Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, Memoir and Reflections, SoCS

Discovering My Style, #SoCS #Violin

Oh boy! I couldn’t sleep, so I started searching violinists on YouTube. Oh, what have I gotten myself into?

How many people start at age thirty-two?

I am hearing so much about childhood prodigies. That can’t be all. Some, as one Polish violinist said, are simply just young and mediocre players.

Well, I may not have the ear for the violin at this point, and can’t say I ever really will, but I know what I like, what makes me feel something. The question is, why?

I never liked classical music much. When I’d arrive at a classical channel on the radio dial, I’d generally flip right by, and onto pop or classic rock.

But then where did this interest in suddenly learning the violin come from?

It started out as a sad instrument, conjuring up scenes of cruelty and grief in such things as the movie Schindler’s List. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Violin equaled Jews and the Holocaust.

Well, I suppose that sort of classical music was so popular, for so many hundreds of years, because not even jazz had come along.

So, the element of sorrow lingers, in my head. No matter what speed or tempo of violin in a piece of classical music, and I feel sad.

So, well maybe its that I remember the classical music on the radio in my oma and opa’s car, on our Saturday drives to McDonald’s and shopping at the mall. Okay, so not a lot of people’s idea of a classy day out, but I loved it.

Would these memories of good times override my sensation of being caught in a horror like World War II? Hmm.

Violin equaled wartime, which equaled my European grandparents. In my effort, even as a small girl, to relate to them and the world they once knew.

I felt the urge to learn bubble up in the last five to ten years, but maybe even before.

So here I am. I think my particular preference would have to be a mixture of classical and modern sound. This is violin entering the 21st century I suppose.

Oh, I’m certain pure classical violin isn’t going away anytime soon. On the contrary, for those who pick up their first instrument at the early age of four or five. They have time to develop their style of playing.

Playing catch-up now, but I’m only really in a race with myself, entered into some imaginary race in my own mind. I don’t know where I fit into all of this. I can’t shoulder both the expectations of becoming a famous writer and violinist.

😉

So help me God if I must choose, because I feel the violin taking hold, somewhere on my person, but of which was maybe always deeper. I was always playing violin, in my soul somewhere. May sound phony, but whatever.

What we have right here, this is thanks to lack of sleep and all that violin music playing in my head. It’s stream of consciousness at its worst I fear.

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and this lady’s got class. 😉

I want to play. I hold my violin, my bow. Shoulder down, fingers outstretched, arm on a hinge and as far as it will go, and the feeling of righteousness (just me and my violin) grows. My head and my hand feel what it should feel like.

Four months into this crazy notion of mine and I am more lost than ever, but lost with a purpose seems right enough to me.

Oh boy, could I ever use a little sleep!

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Never Forgotten: My Promise to Those Who Came Before Me, #TGIF #FTSF

I write about my family often.

With stories of

Bloodroots and Blood Ties,

I discovered there was such thing as a bloodroot, on one particular family hike in April.

Had you ever heard of such a thing?

I think it is a wonderful metaphor, as far as the natural world, as we are all connected, to it, and to each other.

Roots go deep and this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday is a deep one, with Kristi of

Finding Ninee

As for my own family story, I’ve discussed things like

Milestones and Siblings

and also

The Ties That Bind

ties, blood, roots are all common themes in my writing, as you can see.

Long ago, my family came to Canada, from living in Europe. I really don’t know that far back, especially on my mother’s side. They’ve been here longer.

It all seemed so far back in time that I didn’t know how to reach it, which has left me focused more on the events of the 20th century and the two world wars that have left their mark on the 1900s.

My father’s parents lived through World War II. My father’s mother spoke of those years often, and her childhood that proceeded them. Her thick accent and often mixed up German/English made it hard to follow a lot of the things she’d say. I would listen, focusing hard, banking on my sharp memory to be able to recall the stories and the details later on.

This was a mistake. I was only just beginning with writing back then, as an interest, and (like a person not wanting to miss something in the moment, who does not take a photo to capture the memory) I did not write down what she spoke about, as she spoke it.

There are a few occasions where my brother recorded my grandfather and his marvellous storytelling abilities. He grew up on a farm, in a small, close community. His stories, though life was likely hard in ways I can’t really understand now, his anecdotes are mostly humorous in nature, silly schoolboy pranks or things he and his brother and sister got up to.

I have plans to go back and listen to his recorded stories, to see how many I could now get down in written form, in the hopes of possibly, one day, writing a short book of his adventures. This, along with my grandmother’s diaries (which I’ve spoken of here often) are things that tie me to their lives, even now and that helps me feel closer to them, even though they are gone.

That’s how stories have made it this far, through generations, even as I sometimes doubt my plan, worrying that I am telling things someone may not have wanted. The last thing I would ever wish to do would be to misrepresent another’s words or life in any way.

I think about what my grandparents did to get through those tough years, war and hunger and fear, and I want to honour that somehow. My plans for that would be to try and write a fictional story, a novel, loosely based on their lives and that time in history. I have not figured out how to go about that yet. It seems like such a daunting project.

Then I watch documentaries and read about World War I and I wondered why I was so obsessed with that war too. I’ve decided that I can’t help imagining what my great grandparent’s lives must have been like during that time period. I know so little. I want to know so much, much much more.

