Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, Poetry, Special Occasions

Ode and Lament

As the final few days of 2014 are coming to a close, I wanted to highlight a few anniversaries. Most importantly is the twenty years since the release of an album full of music that has changed my life and gotten me through everything from illness, to loss of a loved one, to the end of an important relationship.

The Cranberries released their second studio album in 1994 and this has remained, not only my favourite, but the favourite of so many others. Songs like “Ode To My Family” and “Zombie” remain this Irish band’s biggest known hits of all-time, but it’s in every song and beautifully haunted lyric that I find solace and refuge from some of the harshness of life.

I know this particular album may not hold the same meaning for many people as it does for me, but I urge you to listen to it sometime if you haven’t already.

The Cranberries, “No Need To Argue” full album, YouTube

When I was eleven or twelve years old my sister brought home a mixed tape from a boy on our school bus. He was from an Irish family and he gave my sister this Irish band to listen to. They were called The Cranberries and right away that name caught my attention. I shared a room with my sister and I started out listening to what she listened to because that’s what a little sister did.

Once I listened to the selection of songs however, a mixture from “Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We” (1993) and “No Need To Argue” (1994), I was mesmerized and I was hooked.

I soon would confiscate the mixed tape and would wear it out, eventually taking more interest in the band than my sister. I would listen until the point of wearing out the tape, until I was gifted a copy of my very own as a get-well present, during one particularly long and unexpected hospital stay, near the end of 1996 it was.

What it means to me now and what it meant to me then …

Ode To My Family:

“Understand the things I say. Don’t turn away from me.
‘cause I’ve spent half my life out there. You wouldn’t disagree.
Do you see me? Do you see. Do you like me, standing there?
Do you like me standing there? Do you notice? Do you see me? Does anyone care?”

As I’ve struggled to fit in with the world, I have felt separate many times, invisible and yet glaringly obvious. The gawkers I felt watching. The staring that I could not truly see. Leading to the thoughts of will I fit in and will I find belonging? Wanting to be seen as anyone else might be seen.

“Unhappiness, whereas when I was young and we didn’t give a damn. We were raised, to see life as fun and take it if we can.”

The themes of family and a past of mine now, a place where I belonged. A freer childhood of innocence and security, I could not ask for and you would not find.

“Understand what I’ve become. It wasn’t my design. And people everywhere think better than I am.”

Feeling like a fraud sometimes, somehow, as everyone does at one time in their lives. The events that have shaped me leave me with jagged edges and some corners smoothed down.

Feelings of belonging, always felt with them, but not when I go out there. Never to duplicate what they have given and give to me. What does the rest of the world know or care of these things and of me? Will this sense of belonging ever be duplicable out there, ever again?

I can’t Be With You:

“Lying in my bed again and I cry ‘cause you’re not here. Crying in my head again and I know that it’s not clear.”

Longing for that one I know I can no longer have. All such sorry substitutes, who will compare, but still I look and I search, always hoping, always.

“But it’s bad, and it’s mad, and it’s making me sad because I can’t be with you.”

It’s the letting go of what should be, what’s not meant to be that creates so many feelings of desperation and regret.

“Thinking back on how things were and on how we loved so well. I wanted to be the mother of your child and now it’s just farewell. Put your hands in my hands and come with me. We’ll find another end. And my head, and my head, on anyone’s shoulder, ‘cause I can’t be with you.”

Still in love sounds so horribly pathetic, such a thing to admit. I wondered than and I wonder now at the young love spoken of.

“Still in love with you.”

Twenty One:

A dark night, so many years ago.

Age ten, eleven, twelve…I grew up these last twenty years, going on twenty one myself.

Driving through the countryside at night, the haunting sound of Twenty One ringing so sombrely in my ears, nearly lulling me to sleep or at least a strange peaceful trance.

Couldn’t then imagine being twenty one years, but that year has come and gone. I’ve long since passed by, on and on and I hurtled straight into my thirties.

“Twenty-one. Twenty-one. Twenty-one.”

These two numbers, put together and repeated ring in my ears and bring on that trance-like state, closest I’ve yet come to being hypnotized.

Zombie:

The song to become a hit, bigger than they probably could have imagined.

“Another head hangs lowly. Child is slowly taken. And the violence cause such silence. Who are we mistaken?”

My love of the Irish people, and yet a place I had never been to. Such history and violence I could only hear in her lyrics, her pain at the helplessness of it all evident when she sings.

“With their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns, they are fighting. They are crying. They are dying.”

I slowly became more aware of its historical reference and meaning, as I grew to understand more of these things and our world, past and present.

“It’s the same old theme since nineteen sixteen.”

What changes there and everywhere where violence persists? I want to scream out the lyrics in frustrated rage, helpless in my smallness, and still, and yet, so I listen to her singing words of mothers losses instead.

Empty:

“Something has left my life and I don’t know where it went to.”

So few lyrics in this one. So few are needed. Soft piano and violin wrap around my heart and pull its strings tight as if on an instrument.

