1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday

Radical Tenderness, #Compassion #1000Speak

How do we do this, find compassion in these times of insanity and chaos?

I was watching an interview with Stephen Colbert and writer George Saunders last week and the term “radical tenderness” was used to explain how compassion and understanding can be applied, even to those we strongly oppose. Is this possible?

I try to be compassionate and to write and share compassion, but my struggle is just as real, even as I write through my feelings.

I recently wrote about compassion, the other day was Pink Shirt Day, and bullying is real and damaging. I think name calling is unnecessary and immature, but we all do it. I struggle with the fact that I say name calling is wrong, and then I go and call someone something. The new U.S. leader is offensive to my every fibre. I don’t consider this name calling, but more like I’m simply speaking my truth. Whereas, I have vowed not to use his name on my blog, so I now call him 45 and that’s not so bad. It’s when I slip and swear under my breath at something he’s done that has made the news, because of course he has all that power now, power to command all that attention he craves. When I call him a foolish old man, then am I crossing the line into name calling? Is that compassion? Can I tap into my stores of radical tenderness?

This compassion thing isn’t easy. It’s the two year anniversary of
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
this week and I am still sad how the original steam of the movement started here has declined so rapidly.

There is ugliness going on in the world right now, truly, but there is also immense beauty and wonder.

All that ugliness could be part of the reason so many don’t know what else to say about a topic like compassion, I get that, but I can’t stop speaking out about it. I can’t.

The children in our lives deserve the best world we can give them (and so I dedicate my two year anniversary post on compassion to my niece, Mya Lynne, and to all the children, constantly teaching me that compassion is worth it):

I look down into your face, your beautiful face, and I see only a blur wrapped in a blanket. There’s no getting around that. I wish I could see you, but you are real, really here. I hold you tight. You restore my faith, now that you’re with us, and I find new stores of compassion in me.

You are beauty and sweetness and all that is good and right with this world.

And how!

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Feminism, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Created, Creative, Creation – Boourns, #10Thankful

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

–Sylvia Plath

I’m spending my Easter Sunday under the weather, so I will be making this list uncharacteristically short and abbreviated, but I’ve been thinking a lot this week about creativity.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For drumming.

Our creation “Don’t Look Back” is all done. My brother has a friend who is a brilliant drummer and he agreed to play on it.

He wanted to be a part of this project so much he even took the morning off work to record his drum part for the song.

It definitely has a different sound to it with drums added. It fills it out and it is so beautiful.

Once my brother presents it in class I hope to be able to share all the hard work we all put into it. After all, what else is making music for but to share it with people?

For now and then.

I spent time this week hanging out with my youngest nephew, sitting in his favourite spot on the couch, while we watched a movie.

As we sat there, I couldn’t help thinking back to the first time the two of us sat in that corner of that particular couch. I held him in my arms when he was only days old, while he slept, nearly three years ago.

For family fish and chip dinners.

A lot of fun is had when you get a family, people all the way from two to sixty, around a dinner table.

We all crowded into one van, on a rainy Wednesday, and off we went.

For humour.

With all the crap going on around the world, sometimes it’s nice to just laugh a lot. My brother, father, and myself did just that, for a few hours the other night. It felt good.

We watched the Jerry Seinfeld series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and if you have not seen it yet, you really should check it out.

It’s available online, on YouTube and on a free streaming website:

http://www.crackle.com/about

Basically, Seinfeld goes out and rents a car, fitting to the comedian he is about to have coffee with. He then spends the first few minutes explaining what kind of car it is and why he chose it. Then he picks up his coffee companion and they go for a ride in the car to the coffee shop, discussing everything from show business and comedy, to family and hobbies, and cars of course.

We watched episodes with people like Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Will Ferrell, President Obama (one of the best episodes in my opinion, but they couldn’t acquire the proper security clearance to leave White House grounds), a few of Seinfeld’s former co-stars, and Howard Stern.

For literacy, education, and the grandpa there to pick up his granddaughter from school.

When I read about all the young girls around the world not allowed to receive a proper education and so many people who’ve never been given the chance for literacy I am particularly thrilled to know my niece is getting the opposite of all of that.

She’s learning to read and she has a good school to go to every day, with teachers who happily teach her, help her develop her own gifts and creativity.

And she has a grandpa who can pick her up after the day has finished.

For rain.

Okay, so I wasn’t really prepared to consider this one as a positive at the time.

I love to go for a nice long drive, but if rain is falling hard on the windshield I can’t quite relax in the same way.

This was our drive home the other night, in semi heavy traffic, but on reflection I realize I was lucky to make it home safe and even hard pouring drops of rain are something of beauty.

