Archive | February, 2014

Independence May Be Overraterd

28 Feb

by Audrey Demmitt

I used to be a fiercely independent type. When I received my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa and the possibility of blindness registered, I panicked. What would life be like if I could not do “my own thing” on “my own schedule” in “my own way”? Little did I know at the time. Gradually, as my vision receded, so did my confidence, my out-going spirit, my freedom and my independence. There is so much to learn  in order to be “independent” as  a visually impaired person: how to use technology, how to use a white cane, how to use public transportation, how to cook safely, how to use a  guide dog, how to ask for help…it takes courage and motivation and gumption to restore a level of independence in the face of vision loss. But there is more to the equation.

In the process of learning to be independent once again, I learned surprising lessons on inter-dependence. Once I bemoaned to my husband that I was losing “my independence” and he would be stuck taking care of me. He remarked that there was not much place for independence in marriage anyway and that the best arrangement was “interdependence”. Interdependence is defined as mutual dependence between people or entities. By nature, it involves collaboration, reciprocity and mutual benefit. All living organisms are interdependent. World economies are interdependent. Communities are interdependent. That is to say, we are all connected to each other and we need each other to reach our goals in life. We are undeniably linked to our families, communities, and the world at large. We need certain things from others and they need certain things from us. We really do need each other and once we learn this, life can be richer and fuller. Independence is nice, but it can be lonely and burdensome. Interdependence defines our place in the world and gives us purpose and meaning. It anchors us and connects us to others. None of us are completely independent.

Audrey Demmitt was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 25 and has been legally blind since 1994.  She has used a guide dog for the last three years.  She is a retired  school nurse. Audrey lives in Peachtree City, Georgia with her husband and three adult children.  See more from Audrey at her blog: Seeing Possibilities, http://seeingpossibilities.com/

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How the Blind Dream

26 Feb

by Stella De Genova

If you’d like to read an interesting post with study results about how blind people dream, go to Only Human, a National Geographic blog.  Incidentally, the author, Virginia Hughes, used one of my paintings, Dream Under a Desert Sky, in the blog post!

All Senses Are Sight

20 Feb

by Stella De Genova

We’re almost through this grueling Chicago winter and on this unusually warm day in mid-February (which actually means we’ve reached 32oF), I am taking the elevated train downtown. 

The sun is so bright, it’s glaring.  The first thing I notice is a splash of bright colors on the woman’s head scarf sitting in front of me.  The sunlight is directly on her scarf and it stands out so intensely.  I look around and that’s the last of the color that I see.  Everyone’s coats are black or gray.  Are these the only color coats people buy anymore?  Probably not.  What it really means is that when the sunlight hits my eyes, it throws my vision into either a white-out or turns everything into silhouettes.  In fact, all of the figures around me are now black or gray.  This can be disconcerting at first, but I’m not afraid.  I can close my eyes and my brain starts to see with my other senses.

As I sit in this chilly metal box called a train car, I notice the warmth coming out of the vent under the window.  And I feel the swish of cold air swirl around my head and ankles every time the doors open.  There is a sway to our ride as we move forward and I can hear the scraping of wheels on the iron rails laid across wooden beams.

There are lots of smells to be found on a train ride and thankfully, none are too unpleasant this morning.  There is soap, laundry detergent, oily hair and some kind of flavored coffee. 

It’s early and everyone is still sleepy.  This is fine with me because on this morning train, no one is excited, agitated or tense.  Sometimes, I imagine I see the auras of everyone’s energy around me and today, the auras are soft and quiet colors.  I can hear some quiet, muffled voices  There’s usually at least one rider who has headphones that entertain us all.  I’ve heard every genre of music on train rides through the years but today, just a muffled synthesized beat to go along with some anonymous rap song.

I feel the train move and stop.  Doors open.  Doors close.  Move again, stop again.  People shuffling past.  Some sit and some stand.  I can feel their presence.  As we get closer to my stop, the crowd thins.  We are now in between tall buildings and the sun is blocked.  Now, only fluorescent train car lights shine on us.  Are they tinted blue or yellow – or is that purple?  No matter, it’s not as important to me as it used to be.

“Next stop: State & Lake” blares the taped announcement through the overhead speakers.  Stop daydreaming, it’s time to go.

Two Peas in a Paranoid Pod

15 Feb

by Maribel Steel

It was easier to ignore the dimming of objects, the blurring of words, the discomfort of puberty as sneaky changes were taking place right before my eyes. I was reluctant to say anything to the girls at school for fear that my new glasses would attract ‘‘special’ attention – or worse, be ridiculed and seen as the teacher’s pet.

It was a new school year, and I had not yet found a group of friends to confide in. The home teacher noticed my squinting tendency while I peered hopelessly at the blackboard and moved me from the back of the room to sit right in the middle of the front row, where she could keep an eye on me.

