1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Piece of Cake, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Patience With Public Perception

Last time, on the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,http://rosebfischer.com/2014/07/15/the-redefining-disability-awareness-challenge/

I wrote about my diagnosis of kidney disease:

The D Word!

Here’s today’s question.

***

Q: How has public perception of disability changed in your lifetime?

A: Okay, so I will try my best to look at this question with an optimistic viewpoint, as much as possible – because although progression doesn’t happen as quickly as I’d like it to, it does happen.

I don’t know if so-called “public perception” has changed all that much really.

Yeah, the optimism is coming…just wait for it.

🙂

All I mean by that is that although conditions are hopefully improving, the question of what the public thinks, feels, or knows logically or through education are all different questions.

I was born in the 1980s and so not that long ago, in the grand scheme of things. In that time, in the US there was the introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which came on the scene six years after I was born.

Here in Canada, we have:

**The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

and

**The Canadian Human Rights Act

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/about/

Disability is such a broad and all-encompassing term. It isn’t easy to lobby for every single disability out there.

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/about/history

There’s a little thing called equal opportunities, which is becoming more commonly known in workplaces, but I still sense a lot of ignorance and discrimination, whether meaning it or not, by employers toward anyone with a disability:

I want to know my obligations. – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Right there!

The fact that the word “obligation” is used feels ugly. I read that and I already feel like I’m an obligation or a burden, just something mandated by the government and forced upon every unsuspecting company.

If so, well what’s wrong with that then?

I should be happy with that, right? The government is taking the necessary steps toward inclusion.

Laws may be the first step, but in many ways, they aren’t the most important one that will make the world a more inclusive place for everyone.

I believe terms such as “obligation” keep things just as focused on the negatives and downsides as my own negative tone of which I promise to keep adjusting.

I may come off sounding demanding and I am, but I am willing to do my part.

I am the first to admit that I am not always a patient person, like with this issue, but I also need to work on speaking up for myself and hopefully I can make it better for someone with a disability, thirty or fifty years from now.

Accommodations must be made, but until our world opens their minds and hearts and sees less differences, I fear this will never lead to the inclusion I dream of.

So what will it take to change the public’s perceptions fully?

Here’s a blog post my friend Steph, fashion and lifestyle blogger for women who are visually impaired wrote about that:

Observing 25 Years of the ADA – Bold Blind Beauty

I think Steph says something very wise in this post. She basically says that discrimination is everywhere, from people who don’t live with disabilities, but disability does not discriminate.

Sure, it’s easy to live in fear and denial. Believe me, I am extremely familiar with these things in my own life.

Fear keeps the public from wanting to take too close a look. If society keeps people with disabilities kept separate in their own schools and clubs and then, even worse, hidden away at home, they won’t have to deal with the fact that we do exist and deserve to have all the same opportunities for work and life.

However, the denial that goes along with this won’t protect them when disability comes into their own lives.

Laws are important and all well and good, but perceptions are a little more difficult to control this way.

You’d have to really get out there, to ask people what their true feelings are on disability, to follow them through their daily lives to see how they might react to certain situations.

I perceive myself one way, but I can’t control how other people will perceive me.

I will still continue trying to make strides in this arena though because it matters.

I do believe things have improved, in the thirty years since I was born – don’t get me wrong.

See, I can be optimistic. It’s just a little more complicated than that.

Sure, I get angry. I grow frustrated that the public just doesn’t understand, but I am very willing to keep the dialogue going.

Anger can work for you. It has propelled some of us in positive ways.

We do progress, as a species, even if we backslide now and again.

I do not downplay or discount all I have mentioned above, all that has been put in place since I was born thirty-one years ago. I even like to think it was, partly thanks to my appearance on the scene, that these leaps forward were made.

🙂

Too presumptuous? Okay, perhaps.

But in and amongst the frustration and the fear, I do have hope. Most people in the public are curious and kind. They don’t purposefully go out of their way to put up roadblocks for those of us with disabilities. It’s just that we need more than pity or good intentions. We need awareness and action.