For another Friday up on Good Men Project.

For the second Friday in a row I had my writing featured on the site:.

Where Are We Since International Women’s Day Last Year?

Sure, being that the subject again involved the issues surrounding feminism, I received a few more somewhat angry comments from those who took my writing to mean I don’t think men around the world suffer at the hands of oppression and discrimination, or that I don’t believe men and boys deserve the same attention as women and girls and the issues we face.

I should expect a little backlash when writing about something that seems to divide many of us. I am still thankful I got my message out there and I know in my heart that I believe in fair treatment of both genders. You can’t possibly make everybody happy, all of the time anyway.

For date night.

I am thankful one couple in particular could have one night away, in a beautiful spot, as they truly deserve that.

I am happy that others can enjoy Niagara Falls like I do and they deserved some time to themselves now and then.

For inside jokes, group texts with brothers.

It’s nice to have a Friday evening group text with myself and my brothers, about a cherished eighties band (Duran Duran) and that we can share an inside joke that most people would be utterly confused about if they heard it.

For mendacity.

Feeling unwell of late has given me a lot of time to watch some films I’ve never gotten around to watching before.

This included one, based on a play, I’ve always wanted to see. I was aware of the main character, but I was unclear on just exactly what the storyline was for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.

Well, I like returning to those films that are mostly all dialogue. Of course, I was watching one with descriptive narration, but it would have been unnecessary really.

Well, I enjoy old movies, with dialogue so different from the films of today, and so many issues of the day, late 50s were interesting to me.

I also learned a new word. I’d heard of “menacing” but “mendacity” was a new one, repeated multiple times throughout. It means deception. I love learning new words.

It’s funny I started off the week watching “Ray”, one Jamie Foxx film and I ended it watching “Django Unchained”, which I’d heard was harsh and raw but to be expected when having to do with slavery, but Fox was so good, not to mention all the other actors.

It did really show how cruel we humans have been to one another. I’m sure this could lead directly into the themes of redemption surrounding Easter, but unfortunately I am far too tired now to explore those any further this year.

Check this out. Creativity and just lovely.

And Happy Easter everyone.

I’m starting to feel warm again so I think it’s off to bed with me. Have a good week.

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TToT: Vanilla and Peppermint – Ringing in the Season, #10Thankful

“You look like you’ve been run over by a steam roller and left on our doorstep.”

–Dr. House

img_1064-2015-11-22-10-01.jpg

No, not that Dr. House. The real Dr. House is alive and well and a nephrologist, a kidney transplant doctor in Ontario, Canada.

I feel like I should add, before I go any further, he is nothing like the grouchy, dysfunctional, fictional doctor people can’t help mentioning when they hear the name.

The above quote is the first thing he said to my brother, when he visited him, on his Sunday morning rounds. A real word mincer.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

The season has begun. Whether it begins: (in retail) immediately after Halloween ends, after November 11th (as is the respectful way), at Thanksgiving (for Americans), or on December 1st is really up for debate.

All I know is: I attended my local Santa Claus Parade, there’s snow on the ground, and the Home Alone movies are being shown on television.

Christmas is on its way.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the common cold.

Okay, well I’m thankful that that’s all it was for my brother.

He was unwell at the beginning of the week. He was dehydrated. He had been sleeping somewhere between 16 and 20 hours a day, every single day the week before. He hadn’t been to school in days.

But once he was where he needed to be, in hospital, they began to assess him. They gave him intravenous fluids and antibiotics, plus a specific treatment for

CMV.

CMV is more common after transplant, but he is more than two years out from his. It took a few days to test for, but he did not have it. once they discovered he didn’t, when the fluids had a chance to work, once his blood pressure wasn’t so low, and once he could eat again he was released. Such a relief. Transplant patients just must be careful. My brother’s case is proof that even a common cold can cause a lot of problems.

For vanilla bean everything!!!

One thing I love about the start of the Christmas season is my favourite scents.

I stocked up on everything vanilla bean at

Bath & Body Works.

No photos or words can do it justice. If I could send the scent of my vanilla bean shower gel, hand lotion, fragrance mist, hand soap, and lip balm to all of you, through the screen, I would.

🙂

Or better yet, the products themselves. They make excellent Christmas gifts.

For more red.

My favourite scent may be vanilla, but my favourite colour is red. I have been working on finding red appliances for my kitchen.

cameraawesomephoto-2015-11-22-10-01.jpg

This week I found a microwave that would fit the theme.

For some wonderful praise of my writing.

It was my second time at the writing group I’ve started attending and this week’s mystery object, fittingly, was someone’s ticket stub for the Eiffel Tower.

