1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Chameleon in a Room Full of Mirrors – Part Two, #10Thankful

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

– Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful my brother and his family got to get away for a week together.

Winters can be long. Sun and sea and family time, no cooking or cleaning or work or school. Who wouldn’t like that?

I am thankful for my chameleon eyes.

I can’t see what colour my own eyes are in the mirror, but even when I had more sight, much more sight than I now have, I still couldn’t see the colour of my own eyes.

Well, every time I’ve ever asked, I’ve gotten varied and differing answers. I didn’t know whom to believe.

I got a new artificial eye made the day before Valentine’s Day and it was done within six hours. Not bad.

No, it’s not made of glass. I will answer all the most common questions, in a piece I’m going to write about the experience, once I get through some of the work I’ve currently got on the go this month.

I am glad the new one is in and I was told when the colour is bluish one day, green another, and hazel or whatever, with flecks of something thrown in there somewhere for whatever reason, that is what is known as the chameleon eye, changing colour, depending on the time asked and the light seen in. I thought it was so funny that I’d heard a saying about a chameleon in a room full of mirrors, which could mean any number of things, that I used that as the title for last week’s TToT and then I find out my eyes are chameleon coloured this week.

Thus…part two.

I am thankful for a single girl’s lunch to celebrate all the different kinds of love that matter.

Fancy old mansion and multiple forks and spoons at every place setting.

Truth is that I don’t know a lot about fancy food and don’t think it all that better, overall, but this was a nice way to spend February 14th, to enjoy a nice meal with a friend, celebrating the benefits of being single, especially on a day when all you hear about is romantic love.

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I am thankful for a local, city library card.

I have lived in the town for ten years and am just now getting a library card. So many books that I feel held back from, many print, though there are more and more ways around that for someone who can’t see to read.

I do think the library is a fantastic public resource that everyone deserves to share in.

More on this another week.

I am thankful for positive feedback on a job I’ve got this month.

I was told, at least, I am on the right track which is always nice to hear and know. I will know more by next month.

I am thankful a yoga session could be squeezed into my day.

So busy lately. I can tell, by how quickly I am rushing through even this week’s thankful list that yoga is very much needed in my life.

I had no meeting. She was stuck on Montreal’s public transit. Still, a lesson worked out and I needed that for my sanity.

I am thankful for remittances.

Still learning about such terms of getting paid for work completed. I’m glad it means what it actually means. I admit, the word didn’t sound so good upon first hearing it. I am happy to know its meaning now.

I am thankful for my arms that learn a new thing (dynamics) on the violin.

I guess this is progress. I was sore after, in my upper back and shoulders, as I must have tensed up in learning such techniques. It involves ways of moving the bow, angles, pressure, and a whole lot more to make the music sound quiet or medium or loud, still learning proper names for each level of volume throughout a song.

More to come on this too, also, in the weeks ahead I’d guess.

I am thankful for the nostalgia of a romantic comedy from the 90s.

I wanted to see a movie from my past, about Paris, about forgetting Paris, about basketball refereeing even and I am no sports fan by any means.

It’s an old one of Billy Crystal and one that didn’t receive enough praise, if you ask me.

I am thankful I managed an ending to the short story I wrote last week.

I wrote it, at writing group, on my oma’s birthday. She would have been 97 this year. It’s fiction, based on the girl she might have been, with a few pieces of the girl she told me stories about.

I wrote most of it, but then my braille display died. So, I now have the ending written and I look forward to reading it at the next writing group’s gathering coming up.

Tired and pondering love/hate/indifference lately.

“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.”

—Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Shows and Events, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, TToT

TToT: The Fog Can Be Pink Sometimes – Plucks and Strums, #Blues #10Thankful

Bomb cyclones, bombshell tell-all’s, and a night out at the symphony. Oh My!

And Dolores O’Riordan is dead.

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote one of these, not since the start of the new year and my niece’s birthday post.

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My family at Christmas.

It’s only halfway into the first month of this year and I am already exhausted.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for Dolores’s voice and lyrics and music.

I am deeply saddened, but I am thankful. I can’t believe she is gone. I’ve loved The Cranberries since I was eleven or twelve years old.

I’ve been on the verge of tears, giving in to it a few of those times, ever since I heard.

