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Humbled and Hopeful, #JusJoJan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thunderbolts and Firewires: The Year That Was 2016, #Farewell2016 #Writing #Podcast

I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

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Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.

And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.

I did it at the end of 2015 with:
My Top Spills and Thrills
of which there had been enough of both to go around.

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

As the January 2016 quote from my blog showed,
I began my year afraid and uncertain and on a bit of a lower note,
with a little
Just Jot It January fun.

Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing.
Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.

In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be
thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push,
some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.

The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.

It began with David Bowie, but for me,
it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.

A new year maybe, but a new month meant another
#1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.

With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.

Thanks to Kristi from
Finding Ninee
I decided to participate in a new blogging exercise
for the first time.

Another first included
Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells
but, in the end, it wasn’t for me.

Turns out, the magic of this month has been that I could just write, jot really, and I started to see that I didn’t need to have the rest of the year all figured out in the first thirty-one days.

FEBRUARY

This second month of the year is designated for a cause I know well. It ended up to be my chance to speak my mind about my personal cause and became my first published article of 2016:

To the People Who’ve Never Heard of My Rare Disease – The Mighty

February would end up being a month of
mindfulness and music.

Ten days in, I turned thirty-two and decided to check a big one off of my
bucket list,
and so I went out and rented myself a violin.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore:
Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.

Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for
March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.

By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

March brought with it guest blogging spots and more opportunities for publication, other places than my own blog,
with my second attempt at the #BeReal challenge.

Following this, feminism seemed to be the topic of March as a month.

An interview I’d done with
a proud male feminist
and then a piece I’d written on
International Women’s Day
were both picked up by
The Good Man Project.

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

Patty Duke, at the end of Women’s History Month, March.

APRIL

I got myself a writing mentor and my lyrics were finally heard.

Don’t Look Back

I was trying to focus, to look ahead, and to plan for what I wanted.

Why Oh Why

The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

Once again, like during the spring of 2015, I was losing my tool for communication and self expression. This makes me feel vulnerable.

So I appreciated
the share from a friend
and another
guest posting opportunity
from a blogger, a young woman I really admire and have interviewed here before.

Spotlight On Single Strides

The end of April brought with it the death of Prince.

It also brought with it
the death of the loner laptop I was using
and a beautiful gift from a stranger, one which would allow me to write another day.

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

I’d been pondering the idea of doing a podcast for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then, I brought up the idea with my brother and an idea, our idea, was born.

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

I couldn’t do this without thinking back twenty years.

Frozen In Time

For May’s edition of #1000Speak I focused on
Loving My Self-ish.

The end of May and onward to June always causes me to pause and reflect.

Born Again and Forever Grateful

This time these thoughts would grow to become my next piece to be featured on The Good Man Project.

JUNE

My first Song Lyric Sunday on more than just any old Sunday day.

Following “the month of the Mother,” –
Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth–Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That?
June will always be a month for me and my father.

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

We started with a Facebook page,
and soon that followed with
Episode 1 – Intro To Us
with Ketchup On Pancakes.

On top of the release of the podcast, I jumped at an amazing offer, an invite, which would require a whole lot of planning and a wait of nearly six months.

Would the moment ever get here?

I bet my sister was thinking that same thing, we all were, but her good news was finally a dream come true.

A chance at independence and a new life for my writing and for me and a second child for her.

And so I applied for a newly updated passport and began to count down the months.

I read and wrote one of my rarer than I’d like book reviews.

Then I was approached and invited to write another
guest post
about my life and my day as a blogger.

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

More lyrics for a second song written and, in celebration of and motivated by that accomplishment,
I decided to return to the visual art of my childhood and an old, familiar kind of creativity.

Up next, speaking of being reminded of being a child,
I reviewed a movie about motherhood,
that I’d gone to see, with my newly pregnant sister, in our own empty theatre.

Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.