I will admit, I’m not the first person to know all about public policies and government initiatives, but I do know about what it’s really like to live with a disability, in a world where I am in the minority.

The public does want to move beyond the fear and the denial; or at least, that is what I tell myself.

We must focus on what we can do, disabled or not, instead of what we can’t.

***

What can I do to help this process along? I ask you, the public!

Public…are you there?

(Crickets.)

🙂

Hmmm. Awkward!

Well, in the meantime…check out:

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge on Facebook

And maybe fifty years from now we won’t need to have a Facebook page at all. Maybe disability won’t be such a big deal any longer. Or, maybe, awareness will always be a necessary and an important thing? What do you think?

Next week’s question is a variation on this weeks’:

How has your perception of disability changed in your lifetime?

Oh, how indeed.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Writing

In The News and On My Mind: The Madness Continues

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”
–Thank you J.E., for that. You sum it up quite nicely.

🙂

It has been a while, but I am back with my mid-week “In The News and On My Mind” segments from weeks gone by, which I like to preface with the above directly borrowed quote from a Facebook friend who has a way with words.

This week I have once more decided to avoid the subjects of cheating scandals in sports or the growing presence of ISIS around the world. Instead, I give you the diary of a young girl, a teen shot and killed, and my big announcement to round things off.

Firstly, I am a bit jumpy today. I have been on the verge of bursting into tears for days, a dull ache in the pit of my stomach really.

I saw “The Diary of Anne Frank” on stage last night.

(Show review to come.)

I don’t like it about myself necessarily, but when I get into something, I can become overly immersed in it. This can become a detriment to me.

This is particularly uncomfortable when it comes to the story of that famous historical diary. I have had to pull myself out of all that since leaving the theatre and take a step back.

Today I have had to put all that in its proper place in my mind and heart and enter back into my modern environment of Facebook, blogging, and the music that sooth my weary soul.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m safe and I know that – well, relatively so, but the outside world keeps me on my toes, or my fingers as I write these words.

Okay, so it’s Wednesday and sometimes I feel dramatic on Wednesdays, but it doesn’t make any of it any less true.

I relate most to Anne Frank because she had her writing and I have mine. It got her through the long and ultimately deadly fate dealt to her.

If she were in my shoes, would she have a blog? Would she write about the contemporary issues of the day or the lessons we’ve hopefully learned from history? This is what I wonder. This is what I, myself, will do.

Next, must I just say that when an eighteen-year-old is murdered over a stolen cell phone – it’s a mad, mad, mad world people!

😦

Yes, this happened last week, in London, Ontario. I have a brother who lives and goes to school there. I want him to live in a safe place, somewhere where human beings don’t resort to the unthinkable for something involving a lousy electronic device.

I am heartsick when I hear the number of murders in cities like London is growing as 2015 progresses.

Last, but not least – MY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

I have heard all the reasons why people are fighting to be who they feel inside, even when it does not seem to match up with how they are viewed by the rest of the world.

I would just like to admit, here and now, that I have always felt like and identified most closely to visually impaired people and I have sworn to fight for the rights of people with disabilities, who have barriers in today’s society to be sure.

Am I a blind woman. Well, I don’t quite see the distinction, the difference between the question of was I born blind? I carry a cane and I think you all are missing out. Who’s in?

We can make a difference:

Is all inequality for those with disabilities a vanquished cause, finally and after all this time?

😉

Yes, all who may stumble upon this. It’s still a mad world out there.

Okay, so I already included the “Mad World” song in a recent post I re-blogged. Here is one just as poignant. I think it makes my point.

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

I can See! I can see!

Spring has sprung!

Well, almost nearly.

Even so, I am loving the talk of blooming cherry blossoms, tulips, and just the other night it was another blood moon and short eclipse.

April is daffodil month.

April showers. Bring on the rain.

Another Memoir Monday and edition of,

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

In my post, from one week ago, which I fittingly called:

Social Media,

I introduced the new Facebook page.