When it comes to my roots I am spellbound, mesmerized, haunted by thoughts of what once was, as a direct result of where I am now, at this exact moment in time and where it is I’m going. I would not be here if it hadn’t been for them, for all of them. I just don’t want them to be forgotten, as I don’t want to be forgotten a century from now.

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TToT: Greatness, Audacity, Tragedy – “Wow and Flutter” #10Thankful

“…Courage, my word. It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter. Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Courage – The Tragically Hip (For Hugh MacLennan)

I don’t know how much of a lot of Canadian music always makes it out of Canada sometimes, but the big news here this past week is the announcement that a nationwide musical icon has been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. I just figured I would share one of my favourite songs from Gord and his band. I learned something new and interesting about the origin of the song “Courage” and it seems apt.

I know I have looked to these lyrics, searching for courage at different times in my own life, and now it appears courage “couldn’t come at a worse time” for Downie.

😦

Here’s what I learned about a Canadian writer who inspired “Courage” the hit song:

Who’s Hugh MacLennan?

Onward and to my thankfuls for the week and there are some, for sure.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For just how good my parents really are to me.

I honestly, sometimes, feel I really don’t deserve them as my mother and father. This was brought home to me in a big way this week.

I was on the phone with my mother early in the week about something. When I hung up, I found myself feeling emotional about how they have always looked out for me, in both big and small ways, and how even now they are preparing for the future. It is a hard thing for me to think about sometimes, how much they have had to worry about me, but that’s how life goes. I can’t fully express, as we’re in the middle between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, still upcoming.

For that ability to turn on my AC when spring suddenly makes the leap into summer earlier than one might have expected.

For a local, provincial television station.

TV Ontario

I guess it’s like PBS or something, but again, this one would be something only those living in Ontario, Canada would likely be aware of.

I watched this channel since I was a kid and now I watch it for so many fascinating nature, science, social issue and travel documentaries. I love a lot of their historical programs. I learn a lot, as far as media goes, from TVO.

For the sharing of ideas that make me better and believe I deserve to strive for more in my own life.

Lidia Yuknavitch: the beauty of being a misfit, TED2016

This woman’s words made me cry because I’ve felt out-of-place too, many many times in my life, but I still want to believe I will figure out where I fit in.

For hash tag Greatertorontoday and the good deeds that were done.

All across the city of Toronto, for one day, acts of kindness were done for others. I would hope this isn’t just a one shot sort of a thing, that it could go on for more than just one single day, but it was nice to hear the reporter on the Toronto news reading the Tweets from the random acts of kindness that were happening.

#Greatertorontoday

My feelings on Toronto as a city run deep, but I know it has a great respect around the world, for its multiculturalism. I hope this, in itself, helps people to realize we are all human and deserve the same kindnesses shown to us all.

For gestures put forth and peaceful acts, amongst so much nasty rhetoric and angry attitudes throughout the world.

First, mid week, it was nice to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, taking one day off during his trip to Japan, to celebrate his anniversary with his wife.

Many thought this worth commenting on, criticizing, but I was glad to see that he values his relationship with his wife, while still performing his duties for Canada.

But then came the real uproar, at the end of the week, when President Obama visited the site of the bombings, on Japan, at the close of World War II.

Misinformation spread like wildfire, that he was offering an apology. He was simply pausing, at a place of great significance and destruction, while already in the country on official business.

It was the respectful thing to do. I know all the arguments, I realize I didn’t have loved ones directly affected by Pearl Harbor, but I know when peace is called for. I’m thankful he made the gesture.

For several more steps forward in the planning and execution of this podcast idea with my brother.

We did a trial run and it was not bad, but I couldn’t truly focus until I was happy with the name and then my brother’s friend reminded us of something memorable, an image that comes to his mind when he thinks of our family: Ketchup on pancakes.

That’s right. It’s a family favourite around here, for breakfast, or whenever.

🙂

Our podcast is officially “Ketchup On Pancakes”.

So now we think we’ve figured out the microphone issues, settled on a catchy name, and have begun a proper outline for our introductory episode. We hope to record next week. I am excited and just hope my brother doesn’t get sick of me too quickly, as I can actually see this podcast going somewhere in time.

For a rebounding, a super positive, as in my latest violin lesson.

Sometimes, you’re just not feeling it. Other times, everything, the energy in the room, it seems to flow and I leave feeling super pumped about this choice to learn to play the violin at thirty-two years old that I’ve made.

That was the difference between the previous lesson, as I prepared to play Happy Birthday for my sister and this latest lesson, where I felt I could handle it, whatever it may be, and I took in every single word and concept my teacher explained to me.

For the support (past, present, and future) of audacious women writers, editors, dreamers who make their dreams come true and who show me guidance and kindness along the way.

Every week, twice a week, I read one particular website religiously. I have been trying to get a feel for the sorts of essays they publish, in the hopes of writing one. I have the idea all ready to go and again, this week, I came across one essay and it spoke to me, being about a similar topic.

REPAIR – FULL GROWN PEOPLE

Well, the editor of the site has been supportive of me submitting (actually resubmitting, as I was rejected early on, but feeling more and more confident to try again), as she seems to be encouraging me to give it another shot.