“My identity. Has it been taken? Is my heart breaking, on me? All my plans they fell through my hands, they fell through my hands on me. All my dreams, it suddenly seems…it suddenly seems. Empty.”

A future rearing up dark, blank, devoid of anything else. My life, ending up not at all where I thought it would, fearing an encroaching emptiness that could swallow me whole. It’s an emptiness I shake off as best I can. This line, this song, her wild cries of “Empty!” and the lump in my throat forms and the tears they start at the corners of my eyes.

Everything I Said:

“It makes me lonely. It makes me very lonely. It makes me tired. It makes me very tired.”

These, all feelings of weariness that take hold when someone, when love has come and gone.

“Everything I said…oh, well I meant it. And inside my head, holding on.”

What am I holding on to, for exactly? I guess I have always had trouble letting go of friends, family, and of love. Probably the fear of being alone and lonely are ever on my mind.

And if I died tonight would you hold my hand? Would you understand?”

Her thoughts of gloomy, rejected sadness grip me every single time, as she sings,

“I’ll get over you.”

Her cries of sadness I was in awe of then and I know them, I know them now. If I were to have someone would they stay ? You can’t make anybody stay. I remember everything I say and I mean it all the way, but, in the end, who will stay?

The Icicle Melts:

First my sister would sing and then I would follow, lyrics of helpless images that the world shows us any day of the week. The image of an icicle was a strangely vivid one, to me.

“I should not have read the paper today cause a child, child child was taken away.”

I hear headlines and I feel for mothers. I wanted to share the love I felt with a child who needed someone. A mother, a wish, one I may never be, but that instinct burns strong in me.

“How could you hurt a child? Does this make you satisfied?” I don’t know what’s happening to people today, when a child he was taken away.”

I want to shake all those who hurt the children, would-be mothers and fathers, government officials, strangers, those who should love them. Children suffer everyday and I can not help. And sometimes it’s the mothers, with such strong bonds, that must see the suffering of their child, must go through losing that child.

“Nine months is too long.”

The image of those famous months where a child is nurtured into development. Such a short time really, but all the time it takes to build that bond between mother and child, all to be broken in nothing but a headline.

This swooping ballad pulled me along from the very first listen and still does to this day.

Disappointment:

Someone is lost and can’t be found. As she repeats the words, the loss is felt over and over again..

“Disappointment. Oh, you shouldn’t have done, you couldn’t have done, you wouldn’t have done the things you did … .”

She shouts out, she decided. I don’t know why, what she has decided. To leave a particular situation? The mystery intrigues me and sweeps me along to a disappointing conclusion.

“We could have been happy. What a piteous thing, a hideous thing was tainted by the rest.”

More and more desperate emotions in this song that I can’t quite put my finger on, but that I can’t ignore. I share the same hope for the well-being of someone I once loved. You can see through the chaotic frenzy of emotion, to the part of you that wants them to be happy, wherever and however that may be.

But it won’t get any harder, and I hope you find your way again.”

There’s no guarantee that hard will not become harder. I must weather the disappointments that truly are. Again and again she repeats the word and I am forced to face my own disappointments head on, taking them for what they are worth.

Ridiculous Thoughts:

I have them all the time. Ridiculous thoughts. They grow and they build. I hold on tight, onto the ride, through life. I move on and keep moving forward. These thoughts, threaten to swallow me up.

“You’re going to have to hold on,” she repeats, “to meeeeeeeee!!!”

Swiftly, she pulls me forward with the force of her words, but how do you escape your own thoughts?

Dreaming My Dreams:

The perfect song for marriage and a life together. Sure, I dreamed it would be mine someday too, the sentiment of this song that would run deep. To find that one other person to live out my dreams with. These words bringing me hope and faith that he exists, somewhere out there.

“All the things, you said to me today, changed my perspective in every way.”

What an uplifting thought, that one other person, the right person can totally change the perspective from which you look at life.

“It’s out there. It’s out there. It’s out there. If you want me I’ll be there.”

Guitar and violin here are the stuff of those dreams. the dream is hard to give up. I won’t. I will be there for someone, for the right one who wants me and what may be waiting for us both out there.

Yeats’ Grave:

“Silenced by death in the grave.”

As a child, this poet I did not know, but who was important enough to become this song to this band. Talk of graves did not deter me, even as a young girl with talk of graves and misery.

“Had they but courage equal to desire.”

The darkness of it I was drawn to from the first time (poem, song, words, and lyrics), both courage and desire, in the darkness, being things I wondered at most already.

“And you sit here with me, on the Isle of Innisfree.”

Innisfree out there somewhere. Poetry and lyrics of which I wanted to explore and a place far in the mists of the mythical, but the Isle of Innisfree was out there somewhere, a real live place, secluded and remote.

“Why should I blame her, that she filled my days with misery?”

A time when this song played on a bus, on the way to this grave where I then stood and this poetry and the music I know oh so well now became oh so real.

“William Butler”

Lake Isle of Innisfree, Wikipedia

Daffodil Lament:

“Holding on. that’s what I do since I met you. And it won’t be long. Would you notice if I left you? And it’s hard for some, ‘cause you’re not the one.”

