Wednesday, December 31, 2008

24-7 Darkness (Revisited)

One of my professors asked me what is it like to be in the dark 24-7. Up until that very moment, I hadn't really thought about it. After taking about 15 seconds to process her question and formulate some type of answer, I took a deep breath and finally replied, "Um, I don't know.”

Strangely enough, I really don't think about it in terms of 24-7 darkness. I define blindness as the inability to see. And I guess that includes light. But if I really took the time to focus on the blanket of darkness that wraps around me, I probably would lose it. The very thought of 24-7 darkness is so darn depressing.

Now that I've taken time to really think about my professor’s question, I better understand how I truly feel about this "24-7 darkness that supposedly surrounds me." The truth is that I actually ignore the darkness.

Let me explain, if I can. There's no way possible for me to ignore my blindness. It is what it is. I can't escape it, even if I wanted to. I can't ignore it, pretend that it's not there, or take a break from it for a day.

But the darkness on the other hand, I don't have to give it my attention. Instead, I can use my mind to create visual images of the things that are in my physical presence. I can use my mind to daydream about beautiful places I would like to visit, intriguing people I would like to meet, and a wonderfully fine man to take me on one of my many dream vacations. I can use my mind to remember all of the beautiful experiences that I've had in my lifetime. I can use my mind to imagine what my darlings, Jasmine, Gabby, and Joseph look like.

So, with that being said, I'm not in the dark 24-7. I use my mind to ignore the darkness, and to instead create light.

I guess I should let my professor know my new answer to her question.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What an Honor!!! (2008 Weblog Awards)

I'm delighted to announce that NuVision for a NuDay was selected to be a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards! Yipee!!!

NuVision for a NuDay is one of 10 blogs that will get a chance to be crowned "Best Diarist of the Year". Wouldn't that be amazing if I actually win the award?

At this point, I'm sure there are a few of you that are wondering, "Who are the Weblog Awards; and why does this matter to you?"

The Weblog Awards describe themselves as being "the world's largest blog competition with over 545,000 votes cast in 2007 edition and nearly two million votes cast in all editions since 2003." This particular year, they received over 5,000 nominations for the 2008 edition of the awards. After a careful and thoughtful selection process, 500 blogs were selected to be finalists in 48 categories.

So, for NuVision to be one of the blogs honored as a finalist is rather significant and quite an achievement as a blogger. Plus, this notable mention will provide my blog with greater exposure and will hopefully boost my readership. I am excited about more people becoming aware that people with disabilities are capable of being productive, insightful, employed, socially attractive, responsible, and happy.

It has been and will continue to be my desire that NuVision for a NuDay will be one of the tools that decrease discrimination, increase respect, and shatter stereotypes. If I'm not mistaken, I think that my blog is the only blog that is a finalist in the awards that focuses on disability related issues. So, I feel a little pressure to maximize this opportunity to represent for disability bloggers all over the world. But I'm confident that my blog's presence on the list of finalist is a wonderful opportunity for me to share with thousands the experiences of a person with a disability, in particular, blindness.

I'm also honored to be one of the few bloggers of color to be selected as a finalist in this year's Weblog Awards. I'm a proud member of the Afrosphere! So, it's great to be able to rep for them as well.

To learn more about the awards, and to see a list of the finalist, click on the below link.

I'll be sure to announce how and when you can vote for NuVision for a NuDay.

Have a satisfying and peaceful day!

Angela L. Braden
Author of NuVision for a NuDay
Finalist for the 2008 Weblog Awards

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Last night, my darling, Jasmine, walked over to me, lifted herself up, and plopped her little body into my ever-available lap. She rested her head on my chest and asked me a question that probably has been lingering in her head for at least a few minutes, which is a long time when looking at the attention span of a five-year-old.

"Ann, you gon' be blind forever?"

The word "forever" rang loudly in my head. I didn't quite know what to say. "Forever is such a long time." I thought. And the idea of admitting that my blindness could be sticking around forever was a bit overwhelming at that particular moment.

I quickly thought, "What do I tell her?" If I say yes, I would basically be telling the truth. Well, at least the doctor's version of the truth... But saying yes is surrendering to the condition, and signaling to the atmosphere and perhaps God that I don't have enough faith to believe that I will see again.

