t work well enough to let me even send an email: “Busy…busy…busy…” I’m beginning to hate that word.

😦

Do you ever feel like you’re so far behind and you’ll never catch up, in emails or just life in general?

Well, I feel that way, but I know it’s small in the grand scheme of things, as this week has been full of more heartbreaking headlines and tragedies and some political filibustering too. (Just love that word.)

Once more, I make the effort to find things for which I am intensely thankful.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a successful video chat connection with my writing mentor.

She helps me narrow in on what I’m doing with my writing. I’m glad the technology allowed us to speak again.

She writes about “multiple blooms” – getting more than one chance in life, to become something or create something worthwhile, to bloom like flowers bloom.

This week, on June 16th, it was Bloomsday, like on every June 16th, going back one hundred years.

Irish writer JAmes Joyce’s Bloomsday explained.

I’ve spent so much energy and time coming down hard on myself because I haven’t read all the things there are out there to read. I haven’t written all I want to write yet. Talking to a mentor helps me realize that’s okay. I work on trying not to look at it like I am far behind in these things. It’s not a race.

So, Bloomsday is a day to celebrate James Joyce and his novel “Ulysses” which I haven’t managed to read, though I started it a few years ago.

For a winner so far for best writing group night.

We are a lovely little core group who mostly show up each week. We help each other, cheer each other on, remember one another’s writing and ask how it’s going.

This time involved popsicles.

🙂

The challenge was to write as much as we could, while holding our popsicles, to see how far we could get before they melted.

This is where I feel irritated because I can’t fit in, necessarily do the same as everyone else, and so I adapt. I write on my Braille Display with one hand, while holding and eating my popsicle with the other. It’s not easy to type braille letters and words with only one free hand. I don’t like to get all sticky from a melting popsicle. I managed two sentences, which ended up turning into a pretty cool bit of writing by the end of it all.

This particular time just seemed to produce some awesome ideas and stories from all of us. A few of us may have been sleep deprived, but that lead to some cool storylines.

For a return from trouble with technology.

And so I’d started a story last time, thanks to unforeseen real life events with the group, mostly unexpected religious discussions, and I came out of that awkward situation with the seeds of the perfect story to submit to a Canadian short story contest.

Well, I finished it last week and brought it to read for the group. They loved it. I could tell they were moved. They commented on my incredible level of insight, which they really did say.

But then I pressed a wrong button, overrode that story with my new one, and so I had the opportunity to rewrite it, this time keeping the basic structure and plot points, but narrowing it down to the word limit of 750, as the contest requires. I plan to submit and I like what I’ve got.

Sometimes things work out.

That I get to witness another year of marriage for my wonderful parents.

They arrived at 37 and it is a beautiful thing to see. It’s teamwork at its best. It’s my foundation. (No pressure there guys.)

For time to sit and observe by the lake that bears my province’s name.

I am trying to become more aware of my surroundings. I can’t go to the ocean so easily, but I am lucky to live near the Great Lakes. This time it was Lake Ontario.

I sat and watched the boats and the listened to the birds and felt the breeze off the water.

For opening acts that don’t entirely suck.

Shakey Graves

Many concerts I go to I am unimpressed by the musical act that opens the show. This time, the guy was weird with some of the things he said in between songs, but I was undeniably swept up in how catchy his lyrics were. The sound was great and I was able to sit comfortably and enjoy his Austin, Texas accent. He was a bit of a musical Matthew McConaughey and, surprisingly, I liked it.

For a perfect night for a concert and a lovely outdoor venue to be able to make the most of it.

I love live music, but all the noise and commotion is often enough to cause me head pain that leaves me questioning why I put myself through that.

The answer is because I get headaches, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying music that I love.

Well, this is an outdoor venue, by the water. It’s open and I sit on the grassy hill and I let the evening air and the music wash over me.

For lovely time spent with my father.

It was Father’s Day Eve and I knew he’d like the band. I know many would do anything to be able to enjoy something like that with their own fathers. I was happy to be there, with as he said, was probably the oldest person at the show. Well, I felt old listening to all the twenty-something’s all around me. So we focused on the incredible show before us.

For the song lyrics I wrote getting their first live performance.

My brother and his musician friends played a selection of covers and the song he and I wrote, which has a phenomenal singer. The drummer is the best around.

