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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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TToT: Blessings and Thankfuls – RIP, Pinky and Gerti #10Thankful #FTSF #1000Speak #AbbyOnTheMove #HowISee

I dedicate this week’s 10 Things of Thankful to the tragic, cruel, and untimely death of Pinky the flamingo and a dear family loved one far away.

This week It’s my pleasure to be linking up and joining not only the TToT, but also with Kristi from

Finding Ninee and “Finish the Sentence Friday”

and the blessings crew, connected to

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, #1000Speak.

When it comes to blessings, many have been bestowed upon me in my life. That’s why I continue to write my weekly thankful post, going on fifteen months now.

https://summat2thinkon.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/10thankful-banner.jpg?w=700?w=700&#8243

For a big third birthday and the special little boy celebrating it.

He is such a smart and friendly little boy and my nephew, I’m proud to say.

He received a bunch of superhero themed birthday presents.

The Hulk hands, veins and all, they reminded me of those foam fingers people wave around in the air at sporting events.

They felt a bit odd to some of us, but my nephew loved them and that’s all that matters.

He then proceeded around the yard, bringing his newly formed, giant hands down on chairs, as Hulk, and roaring his mighty displeasure.

🙂

For art and those encouraging us to create more of it,

Ivy Walker and her “AUGUST! 30 DAY ART CHALLENGE!”

I am drawn to this challenge and Ivy is one of the good ones, always supportive and hosting an always interesting blog.

I just struggle with not seeing anywhere near to do any sort of visual art in the last several years. I can find blessings, but losing my ability to see colour has been a tough reality to accept.

I will never stop celebrating and appreciating art, in all its forms.

So thank you Ivy, for everything you do.

For my childhood home and my access to it even after I’d moved out and so had my parents.

My sister loved that house so much that she lives there now with her own family.

This means I didn’t have to give up the place where all my early memories were made. I can see it whenever I need a reminder that I am safe, loved, and always welcomed home again.

That I got to meet one of the closest people in the world to my oma while she was alive. That my parents took me to Germany to visit my oma’s cousin, as I’d probably met her several years previous to our trip in 1998 but I could not recall.

RIP Gerti. You are at peace now, with my oma perhaps. If you are, I am certain there are some most excellent talks happening between you two, (half in English and half in German) like the good old days.

That I got to hear the song that means so much to me, one I wrote lyrics for that are very close to my heart, and now have life and breath brought to my words.

After I listened and let it all just sink in, I am dying to share “Decade Adrift” with the world, but I must hold back because it is not complete just yet.

It is still so strange a feeling to hear someone sing words I wrote. I love it though, don’t get me wrong. It’s an incredible feeling actually. I am blessed that anyone at all would use my words in a song, like my brother has, that he’s put so much energy into. Then to hear them sung capably is just the best thing.

For a special Mexican writing workshop discussion on Skype with my writing mentor.

We had one of our hour long Skype conversations, but this time we didn’t just speak about my writing in general, in other areas. We spoke about when I travel to Mexico to attend her multi sensory writing workshop.

She explained how the week will likely go. I listened, leaning in so as not to miss a single detail.

She is making so much happen for me and I owe her so much for that.

For my brothers and their determination and computer knowledge and persistence, for Imgur, and a once more functional wireless keyboard.

Every single time I find myself starting fresh with a different computer, I must set things up the way that works best for me, for my writing and blogging and VoiceOver settings for all of those things.

So, maybe you’ve noticed lately, I have not included photos in any of these posts.

Well, it’s because I’ve had to get used to a new Mail program, updates, and so much more. I struggle with whether or not to include photos at all, as I can’t see them and, unlike words, images are unclear and vague concepts to me now.

It’s nice, however, for most of my readers here, of which can mostly see and do enjoy images. I wanted to get this stuff all straightened out and then, to top it all off, I couldn’t get my keyboard working through BlueTooth anymore.

And so, one trip to visit my brother and with the help of my ever trusty younger sibling, we’re (that’s to say I’m) BACK IN BUSINESS!

My brother discovered I needed something entirely new to me which is a program called Imgur. He, well both my brothers, they are much better at following instructions and all the proper steps to make such changes work properly.

My oma (spoken of above) once gave me a stuffed bear wearing a suit, glasses, and a hat, on a stand. She told me:

“Here’s a man for your bed.”

This was my European grandmother, not realizing the hilarity many would find in that one innocent statement.

Well, now we keep the joke going by saying I need a man, but in this case, for practical everyday reasons – a guy, to help me with all the tedious computer and technology stuff I struggle with.

So, instead of waiting for a man/guy, I have my awesome brothers and their readiness to help me fight through these issues that seem to be never ending.

For an enjoyable day spent out in the back yard, in lovely August weather, with family.

If I am starting to use photos once again, I wish I had certain photo evidence that carrots can, indeed, grow on trees, apple trees to be exact.

😉

A squirrel likely had a carrot in its mouth and left it dangling from the apple tree in my brother’s back yard. He is a photographer, but did not get this as any sort of photographic proof.

But balls were thrown. A dog was pulled along on his leash by an excited little girl. Gardening was discussed. Birthday presents were opened enthusiastically by all involved.

For this most excellent little sighted guide.

YYFH2SK.jpg

She is now at the age where we can play “guess which one of your aunt’s eyes is the real one” and she understands. Not freaky at all, right?

She gives her little left hand to me and her right to my brother and leads us out of the restaurant, all in a bendy row, our white canes out as well, just in case..

**Our Mission is to demonstrate that more awareness needs to take place for visual impairment and blindness.

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For the awareness campaigns I am able to take part in, such as

#AbbyOnTheMove

Abby Style

and

#HowISee.

Black Or White

(Just in case you were ever curious.)

🙂

Dark or light. It’s neither one nor the other by the way.

These are my thankfuls/blessings in life for this August, 2016 and beyond.

Carry On – Nora Jones

And now I’ve finished, with a song, and now I, Kerry, I will take Nora’s advice and carry on.

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