Please feel free to join me there, where more will be introduced in the months to come by myself, Rose, and others.

There’s just a lot going on right now, as spring arrives, and always in the world of blogging.

🙂

***

Q: If you could “cure” the disabilities that affect your life, would you?

Why or why not?

A: Do any of you remember the Barqs Rootbeer commercial with the blind man?

Perhaps not. I searched all over YouTube and found every old Barqs commercial but the one I wanted.

😦

Well, the blind man is offered a Barqs and, upon drinking, he proclaims:

“I can see! I can see!”

With this the other guy says:

“Really?”

“No. But it’s got some bite to it though.”

Funny stuff when I saw it, at the time. I quote it now and again, but it raises some interesting questions.

I like to imagine I were the one taking a drink of pop one day and suddenly I am able to see, just like the commercial promised.

😉

I used to answer the above question from this post with a defiant “NO” because I thought that meant I was accepting and proud of my situation and my life.

Does the fact that I have changed my tune on that mean I haven’t accepted anything after all?

I don’t know. All I know is that if I had the chance, suddenly to see, I would be a fool not to take it.

I am not talking about literally, as science stands now.

All the time I read about some new developments in the world of medicine, allowing the blind to see. I usually don’t jump at the chance because it isn’t as the headlines would make it seem.

Most times it’s speaking about some contraption or device, worn on the head, wired up and with a battery pack. It’s some pair of space-aged glasses that send some sort of signals and produce outlines or shapes, giving the wearer some kind of ability to sense objects in front of them.

This is how I see now. Anything more than that gets more complicated.

There is no pill to take and no surgery in the world can bring back the sight I used to have, let alone the sight I have never had before.

If, in some futuristic or magical moment, true and full vision were possible I would be first in line.

I won’t stand here anymore and say I am happy with my life and don’t need to be fixed or cured. I wouldn’t get in my own way like that.

If I could see things would…well, they would still be complicated as life often is, but they would be easier. It would make things a whole lot easier on myself and on others.

I could see colours again. I could see the expressions on my family’s faces.

I could drive. I could write. I could walk unassisted and unaided.

It would be easier to find employment and the job prospects would grow exponentially.

I am not too proud to say I could use the help.

Wanting that and wanting more for my life than I currently have does not mean I am not happy right now.

Being blind has taught me to appreciate things and to not take life for granted. I might not have that same perspective if it weren’t for blindness, not that I would be a bad person had I never experienced all that.

I am glad I did not have parents who couldn’t accept my disability and who went on a determined search for some magic cure. Some parents did or do just that.

I was taught to work with what I’ve got and to make the best of it. I’ve had a mostly happy life. I am lucky.

IF I could see though, I would. I would take that huge gift, if science or some other entity offered it. I would experience things I have only dreamed of.

I would take it and rush to stand in a bookstore or library, surrounded by my beloved books, of which I could finally pick up and read.

The world would look strange to me and I can’t quite imagine it, as I write this. What kind of world would that be? What would it look like to me?

I recommend a movie now, all about a man’s journey to almost having his sight back.

At First Sight: starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino.

I saw it in the theatre in 1999, it struck a cord, and I have wondered seriously on the question ever since.

It’s about finding love and what two people do to stay together and to make it work.

She wants only the best for him and that, she thinks, includes helping him get his sight back.

Was it his blindness that got in the way of their happiness or the fact that she couldn’t accept him for him?

This is a question, in a way, for another time. It only demonstrates how complex it really is, to suddenly get one’s sight back.

I answer this question with a yes, while others may answer differently, but in the meantime I like commercials that can make a joke out of something so hard to fathom for anyone who has been blind all her life like I have.

***

Would you choose to get rid of something about yourself, anything, if you had that choice?

Why or why not?

Spread the word.

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge: Redefining Disability, on Facebook.

Like, like like.

Share, share, share.

And until next week:

What things are most important to you when it comes to media representation for people with disabilities or your disability in particular?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIY0AcBZm28

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Kerry's Causes

In The News and On My Mind: #1000Speak Edition

Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!