The song with the two parts, the sorrow first, in the end of something.

“All night long, laid on my pillow. These things are wrong. I can’t sleep here!!!”

And then the beauty to be discovered underneath, with recognizing the problem and taking steps to make things better and beautiful again.

“I have decided to leave you forever. I have decided to start things from here. Thunder and lightening won’t change what I feel. And the daffodils look lovely today.”

The symbolic daffodils, “look lovely today.” The symbolic use of nature, thunder and lightening and pretty flowers, the disguises hidden under the surface perhaps?

“Ooh in your eyes I can see the disguise. Ooh in your eyes I can see the dismay. Has anyone seen lightening? Has anybody looked lovely? And the daffodils look lovely today.”

The song grows into an upbeat theme song for looking on the bright side of things and then ends, its final note on a downcast layering of a true lament.

No Need To Argue (Title Track):

A quiet end to a one-of-a-kind musical and lyrical experience.

“There’s no need to argue anymore. I gave all I could but it left me so sore.”

One lowly organ and her memories.

“And the thing that makes me mad was the one thing that I had. I knew, I knew, I’d lose you. YOU’ll always be special to me.”

Such memories, it feels like an intrusion, but perhaps a window onto these memories that can be sad and wistful at the same time, but that don’t have to be forever painful to recall.

“And I remember all the things we once shared, watching TV movies on the living room armchair. And they say it will work out fine. Was it all a waste of time? Cause I knew, I knew I’d lose you. You’ll always be special to me.”

Different memories, perhaps, but the same remembrance.

“There’s no need to argue anymore.”

And there’s a certain peace in this, in the quietude and solitude of this last track, the snapshots that flip, from one to the next, in the minds’ eye.

“Special,” she whispers faintly at the end.

Yes, “No Need To Argue” is certainly special to me.

Happy Twenty-year Anniversary to an album that changed my life and will surely last the test of time.

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Memoir Monday

The Year I Almost Missed Christmas

The year I almost spent Christmas in the ER.

I’d been on dialysis for nearly six months. Christmas was a mere few days away, but something wasn’t right.

I began feeling ill and something going on in my abdomen grew steadily worse and worse, the pain growing and building.

I spent most of my time downstairs, in our basement, covered in an afghan to stay warm. Grandparents and visitors stopping by for the season, a loving hand tucking the knitted blanket tightly around my trembling arms.

I had come up against all the unforeseen secondary medical issues any doctor could have predicted on the list since starting dialysis in the summer: losing an eye in the process. What more could go wrong? What could this be?

Each evening my mother would go through the checklist: turn on dialysis machine by bed, unwrap and lay out all the necessary tubing and medical supplies, make sure machine was going and the bags of dialysis fluid were placed on the machine and warming up, and finally to commence safety measures to prevent any spreading of germs.

I was on peritoneal dialysis, overnight while I slept. It was a repeated cycle of fluid inserted into my abdomen and then removed, as a way of clearing out toxins. Kidney failure treatment was supposed to be making me feel better. It had been, but not now.

My stomach began to cramp up as the machine began the first cycle. The fluid, on my mother’s inspection, appeared to be a cloudy colour. This, yes while unpleasant to imagine, meant infection.

It was comforting to have doctors on-call anytime, day or night and now only a day or two before Christmas. They told us to come into the emerge right away.

My father was away by the time I had gotten to bed, one of his men’s hockey league nights. We drove to the nearby town where the arena was and switched vehicles with him, not wanting to rely on his old Trans Am to get us all the way there.

My brother came along for support. It was into the front seat of the low-to-the-ground car, ten minute drive to arena, out of low front seat and into the family van. Not so easy in my condition. Stomach hurting so much with the unsuccessful attempt at a PD run earlier.

The whole way to the hospital my big brother sat in the middle seat of the van, holding me up and secure to all the bumps and the jolts. By this time the pain in my stomach was getting even more intense.

Finally we made it to the hospital and I was taken right in, given a bed and a curtain to close off the rest of the hustle and bustle of the overnight ER.

I spent a few hours on that bed as I was given antibiotics to try and stop the infection, through my abdominal catheter, same procedure as any other night’s dialysis routine.

We returned home, early on the morning of Christmas Eve and I spent the next few days horizontal.

First my brother and I both collapsed on opposite ends of the L-shaped living room couch, exhausted from the excitement of the previous night.

I had no idea what it was going to require in that emerge, so close to Christmas 1996 and if I would make it back in time to celebrate with my family. In the end I spent a somewhat uncomfortable Christmas Day, opening presents, grateful for dialysis and it’s many surprises (often unpleasant) but still necessary.

This holiday season I reflect on that particular Christmas and so many more, while I appreciate the almost twenty years that I’ve been dialysis free since that terrible, memorable night.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday

Bad Day

I See Fire, Ed Sheeran, Youtube

Last week, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I described a

Good Day.

In life, with the good inevitably come the bad.