A family reunion and the woman at the helm of it all wanted my lyrics to be played, as entertainment for her family day. I wished I could have been there to hear it, but my brother said the whole thing was a big hit.

For a band like the one I just saw live.

Music and family are, once more, at the heart of my gratitude list.

A band like City and Colour has a very mellow sound. That’s why I love them, the lead singer’s voice. Many of their songs allow me to express the sadness I feel, the crappier parts of life, but somehow, listening to these songs helps.

Comin’ Home – City and Colour

“I know that we’re takin’ chances, you told me life was a risk. But I just have one last question…will it be my heart or will it be his?”

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Vermilion Hearts and Lucky Clovers – May Day! May Day! #10Thankful

I learned a new word this week. Want to know what it was?

OPSIMATH

Are you one? Am I?

Is she one?

Immediately, upon seeing the letters “math” made me think it had something to do with mathematics. I had already discounted myself.

As it turns out, the word actually has nothing whatsoever to do with my favourite numerical subject.

Read on…

Opsimath, noun: One who learns late in life.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the chance to learn a new word every once and a while.

In this particular instance, thank you goes to Stephen Fry for the latest.

And to one of his literary heros: Oscar Wilde of course.

That is where I learned the word “Vermilion”, which I originally thought meant something having to do with vermin, but glad it actually means a shade of my favourite colour: red.

For “April Showers” which round out the month, giving way to the promise of “May Flowers”.

I was told of a new one, a wild flower called a “May Apple” and I love the name.

I’d include a photo, if this dying old laptop would allow it.

For the perfect weather.

At this time of year, I can step out my door and the air carries the scent and the freshness of multiple seasons.

I can be out without shoes on and not freeze, but yet the breeze still hasn’t become humid with summer. There’s still the faintest glimpse of crisper fall memory, winter frostiness.

All seasons combine into one perfect feeling on the air.

That I met the “Ten Things” group, almost exactly one year ago.

For a retelling or a continuation of one of the most beloved stories by one of them.

ALMIRA STORY

I’m really loving this one.

For the opportunity to be a member of a special group.

They are a gathering of talented writers and I am lucky to count myself as one of them.

In this place there are fascinating literary travel writing discussions.

Interesting topics come up and I’m getting the chance to learn so much from so many varied perspectives.

That the celebration of a very special one-year-old’s birthday was enjoyed this week.

I was the lucky one to get to be there for the first several months of her life.

I was sorry to have to miss the chance to actually celebrate with her and her mother. I spoke to my friend, who now lives on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a rough time, lately, partly because I miss them both so much, but I am grateful for everything that precious little girl has brought into the lives of all who love her.

For my first “Wilde”, as this week I read my first Oscar Wilde novel.

The man sure could weave an odd tale. I would say that “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was not at all what I was expecting when I started it, but I’m glad I read it.

That April is over.

The month had its good points, but it wasn’t an easy month overall.

This is a hard time of year for me, for several reasons, and there’s really no guarantee May and beyond will turn out any easier, but I have a lot to look ahead to.

That although this laptop has pretty much had it, as I discovered officially earlier in the week, that at least, while I figure out my next move, I have more time for violin practice and reading all those books (Wilde and otherwise) that I put off for my writing and blogging.

🙂

All about those silver linings, am I right?

Which rounds out my thankfuls this week.

None of these guys could be called “opsimath”.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

–Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Spotlight Sunday

That’s A Wrap On “Just Jot It January” 2016, #JusJoJan

End of January and this most excellent writing/blogging exercise is coming to its end too.

And, with the last word for the JJIJ 2016 is a blogger from Australia whom I’ve been following for a while, since near the start of

1000 Voices Speak.

I know we all have stories about a moment of being

clumsy,

but it seems an odd way to finish off

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

Linda finishes off with a few thoughts/ideas/plans for next year.

🙂

I very much hope to be back to see that for 2017.

And here, one last time for 2016, are

the rules.

As for being clumsy, probably some can relate more than others. I know I can, but the January 31st prompt thinker-upper gets the first word.

Take it away Edwina!

For my part, I guess “clumsy” may not be the very first word people would think of to describe me as, but likely it would make it into the top five, depending on the day you asked.

I don’t wear high heels and I hardly ever had to. If it had been necessary, I imagine there would have been a lot of clumsy moments for me.

