Friday, January 30, 2009


This meme is flying aroudn Facebook like a virus. I started seeing it a few weeks ago. And finally, three folks tagged me in the same day. And since then, the tags have been steadily coming.

And since I haven't posted a blog entry here on NuVision in a few days, I thought I would post my 25 things here as well. There's certainly some info that will be interesting to my readers.

**Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.**

The above were the rules on FB. How about this... If you're one of my readers here at NuVision, consider yourself tagged. Okay? If you want to participate, by all means, do so. But if not, I understand.

1. I had a nasty Mountain Dew habit. I kicked it about 4 months ago. A month later, I started drinking Coca-Cola. And the Coke habit seems to be worse than the MD habit. Tomorrow, I plan to go cold turkey the way I did with MD. The headache meds are on standby.

2. I plan to get some braces whenever my money is right. Although I hate to see grown folks with braces. I would much rather be seen with perfect teeth.

3. I've been blogging for 3 years now. Most of my friends and family have no idea that I have a blog.

4. I can't stand all bugs. But I hate, hate, hate tree roaches. If you want to see me act a fool, just tell me that a flying roach is somewhere near me. One day, I was out with friends at Red Lobster when a roach flew by our table. I near bout turned the table over. I've never been in a RL since then.

5. I have three sisters. My mother has three sisters. My maternal grandmother had three sisters. (I hadn't thought of that until now.)

6. I've been a night owl since I was 14-years-old.

7. Horror movies typically don't scare me. But the demonic ones throw me off. To this day, the Shining freaks me out. I refuse to let anyone watch it in the house.

8. I've worn a size 7 shoe since I was in the 7th grade.

9. I hope to have a play on tour in the next 12 months.

10. As a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer. But Radioscope and Tom Joyner caused me to want to do radio. I didn't do either as an adult. LOL

11. I've had 17 surgeries. 15 eye surgeries, 1 breast surgery, and 1 stomach surgery

12. I have Uveitis and Secondary Glaucoma. I've had the Uveitis since 8, and the Glaucoma since 10.

13. By the time I was 17, I had lost all of my functional vision. I walked across the graduation stage with only light perception. I lost the light perception when I was 19.

14. I was on BET's Teen Summit twice. (Remember that show?) I've also been written about in Upscale, YSB, and Consumer Reports.

15. For about a year, during the time I was in college, I drank at least 3 times a week. I would get so drunk that I would sometimes pass out.

16. Although I would drink like a fish, I never, never did drugs. I believed them when they said, "This is your brain on drugs." Too bad they didn't have a commercial that said, "This is your liver on alcahol."

17. I took an overdose when I was 12-years-old. Not sure if I was trying to kill myself; or if I was crying out for help. I'm thinking I was crying out for help. I told someone about the overdose right after I took the pills.

18. My eye doctor committed suicide when I was 13-years-old. I used to wonder if he had not died would I have ended up losing all my sight. But then, I put my faith in the One that lives! Glory!!! So, I have solace in knowing that God has all of this in His control.

19. My mother had a massive stroke in 2002. Her blind daughter is the primary care giver. And you better believe that I take good care of my mama.

20. Although I love music, my favorite song is "silence". The band Peace and Quiet put it out. They're my favorite group. LOL
In the silence, I hear from God. In the silence, I get healed. In the silence, I find rest.
See why I love that song?

21. I know that I am destined to have a successful speaking business/ministry.

22. I can take what I dish. That's the rule I live by. If I can dish it. Then I need to be able to take the same medicine when it's directed back to me.

23. I spent about 2 years of my life angry at God. I purposely ignored His tug and denied His existence. Thank God He didn't leave me! Grace and Mercy!!! (Don't make me shout up in here!)

24. I made the Dean's List 1 time in undergrad. But I graduated from grad school with a 3.97 GPA.

25. I'm an adjunct professor at a local junior college.

Bonus: 26. I'm trying to stop cursing. I didn't curse for years. But lately, my mouth is a mess. But guess what... Since I've been going back to church, without trying, I've improved. So now, I'm actually trying. So, I expect to have this habit smashed soon. At least, I hope.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"I'm sorry that you're blind."

Okay, okay, okay... People don't actually say, "I'm sorry that you're blind." But what they do say when they meet me and discover that I'm blind is, "I'm so sorry."

Sorry for what?

The only thing I can think of is that they're sorry that I'm blind. They're just too polite to say so. Remember, they feel sorry for me. They don't want to say the "blind" word. It's must too pitiful to say out loud, especially when talking to the one that is blind.

All day yesterday, I introduced myself to my fellow members at the church I recently joined. And 8 out of 10 of those folks that I introduced myself to required an explanation about my inability to see.

"You're blind? Oh, I'm sorry."

It's almost like people have a script that guides them on what to say to a blind person when they really don't know what to say.

But I have to give it to them... At least, they're compassionate... Hey, you can't fault people for trying to be sympathetic and concerned.

As I was leaving the women's fellowship after 10:00 service, a sweet lady, who I actually think is going to be my friend, asked me, "Are you alright? You don't feel good?"

I figured the only reason why she could be asking me if I was alright is because she saw me holding on to my mother's arm. I guessed that she probably thought that I was sick or something. Because I thought that was the reasoning behind her inquiry, I responded with, "I'm okay. I can't see."

Of course, the famous "I'm sorry." came next. But she followed the one-liner up with, "Well, the reason why I asked if you were alright is because you look tired. I can see it on your face."