I like this group. Wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I like that I am put on the spot. We all are. We find out the answer to the mystery object question and, within minutes, we’re all writing furiously.

We have about an hour to come up with a piece of writing, based on that object. This week I brought my Braille Display and was able to read what I’d just come up with.

Silence. Crickets, if there had been any crickets in the library.

🙂

And then someone in the group told me they were silent because they were still imagining the scene in their mind. It was one comment, but it meant a lot to me to hear it.

For a Saturday afternoon writing workshop.

More writing. Yes, I could spend lots of money on classes and workshops. Seems, these days, like every writer or editor teaches them. I’m sure it’s a good way to make money, as there isn’t always money to be made in literature.

I went on a whim. It was a workshop on dialogue. I learned things, as logical as they are and I should already know them, and got to share my writing with an old guy who is working on his own novel, crime I think he said it was.

These things, whether I learn a lot or not, are great places for me to practice writing and meet and hear from other writers, all at different levels of writing in life. It gets me out of my shell and feeling a little less afraid.

For snow.

In this case, for the first real snowfall, accumulation of snow for the season.

I love that smell. Maybe someday Bath & Body Works will figure out how to bottle it, but nothing will ever compare to the real thing.

I wish it wasn’t so cold though. I love to run my hands along a railing covered b snow. Unfortunately, my fingers won’t tolerate the soft, powdery texture for long. Gloves just cover up its wonderfulness.

For one cold Saturday evening family activity to ring in the holiday season.

The Santa Claus Parade was a favourite holiday ritual of mine growing up. We’d get our spot, all bundled up, and watch the floats slowly pass, with their Christmas lights, music pumping from loud speakers, and all the kids on the floats, yelling or singing.

And then always return somewhere warm and be thankful for heat all the more. I know I always was. And was again last night.

Well, so what if the parade from two years ago had us out in hardly a coat at all. This year, with the blankets, hoods, and gloves was better. It started out with rain, but by the end of the parade the snow was falling steadily. It had to be shook from our umbrellas.

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My nephew thought, upon hearing the first sound of sirens in the distance, that we should hurry up and run. He’s still figuring out parades and Santa Claus, for that matter, but I hope he grows up with as much wonder for all these traditions as I did.

For my trusty little iPhone 5 and for the fact that it still works.

I “may” have dropped it, a short drop, after I lost use of its original case. It was a short drop from the porch swing, onto the porch, but it still operates.

However, if you were to shake it just hard enough, a shifting sound inside the phone would make things seem worse than they apparently are.

Every time I receive an email though, the sound it makes to notify me causes the phone, if I am using it at the time, to reverberate throughout. It is a strange sensation, if I happen to be holding it at the moment, and, let’s face it – I’m holding it most of the time.

😉

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For a book review.

After the Scars #bookreview

A friend, writer, and blogger read my short story and the anthology it is in and wrote her review on both.

I haven’t heard a lot of feedback, so this was important, I believe, for me to grow as a writer.

She also wrote a post, on one of her multiple blogs. This one,

3 Writers Dine Together

is a lovely summary of our very first in-person meeting in Toronto.

For my fellow Lord of the Rings nerds, especially when they’re Stephen Colbert.

No One Confuses Smeagol & Gollum On Stephen’s Watch

The man makes some excellent points and uses humour to make them.

🙂

And…on that note…

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and let it snow, snow, snow!!!

“November-with uncanny witchery in its changed trees.”

–L.M. Montgomery

Yes, I know I include a lot of Lucy Maud Montgomery quotes in these TToT posts, but the woman had a way with words.

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In The News and On My Mind: Sticks and Stones

“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

Here we are again, going in circles.

Again, President Obama, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver are compelled to speak about gun violence.

And, I guess, so am i…

President Obama Speaks At Press Conference For Oregon Mass Shooting

There are more causes with days or weeks or month recognition in October than I could shake a stick at.

😉

This week I focus on mental illness, because it is the week to recognize that people are suffering and, once more, we are forced to talk about it because havoc has been caused in its name.

In my Facebook newsfeed, I can’t keep track of the causes and their turns to be highlighted, but most of it hits me hard, has touched my own life in some way.

I’ve been rereading some Harry Potter lately and I began to think about weapons in that magical world. They have their wands, which are like our guns, and then there’s Hagrid’s trusty bow and arrow.

Okay, so just this week, in Toronto, a man was found dead after being shot with an arrow. It happens, in all sorts of ways. We kill each other and we can’t seem to stop.

I think about the way it was, hundreds of years ago, when there were arrows and swords.

Now we have guns.