The World Can Learn a Thing or Two From Canada – The Planet D

One beloved Canadian spoke up about his oncoming struggle and we lost someone in our family. I’m glad I got to meet Gerti, at least once that I’ll always remember.

As August came to an end, I made a few hard choices about my writing and what I wanted done with it.

If I made a mistake somewhere in there, I guess it will be mine to make and to own and to learn from.

The questioning would and will continue, no matter the month or the year I’m in.

SEPTEMBER

The first day of this new month was one I’d been waiting for, with the release of a new publication, focusing on what travel should be, the kind I’d like to see.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

I remembered what it was like, moving into my house that I bought with my sister, ten years ago.

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

Ten years later, my nephew started school and my niece began the first grade. Another loved one passes away. RIP Erica.

I got to feature an interview I’d done with one of my favourite editors/writers.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

This felt like a giant win and one of the best things to ever happen to this blog.

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

But we weren’t the only ones with the idea of doing a podcast. Apparently, the idea had spread.

The Brevity Podcast

I took an autumn trip, to say goodbye,
with more than just the fall colours
as backdrop.

NOVEMBER

The U.S. makes a big mistake and it’s time to get writing – all the more reason to write.

Nano Nano Nano

“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”

Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of
RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.

Stalemate, #1000Speak

Could this possibly spell the end of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion?

DECEMBER

Canada announces the first woman, other than the Queen, to appear on Canadian money.

Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

One month after November’s U.S. election, we share our Canadian perspective.

Episode 3 – The Great Gong Show of 2016 with Ketchup On Pancakes

I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.

A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:

I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.

Joseph Mascolo, ‘Days of Our Lives’ Villain, Dies at 87 – New York Times

No villain was ever more evil than Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah Humbug! Whoosh! #10Thankful

I featured a George Michael shoutout, in my final 10 Things of Thankful post for 2016 and this was before the Christmas Day announcement of his passing.

I am no fortune teller, but some of my predictions did happen,
as I sit with what did indeed come to pass and look back on what 2016 became.

Ketchup On Pancakes (the podcast) had a final episode for the year, a catch up on all that was 2016, by a cozy fireside.

Episode 4 – Farewell 2016…By The Fireside with Ketchup On Pancakes

And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.

My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

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Happy Holidays and Traditional Thankfuls, #FTSF #TGIF #10Thankful

One of my favourite Christmas time traditions growing up was to go for a drive on a snowy night to check out all the houses and their lights, coloured or all white. Didn’t matter, not at one time.

This holiday season I still feel grateful for so many things, including the lights of Christmas. It is not so easy to spot houses covered in lights anymore, but I am still thankful. Having traditions at this time of year helps to brighten my mood as the end of another year draws to a close.

And what a year it was.

tM8mWQ2.jpg

I am unable to really see this photo now, but sounds nice anyway. Trees. Lights. Snowflakes softly drifting down.

December is here once more. I have a tree-like situation in my living room, lights outside on my house, and snow is starting here in my part of Canada, but all over really.

I am thankful for where I live.

I am thankful because I know Canada isn’t the greatest country in the world, but it is pretty great still. I am happy to see Justin Trudeau using social media, as is how it’s done these days, but he uses it without malice or ugly undertones.

The still current U.S. VP Joe Biden visited Canada this week and spoke to the Prime Minister and the representatives of the provinces, about climate change. It is close to many Canadian’s hearts and on many of our minds, the arctic, pipeline concerns, effects of oil on animal species, and severe weather patterns with melting sea ice. It isn’t so easy to ignore, but I know it isn’t easy to figure out either.

I know a lot of people who live here hate the cold and the snow of the long winter months Canada is so well-known for, but I can’t think of anything better than a still, silent, and snowy night.

I am thankful to have a mother who loves decorating for the holidays and she sets everything up for me, now that I am on my own.

Last year, around this time, our family found ourselves in a frightening situation, likely the most frightening we’d ever experienced, which is saying a whole lot.