And the truth is that I was tired. I was feeling drained emotionally and physically. And the cool thing is that that woman looked past my blindness and saw me. She noticed something other than my blind state. And she thought enough of "me" to be concerned about Angie, and not Blind Angie. How nice…

It makes me feel good when people see me and not just blind me. Yes, I’m blind. But my blindness is only a part of who I am. I’m more than that.

As my description of my blog says, I’m a beautiful, brilliant, African American woman, who happens to be blind. And no doubt about it-Blindness is pretty dog on bad. But I’m not sure if people should be saying, “I’m Sorry.” They didn’t do it. So, no need for an apology from them.

Random Reflections about very Specific Things

These are the random reflections that are flowing through my mind at this very moment.

1. Although I value "family", heritage, and legacy, I, in general, get sick of my family. I don't wish they would go away. I wish they would change the condition of their hearts. Changing their address is not a long term solution to the problems that plague them. It's the heart that needs a change.

I try my best to offer my support through prayer, advice, and even money. But to no avail, I don't see any lasting improvements. I just see people getting older, but not becoming more mature. That troubles me.

At this point, I don't know how to help them. I've done all that I can do. I've helped them so much that I've become more tired, anxious, cynical, and resentful than I was before I started dealing with them.

They have not improved. And I've gotten worse. That's a problem!

I will return to what I should have never left a few years ago. I will start praying and fasting again. But this time, I will not only pray for their deliverance, I will pray for mine.

I need a touch from God. I need to be healed.

2. My pastor preached about a broken spirit today. It was quite possibly one of the best sermons I've heard in my life.

I discovered that as much as I would like to hide it, I have a wounded spirit. It may not be broken. But it is definitely aching. And it's time for me to get better, to improve the condition of my heart, to get healed.

3. I'm tired of battling fat. My struggles with weight are really starting to get on my nerves. It seems that I'm like a fat magnet. If it's unassigned fat in the atmosphere, then my body grabs it. Well, at least, that's what it seems like. LOL

Today, I was reminded of how much weight I've picked up in the last year. As I hugged each woman at church, I noticed how thin or not so thin they were. I was perplexed by how many women were considerably smaller than me. I felt like a pig. A well dressed pig. But still a pig.

Tomorrow, I will begin the journey to disassociate myself with this fat. No longer will homeless fat find shelter in my body. It's gon' have to find a home elsewhere. And I mean it!

4. No more Cokes! Can I say that louder? NO MORE COKES!!!
Coca-Cola, get thee behind me! (Maybe if I rebuke that spirit of caffeine, it'll go. You think?)

All kidding aside, I have to shake the Coca-Colas. So, starting now, I declare it. And because it's here in writing, on my blog for all of my folks to see, I have to hold to it.

I know that not drinking any soda will help me lose 10 pounds right off the top. At least, I can look forward to those 10 pounds being gone, even if it's water weight.

5. I wish my daddy and mama could live forever with good health. I hate that death is inevitable for us all. I hate that death will one day separate me from them. I hate that I will likely be faced with the challenge of burying one or both of my parents. That's an awful prospect. I don't want to think about it any more tonight.

6. I'm glad that Chad, my fav cuz, is returning back to Houston in tomorrow. I miss him so much. I'm also glad that Miko is taking her butt home. I miss her tail too.

While I'm wishing folks could live forever, I might as well wish they (my close, close friends) can live forever too.

7. I wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow. Oh well...

8. For the first time today, I felt like I'm absolutely supposed to be at my new church. That was an awesome feeling. I finally have peace about my decision to join. The heart doesn’t lie. And my heart led me there.

I felt connected. I felt like I was with family. I felt like I love them.

And I feel like my feelings are true.

9. I'm glad to be in the process of building new relationships. That's exciting. It gives me something to look forward to. And I have a feeling that these new relationships will introduce me to unbelievable possibilities.

10. Did I say I don't want to go to work tomorrow?

11. I'm drawn to a couple of folks, and I don't know why. I don't like not being clear on the "why" these individuals are in my life. I'll just leave it there.

12. I wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow.

13. This blog entry started off kind of intense. But as I continued to write, I started feeling better. I thank God for the therapy that I feel when I communicate, either via writing or conversing.

14. I hate violence of any kind. But I sho' hate family violence. That seems like a paradox to me. *Family - Violence* Those two words shouldn't even be able to go together. Family love, family support, family health, family prayer, family communication, family dinner, even family conflict seems alright. But family violence? Come on now... Those words should be enemies.

15. I still don't want to go to work tomorrow. But I will. I'm thankful for my job. So, I got to prove how thankful I am by holding up the light, when I'm feeling a little dark.

16. I wonder what my folks will think about this blog when they finally read through it. I put money on it that the day they will read through it is after I'm in the ground. Sadly, some people don't pay attention to what they had until it's gone.

I'm sure they will be shocked that I've written so much over the last few years. I'm sure they will be mad about me occasionally writing about them, which I very seldom do. I'm sure they will be touched that the kids meant so much to me. And I'm also sure that they will learn some things about me that they really could've have learned if they paid close enough attention.

17. I'm sleepy. I'm calling it a wrap on this entry. These random thoughts are making me more tired than I was before I started writing.