The truth is that I absolutely want to see again. And I would do anything, and I mean anything to get that chance. But to be quite honest, I think that I am at a place that I honestly believe that the chances of seeing again are slim to none. But I haven't always felt this way.

When I first started losing my sight, my folks used to drag me to every healing crusade, revival, and conference that was being held in the city. My aunts would recommend certain preachers that they believed had the gift of healing to my Mama. And my mama would take me to each of them, hoping that the Lord would touch her baby and give her sight back. And I was hoping too.

So, it didn't matter to me how many prayer lines I needed to stand in, how much blessed oil needed to be splashed on my forehead, how many times I needed to turn around in a circle, and how many meals I had to fast from...I wanted to see again. And I believed that God could do it. And I really thought that believing that He could do it meant that He would do it.

But with each passing year, the Glaucoma that was ravishing my eye continued to get worse, and my sight continued to fade. By the time I was thirteen-years-old, my right eye was completely blind. And the visual acuity in the left eye was so bad that I could not walk in unfamiliar territories without sighted assistance. But I didn’t stop believing though. I continued to fast, pray, anoint my own head with oil, get prayer from the elders, call prayer lines, quote scriptures, and declare the victory over my blindness.

But to no avail, despite 14 surgeries and my unwavering faith in God, I lost all of my functional vision my senior year in high school. I only had light perception in my left eye. But no matter how dark it was, I continued to fast and pray. I refused to give up.

Two years later, the tiny bit of sight that I had left to let me know if the sun had rose in the morning had left me. And I was left in total darkness and complete despair. My faith was shattered, and I begin to wonder if believing and expecting a healing was handicapping my ability to “see” what God truly wanted for my life.

After a lot of aching and pain, I realized that I saw God as a healer and not a sustainer. I believed that He could heal me. But strangely enough, I didn’t believe that He could make life with blindness be alright.

Huge leap from then to now…

I do believe that God can heal. But I refuse to spend too much time dreaming about the day that Angie possibly gets her sight back. Instead, I spend my time trying to figure out how I can trust God to see what it is I’m supposed to be looking at.

So, back to Jasmine's profound question... After allowing memories of pain, disappointment, and sadness rush through my head, I took a deep breath and with confidence, I told Jasmine that yes, her aunt will probably be blind forever. And that it is truly okay.

Angela L. Braden

Friday, December 19, 2008


**Okay... This morning I was looking through my poetry folder, and I ran across this poem I wrote over ten years ago. This poem truly blessed my life, along with dozens of other young women. And when I read it this morning, it had the same profound effect on me, much like it did 13 years ago.

However, my life has changed so much since then. Back then, to be quite honest, I didn't know what the heck it really meant to be a woman, let alone a truly vertuous woman. But now I know. And looking at this poem places pressure on me to rise to the occasion. (My head hurts thinking about the high standards.)

I am not the woman in this poem that I wrote about 13 years ago. I wasn't her then. But the purpose of writing this poem was to call those things (me) into existence.

Plus, I made a decision then to not allow anyone to call me anything other than what God designed me to be. I forgot about that. Since then, I've been called a whole lot of things that I know I'm not. A bithch, a tease, a snob, a crybaby, and a judge...

But I declare this day, that I am defined by God. And I insist that through God's grace, I will become...Or should I say, I am a proverbs 31 woman. So, no matter what those that speak against me and negatively about me say, I know deep down in my heart who and Whose I am.


by Angela L. Braden

I may not be what many consider beautiful
Overweight I may be
Feeling my increasing age each day
But those things do not matter
Because beauty will pass away
But I will always be a Proverbs 31 Woman

Flirtiness, manipulation, and false charm are no longer apart of me
Deceit is a quality of my past
No longer am I filled with anger, seeking to strike out
No longer am I tearing down my house with my mouth
For I am a Proverbs 31 Woman

Many women detest me
And many men try to test me
But I stand strong like a mountain
Never to be moved
Never to be torn down
I am a Proverbs 31 Woman

I am striving daily to improve myself in all areas
Physically, emotionally, and most of all SPIRITUALLY
Mediocrity is no longer the standard that I live by
I must strive for perfection
I must be a healthy vessel
I am a Proverbs 31 Woman

One day I shall give myself to a MAN of GOD
Allowing him to experience my purity and truth
Sharing with him my deepest secrets
Loving him every day of my life
Giving him the opportunity to experience a Proverbs 31 Woman

He will love me
He will trust me
He will not leave me
For when my man finds me
He has found a good thing
For I am a Proverbs 31 Woman

**Miko, this is dedicated to you, baby. Love ya!**

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I did it!

