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TToT: Major and Minor – Zones and Pods, #InternationalLiteracyDay #9/11 #10Thankful

“I can’t get no peace, until I dive into the deep, blue lullaby.”

—Blue Lullaby, The Jellyman’s Daughter

Of course everyone can recall, with at least some detail, just where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Most then speak of staring at the television, watching the horror unfold.

I remember the feelings. My father driving my sister back to college, starting to hear things on the radio in the car. I went into school, my teachers listening to radios and talk of World War III. That was my fear, but although I watched the news with my father all evening, our family just recently acquiring CNN, I wondered where all this might lead.

I wonder now when people speak of not getting that image out of their minds, but even then my vision was bad enough that I wouldn’t see those towers fall, people jumping for their lives, to their deaths. Am I less affected somehow, because I didn’t see it with my own two eyes?

What about anyone, such as children born after 2001, like my niece and nephews, who weren’t alive yet to know that day? Well, I suppose it would be like Pearl Harbor for me and also my parents. It’s the way I’ve heard those who witnessed that describe the feelings, but the difference being that lead to war for the US, a world war that had already begun for Europe. This time there has been no declaration of another world war, not in the 15 years hence, and hopefully never again.

If I were to have cried at the end of this strange week, would anyone be all that surprised? Whether from having to make more decisions about my health, to decide on medication coverage and possible effect on my transplanted kidney, which is coming up on twenty years. My fear, no matter how unlikely, ratchets up ever higher. Or from the fact that time rushes by, ever faster, as my niece enters an actual number grade, her brother soon to follow their cousin, who himself just began junior kindergarten this week and oh how little they seem for that first day. Perhaps it’s that I can’t possibly manage all my email and technology issues on my own which required having to accept help from one who knows so much more, or else maybe it’s that I realized I can do more than I thought I could. It never ends. Or from a painful part of being Canadian or a sombre day for the US, fifteen years after-the-fact.

Blue Lullaby

And so I let all that sink in and I let my gratitude germinate and I feel all those overwhelming things and then I move forward and I find my list of thankfuls.

I’m thankful that I get to see my first big concert of a violin player live.

I’ve loved the sound of the violin for years, but now more and more I hear it everywhere. Wherever it appears in a television or movie’s soundtrack I zero in on it immediately, sometimes still uncertain, but at my core I know that sound.

I’m thankful that I found a doctor who seems to have a few suggestions for possible medical treatments.

After a while, you feel like you’re losing it and maybe you should just suffer silently because nobody could possibly understand. At this point, I take what I can get with my health, which sounds bad, but really I don’t believe, in spite of all doctors have done for me, that they have all the answers or can cure everything.

The question then becomes: how much can I put up with, how much do I just need to accept, and how then to focus on the good things in my life?

I’m thankful that I got to attend a truly unique and wonderful secret performance.

Sofar Sounds

Secret gigs and intimate concerts, all around the world – in 271 cities.

My brother and his friend have been playing music all around their city this summer, but this time they were scheduled to perform at something truly special and I just had to check it out for myself.

Sofar Sounds on Facebook

This wasn’t only a gig to them. It was held in the bachelor apartment of that friend of my brother. I happened to know where the show was being held, but only because M had volunteered to host it. I still had to apply on the Sofar Sounds website and wait to see if there was a spot left for me.

Intimate doesn’t begin to describe it. There were at least thirty people, mostly twenty-something’s, all crammed into a small house apartment in London, Ontario last Tuesday night. It was air conditioned, but this made little difference once all musical equipment was set up and everyone filed in to watch the three performances.

It felt lovely to me though, even though I was overheating and realizing I was possibly the oldest person there, at thirty-two. It was just so wonderful to see the love of music and the teamwork that these young men and women showed to bring people together through music. It frankly restored my faith in people, younger generations, or any generation for that matter.

I’m thankful that at said secret, exclusive performance, I got to learn of a duo I’d not heard of before, one I likely never would have heard of otherwise, and one which included cello.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

This young musician couple from Scotland were on tour in Ontario and they were happy to be playing at their fourth Sofar, after Edinburgh, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. They were a team also, in the guitar, mandolin, and the cello he played, and her singing with him backing her up. They played a nice mix of Scottish music, bluegrass, and even a Beatles cover with a brilliant new spin on its classic sound.

I m thankful my niece started grade one and my nephew began junior kindergarten.

This week was

International Literacy Day.

I was emotional all week, thinking about it, how my niece is learning how to read and write and next it will be my nephew’s turns.

I was emotional as I saw people I started school with, more than twenty-five years ago now, sharing the news of their own children’s first days of school, on Facebook. I was emotional because time flies and that’s both a good and a bad feeling, with nothing to be done about it either way.

