Blogs and Blogging (What attracts you to them?)

blogging

 

For a while now, I’ve been debating on starting a new blog (aside from this one) but am trying to figure out which side(s) of me to portray in it.  Hence, this poll.

I’m considering showing more of the “real” me; but, would this be attractive to readers?  Would they be interested in what I have to say?  Hmm…

What about you?  What draws you to some blogs more than others?

 

Advertisements

Usher Awareness: Own the Equinox

ushequx

 

 

In honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on September 17th, I’m walking at least one mile a day for 25 days. I’ll then join my USH family around the world for the final 1.2 miles in this mile-a-thon.

If you can’t make a donation at this point, help me reach my goal by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter!

Or, even better, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!

Thanks so much for your generosity!

Help me own the Equinox. Together, we can make Usher syndrome history. #USHEQX
If you wish to follow my journey, please visit my page for updates.

The Dawning (Day One) Part One

12196255_10153141917005667_6710745592747987123_n

 

(*Note: In continuation to the Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind) post)

 

Day One

The first full day is done.  It was a good one, I think. Had three one-hour classes in the morning; and three one-hour classes in the afternoon.  My schedule will be the same for the rest of the week. One of the Vision Specialists made sure we were awake by 7:15am by knocking on each of our doors.  Breakfast was held in the kitchen/small dining area on the other side of the building from 8 till 8:30.  Since each one of the residents have varying degrees of visual loss and this was our first day,  Amy (one of the Visual Specialists) led us down a few different hallways to the kitchen/dining room area (also labeled as Daily Living Skills Center). Here we ate cereals and toasts.  It was a fairly quiet meal as we didn’t know each other.  I could sense that I wasn’t the only one feeling anxious about being here at the School.

My first class began at 8:30 with Ken (Daily Living Skills Specialist) so I stayed in the kitchen/dining area.  We just went over tidbits in regards to kitchen skills (which areas I like to work on throughout the week.  Guess I’ll be getting some cooking in too).  At 9:30 I met with Margo (Mobility Specialist).  She took me into an office and we discussed various aspects of mobility and the cane (I brought my own but have never used).  She took me out to a particular (long and wide) hallway and went over the basics of holding on the cane, and tips on how to use it.

parts of walking cane

 

For about 1/2 hour, I walked up and down this corridor, swinging the cane side to side (tip must always stay in contact to the surface), while Margo watched.  Every once in a while she’ll correct my form.

Today I didn’t have a 10:30 class (Specialist had a previous appointed event to attend) so I went to my room, and rested.

At 11:30 I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for lunch.  Again, we were quiet as we ate.

12:30 was a group meeting in a conference room.  From there I went to my 1pm class with the Technology Specialist, Tracey.  She showed me a little about various accessibility functions on a desktop computer (mainly Windows).  2pm I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for my second Daily Living Skills class with Amy.  I had the joy of preparing sliced potatoes and ham for supper.  Nah, it wasn’t that bad at all 🙂  At 3pm, I met with Candy at the Braille Center.  I learned what the alphabets A and B look like.  Oh man, this is like learning a totally new language!  The entire Braille language is based on these 6 dots.  See below:

braille letter z

 

“The braille alphabet is based upon a “cell” that is composed of 6 dots, arranged in two columns of 3 dots each. Each braille letter of the alphabet or other symbol, such as a comma, is formed by using one or more of the 6 dots that are contained in the braille cell. The chart below provides a good example of the design of the braille alphabet.”

braille dots

 

(Courtesy of Vision Aware)

 

Whew…am feeling exhausted after my first full day here; but, in a good way.  Margo told me that I am to be using the cane the entire time I’m here; meaning it has to stay “attached” to me no matter what.  I told her that I would.  Using the cane still makes me quite nervous (self-conscious is probably a better word); but, I think I’m getting a little more comfortable with it (better than earlier today anyway).

The others are a good group of people: Tara, Rosalinda (aka Linda), Marlene, David and Sarnoe.  Several of the Vision Specialists are vision impaired themselves.  I’m quite impressed.

