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What’s on Kenyavision?

This was a tad painful for me to read, hearing what blindness is for those living in a different country than my own, but what a thing she’s doing here. I was travelling in Mexico the same week she was in Africa. I know our stories are so much different, but travelling truly opens your eyes. It’s what you allow yourself to see next that is up to you.u

Considerings

I stepped off the plane into the Nairobi night, expecting to be hit by a wall of heat, like I’d read in books. I was waiting for something akin to opening the door of a blast furnace and stepping inside, the cool, air-conditioned plane switched for a boiling inferno in spite of the late hour.

It was warm. Pleasantly so, but only warm.

I confess, I was the tiniest smidgen disappointed, but thought to myself that I would nonetheless make the best of things. I snuggled my jacket closer around me and descended the stairs, lugging my bag at the end of my tired arm. Walking across the tarmac, I breathed deeply – great lungfuls of warm air that smelled of heat and dust and fuel and…something almost spicy; an underlying, faint but very distinct difference to the air in England.

I grinned widely in spite of my tiredness. I…

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Pieces of Peace, #PiecesOfPeace #FTSF

I’m sitting in a loud, dark, crowded bar on a Saturday night and I don’t belong here. I feel invisible and yet like I stand out, anyone who sees me sensing my feelings of not belonging, maybe not anywhere, but certainly not here. I am hear to listen to music sung with heart, guitar played with boundless talent, but I don’t fit in in this place. And so I begin to examine each individual bead on my little piece of Mexican memory and I feel like I am meant for something, somewhere, somehow.

***

I took it off the other day, likely to wash dishes or take a shower, and I couldn’t remember where I’d placed it when I went to put it back on. I panicked. It was a strange sort of panic I wasn’t expecting to feel.

It was like I was Gollum from Lord of the Rings when I couldn’t find my bracelet. I needed it. It is PRECIOUS to me.

***

It is how I find peace in these troubled times, times which test my patience with humanity and with my own patience with myself. Vicious circle.

A wise man with a long white beard made it. He chose it for me, out of a selection of other bracelets, and he placed it on my left wrist. He told me, in so many words, that writing is my destiny. All the new experiences I was having, making it all the way to Mexico on my own, I needed a little reassurance, in that moment, even though I’d started to feel it deep down, and he and his mosaic of art and wisdom came along at the perfect moment in time. His words and my bracelet came along, reflecting back at myself all that I can be and all that I already am.

***

Now, when my heart wants to jump out of my chest on a daily basis, when I hear news I want desperately to block out completely, the fingers of my right hand grasp and turn the beads on my left wrist. I turn the bracelet, every uniquely shaped and textured piece of colour and exquisite form over and over, around and around, breathing deeply and grabbing hold of the memories of those moments of peace I felt while I was away from home.

Thinking about the care and time that must have gone into making my newly acquired wearable piece of art, how someone even took the time at all, this brings me peace. I find peace from art, from a piece of jewelry or a piece of music created and played with passion.

This has been my story of finding pieces of peace wherever I can.

These pieces of art bring me a special brand of peace, one I’m currently finding it hard to obtain anywhere else, in any other way. Maybe, if I say the words piece/peace, again and again and again, just maybe I will feel just a little more of it.

And so, thank you to Mr. McLauchlin and the musicians and artists and peace bringers/makers of the world, for all that you’ve given me.

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Dangling On The Edge

Thanks Steph. Since this, I’ve learned, there are scarier things than hanging off the side of a tall tower. Still, this was a thrill I will never forget. I’d go back up there tomorrow if I could.

Bold Blind Beauty

“I get a little stuck on titles like meet the blind. I can’t help but feel that I am more than “the blind.” ~Kerry Kijewski, The Insightful Wanderer

Description is in the body of the post.Here’s a photo of my friend Kerry doing the EdgeWalk on the CN Tower in Toronto. The EdgeWalk is “the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356 m/1168 ft (116 stories) above the ground.”

I get that most people who don’t have disabilities don’t want to do anything to offend those of us who do. However, when we refer to a group or an individual by their disability it’s demeaning because it takes away our personhood. “People First Language describes what the person HAS, not what the person IS.”

Image Description: Kerry, strapped into a harness and smiling, is literally hanging backward over the edge with her feet…

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Feeling With The Heart

In the spirit of the day.