I guess I feel like, not unlike the effort it takes to physically walk through life, there is a certain amount of stumbling I do metaphorically. I get through life, but it’s a clumsy effort on my part, as every time I manage to gain some traction and get control of my footing, something else will usually then come along and I will end up on my ass.

I like to speak publicly, unlike so many, but I often struggle to say the right thing at the right moment. When I haven’t thought long enough about what to say, I stumble clumsily over my words. I think my mind often gets ahead of the words that come out of my mouth.

I like writing because, despite my lengthy moments of explanation or exposition, I can choose just the right words at the perfect time. I can think and plan and act accordingly.

I both like writing and blogging exercises because they give me a chance to not think so hard about what I want to write about. This may mean nobody is reading, but I am writing, and that’s worth all the clumsy moves and stumbling in the world.

A lot more of this to come.

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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

maxanddadwaitingforcupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

happybdaysign-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

dadwithhiscupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

brianonalaptop-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

sophiaandmomlaughing-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

reedsmilingwithyoubehindhim-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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TToT: Do Or Die – Mercy! #10Thankful

“Writing and reading to me is synonymous with existing.”
–Gertrude Stein

kerport-009-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

What a difference a week can make.

Last week was the perfect autumn weather and this week all I keep hearing about is snow.

Last weekend the Toronto Blue Jays were not expected to be in the game for much longer and this week they still have a chance.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I seem to remember something about a book of rules for the TToT and there’s one of those for baseball, not that I understand it, but more about that later.

It was a difficult week, in some respects, but only because I am finally putting myself out there, my writing and myself, and receiving feedback. This translates into criticism and that can be difficult to take sometimes. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my immune system.

Mine works for me. Okay, so I may be singing a different tune come the middle of winter, but at the moment I think all’s well.

I have been around several sick friends and family in the past month and I just assumed I would catch their colds, etc.

I haven’t. I have a lower immune system, as a transplant recipient, and it can seem to permit multiple colds each winter, every year, but it is unpredictable. I can’t predict when or if I’m going to get a cold.

I am visiting a friend in Toronto tomorrow and her niece is there recovering from a bone marrow transplant. As long as I don’t jinx myself and come down with something in the next twenty-four hours, I will be happy and thankful. Not to mention, my immune system hasn’t decided to completely attack my father’s kidney, in nearly twenty years, so that’s something to be grateful for.

For a delicious cup of coffee, some relaxing Lorde inspired tunes, and a couple of hours at the salon.

Portishead

The coffee and the half hour I sat there, listening to music playing and the hustle and bustle of my cousin’s salon, while my hair had foils in it and waiting for the dye to do its thing made for a most relaxing break.

For the chance to feel like I was dressed up and with somewhere to go for the evening.

For the deliciousness that is movie popcorn.

Who’s with me?

For a totally eye-opening documentary experience.

“Our voices are our most powerful weapons.”

I went to see He Named Me Malala and I found it to be every bit as inspiring and moving and sweet and real as I thought it would be.

This film needed to be made and it needs to be seen around the world. It makes me cry, but it forces me to be thankful.

For the game that kept Toronto in the running, for the first time in over twenty years.

It was a real rush to know that we had little chance, at that point, but that I never lost faith. It ended up being one for the record books, and I don’t pretend to understand all the little ins and outs of the game and its rules, but I know the tension and the energy felt, sitting there watching.

We were losing two games in a five game series. Nobody thought we would go on to win the next three, but I believed.

What is it about rooting for one’s sports team that can cause such strong feelings and stress?

For my white cane.

kerport-184-2015-10-18-09-14.jpg

October 15th was White Cane Day or White Cane Safety Day. I feel like a lot of these days are more US based, a lot of the times, but it doesn’t really matter where or what day.

I will admit that I have had my battles with the white cane. I have truthfully felt embarrassed about it, like a little brother or sister, always tagging along, but being forced by a parent to let them join in the fun.

Yeah, I’m working on getting over my issues because without it, I would be in more danger and would have been left without the means to get somewhere, anywhere, unable to see my surroundings well enough. I can’t deny the importance it has played and must play to me in future.

For my first Internet radio show interview.

Traveling With the Speed of Sight

I think I’ll stick with writing my blog, but it never hurts to try something new.

For you never knows’.

