2020 In Review

So. 2020. What a year, right?

What can I say that hasn’t already been said by pretty much everyone, myself included? Given that this is more than two paragraphs long, obviously I have something to say. And since I’ve decided to make this year in review an annual thing, clearly I’m going to go over it.

This has been a crazy year for everyone. A lot of it has been exceedingly difficult. A lot of it has been heart breaking. There’s also no way I’m going to be able to encapsulate everything in this one post. I can’t even hope to cover everything major. It’s been that sort of year. But I’ll cover the things that impacted me the most. And, yes, a lot of it isn’t good. But there is one bright and shining thing that is absolutely wonderful, and I’ll save that for the end because if you read my stuff, you know I like to end on the positive.

It’s funny, in a way. This time last year, I was full of optimism. As a gamer geek, I was particularly enamoured with the number 2020. In D&D, where you roll most things on a 20-sided die, rolling a 20 is a critical success (a really good thing), and I remember saying that this was the year of the double critical success. Sheesh.

I was, of course, peripherally aware of the Corona virus early in the year, as that sad thing that was going on in China. At first, that was it. It was like the sad thing going on in Australia with all those wildfires… it was awful, but didn’t really effect me on a personal level. I felt bad about it, yes, but what could I do about it?

And then it began to spread. Or, to be more precise, I began to hear about it spreading. It hit Europe, especially Italy. Then, it jumped across the ocean. It was in the US. Crap, it was in Canada.

It was in Nova Scotia.

I think it was mid-February when I really got worried. I had family contemplating a trip to Italy. I had a step father travelling to California to visit his daughter and grandkids. I worked in a job that saw me all up close and personal with people. The numbers grew as we entered March.

And then lockdown. I, like so many others, found myself out of work. Everything was closed that could be closed, especially massage therapy. But only for a few weeks, right?

Nope. Weeks dragged on. I barely left the house, aside for going for drives with my mother. I don’t even like going for drives as a general rule, unless it’s just to spend time with people, scenery is lost on me, but those drives got me out of the house. Then those ended, too.

Now. Let me state right here that I consider myself to be very, very lucky. Lucky to live in Canada. Especially lucky to live in Nova Scotia. My provincial and federal government have both been stellar at handling this. Yes, there was a brief time wen I thought I wouldn’t qualify for the emergency funding my nation decided to hand out as I was self-employed, but I was wrong. I was taken care of financially. I also live in a place where there were services such as grocery delivery that I could utilize without having to even come face to face with my delivery person. I am so lucky, and I am so grateful to those people who did the delivering. However, I also couldn’t leave the house. I have to touch too much to just go for a walk.

Then came April, and devastating tragedy. Here in Nova Scotia, a madman who I still flatly refuse to name went on a shooting rampage. Moreover, this happened in a place near and dear to my heart, close to the cottage where I spent every summer and a majority of weekends growing up. Too close for comfort to where my father and step mother lived. Terrifyingly close to where my step brother lives. It was awful, it was senseless, and it’s left scars that that community will bear for a very long time. It was the worst mass shooting Canada has ever seen, and it happened in a place of peace and beauty. To those who lost family or a friend, I grieve with you still.

And then came the news of George Floyd. Not the first black man shot down by police. Not even close. What was it about this one? Was it the straw that broke the camel’s back? I’m not sure. I don’t pretend to understand why it took this many senseless deaths for the world to start paying attention. But we did. Has it been enough? No. Not yet. Do I think things have changed? I’m not sure. It’s changed me, though. I’ve gotten more vocal about my support for black people, which in turn has led me to being more vocal in my support for people of colour, for trans rights, for LGB rights. For disabled rights. I haven’t forgotten. I hope you haven’t, either. These are lessons we need to hold onto.

In June, here in Nova Scotia at least, the lockdown was lifted. This meant a return to work. For me, at least, this came as a simultaneous huge relief and also was a cause of stress. There were a lot of changes to how we did things. More work, with a lot more stringent cleaning, a lot more caution with client intake, wearing a mask all day, making sure that my clients wore masks, making sure we didn’t leave clients waiting out in the lobby for long, different start and end times. Plus, of course, the constant fear not so much of getting sick myself (though I am terrified of that, too) but accidentally passing it on. After all, I spend an hour at atime in a small room, physically touching someone else. It’s stressful. On the other hand, I love my career. I love my clients. Getting back to helping them was fantastic.