I’m just lucky that my niece and nephews have access to all the tools they need to grow and learn in the right environment.

I’m thankful for new members and old ones, at my writing group, who share their varying perspectives with me.

I get to witness the different writing styles, experiences that are unique to each individual writer in that room, and they trust me as one of the few they feel mostly comfortable reading their words out loud to.

The Elsewhere Region

This is a term that just happened to come up at the most recent meeting and I’ve decided that is how I will refer to this group from now on. I am a huge fan of names and titles for things. Saying “writing group” or “writing circle” just never has had quite the same ring to it.

I’m thankful my ex could make a dent with my email problem.

I have collected thousands and thousands and thousands of emails and my ability to stay on top of that, deleting or organizing, it got away from me. It was so bad my computer’s voice program couldn’t even speak anymore, making it impossible to check my own email. It felt like a runaway train.

I resist these things, such as calling in the expertise of an IT ex boyfriend who knows his stuff. I don’t like to be a bother to those who are currently in my life, let alone those who chose not to be.

The hard part is that someone is a decent enough person to want to help anyway. The worst part is knowing that decency exists always.

Dent made, but still I feel like I can’t quite get a grasp on this, which feels like a silly complaint to have really.

I’m thankful that a favourite blogger and writer of mine has returned, after a fruitful summer off, to blogging and writing again. And who has made her return by sharing something I did not already know on her blog.

The Fallow Period

I’m thankful for peace where I live, where my family lives, and where my niece and nephews can grow up without being directly impacted by war and violence.

I recently listened to a news story about hopes of a cease fire in Syria and then a man who was a child soldier, speaking on Facebook, about the plight of his people in the country of South Sudan.

No country is perfect. None is spared completely, forever.

I’m thankful for my country, both that I and others can recognize the bad that’s taken place and still celebrate what we are as citizens and what we could be.

Canada In A Day

Next year isn’t only the year I celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant, but as a much broader celebration, it will be Canada’s 150th birthday.

So, on September 10th, CTV, the national television broadcaster asked Canadians to film a minute of their life, a reason they are proud to live in this country. All clips will be compiled together. Sounds like a lovely pride project.

I mention several reasons, just here in this week’s TToT, why I am proud to be Canadian. This doesn’t mean I think we are a perfect country or that we shouldn’t try to learn about mistakes of our collective past and make an effort to do better for the next 150 years.

One musician is doing just that before he runs out of time:

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STATEMENT BY GORD DOWNIE clickable

Ogoki Post, Ontario clickable

September 9, 2016 clickable

Mike Downie introduced me to Chanie Wenjack; he gave me the story from Ian Adams’ Maclean’s magazine story dating back to February 6, 1967, “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack.” clickable

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to walk home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids – more than anyone will be able to imagine – he tried. I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him. clickable

Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable, but this begins in the late 1800s and goes to 1996. “White” Canada knew – on somebody’s purpose – nothing about this. We weren’t taught it in school; it was hardly ever mentioned. clickable

All of those Governments, and all of those Churches, for all of those years, misused themselves. They hurt many children. They broke up many families. They erased entire communities. It will take seven generations to fix this. Seven. Seven is not arbitrary. This is far from over. Things up north have never been harder. Canada is not Canada. We are not the country we think we are. clickable

I am trying in this small way to help spread what Murray Sinclair said, “This is not an aboriginal problem. This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected – that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well… They need to know that history includes them.” (Murray Sinclair, Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2015) clickable

I have always wondered why, even as a kid, I never thought of Canada as a country – It’s not a popular thought; you keep it to yourself – I never wrote of it as so. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him – as we find out about ourselves, about all of us – but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.” clickable

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The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack – Macleans.ca

It’s painful for me when I hear about stories like these, boys like this, lives who mattered and who deserved to feel safe in this country, like I’ve felt. These are things I too would rather not have to think about, as I can plead ignorance growing up, but I can’t continue to bury my head in the sand any longer.

Canada in a day is a great thing, but it’s truly impossible to sum up what Canada has been, what it is now, or what it should be or could be or might be in the future. It’s important that I speak for both here. I want my blog to be a place where I show both sides of our Canadian coin.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Song Lyric Sunday

Good Riddance, #SongLyricSunday

When J.K. Rowling finished writing the final chapter of the last Harry Potter book (The Deathly Hallows), she was being recorded for a documentary on a year of her life.

I was her newest, biggest, huge fan and I watched that documentary over and over again, soaking up every word she spoke, in response to the journalist’s questions.