And, of course, there is my long developing support from an editor who reads my blog occasionally, who has followed my progress, and sounded intrigued about the podcast.

Change It Up Editing

And…

For the premiering of a brand new website, publication, and a truly panoramic take on literary travel writing

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

The word “panorama”, as I’ve understood it in the past, seemed out of my reach, as something visual. Now, I see things differently with this project,, begun and run, in part, by my writing mentor.

I may actually have used the following quote before, but again it fits. It is all about the writing, the courage, the courage to write.

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

—Gloria Steinem

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Just Jot It January: Don’t Stand By, Let’s Talk, and the Obscure #JusJoJan #BellLetsTalk

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

If I had remembered that yesterday was Tuesday, that Linda would be looking for a prompt word from someone and I had earned the honour, I can guarantee

mendaciloquent

would not have been my choice. This should be interesting.

🙂

        This word didn’t appear on any of the usual dictionary sites in the Google search I did. Most times, when I look up a word for its meaning, there’s Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster. Not this time.

There was also someone with a Twitter name that included the word in it. Really?

This prompt word is so obscure that my dictionary app on my phone didn’t even have a definition.

It reminds me of Maleficent.

I appreciate being introduced to just such a word, but instead I will just jot down a few thoughts I’ve been having today. Maybe, somehow, a line can be drawn to connect these thoughts to “mendaciloquent”. See if you can find it.

I bailed out of a group for writers on Facebook today. I couldn’t keep up. I need to find writers and blogs more organically than a list I am given and told to like and share. I have met writers through Facebook groups, but I feel like I can’t compete with some of them and the speed in which they are writing, sharing, and being published. This is art, creativity, the world of writing.

Okay, well it’s just January and I was published on The Mighty already. I can’t be doing so bad, but then why does the doubt still nag at me?

Then a conversation was had about writers and how they are generally so desperate for validation, to be read by others, that they are willing to give their work away, for less then they deserve. Some feel this isn’t right. I can’t say I disagree.

When do you decide your work and time are worth more? I’m kind of already used to not feeling good enough.

Also, today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, talking about mental health and it’s Holocaust Remembrance Day as well.

Both things are distressing to me. However, someone just pointed out that today is also Chocolate Cake Day and that stressed is desserts spelled backward.

🙂

I don’t have true mental illness. My depression, if you can call it that, is episodic and depends on how I am dealing with my blindness or my chronic pain or whatever.

I still know the pain and the suffering and the isolation and the hopelessness. I know that when something goes on and on and on it takes over and is harder to fight. I just don’t know about these big corporations who are being so generous as to donate such-and-such for every text, tweet, or share of the #BellLetsTalk hash tag. I guess I am often suspicious of big corporations and companies.

I am currently watching an interview. The man being interviewed is a bit of a boring intellectual sort, but the discussion is over Hitler’s book. (I won’t say its name.)

It’s selling again, upon a new release. I know these texts must be studied, as I said when a well-known Canadian killer wrote a book recently, but it won’t be by me. I wish it had never been written by a maniac in a jail cell in the 1920s, but it was. What happened happened.

Oh wait…would you say Hitler was mendaciloquent? From the way the word is being used in a few other blogs, I think I am correct to say that. Okay, well there you go. I used the word. Pheeeewwww.

I wrote posts devoted to Bell Let’s Talk Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day on my blog last year. It was my attempt to sort through my experiences being in a relationship with someone with depression and then 2015 was seventy-five years since the freeing of Auschwitz concentration camp near the end of World War II.

Both of these are difficult topics for me to think about let alone write about and share, but I couldn’t not.

However, I was weighed heavily by both.

It was hard for me to see someone I cared about struggle, but so many people do.

As for the post I did on the Holocaust, I was under a dark cloud all day last Holocaust Remembrance Day. I was glad it wasn’t the same day as Bell Let’s Talk last year, but this year it is and I am full of thoughts on both subjects.

I don’t know what to say about obscure words, but I don’t quite know what to say about anything when my mind is this bogged down.

I want to heal those who are suffering, from whatever it may be, but I know I can’t. It keeps pulling down on my spirit, so I need to do things that make me happy, and keep moving forward.

I am looking forward to February, but until then…

Just What is Just Jot It January?

And here is the writer who supplied this most difficult word for a prompt:

The only writer with the word “mendaciloquent” right in her blog name.”

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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

maxanddadwaitingforcupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

happybdaysign-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

dadwithhiscupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

brianonalaptop-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

sophiaandmomlaughing-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

reedsmilingwithyoubehindhim-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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TToT: My Weekly Antidote to Cynicism – Lest We Forget, #10Thankful

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

–Gordon Lightfoot

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

This week was less like the last, and more like it must have been forty years ago. It felt gloomy. It was windy and rainy, just like it was, this time in the month of November, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in lake Superior.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

Okay, so I usually put a lot into these weekly posts here and enjoy doing so, but this week, for the first time, a lot has hit me all at once. Not sure I can keep it up to my usual standard.

This week’s been an emotional one, starting with Remembrance Day, Friday the 13th, and the unexpected horror of more terrorism and violent attacks came as a total surprise, but my week was not through with me yet.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For the way the children in my life remind me to appreciate the simple things.

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For the honour to be asked.

