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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel

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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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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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

INSIDE THE BLUR

She has hit the nail on the head here. It looks to me like the world is melting, melting away. I try to find beauty in all that is blurry. Beautiful words.

HASTYWORDS

There is beauty inside the blur:

dragonfly-699012_960_720Some days
The world is blurry
Looking as if it’s melting
Its turquoise skies into grass
While shades of molten glass
Swirl like mist around trees
And lonesome shadows
Joust with the light of day
The movement of life
Forming abstract shapes
And dancing like liquid clay
But that’s just some days
Because most days
I remember my contacts
And I can see clearly then

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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!💋

Description is in the body of the post.

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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Never Enough, #SongLyricSunday

I guess I don’t have a lot to say, on love, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching.

rABUy6V.jpg

I choose to remain silent this year, as far as my own love life is concerned, but I have enough past experience to draw upon. No problem.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

Well, I know about insecurities in love. I can’t believe there’s one single person who hasn’t felt it. I wonder about some more than others though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5_Hn_cLIvI

It’s a void a lot of us attempt to fill, but rarely ever is enough enough.

***

There will be no consolation prize
this time the bone is broken clean
no baptism, no reprise and no sweet taste of victory.
All the stars have fallen from the sky and everything else in between satelites have closed their eyes, the moon has gone to sleep
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am inside a hotel choking on a million words I said cigarettes have burned a hole and dreams are drunk and penniless
here I am inside my father? arms all jagged-bone and whiskey-dry whisper to me sweetly now and tell me I will never die
unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
here I am an empty hallway broken window, rainy night I am nineteen sixty-two and I am ready for a fight people crying hallelujah while the bullet leaves the gun
people falling, falling, falling and I don? know where they?e falling from
are they unloved….unloved….unloved….unloved
hoping that the kindness will lead us past the blindness and not another living soul will ever have to feel unloved….unloved….unloved….
unloved unloved….unloved

Unloved – Jann Arden/Jackson Brown, Lyrics

SONGWRITERS RICHARDS, JANN ARDEN
PUBLISHED BY LYRICS © UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING GROUP

***

So, when I thought of those feelings of never being enough and those all-to-common fears of not being lovable, I went with this old Jann Arden duet I’ve loved for a long time, since I first discovered this songstress of Canada, back in the mid 90s.

If you grew up in a stable and loving family, like I was lucky to have had, it isn’t for lack of being told it. I always felt it.

It’s different with romantic love. It comes with a lot more baggage and demand and distraction and disillusionment. I felt unloved and unlovable by any man and I know part of that was feeling more like someone in need of supervision than as an equal. I have told myself that my blindness was a constant burden and a roadblock to ever being enough. This is where insecurity can haunt you and hold on tight.

I hope it loosens its grip a little.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Travel

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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I Am Brave Enough, #Travel #Mexico #Disability #kindnessofstrangers

It’s the name of Lindsey Stirling’s most recent work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOmc9uG1Ndg

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, it has been my question/statement to myself about 2017 and my own determination to make my life what I’d like it to be.

Well, I’m back. I made it. First, to start with how mind blowing Mexico was, but more about that later. I have a lot to say on it, as a writer, still trying to process.

About the part that scared me silly though, traveling by myself:
It isn’t easy to have to wait to be taken from counter to counter, gate to gate, plane to plane. There are some advantages. It can be nice having someone push you around, along with your luggage, but I particularly liked the one transportation vehicle they used, specifically in the Detroit Airport. I liked that one. The two guys who took me, from the first to the last, they were friendly and pleasant.
You are first on the airplane (early boring) and last off. Different flight attendants and others likely know different things about how to help someone who is blind. Some are more hospitable than others. Sometimes I felt ignored and sometimes I felt well taken care of.

I honestly have to say I liked Dallas Airport the least. I didn’t realize how big it is there. The porters are different. Some easier to communicate with than others. It was a far distance to go, on my way there, and luckily I had a few hours because I was left at a gate, which changed. I sat there and suddenly heard them announcing a different flight than the one I knew I was there for. This was when I decided to speak up and get some help. Thankfully, another porter with a wheelchair was called and I was taken to the correct place. Unfortunately, then there was a problem with the plane and I sat there for more than an hour, nearly two. I was afraid I would miss the opening night festivities in Mexico, at my workshop. I didn’t.

I am writing about this, even with all the array of wonderful things I could be writing about my week in Mexico, because I feel there is a need to explain what it is like to travel when you have a disability. I doubt people realize.

The last time I flew anywhere I had a hand to hold tightly when my anxiety of lifting off the ground and into the air got too much. I felt kind of alone on my journey there this time, with no hand to hold, but I realized I needed to experience that. I needed to sit and be okay with being alone, right where I was, doing exactly what it was I was doing there.

I had all these images in my mind of all the strange and wonderful souls I would meet while traveling, in airports and such. I met hardly any on my trip to Mexico. That’s okay. I was on my own journey.