I did not expect a lot of people to listen to that interview, honestly, but all it takes is one.

One of the writer/editor friends I’ve made online and on Facebook just happened to be listening and immediately messaged me after the interview ended.

I admire her and her work so much and her online publication is at the top of my list of places I am determined to see my writing on.

Full Grown People

For the good and the bad that comes from putting myself out there.

Sure, this week I received some hard to hear criticism, but I also received some personal invites to submit my writing and to do more guest posts.

This, to me, would be considered a week of triumphs.

The Canadian federal election tomorrow could be the change we need, but there is a bit of a clash of events happening.

Elections Canada vs Jays Fans On October 19

Oh, don’t we Canadians have problems in our country?

😉

At least we’re aware of the issues that are important to us and as long as we know our priorities, right?

Mercy Mercy Me

I’ve been inspired, again this week, to not be silent, in whatever way that might be.

I love the female voices I’m hearing lately: both young and old.

Do I look scared to you?

You tell em Hazel!

“There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.”
–Malala Yousafzai

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Happy Birthday Mr. Munsch

Okay, so if I can’t trace where my love of stories started, I am more than happy and willing to give the credit to Robert Munsch.

If you haven’t heard of him:

On this Throw-back Thursday I wanted to reflect on how much of an influence his stories had on my childhood.

Robert has a brilliant mind for telling stories to children, about children, in a way in which they want to sit still and listen. His raspy voice always could keep my attention and I knew it immediately when I heard it.

He perfected the art of telling a story in front of a group of kids, something which isn’t easy to do, through practice and repetition. It isn’t easy to be able to bring a story and its characters to life in a way that manages to keep the attention of a room of little people, who will lose interest very easily if not given a reason to listen up. At the same time though, he might have just the same affect on any adult who just so happens to be listening as well, bringing multiple generations together.

He would improvise, changing the names of the characters in a story he was telling to match one of the children in the audience. In a world where so many ugly stories surface in the media about the abuse and neglect of children, it’s such a breath of fresh air to know there are the ones who care and who have done all they could to make children happy.

His voice is his sound affect. He can tell a story with the goofiest tones. It is his instrument, being able to raise or lower it where needed. This makes stories fun for kids.

I am proud to call this author a part of Canadian literary culture. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has been responsible for getting an endless number of kids interested in reading and stories since he moved to this country all those years ago.

The same library I would go with my mother and siblings to borrow his books and stories on tape might be one in Ontario, Canada just like where he might be doing a reading for a group of rapt and attentive boys and girls.

From his story of a mud puddle that threw itself onto an unsuspecting little girl (a fear of mine, being a little girl that did not like to get dirty). To a princess wearing a burnt paper bag to face a fiery dragon.

From a train that ran through the living room. To a little boy who did not want to wear his ugly brown snowsuit.

Love You Forever is probably one of the top new baby gifts. It has a sweetness and an innocence all throughout that will make you want to cry, the moment you know what it’s like to hold a precious child in your arms. This is an instance where he has brought children and adults together, to show what a great story can do.

Robert must have had inspiration for the dozens of stories he’s come up with over the years, from a life well lived. It hasn’t always been easy for him, dealing with crippling mental illness. I would like to talk with him, to ask him for the inspiration for every one of his stories. I hope he knows how much his stories are gifts that make all who reads or hears them want to keep on reading and listening, that through all the dark times he must have faced, he has been a light to so many kids like myself.

Happy Seventieth Birthday Robert Munsch. Thank you for bringing my childhood to life with your tales of everyday mishaps with a sprinkling of the magic of what it’s like to be a kid thrown in for good measure.

Facts About Robert Munsch

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How I Celebrated World Book Day 2015

What was I doing here?

It felt like a strange fish-out-of-water state to be in, but there I was.

I’ve already jammed so much into less than a week over this first week of March: a visit to Ottawa, seeing my aunt in her new home, and last night I visited Lucinda House.

I have wanted to write about all these things and more, but it all feels like too much for me to focus in on any of it.

My original statement today applies to all of these, but I must find a way to narrow it down somehow here tonight.

And so, as I asked myself once more, for the umpteenth time in less than a week:

What am I doing here?

I realized, so many times since March began that I have been weighed down by discomfort, but often the most important and valuable experiences in life will do this.