The above is a status I came across on a Friend’s Facebook page a few weeks back and I thought it summed up the horrors and the confusion to be seen on the news every night, with a bit of her witty and intelligent sense of humour thrown in for good measure.

The following five things have been on my mind lately: Isis, measles, assisted suicide, Deflate-Gate, and Fifty Shades.

Note: I am writing longer versions of my thoughts on these topics, one a week, for the next five weeks. I just wanted to write a more trimmed down post, to coincide with:

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

The #1000Speak movement is coming to its dramatic finale in two short days.

On February 20th I and over 1000 bloggers will write about what compassion means to each of us. We will do this together, as one, and we will stand up and speak about acts of kindness and empathy, to rival any of the horrors to be found out there.

The news, like is illustrated at the be inning of this post, can be dreary and can bring you down within the first two minutes.

Watching this over and over again, night after night, will make it seem like there is no goodness left in the world. This is so very far from the truth of it.

I just wanted to highlight five things that have been going on lately, in the news, and on my mind. I want to share the compassionate view I choose to have for all five and I hope, by bringing my own personal brand of attention to these, that I can help share and spread the thinking of kindness just a little bit.

***

1.
Isis

It’s so hard to hear about such horrific and senseless acts as hostage takings and beheadings. It seems like this threat is growing and we are powerless to stop it.

It’s a part of the world that I know nothing of: Egypt and Libya, Syria, or Iraq. This, however, is not where it ends.

That part of the world wants nothing more than to live in peace, like anywhere.

The problem exists here too, although it may be harder to see.

I do wish there existed much more empathy and understanding for our fellow human beings.

Extremist terrorist groups are out there, like some invisible bully on steroids. This isn’t something I can wish away with my positive thoughts.

I just hope to partake in small acts and acts that spread, such as a newly started compassion blogging project, to show us that the world isn’t all bad, one hundred percent of the time. With one thousand speaking out for compassion, we can say our piece and hope to inspire peace in return.

2.
Measles

Fear and ignorance spread like wildfire when it comes to our children, most of all.

Rumours and myths aren’t so easily distinguished for some like for others. The measles vaccination is no exception.

I know how powerful conspiracy theories can become. Is that what fear of vaccinations is, like the moon landing and UFO’s before it?

I fall prey to thee sorts of thoughts sometimes, when I’m feeling suspicious and doubtful about the world. I wake up some days, and I choose pessimism over giving the world the benefit of my doubts.

I sometimes wake up feeling angry at a world that would allow such rumours to spread so rapidly. I have benefited, so very much, from medical science. I think about fifty years ago even, and the fact that I probably wouldn’t be alive now, to write these words.

It’s hard to imagine a time when illnesses such as measles killed with impunity. I think we take for granted the advances we now benefit from.

So I guess you could say I am pro vaccines, but the idea of forcing parents to give something to their children or themselves that they don’t freely choose, well that does not sit right with me either.

What will win out?

I have children in my life that go to school and I know how easy it can be for illness to spread through a classroom full of kids.

I hate that any kid might miss out on an education and a social life with friends because of a decision their parents or the government made.

No clear-cut and right answers here, I realize.

All I can do is have compassion for each side of the debate, hoping that we don’t regress to a pre-vaccine, tragic, society.

3.
Assisted Suicide

I know this is one of the touchiest subjects there is in our world today. I know the idea of stepping in and taking one’s own life or someone else’s is beyond controversial.

I know things like religion, ethics, and consent are all twisted up and even breaching the topic is taboo.

I know that what constitutes a life worth living is up for furious debate. Nobody wants to use this as an excuse to rid the world of all those poor people who we shy away from because of disabilities beyond our imagination and handicaps we hate to think about.

I can’t help but putting myself in the place of anyone who lives with pain constantly, no end in sight. I keep going back to those poor souls and, although I too hate to think of what this means, I know this issue is not going to go away, no matter how much we look away.

