The best weaponry
To slay thy enemies well
The best weaponry
To slay thy enemies well
He was a little less oblivious than she believed. He’d feel it now, without seeing anymore, how her expression would change from the melancholic stare out at the water while she washed dishes or while they were out on the sand and she casually sifted it through her fingers to pick out shells or sea glass for photo projects or perhaps something poetic. Yes, he knew she was already gone across oceans.
He’d known for some time, watching as she drifted into her dreamscapes within the screen, feeling the sweet release of understanding from him – the other hims.
He knew all about her yearning explorations, racing off from the edge of her keyboard to faraway places of sand-groping windstorms. He knew that she whispered with them all about his limitations, searching for commiseration and to be desired at the same time. Daring and challenging any of them to be her answer. She loves him, but…
Yes, Davis knew all about her whole other world and he knew it would only be a matter of time before he told her he knew. It was only a matter of time. He loved her, but…
There comes those moments when you sit back and assess why you do what you do. I’ve done this recently in response to the reactions on my posts and comments about Indigenous Peoples based issues.
I originally started writing to throw out my views on general life events. I worked around what I might write and I settled on the concept that my son would know his mother as a multi-dimensional being. For the day that he realizes I am an actual person, I want him to know what I stood for outside of “dinner’s ready and is your homework done”? I want him to know what I learned about the entire human experience.
I wanted to fill in as much of his background for him, in order to spare him and other children in our family, any moment of the emptiness I felt while growing up. There was little knowledge of my family history beyond the shame of what we experienced and what was said to define us. A number of those experiences were based in the fact that I was born an Indigenous person.
I’ve written about some of my childhood and what it was like to grow up facing some of the ugliness of people who had no desire to hide their disdain for Indigenous anything. I was called names that I knew were about disparagement of my culture before I had any idea about the concept of racism. I was only about four or five years old when I first recall being called some of those names: savage, squaw, filthy redskin, whatever it was, I knew enough to know it wasn’t good.
That was far from the last time I’d be called those sorts of names and treated with equal disdain. Those overt efforts to denigrate me didn’t end until I was in my teens. It was most likely the fact that public awareness was growing around the concepts of political awareness and correctness.
It would be three decades before the same kind of voices and sneers would come at me again. I suppose I could count my last posted column to be the first instance of the return events – which caused a loss of some followers of my blog and my Twitter account. The most recent occasion was this past weekend. I wasn’t called a savage, dirty redskin or a filthy Indian this time; they went for my intelligence and mental stability levels before they finished off with a reference to my ancestry.
This foray back into the dark happened while I was engaged in an online conversation. It was within the comments of a national newspaper about the current call for an inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The comments began mostly as denials for any need for inquiry, because the recently published RCMP report seemed to have all the answers already, despite the many calls showing the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal women as victims overall.
The reasons for denying an inquiry have been solidly reported already, so I won’t repeat them, but it didn’t take long for the conversation to move from that topic to how it was about time for First Nations to take control of their own lives, to get over the past, and to get off the backs of taxpayers.
In defense, I began in earnest to answer the questions and reply to the statements of derision as quickly as they were being posted. With each question, I would get another question or asked about something completely unrelated – the old, deflect to another point to avoid having to admit first point trumped – tactic.
With every answer I gave came the demand for proof, and when I provided reference links to support my statements, I was hit with personal aspersions. Four people at various points each let me know that I was unaware of what planet I lived on, that I was “dense”, “dumb”, “pathetic”, a “nutter”, and finally in summation: “You HAVE to be an Indian”.
Now, I don’t have a problem with being “an Indian”, even the sort that man was insinuating; I don’t deny my moments of mental densities, but I survived the years four, ten, twelve and the three plus decades with heart and soul intact.
While, I mostly repelled the sting of those arrows, they did make me question whether or not I was subjecting myself and possibly my son to potential harm down the road. Was I going to lose more people within my friendship and supporter circles?