People are going to die, be it from an arrow, a bullet, a blade, or a drug.

Those who feel alone or have no support will lose the battle sometimes. It’s up to those who have had the support, to give that support right back to others.

Stephen Colbert said, “Insanity is changing nothing and pretending something will change”.

I hope we never lose the humour, his type of humour and honesty, in the face of these hard and harsh realities.

The LAte Show, Stephen Colbert – Some Thoughts On Pretending

Rowling’s wizards could and did horrible damage and caused horrific cruelty with their wands, but this was mostly due to evil groups such as Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

Law abiding wizards used their wands, more than we use guns, specifically speaking in Canada, but still I say you could compare it to the world a lot of people want to live in, most often in the US. They want a gun accessible, for a feeling of security and a way to protect themselves and their loved ones, in the case of a dangerous intruder threatening them.

Whether it’s a bow and arrow or a shot gun, hunting was and is a way of life for people, for need or for sport, in Canada and elsewhere.

I don’t know a lot about guns and I don’t know the laws and the loopholes. I do know that the battle is between us and them, one side against another and I don’t like it. It’s about one side saying “they” want to take “our” guns away from us.

Then the other side says they want less mass shootings.

I can’t help but think of a time when settlers came to this continent, us against them, and guns were introduced.

Us and them. Us and them. Us and them. It never ends.

It never ends and I’m sick of it.

I know which side I am on, but then I realize just how futile being on any side is. Where has it gotten us? Why can’t any sort of compromise be reached? Why are humans so stubborn, immovable, and unwilling to bend at all?

And then the two sides fight over mental illness.

Mental illness or guns?

Where does that put the people with those illnesses, the vulnerable? How do they feel?

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and my next post will be one I’ve wanted to write for over a year, but I couldn’t resist including John’s clip here because it is part of this conversation.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Worst Time To Talk About Mental Health

His idea is a radical one, a drastic one, and one the one side would totally discount, but again his honesty in the humour he dishes out is worth listening to.

I’ve enjoyed John Oliver since I first saw him with a role in the show Community, but take a look at John’s segment because I want to do more for mental health, as my next post will continue to demonstrate.

I think we need to not focus on one over the other. We need to focus on both. Why oh why are we always so quick to pick one side, divide, separate? Why do we go to extremes?

Don’t we use the term “extremist” for violent and evil terrorists?

Someone who would storm into a classroom, movie theatre, shopping mall with a gun or guns able to take down many people is committing an act of terrorism, aren’t they? They are terrorizing people.

Are they mentally unstable, ill, sick, disturbed? Call it anything you like. It’s an extreme and it is terrorizing.

Oh, but those people are going to the extreme of an extreme, right? We all like our extremes, our sides, but we aren’t like them, oh no.

Most people with mental illness aren’t ever going to shoot up a place. Some could commit an act of violence, but mostly it ends up being on themselves, as with conditions like self harm, cutting, or suicidal ideation.

When a mother drowns her three children and then herself, that makes the news. When the mother kills her children and not herself, we see her face as she stands before the judge and jury to accept the verdict.

We condemn her for hurting the innocent, but how do we prevent that from ever taking shape to begin with?

As with the latest mass shooting, we hear about it for a long time and the ripples can be felt spreading out, in every direction. People do use these occasions to back up whatever facts or points they want to get across, for their own reasons. It becomes political instead of social or humanitarian. Then we do move on, or most of us do.

We don’t hear about the every day struggles of mental illness in someone’s life. We don’t want to, we choose not to, would prefer to avoid hearing about that part of the story, the ugly, that part that comes before the possible tragedy. I read a lot of these stories on the blogs I come across. The ones I read about are the stories that will hopefully have a happy ending.

Like this one, for instance.

When suicide can be and is avoided, it’s a wonderful thing, but it is an ongoing struggle for most people. We need to be aware of it, be honest about it, find humour in the good parts of life to help combat it.

I don’t know why we listen to the news or a press conference really. Can what’s being said really mean anything lasting or practical? I must, like everyone else, try not to let the negative futility take over my thoughts.

Like John says, we owe people more than just words. We owe them a plan.

For me, here, words are the plan, but I don’t know the answer for a plan to prevent tragedy like we see again and again and again.

I am not afraid. I don’t live in a dangerous part of town. I have support and love in my life. I don’t live in poverty.

I do not fear for my life. I do not carry a gun. I think you would probably agree that not being able to see and guns don’t mix and I would agree too.

🙂

I wish they weren’t in the hands of anyone who couldn’t be sure of being proper and safe, but are any of us truly guaranteed safety with a gun in the picture?