It wasn’t so easy and somehow didn’t feel quite so important to decorate for Christmas, while we waited to see what my brother would be like when he woke from a sudden head injury.

Of course, as soon as the shock wore off and things began to look up, family and holidays were once more the priority and felt right to celebrate.

None of us, nobody in fact wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but they are so nice to have when needed.

I am thankful that I can still see Christmas lights.

Who knows…next year this time…five years from now…ten and beyond. I’m living in the now and enjoying what I have while I have it.

I am thankful for the recognition that is still extremely necessary and is brought into focus on December 3rd, every single year.

International Day For Persons With Disabilities 2016

I am thankful for set plans made this week.

It feels good to see the plans forming officially. It will be here before we know it…before I know it. Preparing. I can and I will do this.

I am thankful for the help I’ve received so I can be comfortable with my stuff I will be taking with me, my ability to read and write, and to just fit in and be another member of the class.

I am thankful for the guidance from my writing mentor, a wonderfully helpful local travel agent, my parents, and all the family members who have been so supportive of me wanting to take on a new adventure in 2017.

I’m thankful for some of the fascinating reading material I’ve received already, reading material about one place in particular where we’ll be during the writing workshop.

I am reading New York Times articles about a place of art and that goes by the name, translated from Spanish, to mean “House of Frogs” I believe. Better than “House of Scorpions” as I am a little more nervous at the thought, ever since I read “The Pearl” in high school.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I’m thankful that I sold two more copies of the anthology where my story can be found, from 2015.

After The Scars – A Second Chances Anthology (Goodreads)

One minute, it went from the reading material from off of my shelf, to use for scanner practice, and then suddenly two copies were being requested. A lovely surprise.

In the last month or two I’ve gotten my anthology possibly sent and traveled all the way to Australia and now a copy will surely live at a school for the blind that I did not attend, but I know lots of people who did.

I thought I would combine the TToT this week (after missing last) with Kristi’s
Finish the Sentence Friday.

I will be writing my own brand of a 2016 summary, but I thought I would celebrate a little first.

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Loons, Fox, Wind, and Pines: Life at IOTA

Eating strawberry shortcake and all things writing, all to the sound of the loons of New Brunswick, Canada. Love this. Sounds divine. That’s what a writing workshop should be about.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

iota doty (1) Our writing desks at IOTA

By Ryder Ziebarth

Just this past week, I took a busman’s holiday: four days at the Iota Conference of Short Prose in Campobello, New Brunswick, the former Roosevelt family compound on an island in Canada. The Inn is accessed by passport and a small bridge from the town of Lubec, Maine, the Easternmost point of the United States—a treat to myself, and a break after a receiving my MFA this June and starting right in on a memoir.

I am from New Jersey and it was quite a trek. Two planes from Newark (some lost luggage,) then a two-and-a-half-hour car ride north from Bangor, Maine. Once there, I entered a world so visually breathtaking (blueberry barrens, blue skies, coastal views) and stepped into a place and time so luxuriously unspoiled, my writer-self began scribbling long before my hands were off the steering wheel of my rented…

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TToT: Blessings and Thankfuls – RIP, Pinky and Gerti #10Thankful #FTSF #1000Speak #AbbyOnTheMove #HowISee

I dedicate this week’s 10 Things of Thankful to the tragic, cruel, and untimely death of Pinky the flamingo and a dear family loved one far away.

This week It’s my pleasure to be linking up and joining not only the TToT, but also with Kristi from

Finding Ninee and “Finish the Sentence Friday”

and the blessings crew, connected to

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, #1000Speak.

When it comes to blessings, many have been bestowed upon me in my life. That’s why I continue to write my weekly thankful post, going on fifteen months now.

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For a big third birthday and the special little boy celebrating it.

He is such a smart and friendly little boy and my nephew, I’m proud to say.

He received a bunch of superhero themed birthday presents.