I am prepared for any lack of interest or opposition to my views, but I can still be surprised by who those contradictions may come from. It is painful to find out that people you thought gave a damn about you actually didn’t. It is saddening to learn that people you counted on didn’t really have a backbone of their own, let alone your back, and that even people you admired can walk away with each step feeling like a slap to the face.
Here’s the thing about that stronger constitution I now own – it takes a lot less time to get over the hurt of crossing paths with those sorts of people. Now I realize I am losing nothing except future moments of wasted time. Whatever our purpose was to that point, it was served and now, time to move on, God bless.
I wrote a while ago that this was my tap dance, and part of the song is my ancestry. The fact that my ancestry happens to be tied to very real and important issues for my country matters.
I will continue to write of human experiences, of my own triumphs and failures; I will write about what I find humorous, and I will continue to write about affairs Indigenous.
In fact, my next post is going to be about the answers I gave that caused those biting heads to explode in that online discussion. The part about how taxpayers do not support First Nations people and in fact, why taxpayers should be saying a hell of a lot of thanks instead.
I hope you’ll stay tuned.
You know those times when your mind is just flooded with inspiration, plans, the memories of great events – all great blog fodder and you think, I’ve got to write some of this stuff down, but you don’t because there is just so much that, you haven’t got a clue how to get started? Yes? Well then, you don’t even have to read any more and I appreciate any commiseration and sympathies you might be willing to share with me.
I’ve had a really wonderful month of August by spending most of it in the fabulous maritime province of Nova Scotia. This visit really is worthy of several columns, but I suppose until I come up with some unique-ish perspective on all of it, it will all end up just sounding like those old vacation videos everyone used to cringe at when invited to watch them. Oh, don’t breathe out too much of a sigh of relief just yet; there is definitely one or two of those coming. ……..
It also happens to be the time of the year when the to-do lists begin to pile up for fall work promotions and kick-offs, the requests for volunteering needs, and oh yes, school prep. That is, if school is going to start any time soon in our area. I came home to the news that the school strike/lockout from June is expected to head into late September and possibly even October. That certainly explained all the parental teeth gnashing, and possibly breakage, I kept hearing while finalizing my plans to fully unpack.
Then some cretin, formerly known as friend, sent me one of those countdown to Christmas memes. Had me pondering how seriously and how far I was willing to take my Jason costume idea for Halloween. (Well, there is a prize for most committed at the annual party).
Time, oh time, where ‘for art’ thou? Why hast thou forsaken me?
Then there are the social causes I support of which lately, there seems to be a lot of developments that capture my attention and emotions. … Now that I think about it, I guess I have done a lot of writing lately, but that’s been copious letters to the Editors or in reply to other reader comments. There’s no shortage of sources of misrepresentation or outright fabrications for virtually any topic in news sources. Actually, this writing activity has also been a lot of fun. There is something empowering and de-stressing when getting to counter misinformation with fact. Enlightenment lightens! That’s my August guru moment.
Carrying on, facts tend to be a kind of conversion stopper for some, but they can also send another kind of mentality straight into Loony Town. Not that, that’s my intention, mostly, but drawing out the argument is an irresistible opportunity to correct even more fallacies. Plus, no matter how much someone debating you wants to discredit your views, what you’ve written will always be there for other eyes open to um, informal learning.
Hey, that’s really not unlike our blog posts. So, despite feeling like I was falling behind on one of my most cherished activities, I really have loads of posts already published for world-wide viewing. Oh why oh why didn’t I sign them with my blog name? #missedopportunities. Sorry, I’ve been tweeting with the zeal of the newly converted too.
So, it’s confirmed then, I’ve been writing all along, even through all the extra inspirations, plans, and memories of great events. Now, must add the latest item on that to-do: catch up of fellow blogger posts. Can’t wait!
