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TToT: Spring Has Sprung – Bright Side, #10Thankful

“I’m living on the bright side. It’s all a state of mind.” —Angela Saini

I’ll be honest, often, the world scares me.

I look to things like this TToT and its gratitude exercise for some relief.

Ten Things of Thankful

So, let’s just get to it, because I need some relief from the news of the day.

I am thankful for writers and thinkers such as Margaret Atwood.

I have not read The Handmaid’s Tale, as Atwood’s genre is one that covers uncomfortable truths and possibilities, through fiction and inside fictional realities. I don’t feel comfortable reading that stuff, but I do believe I am missing out.

She has had a long and esteemed writing career in Canada and we are lucky to have her intelligence and her talents.

I am thankful for those I know who travel and are out there living life, reporting back to me somehow on their journeys.

The world scares me and that is why I must see more of it, as much as I possibly can.

But, when and where I cannot, I value my friends, better than all the travel blogs I have followed on Facebook. My friends and those I’ve met, somewhere, somehow are out there and inspiring me to not feel so scared all the time.

And, if I am unable to push away my fear completely, they prove to me that it is possible to go ahead anyway. You miss less by going and doing, fear be damned.

I am thankful for Canada and my extremely privileged citizenship here.

We have our problems and we must acknowledge those. I see protests and silencing in Russia, famine and governmental corruption in Africa, and the unrest and polarization in the U.S. and I hope Canada can face our sins and remain as united and reasonable as possible.

I plan to write more about this as Canada Day, 2017 draws closer.

I am thankful for audio progress reports.

The sound of the App notification on my phone is enough to make me smile and forget my other racing thoughts for a few moments.

My friend may be over in Ireland, but I still get to hear her daughter’s growth, through trying to fill her baby’s bottle and spilling an entire jug of milk all over the floor or not understanding why she can’t fit into her doll’s clothes.

The photos my friend captions for me and then I listen to the short video clips with great interest. I look forward to them in my week.

I am thankful for more time holding my baby niece.

Speaking of growth…she is now one month old and my sister feels she is already growing too fast.

She loves to eat. I like to hold her the other times, when she is not nursing, and then my sister can do some other things.

My niece has a real angry cry, as babies do, but I hold her when she sleeps and she is so peaceful then. Hard to believe it’s the same child. You gotta love it.

I am thankful for all those who help me understand things better, things I often miss out on, those like my extremely generous friend.

My writing mentor is teaching travel writing across some of Africa and she posted a tree. I knew she wouldn’t post it for no reason. She must have seen something special in that tree. I wanted to try and see something in that photo too, in my mind.

“When a bulb burns out, I see. Even in the dark, it feels sunny to me. Skipping in the shadows, every corner holds beauty. There is always light if you look closely.” —Angela Saini

I don’t expect the world to always modify for my needs. Photos are visual things. I get that. Sometimes I just want to imagine what one looks like.

My friend, a writer and a scientist, she heard about this and offered to describe the tree. I learned a lot.

“Splashing through the puddles. Knowing that’s how green grass grows.” —Angela Saini

I am thankful for the first real spring weather.

The other day was so mild. The sunshine was warm on my face. No more shivering.

“I don’t own a poncho. Whenever it rains I only see a rainbow.” —Angela Saini

Spring means rain. I like a good rainstorm. Bring it on.

A rainbow is one of those things, like any photo, that I long to see and never likely will. I appreciate any person’s interpretation of what a rainbow looks like.

Anyone want to give it a go? Leave your description in the comments to this post.

I am thankful for a lesson I thought was certain to be bad.

We had to miss a week. My teacher is in university and this time of year is particularly chaotic.

Any time we have this happen, like when I was in Mexico, I assume the next lesson will not go well at all because of the extra time in between.

I’ve learned this isn’t always the case. I had an extremely productive and energetic practice just before and we had a great talk about the strain and endurance of playing the violin.

Oh, I also did work on the actual practicing techniques too, trying to make it more of a constant flow of sound, rather than always so start and stopish.

Like this. Maybe…one day. Maybe.

I am thankful the U.S. dodged an extremely wrong and risky bullet.

At first I was negative about it, as it strikes a nerve because I have needed lots of medical care, so I immediately thought this was winning a battle but not the war.

Why does this need to be a fight anyway?

Then I was reminded, if I were living in the U.S and relied on the healthcare system there in a big way, I’d want just a short period of time to relax and feel relieved for this moment in time.

I am still worried, anxious for all who would be affected, but I feel helpless to do anything.