There’s a level of comfort being here. I don’t have to constantly feel like I have to make an excuse for my “clumsiness;” or wonder what the others think of me as a “blind” person.  The other residents know. They understand and can completely relate.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

Yet…I still feel quite a bit of hesitancy and uncertainty.  Not 100% sure why.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to bake banana bread.  Oh, boy…

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind)

dusk in nd

 

“The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.”-Olivia Howard Dunbar, The Shell of Sense

(*The following is an excerpt from the journal I wrote during my week at the School for the Blind)

I decided I would journal about my week here at the School for the Blind.  Originally, I postponed the one I should have gone to back in March; but, because of anxiety issues, I opted out.  What finally enabled me to attend this particular week in June?  One, a passionate pep talk from my husband (if I don’t do this now, my anxiety would only get worse); and two, Pam’s-my Vision Specialist here at the School, gentle encouragements.

So, here I am.  Arrived at the School around 6pm.  Hubby and son left soon after I found my room.  Felt a little apprehensive so I busied myself by unpacking everything.  I was then summoned by one of the other Visual Specialists, Amy.  We sat at one of the round tables in the Common Area where she peppered me with various questions such as what are some of my goals for the coming week.  This session lasted for about 1/2 hour.   I was invited stay to have sandwiches with the others.

I couldn’t.

I’m back in my room now, in my jammies.  Have my tablet (no television in my room) so I think I’ll catch a few episodes of Bones.

I think there will be at least five other residents here with me for the week.  I’m sure I’ll be meeting them tomorrow.  I have no idea of what to expect here and that has me feeling quite nervous.  Hope I can get some sleep tonight.   I know I should have stayed to meet the others…this will keep nagging at me tonight.  Story of my life.

Should haves.  Regrets. Missed chances and opportunities.  Constantly self-sabotaging as punishment.  But, for what?

Okay, need to stop dwelling on the past.  Can’t change any of that now.

Time for Bones.

Fighting the Darkness

bare land

 

For a long time, I viewed my disabilities as weaknesses; and considered myself to be inferior to other able-bodied individuals.  I felt that by “accepting” my disabilities meant I was giving in to them.

So, anger settled in.

Instead of feeling propelled to do great things, I opted to feel sorry for myself and gave up on my dreams.

Years passed.  Regrets mounted.  Misery and loneliness hung on me like thick furs on a hot, muggy summer day.

Suffocating me ever so slowly.

Anxiety and depression visited intermittently until they decided to move in on a more permanent basis.  It got so bad I couldn’t step outside of my own home without having an episode.

I realized that I couldn’t go on living like this.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t too long after we moved to North Dakota when I learned there was a School for the Blind in Grand Forks (a short 45-minute drive from home); and that they offered Adult Weeks just about every quarter.  Pam, my Vision Services Specialist, encouraged me to come in March.  I had every intention of attending, but “chickened” out at the last moment.   She then encouraged me to attend one during the first week of June.

I actually went.

Finally.

 

*Will talk about my week at the School for the Blind in my next post.

 

 

Nature Intervention

Ever gone through times when you think you were starting to get ahead financially and then…ka-blamo!  Nature intervenes.

Life (and goals) interrupted.

This past Friday started out normally.  I got up at 5am to help hubby get around for work, and sent him on his way.  Work for him was nearly 1 1/2 hours commute time, one way.  My son’s on his summer break so I let him “sleep” in ’till 7am.  We’d spent the past few days cleaning the house since my Mom and young nephew were flying in later that morning to spend a week with us.  The house was the cleanest it’s been since we moved in a year earlier (pretty sad, huh?) I was in the process of fixing breakfast for us when hubby called.

“Better get to the basement.” He said.  “A bad storm’s headed your way.”

I glanced out of the window.  Dark clouds were billowing in.

“Okay.” And I hung up.

I sent my son, Karl, down the basement with one of our cats.  I finished fixing a mug of coffee and proceeded to step down in to the stairway when out of nowhere these horrific winds (macrobursts they’re called) slammed into the house.

Whooshing sounds rattled all around us.  Before I closed the door, I glanced back at one of the kitchen windows and saw nothing but a sheet of whiteness.

We sat on the sectional couch in the basement, listening to the roaring outside.  It wasn’t 10 minutes before the power went out.

Oh, great.  (Not really especially if you have a sump pump in the basement with no back up power supply)

The storm was over 10 minutes later.

Karl led me, fumbling and all, to the other side of the basement where the sump pump was, and we checked the “well” in the floor.  The water was rising rapidly.