The one scene had her at her laptop, locked away in a hotel room somewhere in Scotland, and finishing the book, joyous with elation and then a song comes on that I won’t ever forget.

From then on I was and am still a Lily Allen fan.

qyH3Dkj.jpg

And this song was called “Smile”, which seemed to fit the mood Rowling must have had on completing the novel series she had been working on for more than ten years, really since she suddenly acquired the idea of a boy wizard with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, on a train back in 1990.

The song plays for a short time and then its cut off, just as the true mood of this particular tune is revealed.

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Note: Some strong language ahead.

When you first left me I was wanting more
But you were fucking that girl next door, what you do that for (what you do that for)?
When you first left me I didn’t know what to say
I never been on my own that way, just sat by myself all day
I was so lost back then
But with a little help from my friends
I found a light in the tunnel at the end
Now you’re calling me up on the phone
So you can have a little whine and a moan
And it’s only because you’re feeling alone
At first when I see you cry,
Yeah, it makes me smile, yeah, it makes me smile
At worst I feel bad for a while,
But then I just smile, I go ahead and smile
Whenever you see me you say that you want me back
And I tell you it don’t mean jack, no, it don’t mean jack
I couldn’t stop laughing, no, I just couldn’t help myself
See you messed up my mental health I was quite unwell
I was so lost back then
But with a little help from my friends
I found a light in the tunnel at the end
Now you’re calling me up on the phone
So you can have a little whine and a moan
And it’s only because you’re feeling alone
At first when I see you cry,
Yeah, it makes me smile, yeah, it makes me smile
At worst I feel bad for a while,
But then I just smile, I go ahead and smile
Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala lalala
At first when I see you cry,
Yeah, it makes me smile, yeah, it makes me smile
At worst I feel bad for a while,
But then I just smile, I go ahead and smile Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
At first when I see you cry,
Yeah, it makes me smile, yeah, it makes me smile
At worst I feel bad for a while,
But then I just smile, I go ahead and smile

Smile – Lily Allen – (lyrics)

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Helen asked us to share lyrics about

anger,

which I’ve always said is just a cover-up for the emotions of fear and sadness and the feeling of loss that we all experience.

I’ve always admired Allen’s spirit. She’s feisty and tough, not afraid to show her anger, especially in her younger years and before she became more settled, with her partner and children. As far as I know, from what she’s released recently, she is happy in her personal life. This, however, hasn’t totally dampened her no bullshit British female attitude. She is all that I am not, of which I become, even for a few fleeting moments, when I listen to her music.

In those early years she sang songs like “Smile” and in such songs her lyrics and her tone both exuded anger at times throughout.

I wanted to be so angry, to be able to purge myself of the raw rage I’d found myself experiencing. It wasn’t really worth all the trouble, I told myself, as songs like the one Carrie Underwood sang about keying a guy’s car became hit songs on the radio.

What was the point? I asked myself. I felt betrayed and let down by someone in a major way, sure, but I wasn’t really an angry person by nature, was I? It lived inside me, in some small way, like it lives in us all. I just didn’t want it to consume me. I pushed it down. I fought it. I told myself I wasn’t angry and didn’t wish pain and loneliness on any such person. I truly hoped that someone was happy, wherever life had taken them. No good could come of me wishing revenge against one who’d caused me the type of agony I didn’t believe possible previously. Lyrics were my way to let it all out, let it go, and feel better again, in some small way.

So, I like to drown my sorrows in an angry song now and again, to help me feel all the feels, but then I move right along to lyrics about other things, as I try to look to the future, one bright with mega possibilities.

Lily is always there for me though, when the anger threatens to rear its ugly head.

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

“People Of Canada…” #CanadaDay #FTSF

A lot can change in a year.

Today is a celebration in my country. Today is Canada’s 149th birthday.

How perfect – this all lined up with Finish the Sentence Friday and its particular sentence for the week, which ties in with all I have been thinking about on countries, borders, and our one, global world.

Every year, on July 1st and since I started this blog, I have found it important to say something about Canada or what it’s like to be Canadian.

In 2014,

I listed ten things I loved about my country (Oh Canada).

And then, last year,

I decided to take a different approach,

Reconciling The Truth About Canada.

Last year we had another political party in charge and another politician leading Canada.

This year we have Justin Trudeau. Not all are thrilled, just like I wasn’t thrilled with the people in charge this time last July.

Stories in the news for 2016 are more often than not horrifying to me. I listen to the epic race for the White House and the Brexit referendum. I look around me here in Canada, and I hold on tightly, but the other night I listened to a speech put on in Ottawa’s parliament, by visiting US President (for the time being) Barack Obama.