So the summer came, and it was odd. I cut back the time I spent with my father at the cottage – which I would have cause to regret, but more on that later – and spent only one weekend there, and then a few hours later on. My sister who lives in England always spends every August here with her two precious girls and – for part of it – her husband. This year, that didn’t happen, and it was hard. I already don’t see them as much as I would like, now I didn’t see them at all.

Then came the fall. And here, we enter the part that is the hardest to write about. My father had been having back and leg pain for a number of years, now. He had been diagnosed with a condition that meant the area of his low back where the sciatic nerve (the one that goes into the leg) exits had narrowed. His pain came and went, but when it was there, it was bad. He’d been waiting on surgery to open this area up. The pain came back in September, and he moved his surgery up to October. It happened, and for the first few days his pain was gone. And then it came back.

And then it got worse. And other symptoms began popping up. Dad had also been battling what seemed like a minor case of cancer of the bladder, in so far as any cancer could be called minor. We thought it was under control. We thought it was being successfully treated. He’d even had an MRI in January and a CT scan in May in preparation for the surgery, both came back clear. Until that pain got bad.

In an MRI to check if what he had was something very different, but still serious, they discovered a large mass on his sacrum (that’s the solid bone just beneath your moveable spine). This was in mid to late October. He had to wait longer than I liked for a biopsy, but in time he got it. In more time it came back. The mass was cancer. The bladder cancer had spread. After that, everything happened fast. So terribly fast. I watched him go from being able to get around and do most of the things he did, albeit with pain, to him hardly able to get out of his chair, to him not being able to get out of bed. We were told it was Stage 4 cancer. We were told there was nothing they could do. We were told that my sister had better come home.

She did. She came home from England and got a compassionate exemption to her two week quarantine. She got to see him (though that was as far as her exemption went, she spent any time she wasn’t with him in full quarantine for the full fourteen days). I got to see him. That final week, we both visited him. We had our last fully coherant conversation on a Tuesday. I saw him twice more. On Friday, November 20, we lost him.

And it all happened so fast. It’s been a month, and there are days I still catch myself thinking things like “Oh, I need to tell Dad this” and “Crap, I haven’t gotten Dad’s Christmas gift yet” and then it all comes back.

Still. I am grateful that my sister got back. Grateful that despite a very abrupt and frightening spike in local Covid cases we were able to make it to the funeral, and so very grateful for the support from family, friends and coworkers. I truly have some wonderful people in my life. Especially the wonderful, compassionate, kick-ass clinic director I am blessed to work with.

Ah, yes, the spike. Nova Scotia had done so well. For awhile, it was one of the safest places in the world. That ended abruptly, especially here in Halifax. Numbers skyrocketed, right around the time we were planning the funeral. They’re coming back down now, but it was scary and the timing couldn’t have been worse, personally. All of this coming at the worst part of the year for me, as I do struggle with seasonal affective disorder even in the best of years.

That was a lot of doom and gloom. Earlier, I said there was one thing that keeps me from considering this year truly, unendingly awful. Given all the above, you would be correct in assuming it would have to be something major, and it is. It also happened, or started, early in the year. I just left it out because, like I said, I want to end this on a good note.

Earlier this year I made an amazing discovery. Prior to now, you will have heard me speak of my sister in the singular. Only it isn’t singular. It’s plural. In February, my father sat me down and told me that I have an older sister. Technically, half-sister, but that is not how I think of her. She is my sister. To say this came as something of a shock is rather an understatement. To some of you, I know that reading this is going to be a bit of a surprise. Imagine how I felt? I was curious. I was also absolutely happy. At no point during any of this have I felt anything but genuine joy. I gave Dad time to tell people about it, immediate family and such, and then I wrote her a letter. I explained who I was, that I had only just found out, and that while I very much wanted contact, it was entirely her choice and that I would abide by her decision. I put that letter in the mail just before lockdown.