I’ve been invited to participate in the 2014 blog tour to explain my writing process, (#mywritingprocess). Considering the topic, next to my story in 50 words, this should be my shortest post yet. Should be, but if you know me at all, you know I like to talk.
First, let me say that my invitation to participate in this esteemed tour came from the esteemed source of my groupie-ness, syndicated Journalist, Author, and dreamy volunteer Firefighter, Ned Hickson. (Thank you Ned, for that awesome tour intro you gave me last week). Some know I am Ned’s number one groupie, and as he reluctantly points out, his only groupie. No matter, I vow to follow him (virtually) all over the world.
Ned’s blog is a constant source of crazy humor, but he also inspires with occasional tales of overcoming some of life’s toughest hills. In addition to inspiration and laughs, he provides a terrific weekly guide for how to become a better writer. That’s a lot of great stuff to come out of one
dreamy firefighter blogsite.
Okay, I’ve met all groupie gushing contract requirements. Let’s head to the four questions that may help or hinder interest in how I do things.
My biggest and most joyful working effort is being a mom, but the writing needs for that are mostly restricted to volunteer and permission forms. After those literary challenges, I lunge for any marketing or communications pleas that are actual paying projects, (more pleas(e). Finally, I get to blurt out whatever else is on my mind on various word docs that may or may not make it to my blog – like this post.
What I’m really working on is learning to loosen up on what I want to write, but I subscribe to Ned’s idea of writing being a super power – with responsibilities. I’m traversing that line of balancing what I want to say with privacy issues; my truth vs. how that truth will affect people around me. I suspect an ongoing battle with this.
I think most of us are not niche driven writers and so what I write is unique only in the sense of it being my personal experiences. Despite this lack of distinctiveness, I’ve found a lot of various insights and common commiseration that serve to heal, inspire, and support my growth as a person and as a writer. I hope that’s mutual with my readers.
I am a product of my emotions. Whatever puts a lump in my throat or induces a screech will find its way into my journals. It’s not always about the big things, especially as life is the many more small moments. As an average Earthling, I’d guess that most of those moments are relatable to most people.
I also suffer from good punchline comeback lag. I can come back at ya an hour to several days after your bazinga! Blogging provides a great smoke screen for me to show off my semi-brilliance at the speed of a slug.
Despite trying to follow the very good advice of setting writing schedules, I seem to respond best to the lash of deadlines. Although, when I feel an extra hit of passion for my topic, the words flow across the page quite steadily. Which is what happened when I started writing for this invitation. (Yep. You bet.)
What’s more usual is that I’ll get an idea, then map out various thoughts about it. To the naked eye, this map looks like utter madness. Which is where it drives me at times while I work at piecing those thoughts into a cohesive story line.
It can get frustrating when I think I’ve made two or more really great points, but I can’t get them to work together, or it would be overkill to use them all. Sometimes, this means I won’t finish a post for anywhere from a day to a year to never. Clearly, these are not uh, time sensitive.
Then we’re onto the final edit and spelling and grammar checks to the best of my ability. My final step has always been reading it out loud a few times. If it flows easily verbally, it seems to read well too. I listen for the artistry in the words. For me, this is confirming the truth of the statement really came through my heart.
I have to say that even when I do get a post finalized, I will still freak over a word here and there for probably around three months after its been published. I can be a little obsessive, which I don’t recommend. I’d suggest live it, love it, let it go. Eat, pray, love, blah, blah.
I bet you thought I was going to say: the wait for judgment. Well, there is that, but hopefully people will mostly give me a thumbs up. At the least, my work here is for my son, and maybe some other kids in my family who may someday get to hear my voice as it is.
No, the worst part of this, is the request to choose someone to pass the tour torch to. This was way too hard. There are far too many wonderful writers, many of whom I have yet to get to on a regular, or any, basis. However, in this case, since I couldn’t pick the greatest story teller I know – my non-blogging step-dad, I chose a writer whose genre and style is quite different from mine.
