Archive | September, 2014

Normal

30 Sep

by Stella De Genova

Life is all about what we’re used to. We give it the title of “normalcy.”  My normal day is probably very different from yours.  What is normal to one person can be absurdly abnormal to another.  So what is normal and should we be too concerned about it?

The definition of normal in the dictionary is: 1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural. 2. serving to establish a standard. 3. In Psychology. A. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment. B. free from any mental disorder; sane.

Well OK, I’m pretty certain I would like to be thought of as “sane” but “usual” and “regular?” That doesn’t sound like much fun!  Even if you look at your own life, what’s normal never stays the same.  What was normal then may not be normal now.  For instance, when you lose a loved one or even a pet, life can’t get much more abnormal than that.  But people will tell you that in time, you will get back to some sort of normalcy in your life.  So, normalcy can be very different than you ever knew it to be.

And what about many of the readers of this blog who are blind? Our normal is about as far away from what a sighted person may consider to be normal.  Does that make us abnormal or just different?  Remember when you were a kid and teachers and parents told you to “dare to be different?”  Honestly, I can’t compare what I do to someone else that is so different because it’s not different to me at all.  True, I have to use a color detector and I listen to a good book instead of read it.  I can’t just zoom off in my own car to pick up some groceries and I don’t even work the job I was used to working for almost 18 years.  But what I do every day now is my routine and I still take care of my home and family.  I accept the challenge to find new ways to be creative and creative ways to do things in a new way.  As it turns out, my normal works just fine for me and that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

I Don’t Want to Be Blind Today

11 Sep

Thanks to Jeff Flodin and Second Sense for sharing Jeff’s essay with us!

Jalapeños in the Oatmeal

I don’t want to be blind when it means being conspicuous.  I don’t want attention for what’s different about me.  I don’t want passers-by holding their breath as I cross the street.  Today, I want to blend in with the crowd, to be one of the guys.

I don’t want to be blind when it means being tended to.  If you insist on telling me I don’t look blind or act blind, then stop treating me like I’m helpless.  I don’t want Sunday dinner becoming a hot mess of what I can eat gracefully or who will read me the menu.  I don’t want the guilt of you taking on my anxiety and then not knowing how to handle it.

I don’t want to be blind when it means being patronized.  I don’t want to hear how tough it must be or how intelligent my dog must be.  I don’t…

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Music Is My Sanctuary

4 Sep

by Maribel Steel

One Saturday morning, my dad sat at the kitchen table, flicking through the newspaper.

“Want to know what career you might like to do?” he asked, skimming through the employment section as I sat down. At fifteen, my family had received the diagnosis that I had Retinitis Pigmentosa and my career prospects seemed very limited.

My mum was stirring porridge on the stove and took a step closer to peer over dad’s shoulder. He ironed out the crease obscuring the print with a flattened palm and scanned the long columns. Taking a swig of hot tea, he read his summarised version.

“Teacher? No. Air-hostess? No. Secretary? No. Nurse? No. Hmm…”

My mum scooted back to the stove. Our enthusiasm dwindled rapidly as each job prospect was dismissed. Career options had been an uncomfortable subject to talk about, and as we searched for a solution, none of them seemed possible. I had to fight deep feelings of potential failure. I couldn’t let the new diagnosis of going blind smother my dreams.

My parents tried their best to compensate for my vision loss with material things, making my bedroom very comfortable. Mum cheered up the space by using blazing yellow wallpaper and new furniture. They installed a lavish stereo system, a portable black and white TV and even gave me a green phone to chat with my girlfriends after school.

Having my own oasis to escape to was really a wonderful gift of love. In the privacy of my room there were no roving eyes to catch me out when I bumped into the modular furniture or fumbled around looking for misplaced objects. The parental security camera didn’t operate here in my secluded haven.

I was free to seek comfort through my passion for music. I adored my collection of vinyl records and spent happy hours singing and imagining I was a famous pop singer. In my safe existential satellite, this imaginary world was my normal world. I didn’t have to compete with anyone, and I didn’t need eyes to sing.

Dreams of my up and coming stardom as Australia’s next Olivia Newton-John soared high on wings of hope as I sang harmonies to all her pop songs. So impressed by her double-barreled surname, that I felt compelled to dream up a stage name of my own.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen…introducing…the wonderful next queen of pop – Miss Adelyn Lindsey-Hayes.’

It seems comical to me now but I did use my fictitious name once when I auditioned for a small part in the musical, The King and I for a local production. The reply printed inside the envelope, offering me the role began with, “Dear Miss Hayes…”

I was tickled pink.

I didn’t become that famous pop-star but a song is never far from my heart.

“Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” Anon

Maribel Steel is an author, 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). Maribel writes about places to feel, sounds and textures to explore as well as sharing insights on crafting The Art of Being Blind. She has self-published a book of short stories (memoir) and has several articles featured in various journals and blogs.

Read more about her at: www.maribelsteel.com and being a teaching artist at: http://www.gatewaytoblindness.blogspot.com