This isn’t easy to write and may be hard for some to read. I apologize.

Having a disability is already an extra stressor and can bring on times of depression about life. I am thankful, I must say before I continue, that I do not have clinical depression on top of that. Not having that allows the waves of depression and the bad thoughts and days to be outnumbered by what I know is good and joyous about my life.

***

Describe a bad day:

I am listening to:

Lord of the Rings, The Complete Soundtrack, on YouTube

as I write this week’s Memoir Monday post about a bad day.

I do this to provide me with some background music, yes, but also to put things in perspective.

Of course I will be giving you a glimpse into what a bad day is like for me.

There are plenty of dark and despairing parts in Tolkien’s tales, if you are at all familiar with that world.

But there are also those bright, cheerful, and hopeful parts and the music reflects both as I write.

***

I wake up and right away there is darkness, the day is black, but not because I am totally blind and see nothing at all. I still have the little bit of sight I had yesterday and the day before and the day before that.

It’s one of those bad days. They come and they go.

I want to look at myself in the mirror and all I see is a vague outlines staring back at me.

I want to jump in my car and go somewhere: groceries, errands, to visit someone, just drive aimlessly away from the life I am trapped in.

Oh wait! I can’t!

I don’t drive and there is no car other than the one that others must drive me in. The driving I sometimes do in my dreams taunts me when I am awake.

You are no good. You are lesser than, disability, disabled, unable, not at all capable.

You are helpless and you should hide away from others because you can’t possibly fit in, not when you lack the one sense valued above the rest.

You are as much of a burden as they say. Who are they? You know, them. the ones who don’t want you around, as a reminder of those poor blind people who must have a terrible, deprived existence. It’s one people don’t want to look too deep into and you would do best to just stay out of the way.

Stay hidden. It’s for the best.

You are constantly in the way and a drain on others. You can’t possibly contribute in any meaningful way, so don’t even bother trying.

You stand out like a sore thumb and people stare. You can’t see it, of course, but they do because you make them so uncomfortable and they would rather not look, but they can’t look away.

I am a freak.

I push everyone away. Why do people leave?

My blindness. Yes. It must be that. In a way it’s an easy scapegoat.

I have no future and nothing to look forward to, nothing but a dark, black void.

Why do I even bother to hope for something more?

I will lose the rest of my sight and I will be alone with my darkness.

That is how this story will end, as if it’s already been written.

The End

***

Quote from Stephen Fry:

There comes a time when the blankness of the future is just so extreme, it’s like such a black wall of nothingness.

It’s just nothingness, the void, emptiness and it’s just horrible. It’s like contemplating a futureless future and so you just want to step out of it. the monstrosity of being alive overwhelms you.

***

Daniel Powter, Bad Day, on YouTube

Of course this is an extreme example. I have many more good days than bad and the bad days are more like bad moments. the thoughts, they come and they go just as fast.

Next Memoir Monday:

Describe your baseline, or an average day.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

I said GOOD DAY!

The first day of the final month of 2014 has arrived, another Memoir Monday arriving to meet it.

Last week’s challenge was to write freely, on anything I had on my mind.

Two Are Better Than One.

For this last 2014 first day of a new month Memoir Monday, on the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I will kick things off on a positive note, in the hopes that the other 30 days will keep the positivity going.

Good Thoughts. Positive thoughts.

***

Describe a good day in relation to the ways my life is affected by disability?

Okay. Here goes.

🙂

This is a bit of a difficult one to address. Not because I don’t have things fairly under control. Not because I don’t have good days. I have many. I am lucky that way.

Probably due to the fact that this could mean many things. It’s important to remain positive about life in general, a great tip for anyone. I just have this other layer of my life and myself that can make this hard some of the time.

On a good day I am secure in myself and where I am in my life.

I go about my day and do what makes me happy: listen to inspirational music, write something meaningful, spend time with the people I love.

I see these things for the wonders that they are. I have so much and my disability does not stop me from enjoying these things. A day can be simple and wondrous, no 20/20 vision required to see it.

I get to the end of my day and I go to sleep, not having had the hard reality of some unavoidable disability thrust in my face. I could live the way I wanted to and do what made me happy, and I hit no roadblocks to any of this.

That is a good day.

***

Next week I will describe a bad day.

Until then…

That ’70s Show: Fez says “I said GOOD DAY!” on YouTube

What constitutes a good day for you? What does a good day look like in your own life?

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, The Insightful Wanderer

Two Are Better Than One

On this particularly blustery November day I feel closed in. I feel uncomfortable to even step a little distance out of my house, having the wind pummel and push me. Any strong forceful weather like this can be very disorienting.

And so, on this particular Memoir Monday, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I m indoors and listening to the roar.

When last week I wrote about how

Love Is Blind,

this week I get to write about whatever’s on my mind; so here goes.

***

Okay, so I have been called overly sensitive, on occasion, but here it goes anyway.

Having a disability can cause many of life’s normal, natural events, that we all experience, to take on double meanings. Maybe just to me and so here I will share them with you.