Many of us feel like people see us as such a drain on the system, but we’ve faced death or serious illness. It’s no game to us.

“My train home is three hours late. Must be time for another piece of cake – I like chocolate.” —Angela Saini

I am thankful for the positive reception and Canadian support of the newly told.

The Canadian people watched the new Anne of Green Gables series and they have spoken that they approve.

The CBC was going to air the second episode two weeks after last week’s premier, but the reception was so positive that they went ahead and aired it last night.

I am keeping an open mind, as the story makes Canada proud from what I see, so I am going to keep an episode diary on my Facebook page every time it airs.

I will call it Ahead By A Century, like the theme song for the show, by The Tragically Hip.

Living On The Bright Side – Angela Saini

This song is all about seeing the silver lining, but her lyrics suggest there is always something good in everything. That’s what TToT is all about too, in a way.

Of course, I know this is a bit of an over simplification, we all know it, but really we have to at least try.

“Enjoying life, cause’ I’ve got only one.”

—Angela Saini

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Travel Ling, Lingering #TGIF #FTSF

“Oh, the places you’ll go.”

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

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

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

Pop!

***

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

***

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

The Insightful Wanderer (@TheIWanderer on Twitter)

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledge your limitations while challenging what still might be.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

It all began with a Facebook post:.

With all the news lately of asylum seekers coming across the border between the U.S. and Canada, in through Manitoba and other places, I can’t help wondering what has made them take such chances. I guess we in Canada aren’t quite as used to it, though we’ve heard all the stories about people from South America and Mexico crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. always.

Humans have always been on the move, but often spurred on by fear and desperation, feeling unsafe where they currently are.
It made me think of the two times I have crossed a border recently.
First it was the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. We crossed by car and I never even would have known we’d crossed into another province because I couldn’t see to read the signs. I soon got out and stood for a time on the border, on the river, with the wind-tunnel blowing my hair every which way. I remained there and thought about a loss I’d newly experienced and how that person had crossed the ocean to come to Canada many years earlier, for different reasons.
I then thought about what makes us draw lines between ourselves and other human beings. I understand why we’ve had to map out these markers between us and other countries and states and provinces. I even understand why some must be watched and even protected/defended, which leaves us frightened we are under a constant threat from other places and people.

The second time was when I crossed, by car, over the border between Canada and the U.S. but I felt so strange leaving my home country, though I wished I didn’t feel any such separation. I then crossed the border between the U.S. and  Mexico, but by plane I once more noticed nothing, until I landed and felt the thrill of being in a country I’d never been in before.

***

All week long, on our nightly National Canadian news, I have watched a series that attempted to answer my question: just who are these asylum seekers, those who feel so unsafe in the U.S. and are now coming so so very far?

I learned it has been somewhere around 140 of them since January 1st of this year, walking for hours in the freezing cold of winter. Some in Canada fear this number will only increase, from a trickle of people to a stream that’s unstoppable, as weather improves and spring arrives.

Well, I thought about the fear I had, not only of my recent writing workshop ending and having to return to my reality, but also I feared having to cross back over the U.S. to get back home to Canada.

I knew, as the end of the week drew nearer how silly it was for me to be afraid. I had no real problems. I still felt unwelcome, even with the kindness I was shown by so many who helped me travel safely through airports in both Dallas and Detroit.

Mexico and Canada and in between, now, is this dark spot, which I realize is totally unfair and uncalled for in many ways. Sometimes, in my mind, I see the continent of North America being carved up, split apart like cracks caused by shifting plates, deep underneath us.

I still can’t believe 45 ever ran on the promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. From the first time I ever heard that ridiculous idea, up to this moment as I write this, I can’t believe it. I know I am not alone. That thing many have said about how we should be building bridges that will connect us, not walls that will separate us even more than a border already does, this is what runs through my mind every single day.

Now, according to the series, there are those fleeing danger and worse in certain African countries and Asian countries, making it all the way to South America, often just as dangerous. This report I saw sent a reporter to investigate and speak to some, mostly from Somalia, who were crossing the border of Guatemala and Mexico’s most southern part. They have come so far, but because of what has taken place in the U.S. they are wanting to get to Canada, but remain trapped where they are, unable to get there without crossing through what lies between.

Canada is a long way away and suddenly, the distance I felt on that last day in Mexico, to make it back to my home, it doesn’t look nearly as wide a gap to go now that I’ve seen what those people are up against.

