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

inside Out, #SoCS

Almost Halloween and it made my day to receive happy updates on my phone of my friend and her little girl, who is enjoying pumpkins and so many other new experiences, this being her second Halloween and first to really begin the fun of the holiday.

This is just a small thing, but a big big thing really, that makes my day better, set against a backdrop of chaos and endless information.

lwb5GIr.png

So much else goes through my head and my mind. It’s like that line parents and elders often find themselves speaking about children and the younger generation: “everything I say to them just seems to go in one ear and out the other, like they aren’t even listening”.

In one ear and out the other.

Are we listening?

So much in the news and going on in the world, so much info for me to hear, that I can’t possibly retain everything that comes across my path.

Lately I’ve felt like I can’t live up to the things I’m attempting, for some people, as if I’m not getting it fast enough or in the time they’ve allowed in their own heads, so I may not be getting the hang of it and, to some, should maybe just throw in the towel.

Perhaps this is all mostly going on inside my mind. Maybe it’s not that bad. It could be that they don’t think this at all. But I feel it, from them or from myself, or a little of both.

I try to block out all other things when I am in that practice room. For one hour I don’t let myself think or worry or fret over anything else that would otherwise dog my every waking thought. None of that when I am with my violin and while I have the undivided attention from the one who knows it and is trying to teach me.

I focus so hard on her words and her instructions, on the notes and the strings and the proper techniques, so hard that my mind aches. It’s not just the headaches or the usual body pains I feel, but rather my mind physically stretching to try and accommodate these new things. Sometimes, I feel I hear and understand her so clearly, but other times I fear her wisdom goes in one ear and out the other with me. I fear I’ve just wasted an entire sixty minutes of her precious time.

I wonder how much more would weigh me down if I could see, so those things that went in one of my ears and out the other, straight through my often swirling brain, would have to keep up with what my eyes were also taking in.

I can’t say how that would work. I may never know.

I just want to think of the stories surrounding Halloween as fun and games, but I think of ghosts and those who are no longer hear. I think of the world we’re facing in the glaring absence of those people.

I think of pipelines. I think of refugee crisis stories. These are real lives and people debate them as if they were theories taught in a classroom somewhere. I think of what I just saw on a news documentary, about the famous family because some of it’s members didn’t survive the boat trip. Canada is home to some of them now. Iraq is home to others, who can’t bear to be away from where their loved ones are buried. I think of the fight going on in Iraq and Syria still. Will families who’ve had to flee for their lives ever get to return home again?

Will the wild war of words and opinions and so much more in the US ever settle down? Will Canadian government live up to all their campaign promises? Does any government?

Questions which I come to on my own and those that I hear and learn about, I take them in, even if I think of that Halloween episode on The Simpsons when Bart is attacked by the little people Lisa invented in a plastic tub, which come upon him in the night, shooting in through his one ear and going through his brain and out the other.

I saw this image so clearly when it first aired back in 1998, but now exists only in my memory.

Do we hear today’s real issues? Do they make an impression? Do they touch us? Do they cause us to stand up and act? Or are we so used to hearing so much that it all just flies in one ear and out the other?

All these things turn my insides out on a daily basis. I must focus on creating things. Art. Beautiful music and words and building things that didn’t exist before.

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Memoir and Reflections, Podcast, Shows and Events, Throw-back Thursday

Ketchup On Pancakes – Episode 2: Ingredients Listed, #TBT #Family #Humour #Creativity #Podcast

We’re back! About time, right?

It’s been over two whole months since our first episode of Ketchup On Pancakes. We made it back. We’re getting better and I am constantly in awe by the kind of production value Brian brings to the project. I come up with the ideas and write a lot of our content, but without my audibly knowledgeable brother, this would be a very different podcast.

So, what do music, cooking, and stories all have in common?

INGREDIENTS LISTED

Click on the above link to find out and to listen to Episode Two.

Unless, that is, you’re completely new to this whole thing. In which case,
perhaps you might want to go back one.