Sometimes I yearn to have these certain experiences, just like other people do, without there having to be something else going on. Here are four of the top ones I can think of, to help me illustrate the point I’m trying, maybe not too successfully, to make.

1.
Holding hands with someone I love.

I think this is one of the best parts of being in a relationship with someone. I love the intimacy and the connection that I feel.

There are three options for walking somewhere with another person: on my own and with a white cane, holding on to someone’s arm (sighted guide), or (if dating) holding hands.

It is important to obtain a certain amount of independence when you are visually impaired, but what if I just want to hold hands with someone I care about?

Normally, a couple holding hands is a sweet gesture, a pretty picture. When I do it there can be reproaches, questioning, for why I am not being independent enough and walking on my own.

2.
Shopping.

There are just certain things that are better done with other people. It is done for necessity’s sake, someone grabbing a few groceries on their own, but in most cases shopping is done with two or more people.

Whether it’s my parents, sister, or a boyfriend and whether it’s food or clothes I want the company. Something like shopping is simply much more enjoyable with more than one person.

Whether because it isn’t possible to just jump in the car and run a few errands, because it helps to have someone else to help decide on what food items to purchase, or because shopping for clothes is more fun with someone to offer their opinion.

Of course I can’t see the clothes I’m buying and I know those customer service people just don’t know what my favourite brand of crackers might be.

3.
Travel.

This is on my mind a lot at the moment, with my plans in the works and my hope of starting a travel website and developing a career as a travel writer in the future.

I went ahead and took the plunge by starting the website, but I have not worked out all the kinks. To be able to write about travel I want to be able to actually travel and herein lies the conundrum.

Sure, the idea of a blind woman traveling alone would make for an inspiring story. People would be amazed that I could do such a thing.

I either need to make this happen or I need to travel with someone. I can’t just want to choose to be one of most people who prefer to travel with a friend or a loved one. For me, the option of traveling alone would make me an inspiration and otherwise I need a babysitter, someone to be my guide and my protector out there in the big bad world.

4.
Fear of growing old alone.

We all fear the prospect of this at one time or another in life. Most people, if they thought about it, would have to admit that they wouldn’t choose to grow old all alone. Of course we’re all going to face the possibility of this from widowhood one day, but this is unavoidable.

I’m talking about the fact that when I fear that my disability could prevent me from ever finding lasting love, I imagine myself being old and alone and then one other thing creeps in.

Of course I want someone, need someone to take care of me because I couldn’t possibly be okay on my own.

Or perhaps I just want the love and companionship that we all look for.

So whether it’s holding hands with the person I love, shopping, travel, or growing old I may be the only one to think like this, but this week’s prompt was to write about whatever was on my mind. Well there you have it.

***

So do you think this is all in my head or do you see what I am saying in this post? You can tell me. My family think I am being hypersensitive so I can take it. Love to hear your perspective on disability and the double meanings of life’s common experiences.

I am pleased and touched to be included in this project, put together by the organizer of the challenge. Check it out here:

The Anthology Edition,

and stay tuned for next week and a return to the posed questions and discussion topics.

Describe a good day in relation to the ways your life is affected by disability.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Love Is Blind

Last week’s Memoir Monday was inspired by a well-known Cyndi Lauper song:

Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

This week, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

Back to business.

***

Q: Does disability affect you in other ways? If so, how?

A: Sure it does, in ways big and small and in many ways I don’t even really think about or notice so much.

However, in one big way. It affects my dating and my love life.

What am I attracted to? What is attractive to me in the opposite sex?

I have asked myself this many times, and yeah, if I don’t know, who will.

🙂

So much of our society hinges on the physical and on looks and appearances, and dating is no exception. In fact, it is high up there.

Love is blind.

Blind date.

There are many common phrases having to do with love and including the word blind.

I had enough sight, in the past, to have gotten a pretty clear picture what my family looked like.

By the time I was old enough to be interested in guys and dating, my vision had declined so much so that looks were not high on the list of priority. How could they be?

Then, if I did feel like I wanted to have opinions and views on what a guy looked like, all in my head, I felt unnecessarily vain. What did it matter for me? Shouldn’t I be the one person that did not matter to?

I have the same sorts of issues in imagining what someone might look like that I might be interested in dating as I do with myself. I try really hard to picture what they look like and how I might feel about that if I could suddenly see.

I’ve often thought, when I’m in a relationship with someone, what would happen if I suddenly got my sight back. Would I have found myself still attracted to that person if I saw them, whereas being unable to see I fell in love with them for other reasons.

Do guys need to feel attractive? Of course they do, but what happens when I am unable to see them to pay them the compliments they may need to feel wanted. I could pay them a compliment about their looks, to make them feel good, but it would not feel natural to me.

I am no good at saying something that I can’t feel to be the case. this isn’t to say I wouldn’t feel that way if I could see, but if I were to say it, in my case, it wouldn’t feel authentically my view.

Has this contributed to past issues in past relationships?

