Bucket List, Memoir Monday, Poetry, RIP, TToT

TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

vHCXJCr.jpg

Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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The Good Old Days: “We’re Drowning In It!” #SoCS

I have a headache. I don’t know where to start.

It hurts, threatening to burst under the weight of it all.

It’s just another speech on the US 2016 election campaign. Still, underneath that, there were parts that were all, essentially about human decency.

Michelle Obama spoke and I listened and I felt the familiar stinging of tears starting to form in my eyes.

I put off listening, as Facebook’s newsfeed blew up with people sharing the speech and lamenting its sincerity and harsh reality. Finally, after a bad day of becoming choked up on New York Times Modern Love essays about children and adoption, I thought, “why not?”

Every day I can’t believe it. The days are constant: International Day of the Girl (which Michelle mentions), World Sight Day, Blindness Awareness, White Cane Awareness and people can never seem to settle on the correct word order for some of these. But I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it. We’re all just trying to get by and to be heard and valued.

I see less and less and yet it’s what I hear that I can’t believe.

I hear things on my television
screen
that I can’t believe I’m hearing.

I doubt my own hearing, one of my strongest remaining senses.

I feel vulnerable every time I walk out there, a visually impaired woman with her white cane. Am I standing out? Or am I invisible?

Michelle Obama Speaks Out

The line she spoke that most caught my attention and left a lump in my throat, my eyes burning, and a ringing in my ears was: “We’re drowning in it.” I believe she was referring specifically to sexism and misogyny. It’s no big deal to most people, most times, but it’s always there, somewhere. How much does it matter?

Women should feel it. Men should feel it. Over and over again, people talk of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. What are women, even myself, what are we supposed to think? What lessons have young men learned? What do those calling themselves politicians think they’re doing anyway?

I even doubt my ears here in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in charge for one whole year now, since the last time Canada’s baseball team made it to the play off’s. I had hope then, as someone finally starting to feel somewhat better about the state of my own country, hope for a future where women’s rights, all rights of people might continue to improve, that we here could be a living embodiment of what is possible. Nothing but a naive girl’s silly hope?

His reputation as a feminist has only grown here and around the world. But then I think about possible leaked tapes, recordings, information in the future.

We believe forward-thinking men in politics like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama are decent, would never treat women so disrespectfully. Then I imagine a time in the future where I will hear, with my own ears, something that could shake my confidence in these two men as concerned fathers and sons and husbands. Maybe they aren’t who they claim to be either. Power. Is it all one giant power trip?

A black man ran the country that supported slavery, segregation, and the targeting of black men as criminals. A woman may soon run a country where women who were black couldn’t even vote fifty years ago. This must represent change and growth, but not all want it, require it, hope and pray for it. Some attack and demonize it.

As for progress and decency, men in positions of power and capable of making sweeping and lasting change, I don’t want to be let down in that way, not ever.

But how sure can I be? When may the other shoe drop, the floor drop out on me?

I appreciate varied viewpoints and healthy discussions, but I too shy away from disrespect, inhumanity, bickering, anger, discrimination, the refusal to see beyond the nose on one’s own face.

I don’t call myself a believer in feminism lightly.

I try to find a balance. This isn’t easy.

I have not suffered at the hands of abuse by men in my own life, but I feel a wider societal pressure. I know only the most decent men in my own life. My father. My brothers. Those I have learned from about love. Those I have loved. We all make mistakes, say foolish things in a moment of weakness or ignorance, both male and female. Goodness can still thrive.

I’m just afraid to believe what I hear. Perceptions are realities.

13TH

I wasn’t around during slavery, but what slavery still occurs, and what can I do about it, if I happen to see it or if I hide from that which still exists?

How free am I personally? What am I a slave to in my own life? How dare I even ask, even think?

The 13Th Amendment. The 19Th Amendment. What can 100 years, 150, what can that passing time do? How slow is change really? How far have we really come with rights for all? What is truly being amended? What am I seeing, hearing, witnessing, neglecting to admit about this time I’m living in?

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-13th-doc-trump-20161014-snap-htmlstory.html

I recommend 13TH. It covers a long timeline of events and not just the small snapshot of time we’re currently living through. It’s not easy to see back into all the preceding time, into anything other than noticing the glasses on our own faces, even mine where no more literal glasses sit.