If you haven’t met him yet, where have you been? I am referring to none other than Bruce Goodman, a writer known for his pool of prolific creativity and a mysterious and interesting past. He is a writing machine pumping out daily entertaining plot twists. You can find his own tour insights at his website: http://bbgoodman.wordpress.com/
Finally, I’m also highlighting some writers who have recently flattered me with award nominations. They are insightful writers with distinctive voices and styles and I am very happy to have been able to come across their paths:
Rachel Carrera: who many already know is loaded with literary talent and is a terrific supporter of her fellow writers. Check her out at: http://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/the-light-in-the-world/.
Dawnson: Dawnson gifts us with loads of beautiful photos of life’s varying moods and textures. Find her at: http://iblogstr8sicit.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/my-phone-is-freaking-out/
Lastly, thank you for the nomination for another Versatile Award nomination to: http://betternotbroken.com/2014/03/15/if-anyone-is-versatile-it-is-me/
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for your incredibly kind indulgence and I nominate you for supporter of the year!
There are some advantages to starting any endeavor on St. Patrick’s Day, and one of them is drinking green beer or writing limericks while doing it. If you’re like me, you don’t believe in unnecessary compromises, so I did both. I can’t say how well it turned out, but like all St. Paddy’s Day activities, I’ll see how it turned out tomorrow. Hopefully it doesn’t involve any mug shots.
In the meantime, I had a year of quite a few firsts, but I’ll say that this first year of public writing has been especially gratifying. Within this world of worlds, there were experiences I had no idea I would have. For starters, who knew that you can make some really great friends in this cyber-world?
I remember pining away for pen pals when I was I kid. I dreamed of having all kinds of discussion with kids who would tell me all about their exotic lives in their exotic homes somewhere far away. I ended up waiting all these years to discover them within the WordPress forum – the truest pen pals of the 21st century.
I’ve mentioned a lot recently, of how many incredible and simply wonderful people have taken the time to read my posts and lend their voices in response. There is a shared intimacy that reaches depth of feeling and understanding not usually found in some of the other forums we use, like Facebook or LinkedIn. There is also a frankness that flows easily, but very respectfully and is so enlightening.
Thanks so very much to my friends who have faithfully followed. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much it means that you have stuck with me and tell me your thoughts about what I’ve written
I’ve also been honored to have gained a wider following this year that I am damned proud of. The quality of writers and remarkable people that I get to call my community is beyond gratifying. I have learned so much from them, and they have gifted me with their amazing talent and insight. I wish I could name everyone who I have enjoyed crossing paths with, but for now, I would like to give a shout-out to a few people who gave something unique to my heart and efforts in this first year:
I got to be a Groupie 🙂 , for Ned Hickson – official and everything, and in writing at least 5 times. I followed his blog and have laughed at with him ever since. He has been a really supportive influence in more ways than one, and he’s a great source for writing advice.
I got utterly hooked on Robert Hookey – he is a chronicler of his bellman activities in Niagara Falls. You CANNOT believe what goes on in hotels! Robert AKA The Hook captures the shenanigans with great humour. I appreciate his comments which are always thoughtful, or funny, or both, and despite claiming to be a jerk, is a really decent person.
I met a fellow survivor of coming back from the edge & favorite twitter (twisted?) sister Lisa Johnson Sawyer – loads of laughs and commiseration.
JT Weaver – the accomplished writer who scared the bejezus out of me when we talked about doing a guest blog on his site. I got whatever is the equivalent of tongue-tied and couldn’t write a full page for some time. He got me back on track with some tough love that I have been able to use for everything ever since. Don’t be afraid, he’s a keeper, and he will help.
So, thanks again everyone, here’s to bigger and better for the next year. I now hoist a magical mug o’ green beer; it apparently disappears immediately after a toast. Cheers to you all!
