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TToT: Happy Seventh Birthday – Transplant/10ThingsofThankful anniversaries #Annedemic #Janndemic #AntiRacism #StrawberryMoon #10Thankful

“Go home and stay home.”

—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

In mid March our PM told us this and I’ve been interested to see how things happened since then. This has been the last few months and we’re just now starting to gradually, very gradually open things back up a bit, and we shall see what happens over the summer ahead.

Long before all of this coronavirus talk, for me, it’s been five years of
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
and I’ve found great value in this exercise in gratitude along with several other bloggers every week, especially now.

Current host says: Friendships were formed, and a community was born.

This is true. Thanks,
Thankful Me,
and thank you to Lizzi and Josie, those who have kept it going ever since, when one person needed to pass the torch and someone stepped right up to take the TToT on to keep it going for us all for all these years.

After I discovered the TToT, I was lead to another and there’s a partnership between the two weekly blog hops, at the moment for this thankful birthday celebration.

Finish the Sentence Friday with Finding Ninee

I’m thankful for this extended blogging community. I’ve done better in life with a place to go to remember gratitude in the tougher times and in the joyful, celebratory or reflective weeks.

From
Annedemic
to Janndemic, Jann Arden is one of my favourite Canadian musicians and she’s been going on daily walks with her little pup and taking her fans along on Facebook live. She is wise and talented and she has a calm voice of reason and comfort during corona, all the way out there in Alberta where she lives.

I call these walks Janndemic jaunts.

I’m thankful for our, let’s just say, more stable and practical leadership and direction during the first few months of the coronavirus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjhF1GI9n8A

The longest pause on record, it felt like, but what should he have answered?

As a certain #45 is nearing the end of his first four years, I hope he will be gone but I’m just trying to make it to November so we can see him go. I need to focus on what I’m grateful for because all that’s scaring me can feel massive and distracting.

Black lives matter.

Canada is muddling through the coronavirus like any other nation and we have racism here and discrimination—and discrimination with incidents involving cops and African or Indigenous Canadians. We aren’t as bold and in-your-face as all that goes on in the US, but we are hopefully seeing where we need to shape up and I look for signs of change. This appears to be a global movement, along with all the others, global warming and pandemic and economic etc.

Privilege. Apathy. These are just two ways I’ve benefited or faltered with our society’s white supremacy. I’ve done advocacy work with disability long enough to know I have nowhere near all the answers, I will make mistakes and frequently do, but I won’t stop trying to do better because we’re all interconnected, but must remember we don’t know another’s pain or experience in their own body.

I’m thankful I have people that I look to, learn from, and wish for their success and ability to be seen and heard. I want things different, for my nieces and nephews, for their future but also for the present they are growing up through, for every disabled child being born now, every Black child throughout the world, and every black, disabled person.

I write about these days we’re living through and also to document this year, here on my blog. I know, the perfect storm, but pandemic or no pandemic, these demonstrations are bringing people out, speaking of antiracism so nobody will be able to look away anymore.

I’m thankful for the daily diary I’ve started where I write to my grandma (gone 15 years next month) and share with her about this historic time she didn’t live to see. I have a place where I can go to express my biggest fears and anxieties of this pandemic.

I’m thankful for a few writing wins to focus on while the world is on fire.

From Feeling Stupid to Feeling Included – Folks

I wrote this about my journey to finding a safe space to explore movement, through yoga and then Pilates.

I’ve also got an essay about reading and braille that is likely coming out this summer sometime.

I’m thankful for the old rerun episodes of Young and the Restless, airing while new show taping is taking a pause. This is a different year from the almost fifty years of this particular soap opera they play and usually have a theme for one week’s shows, like greatest romances or villains. I can go from an episode I remember watching, at a younger age in life, or I can see an old enough episode that I was barely born when it first aired. It’s taking me back, distracting me once a day for an hour, and it reminds me of my oma who watched for years. She’s been gone ten years next week and I wonder what she’d make of this virus, after she faced war and moving to Canada and all.

I’m thankful for some of the shifts this virus seems to have ushered in, even though much about this time is hard, along with those brought on by systemic racism and prejudice, though these injustices are unacceptable and I am cheering on the protests and this time where a bunch of the best of 20th century are making an appearance in a bundle of fun: 1918 pandemic, 1930s economic woes, and the unrest of the 1960s in the Civil Rights movements to follow. (Sarcasm here, but it all feels like that.)

I’m thankful for the virtual Crip Camp I’m attending this summer, every Sunday, where presenters speak about internalized ableism and activism and mentorship in the disability community. I know I’m not alone in feeling helpless, but I must move beyond that if I want to get anywhere.