The Hulk hands, veins and all, they reminded me of those foam fingers people wave around in the air at sporting events.

They felt a bit odd to some of us, but my nephew loved them and that’s all that matters.

He then proceeded around the yard, bringing his newly formed, giant hands down on chairs, as Hulk, and roaring his mighty displeasure.

🙂

For art and those encouraging us to create more of it,

Ivy Walker and her “AUGUST! 30 DAY ART CHALLENGE!”

I am drawn to this challenge and Ivy is one of the good ones, always supportive and hosting an always interesting blog.

I just struggle with not seeing anywhere near to do any sort of visual art in the last several years. I can find blessings, but losing my ability to see colour has been a tough reality to accept.

I will never stop celebrating and appreciating art, in all its forms.

So thank you Ivy, for everything you do.

For my childhood home and my access to it even after I’d moved out and so had my parents.

My sister loved that house so much that she lives there now with her own family.

This means I didn’t have to give up the place where all my early memories were made. I can see it whenever I need a reminder that I am safe, loved, and always welcomed home again.

That I got to meet one of the closest people in the world to my oma while she was alive. That my parents took me to Germany to visit my oma’s cousin, as I’d probably met her several years previous to our trip in 1998 but I could not recall.

RIP Gerti. You are at peace now, with my oma perhaps. If you are, I am certain there are some most excellent talks happening between you two, (half in English and half in German) like the good old days.

That I got to hear the song that means so much to me, one I wrote lyrics for that are very close to my heart, and now have life and breath brought to my words.

After I listened and let it all just sink in, I am dying to share “Decade Adrift” with the world, but I must hold back because it is not complete just yet.

It is still so strange a feeling to hear someone sing words I wrote. I love it though, don’t get me wrong. It’s an incredible feeling actually. I am blessed that anyone at all would use my words in a song, like my brother has, that he’s put so much energy into. Then to hear them sung capably is just the best thing.

For a special Mexican writing workshop discussion on Skype with my writing mentor.

We had one of our hour long Skype conversations, but this time we didn’t just speak about my writing in general, in other areas. We spoke about when I travel to Mexico to attend her multi sensory writing workshop.

She explained how the week will likely go. I listened, leaning in so as not to miss a single detail.

She is making so much happen for me and I owe her so much for that.

For my brothers and their determination and computer knowledge and persistence, for Imgur, and a once more functional wireless keyboard.

Every single time I find myself starting fresh with a different computer, I must set things up the way that works best for me, for my writing and blogging and VoiceOver settings for all of those things.

So, maybe you’ve noticed lately, I have not included photos in any of these posts.

Well, it’s because I’ve had to get used to a new Mail program, updates, and so much more. I struggle with whether or not to include photos at all, as I can’t see them and, unlike words, images are unclear and vague concepts to me now.

It’s nice, however, for most of my readers here, of which can mostly see and do enjoy images. I wanted to get this stuff all straightened out and then, to top it all off, I couldn’t get my keyboard working through BlueTooth anymore.

And so, one trip to visit my brother and with the help of my ever trusty younger sibling, we’re (that’s to say I’m) BACK IN BUSINESS!

My brother discovered I needed something entirely new to me which is a program called Imgur. He, well both my brothers, they are much better at following instructions and all the proper steps to make such changes work properly.

My oma (spoken of above) once gave me a stuffed bear wearing a suit, glasses, and a hat, on a stand. She told me:

“Here’s a man for your bed.”

This was my European grandmother, not realizing the hilarity many would find in that one innocent statement.

Well, now we keep the joke going by saying I need a man, but in this case, for practical everyday reasons – a guy, to help me with all the tedious computer and technology stuff I struggle with.

So, instead of waiting for a man/guy, I have my awesome brothers and their readiness to help me fight through these issues that seem to be never ending.

For an enjoyable day spent out in the back yard, in lovely August weather, with family.