Peace and light,
Ms. Braden

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feeling Alone and Being Alone is not the Same

Most children are afraid of the dark. But I think my fear of darkness was more intense than the average child. So, when I started losing my eyesight at the age of ten, my fear level increased dramatically. I found myself being surrounded by perpetual darkness. I was afraid every moment of the day, simply because of the deep shadow that loomed around me that seemed to never disappear.

Quite naturally, as I matured into a young woman, my fear of physical darkness faded and I learned to not tremble and faint over the darkness that followed me daily. I am not going to pretend like darkness doesn’t heighten my need to be more alert and careful, but I am glad that I am not imprisoned by the fear of darkness like I was for so many years.

Looking back on my childhood fears, I now realize why most people are afraid of the dark. The uncertainty of what lurks in the dark seems to put people on edge. It’s not really the darkness that is frightening. The unknown possibilities that hide in the darkness are what we are afraid of. As we become adults, we may leave our fear of a dark room behind. But our fear of unknown possibilities and uncertainty typically follows one into their adult life.

The night of August 2, 2002, I came face to face with one of the most challenging and daring events of my life, so far, that is. That unforgettable night, I found myself in a very dark and frightening situation.
When I arose that unforgettable Friday morning, I presumed that particular Friday was going to be like the many Fridays that had come and gone. I would get up and go to my job with more peace than I had Monday through Thursday. Simply because Friday was the day that connected me to my two days off from work. But I was in for a rude awakening. That Friday would usher in a heap of changes and challenges that seemed to be insurmountable.

After finally counting down the hours that led to the end of my work week”, I celebrated by meeting a childhood friend for dinner. Since my friend and I seldom have a chance to spend time with each other, I relished every minute. Before I knew it, hours had tiptoed by.

Midnight was approaching. I knew I should be headed home. I called my mother to let her know that my friend was about to bring me home. However, my mother, being the protective, selfless woman she is, preferred to meet us halfway, so that my friend did not have to drive the entire way back to her apartment alone. My mother immediately left our home and headed out to meet my friend and me.

Upon arriving at the meeting spot that we all agreed would be the most convenient and safest to connect, my friend informed me that my mother was already there waiting for me. I greeted her and jumped in the car, ready to get home to my bed.
After being in the car for only five minutes, I detected that something was not right. Our car began to swerve across the busy lanes of the expressway. I initially thought my mother had fallen asleep. I called her name and nudged her. But we swerved again. She was not responding to me. The car violently swerved again and again. I held on to the door of the car with my right hand, bracing myself for a possible crash, while continuing to scream her name. Strangely, she still would not respond to the shouting of her name. Miraculously, the Lord allowed my mother to pull the car off to the side of the lanes. But still, she was not responding to my persistent request to tell me what was wrong.

I grabbed my cell phone and called 911. I told them that I believed that my mother was having a stroke or a heart attack. Sadly, because I could not tell them exactly where we were, they could not dispatch emergency officials to help us. My heart sank and fear wrapped its dirty claws around my neck.

The 911 operator asked me to hold the phone while she and emergency officials tried to locate us. With my cell phone tucked between my shoulder and ear, I jumped out of the car and feverishly waved my hands, but no one would stop. Then I jumped back into the car and tried to encourage my mother to hold on and to cling to life. Then suddenly, my cell phone battery went completely dead. I panicked. My only drop of hope had evaporated when the one person that was trying to help me was suddenly disconnected from me.

I almost fell into a heap of despair, but I knew I had to get help for my mother. I lunged out the car and began waving my hands again, but this time I added screams and tears. However, the roar of the rushing traffic was the only thing I could hear. There were no sounds of sirens coming near. Nor was there the sound of a car pulling over. At this point, I did not know if my darling mother, who I love so dearly was alive or dead. My phone would not work, and I couldn’t run for help. I felt so alone. The fear of my mother dying right there on the side of the freeway assaulted my mind. Likewise, the fear of being left on the side of the freeway with the never stopping traffic all night, without anyone to rescue me, swelled in my heart. My very being was being crushed underneath the increasing weight of fear.

Then suddenly, I was reminded of the many scriptures that I have learned and believed in most of my life. I remembered that God promised in His word that He would never leave or forsake me. I remembered that the name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run in and they are safe. I remembered that God would respond to the cries of His children. I begin to scream the name of Jesus as loud as I could. Tears poured from my face like a rushing river. I screamed and screamed, with the assurance that God would respond to the cries of His child.

After only a few minutes of calling on God, someone pulled over and called 911 and gave them a location. Upon arriving at the hospital, I found out that my mother had suffered a massive stroke. But praise God, she is still alive and God is healing her every day.

Looking back on that seemingly dark night, I now realize that God was indeed present when I felt so fearful and alone. For example, God could have allowed my mother to suffer the stroke before she picked me up. If that happened we probably would have not known for hours where she was. Secondly, when my mother started having the stroke while driving, we could have been involved in a terrible accident, severely injuring or killing both me and my mother and maybe someone else. I now realize that God’s hand was still controlling the series of events that night. Although we were in a chaotic situation, God still wrapped His arms around us and protected us from danger.

**God, you've been so kind and gracious. And for that, I celebrate your presence. Thank you for protecting me, time and time again.**

Monday, January 19, 2009

GOD BLESS DR. KING! The Legacy Continues

My MLK Holiday Reflections

1. I'm so excited that my nieces and nephew know about Dr. King. I must admit that I didn't teach them. They learned about Dr. King from school and from watching their favorite network, Noggin.

