Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014

While a couple incredible experiences took place in 2013, I’m more than glad to wave bye-bye to 2013 and say hello to 2014. With the full awareness that I possess the ability to take charge of my life and steer myself in the direction of my personal happiness, financial security, improved physical health, and emotional well being, I commit myself to the idea of doing so.

I will be more than a dreamer. I will be a doer. I refuse to continue to surrender my happiness over to external forces. My peace, my smiles, my laughter, my good night’s rest, and my confidence belongs to me and only me. I’m not willing to give it away for any reason and for any person. I will share them, but I will maintain the possession and control of all of them.

God, I thank you for the goodness, love, satisfaction, success, and restoration 2014 will bring. This will for sure be the most incredible year of my life!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Six Tips to Overcome the Holiday Blues by Angela L. Braden

For many, sadness, loneliness, stress, and depression during the holiday season are as common as turkey dinners, crowded shopping trips, candy canes, and sweet potato pies. There are a plethora of reasons why the holiday season is far from cheerful for some. Financial problems, the loss of a loved one, familial discord, lack of or unfulfilled romantic relationships, and geographic distance from loved ones are just a few of the reasons why some people find themselves singing “woe is me” instead of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

Here are some helpful tips to help you overcome the holiday blues.

1. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness this holiday season. Forgiving others gives you the ability to move forward without the baggage of past hurts, strife, and regret. Furthermore, forgiveness is the bridge that can lead to mending broken relationships. Forgiveness does not indicate that you’re weak. It does not mean that you’ve forgotten about the past offense. It simply means that you have given yourself permission to move forward to a place of healing and restoration.

2. If you are living in a city far from close family members and friends during the holidays, don’t get bummed out. Look for opportunities to spend time with family and friends that you are not as acquainted with. The holidays are an excellent time to rekindle old relationships and build new relationships. If someone invites you to a holiday party, strongly consider attending. If your church is having a holiday event, try to attend. Attending holiday events is a great way to meet new people.

3. If you have time to spare, volunteer. Making oneself useful is a fantastic way to build self worth, boost personal enthusiasm, and put personal values to work. Plus, it’s hard to think about how horrible your life is when you’re helping individuals that are less fortunate than you.

4. If you’re a person that experiences depressive symptoms, and they only get worse during the holiday season, seeking mental health services is appropriate. Schedule an appointment with a counselor as a gift to yourself and the people around you. And if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the crisis hotline in your city. They will be able to assist you with getting the services you need to address your hopelessness and despair.

5. If money is an issue this holiday season, think of creative ways you can give to your loved ones that doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money. Visit your local arts and crafts store and make your gifts. Give your adult children a “free babysitting card” for an evening out during the holiday season. Cook the people you love a great meal. There are all sorts of things you can do that do not require you to break the bank.

6. If you’re sad that someone you loved is now deceased and they are not present with you during the holiday season, cherish the time you did have with them. In addition, take time to cherish the time you have with the people that are still with you.

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger, college educator, and motivational speaker. To learn more about how this blind woman is helping audiences all over the country see their way to their personal best, visit www.bradenspeaks.com.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Middle Perspective

As I creep up on 40, my approach to living is rapidly transforming. This morning, I realized that if I have the life span of my Braden kinfolk, I'm approaching my midpoint. If I have the lifespan of my mom's folks, I have plus or minus 20 years. Basically, I'm realizing that I have no more time to waste. Time to grind until the end! I got to make this life of mine count. It's the only one I'll ever get.

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. To learn more about her services as a speaker, visit www.bradenspeaks.com.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Inescapable Pieces of Me

My family and friends often tell me that they forget I'm blind. They tell me that their forgetfulness is a result of me being so "normal" and independent. When they say that to me, I suppose I'm expected to feel some level of gratitude that people see me, but don't see my blindness. In many situations that's what I actually prefer. But when it is time for you to help guide me around an obstacle or just guide me at all, I expect you to remember.

There have been a number of cases when family and friends have left me standing somewhere, not realizing that I am not with them until they've walked off and left me. They come back to me with a shameful laugh and this popular excuse. "I forget you can't see, girl."

Well, here's the truth. I never forget. It's branded into my brain. It's a world that I never get to escape.

No matter how well I'm dressed, how straight I can flatiron my hair, how perfect I can pain my gloss on my lips, How many college degrees I have, how great I am at taking care of my nieces, or how quickly I can type up a letter on my computer, I am blind. Yes, I am a highly functional blind woman, but still blind. And my blindness presents challenges that are real and inescapable.