If I am starting to use photos once again, I wish I had certain photo evidence that carrots can, indeed, grow on trees, apple trees to be exact.

😉

A squirrel likely had a carrot in its mouth and left it dangling from the apple tree in my brother’s back yard. He is a photographer, but did not get this as any sort of photographic proof.

But balls were thrown. A dog was pulled along on his leash by an excited little girl. Gardening was discussed. Birthday presents were opened enthusiastically by all involved.

For this most excellent little sighted guide.

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She is now at the age where we can play “guess which one of your aunt’s eyes is the real one” and she understands. Not freaky at all, right?

She gives her little left hand to me and her right to my brother and leads us out of the restaurant, all in a bendy row, our white canes out as well, just in case..

**Our Mission is to demonstrate that more awareness needs to take place for visual impairment and blindness.

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For the awareness campaigns I am able to take part in, such as

#AbbyOnTheMove

Abby Style

and

#HowISee.

Black Or White

(Just in case you were ever curious.)

🙂

Dark or light. It’s neither one nor the other by the way.

These are my thankfuls/blessings in life for this August, 2016 and beyond.

Carry On – Nora Jones

And now I’ve finished, with a song, and now I, Kerry, I will take Nora’s advice and carry on.

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TToT: Crocs, Gators, and Peg Dope – Wil It Fly? #Podcast #10Thankful

I have no philosophical quotes or music to include here, to share, to start my TToT this week.

My head is just so full of thoughts. It feels crammed and ready to burst.

I returned to Lake Erie the other day and I just stood out in the water, up to my waist, and I looked out to the horizon.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

That the podcast is finally out there.

Here is our Facebook page.

If you follow such pages, give it a like. That’s where we will be announcing, every time a new one comes out for now.

We are still playing around with place to host it and such.

Go here to listen to us directly.

Come on. You know you’re curious.

😉

Any feedback is very much appreciated.

For all the support people have shown so far for this project.

Thank you to all of you. This project has meant a lot to me and I hope it keeps going.

I thank every one of you who’ve liked our Facebook page and took some time, out of your busy lives and schedules, to give it a listen.

Hope you found id amusing or entertaining. What did you think?

That someone shared a book with me and it was the best book I’ve come across in a long time.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

I heard it was a book about time travel and immediately, my first instinct was to move along, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Time travel isn’t all about science fiction. It means history. I love history.

It also had a lot to do with today and the issues we’re still seeing around matters of racial divides and those who’ve overcome such prejudices and defied those odds.

That I am headed to Mexico for a very special writing workshop.

This just sort of happened suddenly. I received the invite from my writing mentor. She is running the workshop and she made it possible for me to participate.

I will be traveling to Mexico this winter, for a whole week, to learn about writing and literary travel writing.

This is a huge thing for me, traveling so far away from home and family. It is scary, I won’t lie, but at some point, I have to go for my dreams and experience more of the world.

I’ll admit, it’s still far enough away that it doesn’t yet feel real. It’s such a big deal that I am still in some shock that it’s happening at all. Things like that don’t happen to me.

That I have those in my life who support my writing and believe in me, wanting me to have experiences and stories to tell.

I owe it all to my writing mentor, my family, and friends.

It’s months away yet, but I am so excited that I had to share the news on Facebook. Everyone seemed excited for me.

My family know what it means for me and to me, traveling by myself like that, but that I need a chance to grow as a writer and to experience life. They want all that for me and are making it possible.

Also, to my writing mentor, who is in my corner and, as a writer, believes in my abilities.

For another year with a working kidney for my brother.

It’s been three years now, but somehow feels longer.

I guess the whole experience was so new to us all, felt so gigantic, that three years later I look back in wonder.

For my violin teacher’s ability to fix what the music store got wrong.

So, remember, some of you, a few weeks back when I broke a string on my violin?

Well, it took three store employees to figure out why it wouldn’t fit.