Some would say yes. They would feel powerful and in control. Us against them. Me against them.

😦

Then another shooting makes my television’s news program and the insanity continues.

An eleven-year-old boy shoots an eight-year-old girl.

And I curse guns all the more. They didn’t keep that little girl safe. They didn’t keep her alive. They won’t permit her to grow up and have a future.

I can’t find a smidge of humour in that, honestly.

Dear Congress – Sincerely, A Mass Shooting Survivor

Not only has this particular, firsthand account received a huge amount of attention, but even my comment I left, from my perspective as a Canadian has received several likes, more than I would normally get.

We need different perspectives and we need to pay a little more attention and learn a little something from all of them.

I see a climate of fear and one that perpetuates violence. I see that being so deeply ingrained in US culture specifically.

I may be blind, but I am not blind to what things might be like here in Canada. I know it’s not my experience, but my somewhat sheltered life has put me at a greater position of hopefully having a better understanding, somehow and somewhere among all the chaos.

Nothing will change, as fatalistic as that might sound, as long as this deeply ingrained fear persists, if the “them against us” view of the world continues, no matter what country is in the headlines.

As the well-known rhyme says, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Sticks. Stones. Words. Lies.

Then there was the story that just broke about a comedian/actor who told an awful lie. He’s been busted and a lot of Americans would like to see him hung out to dry for it.

Words. A few little words and a story of exaggeration, told in a small group of people, and nothing more might have come of that, if it weren’t concerning the sensitive subject of September 11th.

Steve Rannazzisi Comes Clean About 9/11 Lie

He speaks about this to Howard Stern and Howard listens, gives the guy the chance to explain and to begin to apologize, but does not take calls. Probably a good idea. There’s always Twitter and the rest of the Internet for that.

I wasn’t involved in 9/11 and so I’m not quite so raw over the matter I guess.

That September 11th, it seemed bigger than I could possibly comprehend on that day, but these things happen in the world.

I am a fan of The League, ever since I was introduced to it by someone a few years ago. Who would have thought that a show about fantasy football would be my kind of show, but when I actually sat down and gave it a chance, I liked the humour and the guys and the characters they played.

Steve didn’t directly hurt me. I can give the guy a break. Others can’t. Outrage and anger for some. Forgiveness for others. Compassion from me because I am able.

Listening to the interview was interesting. With my interest in psychology, it is fascinating to hear someone explain, justify, rationalize something so irrational as pretending they were involved in something so horrible. What kind of a person would or could do that? A lonely one. An insecure one. A misguided, attention seeking, weak guy in a weak moment.

I just recently saw a program about a woman who insinuated herself into online grief chat rooms with 9/11 survivors and the families of those who lost their lives.

She did it for money or for a hole inside. How is Steve all that different?

People’s intentions matter. Their actions, for some, matter more.

Compassion is the way we should be leaning. Anger is the tempting route to take. Violence and weapons go hand in hand. Hatred and anger feed off of each other.

Guns kill. The line, guns don’t kill people, people kill people has been bandied about so much. It’s becoming a cliche. People kill other people with guns. I am not for banning things altogether because I know, like with drugs, that doesn’t solve the problem. I am for compromises, understanding, and care..

Terrorism kills.

I firmly believe we can not bend under the pressure, snap, and let the hate win. Words can be used for good, for positivity, for kindness. I use my words for that.

Next week, for In The News and On My Mind I will talk more about immigration, refugees, and the federal election here in Canada.

Do I vote? Will I vote? Will it make any difference whatsoever if I do or don’t?

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TToT: Laborious, Notorious, Glorious – Go THANK Yourself! #10Thankful

“No man ever was glorious, who was not laborious.”
–Benjamin Franklin

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Someone asked me how my Labor Day was going and I wanted to answer with a little something different:

“laborious,” I replied.

🙂

A lot went on this week, both in my life and in my mind. School’s back in session, for my niece and my brother, and for me, in a way too.

September 11th was also remembered this week. I can’t believe it’s been fourteen years since 9/11 happened.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
–Winston Churchill

It is thought that twenty-six Canadians lost their lives that day.

On the eve of 9/11, a rainbow appears in the sky over One World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my latest travel writing piece to be published on the travel blog of someone I really admire.

Can you travel blind, crossing Ireland’s Carrick-a-rede- rope bridge?

Thank you, Megan, for giving me a second spot on your travel blog.

It has gotten dozens of RT’s on Twitter in the last week.

First it was our interview.

Can blind people travel?

Of course we can!

And now my guest post where I explain what taking a risk, is like, for me.

Night Swimming

It’s a little like swimming at night. I’ve long wanted to do this and I thought of it, again, on Labor Day.