Just this weekend, I had three accidents. I stumped my toe against my mother's walker and broke my toenail and split the skin. I walked into a car door that my niece left open after getting out of the car. That accident resulted in me having a swollen, busted lip. And I stepped in our puppy's wet oops in the hallway. That accident was probably the most aggravating of the three. (I'm not a lover of stepping in urine, even a cute puppy's.)

Perhaps I’m glad that people see me for me. But it really is okay if the person you see me as is a blind woman. I wouldn’t want anyone to forget that I’m black or a woman. All of these characteristics lend to who I am. They make up the fabric of this person you and I know as Angela L. Braden. Don’t forget about the pieces that make me. Embrace all of them and love the whole package.

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prom Night 1992 -- Not!

Last Saturday night, while riding home from a family outing, we passed by a group of kids, all dressed up in their beautiful homecoming dance attire. Jasmine, my 10-year-old niece marveled at how beautiful some of the girls looked in their flattering dresses, sparkling jewelry, and designer shoes.

"Is it prom night, Ann??"
"No, I'm sure it's a homecoming dance tonight. This is homecoming season."

Then the questions started rolling in like an avalanche.

"What's homecoming?"
“What grade do you have to be to go to a homecoming dance?”
"Did you go to your homecoming dance?"
"Why not?"
"Did you go the prom?"
"Why didn't you go to prom?"

Always striving to be honest with my nieces and nephew, I offered answers that were easy enough for her to absorb. She's not a baby anymore. So, I now could include details that would go flying over her head just a few years ago.

"I didn't go to the prom because I was depressed about losing my sight."
"At least you were alive."
"You're right. I didn't think about that then."
“So, you should’ve gone.”

I felt it wasn't really appropriate to tell my niece that I really wished I was dead at the time and my prom or nothing else really mattered to me. She probably was not ready for that bit of truth.

I explained to Jasmine that I had just lost all of my sight a few months before. I told her that I honestly felt like my life couldn't get any worse. She asked what did that have to do with going to the prom.

“Maybe if you went to the prom, you would’ve felt happier.”

Now, that I look back on it, my niece is probably right. Going to the prom probably would’ve been fun. If nothing else, I would’ve enjoyed dressing up in a beautiful dress. I would’ve gotten a chance to enjoy the company of the beautiful, kind man that wanted to take me to my prom. (I say “man” because he was 19 or 20 at the time.) I would have a better story to tell my niece about my prom than I do now.

Oh, well… Can’t hit the reset button. And I dare not do something corny like try to recreate my prom night twenty years later. I just have to scratch that experience up as a loss. What I will do is make a commitment to do something even more fun than a prom. Perhaps when I turn 40 next year, I’ll fly to a vacation spot, dress up in a sparkly dress and have a fun night on the town with a beautiful, kind man. I wonder what my rejected prom date is doing now. LOL

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I can't do Arsenio again.

While I really really enjoyed Arsenio Hall in the 90's, I just cannot do him again. I can't help feeling like I would be living in the past if I watch the new show. In fact, I think watching his show would be outright painful for me. Honestly, Arsenio was one of the few aspects of that time in my life that was pleasant. Most of the rest of my life was hellish, to say the least. I was losing my sight, living away from home against my will, living and putting up with people I didn't like and/or didn't like me, and losing my sight. (Oh, I said that already.)
So, as much as I would like to see his show succeed, I can't join in this party.
I wonder why I don't feel that way about the music of the 90's. I guess because music has and will always be a place of salvation in my life.

Good luck, Arsenio! Take back the night.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I AM NOT EVERY WOMAN!

I am not her. She is not me. We are not the same. So, do not expect the same from us.
I am not every woman. I am Angela. And while Angela may be super bad in so many ways, I am just one woman. Not your mama, not your granny, Not your last woman, not your sister, not your daughter, not your 5th grade teacher, and not your first lady.
I am unapologetically me and only me.
I can perhaps do the work of five women, but don’t expect me to do that. Only expect the very best from this one woman. Asking me to be me, her, her, her, her, and her is unfair and unrealistic.
I am only me.
Take me and appreciate me for who I am.

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and a motivational speaker. To learn more about her speaking, visit www.bradenspeaks.com.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

My Big Fat Revenge? Oh, really?

the Oxygen cable network premiered a new show this season, called "My Big Fat Revenge." When I heard about it, I immediately turned my nose up to the idea. It seems rather juvenile and petty for these "adults" to use public humiliation as an attempt to exact revenge on someone that offended them in the past.