And she replied. We began to chat via text on messenger. Slowly and cautiously at first, but with increasing regularity. We spoke via voice. We met. I met my amazing, talented, wonderful nephews.

They are family. They are loved. I am proud of each one of them. I am overjoyed to have them. The only reason I am not outright naming them here is because I try not to do that. Their presence in my life will always keep this year from being sheer awfulness. I will likely write more about them, with their permission, in the future.

And. There you have it. What a roller coaster. 2021 is, of course, right around the corner. I don’t think that the turning of the year will mean that our problems magically disappear, but I am choosing to enter this new year with hope. A vaccine is coming. And perhaps, just perhaps, we’ve all learned over this past year to be a bit more kind and a bit more wise.

Which brings me to my usual closing statement. Please be kind. Be kind to one another, be kind to yourselves, be kind in the comments. We still need as much kindness as we can get.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog.

In Memorium – Frederick Morash

What follows is what I wrote for the euology of my father who passed away on November 20 of this year after a battle with cancer. It isn’t precisely what I said when I got up there as I had to more or less wing it, but I got a lot of it out.

I’d like to, first of all, thank those of you who were able to join us today and those who are joining us virtually in this troubled time. I know that Dad would have appreciated it a great deal. I know that his sudden passing has come as a shock to many of you, but the outpouring of love and support that you’ve shown to Linda and the rest of us is appreciated.

My father was many things. Driven, hard working, dedicated to his faith, and loving. He showed that love through his actions more than anything else. Not that he never said it… he did say it, and often, but actions were his primary way of expressing his love. As I grew up, he worked long hours to provide his family with the things that he, himself, didn’t have access to as a child. Yet whenever I was in the hospital, and that was quite a lot, he’d still make time after working often ten hour days to come and sit with me late into the evening.

My sister and I were never spoiled growing up, but we also never wanted for anything. That was how Dad showed his love.

His career was vitally important to him, as well, and I have always taken pride in what he accomplished, rising from the lowest ranks of the accounting department at MT&T to retire as president and CEO of Island Tel, after helping to shepherd in the merger that became Aliant.

Dad also dedicated his time and talent to some very good causes, serving on the boards of organizations such as the CNIB, IWK Children’s Hospital and Christian Blind mission as well as helping with the accounting of the churches he has attended. It has never been lost on me how many of those groups related to me, either. That was also how he showed me how much he loved me.

While he loved to travel, and was fortunate to see quite a lot of the world, his favourite place on earth was the cottage at Bass River, a place he’d been visiting since he was a teenager himself. The cottage was built the year I was born, and while it has changed and even been moved, it has always served as a permanent anchor for him, and for me. When I picture my father in my mind, I picture him there, puttering around in his beloved vegetable garden or, more recently, relaxing on the screened in porch. Bass River is where his heart really lived. It’s where mine lives, too. A part of him is always going to be there.

Dad has left behind family who loved him, and are left shocked and baffled at his passing. His loving wife Linda, his daughters, his grandchildren and step-grandchildren and his sister. It’s hard for me to really wrap my mind around life without him, I’ve already caught myself a few times thinking that I’m late for our weekly phone call. Dad never did like it if I went more than that without talking to him on the phone, and neither did I.

I am blessed to have enjoyed a close relationship with my father, and am an unashamed Daddy’s Girl. I have so many, many memories of him that sharing them all would be impossible. From being carried on his shoulders across the rocky beach at the cottage to riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World to trailing after him as he went down to fish to his pride in my becoming a Massage Therapist. I will treasure those memories for the rest of my life, and because I have them, I haven’t really lost him.

I’m going to end this with what I said to him at the end of our last conversation. Words that he repeated back to me. I love you, Dad. I always have, and I always will.