Joseph came home from school last week, excited to tell me about a hero he learned about. And to my surprise, the hero was Dr. Martin Luther King.
He told me how Dr. King loved everybody, and how he wanted to help everybody. He told me that his teacher let them hear Dr. King's speech. And the sweetest thing about this is that Joseph is actually excited about Dr. King. Everytime they show Dr. King's picture on television, Joseph exclaims with excitement. That's so beautiful to me.

Yesterday, I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. While sitting at the table, I asked Gabby if she knew about Martin Luther King. She basically told me the same thing Joseph told me earlier in the week. I was so proud. But what put the icing on the cake is when my Jazzy hopped into the conversation and told me that she also knows about Dr. King. (And she actually said, "Dr. King." She said that she learned about Dr. King from Lil' Bill on Noggin. (Thank you, Bill Cosby! You do a great service to our children through that show.)

How wonderful it is that Joseph, who is 7, and the girls, who are both 5, know about Dr. King. While they may not understand the historical significance of Dr. King's life and his legacy, they are aware that there once lived a great man that sacrificed for Americans to live free and empowered lives.

2. I am so glad that President Obama is being sworn into office on MLK weekend. How sweet is that?! I wonder what Dr. King would think about this achievement.
Would he be bitter, like some of his peers from the civil rights movement have demonstrated?
Would he understand that his sacrifice positioned us for this day?
Would he be proud of President Obama, First Lady Michelle, and those beautiful girls?
Would he have endorsed Senator Clinton over President-Elect Obama?
Would he be excited about visiting an American president that looks like him?
Would he be more critical, more tough, more demanding of President-Elect Obama because he has black skin, and because of the many sacrifices that were made for a president with black skin to be in the White House?

Starting tonight, I will be glued to my television. I will be watching history unfold. And the greatest thing is that I'm apart of it!

Congratulations America!
This is not just an accomplishment for President Obama and his family... This is not just an accomlishment for Black Americans... This is not just an accomplishment for the Democrats... This is an accomplishment for us all.

3. I'm so glad that John McCain is not being sworn in the day after MLK Day. How ridiculous it would've been for a man that opposed the MLK Holiday to be sworn in as an American president, the day after the MLK Holiday.
(This is off topic, but I'm sho' glad that I haven't heard Palin's voice lately.)

4. I believe that if Dr. King was living today that he would be a champion in the disability community. I believe that he would challenge social norms, fight for work place accommodations, demand fair and equal housing, and insist that the government recognizes that people with disabilities are indeed "people".

In fact, it is quite possible that Dr. King would've been disabled himself at this point. Often times, people will become disabled as they age, due to illness and/or injury. This possibility causes me to believe even more that Dr. King would've been in the ring, fighting for those of us, who are Disabled Americans.

I know that President Obama's inaugural committee have gone all out to make sure thae inauguration is diverse. I wonder if they included people with disabilities. How can I find that out? Anyone knows?

5. I realize that if it had not been for freedom fighters, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshal, Charles Hamilton Houston, Medgar Evers, Shirley Chisholm, Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, A. Phillip Randolph, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Dubois, Homer Plessy, Dred Scott, and countless other unnamed heroes, Joseph, Gabby, and Jasmine would not be able to experience the freedom that is available for them today.

Happy MLK Day!

Spend time reflecting on what this day means to you.

This is not just another 3-day weekend.

This day was set aside to honor one of the greatest Americans to ever live.

Peace and love,

Angela Braden

Friday, January 16, 2009


Last month, I joined Facebook, which as been a fun and entertaining journey. Shortly after joining, I received an invitation to join the Levites, one of the many groups on the FB platform. Because I'm kind of sort of getting burned out with all of the blogs that I've been visiting for the last few years, I'm now looking for new blogs to throw myself into. And even though the Levites is a Facebook group and not a "blog", the look and feel of the discussion board reminds me of blogging. In fact, I would go ahead and say that it is a weblog. And it is one that I truly enjoy, at least, at this point.

The most recent discussion prompt that was posted on the board by the group's administrator, Kevin Bond, really grabbed my attention.

What would you do if you were informed that you only had 24-hours to live?

I sat at my computer and thought about the question for a few minutes. I don't know why the question grabbed me this time. I've thought about this so many times before.

What would I do if I had 24 hours to live? What would I do if I had 6 months to live? What would I do if I knew I had an hour to live? What thoughts would run through my mind if I knew I was going to die in a matter of minutes?

Yes, all of that has rushed through my mind many, many times.

The truth is that I've been afraid to die for quite some time. I guess it's the uncertainty about how death "feels", and what "really" happens to you after you die, that makes me feel a little uneasy. If I could just have a conversation with someone that has been there done that, I think I would feel better about dying.

(Ghost Alert: Don't even try it. Please do not try to do me a favor by trying to communicate with me about death. No knocking on walls, tapping on windows, and moving dishes. Okay? I don't want to talk to a dead person about death. I want to hear it from the living.)

Another reason why I think that death kind of disturbs me is because it can be so untimely. Most people don't even get a warning. No e-mail from heaven, no certified letter from the board of angels, no 24-hour appointment reminder from the welcoming committee. You're just minding your business, and all of the sudden, without a warning, and without your input, you just die. Something about that really bothers me. It seems so unfair to not have any say, no control, and no alert. Oh well...

So, when the question about the 24-hour death notice popped up in my in-box, it grabbed my attention. So, I thought about it and began to type my answer. Here's what I posted on the Levites discussion board. (I've added two more things.)