It’s a bit of a frightening thing, the thought of being out there, at night. I guess it’s the way I live most of my life, stepping out, in the darkness of the unknown, but taking the plunge anyway.

For the chance to spend, what was said to be the hottest day of the year, in the water and so I didn’t even notice the heat they spoke of.

We decided to spend our Labor Day at the lake. We are lucky to live so close to all those fresh water sources.

For my flexibility.

In life, sure, I’m improving. However, I mean that literally because I have been told, by doctors on more than one occasion, that I am incredibly flexible. My muscular skeletal system can bend in strange directions.

So, when I decided to jump in the sand, right along with my nephew, I just so happened to land on a log that was sticking out at my feet.

Luckily my ankles are one of those highly flexible parts of my body and although I went down, landing hard in the sand, my ankle did turn over but did not sprain badly. I felt it go over sideways, but I have stretched out those muscles so much over the years, leaving little to no pain as a result.

The opportunity to chase seagulls with my nephew wasn’t to be missed. Just thankful I walked away from that and did not have to crawl back to the car on hands and knees.

🙂

For literacy and education.

International Literacy Day, 2015

I would be lost otherwise.

For the education we’re lucky enough to have in Canada, as my niece begins kindergarten this week.

She is smart and sharp and bright. She learns so much and loves to share it. She surprises us all with the things she’s learning everyday. and I know she will do amazing things as she grows.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=207&v=CQ2noSR1qdY

It’s a good thing John Oliver is not her teacher.

For the premier of the newest in late night television.

Late Show Recap

Stephen Colbert makes me smile and I look forward to his jokes and his unique style of interviews.

One of his first guests, on his very first week, was George Clooney. They discussed and even showed a clip of George’s new film: Decision Strike!

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, don’t go looking for it in theatres in the coming weeks or months, as it is only a fictional movie, as he did not actually have anything real to promote. Sounds impressive anyway.

With all the talk of the heating up of the late night show wars, now that Colbert has thrown his own hat into the ring, Stephen made light of this when he mentioned all the thoughtful first-week gifts the other late night comedians have been sending him. He joked that they could all be expecting the best thank you card ever, with the words: GO THANK YOURSELF, written in them.

TAKE THAT! … Jimmy, Jimmy, Conan, John, and the rest.

🙂

For whatever it was that got me a replacement battery for my iPhone 5 and finally, after talking about doing it for months.

I put it off for too long. Not sure why. I can actually go a whole day and my phone does not die, a beautiful thing. This will be necessary for my trip to Toronto later this month.

I went in one of those crazy Apple stores, so hip and which make me feel very uncool. They have the genius bar. Well, I was informed of some loophole which made it so I did not have to pay the $100 for a new battery. Okay by me.

🙂

It just so happened to be September 9th and the big reveal day for Apple. I did not upgrade to the newly revealed iPhone 6S. My iPhone 5 works just fine, but it’s amazing just how revolutionary the iPhone has been for so many, but for anyone who is visually impaired especially.

For the people, in my life, who have gone through the loss of a loved one to suicide. They teach me things, all the time, about survival and resilience.

World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015

Sometimes prevention isn’t possible, upon looking back, no matter what anyone could have done. That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

I know life is forever altered for them. It isn’t easy and life will never feel happy, truly happy again. I just hope they know someone is thinking about them, always.

Everybody Hurts

The day was such a beautiful one this year, the weather anyway.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
–Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

For a dream come true – a dream of clarity, reason, and shape.

😉

First I was accepted into an anthology, with my short story: One Last Kiss.

Then it came out, on Amazon, but first only as an ebook.

It wasn’t until this week, finally, that I actually got to hold a print copy of the book in my own hands. I could feel the weight of it, turn the pages, and smell that signature bookish smell, all knowing my words could be found within. It is an indescribable feeling, a dream come true for me, and I will never forget what that felt like.

kerrsbook-closeup-2015-09-12-11-45.jpg

For a friend, somebody there on the day the book arrived in the mail. Someone to celebrate with.

We got Dairy Queen confetti cake blizzards to celebrate. Her five-month-old daughter sat, in her carrier, staring at me and I wanted to share, but unfortunately she isn’t eating ice cream, not just yet. I loved celebrating with her too, all the same.

🙂

Thanks, Mom, for bringing the book over.

For the best, most loving parents my nephew could ever have. And it all began on that warm day in September, back in 2009 – Happy Anniversary guys!

I will never forget that summer, that day, as long as I live. It was the day my sister had worked so hard for and looked so forward to. I got to be in the wedding party and was happy she allowed me to give a speech at the reception.