So when I got back to my lessons this week, my teacher looked at it and said it was on sideways.

And so, she fixed it, telling me about a product known as peg dope, in the violin world, made for violin peg adjustment.

🙂

I just love these new terms I’m learning. I’m also glad I have a teacher who knows what she’s talking about. No offence meant to those hard working guys in the store, but I think I’ll let my violin teacher replace my strings from now on.

That my mother is a pro at sewing.

I hate bathing suit shopping and finding one that fits at all.

I know, as a woman, I am not alone on this one. It used to be that I needed to find one that would cover up any surgical scars I have. Now I was left with one that tied in the back, right below my head, which was uncomfortable and gave me headaches.

Well, when stores failed me and time became a factor, in came my trusty mother and her sewing kit. She transformed a halter top into a bathing suit where the straps actually now go over my shoulders, instead of around my neck.

For a lovely beach day with family.

Okay, so the weather wasn’t ideal. It was cool and cloudy for most of the day. The sun did finally show itself by late afternoon.

The water was still pretty cold, which didn’t stop my mother. She’s the tough one in the family, but my niece braved it with her. My nephew enjoyed the air mattress as a floating device.

My brother had his handy portable grill and we had enough food and snacks to go around.

I was thankful for that grill, as a makeshift fire to sit around, as a way of keeping warm before the sun made its appearance later on.

There was a washed out little stream up on the beach and a log across, which my niece used as a balance beam. Sand castles were made. My brother is a design man, an artist, and it’s possibly being passed on to his little girl. She also loved feeding the sea gulls, which is something I like to think she got from me. That was my favourite thing to do as a little girl, though now I felt rather uneasy when they were flocking all around our group. I prefer them off in the distance, hearing their cries against a backdrop of waves, but my niece was enjoying having them so close, she could almost reach out and touch them. She even put a piece of bread on her head to see if one would take it. They aren’t that bold.

The water was much calmer than the last time. The birthday cupcakes were peanut butter with Spider Man, The Hulk, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the birthday boys.

We had a bit of vehicle trouble in the family to end off the night, a flat tire, but luckily, the guy who ran the chip wagon knew about flat tires. All and all, a nice day all together.

That I was invited by another blogger to write about

A Day in the Life of a Blogger

Thank you, Life Through My Bioscope, for the invitation.

And there you have it. Lots of big things, memories (old and new), and I couldn’t sleep again last night, thinking over everything that happened this week.

I want to find the perfect quote or song, something that comforts me and something I could look to for confirmation that I am doing all the right things and that it will turn out the way I hope it will.

I just don’t think there is such a thing. I guess I can be thankful for mistakes and for nature and for the lessons of travel and life experience. I can be thankful for anonymous organ donation and for people willing to take a chance on little old me.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, RIP, TToT

TToT: Making Winter Great Again – Take It Easy, #10Thankful

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

–Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

There was a tragic school shooting, here in Canada, at a high school in Saskatchewan. The snowstorm to rival all storms hit parts of the US. Sounds like a rough week, right?

As for me, I keep letting social media get to me, but if it weren’t for Facebook I still would have heard the news. The other day there was another birth announcement, in the family, and even though I am incredibly happy for the new parents, I found myself having a moment.

Why does it happen for some and not others? How will I be okay if it never happens to me?

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I need to keep writing it down, reasons why I am grateful, and marking the little things that are infused with beauty and sweetness. That’s why I am here, to find the good in life when sometimes, well sometimes it just sucks.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For finally getting to live in such a hip country.

The New York Times Gives Backhanded Compliment, Describes Canada as “Suddenly…HIP?”

Finally!!!

Trudeau praises Waterloo’s brilliant, innovative minds on world stage

Thanks for making us hip Justin.

🙂

Okay, so I’m aloud to begin with a bit of a sarcastic thankful once and a while, aren’t I? Can I still count it?

For snow, even when it’s cold, which it always is.