A friend wondered if I would do something for her and her daughter, be a reference, and I was just so pleased to be the one she would come to.

For the work another friend put into something, she hoped I could use on my blog.

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She didn’t have to do this, but she did it anyway.

For the way history comes alive for me, even forty years later.

In the eighth grade I had a history teacher, Mr. V, who gave us the lyrics to a song as a school project. He played the famous song in class and I learned about the wonder and the power of our Great Lakes.

Gordon Lightfoot recalls the night of the SS Edmond Fitzgerald’s sinking

It was the first time, after studying Canada’s founding fathers of Confederation and being bored out of my mind, that I began to really care about history and I learned what it could mean, as a true teacher of the past and also future, as far as lessons go.

For freedom, even if I don’t always appear grateful for what I have of it. And for poetry, written 100 years ago, that gave me a way to connect to a long ago event like World War I:

The Changing Shades of Flanders Fields’

Sometimes I feel like I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made, as is so commonly spoken about on November 11th (Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day) whatever you know it as.

The Complicated Task of Never Forgetting

This is not true. I know I am lucky because if those wars hadn’t been fought, who knows what might have happened, but I just feel so morally opposed to war that I have trouble.

I know. I know. Nobody likes war. I am thankful for other perspectives, even when I have a really hard time understanding.

I got the chance, on Remembrance Day, to listen to an interview with a Canadian soldier who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost both his legs, fighting for a cause he believed in. Although I felt myself beginning to shout at the TV screen, a few times as he spoke of why he wanted to go and fight, I tried really hard to understand his point-of-view. I had to at least try and I am thankful I made the effort.

For the writing and the lessons from Anne Frank and her life and for my blog, the diary to my modern world.

My father saw that there was a new documentary on her life and he asked if I wanted to watch it with him.

The subject of World War II, in particular, he and I have both always been interested in. As completely horrible as it was, unthinkable, I am glad my father showed me that stuff, because it’s made me a more compassionate and empathetic person, and for that I thank him. I also thank Anne for being who she was, as courageous as she was, at her age and through all she went through. Her writing is what I admire most and I am thankful her work was shared.

For those who made sure, even after she no longer lived, that her writing lived on for her.

Her father, Otto Frank, and for the family’s friend and Otto’s employee, Miep Gies, who discovered the diary and kept it safe until Anne’s father returned and saw that it get published. I wish I could have had the chance to meet her. She seemed like a really cool old lady, even in the 90s:

Miep Gies Wallenberg Lecture

I once more, after this past summer’s visits to the Anne Frank exhibit, and with this week’s reflections on wars, began to let myself fall down the path of listening to Holocaust survivor stories, through YouTube interviews. This can be a difficult place for me, so I had to watch myself, or it could become all too consuming. I know when and where to leave things, to remain positive and grateful.

For VoiceOver.

Just thinking about where people were during the thirties and forties even, compared to now and today’s modern age of technology. Truly amazing to think about.

Believe me, I don’t only think about this at this time of year, but all the time actually. I am lucky to have electronic devices that talk and read to me, opening up the world and providing all the information I could possibly need or want.

This makes things so much more accessible, of course, but it makes it harder to hide what might be going on in the world, compared to when Anne Frank and millions of others were suffering and being persecuted and killed.

These things are still going on, but we can’t pretend anymore.

For my safe home in Canada.

I know the fear of these times we’re living in, with terrorism as a global problem. I am not naive enough to think things can’t happen here or anywhere, but I know I am not a refugee who has no choice but to flee my home. I have not been caught in a terrorist attack. Not yet.

For the modern healthcare that is at my fingertips and at the ready when a family member is in need.

I felt the not-so-unfamiliar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the deep down fear for my brother’s health and the kidney transplant that is only just over two years old. It is a fragile balance.

Here I was, just last week, complaining that I worry sometimes about my own kidney failing, but the truth is that I haven’t been hospitalized in fifteen or so years, but my brother has had to be plenty of times in the last five or six years alone.

Well, the reason I easily could have avoided TToT this week is that things are still up-in-the-air and that still scares me a lot to think about, because he’s always had a complex medical story and nothing is clear yet.

I haven’t slept, after what happened in PAris the other night (which already gets me on edge) and then I heard how unwell my brother has been all week. I hadn’t realized he felt this bad.

I spent the evening in emerge with him. I can’t help but want to go to him at times like this. We are close, in our sibling bond, but because we’ve both gone through some incredibly complicated medical crap together over the years, and I would never want anything to happen to him. I needed to see to it that he was going to be alright.

So, hopefully things with my brother get figured out.

Over the next few days to a week I hope for that and I will go forward and let the start of the holiday season warm me, starting with my favourite Parks and Recreation character, to launch the season officially:

Nick Offerman shares his thoughts on Oprah’s Favourite Things

Forget Christmas music starting to be heard on the radio or the Santa Claus Parade. Nick knows how to usher in the Christmas season something fierce.

🙂

Last week, Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in. He has been big news and the New York Times even had an article where they referred to him as:

An Antidote to Cynicism in Canada

Well, as crazy as things may have gotten this week, Ten Things of Thankful is my antidote to cynicism.