I think we all have compassion in our hearts for these people, but then the fear of “playing God” stands in our way of anything more.

Think of those in real need of empathy and consideration. If there were any time to put ourselves in their shoes, this would be it.

4.
Deflate-Gate

I almost wrote a blog post about this after the news broke that the New England Patriots, on their way to the Super Bowl, were under suspicion of having tampered with their team’s footballs.

Now I fully admit to having no prior knowledge of the rules and regulations of how the footballs are handled. I considered writing about my outrage, that this team was suspected of cheating and yet, off to the biggest football championship they were going, but I ultimately decided that I really had no business writing about it.

Maybe my own personal issues were getting in the way.

This lead to more of a broad concern with the Super Bowl as a whole. I looked at all the hype with Katy Perry set to perform and I felt unsettled.

With all the talk of feminism these days, and all my interest in it, I felt uncomfortable.

It seemed like the NFL was trying too hard to bring themselves out of the recent scandals in their franchise. Katy Perry, for me, did not wipe away all the bad judgement and the celebration of star players and athleticism our world idolizes.

I don’t want to feel this way about anything that brings such joy to others. I’ve seen it. I try to understand the passion with which they express their love of football. I just wish we could value such things as criminal behaviour and spousal abuse not at all, instead valuing things like playing fair and no cheating. These values and rules of the NFL and organizations like it are hard for me to wrap my head around, but it seems to be a powerful force that I have to accept. I just hope it remains all fun and games, yet I know there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Finally…

5.
Fifty Shades

I read the books. As both a reader and a writer I was curious.

Since then the love for these books (originally Twilight fan fiction) grew for so many, but I was unimpressed by the silly catch phrases and the silly banter between main characters Ana and Christian;.

A fantasy come to life, from one middle-aged woman’s brain to millions of women, looking for a thrill.

I do not ignore or underestimate the cultural value of a book like this, come to life on screen.

I know it is nothing more than a romantic experience for so many ladies. I know how I take it, as nothing but a story. It’s fiction and I put it in its proper place.

I don’t know if impressionable youth are able to do the same thing. However, I am not prepared to hide and shy away from the things people like James are thinking.

Feminism is an important issue for me and I can’t begin to imagine what a movie like this says about our society, both men and women.

If any person has been hurt by a serious issue like controlling and abusive behaviour, and this movie reminds then of those traumatic experiences, I think we should be sensitive to that.

If Fifty Shades is enough to open wounds for those who have experienced real abuse in their lives, then I want to recognize that, instead of simply brushing it away.

Something like this doesn’t make the money it does and draw in the number of movie-goers it does if it hasn’t made an impact. That is impossible to ignore.

I want to remain willing to have an open dialogue about issues of gender equality, sexual rights, all with the proper amount of love and respect.

Women should be able to make up their own minds, as to what they want to watch or read, without completely dismissing the very real feelings of shame and regret that exist for so many, both women and men alike.

***

All these stories are, for the most part, not going away. These things rarely vanish, but rather are changed and altered with time.

Today I wanted to speak my mind and hope to show that compassion, even in the face of disagreements and differing opinions, is indeed possible. It is the common thread we all must not lose sight of.

Two days left and I will continue to share my view of what compassion means to me. It isn’t over just yet.

🙂

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday

Dating in the Dark

All joking aside:

Blind Bonus.

There are some questions I’ll probably never totally come to a decision on.

***

Q: In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities?

Examples might be that it’s harder to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.

A: Yes. Yes. Yes.

🙂

One way this is the case is in dating, but today I will speak specifically about online dating.

I could write a whole book on this subject, with the experience I have had with it over the last five years, but up until now I have resisted writing anything to do with this fast-growing method of finding love.

I have resisted, not sure why that is.

Dating is one interpersonal relationship issue I have yet to write extensively on.

It is, indeed, harder to form this kind of relationship when you can’t locate a stranger, out of a crowd, with whom you might have an interest in. It can narrow down the places where meeting someone is possible. All of this, and yet I was determined and I have had some success.