Bold Blind Beauty

“Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt only by the heart.”

The above quote has been attributed to Denzel Washington, however, I think it captures the spirit of the original quote by Helen Keller; “The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Whether you do or whether you don’t observe Valentine’s Day just being alive today is reason enough to be grateful and celebrate.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Muah!💋

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Image Description: A decorative border on this Valentine’s Day card surrounds a bright red panel with a sparkly heart and a wish for a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Agents of Change

I can’t think of a more perfect thing to share on #WhiteCaneWeek this month.

Adventures in Low Vision

Photo shows blind women huddled in a circle stretching their hands out to come together.Hey Everyone,

I’m going to be straightforward. Last month, I started working on a project I care about deeply. And I’m going to need your help for it to be effective. At times it’s hard to speak up and ask for things, but we can’t do it all alone.

Remember that therapeutic retreat for women living with blindness I attended last year, the one I wrote about passionately because it was a life-changing experience? Well, additional programs through the Oasis Center for Hope (OCH), a nonprofit organization, are available this summer. I chose to make some tough decisions and scrutinize my priorities in order to sign up.

I know it’s not easy to balance family, work, and other obligations. When you’re living with a disability, it’s vital to have peer support as you meet challenges. The retreats the OCH team coordinate offer peer connection, empowerment, and coping tools. Every woman…

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Labeling Envelopes, #JusJoJan #SoCS

Pesos come in all different sizes. This is awfully helpful.

Just Jot It January/Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I used to be able to see the dark numbers on money or even feel it. Now, money here in Canada is smooth and it has braille markings on each bill, to distinguish the different currencies. This is key.

There could be cases of blind people getting ripped off because they gave the wrong dollar amount, unable to tell the difference. Coins are of all different sizes and textures, but it is often helpful having different amounts, to compare and contrast.

U.S. bills are not labeled and I don’t believe they come in multiple sizes. I don’t frankly see why it’s so difficult to put braille dots on the bills in the United States. They have the ADA don’t they (American’s With Disabilities Act) – shouldn’t they be the first to do this? One thing, of the many things, that baffles me about that country right now.

Blind people learn to come up with creative solutions for many many problems. They fold their money in specific ways and put it in places, so they know which dollar amount they might be taking out. Accidents do happen yet still.

I frighten people a little bit, when I let it slip that I enjoy the smell of things like gasoline, permanent markers, and car exhaust. To be clear…I DO NOT SEEK THESE THINGS OUT!

I used a lot of permanent markers, when I was younger, because I could see them to write. Smell is an important sense for me. I guess I just have to hope no permanent damage was done. No lasting affects on my brain.

I even enjoyed the odour of the saline solution, I believe it was, that the nurses would use to flush out my central line for dialysis. The throat and the nasal passages are connected and I would experience a strange sensation of tasting and smelling that I found to be quite pleasant, whereas most of dialysis was not.

As for scents of things I do not like, money is at the top of my list. Of course, we all use and need money. Some of us love it more than others. I appreciate having it, but not smelling it.

I hope I can hold onto it. I hope I can tell it apart. Please, let me figure out the conversion rates.

Gulp!

Please, oh please!

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Good Luck, Bad Luck #JusJoJan

On this special Friday the 13th edition of
Just Jot It January
we must all pay extra attention, so we don’t end up in the hospital.

Okay, so is this day supposed to be lucky or is it supposed to bring bad luck?

I wrote about triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13 on my blog a few years ago. I am skeptical and sometimes pessimistic in life, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I am superstitious.

I have been in the hospital plenty, but not because of bad luck. It’s all scientific, something that is being railed against a lot lately, but it has saved my life.

I owe science and medicine. I owe my life and my brother’s life to it. I owe the existence of my nephew and “niece” to science.

Hospitals are avoided by most, clearly. I read about how we humans shape our own narratives in life. Mine was shaped by being in hospital more than the seventh grade. I choose to see the good in that, even if I felt lousy at the time. Hospitals are vital and, though sometimes we abuse their availability in North America, when we are in real need I am glad of them and all the stories on the Internet will never ever match up.

This year stands out for me, and it’s still within the first few weeks, because of the significance of a twenty year mark of sorts, one which hospitals played a big part. So, I may not be superstitious, not in the black cat crossing your path way, I do like to recognize times and dates that feel like they should be acknowledged, for both the good and the bad.

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