I don’t know all of what to say exactly, but I’m sure it will come to me.

I am thankful for the cello and a feature celloist.

Such a deep and rich sound, such a melancholy sound to the cello.

He was making his debut. He was amazing. He even strummed and plucked the strings of his cello along with the fast-paced classical stuff. What a solo with a terrific orchestra to accompany you.

I am thankful for an invite to my very first symphony.

I felt like the least sophisticated in that place and I was definitely the youngest.

Ah well…no accounting for my generation’s lack of taste. It was a first time for me, as classical isn’t necessarily my thing, but I am glad I went.

I am thankful I got to see the newest Star Wars with my brother and my sister.

We, the three of us, went between Christmas and New Year’s.

I was pressed to my seat the whole time, with every new twist and turn of the plot. I realize the giant debate for true fans of this franchise. For me, I like the story, as it stands. I like Adam Driver in his role as villain.

One really frigid December night, my older siblings and I ventured out to check it out, and I’m glad we did. I owe my brother, for his description skill, until I can make it so every theatre, even in my little city, has audio description to offer.

I am thankful I have a temporary replacement braille display.

I can read my own words and the words of other people. I can feel it, under my fingers. I am back, up and running, at full steam ahead.

I am thankful I have parents who are perfectly willing to take me to pick up a shipment at the border.

There was an issue with a temporary replacement for my braille reader and my options weren’t looking good for resolving it.

I had to drive a bit of a distance to sort it out and I am lucky I have family willing to make that drive, over an hour, so I could have the package in hand.

Now I can get back to editing and reading, for however long it takes for my own machine to be fixed.

I am thankful for my sister’s knowledge of hooking up a new router.

Things with the Internet have been lacking around here lately. I went, on a hunch over Christmas, and found and purchased a new router, thanks to my brother’s recommendation.

It came in the mail and I wouldn’t have known how to hook it up myself. Thankfully, my sister took time from her busy life and came and got it done for me.

I hope to get back to yoga over Skype again soon, without the connection failing continuously.

I am thankful for not a no.

Sometimes, the postponing of a for sure acceptance to a writing pitch is nice. Some people may not enjoy the extra time, not knowing, either way. I think I needed it, this week anyway.

I am thankful for an organization of interested people to stand up for ourselves throughout Canada and the US’s Foundations/Federations of the Blind.

Canadian Federation of the Blind

I have no need to put down all that the CNIB has done for me in my life, but for the first time, it feels nice to know I am given a say in making things better.

I end this week’s shorter than usual and (at times often depressing TToT) with an uplifting song from The Cranberries, one of their later albums. In it, she speaks of not analyzing every little thing and I often need that reminder.

I am thankful for this lingering piece of optimism, even in sadness.

Thank you, Dolores, from the bottom of my heart. RIP to the powerful voice and the woman who possessed it.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: Shrill Robots and Thumb Slam, #10Thankful

“I dreamed I saw a great wave climbing over green lands and above the hills. I stood upon the brink. It was utterly dark in the abyss before my feet. A light shown behind me, but I could not turn. I could only stand there, waiting.”

—Lord of the Rings

I was recently brought back to my love of LOTR and this quote jumped out at me when I heard it again. I feel this way a lot now.

People tell me not to be scared, but I can’t help it. I can take up violin and yoga and other things, to keep focused on the positive, but I feel this quote intensely and I wish people would stop trying to make me feel something that has taken root and is, for better or for worse, how I feel.

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It’s nearly Christmas and I am making my way through these last few weeks before it arrives upon us. The news around the world, this week, was not much improved from previous ones.

Here in Canada, in the last week or so…
a young man was only trying to stand up for someone else
and he lost his life.

Then, another man and his family were targeted,
in a racially motivated attack,
by a man with a bat in a WAL-MART parking lot.

And this was just in Ontario mind you.

So, I sometimes start off my weekly TToT post sharing my fears and concerns and the things that feel so out of my control and which are so often wildly unfair about the world.

Then I list what I am thankful for, to help me get through the week and focus on the beautiful things and the magic to be found all around me.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a quick reply/acceptance.

From last week’s TToT…the audio piece I did with my brother will be included in the holiday marathon radio show.