Or to follow our adventures, go to
our Facebook page.

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

The Elsewhere Region, #SoCS

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

view

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blogging, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, SoCS, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

What A Life! #FTSF #SoCS

“What a life!” my oma would always say with a sigh.

She was right. I say it now, that line, in exasperation, and in my memory of her, to honour her unique brand of wisdom and her straightforward ability to speak the truth.

I just had a checkup with a nurse practitioner. She was very thorough and we talked for what felt like a very long time. No rush to see me briefly and get me out the door. No neglect of what I needed. I told her my entire history, as fast as I possibly could, but she did not want me to hurry through the details. She was wonderful.

It takes me a little while to get through my somewhat complex medical history. I had her curious and eager to look up my eye condition

and the rare syndrome I share with my brother.

This took me back, which it can most often do, and required that I look back over the years.

Mostly I spoke of how sick I was before my then gp finally diagnosed my end-stage kidney failure at age twelve. That sure took me back, into the bad and the worse in terms of memories and recollections. I told her how hard it becomes to remember to include all necessary details, with every retelling I give a doctor or nurse. She was very understanding.

I see how far I’ve come when I look back, using my medical story as the example. I reflect on the girl I was and the struggles in the following years. I want to think I am doing alright considering. I think of my oma and I leave my medical checkup and I sigh.

When it comes to the years, I do so much looking back that it is sometimes a heavy weight on my shoulders.

I like the romantic notion of the days of yore. I read such fairy tales, but life is never like those stories in literature in reality. People reminisce about how it used to be, but perhaps, just perhaps they are remembering a time that never actually existed.

That may come across, to you, if you’re only just hearing me for the first time, as a highly pessimistic slant to life. Perhaps. Your take on, say the last twenty years of your own life, it could very well be all rosy coloured and tinted through different glasses. I haven’t worn glasses since 1996 I’m afraid.

No self pity here, but my life isn’t now or never has been a fairy tale anyway. Just the sort of telling it like it is/was, just like my oma used to like to do. That’s about as stream of consciousness as I can get today.

There is thankfulness to be had here, (which will for sure include that wonderful nurse), of course, but that is still to come in my next post.

🙂

I’m doing a double linkup this weekend, starting with

Finding Ninee’s Finish The Sentence Friday,

followed by

Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, Feminism, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, TToT

TToT: Catch and Release, Push or Pull #10Thankful #WorldOceansDay

Ever have one of those weeks?

ORdinary Day – Great Big Sea

The bad news stories keep going from bad to worse. What can I do about all that?

😦

One day everything just seems to work out and fall into place. The next, all seems to go wrong.

Figuring out new computer stuff, wanting to go back to the old, even if that can’t really be. Wanting to punch something, cry, give up on technology all together because it’s just too damn hard.

Well, it was then that it hit me, at certain moments this last week, few days, I realized I needed this TToT more than ever.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For the oceans of this world.

We don’t treat them right. We need them. I need them. They are peaceful, tranquil, or fierce and wild. Either way, their depths astound me. Their vast array of life boggles my mind, fills me with thrills.

June 8th was World Oceans Day.

Did you know? What do you love about the oceans?

For the chance to treat a friend to a birthday lunch.

For a lovely day of sunshine and music in the park.

I could have shared photos of this, after being unable to share any in these posts for a few months now, but the new mail program I have, coupled with the fact that I have saved far too many emails and now feel like I’m drowning in them, this prevents me from even accessing the email just sent to me with pictures of my brother and his friend playing their music in the park.

They were hired by the London Arts Council to play at various events and locations for the summer.
It was a beautiful day of sunshine and no humidity and I sat and enjoyed it. So proud of my brother for getting out there and taking these opportunities that present themselves.

Any time I happen to walk past someone playing music, in a park or on the street, in London or Toronto wherever it may be, I stop and take it all in.

Music is art. It is peace. It is passion. It is truly a gift and our society doesn’t appreciate it nearly enough for what it brings to our lives.