***

On World Book Day, 2015, I sat in an old house, now a part of a university, but in the moment it almost felt like I was transported back one hundred years.

Just being in an old house like that, surrounded by a room full of mostly women and reading to each other…

Wrong or right, I pictured the one scene from Gone with the Wind, where the ladies are tensely awaiting the return of their men.

The husbands were off, somewhere, taking justice into their own hands to defend their women.

As they were doing this, to make things safer, the ladies sat with their knitting as one proceeded to read aloud to the group.

Yes, the strangest thoughts come into my mind at the oddest of moments.

Yes, I can admit that, but being that yesterday was World Book Day and Sunday is International Women’s Day I had both books and women’s issues on my mind.

Of course, there were a few guys in the room this time, which made them the minority in my particular case.

Recently, I heard there was going to be a reading going on from a blogger I follow. I have been trying to read more Canadian and local literature lately. This particular blogger and writer does readings around the area and I wanted to show my support to her, to thank a female writer of books, something and someone I greatly admire.

I have been reading her blog for a while now, but I wanted to have the chance to put a voice to the words, an actual voice to the writer’s voice I have come to know so well on her website.

The evening started off on, what I can admit wasn’t the best note when I showed up in the middle of her reading. Not a great first impression to put forth toward someone I admire for the work she does.

I know what it must be like to be in the middle of speaking about that kind of hard work, a person’s life’s work and one’s passion and to have people walk in right in the midst of that.

I apologized upon meeting her, at the end of the evening, for doing this. She was quite gracious about it, but I made sure to let her know I did not intend to be at all disrespectful. I wanted her to know how much I really did want to hear her read from her newest novel, to meet her after reading so much about her life all these months.

She was great and she even made sure to signed one of her books for me: just one Carrie to another Kerry.

🙂

I am not a people person. I am not naturally outgoing and felt awkward all evening. This started, after walking in and hoping to be quiet while removing all winter items of clothing and taking a seat in the room, trying hard to disrupt the reading in progress as little as humanly possible.

I had been dealing with my issues with being arround old buildings all week long, facing them head-on.

First, through spending time in secondhand stores and old jails in Ottawa…to this particular evening, in an old house.

I could hear the age of the house I was in with every creek the floors made under my own feet and under the feet of the authors who shared their readings throughout the night.

I heard the floorboards make that signature creaky old house noise with every side-step each speaker took while standing at the front of the room.

I felt out of place. This was mostly a university setting, on a campus, attended overall by professors and literature students.

The professors were older and the students were younger. I did not feel like I belonged there; hovering, by myself, somewhere in between these two demographics.

As I stood in the kitchen, I felt a little less awkward getting a drink and some fruit because I had a brief break from having to feel like I fit in with those of academia out in the other room.

Suddenly, one of the only few guys in attendance spoke up to a few early-twenty-something female students. Apparently I wasn’t quite as alone as I’d first thought.

There was a hint of flirting I detected in his voice and also a hint of his own awkwardness, as he spoke to these young women. He was a poet, yet not a university student like they were. He clearly loved literature, or he wouldn’t have been there at all, but in his voice and in the words he spoke was obvious his own feelings that I too had been feeling.

Apparently, we all had our own version of the fish-out-of-water feeling going on.

I didn’t want to feel any pretension or any inadequacy. I didn’t want to feel like the act of writing and sharing that writing with others, female or not, was at all frivolous or pretentious.

I didn’t want to feel like it could have been one hundred years ago: either because of what women chose to do back then was treated less than at that time or even still today, in my own mind. I wanted to feel like what I was doing was worthwhile.

So why then did I feel like I was having to justify my own reasons for being there to myself or to some unnamed observer?

As I listened to others read aloud to the group I thought about my own writing and that need to write I feel pressing on my soul, stronger and stronger all the time.

I felt the discomfort of the words Carrie read from the pages of her own novel ring true in my own life. It all felt way too universal, these feelings, as she read a segment where her female protagonist is more than one hundred years old and living in a nursing home. I felt her words touching a nerve still much too raw in my own heart, after visiting a female family member of my own just the other day, currently living in just such a place.

This was perhaps only some fictional character in a book, but it was real to me and those I love, and more than likely to the writer/reader/speaker herself.

I did not get a chance, due to my high level of awkwardness in social settings, to let her know just how much her words had affected me. I don’t think I could have put it into words there and then, even if I’d wanted to. I am barely doing a coherent job of that here and now.

