1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, Song Lyric Sunday, Spotlight Sunday

Best Possible Advice, #ChronicPain #SongLyricSunday

Breathe, Kerry. Breathe.

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Chronic Pain Awareness Week is about to begin and so I thought this the perfect time to speak about it.

I will use Song Lyric Sunday and Helen’s prompt about breathing to do it.

Singer Ingrid Michaelson had a few songs that helped me through a bad breakup and things, but this one helps to remind me of how to cope, with both emotional and physical pain.

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

It’s a good one for after a breakup, for a stressful day, physical pain, or even for people living through an awful natural disaster like a wildfire or flood, anything any one of us can’t control.

Deep breathing…I am not the first to think of it and either is Michaelson.

It’s a yoga practice. It’s a coping mechanism. I don’t speak a lot about the pain I live with on a daily basis to most people. There’s a stigma to chronic pain that is hard to deal with, almost as painful as the pain itself. If I mention it, people can’t fully comprehend and many human beings feel the common need to problem solve or judge, even unintentionally.

Do I drink enough water? Do I get enough sleep? Do I get enough fresh air, sunshine, or exercise?

Am I depressed? Do I eat enough fruits and vegetables?

***

The storm is coming
but I don’t mind
People are dying,
I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing, now

I want to change the world
Instead, I sleep
I want to believe in more
than you and me

But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

LYRICS

***

The song starts with a few lines of lyrics about more than just any one kind of physical pain. It also serves as a reminder that we all feel helpless about the things we see going on in the world and want to help. The helplessness I feel about so many of the world’s ills, human suffering, injustices, all that on top of the physical pain I live with every day and it’s enough to make me want to close my blinds and sleep through life, but I only allow myself a day or two of that before I must do something different.

Then the song repeats the simple advice to “keep breathing” and the song is correct – all any of us can do is that. I remind myself of it, at least twenty times a day or more. I tell myself to remember to do it when the stress becomes too much to handle in any given moment, when even thinking about others feels like an impossibility because being me is hard enough.

As the lyrics “all we can do is keep breathing” repeat, the song builds to a climactic point and then returns to where it started.

That’s pain of all kinds. That’s life.

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SoCS, Writing

In The Loop, #SoCS

Life is a series of limbo moments.

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I need to learn to deal better with the never-ending reality of it. I continue to live and write about my summer of writing.

Limbo

I am waiting to hear back from editors, one or another. Just a few more days and I can follow up, right?

I need to focus on all the other writing, completion of assignments in the works, and not think so much about what might/will happen.

This is a hard part of freelance for not just me. I could give up because it is uncomfortable. Go back to, who knows what else.

Or, I could learn extra patience, (which is what the yoga is for). Learning how to become more limber, in mind and body.

If I gave up now, I’d only be trading one type of living in limbo for all the others anyway, for not feeling like I am doing something proactive to take care of myself and be my own person, with something of value to contribute.

Any of what I’m dealing with now sounds majorly better than having to do the actual limbo, so bring on another week of the freelance writing life, still so new to me.

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TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

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Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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The Summer of My Dreams, #FTSF

I’m visiting with my old friend and, somehow, we end up running into another, a reunion thought to likely never happen.

Then, yet another old friend meets up with us, we go swimming, and end up in water which starts to become wavy. We try to get out, but a bunch of slippery, soggy dolphin-like creatures begin to drop into the water and I am taken aback, before getting bitten by one of them as I struggle to get onto land again.

I’m back in the old friend’s house, like we’re kids once more, but different somehow.

Then I am with a boyfriend (a lot like an actual ex) who speaks about how it is to date a woman who is blind, as people we pass when we’re out comment. I have a guide dog in there somewhere.

Then we’re at a party, with lots of relatives, and he lets it slip to everyone (without asking me if the time is right) that we’re engaged. This isn’t our celebration. We’re there to celebrate something else…someone else, and the crowd goes silent at this guy’s nerve to ruin the day for others.

If you hadn’t guessed it, these are just some of the things I’ve been dreaming lately. Recently my dreams have been more frequent and seemed a lot clearer. Different somehow. I wonder if a recently started medication has done this. It’s only been since start of summer and here we are at the mid point.

Summertime is half way over, and I have been making it all about my writing.. Really, June was my month for new experiences and fun times I won’t soon forget. Then the really hot temperatures arrive and I sort of hibernate inside my house.

Sure, I’m sitting inside with my laptop, instead of making the most of this warm July weather. Though, I prefer fall. I know most people think me strange for this.

The summer maybe means less to me now because it’s no longer my summer holidays, off from school. Still, the heat gives me headaches, humidity causing me to become slow and foggy, in limbs and head. I make great use of AC and only go out for small bouts of summertime.

I do enjoy hearing the sounds of families walking together passed my house, the noises of the new family out playing together who just moved in across the street. This makes me happy for summer.

I’ve been doing yoga to calm my troubled mind.

Both my nephews were born in the summer and for that I celebrate.

Camping and sitting by the fire, roasting marshmallows. Days at the beach. Pool parties. Baseball. BBQs and ice cream.