The man in charge asked how to pronounce our last name. He isn’t the first to ask that. He also asked how we’d like to be billed and the question was a new one, hadn’t been asked that way before.

Whose name should go first?

I am thankful for more writing support/discussion with those who know and understand.

My two writer friends, I originally found on Facebook, are such a pleasure to spend a few hours with.

We talk writing and I found out one of them wrote a children’s book about Helen Keller.

The other is a knowledgeable scientist/science writer.

I learn so much from them, have learned so much, in this last year since we first met.

I am thankful for a pleasant holiday mall experience.

I found a bright and friendly deer.

I found my favourite holiday scent, vanilla bean. I got myself some hand soap, shower gel, and body spray.

I found a few gifts in my favourite store, that which is full of mostly books, but not all.

I went in for books and came out with a super soft blanket. Still, I hope bookstores never disappear like Blockbuster has.

Santa was, of course, also there.

My Grownup Letter For Santa

I am thankful for my writing group on a bad day.

My internet was causing me problems and I was stressed out by the events of the world. I needed to escape to “The Elsewhere Region” for a few hours.

These people are clever, creative, and fun. It cheered me up in a major way, just being in their presence.

I am thankful for a most pleasant surprise gift from the heart.

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Anything coloured or any sort of writing/drawing tool makes me sad, as someone who once lived for colours and drawing colourful pictures.

Still, it was a sweet gesture and a bit of an inside joke/had to know the giver, to fully get how meaningful it really was.

Mine is yellow and you can write on just about anything with it. It’s gel and smells like heaven in crayon form.

I am thankful for an enjoyable lunch with a new friend.

On a limited amount of time, a lunch break, I found it hard to both eat and be able to say all the things I wanted to say.

She started out as my travel agent when I went to Mexico, but we formed a kind of special connection since then.

I trust her now, as I plan out future travels in the years to come.

I am thankful for my violin teacher’s invite to an all strings concert.

I knew little about baroque music and I still don’t.

I would have recorded the actual concert I attended, but I was advised against it.

Oddly Shaped Pearl

I researched the word and found out that is what Baroque means.

I am thankful for a new possible public writing spot.

Burnt Brick Cafe

I am thankful for my mom’s delicate and detailed Christmas care.

Clever, original, and inventive.

She decorates my home, even though I can’t see much. I don’t put in the work and she comes over and makes the place feel like Christmas.

This year she only made the pine branches she had look the shape of a Christmas tree, but soft pine this time. I see the bright white lights she adds and then comes the star.

No photo can capture it, but the star wouldn’t stay up on such a soft pine branched tree and so she used one of my old white canes. She put it up the back and this was enough to steady the star on top.

I am constantly in awe at the things she comes up with. It’s always been that way, as long as I can remember.

That’s my mom alright, all three of those, the exact definition of ingenious.

I am thankful for a second favourite Christmas gift.

My sister loves Pinterest and found a Harry Potter quote, printed it out and framed it for me.

This has been the week of surprises, let’s call them semi Christmas presents, both I was not expecting.

As for another Christmas present I was given early, Canada and all the snow might want to put a damper on that one tonight.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV4F2yfEt9o&app=desktop

Just not on this day/night…okay? Please! I wanted to go to Toronto.

More on that next week, if I actually get there that is.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, Podcast, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: Blood Red Sun In A Smoky Sky – Lucky and Thankful, #FridayThe13th #Podcast #10Thankful

Okay,, I did it again. What week is this, exactly, that I came late to the party and linked up last? I keep this as a priority, but it does end up falling down a point…or five.

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Birthday photos come a week later, first of my time holding my niece, by the swing set she is too young to enjoy just yet. I am still thinking birthdays…my parents and a friend and so on.

But forest fires continue to burn on the west coast and far away there is violence, such that I cannot imagine, and here I sit, writing another list of what I am thankful for in this life.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the best spaghetti dinner ever.

My brother made it. spaghetti has been a favourite food in my family for a long time, since our traditional spaghetti dinner, every Christmas Eve when I was young.

Now my brother makes it so well, as he’s been perfecting it. We went another way with the food in the title of our podcast (the one I was there to make when this meal was made) but, if I could have come up with a clever enough name using spaghetti, I would have.