Trump. Hillary. Bill.

Reagan, like Trump, an actor/performer. Nixon, known, as Hilary Clinton, to be a liar. What really changes? What can we count on as the years pass us by?

I hear suffering. I feel it more and more as I age. the echoes of ghosts long gone. I recognized all their voices at different times.

I hear what I hear. I doubt what I hear. I know what I hear and wonder who may have isolated each clip, what it meant, as an overall statement of any intention. I believe it has all contributed and brought us all to where we currently are.

I did not need anyone to Tweet those selected Trump clips, used to illustrate a wider point, to know how awful I’ve felt at having heard them myself over the last months. I already felt ill upon hearing them.

I know much of the history. I know how humans have treated other humans. I felt my headache worsen as 13TH went on, but I watched the documentary all the way through.

So then why exactly did I put myself through that pain?

What else should I do? How else should I handle what I can’t un-know?

Politics. Pride in one’s home. Culture. Religion. Propaganda, all of it?

It is more than six months since I really last wrote about these things here.

In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

I thought that the 2016 summer with unending stories in the news about the US election would never ever end. But it did and here we are. Less than a month to go, thank God! But I am so tired and I know I’m not alone. Speaking up is seen as “incendiary” and immediately turned into a political opinion, when really, all I’d like to make is a human one. I don’t write about it on Facebook, trying to be sensitive to my American friends. Here on my blog I feel somewhat safer, but I can’t agree with the sort of patriotism Americans often speak of, like Michelle in her speech most recently: that the US is the greatest country in the world.

I regret to say this Mrs. Obama, but go ahead and say whatever you need to say, to feel better about things.

I shake my head at such love of one place, run by capitalism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, from whichever country you reside in. Globalization. I am not a politician and never will be, but I care about not only myself and my family, but my country, and all others. I care about people, no matter where they live.

I love Canada fiercely, but I can’t just keep hearing people speak of their own country being the best, as pride gets us nowhere. I am lucky to live here and yet I fight to find my way. Canada has treated people just as poorly as any other country.

I stand on the border of my Canadian, English-speaking province and into the French-speaking province next door and I feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I smell the river. I hear the cars. I trust my senses in that moment, but rarely do I trust all else I’ve seen.

All politicians are caught saying things, things that have furthered their political purposes at one time or another, eventually revealing true intentions or previously held beliefs, hopefully altered. I don’t know how they really feel. Suddenly, thanks to an actual reality TV star coming this close to winning, it all feels like a huge reality show, like more and more politics and entertainment are melding, like we can’t tell them apart and there is no going back from that.

Human lives are at stake and 13TH makes that point extremely well. This isn’t a game. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

I can hardly believe what I’m seeing/hearing, but I suppose sensible people have always thought that way, and yet what was really done about it? What will the answer be now?

The thought that any one country is “the best country in the world” or that there ever existed “the good old days” is false to me, no matter the intended meaning behind either stated belief.

The “good old days” spoken of weren’t quite so good for us all. I just hope we can stay afloat going forward.

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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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TToT: Jagged Echos Off The Snare – Wet and Dry, #10Thankful #UnitedNations2016 #WomensEqualityDay #HappyInternautDay

Every single day that my vision fades, no matter how slowly over time, I remain, to some extent, a visual person. The sights I once saw, colours which used to be so bright, they have never left my brain. I attempt to bring what I still can’t help seeing in my mind’s eye out or else I go a little loopy.

HabMFj2.jpg

This is what I like to call “BlacK and Yellow”.

“I’ll be yours instead in my head. I’ll be yours instead.”

Sweet World – Braids, from “Companion”

Of course, this song doesn’t sound nearly as thrilling here, but the line from above seemed to fit with the visual images in my head of which I am attempting to do my best to bring forward through visual art.

Nothing is so black and white or, in my case, black and yellow.

🙂

I’m thankful for black and yellow, the darkest and the lightest colours that I can only now see such a vague idea of, compared to how I will always remember them.

I am thankful that I had a few moments of pure blissful peace. All I did was play Braids on top quality sound and let that stereo sound take me away from everything. It was as close to meditation and drowning all my other chaotic thoughts out as I ever get.