I hope Canada is kind with these asylum seekers. I hear our border guards and RCMP officers reporting seeing families, pushing strollers and coming across with infant seats, a heartbreaking thing to witness, as I imagine an infant I love having to travel like that.

Our country has those driven by fears, like the ignorance growing in the U.S., fueled by so much misinformation and a lack of ability to open their eyes.

In Canada, today a phone conversation apparently took place between our leader and the new leader of the U.S., after the face-to-face meeting that took place, last week in Washington, D.C.

It’s reported that border security issues were not discussed, but I find that so hard to believe. I don’t know what will happen. It worries me. When it comes to borders and boundaries, we may be two very different countries, but it’s like a horizon I can not see. It feels strong and weak, all at once.

I do know that Canada’s Immigration Minister was a refugee himself, from Somalia.

So, what would certain people say about the series I just spoke of? Would they call it fake news, created to tug at the human heartstrings, but disguising hidden dangers for all good, law-abiding citizens?

Some here in Canada argue we need to worry about real Canadians first, before helping everybody who just so happens to show up on our doorstep, no matter their reasons.

I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need. That’s because I feel I am one who benefits a lot, is carried on the backs of other Canadians, requiring services my country provides and this is painful to think about when I hear all the talk that’s been growing, as I’ve always been receiving help from so many hard-working Canadians. I am just as much a risk and a drain on the system, even if nobody ever bothered to know me and what my worth is as a fellow human being, just trying to live peacefully and share this planet. I guess that’s why I am so passionate about this sort of thing, though I admittedly know very little about all the ways humans cross borders. I want to learn more. I want to keep up and stay as educated as possible.

The whole thing makes me want to cry. I am really no less expendable, to so many who complain, as any refugee or immigrant ever was or will be.

We need to remain real and human to each other. Being unnamed, just a number or statistic, and cold distance is seen as sensible and becomes contagious.

***

February is, of course, Black History Month and I have been watching a documentary series on Thursday nights, all about the colonization Great Britain has been responsible for, for so long.

Where were borders when that was going on? What boundaries existed, what limits, when the Mighty Great Britain was subjugating so many?

Here in Ontario, I watch a lot of programs on the provincial station, which is affiliated with England and the BBC. A lot of documentaries from over there are aired here and I see a lot of a place I really know very little about, though Canada and they are forever connected too.

I am glad I am learning about the history of Britain’s colonization of anywhere and everywhere and the multi-cultural place it is, with its problems and all that has transpired there for all these years.

***

I ended my Facebook post by stating:

Notice, I say “border” instead of “borders” because I want to highlight the fact that two places share it, rather than being on one side or the other. Also, the term “alien” should never have been used to describe other human beings. Such terms allow us to think of ourselves as “us and them” and divide us even more than we already are.
You could cross an entire ocean or a border, guarded by someone with a gun or a deadly serious tone in their voice. Or, you could cross one in a car or airplane, and if you’re not looking, not even know you’re doing it.

***

When it comes to borders and boundaries, if we dare to look within ourselves, where do our hearts and our humanity begin and end when it comes to empathy and compassion? Where do we draw lines in the sand of our lives and those of other humans who are just trying to live life on their own terms, just like any of us feel we deserve to?

***

I realize this one was fairly lengthy, but I have had all this building up in my mind and heart and it all came out through my fingers, as I am a little wound up by recent events on all fronts. I do appreciate that Kristi read my Facebook post, included here, from earlier in the week and asked me to co-host with her this time.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=699286

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I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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Humbled and Hopeful, #JusJoJan

Well, I’m back. I’m back to this blog and to join in with the final few days of
Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan.

I’m not particularly thrilled about it to be honest. It’s not anything other than myself.

I’m not blue exactly. I do think of this month as the dark blue month, but now the red month is fast approaching and I am so tired.

It’s a good tired of course. Those who know me, they would tell me to stop complaining. I just got back from a week in Mexico and I had something happen to me that was beyond description. I will still try though, as that’s what I do.

I just had a long travel day yesterday. The news here in Canada and around the world sucks. I am trying to take in all I did and all I saw and everything I experienced when I was away at my writing workshop paradise.

Yes, that is what it was for me. How can I feel blue at all when I so recently had such an enriching time?

I don’t know. I didn’t want the week to end truthfully. I had my own oasis, a beautiful and comfortable room and a perfect balcony place to go and write or just to take in the world from a magnificent viewpoint. I never wanted to leave that spot. I recorded, with my phone, simply the world from up there. No talking. Only birds singing, distant dogs barking, church bells clanging, and children and families going about their days in houses nearby. I heard a continuous rumble of the traffic out beyond and I knew the world didn’t stop while I was hidden away and writing with a group of the most intelligent, friendly, and compassionate people and other writers I’ve ever known.