I feel at a disadvantage when dating as a woman who is not immune to the uncertainty of my own physical appearance, like most women. The other person can see me and all my flaws, whereas I see nothing of them.

Does this make me a more accepting and less critical person?

I am attracted to a certain sounding voice, laugh, and many other little verbal cues. I pay close attention to smell. I focus on if our senses of humour match and if I think we will laugh a lot. I have many things I look for and this list has grown, the more experiences I have had.

Maybe most people wouldn’t notice or be bothered by or with these things because they are focused on looks.

Dating is made more difficult at times. I am constantly working on my self-confidence because everyone’s attracted to confidence, both women and men.

I am overly self-aware in public and on dates, nervous at the disadvantage I am clearly at.

I have done okay. I have dated and have been in love. I have had my heart broken and have done the breaking. It feels nice to be normal in that way, is what I tell myself when I am in the midst of that pain and later on when I am out of it.

I can not catch a guy’s eye from across a crowded room. I can not smile at him and make the kind of first impression I would like.

I know a blind woman can be intimidating, in the way that guys may not feel comfortable approaching me. This makes meeting people difficult.

I have the fear, that I had before I dated much, and I have it again now. Will I ever meet anyone again? Will I end up alone? Does my blindness, in the end, does it make me difficult to be in a relationship with for any length of time? Has it cost me relationships in the past or will it cost me any in the future?

These questions and more plague me often, but I don’t know what answers are to be had.

In the end I make due. I make due without the non-verbal and the lack of body language. I deal with the fact that, to most guys who have never known a blind person, the idea of dating a blind girl makes them nervous.

Love is worth looking for and worth searching hard for. It’s worth it.

***

Next week is a free writing day.

What do you think you might replace with the physical attributes you look for when dating? If you could not see, what things about a person do you think you would be most attracted to and looking for?

Do you agree with the statement: love is blind?

Have you ever been on a “blind date”? How did it go?

Discussions on love and dating are some of my favourite to have, if you can’t tell.

🙂

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Even Blind Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Welcome back to another Memoir Monday and another answer to a question from the:

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

***

Q: Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?

A: Of course they are. I don’t know what kinds of things I would be into if I had all my sight. I sometimes wonder. Would I like sports? Would I love to paint? However, it does no good to linger on these questions. I like to have fun and enjoy myself just like anyone else.

I love to watch movies: in the theatre or at home on the couch. I know a lot of visually impaired people who could care less and who would place movies very low on the list, but I have always loved to escape and get lost in an interesting storyline, with gripping characters, played by my favourite actors.

This is addressed in last week’s post:

All They’ve Ever Known.

I might not have been able to enjoy all the movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, if it hadn’t been for people like those in my family who learned to describe the action going on on the screen, so I never felt left out of popular culture and the blockbusters of the day.

Now, of course, there were services such as DVS (descriptive video service) and my brother and I used to order movies from a catalogue. They would arrive in the mail and we could watch movies on our own.

This is where I first discovered my love of Gone With The Wind.

I like to think I have a wide variety of hobbies and interests, just as varied as anyone else.

I would probably love to paint now, if I could see. I miss the times, as a child with more sight, when I would draw for hours at a time with my beloved markers. This hobby I had to give up, but I have replaced it with others.

Spending time with family and friends isn’t really affected. I fit in with them because they know me and accept me. We have fun spending time together.

I love to go to concerts, on day trips/road trips, and theme parks.

The big question and the universal joke made by and for visually impaired people would be the issue of driving.

One of my favourite things to do is go for a drive, especially at night, with my favourite music playing. I love feeling like I am moving forward, speeding ahead, an energy and a relaxation I get no other way.

I never have to drive and can always just sit back, in the passenger seat or in the back, and enjoy the ride, leaving other people to concentrate on the road.

Of course this means I am never able to just jump in my car and go for a drive alone, but with the possibility of technology and the driverless cars that already exist, who knows what the future may bring.

I have had the chance to sit on a parent’s lap, when I was younger, and drive around a WAL-MART parking lot at night. In my dreams I drive sometimes and perhaps that’s a sign that I could be good at it, if circumstances were different.

My main hobbies are reading and writing, both not impossible with the help of technology. I need help from special equipment, such as: Mac computers with built-in voice software, electronic braille displays, and iPhones. These things continue to improve and there is no telling where things could be headed.

I used to have shelves and shelves of thick braille books and volumes. This could be cumbersome at times, but nowadays space is more plentiful with the inventions I mentioned above.

With the help of these technologies I spend time on Facebook and other social media like most people these days. An entertaining distraction, taking up maybe more time than it should.

🙂

I have a tandem bicycle. I can walk alone, depending on whether I know the route. Going for a walk outside in my favourite autumn weather is better arm in arm with a loved one. Sometimes I take my dog. Sometimes I take a cane.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper

So the song applies to all girls, even me. It’s important to have fun and to have time to relax and kick back and I look forward to this, with others or solo. I find ways around the problems that can arise, if it’s something I really enjoy. I owe my parents for helping to show me, from a young age, that this is possible.