I’m thankful for tonight’s strawberry super moon taking place on my kidney transplant anniversary: twenty-three years and counting.

I’m thankful for my kidney, after a few scares with my creatinine and then my potassium level since the start of the year. Things are stable again, for the moment, and I’m thankful for the dedicated specialists monitoring things, always there, and the continuation with phone clinic visits.

I’m thankful I’ve been able to get through such a stressful time and that I practice the attitude of going with the flow (while lying low), even on my worst days of fear and weariness.

Happy 5th Birthday TToT!

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TToT: An Epoch In My Life – Equations and Conjugations #BlackSwan #OneWorld #TogetherAtHome #10Thankful

“’The matter with human beans,’ the BFG went on, ‘is that they is absolutely refusing to believe anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles. ‘” …

—The BFG by Roald Dahl

So much going on that writing here often now slips through my fingers and gets lost in the recesses of my brain, but I have plenty to be thankful for-so let’s go.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

With the novel coronavirus, covid-45 up to his bullshit, and now the worst mass shooting in Canadian history having taken place this past weekend. I am trying to find moments of joy, ways to distract myself and my racing thoughts, and ideas to harness the creativity I have inside.

I wish, oh how I wish the world could all be on the same page with this, to work together, which seems so very simple to me. Apparently not?

We can sit around and blame China or the US or anyone else, but where does that get us?

All the finger pointing and wide gaps in the seriousness of the way this virus is being taken and all those conspiracy theories floating around. Why can’t things just be what they are? Like the quote I started this week’s TToT with, humans refuse to admit until they see with their eyes, and during times like these, not even then.

I am thankful for this song.

The Book of Love – Gavin James

I am thankful for a new online writing class I’ve started and the community of writers who are willing to open up and share.

The instructor started a WhatsApp group for all of us and we’re all leaving audio messages there, for each other, and as a place for reflection and contemplation.

D9Ij6Al.jpg

She suggested we think up a name for the group and I thought of black swan because it’s a term being used to describe this pandemic and also, there are swans down at the park by my house now. I remember their white, graceful, loveliness as I watched them glide across water. Now I no longer see them, but I think a swan could be still beautiful, even a black one. Why not?

I know we’re often tempted to describe tough times like these as dark times, looking for the light, but I often get tired of these images we use to describe the bad and the good of life, but yet I know I can’t make every person stop describing life this way. It is what it is, as a writer, but I know the images that are created powerfully in words that bring to mind such metaphors.

I see it as a way to express how we are all going through an unprecedented period in history together, but also, along with all the negatives there can be beauty.

I am thankful for music to get me through hard times, like the live concert I got to see the other night.

Sarah Slean sold tickets, but for much much less than I’d pay to see a show in person, certainly less than I paid to see her live on a bitterly cold December night back in 2017.

Day One – Sarah Slean

I know Zoom has its issues, and I had to turn the voice off my iPhone while watching or else all the hundreds of people commenting would make Voiceover go berserk.

Sarah is so cheery, the kind of cheery you can hear in her voice, as her smile is audible when she speaks. Her singing voice is just brilliant and so is her piano playing.

She is excellent with a string section behind her, don’t get me wrong, but there was just something about the simplicity of a woman and her piano in her home in Toronto with 776 people listening to her performance.

I am thankful for the virtual camino walk I’m on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Ekot38tV8&feature=youtu.be

I have many places in Europe I’d like to get to, but Italy was never high on that list for some reason. I am not sure why, but now Spain is up there.

A writer who creates unique travel experiences put together something to occupy us and help us find our way through all this, starting a group on Facebook and every day she posts a file where she describes a chunk of a camino, Camino de Frances in this case. I would have trouble handling such walks in real life, with my blindness and my chronic pain issues, but this is totally doable. No blisters if I choose not to imagine them, though I know I get off easy in this case.

All these ancient routs that pilgrims went on, going back to the sixth century or the tenth. I simply can’t imagine. This music she shared told a story to perspective travellers. It puts me in that frame of mind.

I write a daily corona diary to my long since departed grandmother, but I also take her and all my ancestors along on the camino with me.

I am thankful for something called Annedemic.

Winter Green – The East Pointers

The band, The East Pointers, they’ve come up with something to help raise money for struggling musicians who have lost touring opportunities. Themselves or one of their friends or musicians they’ve played with read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables a night on Facebook live. It’s always entertaining and I forget how much I love that story. It’s just a lot of fun to distract from all that isn’t.

I am thankful I can travel even when grounded in place.

TVO Original TRIPPING the Rideau Canal

I love the Rideau Canal and especially when it freezes over in winter and becomes a long stretch of skating surface.