Yes, being bullied, picked on, talked about, and left out are all quite hurtful. I know that very well. Not only have I had a weight issue since I was a teen, I'm disabled. I've heard all kind of blind jokes along the way. I've been left out of the "cool kids" club for pretty much all my life. But one thing I refuse to do is hold on to the hurt and pain of those experiences.

What good can come out of holding on to grudges? Let that stuff go!
That's the only way to achieve real healing.
Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Six Dots

Although I would stand on a mountain top and proclaim that every blind person needs to learn how to read and write braille, I must admit that I hardly ever use it. I truly can't recall the last time I ran my fingers over a word written in braille. Well, perhaps in an elevator or possibly on one of the alphabet cards I use to introduce blindness to the young audiences I speak to...

The truth is that I very seldom use braille in my personal life. I mostly use what I consider to be the smartest technology for the blind in the history of the world. I use screen-reading software on my computers, smart phones with speech, optical character recognition to scan print documents into print, and a digital book reader to read anything my heart desires.

So, why do I think that people who are blind should still learn braille?
Braille is the pathway to becoming and remaining literate. If all of this technology was to disappear, I would still know how to read and write without having to be plugged into a wall socket.

Furthermore, speech programs are all fine and good. But the truth is that if we do everything by audio, then that means a person that's blind is never getting a chance to see how a word is actually spelled. For instance, the word "poignant" is spelled quite differently than it sounds.

So, I'm making a commitment to order a braille book so I can brush up on my braille reading skills. I need to keep my fingers familiar with those six special dots.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Not Alone

I went to undergrad at University of North Texas in the early 90's. Even though it was thirty years beyond the time UNT was integrated, the African American presence was still small. I remember being glad when there was one or two more black students in a class with me. It was good feeling like you weren't alone.
Interestingly, I was always the only blind one in each of my classes at UNT. So, I still felt alone most of the time.
That feeling is still with me today when I sit in my graduate classes at Texas Southern University with a class full of black and brown students. I feel so set apart from all of them because of my sight impairment.
This is why I'm always glad when I talk to and/or read posts on Facebook from my counterparts in the blindness community. It's good to know I'm not out here by myself, trying to make it do what it do.
Even though we can't see, it's good to be seen, even by those that cannot see.

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and a motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

I'm sure I don't look like the 10-year-old girl I remember.

The last time I saw myself with perfect, undisturbed eye sight was when I was ten-years-old. Almost thirty years have passed and my once childlike features have melted and morphed into a mature, middle age woman. I try to imagine what I look like. And I even comfort myself with the idea that my imagination is likely a match with reality. But the truth is that I have no idea how all the way grown Angela looks like.

I was a cute kid. I think I may even be a cute woman. But that doesn't really mean I look the same. I could easily look totally different.

Last year, I visited a church in my neighborhood. A lady walked up to me and asked me if my name was Angela. I reluctantly admitted that she was right. I waited for her to tell me that she was one of my students from the college or possibly someone I once worked with. Instead, she told me that she and I lived on the same street when we were in elementary school.

How did she recognize me? I am thirty years older, a hundred pounds heavier, and 100% blinder.

Even with all of that, she told me I still look the same.

I supposed that is good. At least, what I remember seeing in the mirror almost thirty years ago is a younger version of what I look like now. I'll take her word for it.

Do you still look the same? Chime in!

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Not the Average Girlfriend

It's one thing for a man to bring home a girl of a different race, an overweight girl, an unattractive girl, a girl with a bad attitude, a broke girl, or a spoiled girl. But when a man brings home a disabled girl, everybody is shocked and curious to why a good looking, smart, successful man would bring home a woman with a physical disability.

It's just not cool to have a girl that is disabled. How do you brag to your boys about that? How do you praise a handicapped girl to an overly protective mama?

Well, it can be done. It just takes a strong man. It requires that a man is selfless, open to differences, and reluctant to worry about what others may think of him and his choices for a lover.

Earlier this year, I had a brief romantic encounter with someone. He told his brothers and best friend about me. Well, two out of three of the people he disclosed to about "us" scolded him for messing around with a blind woman.

I'm not going to lie. I was a bit hurt and disappointed that these men got stuck on my blindness. It didn't matter that I have a nice job, a strong educational background, great personality, or even good looking. All that mattered to those men were these blind eyes of mine.

It's sad that some people cannot see me for me. Who's really the blind one in this equation?

Angela L. Braden is an award winning blogger and motivational speaker. You can learn more about her speaking at www.bradenspeaks.com.