***

Next Week I will answer a broader, more open-ended question for the challenge:

Does disability affect you in other ways? If so, how?

Which hobby or leisure activity that you enjoy would you think might become difficult or impossible to do if you lost your sight? Which one would you miss most: driving, painting, sports? How do you think you might adapt?

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

All They’ve Ever Known

A new week and I bring some new perspectives to the table.

Last week I wrote about school and work,

Here.

This week I return to the subject of family.

***

Q: Is your family life affected by disability? In what ways?

A:
I have shown the strength and character of my parents in past answers:

Literally,

Special Magnificence,

and

Diagnosis and Treatment.

This time I thought, with the word “family”, in the question that I would ask the other two I have not asked yet: my older brother and sister.

I have two amazing parents and a younger brother who knows what it’s like because he was born visually impaired too.

My two older siblings have been there from the start and I wanted to share their point-of-view because if anyone was affected, good or bad, it would be them.

I ask my brother and then my sister this question and this is what they said:

***

P: That is a tough question to answer.

At first I wanted to say yes. Mainly because I always felt like I needed to protect/help you growing up and even today though I don’t see you guys very often.
But I would imagine that every big brother would feel that way about younger siblings. Worrying when you were sick or going into the O.R.

Honestly I cannot think of a particular situation.

The only scenario that comes to mind is while viewing a movie or television program, I’d always try to describe in as much detail as possible what you were missing. I’ve always wanted to make sure that you and your brother never miss out on anything that sighted people take for granted.

So to answer your question, are we affected?  Life may have been different for us growing than for most kids. But this is all I’ve ever known and couldn’t imagine it any other way.

***

K: Growing up having siblings with a disability is like anything in life, especially as a teenager, you can feel self conscious – even when it’s by association. No one likes to feel out of place. At the same time, it came with a strong urge to protect and defend.

That being said, that was only part of what it was like growing up in a family that visibly, can seem a little different. More importantly, I think it has helped to show how differently people can be whether outwardly or more under the surface. I think it made me a better person, more understanding and compassionate. It showed me that any disability, big or small, can be overcome by both those around you and those with the impairment.

My parents displayed this with their never ending ability to give my siblings the chance to take on the world with the least resistance possible. It also showed the power those with disabilities themselves can display when given the chance, that all people can thrive when given support and proper circumstances.

Mostly though, it was just my family, at the end of the day (and really at the beginning and in the middle of the day and all the moments in between). They’re just your little sister and brother – and as you get older you no longer notice those stares, and that feeling of self consciousness becomes an awareness that our differences need to be celebrated and not a cause for feeling out of place. All people have their own disability, some are just more obvious than others.

***

When I asked them this question I knew it could be a difficult one. You have to understand that this was a difficult question. Just think of anything or anyone in your life that has always been there. That is “normal” for you, in a way that might not be true for someone else.

As for my siblings, I wondered if it would be hard for them to think of any actual examples or if they could possibly be hesitant to say something that might hurt my feelings if I knew it because, honestly, I have felt guilty in the past.

I know people stare and I know, children especially, don’t like to feel out-of-place. I never wanted to be the source of resentment.

I know jealousy is just a part of being a sibling, at one time or another, and there were four of us. Being one of four in a family teaches you to wait your turn and to be patient and flexible.

I know that a lot of attention had to be given to me and my brother at certain times, and that couldn’t have been easy.

For me I can say it is comforting to no end to know there are at least two people in my life who accept me for me. I am just me to them. They know the little things about me, as I do them, good and bad. I feel a reassurance around my brother and sister that I do not get anywhere else. I have always been there for them and they for me and I hope that will never ever change.

My sister and I have real discussions about the things in life that really matter and that everyone goes through. She has helped me fit in with my surroundings and to feel like I am worth knowing and loving.

My brother, like he said, has always described anything visual in a way that I could understand, allowing me to enjoy such things like everyone else.

I hope I could have given them both even half of what they’ve given me.

No matter what, no matter what may happen, I know I will always have them, even if we go our own ways as adults and have our own lives.

To us, our childhoods were full of love, fun, and all the normal ups and downs that siblings have, but we did it all together and we have memories we will never forget and that have made us the people we are today.

Feeling a part of a family is something we all need. That is the first place we find acceptance and security. I hope we will always have each other to lean on.

***

Next Memoir Monday, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I will answer another question.

Are your leisure activities or hobbies affected by disability? How do you work around this?

What is “normal” for you that you think might not be that way for someone else?

I hope you all have a pleasant week and I hope you all have family to lean on like I do.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Uncategorized

Schoolwork

During last Monday’s post for

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I described a typical

Day in the Life,

for me, someone who just happens to be visually impaired. I explained how I do the everyday things we all must do.

In contrast, my school and work experiences haven’t been typical at all.

***

Q: Is your work or school life affected by disability? Describe some of these challenges.

A: Simply put … yes.

This may be the most difficult question I have answered for this challenge yet. It involves a lot of what my educational history has been and a lot of the fears I have for my future.