If I knew I only had 24 hours to live, I would:

1. Forgive and forget.

2. Ask to be forgiven by God and by man. (family and friends)

3. Hold the loves of my life in my arms so tight, assuring them that my love for them out lives my physical existence here on Earth. (Tears are forming in my eyes. I'm absolutely not a person to cry. That's how much I love my nieces and nephew.) Then I would tell Joseph, Gabby, and Joseph that they can be anything they wanted to be. And to never believe the destructive assessments that others make about them. I would remind them that they are special to God and living for Him is the only way to "live".

4. I would thank my mother and father for the selfless investments they made in my life. I would apologize to them for not being able to do more for them in their elder years. Then, I would hug, hug, and hug them until I stop crying. I would reassure them that I'm okay with dying, even if I'm not. I never want them to worry excessively about me, even unto death.

5. I would sit in front of my computer and write letters to my family and friends, letting them know everything that I hadn't told them yet. I would reaffirm how important each of them are in my life. I would demand that they fulfill their purpose for living. And then I will thank them for the good times and the bad. I would somehow reassure them that all the experiences we had, even the ones that were awful, helped mold, develop, and mature me.

6. I would update my blog for the last time. I would pull out my most poignant posts and place them in a specific spot on the blog. Then I would bid my final farewells to my blogging family, thanking them for giving me their time and attention.

7. I would provide my folks with the passwords to all of my e-mail, social networking sites, voice mails, and financial accounts.

8. I would gather up insurance papers and give them to my parents. I would transfer all of my money to my parent's banking accounts. I would call my lawyers and have them draft a will for me. (I don't have much. But I would want it distributed according to my wishes.)

9. I would place all of my writings, essays, unfinished books, poetry, and speeches, into a electronic and hard folder. I would preselect which one of my writings I would want to be included in my funeral program. Then I would leave special instructions to my folks on how to print, bind, and distribute it to family and friends.

10. I would call my friends and share laughs, cries, and prayers with them. I would reassure them that I am dying in peace. I would thank them for being the best friends that a girl could've had. I would tell them to live their dreams, no matter the cost.

11. I would call my pastor and ask him to visit me. We would talk about my life, my God, and my resting place. I would tell him what I would want him to tell the people. I would thank him for providing me with spiritual enrichment and covering me with prayer. Then, I would ask him to share a word of encouragement with me, read a passage of scripture, and pray one last prayer with me.

12. After all of that is said and done, I would take a bath, take something to help me relax (Wine or medication... Perhaps both... LOL), get in the bed, hold my Bible, put on the sweetest worship music, tell the Lord one final thank you, and go to sleep with my mama holding my hand and my daddy watching me from the chair next to my bed. (I know that Mama and Daddy would stay there with me until the end.)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Off Schedule, But on Course

Because of the Weblog Awards, I got all thrown off track. By now, I would have posted a New Year’s post, remarking about my accomplishments and lessons learned in 2008, in addition to my intentions for the new year. I'm now behind schedule. But interestingly enough, I'm on course.

I decided that this would be the year that I stop talking about what I would like to do with my life. I planned to put action behind my intentions and make something, anything happen. I'm fed up with dreaming. Yeah, dreaming is good. But dreams are what they are, just a dream. It is not a physical manifestation of what is supposed to be accomplished in your life. It is a figment of your safely constructed, carefully controlled imagination.

In my dreams, I can start a business, but never fail. I can be in love, and never have to worry about the man of my dreams falling out of love with me. I can be 125 pounds, and never have to worry about trying to find $6K to have a tummy tuck. I can be a best selling author, without ever having to face rejection from a publishing house. I can be a PH.D, without ever having to stand before a committee to defend my dissertation. I can be rich, without ever having to work a day in my life. I could’ve even been the winner of the 2008 Weblog Awards, without having to worry about a ridiculously embarrassing loss. *wink* Hell, I can be anything in my imagination.

But in real life, I have to face my fears, face the possibility of failure, face the reality of hard work and disappointment, face the truth about my laziness and procrastination, face the embarrassing fact that I sometimes overeat, and face the many possibilities that a person may encounter when you begin an unfamiliar path towards living your dreams. .

And this year, I will…I must face all of the above. This year, I will leap out of my dreams and make my dreams apart of my reality. I will invest my money, my time, emotions, my energy, my spirituality, my faith, my essence into bringing forth what God intends for my life. I will demand that the atmosphere supports this calling by positioning myself around all those that can be of service to me and my development into the woman that I’ve been designed to be. I will disrobe myself from the cloak of fear, and rise with courage, apprehending all that I know is mine. I will soar above all that is beneath me, rather than drowning in the mediocrity that I have let decorate my life for so many years.

This year is the beginning of the rest of my life.

This year is the beginning of achievements that will blow my mind.

So, being selected as a finalist for the Weblog Awards didn’t get me off track. It put me on track. It exposed me to thousands. It connected me to people that I know will contribute to my long term success. It broadened my paradigm. It expanded my imagination, helping me to believe that I will…I have to be more than I am today.

**I don’t aspire to be more for personal glory. I aspire to be more to fulfill the call that has been placed on my life by my God. I aspire to live a life laced with purpose, shaped with destiny, and colored with God’s approval. And this year will be the beginning of that journey.**

Happy New Year to all of my readers! May God provide you with more than enough happiness, peace, satisfaction, love, success, and good health.