Letter To A Fifteen Year Old Me

Before I actually share this letter, let me put things into perspective, since let’s face it, few of you knew me as a fifteen year old (some of you only know me from reading this, after all). At fifteen, I had just moved from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island. I was, and always had been, visually impaired, but my vision had held steady at 20/80 in one eye. That was enough to read, ride a bicycle, etc, though it did make school harder as I couldn’t quite keep up as fast as everyone else. I was anxious, lacked confidence, and had been bullied quite badly up to that point. And I was just so very, very awkward.

So, here goes.

Dear Me,

Yes, it’s true, I’m almost thirty years older than you right now. Yes, yes, I know. You think I’m old. I’m older than your parents are right now. Trust me, your perspective is going to change by the time you’re me.

And you? You’re so full of uncertainty. You moved to a new province not all that long ago. New people, new school. New everything. You think everything has changed. And it has, but hold on buttercup, because you don’t even know what change is.

You’re on the verge of something. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but let me tell you this. It’s going to be scary, you’re going to think your life is over. But listen. It’s going to be okay. I promise. It really, really will. There’s so many good things after the scary things.

You’re going to learn some things about yourself. First and foremost, you’re going to learn that you’re so much stronger than you think you are. You’re going to learn that when push comes to shove, you can and will stand up for yourself. I’m not talking about those idiotic bullies in junior high that made you so miserable, because they don’t matter. I’m talking about adults. Dumb adults who don’t have your best interests at heart. People in power over you. They’re going to try to mess with your education and you? You, you brave, smart young woman, you’re going to stand up and say “No. This isn’t going to happen.”

Oh, and stop that. That thing you’re doing right now, where you’re reading this and thinking “But I’m not smart”. Yes. You. Are. I know you don’t believe me, I know the educational system has taught you to think that you’re stupid. You compare your grades to your sister’s, and think she’s the smart one. You are wrong. Well, you’re not wrong about her, she’s got smarts for miles and miles. But so do you. Given the right environment and the support you legitimately need, you can and will rock the sciences. You read that right. Sciences, not just English.

A few other things. You are loved. Your family loves you. Other people are going to love you, too. Again, I promise you that this is true. They’re going to find you attractive. You may not always know it at the time, though. I’m afraid that the ability to actually notice that someone is into us is still vastly underdeveloped in your forties. Actually, right now you think that no one finds you attractive and no one ever will, but if my calculations are right you’ve already met at least one person who does. Sadly, you’re going to miss those signs and only realize they were there about, oh, fifteen years later. Sorry about that, kid.

Friends will love you, too. The kind of friends that, once made, are going to be there for the rest of your life. Some may dip out of sight for awhile, but your paths will reconnect in time and it will be glorious.

And about your parents, treasure them. Yes, I know, you’re fifteen years old and you think you know more than they do about so many things, and that they don’t, and never can, understand you. Kiddo, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong on both scores. Turns out, they’re pretty smart. They love you. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much you appreciate them. See them for who they are. Treasure every moment you have with them.

You’re going to discover hidden talents that you haven’t even considered having. You are a gifted person, it’s just going to take you awhile to find out how. When you do, though, you’re going to love those gifts. They’re pretty cool ones.

And you know what, kiddo? You know who else loves you? I do. I love you. I see you. I understand you. I see your foibles and your faults and your potential and I god damned love you. One day, you’re going to love you, too.

Life’s not always going to be easy. No one’s is. Yours will resemble a roller coaster sometimes, but the thing to remember about roller coasters is that there’s a whole lot of ups as well as downs, and also that they’re a thrilling, exciting ride. Try to find the joy in that ride. You’re in for one crazy adventure, darling, and you’ll do things that right now, you can’t even imagine doing.

Oh. One last thing. Your hair? It’s purple now. I thought you’d love that.


(So. If you could say something to your fifteen year old self, what would it be? That self deserves kindness, just like you do, so be kind to them. And to yourself, and those you encounter.)

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

What It’s Like – Lockdown Edition

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, so I thought… why not talk a bit about what lockdown was like for me, as a blind person?

I think in a lot of ways it was probably very similar to the experiences of most people. The same stress, the same uncertainty, the same feeling that I should be doing something worthwhile with all that free time coupled by the lack of drive to do any of it.

