1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

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I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

In The News and On My Mind: Blue October/Red October, #TBT

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

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I love October. I love the cool scent in the air, one that brings me back to a different time – fall recesses in the school’s playground.

I love Halloween, despite all my comments to the contrary.

I know the month is usually associated with colours such as black and orange, but today I am talking more about blue and red.

I love colours that I begin to forget. I always will, no matter how vague their shades become to my mind, but I don’t like when a colour is associated with a political party. I love blue: blue skies, water, even and especially I love blue Powerade.

I love red. I would say red is my favourite colour. I love its connotations. I love its fiery, passionate, brilliance.

Blue can be associated with sadness. I can relate to that too. Red is the colour of my favourite literary character’s hair and the colour of hearts and love.

Now I’m supposed to give over my favourite colours to Conservatives or Liberals? No no no!

This October is becoming a mixture of excitement and tension, at least around here in Canada, for the hope that our Toronto Blue Jays will defy all odds and make it to the World Series and then there was our big election.

People in Toronto are dressed in the team colours. Our Boys in Blue. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are blue.

Blue and red.

The Jays play the Kansas City Royals again on Friday and all our hopes rest on this game, again, and I can’t really stand to watch the whole way through. It’s like when my brother or someone else I care about happens to be performing. My heart beats in anticipation for their success and I can hardly stand it.

As for our Canadian election: blue is out. Red is in.

Isn’t red associated with Communism? What?

Why do we ruin our beautiful colours, all of you forgetting how lucky you are to see them, with these differing affiliations?

No! I will not give up my precious colours to any one group of people or one set of beliefs.

I was not alive when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada, but I hear it was quite the time. Scandal of the day. His son Justin was born into this circus.

It’s strange to think that our Prime Minister is only a little more than a decade older than I am. This leaves him up for a lot of criticism because some say he is too young, unexperienced, as the attack ads always claimed.

Sure, eleven weeks for a political race may sound laughable to the US, for instance, but it was eleven weeks too long for me, with all those “he’s just not ready” attack ads.

Others say he is the fresh, new, younger leader this country needs. The world is moving forward, progress and all that, and I tend to agree.

As I’ve said before, who would want the job anyway? He’s got to be a little crazy, but he must have his reasons. Maybe he really does feel like he can make a difference. Running a country, even Canada for whatever that’s worth, must not be easy.

The fear mongering continues. Justin will raise taxes. People don’t feel safe anymore, within the first few days since the election took place. What are they afraid of? Should I be afraid too?

I wrote a blog post, pre-election, about the question of voting: who should I vote fore, should I give into the fears being raised, and how do I really and truly know who I believe can run this country?

Time For a Change

Throw-back to a few weeks ago and before the election.

Time to look ahead, to the future:

A New Day In Canada

Was our prime minister racist? Was he xenophobic? I hate to think it.

I probably should have stayed away, but I have been reading the Facebook comments on two posts in particular, both reflecting and looking back, with sadness to one year ago today and the death of Corporal Nathan Zirillo.

Ottawa shooting: Day of chaos remembered 1 year later

Stephen Harper, still technically in charge of Canada and Justin Trudeau, soon to be – come together to place a wreath for the dead. They both make use of social media, a sign of the times, but today they were, the two of them, offering their sincerest condolences for the loved ones affected in the tragedy of exactly one year ago.

I visited that spot, on Parliament Hill, last winter. It was a cold and grey day, but it was quiet, people milling about, with no sign that just four months earlier, on October 22nd, there would have been fear and panic of the unknown.

Of course, it should be all about the tragedy, the sacrifice, the bravery and remembering those we lost. Harper’s words were about remembering, but quickly things moved into comments about how people loved how safe they felt with Harper in charge and how afraid they are now that Trudeau is at the helm.

The Trudeau posts’ comments were full of people who are looking forward to a future with a new leader for Canada. Then, more back-and-forth.

I understand. These men aren’t responsible for what some commenter writes, but if I were Harper, all this time, I would be horrified that people are making such drastic statements in the name of Conservatism.

I could stay off places like Facebook, the comments, but it’s out there and I don’t want to close my eyes to it either.

There’s a page on Facebook, with 5641 likes, called Ban Islam In Canada:

“Islam is the world’s leading death cult! Please keep in mind we do not insult other religious beliefs here – IF YOU DO YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED! This page is about the dangers of Islam – so please respect other viewpoints about God.”

Excuse me! What did you just state?

What do I do when I realize this nonsense exists? I want to cry at the awfulness. I want to get angry at the ignorance. I want to make people understand, make them stop spreading such poison. If I were Harper, I would be horrified that anything like this uses Conservative politics on its page to help deliver its message. Canada is better than that.

I do get that There are going to be sides, but I don’t like it. I’ve said all this before. I hate it, in fact, but my mom always told me not to use that word unless you really meant it. She’s always right. I…um…dislike that.