As a writer who uses writing to convey my feelings and thoughts in, what should be a clear and concise manner, I am not sure where to begin or what to focus on here. I am under know obligation to even answer if I don’t want to, (the option to simply skip over any questions I find difficult to respond to), but then how would I ever come close to figuring out how school and work have or will affect me in future? It’s through the writing that I come to find the answers I seek.

My parents, my mother had to fight hard to get me educated along with my peers in my neighbourhood school system. I did not feel it when I was young, but there was great pressure to prove all that hard work worth it and to show people I was just as capable as any other child.

Things became complex when my situation was made even more complicated by additional health problems. I was in sixth grade and over time everything began to suffer: my schoolwork, my social development, my physical health and state of mind. At first glance it appeared the stress and the pressure had finally gotten to me and maybe it was all too much.

After I was finally diagnosed with kidney disease my blindness suddenly seemed like nothing at all in comparison.

Would I make it to high school? Would I graduate?

It’s years later and I did make it to high school. I made it through a year of dialysis and a kidney transplant and I battled back to be ready for the next stage of my life. They wanted to hold me back because they thought I wasn’t ready. They were wrong, but I couldn’t possibly know what life had in store for me.

I did not graduate. This isn’t easy to talk about, but I have to.

Again my blindness was overshadowed by the other medical issues that plagued me through my teen years and beyond. I could not concentrate on completing high school when I could barely get through a day without pain.

I became isolated. I faded from view. I fell behind.

Now I am thirty and I feel like ever getting a degree or a job is way far off and, many days, I simply can not see either one happening for me. I know, however, that this is just the fear talking. The fear that I can’t hack it is a constant companion.

The truth is that my blindness has been an issue, but it hasn’t been my biggest one. This isn’t to say it hasn’t been a challenge and that it won’t present problems for me in going forward, but what else is there to do but fight for the future I know I deserve.

We are coming to the end of October in a few short days and with this the final few days of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I wrote about the part we as a society all must play to find a way to bring people with disabilities such as blindness into the work force a few weeks back:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

This is possible, I believe, and necessary for a more inclusive world.

I hope to return to completion of additional education as I enter into the decade that is my thirties. Better late than never.

I will get my high school diploma. I will strive for a degree in English literature, creative writing, or tourism. These are my passions and any disability I have dealt with in my life has made me dream bigger, able to see how far I have come and to feel appreciative for all those who have helped me along the way all the more.

I will do my part in showing the world that I can learn and work just as hard as anybody else who looks for fulfilment through a useful degree or a worthwhile job.

If my school and work life have or will be affected by my disabilities it’s all the inspiration and motivation I will ever need to carve my own spot in future.

And I will celebrate by announcing it here when I do achieve these goals. Disability does affect all these parts of life, but it does not have to define who I am and predict what future success I may have.

IT CAN BE DONE.

***

For next week:

Is your family life affected by disability? In what ways?

A brand new month and maybe a brand new perspective.

I will think about this and may once more return to asking those family members involved.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

The Horse and the Bird

Last week I answered a question on the subject of:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

This time I share some pivotal moments and events in my journey.

***

Q: What are some significant moments/events in your life that connect to disability?

A: When I would sit down at my school desk the first thing I would do was put on my glasses and the world would come into a sharp focused clarity. I was ready for the day to start. I was ready to learn with my peers.

I loved art and I loved to draw. We were learning shading in our seventh grade art class. I used my dark, thick pencil, like I used to write my spelling tests and my French assignments, and I started to draw a picture of a horse. I needed this darker, thicker pencil, but I was then abel to complete the art assignment like all the other kids. I had been born blind and did not remember what it was like to be anything other than what I was. I had come this far and I had done okay.

On my last day in art class before that all changed I had the large piece of white paper on my desk in front of me and my pencil ready. I had been so proud of my horse and my teacher had been pleased. Now he told me to try drawing a picture of a bird. It was the end of class and I had barely started, only the first outline, of the bird’s head, when the bell rang and I put my barely begun picture away until next class.

A few days later I was admitted into the hospital, after a bad night of the worst pain I had ever experienced, a hard pain that felt like it came from somewhere deep behind my left eye. Now it was necessary to admit me to find out the cause. I would stay in hospital for a week, receiving continuous IV’s and diagnostic tests, trying to stop the mysterious disease that was taking over my already limited eyesight.

By the end of the year I had my left eye removed and an artificial eye made. The pain was gone and the highly potent medicine had been the only thing to stop me losing all the precious vision I still had.

I see this as a turning point in my life. No longer could I place a pair of glasses on my face and find the kind of clarity and focus that I once knew. I had been blind all my life, but this was the first time I truly understood what that meant.

From then on I learned to live without the colour and clarity and bright sharp focus that even I had taken for granted. I miss those things every single day and there was no hiding in the world of the sighted like I had been able to pull off, even a little bit before, but I will never forget that shaded horse and those first few lines that would have been a bird.

***

Next week, for the:

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

I will answer this question:

Are your activities of daily living effected by disability? If you’re comfortable, share a little of your daily routine.

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