So, if I am blue, it’s not for the fact that I don’t realize what I am lucky to have or having had just gotten to do with my week. It’s just that I had such a time that the rest of my life, in this moment, seems like it can never compare again. These are silly musings, perhaps, but I feel them right now. I can’t believe, when I reflect back, what I just did and I fear I will never do it again, though I’ve been told by many that I absolutely will and I know in my own heart that they are right.

Now I am home again. I am here and I am listening to my brother and his band playing superb music. I think about that beauty of art, the kind which was all the incredible works of writing that I heard the other night, and the visual art I was shown that is Mexico’s to share. I put that against all that is cruel and ugly and I grip the stunning bracelet I bought myself to remember Mexico by. It gives me strength to face life. I am humbled and hopeful.

I may allow these final days to be forever known as my two blue days and then I will begin a new month, a new birth year, to be the start of the rest of my life. What just happened to me in Mexico is proof positive that anything is possible.

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TToT: In My Head I’m Swept Away – Collective Arts, #10Thankful

Things are changing. I guess that’s a normal part of life. I wonder when it might be that this concept doesn’t feel so strange to me. I complained that these things are fading away, like this here ten things of thankful exercise, and then I’m the one who has faded away from even attempting it. Since the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I’ve been preoccupied and all over the place. I still am.

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I liked Lizzi’s attempt at coming up with
fifty
and not just ten, back around Christmas. I thought, since I am on my way to parts unknown very soon, I’d try for somewhere between ten and fifty, to cover for those I’ve missed in recent weeks and the week I’m sure to miss coming up.

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

This is meant to be a bunch of things I’m thankful for from the year that just was and some of what I’ve been thankful for lately. I will set a timer and see how long it takes me to come up with fifty items for this list of mine.

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

For people willing to fight back, stand up, speak out.

For reason, logic, and common sense, which isn’t quite common enough.

For the challenge of learning to adapt and familiarize myself with new things.

For the discomfort that often causes because it helps me grow.

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

For a Spanish language program I can listen to, shuffled up in my iTunes library.

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

Sophia showing Auntie Kerry her journal.
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For treats made especially available at Christmas.

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

For the scent of cinnamon buns when I step foot in the mall.

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

For the sound snow makes, that crunching, when it is really cold here.

For a female Canadian on our money…the money with braille on it.

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

For hearing my name coming from the smartest of smart almost-two-year-old little girls, only here for a visit.

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

For the life lessons from those who push me to require more of myself.

For rice cakes.

For the coolness offered by the frozen food section of a grocery store.

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

For the ability to provide a jam space in my basement for a bunch of talented and creative musicians.

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

For personal invites to travel and write and meet others who love both those things.

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

For borders, be they on countries or the sections of a country.

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

For governmental programs that help make life easier and more hopeful.

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

For the chance to do an interview with an editor/writer I admire.

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

For fireside chats with a train to be heard somewhere far in the distance.

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

For my mother’s talents with a needle and thread.

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

For my first violin concert and my second and my third.

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

I should probably stop here. This is just a start to a list. It goes to show just how much there really is to be thankful for, if you take the time to look, list, and add them up. I topped 100 things in this list and I think I’ve made my point.

I am starting to panic about why I’ll be missing TToT next time. I have so much to be thankful for. I just must learn to trust in all of it.

Bonus Thankful: airplanes and the responsible pilots who fly them.

Mucho Gusto!

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International Day For Persons with Disabilities 2016, #IDPD2016

Helen Keller…Stevie Wonder…Ray Charles…Rick Hansen…Stephen Hawking…

The Rick Hansen Foundation

There are so many more of us out here, only looking to have rich, full lives like anyone else, but what often stops us is not only society’s barriers, but our own.

***

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want” . This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.

***

One note on the society part – some of you may not want to think a lot about it, if you don’t have to, because then it becomes clear that the possibility for anyone to become disabled is indeed a possibility for anyone..

I am a Canadian woman, living with a disability. I didn’t acquire my disability through an accident later in life. I did not develop it overtime, but from birth and still, who knows which direction my remaining vision might take.

On the day before the
United Nation’s International Day For PErsons with Disabilities
I felt a tired feeling that I sometimes get. I panic and assume my sight is worsening, but I am not sure, if that makes any real sense. I close my eyes and decide I will try to get back in to see my retinal specialist soon.