For music.

As I was just saying…as always, but then, I am stressed or tense or whatever, and then I listen.. I relax. I become a little less tense.

And so I post music in my thankful post, to start and also at the finish, instead of the photos I cannot see and cannot get to.

For heroes.

Karl Frederik Arndd.

LArs Peter Jonsson.

I am thankful for people like these, the Swedish P.H.D. students who stepped in and stopped a terrible crime, violation-in-progress, from even further damage done by a coward I won’t even name.

Instead, I list the names of the two decent human beings who deserve to be recognized.

That shows me, even when things seem bleak, that humans aren’t completely irredeemable.

For a transplant tape.

I have so many boxes in my basement. I went looking for a tape and, shock of shock, I found it. I just happened to place my hand on a random cassette tape, sitting free in a box full of so many different bits and pieces of my life.

Well, my brother had lost his copy, the one he made of that day, those days and weeks and months in June, 1997 and bits of those who aren’t here now, of that girl I was.

For lessons and stories.

Next we digitized a treasure of a cassette.

One afternoon my grandpa sat with my brother and he told stories of his childhood, long gone by.

He was a one-of-a-kind storyteller. My brother and I listened, more than ten years on, and we laughed, we contemplated, and I know we both took to heart the values he passed on to us.

I want to transcribe his stories and make them into a short book. I think all the world could stand to read it, to learn some of the lessons a man like my grandfather had to teach.

For a beautiful burst of creativity,.

We will make our podcast, one of these days, but it takes more planning and preparation than I really realized I guess.

But we worked together and came up with what I think is the catchiest, most kick ass intro.

It incorporates sounds of sizzling, flipping of pancakes, along with clips from our childhood, set over top us today.

My brother is a pro with his audio program, which allows him to put musical sounds and audio clips into separate folders, and then put them all together.

I don’t know how he does it, like editing in writing, but with sound.

I guess I produced it with him. I call myself producer of the segment. I gave my thoughts on what sounded good and we created something, together, that I think starts off our upcoming podcast on the perfect note.

For my ever-present, calm mother.

All wasn’t smooth sailing.

😉

When we’d feared damage to some of my brother’s recording equipment, we were both expecting the worst, but then, in comes my calm and steady mom.

I’ve often heard motherhood can be a thankless job, but I think my mother deserves to be celebrated, even if Mother’s Day is only technically once a year.

She calmed us both down and stepped in to fix the problem.

For violin teacher and lesson and instrument.

My teacher works with me. She gives me keen and clear instruction and guidance. She guides my bow, my arm, my technique.

I am learning new things about my violin, my instrument, my bow, my arm/hand, things I need to know to become a better violinist. I hope I can, one day, call myself that for real.

Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – Paul Simon

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

My favourite Word of All, #SoCS #SongLyricSunday

I want to walk amongst you, the many shelves and shelves of you. Bookstore or library. Doesn’t matter which.

I want to write you and read you and hold you in my hand. I want to flip through you, feeling your pages slide through my fingers.

Hard-cover. Paperback. I love you both.

I want to disappear behind stacks and stacks of you. I want to live among your silent stories, stories which come alive when read.

I want to vanish into you, to go on the adventures you hold.

I want to book a trip, a hotel, in Hawaii or San Fransisco or Iceland or New Zealand. On a beach somewhere, I want to read a book as the waves come rolling in and back out again.

I want to read with my eyes, but I settle for reading you with my fingers or else I must listen to audio books instead.

I want to write my own version of you. I will do some day.

Books. Glorious books. I open one and, yes, I rest it against my face, taking in the scent of so many past memories. The pages of you hold so much, everything I love about you.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

with my favourite word

BOOK!

And, in honour of getting this post in at the last hour of Saturday and nearing the start of

Song Lyric Sunday with Helen Espinosa,

I end this post with a classic (50 years old):

PAperback Writer – The Beatles

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS, Writing

Just Jot It January: Circles, Spirals, and Song Lyrics #JusJoJan #SoCS

What a morning I had.