After all that’s happened this week, I will try to go forward and into the holidays, and try to remember these words and to follow them:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

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My Perfect Day

Okay, so I am a week behind on this, but I like this particular writing prompt and wanted to still take my shot at sharing my dream for a perfect day.

“Our theme this week is to write a day in your life where there would be no boundaries and you could do anything you want.”

http://originalbunkerpunks.com/blog-battle-zone-1/

I have been published on this witty, satirical, thought-provoking website, full of writers who want to get the conversation going and who do that very well.

Check me out here.

Then, earlier today

I ended up reading a piece on this site

and I went on to expressing my feelings, which meant criticizing the authors involved in the writing.

They were only being humorous, provocative; yet, due to the news of a two-year-old girl and her father being murdered in Alberta (which could be the inspiration for a more on time response I could write for this week’s prompt), this heartbroken Canadian wasn’t able to see any humour whatsoever.

It made me think about writing and its possible consequences because I was able to have a productive discussion with these writers, after-the-fact, and I wanted them to know why I may have sounded at all harsh. That is not how I usually am. Just a bad day.

Thank you,

Original Bunker Punks,

and now…onto my perfect day.

***

Something seems odd about this day. What could it be?

Oh yeah, I am pulling into my driveway. Yes, me.

For years it was me, in the passenger seat, the passenger. Shotgun was where I was designated to be.

Now I am driving. All those self driving cars in the works, for so long, well they are out and they are becoming the norm. Sure, it could lead to some sort of science fiction nightmare, cars becoming intelligent and driving their riders into trees and over bridges, but I overlook this fear because things are perfect now, right here, as I don’t have to have sight to operate a motor vehicle.

I enter my house and notice a suitcase sitting out, ready for packing to commence. We are soon off on another trip.

We met at TBEX, a travel expo I finally made it to a few years back. It was in Honolulu, my dream spot. I’d always wanted to visit there and this travel writing/blogging conference was the perfect chance. Two birds with one stone as they say.

I didn’t expect to meet him, but, I must admit, I hoped it would happen, sooner or later. I am comfortable with some independent travel now, after a lot of practice, but it’s still nice to have someone there to experience the world with.

He is a photographer and knows about technology and websites.

I may be able to drive a car, but I haven’t wished hard enough for perfect sight, at least I guess not. Huh.

If I had that, I wouldn’t be The Insightful Wanderer, as the whole position of my travel blog would be altered. I am insightful, just as I am, but I will never stop wandering. It does not have to be a bad, lost, aimless way to go through life.

I struggled to learn about my blog and website, for a few years, but am glad I can leave that responsibility to him.

I am still The Insightful Wanderer and Her Headache. I am KerryKay.com too. Bought that domain ages ago, as my writing needed my real name to be known and featured more prominently.

Branding is a strange thing, but I have embraced it and now am known as three brands in one.

I haven’t given up on my writing, memoir and literary mostly, because fiction is a beautiful thing, but not where my natural talents are.

I walk past one of the many bookshelves in my house, and there are some of my books there, a few are fiction. I had modest success with that, beginning with the anthology I was accepted into, my first real big break really.

I have written three books and am currently working on a fourth, two memoir and two fiction: Piece of Cake, Connecting the Dots, Till Death, and Out Beyond the Hedgerows.

The first two are memoirs about my life, struggles, with disability, being a visually impaired woman in a mostly sighted world.

The third is a fictional story about how death and loss affect three different generations of one family.

And the fourth is an historical novel, based on family who lived through World War II.

I did not start to write a string of genre books, ones that get put on Amazon and Smash Words and of which I would have needed to keep on putting out to gain any momentum in the book world. I found my own path to success.

I have books everywhere, which brings me peace and solace when I’ve had a bad day.

It’s so nice to have found a partner who loves travel and we are a team. He takes care of the site and its visual elements, while I write. Writing has its place, but the world is and always will be a visual one.

I think a world of all blind humans is worse than the one where the cars take over, but I can’t say. Science fiction writing is not my area of expertise.

I have checked off many of the items on my bucket list, which brings me great pleasure, but it’s nice to know I will soon have a husband who is committed, not only to me, but to helping me achieve the rest. Life is precious and it goes by like that! We are making the most of every day.

I have broken the record for longest living kidney transplant recipient and the medications have made it possible that this won’t change anytime soon. When I reached my twenty year mark (June 5, 2017) I had a huge party to celebrate and everybody I know came.

In this fantasy, we have not cured cancer yet, but we are actually getting close this time, no fooling.

We’re still trying to decide what kind of a wedding to have and where to have it. Being the travellers we are, a destination wedding is most appealing, but I don’t want to put that pressure on the people I hope will attend.

I want to have it at the hotel in Niagara Falls, the one from my childhood and its precious memories, moving to the closest hotel to the falls for the wedding night. I will finally feel that vibration of the roaring falls through the window of our room.

Maybe we’ll get married on a beach or on top of the CN Tower in Toronto. I loved it up there, the first time I tried it, and a wedding on that ledge sounds strangely perfect to me. After all, isn’t marriage a little like standing on a ledge?

It’s scary but exhilarating. It’s freeing, once you find love and let yourself feel worthy of having and holding onto it.