He now takes care, not to eat sauce from a can, but to make it with vegetables and spices, allowing it to simmer.

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My brother has perfected spaghetti and my sister has perfected cupcakes.

I am thankful for the birth and birthday of a lifelong friend.

We’ve been friends since we were ten. She was one of the few kids to approach me, on that first day at a new school. I had felt like a bit of a sideshow then, but our friendship grew into so much more.

I think of her now, so far away and on a path I never could have guessed at, and I smile and put my hand to my heart.

I am thankful for a long chat with a writer friend.

She writes about science. She is a scientist who loves to write, I suppose it would be better to say.

We talked for a long time, about everything concerning writing, as we are both trying to make it, using our skills, on our own.

Though our lives are vastly different from one another, our thoughts often come back to the same thing, something involving the art and the struggle of being a writer.

I am thankful for a gift of Gummy Bears.

I was working on a piece, on deadline, and someone knew it.

They sent me a treat, even if it was just a picture of that treat, a virtual treat as it were.

Still, to know they were thinking of me, there in that moment, was a nice thing, plain and simply.

I am thankful for superstitions like the famous Friday the 13th.

They have given me something to write about and to think about. They have caused me to challenge what I think and what I believe.

I am thankful for a visit with my neighbour where she helped me figure out how to take action in a few areas of my life.

She is good at narrowing an issue or a particular problem down. She keeps me thinking ahead and on task. Checking in on me periodically has helped a great deal since knowing her.

I am thankful for a delicious lunch/latte with another writing friend.

The wrap and the latte were just the thing for a Friday, as tired as I felt. I like hearing her take on things and I hope to be an ear to listen with for her, someone she knows she can trust.

I am thankful for a challenging violin lesson and yoga session, both within two days.

New poses to strengthen. New parts to repeat and drill into my thick head.

It is all a challenge, but a giant breath of fresh air too.

I am thankful for a friend’s writing getting published and read this week.

Kerra makes her opinions known on CNN.

She is speaking up, speaking out, and writing.

THE PRICE OF REDEMPTION – Panorama Journal

I am thankful we got a 60 minute episode of Ketchup On Pancakes recorded and up on our SoundCloud page.

KETCHUP ON PANCAKES: Episode 6 – Mom and More

When I think of my mom, I think of growing things, like flowers.

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Apparently, so do others.

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Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Giving Thanks For Whimm With Two M’s, #Thanksgiving #10Thankful

This seems almost too easy, too obvious, a thankful post on Thanksgiving that is, but here we go.

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Diving right in.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for all the friends and family who participated in the surprise for my mom.

I got the idea to make a book of people’s best wishes for my mom on her 60th birthday.

I sprung the idea on many, but so many people who care about my mom jumped at the chance to participate.

I was thrilled by the response I got from so many.

I am thankful for another peaceful yoga session.

I tried a few old favourite poses and a few new ones. Those left me a little sore, but I hope to be strengthing muscles I’d needed to be stronger.

It is becoming a highlight of my week, my Thursday yoga hour.

I am thankful for days of quality time with my seven-month-old niece.

I spent a lot of the week on the floor with my niece and her toys. She is starting to move around, the beginning stages of crawling, and she moves quickly now.

She is into everything she can get her tiny hands on and looking this way and that at all the goings on.

It is a joy to witness.

I am thankful for my sister’s help and mine to her, like sisters should do.

All week I helped my sister out while she got her house ready for Thanksgiving and she helped me a little with sending contracts and other writing related things.

I am thankful for a family day, no matter how eventful.

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One nephew fell in the pond. He was wet and smelled like pond water,but seemed rather pleased he’d managed something we’d all warned him about all day long.

Another nephew made it through an entire day, we all did, without being stung by any of the many yellow jackets and hornets that were around, until near the end. He went to put on a water wing to go in the hot tub and was stung on the finger.

We all felt so bad for him and that was pretty much the end of the party for him.

The rest of the day was splendid. Lots to eat and rink. Lots of fun was had with the kids, flying kites and playing baseball and on the swing set. I had a lovely cuddle with my baby niece on a lawn chair in the breeze in the yard while the bigger children played.

My night ended with a bad headache, but family days are worth it.