Next, I listened to the way the professor in residence went on to read her poems, which she had turned from academic, scientific journals and articles she’d come across from others, into the most beautiful lyrical, literary writing of her own making.

She had written about the type of symbiotic biological relationships that go on in nature, and something about pollination, the sorts of relationships I’d written about on visiting the creatures at the aquarium that opened in Toronto a few years ago.

Then she read us a poem she’d composed about the way different bee colonies fight for supremacy (not all creatures choosing to live such a symbiotic existence alongside each other.

Finally, I listened to some of her young creative writing students stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and lay it all out there.

They spoke about going out on their own for the first time and about unwanted attention from the opposite sex.

They shared short stories/poems about things I could hardly relate to, such as homelessness and living and surviving out on the streets.

One of the girls had even coined herself:

“the unofficial poet of the bus”,

as the place she’d found time or inspiration to write had been on Greyhound trips.

From the pain of lost love, the pressure to try and live up to society’s pressures and norms, and horrible tales of experiences with crackers and bedbugs…all terribly relatable to me or stuff made up of my worst nightmares.

This was all with such truth and vulnerability that I had to stop myself from physically shifting in my seat with discomfort. It made me really focus on the glaring obviousness of revealing things so real and personal in such a public manner, to a living room full of strangers.

It made me wonder if I could do that. Could I share things just as private and personal? Would I have the same raw nerve and guts?

How much of it was about themselves personally and how much of what they were speaking was about someone else?

I wondered who the one girl was referring to when she spoke of broken promises and one-sided love. Did the person she’d written about know she had done so and was, at that very moment, divulging so many intimate details that likely only the two of them had yet shared?

Then I imagined myself up there and how I would myself handle the nervousness and all those people staring and listening so intently. I could imagine, amongst all that, at the same time a huge rush that must be produced from doing something so freeing and open-ended.

It’s interesting to observe those listening around me in a situation like that. I suppose, to show that they are being heard and have had some kind of a positive effect, some people feel like it is only polite to produce even some small noise of appreciation, a murmur of awareness.

I shifted my eyes and attention: from the one speaking to us all about their writing, around to my fellow listeners, and back again.

I think it’s happening more and more as I feel I have lost more sight, but often, as in cases such as last night, I feel more and more self-conscious about where it is I am looking. It seems like I have less and less to focus my limited vision on.

This simply added to the feeling I often have, again like last night, where I feel both invisible and like I am standing out horribly in a group of people. The only way, I’ve been told I can possibly eliminate this, is to keep repeating this again and again.

I suppose this is why I read and why I write.

This all played back to the fact that I wasn’t sure I belonged there at the author’s readings, or literary evening, or whatever it is you want to call what last night was.

How important was what we were all doing there last night and the work and the time and energy people put into revealing such stories about ourselves?

I wish I could have held off to write all this down until I was certain I could place each point I wanted to make into its proper day’s blog post, with the correct topic, on the appropriate and the best day for each.

However, I waited this long before posting on my blog this week, not because I didn’t have enough things to write about or enough to say, but because I’ve simply found I’ve had too much.

I can always find enough topics to write about, even if I wrote for one hundred World Book Days. The same goes for International Women’s Day a couple days from now.

***

I did find myself sitting in my nephew’s bedroom the other day, watching him pulling his books down and tossing them this way and that as I pondered my relationship with books and why I love them so much.

Then, I thought about the same questions last night as I held my newly signed Carrie Snyder original in my hands all the way home from the reading.

I miss sunny mornings in the library when I was a kid, surrounded by the innocence of children’s literature. I sat and held a copy of a Grover storybook for much too much time the other morning and I capped off World Book Day holding a book from a local, Canadian author for my collection, thinking that I may not be able to read print books like I used to as a child, but that on a day like March 5th, they are no less valuable and meaningful to me now than they were to me back then.

Maybe I will find the courage, because that is what it is, to read my stuff in front of a group of my peers some day.

And maybe I will have books of my own to give to someone requesting them, who may just have come out to meet me and to hear my words on a World Book Day in the future, just like I did for Carrie last night.

For more on Carrie Snyder check out her website below:

http://carriesnyder.com

Happy World Book Day and International Women’s Day to you all.

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