The question here is one I struggle with every time I begin speaking with a new guy online.

Of course, in person it is obvious, often glaringly so. I like to think I can fit in, in public, and not stand out as the blind girl. This isn’t always very realistic for me to think.

Online, I have never been able to decide when and how to bring it up.

Do you, perchance, know the answer to this?

🙂

Do I mention it first thing in my online dating profile? Do I casually attempt to sneak it in the middle somewhere? Or leave it until the last few lines?

Am I looking like I mean to hide the fact, if I don’t come right out and say it? Do I ruin things before even getting started, scaring someone off, if I make it the first thing they read?

I don’t want my blindness to be all I am; it’s not.

I want to be able to show that I am a well-rounded person, with many interests and passions. My blindness is a factor, for sure, but it can’t be how I define myself overall or that is how others will start defining me too.

Yes, people do treat me differently when I do reveal this one detail in particular. This, I understand. I can empathize.

Whether I reveal it in my first message, during a subsequent phone call, or when they show up to meet me face-to-face.

I have experienced different amounts of shock and surprise. I have heard it all, from the pause of several seconds, to the stuttering response, to the normal array of curiosity and its companioning questions.

Like anything else, it isn’t a good idea to leave it out and just show up for coffee, cane in hand. This, like being less than honest about current weight or age, it can result in a bad rapport from the start. I know not to pull this on anyone. It really is not fair and it leaves me awkward and fumbling too.

I like to know, somewhat, what I am getting and I want the other person to have the same courtesy from me.

At the moment I am watching a tribute special for Stevie Wonder.

Of course, it is no secret that Stevie is blind. He doesn’t seem to have had any trouble meeting partners in his own life. I doubt this “wonder” has never had to utilize online dating to find women.

then again, who knows.

At one point, host LL Cool J asks everyone to take a moment and close their eyes, even going as far to darken the screen, while the song Stevie wrote for his baby daughter years ago is being performed by a few fans and fellow performers.

http://entertainthis.usatoday.com/2015/02/16/stevie-wonder-tribute-beyonce-john-legend-lady-gaga/

This is certainly an interesting part of this special. I was wondering when they were going to address his blindness. I figured they would.

Now I am no Stevie Wonder.

🙂

I haven’t had his talent or fame to help me meet people.

Stevie Wonder has been the main spokesperson for the blind community, world-wide. When most people think of blindness, they think of him. He has been extremely successful in his life, blindness notwithstanding, but dating, love, and children are experienced differently when unable to see the faces of loved ones.

I know it is a touchy subject sometimes. I wish there was a one-hundred percent agreed upon answer to my main question of this post.

I know online dating works. If I keep my eyes open, pardon the pun, I can and have found those who are willing to be flexible and give dating a blind woman a shot.

I have never been accused of trying to hide my blindness when commencing conversations with anyone online. I’ve found the right time to slip in my blindness in there. It works and I am always navigating the turns and the bumps of dating online.

I guess some questions will never have definitive answers to them. This, I greatly dislike. I like to know which way to go when I am struggling with a question and when no answer presents itself to me, I rail at the uncertainty.

I don’t want to be treated different, but unfortunately this is unavoidable in most instances.

Someone who has never before spoken to a blind person will not usually know, right off the cuff, how to handle themselves.

I try to make them feel at ease, by simply speaking of your normal, run-of-the-mill things that anyone who’s just getting to know another person might discuss.

This is often all it takes to keep things moving forward. And forward is the only way any hoped-for relationship will have a chance.

Sure, some may halt any further conversation, but there’s always more out there. Sometimes, the shock of it is just too much for a person to handle. That is their prerogative.

I could always start a new series on this blog, online dating adventure series, but i think I’ll continue to resist this impulse.

🙂

You never know. Maybe this week’s question will have started something, but then again I am not sure people want to hear about such things on a regular basis.

I wonder if there’s a site out there, devoted only to online dating stories, good or bad.