“Did you bring your glasses to school today?”

I cringed deeper into the chair. At thirteen, my life was being turned upside down – all due to a riotous collision of hormones.

One Italian-Australian girl sitting next to me in the front row didn’t seem to mind my ever-growing peculiarities. Antoinette was a kind and studious girl, who ignored the antics of the immature drama queens in our class and achieved high standards in her school work.

On one day, in the second floor classroom, rowdy girls snickered.

“What are you doing?” asked Antoinette, amused as I fumbled around my bag under the desk.

“Be quiet,” I snapped. 

Show me!” she said.

I put on the new gold-rimmed frames and pulled a ghastly expression, and then hid my face on the pages of a French textbook as dramatically as if I were before Marie-Antoinette at the court of Versailles. 

Tres magnifique! Those glasses suit you.”

With a playful pinch to her leg, I was relieved my new friend still liked me.

Sitting at the desk beside her, our shoulders nudged together warm and close, so close that her black hair brushed across my cheek, the fragrance of her perfume sweetening our friendship.

On some days, fuzzy writings at the far edges of the chalk board still eluded my vision, so I turned my failing eyesight to copy Antoinette’s neat handwriting. Watching her craft clear, precise strokes  to form words and sentences, was like watching a magician produce something beautiful from out of a blank space. One minute, an empty page – the next, an army of black ink-soldiers standing with military precision upon faint lines.

She often interrupted the private show by tugging at thin strands of her black hair and whined,

“I’m going bald, you know?”

“You are not,” I laughed.

“See?” She held out a long strand of invisible hair, and studied it closely before tossing it away.

“Just stop pulling it out, then,” I teased, and continued to copy her writing.

Two peas in a paranoid-pod – with Antoinette critical of her lack of hair, and my embarrassment with all the new bodily changes stealing vision – we soon became inseparable confidantes for one another.

Maribel Steel is a freelance writer, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and teenage son. She was diagnosed at fifteen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). She is currently drafting her second book, The ART of Being Blind, and hopes to use her three month residency at the Glenfern writer’s studio to complete and revise the first draft of the manuscript.  Maribel recently appeared on an International Radio Australia breakfast show. The 15 minute interview can be heard on her homepage at: www.maribelsteel.com

Other nonfiction stories appear on her life blog: www.gatewaytoblindness.blogspot.com

Thoughts of Love

14 Feb

by Dr. Seuss – a true visionary

You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Seduction

10 Feb

by Nancy Scott

(Based on music by David Ariellano)

Stretch slowly.
Up, out, under.
Gather gravity.
Tip.  Tempt.  Touch toes.
Hiss.  Purr.
Choose languid plus lust plus loss.
Come back.  Come here.
 

Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet.  Her over 600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. An essayist and poet, she has published three chapbooks. She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Stone Voices.

Inspiration

7 Feb

by Suzie Corbett

I’ve enjoyed reading since I learned how to.  Always read off of the page until my vision loss eight years ago left me without much.  However, I’ve been very fortunate to have the pleasure of listening to recorded books.  I’m fascinated by writers and the inspiring work that they do.  It seems to me that writers are very interesting and imaginative and I admire how they make it seem so easy to be descriptive.  I’d guess that most are brilliant.  Writers and books inspire me, especially the books about health, wellness and bettering one’s self.

Do I have the ability to do what they do?  I’m quite sure that I don’t possess the brilliance factor.  I enjoy humor in life and in writing.  Can I conjure up humor off of the page?  Written words are different than conversational humor.  I’ve thought about exploring my psyche through writing.  I haven’t gotten around to that yet.  Hum, what’s holding me back from this?  Am I avoiding my inner thoughts and feelings?  Yes, I believe I’m guilty of distracting myself.  Like Scarlett O’Hara said, “ I’ll think about this tomorrow.”  My inner awareness is easily distracted with busying myself by daily tasks and reading for enjoyment.  Yep, that’s me.  Hey, this habit has been with me a very long time.  However, habits can be changed.  Should I take a break from listening to my books?  Oh, but why give up the enjoyment that takes me to another place?  Why the fascination for escape?  I come from parents who are practical, realist people.  They read articles in the paper and never read novels.  I guess they didn’t possess the escape factor.  I like to think that I inspire others with my kindness and positivity.  I hope this is so.  Can I inspire myself and others through my writing? 

I believe it takes inspiration to write.  It takes confidence as well.  I think it takes bravery to face what one has written, even if no one ever reads it but you.  The result may inspire you or others.  Write to inspire and inspire to write.

I’ll be working on this.

Suzie Corbett lost her vision through a car accident but refuses to let that stop her from moving forward in life.  Second Sense and its creative writing workshop find Suzie to be a positive addition to our supportive circle.