He began it with the words: “People of Canada…” and I was unprepared for all I was about to hear.

What I wish the world knew is a simple enough word: peace. They often say they know (those leading the way), that they understand, but continually prove the opposite to be true. This leaves those of us, so desperate for peace, to feel like we’re the odd ones out, like what we’re asking for is so out-of-reach impossible.

Obama started to speak and I’ve never been so speechless and yet bursting with thoughts and things to say, all at the same time. I wanted to cry, more than once, as he spoke and the crowd cheered at various statements he made.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/latest-obama-arrives-canada-us-mexico-summit-40217479

Just days after the Brexit vote, I listened to a speech by a certain UKIP politician, to the EU. It carried a definite, a continual tone of mocking and gloating. Totally uncalled for and unnecessary, in my mind, as mature adults, or thought to be mature adults should be conducting themselves and holding themselves to a much higher standard than was evident in that room.

Then, compare that to one given by Nicola Sturgeon, in Scotland, where she spoke of what may end up need to be done. She struck me as a powerful female voice, in the world of politics, where so often women’s voices are mostly silent. As she finished speaking, however, sirens could be heard in the distance, coming closer and closer. This felt ominous to me in some way.

Then, this week, it was the North American Leader’s Summit. The leaders of Mexico, the United States, and Canada came together to talk a wide array of topics, from the environment to Brexit.

Of course, on Canada Day and every other, I am glad Canada is is its own, individual nation, while existing as part of the North American continent. I feel bad to admit it, that I’ve been feeling a sense of relief, that perhaps Canada’s darker period is over, while the US’s may still be ahead of them. I don’t wish civil unrest on anyone, not the least on my neighbours to the south. I don’t think the United States fully realized how good they had it with Obama. However, I don’t think isolation is the answer and we need each other, more than we’d like to admit.

To be honest, I am dying for this summer to fly by, this year in particular, because I am feeling uncomfortable while the US elections are revving up, but perhaps (if the UK is any indication) I shouldn’t be in any big rush for the summer of 2016 to come to an end. I am dreading the results this November, yet I remain skeptically optimistic, after how Canada’s elections turned out last fall.

Obama spoke in Ottawa and it was his last visit to Canada as President. He was the first US president to come here since Clinton, twenty years ago. Particularly, Trudeau and Obama have been developing a friendly relationship, which is for the good of us all, but this pleasant environment could be short lived.

Obama spoke about refugees and immigrants. He didn’t speak about building walls and closing ranks against the rest of the world. He addressed the dangers of the “us against them” mentality, which I’d like to tell the rest of the world, can’t possibly work.

Obama spoke of the US/Canada history. War of 1812, (some bad memories there).

🙂

Then there came the Underground Railroad. While things for minorities were never great here or there, there was a reason why we were the north that slaves of the time were willing to die to get to. We could be a refuge for so many then.

We could be, we can set an example once more. I want to think Canada can set that example, as politics in the US is soon to change, Obama’s time nearly up, but that Trudeau has only just begun his time in office. Some say he has been bad for Canada, and if they are talking budgets and economy, I am the last to say I know a lot about those things and how it will all turn out, but Justin Trudeau has made strides on many things humanitarian. I want Canada to show the world that opening up our hearts and home to people fleeing war will make the world a better place, but Obama spoke about doing all we can do to ensure a more peaceful planet earth, so wars and unrest can’t uproot so many from there homes in the first place.

I want to make all my bursting thoughts come out in a coherent statement for how I feel. I don’t go by the situation with currency or by the stock market. I go by my heart. What doesn’t feel true and compassionate to me, I know isn’t possibly to benefit the world. So much fear and shameful reaction to fear. I want my country to lead the way in doing better.

And so, as many celebrated their very first Canada Day in this country this year, I hope they feel welcomed, even if this place is still a strange one to them. As I hope for all this, I think always on the first Canada Day my grandparents spent, all those years ago. They left Europe after that continent had been nearly destroyed, devastated by war, and we can’t let that continue to happen. Surely, the world must realize this. Or am I just talking to myself here, banging my own head up against a brick wall? Am I simply too naive for my own good, when it comes down to what humans are capable of?

FTSF is thanks to Kristi from:

Finding Ninee

And I wish nothing but peace on this Canada Day, 4th of July, or whatever else may mark any other country’s place in the world.

To end with – my thoughts are with Turkey, after the latest run-in with the opposite of peace. Their country deserves the same level of support, just like Belgium, France, the US or anywhere else, as fellow human beings, living together and sharing this planet of ours, we need each other. We cannot fight hate with even more hate. Peace, going forward, always. Please. Don’t make me beg!

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