I met a lovely porter to start off my traveling, in Detroit. He told me his name and asked me about where I was going and what for. I told him of my fears of traveling by myself and he assured me it would all work out. He was right.
He got me a bottle of water and brought me safely to my gate. He made sure to park my luxury vehicle right next to the desk at the gate, so the people wouldn’t miss me there.
I tell you, you hear a lot of behind the scenes drama and things when you sit in that spot. Interesting.

So, I was the only one in my row on the first flight (Detroit to Dallas). It was an experience anyway. Behind my row there was a young woman, traveling from visiting her boyfriend, and the older woman beside her took an instant liking to her. The two of them then went on to talk the entire flight. The older asking the younger about her plans and her dreams. I secretly wanted that sort of experience from traveling. Would I make any connection like that? Did people resist approaching me? And did I shrink back from reaching out to anyone either?

It was still all so overwhelming, this traveling by myself. I was on constant alert, fearing I would end up lost or misplaced. I didn’t dare listen to my music or be distracted in any way. I was depending on other people for my very safe arrival, but how much of it all could I take on myself, to take my own power back?

I had help to find the check in desk at the airport in Mexico for my trip home, from the shuttle driver. He took my hand and brought me to them. I was so flustered I forgot to tip him. I felt so bad when I realized. I didn’t want to be so wrapped up in myself and my own worries that I did that sort of thing. I wish I could repay him somehow.

The porter they called to take me spoke no English and she asked if I could speak Spanish. At least, that much I could understand she said. I told her no and that one of the only words in Spanish I know was the one for water. Thanks to my niece who learned it from her Spanish speaking babysitter.

She had to go help someone else and found a woman who spoke English to stay with me. The woman then proceeded to tell me all about her life until I heard a familiar voice.

It was one of the women from the workshop. I could tell it was her, first, by the clunking sound of her shoes. She could keep me company, but the English speaking lady had to go. Still, you meet some interesting people when traveling.

I felt, at times, like the girl from the workshop was having to help me with my stuff, not relax while waiting for her flight, but that is all on me to not look at things life like that so much.

The porter returned and we went to our gate. She took me to the chairs while the girl from the workshop went into a special lounge for those with special bonuses from the airline. The porter then left me in the wheelchair. It probably seemed easier for her, in her mind, but I didn’t want to have to sit in it while waiting an hour or so for the flight. When the girl from workshop came back she agreed and we found two seats. This still required dealing with the wheelchair and my luggage, along with her things. She brought me a yogurt drink from that special lounge. It tasted so good in that moment.

We spoke a little and she helped me to the bathroom. We had to manage our luggage because leaving it unattended would not be a good idea.

My biggest concern, other than being left somewhere, was the bathroom situation. Anyone can find a bathroom in an airport if they need it. For me, I would have to depend on whichever porter I happen to be with if I needed to go. Many of those were men who hardly spoke English themselves. Not the best of situations, but best there was. Otherwise, I would be on my own and would have to find someone, a stranger or airport employee walking by, to help and show me where a bathroom was. Not fun.

I sat in my row, on my way home, and looked at a Mexico I could not see, through my oval airplane window. Suddenly, amongst the dozing I did and the boredom of sitting there in a row with a guy and girl I didn’t speak to, the familiar voice suddenly said my name, handing me a bag of warm mixed nuts. More perks from first class. That was the last I saw of her. I was truly on my own again.

The airport in Dallas was chaos. They had only one porter when I got off the plane and there was also a man in a wheelchair who needed assistance. His wife ended up guiding me, helping me with my luggage, while we followed the one porter and the husband through the lines and crowds. She did not have to do that, but she did. They were both very kind.

I suddenly heard protesting to my left. I couldn’t make out all they said, something about the US, no Trump, and no KKK.

It was a bit nerve racking as I followed the woman and her husband through customs and I forgot about the bottle of water in my bag still, from the girl from the workshop. I wish they didn’t have to take it from me. Silly regulations. I even got patted down at the airport in Mexico, by a girl who had to try to ask if it was okay first, but did not speak any English. Now I was having my bag inspected. Oh the joys of airline travel.

Finally we found our correct gates and the porter left me at mine. I thanked the mysterious couple, the ones who asked me about my time in San Miguel and told me about the house they rent there, and I sat and hoped for the best.

The people at the desk did their job. A nice lady helped me to the plane. I found my seat and a friendly woman, traveling alone for the first time too, she was feeling anxious and asked me if my folded up white cane was drum sticks. I liked her at once.

The flight went by a lot faster, long long day, with someone to talk to. She asked me about my writing and my blindness and family. I asked her about her five children and the plans they had to move from Detroit to Dallas. Her and her husband had just put an offer on a new house there. I wondered at the differences, the separate lives of so many, including this stranger who took the time to speak to me and I spoke back.

I was afraid, the entire time. I was afraid and still I didn’t want to let that stop me anymore. I did it once and I know I can and will do it again, until I am no longer so afraid. I know even sighted people can be afraid of such things, when traveling alone, when being afraid to fly or confused by flight numbers and gate changes. I know. I know we are all the same somehow while oh so different.

I appreciate all the help I received and all the assistance and the company kept. To all the strangers I will never see again. To the amazing souls I met in Mexico. To my amazing mentor for all she did for me. To my family who supported me. I say thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I am brave enough.

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