Those of you that read this blog on a regular know that I've been taking an online class to become certified as an online instructor at the college where I teach. It was a nerve wrecking experience. But I finally got through it last week. And after I finished, I submitted by course design to the distance learning office to get the final approval. This afternoon, I was pleased indeed when I received this note from the distance learning office.

**Dear Ms. Braden,

Your course has been reviewed along with the Project Review Guidelines and I am happy to report that your course does meet these requirements and you are certified! I have attached a copy of the guide for your records

Congratulations on completing the process for Level I Certification to teach online. Your record will be marked as complete in My Workshops and we will send a certificate of completion to you at LSC-Kingwood.

Best Regards,

Chantell W. Hines, Ph.D.
Instructional Technologist
Lone Star Online
Lone Star College System**

Can you believe that last week I felt like giving up. I even had a little anxiety attack regarding this class. But I stayed on course and finished the race. Thank God for persistence!

When the task that has been put in front of you seems to be overwhelming and insermountable, don't give up. Stay on task. And always keep moving. Even when you're tired, keep moving. Even when you can't see your way, just keep moving.

Be encouraged!

Angela Braden
Mountain Climber

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's comments like these that keep me going.

There are times that I feel overwhelmed and frustrated with my life. And it would only be the truth if I admitted that sometimes I really feel like giving up. But when I do feel like giving up, I think about all the people I would disappoint if I threw in the towel. I think about all the people that depend on me to be an example of what god can perfect in a person that is seemingly broken. I think about all the people that I inspire to keep going, even when life is sitting on their necks. I think about all the people that, because of their contact with me, now realize that disability does not mean death.

This week was the last week of the fall semester. Some of my students sent me some very nice e-mails. and I got them just in time.

In the last couple of days, I was feeling overwhelmed with all the things I have to do. And I was even feeling a little frustrated about this blind thing. But when I got these e-mails, I perked up and got my strut back.

Here's a few of the nice e-mails I got this week.

“Happy Holidays Ms. Angela! So far, you're the coolest instructor I’ve had. Everyone’s been so formal and teachery. Its fun to have an instructor that feels like a friend, not just a teacher. I hope I can have another class with you.” E.P.

“I would just like to say that I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from an instructor as amazing as you. I want to say thank you for bringing speech to life for me, and making class so much fun. I have never had an instructor make me want to learn or even make me want to come to class in the way you have. Every day in your class was a different experience, and I truly am honored to have been able to call myself one of your students.” S.L.

“She has a great personality and truly is a special person whom I would recommend anyone to take her interpersonal communication class or any future classes she chooses to teach.” A.B.

“When I came to the first day of school, I didn’t even really know that Professor Braden was even blind until about half way through the class period. She was just walking back in forth and talking about herself and making the students say something about them. I’ve never had a blind teacher before and honestly I never really thought that a blind person could be a teacher. But I was proven wrong. Professor Braden is a very good speaker and a good teacher. She speaks clearly, makes sure everyone understands, and has a passion for what she does.” S.C.

“I was honored to sit on the last row in the last left hand seat. I had the best seat in the class. I was allowed to watch you and the class as if it were a stage presentation. At times the interaction left me speechless. The way you communicated and presented life span communications in such a way the whole class should have been able to relate to. And, I believe they did. I would like you to know that I observed my classmates hanging on to every word that you spoke.
I believe that you accomplished what you set out to achieve. I believe you have made an impact on each student rather it is on culture sensitivity, gender communication, or disability awareness. I know that you have empowered me with all of the above and much more.” C.B.

It's comments like these that help me understand the importance of a "blind chick" being a teacher at a college. So, when I feel like the stress of being a blind teacher of sighted students is too much, I'll come back and read these comments. When I feel like my presence is not a "big deal", I'll come back and read these comments. And when I feel like my life has no real "purpose", I'm going to come back and read these comments.

**When you feel like your life is a waste, a failure, a let down, think about all the people who depend on you to be you. They need you. Heck, all of us need you. What in the world would the world do without you?