I can admit, finally after years, that wanting marriage, a wedding, this does not make me weak. I am not some Disney fairy princess, waiting to be rescued. I want a partnership and that commitment is and always has been important to me. I’ve been shown what that can be like, through the examples of my wonderful parents and their parents before them. It’s in my bones, just like writing and travel.

I can make a living from my writing now. I was afraid that was holding me back from finding a guy who could understand, accept me for me, and not let money and pride and the pressures of that get in the way. I am not rich, but I am rich in all that I really will ever need.

I have seen my words in print, in a book, on my shelf and in a bookstore.

I have an advice column which helps people. I can write and offer my advice, which can be a tricky thing to give others, but I know I’ve had more experience with the hard stuff than most. Plus, this side work allows me freedom to travel. I can answer people’s questions from anywhere I might happen to be.

I hand out my business card:

The Insightful Wanderer

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

And on the other side.

KerryKay.com

Her Headache

Blog. Writing. Travel writing is my first love because the world is everything. It’s all around us. We are it.

I had to build up my writing portfolio. I had to practice my craft, art as pure as anything.

Now, I can admit that making a reasonable living off of that is no crime. People are paid for all kinds of things, some that might seem less deserving, but that’s how the world works. It’s all about money, for so many, but it doesn’t have to be.

We discuss having children, after we decide on a wedding spot, but the jury is still out on that. I can accept that, even as I know the rules of this writing challenge aren’t at all limiting, because sometimes life means accepting some realities and hard truths.

It’s still open for discussion. Age doesn’t have to matter because I want to freeze this day, in time, so my parents are here and the children currently in my life stay the sweet age they are.

We will deal with the future tomorrow, but let this day and the moment linger.

Anyway, we are off, to make our flight. I will finally get my chance to swim with jellyfish, in their lake home, on the island of Palau in the south pacific.

***

Why do we feel so guilty, why do I, just for speaking up and admitting what it is we want for ourselves?

Why do I feel so selfish and awful to be so open with the things I dream about having, the life I would ideally wish for myself?

Do you ever feel that way?

If you could have an ideal day in your own life, what might that include?

I know I am worth it, I am worth everything, and I want to say so. I know what some people say, about the universe and just by saying it, you are actually letting into your life the things you believe you deserve. This is what I am doing here, today, because I am tired of holding myself back.

Yes, believe it or not, this blog has been me holding myself back, up until this point.

🙂

I have been blogging for a year and a half now and I continue to be myself, to let my self shine through here. That is what is at the essence of Her Headache.

Check these guys out on Facebook.

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Gardens Of Sunset

We stand on the grass (my mother, father, and my uncle who has come so far to say his goodbyes). I kneel down to trace the carved flowers, names, and dates on the name plates of their urns with my fingertips. They are finally side-by-side, where they belong I suppose, resting together in silent stillness.

For twenty-one long years she spoke lovingly and longingly to him, each evening before going to sleep. She kept his urn and a photo of him on her dresser. Some find this an odd thing to do, but everybody does grieve and deal with loss in their own special ways.

I would talk to him, up there in her room sometimes, but my memories of him were beginning to fade – fuzzy around the edges of my mind’s procuring of my opa.

The Beginning and the End

For sure twenty-one years was an awful long time for my oma to be without him. She brought it up often, the hole left in her life since losing him to a heart attack so suddenly.

They had been married for nearly fifty years and had come across an ocean together, starting over here in Canada after World War II and the horrors they’d certainly both seen.

I loved to visit her and we tried to help her feel a little less lonely for him, by visiting as often as possible.

She could always be found down in the basement, with the television cranked as she became harder and harder of hearing.

Or else I would open her porch door and then the one into the house, calling for her, and into the kitchen she would come in her slippers. I can still recollect the clip clip noise they made as she walked across the linoleum.

She always had a bowl of chocolate bars and a fruit cellar, not full of just fruit alone, but many cans of pop.

She told her grandchildren the doctor assured her chocolate was good for us. What grandchild doesn’t love to hear that?

Okay okay, so she fed us healthy things too, on occasion: apple slices with the peelings removed. Of course, because they weren’t good for us. Perhaps she thought, even if you washed the apples first, that dirt might still be clinging to the outside.

Her special pancakes, with the correct number of eggs, and with plenty of Ketchup of course.

I miss her little house, which I live close by and feel so far removed from now.

I miss the way she used to say my name. Her accent affected every word she said, but it gave her character and made me feel like she was from a different world entirely, one I would never truly know.

I miss her laugh.

I miss our big birthday celebrations. Our birthdays were only days apart.

Of course she could be a lot to handle sometimes, for a lot of people.

I know now that I got the best of her, something others experienced much less of.

She could be damn stubborn when she wanted to. She would plant her feet firmly on her little piece of solid ground and Heaven help you if you tried to make her move.

She couldn’t remember my boyfriend’s name, so:

“How’s your boyfriend? Where’s your boyfriend today?”

That was the best he or I could hope for, but I could tell she was happy to know I might be taken care of and loved, after she was gone and couldn’t be the one to watch over me.

She was bad with names by this point, often saying one son’s name when she meant another, or simply running through them all, hoping to get the correct one eventually.

I could go on forever with these memories, but everything does come to an end.

She fell and broke her hip, remaining in hospital and never recovering. She was mostly bright and upbeat when I’d visit her there, until the end that is.