I’m thankful for siblings, such as an older one who is understanding and does not mind helping me out with a writing project which has the potential of being huge. All it took was a request and my brother was all ready to go. I trust his insights and impressions after all this time. I appreciate that more than he knows.

That my younger brother makes such breathtaking music, with his friends, with his own talents, and now with his sister.

😉

He plays, unafraid, loudly and I feel the vibrations of that music’s power through the floor under my feet and into my heart and soul. He is so cool, his outlook on life and on getting on with it, as best we can, and not allowing negative thoughts and feelings to drag you down, no matter how hard they try.

And also for the pictures that show a new life and my sister’s own strength in giving that new and developing life a safe and healthy place to grow, for as long as it needs.

I’m thankful for fresh peach soft ice cream sundaes
.

I’m thankful for women who speak up on the most vital matters that I wish I myself could do/say more about,

such as this woman in particular.

She is one of my heroes, in feminism, in literature, and in the art of just being a decent human being who stands up for what’s right. She spoke most recently at this United Nations 2016 meeting for World Humanitarian Day.

I am thankful for the thing which happened 25 years ago this week.

Happy Internaut Day. With the creation of the World Wide Web,

thanks to Tim Berners-Lee,

I would soon be able to find out anything I could ever wish to know and a whole new world of possibilities would open up to me, so many others, and especially the visually impaired.

I am thankful for the violin lesson I had, even for the rain that soaked me and made my shoes all squeaky as I stepped inside the music school. I am trying to get past feelings of silliness when my teacher shows me another technique she learned as a child. I am improving, slowly but surely.

I am thankful for the kindness and compassion shown to me by a nurse practitioner. She took the time to speak to me, not making any attempt to rush me, and I felt like she was really listening to what I had to say about my own years of illness and pain. I did my best to explain my many medical issues and how I’ve dealt with them. I tried to explain how far I’ve come, in making an effort in spite of the pain and the stress, to live my life. Not all medical professionals are nearly as understanding or empathetic. I don’t take such an attitude for granted when I come across it. I am lucky to have the medical clinic to reach out to in my town. It wasn’t so easy getting there.

I am thankful the Toronto Blue Jays are doing so well and that they won the game my brothers and my father were at. Here’s hoping for more of the same, as we head into autumn and a possible second year-in-a-row of playoff potential for our only Canadian baseball team in Toronto.

I am thankful my nephew is so big into the planets right now, just like I’ve been since childhood.

We enjoyed singing along to his favourite planet tune, even though I told him:

“In my day we had nine planets.”

Why is Pluto no longer a planet?

Pluto will always be a planet to me.

🙂

I leave off this post with what I’m calling “Circulation” even if those I’ve asked all guessed I was trying to draw the planets, but I originally began with only the images of coloured circles. I don’t mind. I love the planets.

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Things change. Nothing stays the same. I am thankful that I have learned to recognize my thankfulness.

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TToT: Sadness, Euphoria, Sul Ponticello – “BELIEVE ME!” #Disbelief #10Thankful

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. a
link hashtag happiness
weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.

It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas.

And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.

And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.

~ Robert Fulghum

With all the reality TV run amuck this week, disguised as politics. With an unarmed mental health worker getting shot, right in front of his autistic client. With violence in Munich and Afghanistan and Syria.

I read the above quote and the image of that made me want to spread colour and vibrance and imagination. It made me want to create.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That I am not American in 2016.

I don’t mean that to come off sounding disrespectful to anyone I know there.

I just do not know how things have arrived at where they are. I can’t do anything about it. I feel like I am taking a front row seat to the spectacle of this election and I am afraid, so I tell myself I am thankful that I have at least some distance.

It’s not all that comforting frankly, but I’m just starting my TToT list. I’ve got nine more to go.

To be a Canadian, living here in Canada.

Honestly, as much as I do love a lot about the US and highly respect many people there, I am thankful to be living in this country.

I say it, I think it, and I feel it in my heart, any way you slice it. Luck of the draw. Again, the comfort is short lived, but it’s something. I don’t know what else to say.

I couldn’t resist the line in the title of this week’s TToT, the one the GOP nominee kept repeating: “Believe Me!” and I don’t. I just can’t believe what I’m hearing.

For a Canadian, female writer, whose blog I love to check in on.