I am thankful for my sister’s work to put on a delicious Thanksgiving dinner for us all.

She hadn’t really hosted us all for a big holiday dinner before. It is a lot of work and my mom always made it look easy. It isn’t.

The food was perfect. Her stuffing was my favourite. We all enjoyed it.

I am thankful for the surprised reaction from mom when we presented it to her.

She had no idea that I’d been contacting friends and family to write birthday greetings and well wishes and memories of their individual memories with her.

Some were handwritten notes, emails, or written directly in the book. The children drew pictures, handprints, and other little things.

My brother took lots of photos of the day and those will be included in the finished product.

She was truly surprised and touched. My mission was completed.

I am thankful for my mom on her 60th birthday.

She is amazing, at any age, but we wanted to celebrate this year and the special person she truly is.

I am thankful for a leisurely Sunday brunch on a beautiful fall day.

The Pancake House is a staple breakfast place in my town.

The waitress was friendly and chatty and it felt like a real diner atmosphere.

I am thankful for an evening checking out a friend’s new condo.

We had Thai food (delicious), champaign, beer, Mexican candy, coffee, and cupcakes.

It was a perfect night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4IWlFutwXo

My mom and Gloria were both born in 1957 and so, since I love her music and I love my mom, I finish with a little music because music always makes things better.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Best Possible Advice, #ChronicPain #SongLyricSunday

Breathe, Kerry. Breathe.

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Chronic Pain Awareness Week is about to begin and so I thought this the perfect time to speak about it.

I will use Song Lyric Sunday and Helen’s prompt about breathing to do it.

Singer Ingrid Michaelson had a few songs that helped me through a bad breakup and things, but this one helps to remind me of how to cope, with both emotional and physical pain.

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

It’s a good one for after a breakup, for a stressful day, physical pain, or even for people living through an awful natural disaster like a wildfire or flood, anything any one of us can’t control.

Deep breathing…I am not the first to think of it and either is Michaelson.

It’s a yoga practice. It’s a coping mechanism. I don’t speak a lot about the pain I live with on a daily basis to most people. There’s a stigma to chronic pain that is hard to deal with, almost as painful as the pain itself. If I mention it, people can’t fully comprehend and many human beings feel the common need to problem solve or judge, even unintentionally.

Do I drink enough water? Do I get enough sleep? Do I get enough fresh air, sunshine, or exercise?

Am I depressed? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?

***

The storm is coming
but I don’t mind
People are dying,
I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing, now

I want to change the world
Instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more
than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

LYRICS

***

The song starts with a few lines of lyrics about more than just any one kind of physical pain. It also serves as a reminder that we all feel helpless about the things we see going on in the world and want to help. The helplessness I feel about so many of the world’s ills, human suffering, injustices, all that on top of the physical pain I live with every day and it’s enough to make me want to close my blinds and sleep through life, but I only allow myself a day or two of that before I must do something different.

Then the song repeats the simple advice to “keep breathing” and the song is correct – all any of us can do is that. I remind myself of it, at least twenty times a day or more. I tell myself to remember to do it when the stress becomes too much to handle in any given moment, when even thinking about others feels like an impossibility because being me is hard enough.

As the lyrics “all we can do is keep breathing” repeat, the song builds to a climactic point and then returns to where it started.

That’s pain of all kinds. That’s life.

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SoCS, Writing

In The Loop, #SoCS

Life is a series of limbo moments.

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I need to learn to deal better with the never-ending reality of it. I continue to live and write about my summer of writing.

Limbo

I am waiting to hear back from editors, one or another. Just a few more days and I can follow up, right?

I need to focus on all the other writing, completion of assignments in the works, and not think so much about what might/will happen.

This is a hard part of freelance for not just me. I could give up because it is uncomfortable. Go back to, who knows what else.

Or, I could learn extra patience, (which is what the yoga is for). Learning how to become more limber, in mind and body.

If I gave up now, I’d only be trading one type of living in limbo for all the others anyway, for not feeling like I am doing something proactive to take care of myself and be my own person, with something of value to contribute.

Any of what I’m dealing with now sounds majorly better than having to do the actual limbo, so bring on another week of the freelance writing life, still so new to me.

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