Stay encouraged. Stay strong. And stay prayed up.

Relaxing in the palm of God's hand,
Angela Braden
Adjunct Faculty at Lone Star College
Kingwood College

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The stress of being stretched is starting to get to me. In the next 48 hours, I have to make some things happen that must happen. There's no getting around it... No dodging it... Procrastination cannot be an option at this point.

What all do I have to do?
* I need to go to TSU to turn in my application to graduate school. (I've decided to work on a second masters. More later...)
* I need to complete my training to become certified as an online instructor.
* I need to create a make-up test for four of my students that I'm showing a little mercy to.
* I need to get my students' papers graded by Friday. (If I'm not mistaken, I have until Monday to get that done. But I don't want to put it off.)
* I need to go to the college and run the final exams through the scantron machine.
* I need to tally up the students' grades from the semester and transfer them to the official grading form.
* I need to finish designing my class that I'm supposed to teach during the winter break. (This class is scheduled to start Monday. So, without a doubt, I have to finish designing at least the first week of course content by the end of the day.)
* I need to submit some kind of request to get my online class approved by the distanced learning office. (I'm not sure what I need to do to get this done. So, I have to research it this morning.)
* I need to file my taxes from 2007. (Yes, I know that I am late. Don't shoot me. I'm paying for it already.)
* I need to apply for federal financial aid to attend school in the spring.

So, keep me in your prayers today and tomorrow. I definitely need the Lord to help me get all of this done. Also pray that my folks will be quiet, helpful, and understanding of my last minute stress.

Y'all have a good one. I'll check in by the weekend.

Blessings and light,

Angie Braden

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable with my foggy idea of what I look like. The truth is that I haven't clearly seen myself in 21 years. I'm sure that although I didn't transform into a different person all together, I absolutely look different as a 30+ chick than a preteen girl. And while I'm absolutely certain that some aspects of myself have not changed, such as the shape of my lips, the slight dimple in my right cheek, the width of my nose, the color of my skin, I would be remised to believe that I still have the same youthful look that I had two decades ago.

So, the questions that I always ask myself are:
* What do I look like now?
* When people look at me, what do they see?
* Am I pretty, or just pretty for a blind person? (Yes, people actually do have two separate standards for the two.)
* Do I look fatter than I think?
* Do I look smaller than I think?
* Am I effectively hiding my after-blindness, lazy eye with my long hair that I swoop in my face?
* Do I look like a flashback from the 80's or an Aliah wanna-be with my hair in my face?
* Am I bringing more attention to my eye by having so much hair falling in my face?
* Do I look older than what I am?
* Do I look good for my age? (I'm not talking about looking y younger than I am. I just mean do I look good to be the age I am.)
* Do I look confident?
* Do I look nice?
* Do I look friendly?
* Do I look average?
* Do I look boring?
* Do I look fun?
* Do I look like a snob?
* Does my skin look healthy and even toned?

I survey my friends and ask them these questions all the time. Of course, they have positive things to say. So, of course, I'm left to wonder if their being nice to their friend. And I must say that they try to provide a detailed description of me to me. But no matter how detailed they are, I still have a foggy perception.

I would give anything to get five minutes in the mirror.

That last statement reminded me of the news that this brotha gave me one afternoon in Luby's. He told me that he wanted to know if I knew Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I replied that I had accepted him already, his response through me completely off.

Well, this man, who turned out to be a preacher, told me that he was so glad that I was a Christian so that I could get a chance to go to heaven and get my sight back. He went on to say that the first thing he wants me to see is a mirror so that I can see how beautiful I was while living on Earth.

Well, here's what I'm thinking... First of all, are their mirrors in heaven? Secondly, when I get to heaven, I suspect that I won't give a dog on what I looked like on Earth. Thirdly, in my opinion, self concept and self image is a construct of the human experience. It will not be an issue for me in heaven. So, his good news was not any consolation for me.

I want to see now. Seeing in heaven is not going to help me here on Earth.

And if there is a chance I get a chance to see before I get to heaven, I'm headed straight to the mirror. I sho' hope I won't be disappointed.

For kicks, and for psychological freedom, I'm going to post a few pictures of myself and some of my dearest friends on my blog tomorrow. No point in hiding from the sighted, just because I can't see myself. So, be on the look out for what I can't see...Me...