“To be responsible is to be forced to confront vulnerability. That is my observation about growing up, generally. The older I get, the more fragile the structures around me seem. The more tenuous. The more invented , in a way. What I mean is that the security of everything I hold precious and dear, even my beliefs, is supported by a certain level of cognitive dissonance, but also by the suspension of disbelief. To dig in, to help build, to get my hands dirty, to make or unmake, is, for me, to witness the complexity and arbitrariness of experience, of life itself, against which there can be no absolute assurances of safety and security.”

Carrie Snyder – Welcome To My Office

She has taught me a lot and continues to teach me, including the fascinating resources she often shares with her readers.

In this post.

She writes about having lost her own physical voice from illness, but I believe it speaks to a bigger way in which so many people feel like they don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves.

For comedians who make me smile when the sadness threatens to overtake me.

Brexitbot 3000

Speaking of British comedy…there’s nothing better than Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver being interviewed by Jerry Seinfeld, for his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”.

With Oliver’s signature British humour and Jerry’s own unique brand of comedy, which he’s perfected for these fascinating interviews he conducts, with the sound of a soft trickle of coffee being poured in between clips of their coffee shop chatter and banter.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/john-oliver-what-kind-of-human-animal-would-do-this

For the developing of my violin muscle memory and “sul ponticello”..

I’m loving the possibilities and more of the terms I’m learning.

Sul ponticello is a style of playing, where you move the bow up closer to the bridge of the violin. It makes a higher sound with harmonics, or so I’m told and have read.

It’s like what’s often said about writing. It’s important to know the rules so they can be broken properly. I’m getting there.

That I can apply for a passport to see the world.

Who knows what will be going on in the world at any later date.

When I do use my newly acquired passport for the first time, who knows who will be running the country I will be flying over to get to Mexico.

So many people are afraid to travel, to leave the familiar of their everyday surroundings, thanks to perpetrators of violence and intolerance and the spreading of fear. I am lucky I can apply for a little booklet which allows me to explore place away from my immediate home.

Of course, I must pay attention to the very real concerns I face as a visually impaired traveler, while at the same time not allowing so much uncontrollable nonsense stop me, getting in my way. I wish that for all of us.

That I have writing group friends who show their concern.

I wasn’t feeling up to attending my writing group this week, which I hate to have to admit. It has slowly grown to be one of my favourite things.

So, imagine my surprise when I received an email later that night from one of the members, checking up on me, making sure I was okay.

For an excellent interpretation of a classic.

Victor Frankenstein

I remember listening to my friend, who was in medical school at the time, telling me a few stories of her classes. It was often more graphic than I was looking to hear, but that’s the reality of medicine, which I have benefited greatly from.

Now, of course, any story of Frankenstein is going to an extreme, but it explores the issues of life and death, challenging mortality.

This film was brilliantly done and the actors played their [parts very convincingly. Also, the descriptive narration I found was some of the best I’ve heard.

For the heartbeat of hope.

It beats in time, with rhythmic steadiness, and I hold onto that. It translates into a very real hope for the future, for so many.

It’s how I am able to go from sadness to euphoria, all in one week.

For beautiful lyrics to explain these times we’re living in.

Timeless really.

Summer, Highland Falls (Live at Shea Stadium) – Billy Joel

They say that these are not the best of times, But they’re the only times I’ve ever known, And I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.

Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes, And I can only stand apart and sympathize.

For we are always what our situations hand us… It’s either sadness or euphoria. And so we argue and we compromise, and realize that nothing’s ever changed, For all our mutual experience, our seperate conclusions are the same.

Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity, Our reason co-exists with our insanity. And though we choose between reality and madness… It’s either sadness or euphoria.

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies. Perhaps we don’t fulfill each other’s fantasies. And so we’ll stand upon the ledges of our lives, With our respective similarities…

It’s either sadness or euphoria.

(Lyrics)

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TToT: Woman In Black Blouse Holding Black Bow – Shadow Bowing, #10Thankful

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself on all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”

–Sylvia Plath, “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath”

img_1082-2016-03-6-06-49.jpg

Caption: Woman in black shirt smiling and standing.)

There is an App for the visually impaired where you can take a photo of anything you are in need of describing and send it away and, within seconds, an answer is given by someone somewhere who has viewed it and explained it to the best of their ability. Well, that’s the first reply given when I asked what the above photo showed. The second I used for the title of this week’s TToT because I thought it strangely eerie.