🙂

(Just a little something for any of the US bloggers who read the TToT, to maybe cheer them up, if the storm didn’t knock out power that is.)

Hashtags: #AwwHellSnow

I don’t know why, but I include snow in this list. Perhaps it’s one of those hip Canadian things.

🙂

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For perspective, as shown by this photo, and which connects nicely with my next thankful.

Both Sides of the Story – Phil Collins

For forgiveness and the chance to explore my thoughts on the concept.

Both Sides of the Forgiveness Story, #1000Speak

Getting a little perspective on a situation often leads to a better chance for forgiveness.

For rejection.

I can’t believe I am saying this. I sure didn’t feel it in the moment, but I am trying to let each rejection of my writing give me more and more of the determination to keep working at it.

It was painful, just like one of those first rejections I received, almost exactly this time, on another cold January day a few years back.

I don’t know yet if I believe all that stuff about not giving up, letting rejections fuel you, but I know it’s true deep down, somewhere. Even the biggest writers have been rejected at one time. Not every place is going to love or want your writing. I am just thankful I have found the nerve necessary to share, to try, and to get back up and try again.

For an unexpected reminder of what colours look like, something I miss everyday, and from the beautiful mind of a child.

If I Were a Crayon

I apologize for all the pingbacks Lisa.

🙂

For a successful vidchat with blogger friends.

It took a couple weeks to get back to it, but I’m glad it worked out for so many.

There they all were, and there I was, communicating through my phone.

That technology really is pretty cool. Speaking of technology…

For past, present, and future.

As I wrote out some homework of sorts for the writing workshop I was attending in the morning, I thought about days of homework past.

I needed to be able to just read out loud in class, so I pulled out my old, heavy duty Perkins machine. I had forgotten how hard on the arms it can be to jam away at those keys.

The next morning, at the workshop, I brought my Braille Sense, instead of my laptop this time. A Braille Sense is an electronic typewriter of sorts. I could write braille, like with an old broiler. There are three advantages: not so heavy a machine to carry, easier on my arms, and much quieter in class. My old schoolmates know what I mean and only wish I had today’s technology back then.

😉

Technology is always improving, bigtime since I was growing up, and a full tactile/braille tablet is up next. I can’t wait to get me one of these.

For the second of three Saturday morning writing workshops I’ve been attending with a wonderful instructor and for the one who made sure I didn’t miss out. Thanks for the ride. Thank you both for giving me the chance to do what I love.

In the creative writing workshop I am doing at the moment the writer/instructor is helping us appreciate moments, as we write, small things in life.

This is kind of what Lizzi is speaking of here:

In Small Moments

It’s what Carrie was speaking of, to one of the mothers in the group, that the special things and the funny things and the wise things come and go and come again, but some things are over and gone. Small moments. Then Lisa found a way to capture one of them, a snapshot of what her own child is thinking and how she sees the world at a young age. The world will never get something quite like that again. Now it’s caught in writing.

For some new friends showing me a new experience.

I don’t know how many of you know anything at all about Dungeons & Dragons, but I knew only what The Big Bang Theory showed of the game.

I didn’t want to go in with too many preconceived notions. I did not want to judge until I saw for myself.

I guess what I was thankful for about it was the chance to not be myself, not really, but instead to become whatever else I wanted, for a few hours. I was a neutral sorcerer. I wasn’t Kerry for a while and that break from the harsh realities of life was the welcomed part, that and laughing with some interesting people.

The Eagles – Take It Easy

“Take it easy. Take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. We may loose and we may win, but we may never be here again.”

We say goodbye to Glenn Frey, another rock musician, but these words calmed me down this week when I needed to hear them.

“Life is terribly deficient in form. Its catastrophes happen in the wrong way and to the wrong people. There is a grotesque horror about its comedies, and its tragedies seem to culminate in farce. One is always wounded when one approaches it. Things either last too long or not long enough.”

–Oscar Wilde

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