Writing isn’t normally on that list of summer fun, but I have been working hard at it, at making some of my dreams come true. I should have three or four pieces out by the time summer comes to an end.

Was it worth missing out on all that?

Well, the summer is not over yet.

Summertime sweet memories made
with Kristi of Finding Ninee for this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday.

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TToT: Peace, Happiness, and Love – June Gloom Lifting #10Thankful

“A large pine tree backlit by a cloud that is glowing from the light of the setting sun. The pine tree is a mass conical-shaped clumps of darkness that angle upwards from the unseen trunk in the middle of the tree. The edges of the tree shows more details, each branch ends in a splaying of fingers of pine needles. The cloud does not show the color in the photo as vividly as it was, it was a glowing orange color that was strong enough to show the spaces between the branches of the tree that stood between the camera and the sky.”

—TToT regular Clark of
The Wakefield Doctrine

I return from a busy time and thoughts swirling. I began this week’s post with that caption of a photo. (To see the photo, must go to the link I provide just above.)

There are a lot of photos I could now share, and I will, of my adventures in the last few weeks. I just thought, as I saw many photos and this includes Clarks’, that I have only descriptions (as vague or elaborately detailed as someone else chooses) to give.

For now, I needed a break from trying to imagine what my eyes can’t see and am going back to a totally wordy TToT post. Instead, I challenge you to read the photo descriptions of Clarks’ that I include here, as a thankful, and try to allow his words and mine to conjure up images, without necessarily relying on the visual.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a writer like Clark deciding to explain the photos he includes.

“Looking Homeward from the woods. The light and shadows cover the lower half of the photo and, together point towards the house. The ground is brown with shadows and light that do nothing to make it less brown looking. Even though the house itself is mostly brown (with dark vertical rectangles, outlined in white that show the windows along the top half) the background above the house shows blue, even though the green pine trees rise through the top of the picture, telephone pole straight, with drooping green arms of branches. The house looks farther away than it is.”

Well done once more Clark. Bravo!

Writers are, or should be, great at describing a visual image. It seems like an excellent writing exercise to me. I appreciate it when it is done, though it can’t completely ever make up for the inability to see with one’s own eyes. I only allow myself to feel the pity of that situation in my own life for short bursts and then I return to thankfuls such as these.

I’m thankful for such excellent writing advice.

With a little summer happiness.

Carrie Snyder says: My current philosophy (and by current, I mean, as of yesterday afternoon), can be summed up thusly: just finish it, including all of your bad (wild, implausible) ideas, and see what happens. As I counselled a student yesterday in my office: the perfect story you’re holding in your head has to get out of your head in order for others to read and experience it—and in order for that to happen, you have to accept that your perfect story will be wrecked in the process, at least to some degree. You can’t take that perfect story out of your head and place it on the page intact. No one can. But there isn’t another way to be a writer. Let your perfect imaginary story become an imperfect real story.

I’m thankful for the opportunity and a first successful conversation with someone from a leading awareness organization of blindness and its issues.

VisionAware

I hope to start writing articles for them very soon.

I’m thankful for a successful first real try at yoga.

I am doing it with my bed as a yoga mat and my teacher a voice through my laptop, for now anyway.

I will buy the mat soon as I decide I will stick with it and I found a teacher who lives in Montreal, so not all that close by. She instructs me over Skype and it works.

My favourite part was at the end when she instructs to just stay lying there, still, for however long it takes to get back up and into the real world again.

So peaceful. I heard a basketball bouncing, off somewhere out my window, but I focused on the light on my ceiling and allowed no intrusive thoughts to interrupt the peace.

I’m thankful I got my entry in on time for the Writing Diversity contest, for a book festival that takes place on Toronto’s waterfront every September.

I left it to the deadline, not good, but it’s done.

I began the month of April submitting one short story to Alice Munro’s contest and ended the month of June with this one.

Each time I feel my story is actually good enough to have a chance, so maybe my confidence as a writer is growing, at least.

It would be cool to get to read this latest story on stage in Toronto if I did win.

I’m thankful a new episode of Ketchup On Pancakes is complete.

Raise a glass or a fist with us to progress and the passing of the years. A lot can happen in twenty of them.

January/February to June/July and Ketchup On Pancakes is back on the podcast scene.

Episode 5 – 2017: “Get Up and Get Going) (Year of the Roooooster) – Ketchup On Pancakes

Are you into astrology? I admit, I am skeptical, but it seems as possible as anything, and highly philosophical, which I like.

This is the year to get up and get going toward something. The time is now. This moment is everything. We are making this year count.

Brian’s laugh is infectious throughout. Both of us aren’t afraid to make fools of ourselves to lighten the mood. In this first new episode of the year (already halfway through), I follow a rooster’s example and Brian shows off his recently graduated audio skill set. We discuss travel, family, achievement, and feelings of self doubt that makes any adventure such a worthwhile challenge, using our trademark sense of humour to keep things real.

Give us a like.

I’m thankful for “The Elsewhere Region,” also known as the local library’s writing group I attend – for many starts to possible stories.

Without this group, I wouldn’t have a started story twice a month or so to possibly shape into an entry, like those I’ve been submitting lately.