🙂

Have you heard of “shadow bowing”?

That is what I am doing. Supposedly, (as YouTube is a totally reliable source on this), I’m quite sure – if you want to practice moving your violin’s bow in a perfectly straight line, you take an empty toilet paper roll and work at moving the bow through it, over and over again. Well, let’s just say, I thought it worth a try, yet highly amusing at the same time.

The week started out badly. It wasn’t a great week at all, to be frank, but I still think I can come up with 10 things to be thankful for. Come along with me and let’s see if I can.

🙂

I made a decision, as February and its extra day came and went and March began, that I will cut back from the daily blogging I’ve been doing since the start of 2016, and will cut back to only weekends and these blogging hops and link ups I so enjoy.

I will use my weekdays to focus on my violin and writing for other places, specifically the memoir I’ve wanted to write since I was fourteen years old.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For rare disease awareness.

I shared, back when it first came out, an article I wrote which was published on The Mighty:

Rare Disease Day, 2016: Even Rarer Than A Leap Year

Well, the official day of recognition was on a leap year this time round, making it extra special.

For a song that inspires me.

Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado

I was shown this one by a friend, but although I could tell just by listening that there was depth and significance in the words, the music, and in the visuals, I could not see what was taking place in the video for the song.

Well, my friend explained what happens throughout. I could tell it was important, with the sound of the train at the beginning, but I now listen to this every night before I go to bed. It reminds me that we all have our struggles and our burdens to shoulder. I want to write my story, to tell of my particular tale, while this song plays on repeat in the background in my head.

Check it out if you have a moment. It’s beautiful.

For books and their creators.

As the quote at the start of this post shows, I love books for so many things. I will never be all the things I want to be, but books get me a lot closer.

This week was World Book Day.

I found myself in my nephew’s room, one day in the middle of the week, and my mom began reading “What Pet Should I Get?”, unaware that its author was celebrating a birthday on that exact same day. I celebrate Dr. Seuss and the genus he was with words.

He was highly skilled with them, words that is. He was able to stand out, reach children, and as I would love to write a children’s book someday, I try to study his brilliance, hoping always that something of it may rub off on me.

For a much needed laugh or two to brighten up a rough week. I love the coming together of a child’s imagination and the acting talents to bring it to my screen.

I did not watch anything surrounding Academy Awards mania, but I think this is better than any of the movies that actually got nominated for a trophy.

🙂

I was riveted by both these performances.

Kid Theater with Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies)

Hanks deserves the award for that, don’t you agree? Possibly even Jimmy. If you need to smile, watch only this one Oscar performance.

For a hot shower to help with head and limb pain.

For another chance to share my writing, as part of a wonderfully important blogger series:

#BeReal – KERRY KIJEWSKI

I was glad to get some of my feelings out and on the page in a supportive environment like Hasty’s blog.

For new car smell.

I don’t know exactly what that fragrance consists of, so feel free to enlighten me, but I know it is in the materials of a newish car and it doesn’t last forever – just like most things in life.

🙂

Whatever it emanates from, it brings back nostalgic feelings that are indefinable, but warmly welcome.

For my first actual violin recital.

Not playing. Oh hell no!

🙂

Just attending, but it was highly inspiring and motivating.

I write about the experience here:

Flower of the Night

For the chance to work creatively with my musically talented brother.

img_1083-2016-03-6-06-49.jpg

Caption: Smiling man playing violin.

🙂

This was the explanation we received for the photo of my brother holding my violin.

He is a guitar player mainly. He and I decided we would try to write a song together. He has written the music and now I am faced with the new challenge of listening to it, letting the music move through me, and feeling the words and letting them come to me.

I try to lighten the mood because I have written lots of things, but never song lyrics. It’s a bit like poetry and I always doubted my skill with that. I hope it is something I can do. The challenge to myself is a tough one. I just think it would be neat to do that with him.

For beautiful pieces of writing, from such creative and talented bloggers and writers. This lovely memoir post I just had to share.

Where Is Home – Yvonne Spence

Several months back I came across multiple beautifully written blog posts and shared them here, stating my intention to share a couple that were particularly influential on me, here on the TToT every week.

Well, I didn’t follow through, but better to do it when inspiration strikes.

Home – Phillip Phillips

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

–Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

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