But there were some differences. Some worse, some better. And, well, me being me we’ll address the downs first because that way, I can end on a more positive sort of note.

So, first off. Lack of going out at all. Period. Around here, and I think elsewhere, going out for walks was encouraged so long as social distance was maintained and mask-wearing encouraged. You just had to stick to your own household. And… my household is just me. Moreover, it is difficult for me to go anywhere without touching a whole lot more than the average person, so I just stayed inside for way too long, especially once we were told to stop going for drives (I was going for drives with my mother).

Which is actually the second point. We weren’t really supposed to have contact with anyone not living with us, and I just couldn’t do it. Oh, sure, I ordered online and did contactless delivery as much as possible, but I needed contact with one person. I tried to keep it to a minimum, and I tried not to make actual contact with her, but I did see her. And I felt a bit guilty about it every time I did. Or a lot guilty.

Initially, the things I’ve gotten used to using to make life easier as a blind person, such as InstaCart, got wildly more difficult to use. Gone were the days of same-day delivery. Instead, I had to order one to two weeks in advance and expect that many of the things I wanted or needed would be out of stock. And while yes, I know everyone else was in the same boat, for me it was an adjustment as I’d already been using it for awhile since grocery shopping blind is rather challenging.

But. There is a bright side to that one. It made such services more prominant in the public eye which, in turn, drastically increased availability. so it led to more choices, which is a good thing for me.

You know what else was awesome? There was suddenly a plethora of activities that I could actually participate in almost as fully and sometimes completely as fully as the sighted people. For the first time in two decades, I joined a virtual choir. We even recorded some performances* (recorded individually and then editted together). It was fantastic, and I miss it. I was able to join in a D&D group over Zoom with my best friend, an old friend and two wonderful new friends, and that one is still ongoing, we play every Saturday night.

There were also some services rendered free or less expensive, such as a screen reader that I used to use but had stopped, who generously made their license free for a few months for those suddenly working from home and needing the same ease of access they got from work. Audible started putting out more free content. Lots of things like that began to happen, which was great for me. I just wish more of them were ongoing, but I appreciate that I got to have them for awhile.

So. As you can see, Lockdown Life was kind of a mixed bag. Bad bits but also, yes, good bits. Very few things in life are unrelentingly bad, you just sometimes need to go purposefully looking for the good.

As always, please be kind to those you encounter, and be kind to yourself.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

*(Here is the performance in which I am actually in the video, the first one I was only in the audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0ckk-s0Ur8 – I love the “Happy” segment of that medley)


How on earth did it get to be mid-fall already? This is the fastest slow year I’ve ever experienced. Nonetheless, it is, in fact, fall.

And while this isn’t really a recipe blog, I think I’m going to share one of my very favourite recipes with you. It is slightly modified from the one I initially started with, and I love it. Now, I’m calling it “chilli”, as that is what it was called when I encountered it, but if I’m being honest it’s more of a chilli stew.

You’ll find notes on modifications under the recipe, and also some more thoughts below that.

Happy cooking!


  • 6 green jalapeño peppers (less for a milder heat)
  • 6 cloves garlic or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt (taste later and add a bit more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon honey. (or sugar)
  • 3 sausages of smokey style or regular
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 3 onions cut up
  • 1 cup or 1 can of beer
  • 2 cans of drained red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of beef broth- more if needed
  • 1 half cup of coffee


  • Sauté onions and garlic until soft, stirring over medium heat. Remove from
    pan, set Into slow cooker
  • Fry sausages in same pan then remove and put with onions in
    slow cooker
  • Brown beef in same pan, drain fat, and add to slow cooker, deglaze
    the pan with a little beer or beef broth and add to slow cooker
  • Add all spices, all liquids, kidney beans and tomatoes to the slow
    cooker and stir well.
  • If there is not enough liquid, add more beef broth, then slow cook 8-10 hours.

Modifications and notes:

The original recipe called for six slices of bacon, and you certainly can add these, but I found that they do not really add anything to the taste.

The original recipe also called for stew beef rather than ground, and you can certainly revert to that for an even more stew-like result. Just use the same amount.