Okay, if you ever get an email where the subject line says ‘congrats, you’ve been freshly pressed’, do not automatically send it to the trash folder assuming it’s just another clever piece of junk mail. Just sayin’.
Instead of madly retrieving crucial mail, maybe check the sender’s name by say, a Google search or checking the supposedly being Freshly Pressed post ‘likes’. It’s likely that name is there too, in which case, let out a big breath and semi-whisper WTF?
For non-bloggers, Freshly Pressed is a showcase on our host website, WordPress.com. It’s the site where they feature editors’ picks and community favorites to a following of millions of writers.
If you’re like me, you will then re-read that email repeatedly. After that, it starts to sink in and then, really? Will what I blurted out in a moment of bravery inspired by an hour of heroism by someone else matter that much to other people?
WordPress Editor Cheri Lucas Rowlands thought so, and I’m deeply grateful that her take on people sharing vulnerabilities is that it’s important and a path to understanding.
So, before I knew that Cheri had, however miraculously, set her eyes on my post, (103 People Unfriended Her…) I calculated that a total of 50 of my loyals would read it. Freshly Pressed sent it shooting past thousands of eyes. Kind of heady stuff.
Anyway, it is quite an experience, and natch, I took notes as I rode the “FP” roller coaster.
Seeing as how mine was pressed the day after the Oscars, it felt like an extension of the awards. Hey, this IS my Oscar.
One notification came that totally cracked me up, “Your blog, Blog Woman!!!, appears to be getting more traffic than usual”!
You get the coveted blue Freshly Pressed badge in your Widget tools. Way cool. It’s added to your collection once the post is pressed.
Without a doubt, what was really, really outstanding, were the comments. The overwhelming support for the point of my post was heartrending. The amount of thoughtfulness is amazing. The humor, the sincerity, the straightforward opinions are just beautiful. Each comment touches my heart for its own reason.
All those comments and only one that I didn’t know how to take. Joke or jerk? I published it anyway.
I got a really good look at how many blog names are incredible, amazing, and hilarious. Oh you witty writers.
If, like me, you get a kick at seeing the notification box light up orange, you’re really going to like the first few hours of being pressed. You can just sit and stare as that little box lights up with each blink – like the cats that love that red dot.
Anyway, all those eyes! Thousands! Wow, right? Little reality check – reading is not the same as liking. In fact, the stats say roughly 10-15% of the overall readers hit that like button or commented.
On the other hand, those 10-15 percenters were damned overwhelming with how much they opened up. As I read through them, I thought this must be what the Ellens and Oprahs feel like when they come out from behind the curtains and feel a whoosh of emotion so moving, that I’m surprised any hair or make-up stays on.
Then, some of those 10-15 percenters also perused my other not Freshly Pressed posts. That was also awesome sauce, and their comments were absolutely uplifting on those too.
Oh, and seeing new followers, well, what’s a higher compliment than that?
Finally, my agent (AKA 12 yr. old son) said that when I go on Ellen (he’s determined to get me there), I better have a thank you list, and he’d better be #1 on it!
So, thank you all so much for this fantastical ride, it’s been stunning fun so far. … And to my agent, I am nothing without you.
Could I also leave you with this 4 minute video that happened to show up on my Facebook page this week? It couldn’t be a better example of the definition of what is beauty. It is by Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo. I believe that most of you exhibited that to me in your comments. It’s taken me one more step away from “the seduction of inadequacy”.
Dare you to keep a dry eye:
Blogger Kendall F. Person isn’t kidding, in my opinion, when he says: “Writing is a performance art and every post is a show”. When the notion of blogging first came up via the semi-gentle prodding of blogger Lois, I thought, really? Would my personal musings, normally put down on paper in a private journal, have a place in the public realm? Not that the public realm is necessarily a bastion of expert, or even semi-good, public offerings. Was it possible I could land somewhere in the semi-middle?