I experienced that back in 2015 and I wish to go back there, since skating again with family in these last five years and most recently, right before the coronavirus took centre stage.

I went to Ottawa last year, right around now, to a conference and I brought a friend with me. I stood out on our balcony and recorded a soundscape of the capital city of Canada and I still plan to write some poetry of some kind and record my voice reading it over that city backdrop.

I am thankful to be in Canada during covid.

In spite of everything, this country is handling the pandemic better than many other places. When I heard an interview with Andrew Cuomo I heard someone who knew what he was talking about and who works hard. That’s what leadership should look like, but other so-called leaders are impossible to follow.

Here we have kept the numbers of infections and dreaded dead down to a lower amount than elsewhere. We come together during hard times, like this virus and now the shooting Nova Scotia has suffered.

I am thankful I got to speak with my family members, even if we’re social distancing for now.

My niece and nephew told me all about what they got from the Easter Bunny and then my niece gave me a book report, of sorts, about the BFG.

Snozzcumbers Soph, really?

The main character’s name is Sophie – close but we call our Sophia Soph.

I really should get a copy of a book my niece is reading and read along too. We could have a little Roald Dahl book club of sorts, even from a distance. My teacher read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, I believe, and the Glass Elevator in fourth grade, but I hardly remember except for some truly awful alien creatures in the latter story. I could use a refresher.

I am thankful that the re-test of my blood, creatinine level, it was repeated and has gone down again.

From 70-80 for years and years, up to 110 at the end of 2019, down to 100 at my birthday, and now down to 93 – I’ll take it, for now.

And I am thankful for this poem and the journey it relays.

David Whyte: Santiago

My writing instructor recommended it. I had not heard of David Whyte before.

As Anne Shirly would say, this is sure to be an epoch in my life, this virus, for better or for worse and everything/everywhere in between.

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It Is What It Is #SocialDistancing #SoCS

Spring has arrived.

Fa1jhbJ.jpg

As it stands, we
welcome
our new reality, even as we resist what that means.

I listen to two US sources, along with the national news here in Canada too.

I’ve been listening to Michael Moore and his podcast since before Christmas, when his main goal was to fight to get #45 out of office. It’s become something else now that most of us couldn’t have seen coming.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow and in her most recent episode, she ended the show by announcing the death of an NBC colleague who lost his life to covid-19 and she lost control and became choked up as she said it.

Most of us aren’t that close to this yet, but who knows what the next weeks and months could bring upon us all.

Panic. Don’t panic. Panic. Don’t panic.

I am one who learned about this coronavirus with a slow dawning, a realization that’s just now beginning to scare me. It was only end of January that I was still relatively oblivious and planning an adventure to walk the Thames River Path in England. This new reality hit me soon after.

Since then, I’ve been around some people, but I now feel the instinct to totally isolate from all people.

Every time I send someone out to run an errand for me, they could potentially pick up this virus themselves. Should I stop this, for their sakes and mine?

I get paranoid with germs (for years) and now. Where are they? How close by are they? Which surface are they living on?

I’ve been cushioned here in my town, in my county, but reality inches ever nearer. I listen to accounts from doctors and nurses who are already seeing emergency rooms and ICU’s full of the sick, numbers then reported on the nightly news and 24/7 online.

I take deep breaths, sitting here and when I step outside, the now spring air streaming into my lungs as I go out with my dog.

I went for a walk, fell and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee, but I got back up again and kept walking. I wanted to feel myself, moving through the world, grateful I am still well.

I went to a medical appointment and it was a breeze compared to how it usually is. The doctor and his pain clinic moved out of the hospital setting and into a recently abandoned medical practise next door. I was in and out, no waiting in a waiting room with a dozen other people, but straight in to the room, after I’d been given a mask to wear. I haven’t worn one since being on dialysis back in the late 90’s.

I sanitized my hands and got my nerve block injections for my headaches, that I’ve been receiving for almost a year now.

I questioned whether I should have gone there, gone out at all, but things moved along so quickly because many patients did decide to cancel.

I worry for my parents. They aren’t in the highest risk group, but they are over sixty.

I worry about my sister, doing her work in the midst of this time of year which is tax season, ever so slightly delayed like school and everything else.

I worry for my brother-in-law who works in a factory.

I worry about my older brother who needs to go into work to support his family.

I worry for my younger brother who had a kidney transplant in 2013 and who has had other medical issues, before and since then. He and I are both immunosuppressed, not currently on dialysis or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, but I don’t know how this new strain of virus might act if either one of us were to catch it. I’ve never had pneumonia and the idea of basically drowning when the lungs are overloaded is terrifying.