This is one of those mornings I am afraid to venture out into the world. It would be so easy to stay in bed and to not go out there, to hide away from other people and meaningful experiences possibly had.

What if I embarrass myself? What if I get lost? What if…what if…what if…

I have been reading this Canadian writer’s blog and her writing for a while now:

http://carriesnyder.com/

Last year I wanted to finally attend one of her author readings:

How I Celebrated World Book Day 2015

I wanted to meet her in person and to put a voice to the words I’d become so accustomed to reading.

This time I had the chance to learn from her by taking one of her workshops. I jumped at this chance frankly. Carrie Snyder is a writer who uses powerful images and all the best words to express so much of what life is all about. I wanted to get to know a fellow Canadian, someone who has had some success as a writer, but who was still fairly local. She doesn’t live all that far from me really.

She doesn’t call what this morning was a writing workshop. She says she prefers to look at it as a creativity workshop, using writing as the medium.

The room is fairly full, when we all make it into a conference room of an office building, the second floor of a building in the downtown area, above a fancy restaurant that doesn’t open until noon. Now that I know where to go, through the door in the entrance way and up a double flight of stairs, in through another door – I think I can relatively confidently find it on my own next time.

The number attending is more than a dozen. It was icy on the roads early this morning, but we all made it. I bring my laptop because I can’t find my cord to my braille display. This means I won’t be able to read back what I write today to the room, but it’s better than nothing.

Some days I don’t have it all figured out. There are those days where being visually impaired (blind), well it just sucks!

I want to be spontaneous and a discoverer of my inner thoughts, my deep well of creativity I want to tap. I want to be able to walk into that room with a beautiful notebook and a pen. I want to write by hand, as messy and unreadable as that might make me, but I can’t.

All that talk about accepting life and how it is is all well and good, but today I wish I could be without this limitation on my senses.

Of course, writing is all about the senses. I have my others.

I need a spot in the room near a electrical outlet. I come early so I can set up. The room begins to fill, as steadily other people who have signed up start arriving.

Carrie hasn’t forgotten my name since we met last year and with all the times I have commented on her blog since then.

😉

There is one large conference table in the room and another table set against the wall. I sit by the wall, in the corner. It is going to be a bit crowded around the table, we discover, but that means it is me and one guy of the two guys who are in attendance, who sit at the table separate from the main one.

Why is it two guys to a dozen women at this creativity workshop? Don’t guys like to write?

I feel a bit out of place, being separate from most of the others. I am just glad the chairs are those office chairs on wheels, which allows me to turn to face everyone.

Carrie speaks very softly, but she is full of creativity and ideas. She has experience, not only as a writer, but teaching creative writing courses. That is how most writers make a living to supplement their own writing.

There are short introductions (surprising how many around this table don’t consider themselves a writer) and she reads us poems, one to start the morning off, the other left until the very end. These poems are meant to get us thinking and to open our minds up. This is not a critique group. We are just supposed to write, to not think too much, and to turn off our inner critics. I could definitely use some practice with this particular skill.

She tells us to write a list of ten cars or other vehicles we have known, have been in during our lives, something with a memory attached. I don’t know enough of how cars are spelled, different kinds, and I worry someone will read and see this. I need to stop being afraid of criticism. That’s not what today is about.

We have seven minutes for each chapter, she is calling them. She will be timing us. We must build on the car list. We must write, using our five senses, and dig deep into a memory or develop the writing from there.

There is no right or wrong here. I can’t do this incorrectly. I don’t know still, if fiction is my speed, so I will write. Mostly it’s memoir that comes from the typing I am doing in rapid succession.

I end up writing about my family’s old blue van, the one we drove to Florida in when I was in the second grade. I write about the bed on the floor, where the middle seat normally was. My mom made it, so we could sleep while we drove, but this is unheard of, considering modern safety requirements.