I looked over some of my musings to see what might be interesting and I thought, n.o. w.a.y! Well, maybe? I eventually settled into the idea that maybe there is someone out there that I’m meant to share some thoughts with. I have to confess, I also wrestled with the idea that any non-fans might have a heyday with my inner vulnerabilities.
Cue up ‘Eye of the Tiger’. This is my tap dance; any naysayers would be braying whether I wrote or not.
So, I searched up how to start a blog and looked at a couple of websites that offered pre-set web pages. Novice that I am, I wanted cool, but needed easy. I chose the WordPress offerings and I was off to the keyboard – which actually, wasn’t that far off.
For my first publication, I settled on a note written for my son after I was hospitalized with a condition that made me wish I had already condensed all my learned life shortcuts for him. It wasn’t Aurelius, but perhaps enough for a decent start.
I followed the directions to send this out to the cyber-world with the expectation that maybe ten of my closest friends and family would bother to have a look. I was content with that idea, and that my son might get a kick out of the latest item added to my first-time-to-do list. I intended to share the post on Facebook with some of my friends, so I also anticipated a like or comment about it on my Facebook wall in the same way I get for status updates.
Despite my low-key expectations, I still held my breath a little when I clicked that ‘publish’ button. Regardless of how well you think you know your audience, putting yourself out onto the ledge of public judgment gives you some degree of heart palpitations that feels a lot different from the quaint idea of butterflies.
Regardless, shortly after, my tried and true came through with their likes, comments, and support for the blog. All was well; I could breathe easily within the cushioned approval of my pals. I was also lucky enough to be unaware at that point, that our website host also supplies statistics on how many people read your posts and from which country they are reading them.
I discovered that statistic counter the next day. I clicked on the link to my post from my Facebook wall. I wanted to see what it looked like from that angle. It brought up my blog website and unexpectedly I saw that it had a ‘Follow’ tab at the bottom. I clicked on it and it said, “Join 235 other followers”. Huh? That was exactly my first thought. Then I realized this was some kind of error, so I logged into my website and navigated around the site directions. This took me to that eye-popping statistical page. It said 135 people read that first blog on that first night, followed by the rest the next day. Now, maybe that’s not exactly The National Post’s readership numbers, but for this average mom in the sticks, it might as well have been The National Post and CNN! Of course I was obligated to check this page every hour for the next few weeks.
I was astonished at the number of people who cared to have a look at my site, especially those who weren’t aware that I existed pre- blog. It was also thrilling to see those geographical stats. First another country popped up, another, then another continent, and now only one more continent to go. I couldn’t believe how fast and how far these words, my words, could travel – Belgium, Ethiopia, England, Qatar, Singapore, Australia and on and on and back to Canada. It was a heady Sally Field moment for me, but you know, just not in front of millions. Of course, that pride puffing up was deflated somewhat by a bit of a reality check. Blog junk mail. Who knew there was such a thing? See blog no. 4 – “First Blog Results in 3 Unbelievable Opportunities”.
Despite blog no. 4, I showed my young son all of these details and he was as excited for me as if he was my agent about to get his 15% of… something. He has big plans for me, as soon as he figures out what they are going to be, something about Ellen DeGeneres.
An unexpected bonus in all of this was that I landed in a new community of extremely interesting, uplifting, fantastically talented, writing thoughtfulness. One as generous with information and tech support, as they are in raising spirits by being quick to like, share, and comment on your work!
I now find myself turning to our host reader page to view their posts as often as I do the newspaper. I feel like I won the literary lottery and now have at hand the most engaging stories of every genre at the ready. Who knew Lois’s kick in the pants would catapult me into writing and reading bliss?
Whatever the long-term purpose of this blog is to be, I am ever hopeful that it helps to serve as much as I get from it. I might also hope that the next time I’m rear-ended by a foot, I may more quickly remember that, many times, if not most, inspiration comes in the form of a good kick and some bruising.
And, I still have the excitement to come of that one last continent being added to my stats.