The last time I visited her I held her hand and spoke gently to her, hoping against hope she knew I was there, as she clutched her afghan, but the awful little whimpers she made were telling enough. I knew the sound when I heard it, the noise one makes when they are in terrible pain.

I knew enough about pain to recognize the end when I heard it, as hard as that was. I desperately hoped they were keeping her comfortable and that she would soon slip away in peace, like we’d always hoped she might do in her own bed at home.

“No nursing homes,” she’d say. Such tough decisions my father and uncle had to make.

I knew that I’d never hear her say my name again. Would I ever be okay again, I wondered, if she was not there to love me like she always had?

After we lost her, I sat in the room and touched her still hand and her cheek. In that moment, she felt less like the woman I had hugged goodbye so many times at the door and more like the dolls she kept in her spare room or the China dolls she’d given to me when I was ill.

I felt her rib cage and realized, finally, how skinny she had gotten from refusing to eat in those final days and weeks.

I was nervous to speak at her funeral. I knew mine would be a much different tribute, in words and tone, than my cousin who also spoke. Memories are simply an individual person’s perspectives and interpretations of what once was. I hoped my eulogy reflected that awareness.

I was nervous to have her only daughter there to hear me speak. I was happy beyond words to have her with us, but hoping with all my might that something I said would not trigger a painful memory.

These things I could not control, like the loss of her. Oma. Anna. You are missed.

February 7, 1921 to June 15, 2010.

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Into The West: RIP Sir Christopher Lee

He was the badass of his day…

Until I became enthralled by the world of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I was not aware of Sir Christopher Lee.

I had seen him in Sleepy Hollow, but I would not know him from that, if I had been quizzed on the man and the parts he’d played.

The first time I heard Lee’s signature gruff, deep tone, I was a fan. His diction was brilliant. He seemed like a man who meant business.

He seemed to be born to play that role. I was thinking and just saying to a friend that it is bazar how to past generations he will always be more well-known as Dracula, but to me he is and always will be Sauroman.

From “Dracula” to “LOTR”: Remembering the Genius of Sir Christopher Lee

I did not get to meet him or get to know him, like cast members of LOTR, but I can tell that he is one of those rare humans who are larger than life. His brilliance is obvious. His cultured and knowledgeable mind and his sharp wit were most clear in interviews.

Christopher Lee was only Lord of the Rings star to meet J.r.r. Tolkien.

I was born more than a decade after Professor Tolkien’s death. Since falling in love with Middle-earth, Sir Christopher Lee is Professor Tolkien to me. He embodied everything I could imagine Tolkien was. He is a figure of legend, taking on the roles he did over his lifetime.

His monster roles will live on in all their gruesome glory.

He seemed to have a knack for portraying villains.

He played an evil Bond character.

Other than Yoda, his character was the only good thing about the Star Wars films really.

He seemed proud to have worked with Tim Burton in films like Alice In Wonderland and The Hobbit with Peter Jackson.

He had the pronunciation down. He could speak many languages. He liked to sing (opera, musicals, heavy metal) and his singing voice was as powerful and great as his knowledge of Tolkien’s stories.

On discovering LOTR, I purchased the extended edition DVD’s and not only did I lap up the movies, over and over, I also became engrossed in all the extra bonus features included.

One of the interviews with Peter Jackson he spoke to Lee about the sound one might make when shot. Jackson was just doing his job, giving direction as to how he saw the scene. It was then that Lee spoke up and informed his director of the proper sound a man makes when hit. Apparently, it’s an intake of breath. Chilling stuff:

“I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened by it. Having seen the worst human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we never would have won.”

I wonder, as I do about my own grandparents, just what it was like for Lee during his duty in World War II and I heard he wasn’t talking about it.

I grew to love the songs at the end of all three LOTR films. The final one, by Annie Lennox:

Into The West – Lyrics

I must have played this one over and over on repeat, to the point of driving my sister/roommate to the brink, forcing her to yell at me to turn the damn thing off.

🙂

I remember the way Gandalf spoke about the west.

A metaphor for death, Sauroman did not speak the lines, but now I think of them as I contemplate where Lee is now.

Is he somewhere with Professor Tolkien, discussing the world during and since their deaths? What are they discussing, if they could be friends somewhere beyond my understanding?

I have been thinking a lot lately about those who are no longer here, my grandparents mostly, but since I heard Lee had passed I began to wonder all the more.

I have always had a healthy fear of the sea and the idea of what it might be like when one dies is always lingering in the back of my mind, but the way in which the concept of death is explained by J. R. R. Tolkien, in Lord of the Rings, seems to connect death to a calm sea and a distant shore beyond. This most peaceful image of a grey mist, rolling back to reveal a clear glass that is sky and green shores, this has brought great peace to my heart.

Lee died at age ninety-three. He is survived by his wife of many years and their daughter.

Life is meant to be lived and Sir Christopher Lee lived it better than anyone I can think of.

Well played sir (Badass) Lee.

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/christopherlee.html

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TToT: Extra Thankful For These Last Eighteen Years

The first week of June showed me just how thankful I am for everything in my life. Here’s why:

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday: for precious gifts and beautiful flashbacks.