I worry for my sister who has asthma and her husband who is a type one diabetic, who just recently recovered from mono. They have two young children and I’m only thankful that my nieces and nephews are at much lower risk of contracting this.

My father and mother work still, front line workers really, as she works in a group home and taking care of vulnerable people and he takes people in wheelchairs where they need to go in his specialized cab.

Here in Canada we have a wonderful healthcare system, but we see what’s happening in Italy and we must learn all we can. I feel better sometimes, most of the time, hearing the news here in Canada and feeling I’m safest here when compared to anywhere else, but things can keep getting worse with every case reported and all the ones that aren’t quite yet.

This is not at all how I saw 2020 playing out.

I had a friend who was traveling and another who’s about to. I can’t do much about that, but I still worry. So many who would have not gone and those still trying to get back home.

I have an old friend, from childhood, who moved to Ireland for medical school and is now a doctor there. I don’t know how much risk she’s at since all this, but I keep track of the news of this virus out of that country too.

I can’t control any of this and the last thing I wanted to do was see this happening, but we’ve been warned of a possible pandemic to come. Well it’s here, sweeping across the globe bringing with it waves of destruction and instability.

I worry about people’s jobs and the economy that I understand little about. I studied history and the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I learned about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how that washed over humanity during that time. We’ve come far with medical knowledge and still we are left battered by something so tiny, invisible and deadly in many cases, but people think it’s like any other flu season we’ve known in our lifetime.

I know it may be petty, but I’ve started calling #45 covid-45 because of his unique ability to be cruel and ignorant and incompetent at a time when the whole world needs effective leaders who also care, even just a little.

I like to listen to flocks of birds out my window and above my head. They fly by and I wish I could fly too.

Our winter was mild and yet I’m pleased to feel spring is in the air. I am finding things to bring me a few moments of peace because I know we’re at war, World War III if you want to call it that, but it’s a battle raging on in nearly all places now. It is just now making it to the northern parts of Canada and in our territories. It’s on islands that want to keep it from swamping their systems. The border between Canada and the US and that between them and Mexico, closed to all but essential trade.

Europe is being ravaged by it and it will get into refugee camps and already war torn regions, places across the African continent and in bustling cities where social distancing isn’t a thing.

For humans, in most cultures, having to stop shaking hands or hugging or kissing of cheeks is so difficult to do. Whereas I’m not struggling with that as much as I am to not touch my own face a thousand times a day.

People can’t believe they are in the position, for the first time, of being prevented from travel to their heart’s desire and content. They, we’ve, I’ve always had that option of traveling and the freedom of choice. Yet, when I hear people complaining that they are bored and dreaming of the moment they’re told it’s safe to do so again, I want to scream. I don’t know why, as I’m among them, but I know we’ve all been spoiled when air travel is so common and wanderlust is a thing.

I have multiple rolls of toilet paper here still and am not letting that stress me out, but I don’t like what I’m seeing of people out in grocery stores. I go back and forth between feelings of panic and calm, though I am never sure what I’m panicking about. I can’t pinpoint anything for sure in my buzzing brain.

I can’t concentrate on writing the things I’d planned on writing so far this year. I can’t manage anything more than stream of consciousness writing at the moment.

My dreams are vivid and my waking hours are spent trying not to bombard my head and heart with opinions and facts and statistics.

This is a numbers game, as the saying goes, but this time this is no game we’re playing. I’m no good at numbers games at the best of times.

People who are already greedy or selfish will only look for ways to enrich themselves in this, all while I know this virus can take hold in any one of us, doing as much or as little damage as it sees fit.

People are afraid and in denial as a form of self preservation, but the world is also populated by resilience and brilliant minds already at work.

I’m getting by on the stories that keep coming out, stories of courage from front line workers and from communities coming together to pick up groceries and medications for those who can’t.

We’re depending on our medical professionals and our food delivery drivers and those in the factories and the plants, but they have families and bodies that are vulnerable to getting sick.

I am used to hiding away in my own solitude and I don’t want to start worrying, any time I’m around another person, but maybe now is the time to isolate from friends for sure and now even family members.

I don’t know what to think.

So we are welcoming spring and wondering what’s to come. Some say we’re making more of this than is necessary, like young people who celebrated spring break and think they’re invincible. None of us are invincible.

We humans have our social media now and can stay in touch with loved ones and we should. We’re not used to being constricted in our movements and in our socializing. We’re told to stay in our homes, except for those necessities of life, but we can’t handle being cooped up for long.

Will this last weeks or months or more? We hate to think it could. Loneliness even though we can connect easier than any period in history.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I take chunks of time off of Facebook and I watch a show from my childhood. I can recall difficult times in my past and how I made it through and that helps, but this is a new one on me.