Storybook Love

My sister’s favourite movie is The Princess Bride and she wanted my uncle to sing the theme song from the film, at the wedding. It made it special, unique, and all hers. She wanted to get married in our back yard, of the home we grew up in. It was a wedding at home and meant so much to all of us.

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

For rainbows, literacy, firsts, celebrations, dreams, and anniversaries.

I am thankful I’ve gotten to share my words, more and more, in recent days and weeks. I guess, for me, the need to share my words with the world goes back to all that stuff I said about night swimming.

It’s scary, certainly, but the idea of being swept up and away, washed out there and with no sign or footprint to show that I was ever here, that is what I am most afraid of.

Sure, the chance for rejection is ever present in the present, but not nearly as great as that there could be no proof that I ever existed in the first place.

“I don’t know how long I kept at it…
I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still.
It didn’t seem to be summer anymore.”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, This Day In Literature, Writing

September Streams and Dreams Come True, #SoCS

SoCS

September almost qualifies for this week’s prompt, but not quite. So, instead, I will write about how my September is going, so far.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

***

I am watching only the fourth episode of the new Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His guest is writer and author Stephen King. I am listening to these two brilliant guys, Stephen speaking with Stephen, as they discuss writing. I am left to contemplate writing: Stephen’s and my own.

Now, what makes me think I should even bother with the contemplation of my name and his in the same sentence?

This week I can finally refer to myself as an author.

I have read many things about writer VS. author. What makes someone a writer? What makes them, me an author? When is it okay to call myself the first or the second?

King has written dozens of books. His newest book of short stories is being released in November. What an astounding catalog of writing the man has produced. He writes. He is an author.

My first short story to be published is out now, in print. It was finally placed in my hands just the other day.

I will never forget the feeling. I wonder how that feeling has changed, for Mr. King, from the first time to all these stories and years later.

I contemplate what being a writer means to me. It means that I write. I don’t just talk about it, but I put my money (words) where my mouth is/are.

I can string sentences together, words, correctly spelled…you get my drift.

It doesn’t yet feel natural to me, fiction that is. Writing comes very naturally. All so uncomfortable, unnatural, even though it feels, at the same time, like I’ve been doing it all my life.

I contemplate with confusion.

I hold the book in my hands, flip through the pages, turning to where I perceive my words to be, as I’ve been told how many pages in, my story can be found. I can’t see my own writing. I am told it is there, but any book could be handed to me, anyone telling me the words are mine. I would never know if it were true or not.

So it’s only there when I believe them, when I believe it and let the reality wash over my heart and my mind.

I don’t know, can’t possibly stop contemplating what it must be like to have the kind of creative and artistic success that Stephen King has had.

I don’t know how many more times I will experience my own publication, as I did in the month of September, in the year 2015, but I will never forget this week. Never, as long as I live.

***

September and this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, inspired by:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/09/11/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-1215/

Linda’s blog and the writing prompt, “temp”.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions

In The News and On My Mind: School’s Back In Session

“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

Labor Day was Monday and now it’s back to school. This week is, thought by many, to be the end of summer.

A lot of what’s been going on in the news, I’m not sure, should be talked about. I’m not sure those I am referring to deserve to be mentioned by name, so I am going to try my best not to.

Instead, because these stories are still on my mind and, many are extremely bothersome, I will focus on recognizing those who do deserve it, just to balance things out a little.

***

Not sure how I feel about the British monarchy, but I did watch

“The Queen”

in theatres, on its release, and again, on television the other night.

It’s sixty years of Queen Elizabeth and Britain is celebrating her this week.

At the moment, those making the news with names I hesitate to mention include: a “comedian” who believes fat shaming is acceptable, another “comedian” who has gone on the record and defended rape, and the continuation of the circus around next year’s US elections.

There is a difference between honesty and bullying behaviour. It’s a fine line and I don’t know where that line is. We’re much too serious these days, we must learn to laugh at ourselves, but that can hurt when you constantly feel as if you are the one being laughed at and the universe always seems to be making jokes at your expense.

I don’t know what right anyone has to say any woman is “unrapeable”. I’m sick and tired of men like this, making stupid statements like that, falling back on the “innocent until proven guilty” line. I also don’t care how important of a TV sitcom doctor/father icon anyone was for the African American community during the eighties.

As for all talk of building a wall and kicking people out, splitting families up, this is likely a non issue anyway, but, I must admit, I do look forward to Colbert’s Trump jokes over the coming months.