I was babysitting my nephew. I can’t believe how much he’s grown, over these last few years. He celebrates his third birthday this summer, but it feels like just yesterday that he was born and I was there the moment he came into the world.

Ordinary Miracles

As the first year of his life flew by, many times I used to hold him while he slept. I did this, the first few weeks, at night so my sister could get a few hours of restful sleep and then many times afterward. He used to sleep against my chest, so small, peaceful, and still.

As I was babysitting him this week, he fell asleep in the afternoon, for the nap he still takes and I decided to have a little rest with him.

I am thankful for the chance to feel him sleeping on my chest, maybe for the last time. I held him tight and felt his steady breathing as he slept and it brought back those early memories, reminding me of those early days as his aunt.

Also, I am thankful for old friends and my desire to stay in touch.

I have been afraid to contact this one certain old friend of mine recently. I got over my ridiculous fear, borne of unnecessary worry that I might be bothering her, and I am glad I did.

I was worried over nothing, like usual, and I got to here her voice and feel better about things I was letting make me crazy these past several weeks. I also got to hear her remarkable newborn baby daughter through the phone.

Wednesday: for countless opportunities for reinvention.

I get the sudden urge, every year around this time (for reasons of which I will explain a few thankful’s down) to make a change, to reinvent myself and do something bold and daring.

This doesn’t always work out like I hope it will, but I did decide to cut off my long hair and go short, at least through the hot summer months.

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It’s only hair, after all. It will grow back, if and when I want it to.

Along with this, I am thankful for the fact that I’ve got my very own hair stylist in the family.

Okay okay – so she hasn’t yet agreed to sign on as my personal, daily stylist, but I’m wearing her down, slowly.

It sure would be nice to have someone to do my hair every morning, as I have so much trouble knowing what looks good and thus, I rarely do anything with it at all.

For now I am just happy to have a cousin with a lovely salon here in town.

KEEP CALM AND GET YOUR HAIR DONE

It’s a place I can go, where I know the stylist and trust her to do a good job.

Also, I am thankful for the fresh and plentiful food I get to eat.

As I ate dinner out with my father, we sat in the warm June air of the evening, out on the patio.

He read from the newspaper, an article about the play of Anne Frank that we are going to see in a few weeks, and it made me think of Anne. I know this article was just about the actress who plays the role, but I couldn’t help thinking about the real family and the young girl who were stuck in that attic all those years and the war they were all in.

I have been watching a lot about World War II lately actually. June 6th is the anniversary of D-Day also. I know the food shortages that went on and the starvation. I know it is still a problem around the world.

I am thankful for a fresh salad. I ate my salad, out on that patio, and let my taste buds fully take in the fresh, crispness of the lettuce. I had a huge menu of items to choose from, right there in front of me and at my disposal. Not all today nor in days past are/were quite so lucky.

Thursday: for the release of new songs and albums.

This week I discovered music from a music group and an artist I listen to.

On June 2nd the newest Florence + The Machine album came out (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) and also the newest single by LOLAWOLF.

The first has a voice infused with raw power. This song by Florence,

“What Kind of Man”,

had me finding a place and a way of releasing a little bit of my anger. We all need this from time to time, which helps us learn what we are most thankful for once more.

Also, I am thankful that I can share interesting music with my brother, when on a rare occasion it is me sharing with him what I’ve found, not the other way round.

I showed him this song from LOLAWOLF,

“Every F—in Day”,

which is the band of Lenny Kravitz’s daughter – Zoe Kravitz. It’s a strange song, likely not to everybody’s taste, but it’s the weird songs I send my brother’s way, just to see what he thinks.

I’m thankful for the tiny perfection of baby clothes. I got to pick some out for a little girl I already love and I haven’t even met her yet, but she is the daughter of someone I couldn’t love more if she were my own sister.

I love clothes, and these small garments are perfection, just like the little beings who wear them.

Baby clothes are so cute and I have only really gotten the chance to buy them, on any regular basis, in the last five years. I hope to buy even more now.

This includes the softest of soft little baby blankets.

Friday: for anniversaries, good health, and lack of dialysis.

I couldn’t let a week of things I’m thankful for go by, specifically this particular week, without mentioning the importance June 5th has to my past, my now, and my future health and well-being.

I wrote about it just the other day on my blog, my thoughts on this particular June 5th.

It’s now eighteen years and counting since I received a kidney transplant. My father donated his kidney to his youngest daughter and I owe him more than most children owe their parents.

June is Father’s Day for many fathers, but for myself and my dad it can’t quite compare with our anniversary.

Most fathers and daughters don’t have anniversaries. That is what we call it, but in many ways (like I said in “New Month, New Me”, I also think of June 5th, 1997 as my birthday of sorts. It was the day when my life began again, after feeling so sick for the previous couple of years. It was one of those life-changing days that you look back on as being when your life was forever altered, one of those days when your life would never be as it was.

So I am thankful to my father. He went above and beyond what a father usually does and he gave me a new lease on life.

I hope I’ve made him proud of me since then and that I continue to do so. Our connection as father and daughter grows ever deeper.

Saturday: for vanilla lattes.

McDonald’s really does make the best ones. Who’s with me?

So thanks to:

Lizzi and the rest of the Ten Things of Thankful group.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone and don’t forget to be thankful for your health when it is good.

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