I think of my indoor cat now and what his life consists of. Human beings won’t stand for that for long, but I’ve seen some beautiful examples of people in places like Italy and Spain making the best of these circumstances. Each of us and our governments are dealing with this in stages, but sometimes swift measures are necessary ones.

I’m trying to wait this out, to ride it out, but I don’t know what to expect and I know emotions are running high.

I envy the innocence of the children in my life right now, but I’m now afraid to be around them, around anyone. I hate that feeling.

How are all of you coping with all this? I know I’m not alone and neither are you.

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TToT: Thirty-six Pick Up Sticks #BlanketSea #10Thankful

Let’s just dive in.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

I am a little older and wiser since the tenth of the month and yet I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m headed. Currently, I am listening to a live feed from a famous pub in Dublin, Ireland with live, Friday night entertainment.

I did turn thirty-six recently and my niece and nephew were so excited to start celebrating with me. We had a cake made and sampled by the time my sister arrived with dinner.

VRU6XdI.jpg

I am thankful for family on my birthday. Even my nearly three-year-old niece sang. She loves to sing.

I am thankful for loved ones who can bring me smoothies, milkshakes, and oranges to soothe my sore throat.

I am thankful my post birthday cold didn’t last too long.

I am thankful for the nerve blocks I’ve been getting.

I am a little wary of being injected in my head, but in the nerves specifically. I have had Botox to try to treat headaches in the past. Nerve blocks are helping one very specific headache I get.

I am thankful to have written a poetry review for a talented artist’s first poetry chapbook.

You can read it here.

If you like what you hear, check her out.

I am thankful for my core group of three writing women who I get to write with twice a month.

They have such unique imagination in their heads and stories they read out to the group.

I am full of gratitude that they share with me in such a special way.

I am thankful we in Canada are starting to work on healing the deep rifts here between Indigenous groups and the government and your average Canadian citizen.

Canada loves the rule of law (unless we’re talking Indigenous rights)

Okay, well if we’re not doing a great job so far, I at least hope everyone doesn’t give up and keeps talking.

I know things seem particularly rough right now, but at least we’re facing these issues, head-on. When we push them down and hope they won’t make too much trouble, it only prolongs any possible solutions.

I don’t pretend to know the answers, but I feel quite emotional about it all when I think of the history of this land and how it will all progress in future.

The live performance at Temple Pub and they are doing a version of this, one of my favourite songs by The Cranberries, after all this time.

It reminds me to keep on dreaming for myself. I am extremely grateful for dreams, but I remind myself of this lyric often:

“Don’t mind dreams. It’s never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems.”

I am thankful for February. This winter hasn’t been as cold as some likely have been, but still cold enough for complaints, but I love this time of year better than summer.

I am thankful for anything I can do to distract myself from some of what’s going on in the world these days. I’m nervous that 2020 will be a long, rather scary year in some ways, but that’s why I keep doing all the things that bring me fulfillment and joy to balance it all out.

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TToT: 2020 and Feeling Good As Hell #JusJoJan #10Thankful

Once again, I have been absent from this
Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful
exercise in gratitude and I did mean to join in more, but life got in the way.

I am thankful for
Kristi
and her taking on the TToT and for making a lovely effort to ensure accessibility is as common as possible, even with all the things that are out of her control.

I will go back a few months to start things out – back to 2019.

I am thankful I got to attend an old friend’s wedding back in November.

O6qplRc.jpg

It was wonderful having a celebration with good friends and family too. The event wasn’t too big and I danced as much as possible.

I am thankful for a fun few days with friends (both old and new) at Social Media Week Toronto, only a few days after the wedding.

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Caption: Kim, me, Amy, and Victoria

It was a nice getaway to Toronto and it was cold, mid November, but I was mostly thankful for the slight warm up but still cold enough, on my last evening in the city, with the most delicate snowflakes falling as we walked to find some dinner before I had to catch my train home.

I am thankful for the chance to be a guest on a podcast about culture called
Culture-Hacking – “Seeing the World Differently”.

I am thankful for a fun-filled Christmas season with family.

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lVM0zp2.jpg

Caption: I’m with my nieces, watching The Simpsons on the tablet, with the tree in behind us. (Hmm, did I end up posting this photo more than once?)

I am thankful for a speaking gig I had lined up for January.

PROBUS Canada

It was good to get to speak to a room of women from the older generations, to share a bit about my blindness experience, including all the travel I’ve done and some of the obstacles I face, not to mention informing them of the existence of the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
here in Canada in 2020.

That website is where you can go to read the latest issue of The Blind Canadian, November 2019 where I am newly an assistant-editor.