The next twelve hours were a bit of a blur.   First part of it was spent in the pitch blackness of the basement as I frantically filled the only two buckets we could find with icy water while Karl ran them up the stairs and out the sunroom’s door and dumped their content outside.   This cycle went on for at least five hours.  By this time, hubby had returned home (worried since he hadn’t heard from us).   Karl, exhausted from all the running; and me, in shorts and sandals, up to nearly my knees in cold water, shivering.   The entire finished basement floor now under water.

Hubby declared it “lost.”  We shifted gears and began pulling everything that could be saved out of the basement, and filled the sunroom.

Then my Mom and nephew arrived.

The cavalry.

A few moments later, the power came back on which brought on another set of problems for us.

With the sump pump now running overtime pumping water out of the flooded basement, the piping system became overwhelmed and there were leaks springing in several places.  The largest of them was in the laundry room up on the main floor.  Mom, hubby, Karl and myself worked in shifts baling water until the sump pump “caught up.”  Then the leaks ebbed until they completely stopped.

The ordeal began a little before 8am and finally subsided around 8:30pm.

Then, I went outside and oh…my…gosh…

Tree carnage everywhere I looked.

20160617_155831_resized 20160617_155839_resized 20160617_155924_resized 20160617_155946_resized 20160617_160219_resized 20160617_160253_resized 20160617_160308_resized 20160617_160340_resized 20160617_160815_resized 20160617_161110_resized 20160617_161127_resized 20160617_161715_resized_1

 

I was in disbelief (still am).  I later learned that many farmers around us have sustained similar damages and worse.  Dozens and dozens of crop fields are under water.

Lost or at best, severely damaged.

I wanted to cry; but as I looked around and saw my family…

Safe.  Unharmed.

And I felt so grateful. In spite of the damages our farmstead had sustained, we were together.

And that’s all that mattered to me.

So, now the cleanup process has begun; and even with insurance, I can’t get over how expensive everything’s going to be.  It will wipe out our savings, and max the credit cards.  Hubby had promised to take Karl on a trip to see his cousins out in western New York but it’s looking like we’ll have to cancel that because everything’s being devoted to fixing the damages around the house and farmstead.  As a last ditch effort, hubby has set up a GoFundMe account to see if he could raise money to send Karl on his trip east.  We’ll see how that one works.

In the meantime, God Bless you all and have a restful and safe evening.

 

 

 

Darkness Abound

dark valley

 

 

 

 

One of the most difficult challenges for me was accepting the fact that I have a progressive disease (Usher Syndrome).  The next challenge was admitting that I needed new skills/retraining.

Coming to terms to both of these took twenty-four years.

Better late than never, eh?

Even then, it was difficult.  It’s been like going through the grief process that spanned over two decades.

I was not only losing my vision while dealing with moderate hearing loss, I was also gradually losing my independence.  And that was the most painful part of all.

I felt diminished as a person. Inferior.

Worthless.

A liability to others rather than an asset.

I loathed feeling that way.

But, what could I do about it?

So…depression and anxiety invaded, and for a time, won.

 

Darkness

 

Darkness is my constant companion
Everything before me veiled
Stumbling I cannot find my path
The way is shrouded
Uncertainty fills my future
Which path to choose?
Dreams seem just beyond my reach
What is the point of even trying
When darkness is all that awaits me?

 

*Stay tuned for the next post on what I finally did about my situation

 

A Step Forward (Hopefully)

steps

 

Just a quick post to let my faithful readers know that I’m going out-of-town next week, and to expect the next new post to come by June 15th.

This trip is NOT a vacation; it’s something that I’ve been “dreading” to do and have already postponed it once.  It’s a step forward for me as I’m attempting to face some of my fears head on in regards to my progressive vision loss.

I hope to share more on this when I return.

Happy writing (and reading) everyone!

 

Do You Let Your Fears Stop You?

As writers and on a personal level, we all have fears.  But, there are some that stop us right in our tracks.

Derailing everything.

How do you usually handle your fears?

 

 

I love to say that I tend to face my fears head-on; but, for the past decade, I’ve been running from them.

As the result, I’m now battling with anxiety issues and am becoming more and more reclusive.

What happened to me?  I’m puzzled, honestly.  I used to have no problem getting out and about.  Now, I’m growing petrified even thinking about stepping out of my house.

I feel like such a coward.