By Chapter Six I have traveled to Florida, told of how my mom’s map was sucked out the front window, how we visited Disney, and finally arriving at my favourite Sea World. I explain, from a child’s point of view, what I thought of the whales, but with a bit of my adult perspective on marine animals in captivity.

My dream was to have a killer whale as a pet, in a tank in my big back yard, at my house. Eight-year-old me starts to realize this will never happen.

They are to start a new page with the sound of the timer, at the end of every seven minutes. I hear the flipping of notebook pages, but all I can do is hit enter and go down a line or two.

She tells them to draw a spiral in between each. I don’t quite know what this would look like anymore, but I try to picture it as I hear their pens scribbling away. Carrie loves creativity, and is incorporating a tiny bit of art into the exercise. I miss art.

We all go around and read one of the chapters we’ve written. We aren’t to offer any comments or suggestions, but instead just thank the writer/reader for what they’ve just shared with us. I listen to all the different stories and bits of people’s lives, as it could be truth or fiction they are speaking. No rules, but Carrie did read a few rules about there being no rules. Go figure.

🙂

The two hours flies by. I am last. Carrie asks another woman, sitting nearby me, if she might read my chapter. She reads it well. I worry she won’t be able to read, that I’ve made many mistakes, but of course my computer would have already caught those. I am happy with how my writing sounds read aloud back to me and to the rest of this room. I haven’t always been able to say that about my writing. She reads the part where I included the first song lyrics that came to my mind, as we were all instructed to do. Somehow this fits in with the rest of the story we’ve written.

(See my About Me page for the lyrics of the song I thought of.)

I loved it. Even though I felt separate, like I often do in the world, and even being unable to write by hand – the morning was a success because I made the effort and had the experience. I wanted to learn from Carrie and I did.

Words. Glorious words.

#SoCS

For Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

Linda debates what she should write about, from a quiet hotel room, all by herself:

Just Jot It January 16th – What #SoCS

This is also another

#JusJoJan post,

the rules of which can be found

HERE.

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Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

My Mystery Object Speaks

It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.

Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.

🙂

Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.

It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.

The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.

Past mystery objects have included:

— A painted model of a dragon

And

— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.

I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.

Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.

This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.

They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.

🙂

The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.

“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.

“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.

My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.

I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.

This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.

I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.

I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.

This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.

I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.

I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.

I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.

Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:

— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)

— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.

— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.

— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.

I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.

People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.

The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.

For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.

This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.

Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.

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Bucket List, History, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Special Occasions

Ghost Stories

The ghosts of your past shaped your reality, moulded your future, and haunt you only to remind you how much you deserve. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be me. So, acknowledge your ghosts. Because without them, who would you be?

–Sonya Matejko

If It Weren’t For You: Acknowledging Your Ghosts

Last year, this was what I had to say about the topic of ghosts:

Phasmophobia

Then, last October, as Halloween drew near, my family and I went for a weekend in Niagara Falls. On the last night some of us went on a haunted walk at Fort George, in Niagara on the Lake.

NiagaraGhosts.com

It was my first time doing one of these. I’d been spending the month writing about phobia and how to face it. I wanted to see if I could handle a ghost walk.

Well, I wrote about the experience, but then I lost my laptop. I can’t be certain, but I think I’ve lost what I wrote. Theory could suggest that it was the ghosts, that they didn’t want me to write about them, and so they got rid of the evidence.

Reported sightings.

Well, I don’t really believe that actually. I ended up being incredibly touched by the history we learned about the site, a soldier’s fort during the War of 1812, between Canada and the US.

There were so many stories, sad and mysterious, about those soldiers and their families. The tour guide was animated and knowledgeable. He spoke of history, lives lived, and I couldn’t say if I totally discounted ghosts or not as we drove away at the end of the tour.

I was with cynics and yet, I didn’t like to say anything for certain. I try to keep an open mind, but I do believe most things can be logically explained. People believe, but I can’t really blame them for wanting to feel close to those they love.

This was billed as a special Halloween themed tour, different and more than the regular tours, but it was a beautiful autumn evening and I am glad I went.