I am thankful I had a meeting with the woman/writer I’m planning to walk the Thames River path with this coming September and with my friend and travel agent who is helping us plan the month long adventure ahead.

I am thankful for this new audio podcast platform.

anchor.fm

We may use it to record and share daily updates as we go and I have started a profile there and have recorded my first two episodes. I will probably make these, as an audio version of my written blog, capturing the months ahead and all the planning and preparing I’ll be doing. It’s a cool site/app I can even add music to my recorded voice and I can do it without having to depend on my audio expert brother all the time. I think this one, it will be nice to be able to do it myself.

And I am thankful, last but certainly not least, for a mostly positive result on a blood level that had jumped in recent weeks for unknown reasons.

I have lived by that number for more than 20 years, creatinine to measure my transplanted kidney’s excellent function. I don’t remember it being more than 70-80 in years and suddenly I received a call that it had jumped up to 110.

On re-test, it did go back down, not down as far as I’d necessarily like it to, but 100 – and I will take that, for now.

I tend to lean into my more negative side with these sorts of things, but the doctor wouldn’t commit to the idea that my kidney is slowly declining. He said, at this stage, it could be that, but maybe 100 is my new baseline level. It happens and there’s no reason, at this time, to think anything further to be the case. I am getting re-tested in April and going back again in June for my once-a-year, usual doctor’s appointment.

But he did seem quite sure I’d be walking in England by September and that nothing renal related would get in the way of that. (Still…one more reason I want to do this walk, to help raise awareness, and to explore the world while I have the chance.)

I am thankful, extra thankful, to that hospital and the transplant outpatient program and the doctors that keep such a good eye on things for me. I am lucky to be living where I am living, as I hear more and more stories of the medical costs in the US that people live with.

To start 2020 somewhere, I was glad to participate in an entire month of blogging with prompts coming from certain participants of the yearly activity, participants such as
Wendy
and the blogger to run the whole thing. Thanks
Linda,
for getting my year started, with writing and blogging and your Just Jot It January #JusJoJan challenge, so I can at least begin somewhere for the year.

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Caption: a Just Jot It January completion badge

I am about to celebrate this blog’s six year anniversary and my thirty-sixth birthday – 2020 and I say “bring it on!”

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Covering My Bases #WeRemember #JusJoJan

Okay, so I am nearing the end of this
Just Jot It January
2020 thing.

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This weekend, instead of writing for #JusJoJan, I was too
busy,
with the planning and the thinking and the dreaming.

Trying not to get too far ahead of myself on life, with recent developments, I zoned out a little here recently.

Thanks,
Saumya,
for this one.

I was making a starting, basic plan for an adventure I’m looking to have later this year. It was distracting, as I try not to get my hopes up too high. I want to make a statement with this one!

I wish to
dazzle
the world with this one.

I long to sparkle, to shine, but not me for my sake. I desire to take a chance, take the leap, assuming upcoming bloodwork doesn’t threaten to ruin everything I’m planning before it even has a chance of going ahead.

I want to be always a surprise and a voice for change. I may surprise in my methods of achieving all this, to some, but the main one I’m looking to surprise is myself…and spectacularly!

Thanks,
Debbie,
for this glittery prompt word.

This date always gets me down, in a way, to more of a melancholic level. I think if it, 2020 being seventy-five years since the freeing of Auschwitz concentration camps.

I know this is the day to celebrate, but it’s such a sombre date, I can’t help feeling a bit blah.

It reminds me of too many things, makes me think too many dark thoughts, though I know there’s a more positive tone to strike here too.

And, so since I am working with what I’ve got, what I’ve got is me. Nobody else can live my life for me, I should learn to count on me more because I’m here now and I’m grateful for that, and then to be gracious to all who agree to join in on the journey, somewhere along that way.

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I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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Writing A Wrong, #JusJoJan

A bunch of holes, punched into a piece of paper – what is it?

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As it was once done, braille still can be written with the slate and stylus, a piece of metal or plastic with lines of the six cells that make up braille.

A piece of paper is slipped inside the slate, lined up, so the stylus can
poke
holes in the appropriate spots to make all the individual braille letter combinations.

I know it sounds confusing and complicated to people upon hearing this, but it is how I’ve known to read and write since I was a child.

Handy when writing postcards when traveling, though they are less common than when I was younger.

It makes that simple thump thump thump sound as I press the stylus into the correct spot in the small six dot space, which lets me know I am right where I mean to be. One centimetre off and the letter I meant to write has a wrong dot in it.

Though I no longer use the slate and stylus method, as I prefer the speed of Perkins brailers or, nowadays, my electronic/Bluetooth braille display.