🙂

I simply couldn’t believe some of the racist, sexist, awful comments made by my fellow Canadians. One man even went so far as to use the word “vaginas” when exclaiming he thought Canada will now sit on the side lines of fights he evidently believes canada should remain in. Really? I kind of wish I wasn’t sharing a country with that, um, farthest thing from a gentleman I can think of.

People are not wanting other groups, ethnicities, races in Canada. They tie them up, immediately, as being Muslim, AKA terrorists. No distinction. No difference to them.

Anytime a white man commits murder, we don’t start blaming all white people. This prejudice that has taken hold of our world, not just Canada, it must stop.

Yes, it was a horrible crime that was perpetrated on October 22nd, 2014 in Ottawa and with the death of Patrice Vincent in Quebec.

Zirillo was on duty. He wasn’t in a coffee shop or church. He knew the risks in such a job, as remote as they were. That doesn’t make it any less tragic for his family, for his child, but there it is.

I don’t know where it was proven the one responsible was a terrorist. If it was, correct me. It was one lone extremist, a radical.

Was he mentally ill or did he know exactly what he was doing? This debate will continue. More attention on mental health? Always.

Did our prime minister use those things to push his agenda? Would someone do such a thing? Did he truly believe Canada was being attacked, because the guy attacked where and who he did? The perpetrator didn’t just attack someone in a cafe or on the street, but terrorists do that as well.

Should I be more afraid than I am about Canada being attacked, being in the wrong place at the wrong time myself one time?

This happened while Harper was in charge. What if it happened when Trudeau was? People would blame him for being soft on terrorism. What do people think of the fact that it ended up happening on Harper’s watch?

It’s all perception really. Facts and events are concrete, but the way they are perceived is an entirely different story.

George Bush was in charge during 9/11 and not Obama. Did Bush make things safer so something like that did not happen for Obama?

Who knows.

I am proud to be Canadian. I feel for the family. It affects me when something like that happens, in the capital of my country or anywhere else.

I choose not to follow the line of fear so many do. I choose to believe that most people who want to come to Canada want to come for the best reasons, reasons having nothing to do with terrorism.

If they choose to follow more of the Canadian traditions and beliefs or if they intend to remain immersed in whatever religion or culture they came from. As long as we are good to one another, what does it matter?

What will that do to Canada? Oh please!

It was said Harper’s campaign failed because he was running on a message of fear. People got sick of it. I only know that I felt it and I was sick of it.

Now, will Justin magically fix all the problems going on in our world today and in Canada? Of course not. No politician can, does, or ever will.

I do happen to like a younger and fresh take on things. He has been in politics, surrounded in it all his life, which you could argue gives him the ultimate dose of experience, as he’s seen firsthand what the job is like.

I’ve learned Justin Trudeau was/is a teacher. He seems to have a more stable family life, compared to his parents. Let’s hope the stresses of his new job don’t damage that.

I hear that Pierre Trudeau was known as a brilliant man, an intellectual, but people are saying Justin has an emotional intelligence and sensitivity that I would like for Canada’s PM.

How is Margaret Trudeau feeling about her son taking on the position? She knows what it’s like and only wants the best for her child and his family.

Let’s give Margaret Trudeau the respect she deserves

It’s the dynasty, the Trudeau family. I don’t know much about that, but as I am now an adult and observant of things, even as I try to resist it, it shall be interesting to see how those who keep pushing the fear tactic will handle whatever happens.

Are we allowed to call Justin Trudeau hot?

I can’t see Justin and his apparent good looks. That’s certainly not why I would have voted for him, as so many are claiming was done. Really? Does anyone really believe another would vote for a guy to run the country, on his appearance? Do sighted people do such a ridiculous thing as this, ever?

So the “Blue” Jays go on to fight another day.

And the red Liberals have the majority.

I choose to go with sunny yellow. Hope, bright times ahead, sunny skies and green lights for Toronto, Ottawa, and the rest of Canada.

The Daily Show gets the last word, practically.

It is my blog after all.

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Bucket List, RIP, The Insightful Wanderer, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: Make It Happen!

Here I am, speeding along through July and toward the middle of the month.

Now we’re talking, July!

Things are really starting to heat up, or I hope that’s what’s happening. I’ve just got to stay alert and focused on my goals.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Lately, I’ve been feeling rather restless and in a hurry, impatiently anxious and waiting for something, some things to happen.

What things, you ask…well, read on to find out. Hopefully this second week of July is the week things are really going to start happening for me this summer.

Monday: Shark Week

For awareness brought to these spectacular survivors and rulers of the ocean.

I hope we won’t need a week to remember the sharks, by the time my niece and my nephews are grown, because we’ve done something irresponsible and something we can’t take back, here in 2015.

Online, everywhere you go when searching sharks, so many attention-grabbing articles and videos are posted. However, they are all ones that involve the word “attack” and are meant to fit stereotypes of what dangerous, man-eating creatures sharks are.

That title is old and outdated. I am not sure I could swim with one, but I respect sharks and I don’t want to lose them.