Less jalepenos make this less spicy, though I find it doesn’t tend to be tongue-searingly hot. If worried, try it with less and see what you think.

Yes, I know, coffee in the chilli sounds strange. You can’t taste coffee when you eat it, but it absolutely does something to the taste. I don’t suggest leaving this out.

Beer doesn’t have to be alcoholic to work. My best results were with dark ale.

I once tried a version of this made by someone I had shared it with who used venison sausage instead of regular and I declare it to be awesome.

Do not try this with a small slow cooker. If that’s all you have, cut the recipe in two. I don’t have a yield for this, but consider it “a lot”.

I believe you could also cook this in the oven for two to three hours, but I haven’t tried it.

Final thoughts:

I love this recipe. Anyone I’ve made it for loves this recipe. For you chilli purists out there… look, just think of it as chilli stew if it makes you feel better.

Be warned, the smell of this thing cooking may drive you mildly insane with its goodness.

If you try it, please let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, be kind. Feeding this to other people is absolutely kind.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Frozen Moments

Those who know me, and have for awhile, know that my sight hasn’t always been this bad. As a child, I had 20/80 vision, as a teen and young adult, 20/200. And for those who have always wondered what that ratio means, it means that what someone with perfect vision sees at 200 feet, I saw at 20.

Anyway. I have visual memories, I understand visual references, I even dream visual dreams. And there’s some moments that are just frozen in my mind, visually.


I don’t know how old I was, I would say over eight and under twelve, and for some reason we were all outside at night at our cottage. So. No lights but what we turned on. There may have been a meteor shower that night, as we had binoculars with us. I assume because we didn’t have a telescope. I’d always seen stars, but even then at the height of my vision, only the brightest. At some point, someone handed me the binoculars, I looked up and… there they were, scattered across the night sky. So many points of light. I’d never really comprehended how many there were.

The Most Glorious Sunset

This one happened when I was nineteen. I was leaving for a year in England, and at the time “home” was in Charlottetown, PEI. Now, oh you younger people of the area, there was a time before the bridge. This was that time, though it was being built, and where the bridge now stands there was a ferry. We decided to drive/get the ferry to Halifax and I’d fly from there. It was evening, and I was on the ferry on the deck as the sun went down, and I’ve never seen such a sky. I can see it right now, but how to describe it? So many colours. Pinks, purples, magentas, dark golds, blues. It didn’t look real. But it was, and it was like that sunset was the Maritimes saying goodbye to me.

Cherry Blossoms

Back in 2000, when I was 24 years old, I had the opportunity to go down to Washington, DC for a six month internship at the Library of Congress. It was a fantastic experience that has spawned quite a few treasured memories. During that time, I stayed in a building for women under the age of… I want to say 28, and we were pretty much all interns from all over the world. It was in the heart of Capitol Hill, and had a walled in back area with a porch… and a cherry tree. It was beautiful when it went into bloom, and even more so when the petals began to fall. I remember sitting out there with friends as a breeze caused what looked like a pink snowstorm, the blossoms all dancing and spinning through the air. To this day, I love cherry trees, and it’s due to this.

I could go on, though those three are the ones that stand out the strongest, for one reason or another. Maybe it’s because one was a sudden understanding, one was one of those liminal moments, and one was from what seems now like a sort of golden season of my life, but I can still see each and every one of them if I just close my eyes.

And not to sound like a broken record, but please continue to be kind this week to those you meet and to yourself.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Like What You Like

There’s an expression that I’ve heard a few times that I really like. “Don’t yuck someone’s yum.” Essentially, it means that just because you don’t like a thing that someone else loves, you shouldn’t mock or deride it.

While I would add the caveat “so long as it isn’t hurting anyone”, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s cool to have no interest in what someone else is into, but how about we all just go ahead and let them like it?

For instance, some people think it’s funny to mock those who like pumpkin spice everything at this time of year. It’s apparently so very basic or something. But I love pumpkin spice everything. Well. Almost, anyway. Maybe it is basic. It’s also delicious.