Months later, in the middle of winter, I tried another ghost walk, through the streets of Ottawa and through the old Ottawa Jail. There are so many stories of haunted places and people, especially at this time of year, love to be scared.

I believe ghosts aren’t actually real in the way most might think, but that ghosts are the memories of people, those no longer in our lives and that they can be felt, if one pays close enough attention, as the imprints of what once was.

There are those who are not here now, in my life, but I feel them and they haunt me where I live.

It might be the memories of old friends or those of a lost love:

Ghosts Are Real

Then there are sites of history, old abandoned sites, like these:

Abandoned America

I watch a lot of documentaries, whether about those pour souls murdered in the Holocaust or those patients who once lived and died in the mental institutions, you can feel the spaces they inhabited, and I believe it is important to acknowledge the spaces they took up in life.

It could be a cemetery, like where I visited the graves of my grandparents. I toured, not only old and abandoned forts, but also jails, and sites of torn down mental hospitals and I felt the people who once lived in those places. They lived and died there. Their souls are hopefully at peace, as the living pass by, but it feels slightly disrespectful to traipse over these spots:

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

These were human beings once. I believe they are gone, but I can understand recognizing the energy of their existence, which I have felt, myself, when I’ve visited where they once dwelt.

Now, with the popularity of touring asylums, forts, relics from years ago – this could be seen in a negative light. These people had families and people who loved them, but they make for good stories to tell for a thrill.

The ghosts of the past, the memories of my loved ones who, for whatever reason, are just not here anymore.

If you need a way to explain the lack of people in your life, as to the question of where they go, because I’ve always had issues with facing the fact that certain people may be in my life one day and gone the next.

All the fun and games of the holiday of Halloween are great and all. I’m more into all that than I’ve ever been before.

I just am more interested in the stories of the real human lives, the love, the loss.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

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Blogging, Bucket List, Feminism, Special Occasions, The Insightful Wanderer, Throw-back Thursday, Travel, TravelWriting

One Year, Two Blogs – #tbt

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One year ago, with the help of

Fresh Idea Websites,

I launched a website of my own.

Not only did I have this blog, where I wrote more from a literary perspective, but I wanted a separate place to focus on my love of travel. I thought a lot about persona and branding and I guess Her Headache wasn’t enough, wasn’t quite expressing all I had to say.

The idea came to me that previous summer. My parents were away on a whirlwind road trip out west, through Canada and the US, I had travel on the brain, and I was trying to reinvent myself.

I was sending out my writing more and more, starting to learn how to handle rejections, and trying to figure out what I was truly passionate about.

Within a few months,

The Insightful Wanderer

was borne.

So, though I think I was ahead of most when I came up with the name, I had no idea if I could handle two sites. I decided to jump in and go for it, but it’s been a year and I admit, I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d liked to.

I came across this article this morning:

Why Travel Blogging Needs More Storytelling

This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to combine my love of writing and stories with my travel obsession.

I had begun checking out all the travel blogs the Internet has to offer. I read dozens and dozens of these things. I saw the serge of these sites. I wanted to be one of them, but yet I didn’t.

I could easily have become caught up in the hype.

How do you make money as a travel blogger? How to work with brands and travel companies?

I focused on my own bucket list. I found the travel blogs, same as my more literary ones, that really spoke to me.

I ate up all they had to say about their travels. I admired their adventurous spirits. I thought

Annette White

and

Amanda Williams

were super women and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I didn’t want to use my blindness, but yet I saw it as the best way to express myself and capture a reader’s attention, in the travel world.

I liked my idea. The Insightful Wanderer just seemed to shape itself. I know many struggle to decide on a name for their travel blog, but the name was the easy part for me.

Then, I feared I had made a mistake. If I couldn’t be completely comfortable using my blindness as a hook, why did I think Insightful Wanderer was a good idea after all?

I’d gotten the ball rolling by then and I feared I wouldn’t be able to make something of it, but something still propelled me forward.