Tuesday: The Mess Of Me

For the pleasant surprise I received when I arrived home, to find a book waiting for me in the mail.

I had been eagerly waiting for this for days, but apparently the trip over from England to Canada, for a book in the mail is a long one.

🙂

        http://www.amazon.com/Chantelle-Atkins/e/B00J7ACVCY

I found Chantelle Atkins on Facebook and have been following her journey as an author for some time now. Then I entered a contest and won a copy of one of her novels.

I sometimes feel bad, entering contests for books, because I can not even read them in print. I didn’t really want to take the chance of winning a copy away from someone else, but I love books, whether or not I can still read them without the aid of technology. I love to collect them and put them on my bookshelf. I even got a signed copy.

Wednesday: Could it be? A new little storyteller in the making?

For a perfect five minutes, holding my new pal, before she grew once more grumpy and demanded to be returned to her mommy.

My phone decided to cooperate this time, as I got a solid five with my new friend, the sweetest little doll on the planet, while her mother snapped some photos of the two of us, just chilling out.

My friend’s little girl is already ten weeks old and this time I got to hold her for a while, listening to her tell her mother and me stories.

I think she may be a writer in the making, or at least, she’ll be animated and charismatic like her mom.

Thursday: When a friend is in need, it’s Kerry to the rescue.

🙂

For the opportunity to be there, in a pinch, to help a friend out of a late-night jam.

I have a couch and if offering it up could possibly prevent one more over-tired driver from getting into a terrible accident, risking their own death or the death of someone else, I think it’s worth it.

For a huge honour, a most welcome surprise, but a definite humbling pressure to live up to.

I was just about to fall asleep, rather late, when my phone went off. It was a message from a travel writer on Facebook.

I’d submitted a few of my travel articles to this particular travel writer,

Amy Gigi Alexander,

whom I highly admire.

Amy has started a database of female writers, adventure seekers, and travellers.

Writing Walking Women

I didn’t expect that she would bestow me with the title of “number 87) on WWW’s list of women who love travel and writing about it.

As, hopefully, I grow my reputation for being a woman who loves to write about travel, (slowly but surely) I hope I am able to live up to this placement on the list.

Friday: RIP Morgan.

For the chance to have an amazing person in my life and as a part of my family, at least for a little while and always and forever.

I wrote about the impact my cousin had on me, last year, on the ten-year anniversary of his death.

Summertime Sadness

Although we tend to mark these occasions annually, I only wrote about it on the ten year mark, but the people we’ve loved and lost deserve a lot more than that. They deserve to be spoken of often, to keep their memory going.

“Beyond the door, there’s peace, I’m sure.”

Eric Clapton speaks of Heaven, but no matter what your religious beliefs may be, I know we all just hope our departed loved ones are at peace. I sure hope so.

For long awaited emails and now the pressure’s on.

🙂

I have been waiting, for what felt like many months, but really it’s been just this past six months or so that my luck seemed to change for the better.

I found a place for a short story I had written and now the day is very nearly here. My story will be released in an anthology. At least, I hope it will. (A few last-minute jitters.)

Announcing My Second Chance

Hoping all will go well and this isn’t too good to be true.

An email went out to all the authors, sharing a final final edit of the anthology. I hope I know how to follow instructions to get me to Wednesday’s release in tact.

Stay tuned for next week’s TToT post for more on how this went.

For a much needed reminder to be grateful, as the entire TToT is meant for, with the sudden stripe sighting.

While playing with my nephew, at the playground, I suddenly spotted his striped shirt.

For so long now, I’d think my little remaining vision may be slipping away, but then I see stripes and I am happy. All hope is not lost.

A date recently told me he wore a bright green T-shirt to meet me, in the hopes that I could better spot him in a crowd. Nice thought he had. Well, this was ineffective, but then I see stripes and I have hope.

Saturday: DVS

For descriptive video services.

I recently received help, from my sister, to finally get the option on my television turned on so I now have some shows I watch narrated for me.

Some movie theatres do this. (Not always…don’t get me started on that.)

🙂

My brother and I used to rent movies all the time, that came in the mail, with descriptive track to explain the visual parts to us.

Now I have that function turned on for my television, but then I came across another website, full of MP3 movies. This means there is no picture. Just soundtrack. That’s all I need. The list of movies isn’t bad. My brother showed me one last Christmas, but this one I found all on my own.

For strong family and friends in my life.

I have family who deserve to get everything they have been praying for and just might be, to friends who are discovering strengths they never even knew they had, to other family with daily longing for a loved one who is no longer with us.

These people demonstrate this strength of character, not just one day a year, but all 365 days. It’s in everything they do, that which helps me remember what true bravery and perseverance look like.

I want to thank them all.

See how this week of mine started out a little slow, but grew with its momentum? See how things really started to heat up as the week progressed?

I’m off now to make sure I have things in order, to put in the effort and make it happen.

😉

I’m not going to miss this chance.

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