Then there’s a certain series of vampire books for young adults. I, personally, don’t care for this series. I’m also not the target audience as a woman in my mid-40’s, or one who was in her late 30’s when it came out. I may not agree with those who adore them, but I shouldn’t mock them for their taste in literature, just because their taste and mine don’t match.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to find things we love. We all can benefit from a bit of enjoyment. So perhaps it’s also a good idea not to destroy even the tiniest bit of enjoyment of those around us when they find something they like. Instead of laughing about it, why don’t we instead try enjoying their enjoyment?

Just be kind, as I keep on saying, to those around you. And to ourselves… don’t mock what you like, either. I did that just last week. I shouldn’t, and neither should you.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Not Your Angel

This post has the potential to offend some people, so let me start with this: I am not calling out any one individual here. I have seen many, many good people say something along the lines of what I’m about to talk about, and I can tell you for a fact that I, too, have been similarly thoughtless in some way. I am only talking about things like this because the best way to push back against ignorance is to shine a light on it.

That out of the way, let me say this: I, as a disabled person, am not your very own, personal angel whose purpose in life is to teach you a lesson about hope, perseverance, kindness or any other virtue. Neither is anyone else with any kind of physical, mental or cognition based disability.

We were not put on this earth to teach the fully abled folks anything. I realize that you mean well when you try to say this sort of thing, but do you know how it sounds to us? It sounds like our only true value is how it makes people without our challenges feel.

It’s already hard enough for us. We already have to face obstacles that most people don’t even consider. Everything is already more difficult for us to do. Do people really need to come along and make us feel like we’re just vessels to further enrich the lives of those who don’t have the same sort of struggles?

The part about this sentiment that gets me the most irate, however, is that for some who post it, it’s virtue signalling. Not everyone, no, I know some of the people who have said this sort of thing and know that that never even crossed their minds, but for some? It is absolutely a case of “look at how kind I am to say these nice things about that special needs child or that veteran in a wheelchair or that deaf person”. Stop using me, and others like me, to make yourself look good.

I have value on my own. We all do. You do, too. No one needs to try to broadcast their own value by making mine be as a tool for their glorification.

Now, again, let me just say that I am not trying to point a finger at any one person, and if this post has made you uncomfortable I am sorry. Sort of. It’s good that it did, but the best course of action is to take that discomfort and use it to change. You don’t need to wallow in guilt, you don’t need to apologize to me, I only ask that you please try to change. Making people feel guilty about past actions is not why I write about these things, I’m not out to shame people for past deeds. I want to educate. So all I ask is that you think about what I’m saying and try to change if it has hit a nerve.

And that you be kind to everyone, yourself included, regardless of their abilities, ethnicity, sexual preference or gender presentation. Just be kind without qualifiers.

Our Inner Space Stations

Did you know that inside each and every one of us are super-cool structures that, in my mind, behave like a futuristic space station? Because there are.

Of course, I’m talking about the humble cell. Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t obvious? Maybe I should explain.

Picture a multi-structured station floating in space. Surrounding it is a protective forcefield. Now, this forcefield isn’t actually solid like a wall is solid, but instead is made up of a constantly shifting, interlocking series of tiny bits whose design will allow authorized ships to pass through it. That’s your plasma membrane, a selectively permeable membrane that resembles a “fluid mosaic” according to my text books. It only lets a few structures through easily.

But, hey, sometimes you need people that aren’t part of the space station to get in. So the station will send out a shuttle to pick up those passengers, so that they can travel through the forcefield in a safe environment and then get taken to their destination. And if it is discovered that they’re actually enemies of the station, there is an automated defense system that will blast them to bits. Those shuttles are called vessicles, and they do precisely what I just described.

There’s also a third way in for some very important people that the station has already vetted. They are known entities, already proven not to be dangerous, and they get a special wormhole that opens inside the station, tunnels out past the forcefield and lets those folks pass right on through before pinching shut again.

Now. Every station needs one central command center. That’s where decisions get made and in my mind, it’s also probably where specialized programmers who keep the whole station’s computer system going would work. That’s the nucleus.