Sure, technology truly is amazing and has made literacy for the blind more efficient, but without the basic yet brilliant invention of braille to begin with, the world would be without the beauty of braille for all these years.

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Ahead by a Century (Recap of Anne with an E, Season Three / Episodes Two and One) #AheadByACentury

Ahead by a Century (Week Two):

(Spoiler alert! Read on, however, for a wider discussion of issues from stories.)

I put off writing this second week’s summery of Anne with an E (of Season Three) because I needed time to think about what I’d seen, but I do wish I could go back to find my summaries of all Season One episodes and I wish I’d taken the time to write recaps for all of last season that I missed. I was distracted, but I’m back and ready to recap!

(Either on Facebook, or here, or both.)

Only into episode two and I’m reeling from the sharpness of the storyline in this new adaptation. It’s not what many would want for L.M.’s Anne Girl character and her world, both at Green Gables and out beyond. It’s harshness is what makes it feel authentic and we can’t hide from that which is true authenticity, no matter what year we’re in.

If you want to escape from our world into the world of a century ago, to forget all our modern troubles, this show does that. The characters ride around in buggies, pulled by horses, and homosexuality isn’t spoken of. Perhaps a certain impeachable US pres’s grandfather is across Canada at this time, making money off of the greed for gold, but that doesn’t mean that this storyline isn’t going to be full of the realities of life that made it so harsh at the turn of the 20th century.

Anne is given permission and a blessing, by her adopted family of Marilla and Matthew, to go to Charlottetown and then to the mainland, Nova Scotia, to look for information on her birth parents. She must be accompanied by Gilbert, which she resents, and he is rebuffed by her moments of irritability as she is too preoccupied to see how much he already cares.

She arrives in PEI’s capital city to meet up with her gay best friend who will go with her to the orphanage she grew up in.

While Gilbert goes off and explores newly discoverable romance with another, for the time being, a whole other strange B storyline, Anne is brought back to some of the worst times from her early life. While Gilbert has a date in a tea room with a snooty young woman, Anne tries to find out if the orphanage has any record of her parents.

Again, I watch and wonder what places like that were really like for all the abandoned and orphaned little ones in the world, while wishing places like these weren’t still existing. Anne says that place is better than some and much worse than others of its kind. Sure, I like to see characters in fiction that I can relate to, blind or disabled or writers or whatever, but I’m also curious about the kind of fiction which explores lives I, myself, have never lived for good or for ill.

The woman in charge is cold and of no help at all, sipping her tea with disdain that Anne would even deem to return for anything. The man on his way out, after admitting he can’t take care of his flesh and blood children since their mother died, makes Anne start to wonder if the stories she kept going along with about her own two parents were really that of truth, that they both died of scarlet fever when she was still newly born. Was she really so loved and/or wanted at all?

Cole sees her starting to pull apart all the stories and her imagination that got her through such loneliness, as she finds old pieces of paper with her own stories written hidden in the bell tower of the building. She wonders if it was all foolishness and he tells her how brave she is to him for doing whatever she had to to survive it all those years.

As they head for the door to leave, mission NOT accomplished, Anne is stopped by a young woman scrubbing the floor. It’s another orphaned girl who once bullied Anne for daring to dream or have an imagination of any kind. She recognizes Anne and angrily shouts about how she isn’t still there, but is now paid to work there, but the whole scene is disturbing and ugly as Anne and Cole leave that place behind them.

From orphanage where children are left without love to the ferry back to the island. Cole won’t let Anne give up, but all the work Ms. Stacy and Matthew are doing to repair the old printing press so the children of Avonlea School can print a newspaper is about to lead to an unsettling ending to episode two when Marilla reads Anne’s article about meeting and visiting the village of the young Indigenous girl.

(Oh, what times these were where the fear in a white, Christian community of the “other” is so intense they refer to that other group of people as “savages” when such a term is so horrible to hear now that 2020 is the time we’re nearly living in.)

**Side note – Interfering neighbour Rachel is a woman of her time, thinking she must find the new teacher a replacement after Miss Stacy’s widowhood, whereas Muriel would be just as happy on her own as to receive any match making help from anyone, let alone Rachel Lynne. Once Lynne sees Stacy with a man, all alone in a barn, even if that man is Matthew, all that talk of impropriety gets thrown in Miss Stacy’s face. How dare she be working, out in the barn, like a man, with a man that is not her husband.

Marilla is afraid of losing Anne, now that she loves her so much, which will have Marilla acting out in all the wrong ways, but she can hear very plainly how much Anne is praying for word that she was loved by her real parents once upon a time.