Well, while I’m off to investigate that further, please offer your thoughts and/or opinions on my question and I will leave you with my favourite of Stevie’s lesser well-known hits.

Stevie Wonder – PArt Time Lover – YouTube

***

Have you ever tried online dating?

Did you ever find out something about someone you were talking with that surprised you? When is it important, do you think, to provide certain details?

How have others reacted when you’ve offered up something you’ve been nervous to mention?

On next week’s Memoir Monday post, for the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

is a question that is at the heart of this whole thing.

Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability?

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Blogging, Book Reviews

Blind Bonus

Discrimination is not uncommon with disabilities. I try not to focus on it, but it can happen.

I wrote about my handful of experiences with this in last week’s Memoir Monday post:

Discrimination Happens.

This week’s post, I hope, will be a lot more fun and lighthearted.

And now – the story of a little something my family and I have coined “The Blind Bonus”.

***

Q: Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities?

A: This will be a lighthearted post, as I say, although, for me, the line between having a sense of humour about these things and feeling sensitive is tricky for me.

In my family, with my brother and I both being blind, we have our inside jokes. He is much more easy-going than I am when it comes to it all. I want to be normal, just like everyone else, but I work and hope for equality, which all takes time.

This can be a tricky balance to achieve.

Until then I can say sometimes I grow tired of looking at my life and striving to fit in as an ongoing battle and I let down my guard and look for the humour.

Preferential treatment, as is worded in the above question, is an interesting way of putting it. I suppose, at times, you could say that I have received things others did not, from people I know and from strangers alike.

This brings to the forefront the notion of pity. If someone pities me, even with the best of intentions, it’s because they feel badly for “the poor little blind girl”.

I used to think this in my head. My grandparents were good examples of this.

They knew me and loved me, but they did feel bad that I got such a lousy lot in life, to be born blind. Because of these feelings, because they loved me, I sometimes received material things or special treatment.

This is how it goes for a lot of things in life. Life is not fair and we’ve all experienced that firsthand, at one time or another.

My oma may have cut me some slack in ways she did not others. She could be critical at times, as she got older especially, but I was always her precious little granddaughter. She rarely, if ever, criticized me like she did others.

My grandmother was the nicest woman you could ever find, but pity is one way of looking at the preferential treatment she sometimes showed toward me.

My grandparents had twenty-one grandchildren and they loved us all equally, but they did feel like we had it harder and wanted to do what they could to make our lives just a little bit easier and happier.

For example, they took us all on a night away to Niagara Falls, spread out in groups of three or four kids at a time over the years. All the others only got to go once, but they took my brother and I twice.

They used to bring a little keychain or other small souvenir for each of us with every vacation they took, but as the years went by and more and more grandchildren came along they didn’t keep that up.

Understandable, right? Who could blame them. After all, even the smallest of souvenirs can take up practically an entire suitcase when bringing back twenty-one of something.

However, I have several dolphin and whale sculptures that they brought back for me from the last few tropical locales they traveled to. They did not do this for everyone else.

My mother once confronted hers about this, saying they really did not need to bring me anything. My grandmother’s response had something to do with how she knew they didn’t, but she really just wanted to bring me something anyway.

I don’t say this here to tattle on my beloved grandparents, who are both gone now, or my evil mother for spoiling any chances I had of receiving anymore special presents.

🙂

I say it just because I know, again that life isn’t fair, and so did they.

My mother wanted to prevent any possible jealousy between me and any other siblings or cousins, if they were to find out and because she knew I didn’t need those things when none of the other kids got them.

Also, my mother has always done her best to treat my brother and I the same as her other two children and she worked hard to teach us that we were really no different. This is the best gift anyone could have ever given me.

As for my grandparents – I always knew they loved me, in all the ways they felt it or showed it, and I know how hard it was for them to see me dealing with some of the extra things that I did, fair or not.

Then there were the “blind bonuses” my brother and I received, say, during our trip to Cuba.

We went for a week, with parents and two grandparents.