What about a power station that keeps the lights and holodecks going? That’s the mitochondria. Okay, there’s actually no cellular holodeck, but these little darlings are what produce the energy the cell needs.

Your space station would also need some kind of superstructure that gives the thing its shape and holds it all together. In the cell, we call those microfillaments. Some of them are bigger and form tubes, which would be microtubules.

Heck, there’s even a system for altering things from one state to another. It’s the future, so it can do all sorts of neat stuff. You put raw materials in one end and they travel through a series of rooms and come out the other end altered, then sometimes get loaded into a shuttle and shipped out to other parts of the station. That’s your Golgi Complex.

I could go on. This whole metaphor is one I came up with back when studying to become a massage therapist to help myself learn the structure of the human cell. Or relearn it, I suppose, as high school biology class clearly made no lasting impression. I was reminded of it the other week while taking a review course. I thought it might be a bit of a peek into the honestly strange way my brain works. And, hey, if there’s anyone out there studying high school bio (or any first term massage therapy students), maybe it will help.

Be kind to yourself and others. And me. Though you can laugh at me a little for this one, I fully accept the absurdity of this post.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Why D&D Is Fun

I’m sure you’ve all heard of D&D, and at least a few of you have played it. Mostly, I’m aiming this particular post at those of you who haven’t played and perhaps don’t even understand what it is and why on earth anyone would want to spend time doing this thing.

So, what is it?

D&D stands for “Dungeons & Dragons”. It is a game system involving multiple players with one of them taking on the task of running the game and the rest participating. The leader decides on the setting and the story or adventure and leads the other players through it, while they are each playing a character in that world and react to the situations described.

Each character has a set of traits and skills that decide how good (or how bad) they are at different things, and often dice are used to determine how well the character does at a chosen action. This naturally cuts down on instances of “I win because I said so!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!”

Characters come in different classes. This is like saying they have different roles. Some are combat-heavy, like Fighter (does what it says on the tin) or Barbarian, some are magic heavy like a Wizard and some fall between the two. You can also play as different races. This is a magical fantasy world, after all, so you’ll see more than strictly humans. Think elves, dwarves, halflings (picture hobbits from Lord Of The Rings) and the like, plus some things you might not even think of like bird people.

The combination of race and class is great for winding up with a group of very different characters all working together.

Now, that is as basic a description as I could give without getting into stuff like the varying number of sides on a die, magic spells and the difference between a Dragonborn and a Half-orc. I’m pretty sure I’d lose those of you who don’t play if I went that far.

Okay. So that’s what it is. What’s the draw?

In short, it’s fun. But I know that isn’t a very satisfactory answer. D&D is like collaborative storytelling, where you’re all working together to tell a fun and fantastical tale. It’s also like improv theatre where everyone is responding to what everyone else is doing. It involves creativity, puzzle solving, strategizing and occasionally getting absurd.

It’s also about the community of hanging out with some friends and working together while having fun.

And, okay, sometimes it’s about having your Sorcerer just hurl a fireball spell at a problem. Look, it’s cathartic, okay? Don’t judge.

There is a bit of escapism involved, yes. That’s not a bad thing. Honestly, this year when I started playing again after a very long hiatus, escapism is kind of one of the features. My BFF decided to run a game over Zoom and I signed up to play along with one other person I knew from online and two people I didn’t know, but have since discovered how awesome they are.

We’ve been playing most Saturdays since May, and it’s been a godsend. For a few hours each week, I’m not in the midst of a pandemic. I’m Neera, a charismatic half-elven Sorcerer stranded in a world that isn’t her own along with some other folks, just trying to get home.

I get to do cool stuff like disguising myself with magic to look like a feudal lord dude instead of a pointy-eared young woman in order to steal a magical hunk of rock instead of having the group of us fight an entire castle full of guards. Last week, one of my new friends got to cast a spell that let her talk to a mama bear and her cubs so we didn’t have to fight them.

C’mon, doesn’t that sound like fun? It’s totally fun.

I think a lot of people would actually end up absolutely loving it if they just gave it a try.

As always, please do be kind to yourself and others. Talk to that mama bear first.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.