Angie Braden
(Because God says so!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"You've never seen a porn?"

Often times, I'm the first blind person people get a chance to have a conversation with. And for some reason, most of the folks that encounter me honestly believe that I'm not "like them." I can understand basic ignorance. But I cannot understand sheer stupidity.

Over the years, people have asked me some pretty ridiculous questions. But again, I chalk it up to ignorance. If you don't know, you just don't know. So, when people ask me the questions, I take a deep breath and just answer, even if I do think it's silly.

Here's one example of some of the silly questions people ask me. And I'll quickly answer the question, just in case you're part of the group that always wished you had the opportunity to ask a blind person this

“Who bathes you?”
I bathe myself. I clean out the tub with whatever cleaning product that I purchased. Then I run my water. Most of the times, I sit in the tub when the water is running. So, the possibility of the tub overflowing while I'm in it is not there. But if I'm not in the tub, I stick my hand in the tub to make sure that the water is not getting too high.
After that, I put my behind in the water, lather up my towel, and use my sense of touch, as well as this good brain of mine, to make sure that this body of mine is scrubbed from head to toe. So far, no complaints...

Somebody even asked me this:
“Do you have sexual desires?”
Um, yes… My eyes don’t work. But every other part of me is in good working order. Last time I checked, eyeballs had nothing to do with sex. Well, for women anyway… LOL!

Honestly, I thought I've heard all the questions that someone may have about a blind person, until recently. A few weeks ago, I met a man that asked me a question that floored me.

We were having a friendly conversation about my blindness and how it impacts me. He asked me all the questions in the book.

"Who dresses you?"
"Who helps you shop for your clothes?"
"Can you cook?"
"How did you go to college?"
"How do you read books?"
"How do you use the computer?"

And trust me, that was only a few of his questions. But I answered them, like I always do.

As the questions kept coming, they became more and more interesting.

"So, are blind people good with their hands?"
"Is your sense of touch more potent than others?"
"Are blind people sensual?"
"Do you date?"

And then, out of no where, he had a light bulb moment. He lowered the boom and threw me completely off withthe the next question that popped into his head.

"Oh my God! You've never seen a porn before, have you?!"

"Nope, can't say that I've seen a porn before. Seen a lot of bare breast on HBO and TMC when I was a kid. But no porns..."

Out of all the things to be concerned about, that's what he came up with?

"So, if your man wanted you to watch a porn with him, you wouldn't be able to? That's awful!"

Well, I never thought about it. So far, I haven't had the opportunity to respond to such an invitation. But I hardly think that not having the chance to watch a porn would rank high on my list of "blind disappointments."

I can't recall the time that I thought to myself, "Man, I wish I could watch some hot, butt naked sex on my television."

While I figure that it may indeed be entertaining on many levels, I really can't say that I'm being punished by not being able to watch one.

Maybe that's because I haven't seen one. LOL!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Five Senses Just wondering...

I was just sitting here at my desk, thinking about how being blind really gets on my nerves so much. I think if I didn't live in a sighted world it wouldn't bother me as much. It's like being a bird that has no use of its wings to take flight. It's like being a fish that has no use of its fins to swim.

Basically, it sucks.

One of the first things I remember learning about as a kid is that we, humans, have five senses.
* The Sense of Touch
* The Sense of Sight
* The Sense of Sound
* The Sense of Smell
* The Sense of Taste

I never in a million years would've ever thought that I would lose one of those valuable senses. It is through those five senses that we perceive the world around us. And there is so much that I am missing out on, just because I cannot perceive this beautiful world we live in with the sense of sight.

As I was thinking about the "five senses", and how ridiculous it is that I'm left with only four of them, an interesting thought popped in my head. I know for a fact that people can lose three of the five senses. A person can lose their sense of sight and be blind. A person can lose their sense of sound and be def. A person can even lose their sense of touch from some type of nerve damage, and at that point, not be able to feel. But strangely enough, I've never heard about anyone that has lost the sense of smell or taste.


Although, I'm sure it's possible. I'm certain that some type of uncommon brain damage, either through a stroke or a brain injury, can result in someone not being able to taste or smell. But whatever the case, it's highly uncommon. So uncommon that you never really hear about a person not being able to taste or smell.

Or maybe it's more common that I think. Perhaps the reason why you don't hear about people not being able to taste or smell is because those senses more or less enhance our experience here on Earth. But not having those senses would not result in a catastrophic failure of everyday living. If we couldn't taste or smell, we wouldn't require major accommodations and modifications to participate in society.

Now, it's quite possible that I'm minimizing two of my four remaining senses. Or perhaps I'm not being thankful to still have four. And quite possibly, this train of thought that I’m on is just a weird line of thinking. Or maybe I'm sleep deprived.

Well, here's an assignment for me today. For the next 24-hours, I'm going to pay close, close attention to the things I taste and smell. I'm also going to analyze if the experience of smelling and tasting truly impacts my perception of the world and how I engage in it.

That can be your assignment too. Let me know how it goes.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Technology Frustrations

As many of you that read this blog know, I use assistive technology to access my computer. To be more specific, I use a screen reading program, designed by Freedom Scientific, called JAWS for Windows.

This program has saved my life. It's given me independence, allowed me to participate in society, and offered me the opportunity to excel along side and/or beyond my sighted peers. Long story short, if you want to punish me, take away my JAWS. I would certainly be tormented during the time it's gone.