By the end of the week I’d received a doll from a Cuban woman and a rose made out of a napkin, from a Cuban man as we sat listening to live music near the resort.

Of course it’s hard to know their true motivation, due to the language barrier, but these are only a few examples of what I’m talking about.

In this case, the term preferential treatment, to me it means someone feeling badly for me being blind and either offering me something or giving me something they wouldn’t normally give.

It’s difficult sometimes. On the one hand I strive to show the world around me that I can do most anything else anyone can do and that I want to be treated the same.

On the other, I occasionally need things to be modified so that I can keep up.

In school I would get extra time to do tests and assignments, because sometimes I required specialized equipment or technology. These things often took longer. My teachers, for the most part, understood this and did their best to accommodate.

Then, how did I ever expect to convince the world that I can fit in and contribute?

I’ve never wanted to be treated differently, good or bad. However, at certain moments I resign myself to the unfairness of life. It’s at times like these that I tell myself I miss out on so much and struggle enough that if I sometimes get breaks others do not: so what?

A “blind bonus” is alliteration at its best and I love me some good alliteration.

🙂

Sometimes I probably think I am getting this when I am not (all in my head) and other times it is blatantly obvious to anyone.

***

Next week’s question:

In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities?

Note: I have been blogging for exactly one year and I am thrilled to be doing just that, involved in such projects as the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

and I still have many more questions to go on it.

I am honoured to be able to use a vehicle like blogging to speak on the issues raised in this extensive set of questions that Rose has put together.

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

Diagnosis and Treatment

Last week my parents answered a question about what it’s like having loved ones with disabilities in their lives and what that word means to them,

Here.

This week I will rejoin the discussion once more.

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Q: What have your experiences been with medical treatment and/or therapy been like? Do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings about your experiences?

A: I was diagnosed months after I was born and my vision remained stable for many years. I had the occasional eye check-up, but really I avoided the need for more treatments until my remaining vision began to suddenly and mysteriously slip away, when I was in the seventh grade.

I then found out, rather quickly and shockingly, what it was like to have lights constantly in my face. I would have been bothered by all the stinging drops and bright lights, if it weren’t for the fact that I was having terrible pain behind my eyes and I knew, even at age twelve, I was lucky to have some of the brightest minds in ophthalmology overseeing my case.

By this point I had wonderfully experienced parents who hadn’t been dragging me all over the place for miracle cures to my blindness. I didn’t see or experience a lot of negligence. I received excellent care.

As for my kidney failure I know how unexpected that all was and yet my parents still felt horribly that they didn’t do something sooner. How could they have known? They were raising their two blind children, but the rest kind of snuck up on us all.

***

It took us probably too long to diagnose your kidney disease because we thought it was because of stress and your blindness. Your previous diagnosis hampered finding your kidney failure.

When you feel something is different or not right, you search for the reason. Sometimes it can be a physical problem that can be fixed and it’s done. Other times you get a diagnosis that will affect you for the rest of your life. A diagnosis can be great relief because it explains all of your symptoms and you can focus on dealing with them and getting on with the rest of your life. Other times it can be overwhelming because it predicts possibly even more and complicated problems down the road.

***

Since I lost all that vision as a teenager I have kept the retinal specialist who treated me then. HE is the best at what he does, but I fear a future of undiagnosed and unpredictable vision loss. Things can only be handled with the right treatments and proper diagnosis up to a point.

***

Before I end today’s post I wanted to include something I found earlier, a post on a blog by another visually impaired blogger. It is a post about the topic of disabilities in the media and I know that is a big part of what Rose has been doing from the very start.

So please check out:

Adventures in Low Vision,

and

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.

for more information and next Monday’s question:

Do you think that it’s more important to emphasize medical treatment, life skills, community integration, or a combination of these things?

I think I’ve kind of messed up the numbering of the Awareness Challenge questions from how Rose has them listed, only because I was doing a few in two parts.

🙂

I will try to get back on track or perhaps the numbering system went out the window long ago.

Such is life.

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