I began going to this group to work on more fiction. Otherwise, I lean toward more nonfiction and memoir. That is great too, but this balances out the all too real.

I start a story, never knowing where it might lead. I have many I started and haven’t gone back to, but sometimes, an idea catches on and leads to more.

I am thankful for messy conversations being had.

Inside Messy Conversations About Race – NPR

My friend Kerra did an excellent job being interviewed about the project she has teamed up to tackle. It’s an important conversation to have and to continue having, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

I’m thankful for the chance to consider what my country is all about on Canada Day, 150 and every day.

Part of it was what I felt on my Yukon trip last month. Part of it was the discomfort I experienced as Canada Day 150 approached. It was a lot of things all mixed together.

I don’t wish to revere the man who started Canada, 150 years ago. I don’t wish to say Canada is all a lie. I just wanted to be real about how we all got here.

I do feel lucky to live here. I do.

All the careless playing with fireworks people seem to do. All the celebrating and revelry of one day, as people love a party. I just wanted to get past the one day, to remember all the others. I don’t get why Toronto had a giant yellow rubber duck for the occasion. I don’t pretend to understand it all. I just want to focus on what is good about this land. I don’t know where the future will lead. I only know right now.

Shamaya – Susan Aglukark

I’m thankful for Canadian music, artists, and the history of a country like that from which I live and learn from.

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TToT: April Showers and Scoops and Slurs, #NationalSiblingsDay #10Thankful

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

The birds have been keeping me sane all week.

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Their songs, tweets, chirps, and twittering melodies have calmed me, any moment I felt anxious about a bit of a difficult week.

It was Billie Holiday’s birthday. Her voice brings me back to a different time.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a glimpse into an unfamiliar place.

The Colours of Kenya

Love the colours.

I meant to include this last week. Lizzi wrote this incredible story about her time in Kenya. If you haven’t read it, you should.

I am thankful for tall mountain pose.

Someone who knows a lot more about yoga than me found this one. I’ve been trying it out. The woman describes the poses well, though I don’t know I am all that good at following the instructions. The deep breathing is the nice part.

The music in the background is rather soothing, but for the clanging bell sound that makes me think of that warning bell you hear at a train track as a train comes near. Not so relaxing for me. Kind of triggering.

I am thankful for a challenging week.

I have been doing A to Z for the first time and this week has been rather fun. I’ve not put too much pressure on myself with it.

I am thankful for an opportunity to share a little piece of myself.

It Was All a Blur #MyBlindStory

I am thankful for a night out at an author reading which involved some helpful men who showed me through the library and a kind word from an author, on a night I almost missed out on entirely.

It had been a rather bad week and I almost backed out and stayed hidden at home. If I’d received the rejection to a writing pitch I would receive while I was at said author reading, or if I’d heard the unsettling news that would come later on that night involving 45 and missile strikes, I may have chosen to stay hidden. Thankfully, I hadn’t. It was a rainy night, but I am glad I braved it anyway.

“Ann Walmsley author of the Prison Book Club will be sharing her experience of becoming a book club volunteer at men’s prisons in Ontario. This incredible book recently won the Edna Staebler award in 2016. One juror Bruce Gillespie quoted: “Walmsley’s book provides a unique glimpse into the lives of incarcerated men and the transformative power of literature and fellowship.” Featured several times on CBC it is truly a honour to have her come to Woodstock Public Library.”

After the reading, I introduced myself to the author and bought a copy of her book. I spoke to her about being a writer and she gave me a bookmark with her email and told me I could email her if I ever had any questions about writing.

http://www.annwalmsley.com

I am thankful for scoops and slurs.

I have moved on from Brahms’ Lullaby and on to learning a song I didn’t recognize from my teacher’s description, until she played a little of it and a song that came, preprogrammed on my brother’s little keyboard from childhood, it all came back to me. I love the different violin techniques in this one. It will be a challenge, but one I am quite excited about taking on.

There are scoops when playing the violin. Going from one string to another.

Not all slurs are nice, but the one that occurs in this song is a new technique to me.

I am thankful for family members who are handy and generous with their talents and time.

A leak somewhere in my shower, dripping water down through my ceiling and into my living room are a different sort of April showers. Keep that outside my home preferably.

I have an uncle and cousin who do this sort of thing, fixing showers and leaks for desperate nieces and cousins like me.

The machine they had to use up in my ceiling was loud and reminded me of a dentist’s drill. Again, triggering.

Now I have a layer of dust over everything, including my books, but all is well again.

I am thankful for a day of family, an early Easter/birthday celebration.

Family days include fun, laughter, children playing, and scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I am thankful for my siblings and the siblings (my nieces and nephews) who have each other.

My nephew now has a sister, a sibling, and all of them have a friend for life.

This makes my list every year (National Siblings Day) and every year it is more and more true.

This year mine are willing to do something special with me in a few months, zip lining alongside Niagara Falls, to celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant.

They are the best.

I am thankful for a surprise phone call from a friend.

I was tired, after this week, but it was nice to talk and catch up.

It’s been raining, off and on, all day long. This is April – to be expected. Not so bad.

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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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