JAWS has allowed me to maintain this blog for the last three years. Likewise, I've been able to comment on my peers blogs in the same manner as any computer user. However, technology is shifting and becoming more advanced by the hour. And as these new advancements are pushed out on the market, the possibility of me not being able to access certain technology creeps up more and more.

Let me give you a few examples...

Let's start with these visual images that many sites want you to type into the text-box in order to leave a comment on a blog or to sign up for a certain service.
I hate these!!! There just awful!

First of all, have you clicked on the so called audio alternative lately? It sounds a mess! The numbers that I'm supposed to be listening for are being spoken over a bed of weird, mumbling, jibberish, which is almost as loud as the numbers you are supposed to be listening for. So, half the time, I can never get the numbers right. So, I can't leave comments on folks' blogs, nor can I sign up for certain programs on the web.

I challenge all of my sighted readers to click on the audio alternative to the visual captions. Listen, and let me know what you think.

And for those of you that maintain blogs that have those visual captions on the comment section... This is why I don't comment much anymore. I hate taking so much time, going through so many steps to leave a message. I want to show these blogs love, but I don't want to go through drama to do it.

And yes I understand why people have them posted on the blogs. They’re there to block out computer automated SPAM. But it also blocks me out.

Blogger is guilty of this using these ridiculous sounding audio captions. Word Press is better. In fact, I don’t know a Word Press blog that has it on there. And don’t get me talking about these blog platforms that don’t have an audio alternative at all. Those blogs are completely inaccessible to a blind computer user that wants to leave a comment.

Next example...

The voting for the Weblog Awards are going on. And the fact that I'm losing in an embarrassing manner will be addressed in another post... LOL

Well, one of the frustrating things about the Weblog Awards is that the awards site uses Flash to allow people to vote. And guess what, my screen reading program can't recognize it at all. So, I can't even vote for my own blog, let alone anyone else's. I have to get sighted assistance to vote. And that's unacceptable!

After the awards are over, I'm going to send the awards administrator a note to encourage them to create a voting mechanism that is accessible to all computer users. Because at this point, it's not fair.

Now, don't get it twisted... I'm not blaming my embarrassing vote stats on the inaccessibility. I seriously doubt if there is a band of blind people trying to vote for my blog. LOL But as long as there's one person, and that one person could be me, I'm not cool with being locked out. It's out of line.

I'll just stop here. That's my rant for the morning. I don't feel like addressing the cell phone issues right now. Perhaps in another post, I'll let Sprint have it.

Peace out,


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What should my response be?

One of my closest friends commented on the picture that's posted here on my blog. He told me that he felt that it was time for a new pic. I asked him why did he think so. He told me that he didn't like my lipstick and my hair. He said that I definitely have a better look.

Well, I didn't quite know what to say. It's not like I can disagree or agree with him. I have nothing to compare it to. I haven't seen myself in a mirror or on a picture since I was a teenager. And that image was blurry then...

Hell, the truth is that I don't know if I look awful in the picture. I don't know if I look awful in real life, for that matter.

The truth is that I'm never comfortable with pictures. There is no picture that is good enough for me. And I think it has everything to do with me not being able to approve the picture myself.

While my friend is a tough critic, I know that I would be tougher than him. I know that I would never put a picture out there for the world to see that doesn't capture the best of who I am. And the sad reality is that I don't know if the picture I have posted would meet my approval.

Another reason why I hate taking pictures is because I can't look directly at the camera. I often wonder if my eyes are looking "blind". And while I'm trying to get to a place that being blind is okay with me, I'm still not comfortable with "looking" blind. I want to look as "normal" as possible.

One more reason why I hate taking pictures is because of my lack of symmetry. A few years ago, my eyes started acting a bigger fool than they had already had before. Not only was I blind, my eyes decided to take a dive in the shape and color department.

Because of years of Glaucoma, surgeries, and strained eye muscles, my left eye doesn't open as wide as the right eye. And that burns me up. I hate that so much! And I have tried and tried to get it fixed. But so far, I've had no success. So, I just swoop my hair in my face to hide it.

As you can see from the pic here, I have my hair out of my face. And that's because the photographer begged me to pull my hair back so that he could capture my naked face. I don't know if that was a good idea or not. Because in real life, my hair is always in my face... Does it hide what I'm trying to hide? Not sure... But it's a security blanket now.

And the color of my eyes is a mess now. My cornea is swollen. So, my eye color in the left eye is fading to gray. Aint that a mess? One brown eye and one gray eye? I feel like Frankenstein's sister sometimes.

I don't think too many people notice it. But it still bothers me. And it's another issue that I haven't been able to correct just yet.

And no, I'm not going to start wearing any glasses. So, don't suggest the Stevie Wonder-Ray Charles shades. That ain't me.

In all seriousness, I realize that I have to get to a place that I learn to love me, even the parts of me that are broken, fractured, and imperfect. I have to love what I can't see. I have to love all of me.

**Lord, help me to one day be comfortable with who you designed me to be. For I know that I was made in your image. So, the outer me, the shell does not matter. Because it doesn't reflect your workmanship anyway.**

Angie B.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Yes We Can! Cast Your Vote in the 2008 Weblog Awards

Voting for the 2008 Weblog Awards begins January 5th, and continues through January 12th. According to the voting rules, you may vote every 24-hours in each pole. So, please, please, please cast a vote each day for Nuvision for a Nuday. Did I say please?