To top it all off, we have the character of Sebastian (new to this adaptation) having a not so sweet second episode. He has a step son to learn how to handle, one who feels like his mother has found her do-over in new baby daughter and husband, and this young man sees with his own eyes the farm and house where his mother now lives with her new family, including Gilbert, a white boy…away from the black neighbourhood in the area known as “the bog”.

Elijah is not dealing too well with having a new baby sister and stepfather, bringing all his pain and his coping mechanisms, which primarily include alcohol and saying things he doesn’t really probably even mean, throwing insults at his own mother and accusing his mother’s husband of having an alternate plan to get rid of their new white friend and roommate, to take over the land. Sebastian is disgusted by the suggestion and the two almost come to blows.

By the morning, all Gilbert’s tangible, valuable memories of his dead father have been taken from the room and Elijah is gone. This family stuff is hard in any century.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ166DTIV-o

Ahead By a Century:

I am back with my Anne with an E updates (season 3), after skipping this writing ritual for all of last season’s events.

It starts with a girl and her horse, Anne and Belle riding through the snow. … Pine cones. Silver coins. Anne turns 16 and desires to discover her lineage.

I’ve been long drawn to stories like Harry Potter, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, and Anne of Green Gables because the life of an orphaned character is so far from my own reality.

I may wonder sometimes about my ancestors, though at least I know of them, and I have always had present and supportive parents around. I wondered about those who never knew that kind of security and/or love.

It starts with Anne and Bell. It goes into the theme song for the show, a Tragically Hip hit that denotes the time period of Anne, as I sit here in 2019 and love this adaptation of the classic Green Gables story.

Ahead by a Century – The Tragically Hip / Anne with an E-Theme

One year ago this day I was on Prince Edward Island. I miss PEI in September as I watch this first episode of season three, expecting and seeing ads for Find Your Island with PEI Tourism making me recall it all. What a special place, an island (seen visually in red and green for many) but forever trapped in my head and heart as the setting for tragical events in a beautiful place, surrounded by water.

Sad that time moves on, even after the death of the lead singer of song Ahead By A Century, as I watch this series…from a time more than a century ago and I think of Gord’s work for connection with all who share this land before he died.

Anne and the girls watch the boys play hockey on a frozen pond and soon boys are declaring their intentions toward the girls. This is a timeless ritual, though somewhat changed in 100 years. Anne and Gilbert are meant to end up together, of course (poor Ruby), even if now it’s nothing but misunderstandings and awkward teenage encounters in the schoolroom. They will have their time, but in the meantime, brief interactions that mark a future love.

For now, as a newly sixteen-year-old Anne, she is the Bride of Adventure in her mind and that will and must suffice for now.

When season two premiered, we were introduced to Afro-Caribbean character, Sebastian, a new friend Gilbert has made far from Avonlea. Nothing like this exists in the 80’s series so many worship. I love both now, for different reasons, but Representation matters.

Creator of this update:

“I was troubled by the lack of diversity in the book, especially since Canada is such a diverse nation, both then and now,” she said.

And so, of course the novel was written in a different time, but it’s the 21st century now and the changes have only added to an already rich story with a lovely facelift.

Anne meets a young Indigenous girl and visits her community. The white people (Christians) stay separate from other groups then, but this inclusion started episode one of season three off right. I hope the friendship between the two girls continues.

Anne is open to meeting and making new friends and that’s all there is to it. She is supposed to represent the kind of openness of heart and mind that so many lack, then and now.

The scenes with Sebastian (Bash) and his wife Mary and their new baby girl made an already sweet episode even sweeter. Love scene between the still newly married couple made me grin, wanting love for others, fictional or no.

I have high hopes for this new season on CBC here in Canada, (to appear on Netflix in the new year).

That’s it for this instalment of Ahead by a Century, though most don’t have any knowledge or interest in the world of Anne, either Montgomery’s original creation or this re-imagining for a new century, but I’ll keep writing them anyway.

Here’s to all the Anne and Gilbert fans out there. What will this new season bring in the journey of their relationship?

How to be happy and content with oneself and still the possibility of finding true love with another?

I ask myself those last questions, those I posed after Season Three, Episode One, to myself all the time.

Also, I decided to go from most recent episode re-cap to the previous week’s recap here on the blog. I will return with Episode Three next week, here, but I’ve moved from Facebook to this blog because I want to catalog these and yet most people on Facebook know nothing of Anne with an E and could really care less and won’t bother to read, especially the longer my recaps end up being.

Maybe, after reading my recap here and after checking out the scene from YouTube I included above, both fans of the original Anne story and non fans alike might be curious enough to watch an episode. I say, to Anne fans everywhere, give this new adaptation a chance. I didn’t regret it. You might not either.

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