Then there’s the judge who is becoming some kind of right fighter for the cause of religion and biblical belief. She has the right not to do anything she doesn’t feel sits well with her and her God of course, but she does not have the right to go against the newly set law of United States, as it has been set. The world is becoming a more accepting place, overall, and those who wish to fight this will get left in the dust of the past. Why do we seem so keen to stop progress and challenge love? It’s fear. We can’t let fear rule over common sense.

There’s been more news, stories every day, about the flooding of mostly Syrian refugees, into neighbouring, European countries. Boat. Train. On Foot. They keep on coming.

Images are powerful. I heard something about the image of a dead child on a beach. I can’t see it, but the visual in my head is still heartbreaking.

Germany is being praised for its acceptance of these people, so desperately in need and so is Iceland.

What about Canada? Would we here step up as well? What if I had to flee my home? Wouldn’t I want a safe place to open their arms wide for me and my family?

The decline of the once so self righteous Ashley Madison cheating website continues and I was, admittedly, happy about it from the start.

Then, last week, a literary website that featured a short essay of mine back at Christmas ran into some issues. There was a hack or a virus and the person running the site wasn’t sure everything would survive.

How Cranky is Our Little Editor? – Brevity Magazine: Precise Literary Nonfiction

I have included a link, in a past blog post of my own, to my essay on that site. I was worried that would be lost forever, as sometimes backlinks fail. This has happened with things I’ve written, guest posts I’ve done previously.

Surely, my glee at the misfortune Ashley Madison’s been having wasn’t resulting in karma being directed right back at me, was it?

🙂

I offered up that possibility, on Brevity’s Facebook page, that it may have all been down to it being my fault, and thus issuing my sincere apologies to them, assuming this might be the case.

All the names of those caught using the cheating website have slowly been released. This included a member of America’s most notorious TLC family of religion, and multiple children, so recently known to have been outed for sexually abusing his sisters over the years. Not to mention, the head of the cheating website himself.

He swore, although he ran it, he never used it personally. Yeah right!

One of my favourite late night television segments joked about the hack:

Jimmy’s Thank You Notes – Ashley Madison

Although the fate of Ashley Madison may be in question, Jimmy is right. Like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, it could always become OKStupid! This is because I believe people would continue to share their private details and take foolish risks and engage in secret keeping against those they claim to love.

Again, I hate to pick on them and specifically the guy who ran it. Anyone who can convince so many men and women to hand over their most precious personal information (names, addresses, credit card info, fantasies) may think he’s clever, but may not be making the wisest of choices, even for himself.

As the new school year begins, there is more of an uproar on the newly revised sex education curriculum in the schools here, last updated back in 98 and as school has begun, certain parents are keeping their children out of the classroom.

I don’t know what these parents are imagining. It’s as if they are picturing daily sex ed classes, all day every day, all year, from September until June, with a continuous bombardment of sexually descriptive indoctrination, but, from what I heard, the sex ed program is only days long and isn’t even scheduled to begin until the spring. So, these children aren’t missing anything, right now, other than the usual: math, science, and language arts. The only damage being done is that the children are pulled out of regular classes, with their peers and friends, into a make-shift class, organized by the fearful parents themselves.

I like how Canada and the US seem to be so afraid of the proper education, our priorities so horribly messed up on so many things, but something as important as sexual health and physical safety are left up to the internet and tales told out on the playground. Maybe we should have Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver explain the whole thing to us all:

This week, not only has school resumed, but the late night TV wars are beginning.

I like Stephen Colbert and I have been looking forward to his taking over of David Letterman’s spot.

I watched the premier and it didn’t feel all that different. Speaking of the cheating website’s troubles:

“With this show, I begin to search for the real Stephen Colbert. I just hope I don’t find him on Ashley Madison.”

Sure, he is now no longer playing a role, but just being himself. I just couldn’t tell. The tone in his voice and his style of speaking were very nearly what they were on The Colbert Report. I am glad because that’s what I like about him, all political affiliations aside.

I’ve always loved Conan and Fallon is always entertaining. I rarely have stayed up until midnight to watch, often preferring to check specific clips out on Facebook and YouTube after-the-fact:

Letters From Kids – Suggestions For Jimmy

A lot of these shows have been bringing the children into their skits lately. The other Jimmy has been asking kids a lot of interesting questions in his segments. It’s always a slam dunk with the audience.

***

I just saw a goofily-captioned picture of a puppy right next to a photo-story about the awful things we did in Hiroshima 70 years ago. How can we be the same species who loves cute puppies and came up with such a terrible idea as an atomic bomb? This being human is a strange thing.

Indeed, JEG, indeed it is. Let the stories about cute puppies and children always be there to balance out the horrible headlines about injustice and hatred.

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