I don’t know what, if anything, he will be able to tell me, offer me as hope that I won’t be completely blind one day. He will probably see no changes or signs of the mysterious eye disease that took my left eye twenty years ago. He will speak to me of gene therapies in various stages of development, but I don’t know what hope lies in that for me. Maybe it will be my future. Maybe not. I’ve learned not to bank on anything.

That’s a part of my DNA, just like the genetic eye disease. I am conditioned to either think the worst or simply not want to hope for the things I may really really want, always fearing that the disappointment from possibly not getting them will break me. It hasn’t broken me yet, which does give me reason to be optimistic though.

I wanted to be able to see the truly unique show violinist Lindsey Stirling put on recently. Instead, I listened to all I could and relied on my helpful sister to fill in the blanks. I wanted to throw my white cane away and yelled my displeasure, and through the wish, but instead I sat and listened even harder.

I want to draw like I used to when I saw colours and when everything in my world was more clearly and brightly defined. I can’t. I want to scream in frustration but I’m resigned instead.

I want to take up the latest craze of adult colouring books, but I don’t.

Of course, nothing is really stopping me. I may not, as an adult, see the lines I may have hardly seen as a child, which are now nearly invisible to me. I could still get myself a Harry Potter or any number of other themed colouring books with a theme which fits my interest, and be damned if I miss colouring in the lines by a mile.

But I don’t. I don’t scream or rail at the world in an uproar. I find other ways to spend my time.

I want to travel and to go through life with an independent spirit and loads of self confidence, but I don’t. I try and I work at it, but I’m scared.

I find a travel series, a BBC documentary, available to me on Netflix. It’s Stephen Fry, whom I love, and he is doing a road trip across the United States in his British cab. I know him from his narration of the Harry Potter books and for his intelligent and witty character. After watching him visit all 50 states I now know he hates being on a horse, dancing, and skiing. He loves science and culture and literature.

Stephen Fry In America

I watch him on his trip and I long to go on one of my own, but I fear getting lost in the big, expansive world and I worry that my white cane will attract only pity. I want to grip it with extra determination and go anyway. It’s all in my attitude, right?

I can’t drive a cab across the country. I want to believe I will see more of the world anyway, even without definition of sight.

I don’t try to revisit childhood experiences of mine by colouring. Instead, I watch a travel show which I’ve heard of but only now decided to give a chance.

HELLO GOODBYE, #HelloGoodbye

The host speaks to one woman in her sixties, widowed after her late husband’s long battle with illness, but who has now found new love with a man from England. Her happiness is infectious. Her newly found love walks down the ramp in the arrivals terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport and gets down on one knee. Love is lost and can be found again.

I feel warm just by watching and listening to her story.

The host also speaks to a young man and his parents. The son is on his way to participate in Rio, at the Paralympics. He was paralyzed from a diving accident and now plays wheelchair rugby.

And then there was the grandmother, daughter, and grandson saying their goodbyes. The young guy and his mother are heading back to Britain after a visit with Grandma. The mother has RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa). She carries a cane, but the son speaks of wanting his mother to have companionship with a guide dog, as he will soon be going out on his own and doesn’t want her to be alone. He has worried about her safety all his life. She admits to being unsure about going for a guide dog once they get back home, but her son’s words cause her to rethink things.

She grips her white cane. I grip mine. She has been losing sight for years. I’ve been blind since birth and losing since. Am I any further along in accepting my circumstances and my white cane than she is?

People ask me all the time if I am ever going to get another guide dog. I don’t quite know what to say. Yes, they may provide the necessary confidence boost for many. I consider it.

I don’t think any dog will ever compare to my Croche, But is that all it is?

I can’t put another animal through what I put Croche through. She was so well trained and so fittingly suited in temperament. She was given to me and I was trusted with her. A lot went into all that. We were a team, but I failed her.

My ever growing illnesses caused me to sleep and her to dutifully stay by my side, but she was prevented from shining. She was my pal, but I don’t take the responsibility of a working dog lightly. I don’t know what my future will bring and I can’t bring myself to bringing another animal into that.

I want to curse what stops me, but what often stops me is me. And so I would just end up cursing myself, again and again.

Or, I could take hold of my white cane and use it for betterment, for working for some of my dreams, and for hardening my resolve and building my often feeble confidence.

My feelings of shame when I walk with my cane are hard to describe and hard to fight off. I will never be happy if I don’t try. Fear and disappointment stop me from even trying. What a waste that would be.

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