There's alink in the side bar that leads you to the voting pole for Best Diarist of 2008. But so that you don't have to work too hard, I'll be glad to post it right here. Being nominated was great! However, winning would be fabulous. So, join me in my quest to get Nuvision for a Nuday crowned with the honor of being the home of the Best Diarist of 2008, Angela L. Braden.

While you're voting for my blog, take the time to cast a vote for some other worthy bloggers that truly deserve to win in their particular category. Allow me to endorse a few.

For Best Blog, I recommend a blog that kept me informed and connected the entire 2008 presidential election. In my opinion, the Huffington Post is hands down the greatest mainstream blog on the web.

For Best Individual Blogger, I strongly recommend a blogger that I have followed and supported for the last two years. Wayne Bennett, who blogs at the Field Negro, offers hilarious, knife cutting, insightful political commentary. He leaves no rock unturned. This brotha deserves this award and many, many more.

For Best LGBT Blog, I actually recommend two outstanding blogs. Pam's House Blend and TransGriot

For Best Small Blog, I strongly recommend a blog that is by no means small in content and value. Black Women, Blow Your Trumpet!, is a fantastic blog, filled with brilliant commentary, thought provoking concepts, and critical analysis.

For Best Religious Blog, take the time to vote for Tariq Nelson.

For Best Very Large Blog, take the time to vote for Bitch PH.D.

And finally, for Best Hidden Gem, I recommend Zuky.

Take a look at all the 48 categories that are being voted on. Visit the blogs, and be sure to cast a vote. Perhaps later this week, I'll have some more recommendations. But as for now, I leave you with the task of voting for the above.

BTW: Most of the aforementioned bloggers are AA. So, their representation in this award is truly remarkable. And them being named a winner will be even more outstanding.

Before I go, let me encourage you again to vote for my blog, NuVision for a NuDay. Let's make Nuvision a winner this year!

Yes We Can!!!!

Taking a Stroll Towards Independence

If you've been following this blog, you know that I was blessed with the opportunity to join the faculty of Lone Star College District. Colleges have always been one of my favorite places to be. And the great thing about this particular college experience is that I'm the prof and not the student. I read papers; I don't have to write them. I compose test; I don't take them. So, the experience has been a great deal less stressful than it is when you're a student. And I love that!

One aspect of college that I love so much is that the environment encourages free thought and pushes the students to broaden their paradigms. My philosophy as an instructor is to design and facilitate a learning experience that will encourage the students to challenge the social norms that have been passed to them by their families and conventional society. I want my students to not become masters at memorizing large amounts of information, just so they can become intelligent robots. I want them to become thinkers, to explore new possibilities, and to demand truth. Likewise, I want them to realize that every moment prepares them for the next moment. So, by all means, they need to maximize every opportunity to grow, to elevate, to mature, to become free members of society.

When I started working at the college, I had no idea what the campus looked like, how to get around it, or when I would get a chance to learn how to get around it. I called the Division for Blind Services, here in Texas, and requested training to learn how to navigate through the campus. Well, anyone that knows anything about social services knows that it often takes an unreasonable amount of time to get the services you need. So, even though I started working for the college in July, and I called the DBS office in July, I didn't get mobility training until last week. How many months did I have to wait? Five long months... Five months of my sisters giving me sighted guide on the campus, making it look like I was a blind person that was either too scared or too incompetent to travel throughout the campus independently.

So, last week, I pulled out my folding cane and headed out to the campus with my instructor. A campus that seemed to be beyond my independent reach became increasingly familiar to me with ever step I took. My cane extended in front of me, and suddenly a place that I had only walked on with sighted help transformed into a place that I could conquer, could travel alone. Although there were a couple of times that I was unsure of myself, and a couple of times that my foot would slip off the edge of the sidewalk, I walked with pride and with full confidence in my future.

I remember a time in my life when I thought of a white cane as an object of embarrassment, a signal to the world that I was different, that I was disabled. I hated to carry it. And I sure in the hell hated to use it. I felt that extending a cane in front of me only solidified my permanent status as a blind girl. And because I wanted to be anything but a blind girl, I hated that damn cane so much.

But as I matured, and as I wanted to travel places that sighted help could not or would not take me, the cane became a tool of independence, a tool of liberation. My cane helped me graduate from University of North Texas in 1997. My cane helped me be successful at my first job, where I served a local school district as an educational consultant. My cane, which was once an object of shame, is now the tool that has helped me find independence and freedom from the restrictions placed on me by my blindness.

Don't get it twisted... Sometimes it's tough to put myself out there, to be all on display for all you sighted folks to gawk at. But I rather people take a look at a blind woman doing her thing, making the best out of life, than to be looking at a blind woman fumbling and tripping over the curbs of life. I would much rather be out and about, walking towards freedom, than to be at home, dying in a cell of dependence and restriction. I would much rather be out and about, living my life, than to be at home, waiting to die.

So, this day, this very moment, I raise my cane high in the sky and celebrate my victory over the darkness.

I am not bound by the darkness that surrounds me!

I am not a slave to my disability!

I am a free woman! Free to travel where ever I wish to go... Free to be who I want to be... Free to achieve what I wish to achieve...

**If there's something that is holding you back from finding independence and freedom, free yourself of whatever has you bound. If there is something that you need to pick up in order to help you achieve greatness, pick it up. Don't be ashamed... Don't be reluctant to do whatever it takes to become free.**

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