I had become comfortable with this blog. I had my MacJournal program, for writing my posts, and I knew how to transfer them over to WordPress.

The new site would require a whole new process. It did not seem to connect to MacJournal.

How would I do this? I barely knew how to do anything. Okay, so I was improving, but it always seemed to happen at a snail’s pace, in my own time. I haven’t had help to learn in a while, and the help I do receive is sporadic at best.

I needed a teacher, but where would I find one who knew VoiceOver?

I have had all the website work done for me. That’s why I found Fresh Idea Websites, but since then I have found it difficult to communicate with them just what I need.

I have written a handful of posts. I don’t know why I haven’t written more. I have a whole thirty years of travel I can write about. It’s all in my head and I know I could write, do what the article said, and bring the art of storytelling into the travel blogging world.

I know these things take time. I know that.

On this Throwback Thursday I needed to look back on all this, to see where I hope to be in one year from now.

I have no idea how I’m going to get there. I’d planned to work on the other site for a few months and then have this big reveal here, to connect my two sites, but this revelation has not happened.

Instead, on this one year mark and approaching two years with this here blog, I needed to say something.

I feel anxious a lot because I want to say so much, write so much, share so much. I can’t get it all out. So much was rushing to come out that there seems to be a clog somewhere, a bunch of it seems to have plugged up the line and now I hardly say any of it.

I don’t believe travel needs to be big, grand trips all the time. I’ve been to Niagara Falls and Ottawa this past year. I haven’t published about that on the website.

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I still don’t feel comfortable posting over there. I have no help, as even though I say it’s not about the visual aspects, I sometimes have pictures I’d like to include.

People like Amanda travel, independently most of the time. People like Annette travel with her husband, I believe.

I have no partner who wants to experience the world with me. I know the real risk of traveling solo, as a woman who is also visually impaired.

I wanted to be this brave, tough, independent woman and do it anyway, but I continue to hesitate.

I saw how relationships were made and I wanted to form these cool friendships with other female travel bloggers, to connect and travel along with them, but my lack of independent travel made this an unrealistic dream.

I know female travel bloggers are out there, that it’s not all fun and games, but that they’re making it happen. I wanted to make something happen, but I was trapped between wanting to have that life and to write about something more.

I know there is no rush and that I am on no clock, but I feel like I am. I want to write, to make a difference, to do something great with my writing, but I know I have a lot to learn.

If I’m not totally decided on what I want to do, travel or write, or both, how will I combine the two?

I know I am interested in insight. That’s why I write in the first place.

I also feel like I am wandering and how that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. That’s just where I am with my life at this time.

On the Internet radio show interview I did a few weeks back, I said that I hoped my thirties would be this whole decade of discovery, when I would get back into the world, to find what I was looking for. I hope having both these sites will be a part of that. I hope, in the next year and the years after that, I can figure all this out.

I don’t have The Insightful Wanderer as I’d like it to be, not yet. It’s hard to completely lay out how I’d like it to look, when I can’t even see it. I hear it through audio voice, reading it to me, but I don’t know how to explain my vision for it.

I still know nothing about CO and stats. I don’t write top ten articles that get travel bloggers on the map. I don’t have a mailing list. I hardly know how to handle the comments for my posts. Relaying what I’d like hasn’t been easy and it’s down to me to get that all straightened out.

I’ve met travellers who are taking a more literary approach and I would like to see if that’s where I belong, but I’m still unsure.

Maybe I’ll carve out an entirely new path for myself, doing something nobody before me has really done, and that’s why I haven’t been able to decide. I try not to focus too much on the destination, and just enjoy the journey as is said, but that’s really hard sometimes.

I like to know what’s going to happen, how things are going to turn out, but I also want to enjoy the learning process. I know that’s the only way, with writing, and that’s what I am all about, in the end.

Happy One Year Anniversary to TheIWanderer.

Sorry I’ve let you down, let myself down, but I believe in you, in us, in possibility.

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