Monday, July 30, 2007

LESSON: Sometimes it just ain't about you.

This weekend, my mother demanded that we take her to the Aquarium. At first, I was annoyed by the way she demanded that we take her. She was acting like I lock her up in the house and never let her come out to see the rays of the sun. And that ain’t the truth. But since Mama really doesn’t get a chance to get out and about like she did before the stroke, I understand where her frustration lies. I guess it’s just easier for her to blame me instead of the stroke. Why? I don’t know. Anyway… Moving on to the point of this entry...

Well, I told everybody to get dressed and let’s get ready to go. The whole house was shocked by my spontaneity. Well, I meant what I said. Get dressed and let’s get ready to roll.

In the most recent five years, I wouldn’t have been able to just jump up and take seven folks to the Aquarium. But I got a little change in my pocket. So, money in the bank gives a girl a little more freedom to move and move with the wind. And the world needs to know that Angie loves that!

Well, we made a couple of stops to pick up more family before we get downtown. We pay for parking. (Yes, you had to pay for parking at the Aquarium.) And then we get to the counter. I paid $120 for everyone to get in. At first I was annoyed by how much it cost to get in. But I took a deep breath and decided not to focus on the money. I decided to focus on love and family instead.

We walk into the Aquarium and start our little tour of the exhibit. And then all of the sudden I remembered something. I can’t see. No matter how much I squint my eyes, concentrate, think positive, pray, and eat carrots, the fact is that I cannot see. And here I was walking through a place that was designed for the seeing.

I almost got sad. But I slapped myself on the inside and told my self to snap out of it. This trip was not about me anyway. This was for my mother and the less fortunate family members I had with me. This was my chance to stick my feelings in my pocket and let others experience some joy. So, I shifted and decided to ignore the fact that I couldn’t see. Again, the trip to the Aquarium wasn’t about me. It was about love. It was about exposing those that I love to something other than the four walls of their house.

After my folks got through looking at all the aquariums and sticking there hands in different tanks to feel the swimming creatures, we stepped outside to go on a few of the rides that they have at the Aquarium. We took a train ride through the area and did a tour through a glass cave that houses sharks. Yet another thing I couldn’t see. But I didn’t even go there. I just listened to the narration that was spilling from the speakers of the train. I couldn’t see the trapped sharks, but I learned a few things about them while sitting on the train. Strangely enough, I have a greater respect of sharks. Not that I didn’t respect them from the jump… Well, I guess I feared them rather than respected them. There is a difference.

Then we stood in line to ride the ferris wheel. We stood in line so long, I felt like I was at Six Flags. It was kind of nice. I took a trip down memory lane, thinking of all the times I went to the amusement park as a sighted little girl. I used to have a blast. But moving on…

As I was climbing in the ferris wheel, I imagined that everyone that was standing in line was staring at me, the blind woman, trying to figure out why in the heck was this blind lady getting on the ferris wheel. But I closed the door on that thought and climbed in. But then the thought revisited me as I was climbing out of the car of the ride. I told my cousin that every one was probably looking at me, wondering why did blindy get on the ferris wheel. My cousin, with her very colorful language, told me to not give a **** about what other’s thought of me. I laughed at her for her bluntness. But I also got the message.

(Don’t worry. This entry is coming to a close.)

After riding the ferris wheel, we went on the inside of the Aquarium to have dinner. I had heard mixed opinions about the taste of the food. But one thing that was agreed upon by everyone that gave me testamonials was that it was expensive. So, I braced myself for the cost and the taste. One I knew what to expect, and the other I didn’t. But I knew that both experiences could rub me the wrong way.

Well, the prices weren’t as bad as they could have been. It was like the prices of any nice restaurant. And the food wasn’t as bad as folks said it was. It was okay. Not wonderful. But not bad.

And the price wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The ticket was $90 for all of us. Yeah, I told everyone to be economical when they were ordering. But it really could have been more costly. Thank God for appetizers. LOL

At the end of that little trip, I was in the hole by $260. I almost started getting ticked. But then I remembered that it wasn’t about me. It was about giving a little joy and happiness to the woman that I love so much, even if it was for only a few hours. And she certainly was happy. She was like a kid that had been trapped in a toy store for the weekend. And I was also glad to have done something nice for my family members. Each of them is less fortunate than me. So, I got a chance to give to those who under normal circumstances would have never gotten a chance to do something that nice.

(Well, I’m finally finished with this long entry. Thanks for hanging in there with me. **grin**)

Here's a link to the
Downtown Aquarium, in case you want to take your family or anyone you love.

Peace and happiness,

Miss Braden

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I am the proud aunt of 3 beautiful children. A beautifully handsome, little boy, named Joseph-A long-haired, loving, princess, named Gabrielle-And a brilliant, mature, firecracker, named Jasmine. Each one of these children have given me so much joy and indescribable pleasure. Sometimes, I think about how much I would like to be a mother. But for the most part, I'm pretty satisfied from the love and acceptance I get from being the aunt of such wonderful kids.

Sometimes, it really hurts me that I don't know what the kids look like. I have a picture of what I think they look like in my head. But it is really likely that I have created an image that is not like the truth.

What's so exciting about one of the kids though is that I am told that Jasmine looks like me when I was a kid. That thrills me to no end. Not because I'm so stuck on myself, or because I get off on knowing she looks like me. But it's because, now I know what she looks like.

You see, I haven't been able to see in many years. So, I don't have a memory or any kind of reference to help me imagine how those kids really look. I go on whatever description that's given to me to construct an imagined image in my head. But the truth is, I could be totally off track when it comes to how the kids really look. Yes, I'm convinced that they're cute. But what makes them so cute is kind of a mystery to me.

But if Jasmine looks like I did when I was a child, I got the image in my head. I remember what 4-year-old Angie looked like. FYI... I was a good looking girl. So, that let's me know that my Jasmine is a foxy little mommy.

If I don't have children of my own, I'm glad that I have a little carbon copy of me out here in the world. I hope that Jasmine grows up to do a million times the things that I have done so far in my life.

BTW: Another thing Jasmine gets from me is her fierce determination. So, I have no doubt in my mind that this little lady will do great things with her life. She's only 3-years-old. But she is already a leader, an independent thinker, a communicator, and a nurturer.

With looks, determination, and gifts like her auntie, I'm sure she will take the world by storm. I'm just joking... (smile)

But I really do expect the best for her. I expect the best for all of them. Actually, I demand the best for each of them.

Lord, I thank you for Joseph, Gabby, and Jazz. Protect them from harm and destruction. And guide them to truth, love, and spiritual satisfaction.

Loving the little ones with all my heart,

Proud Aunt

I'll post pictures of the kids here on my blog later this week. Even though I can't see them, I'll still share them with you. See how unselfish I am.

Monday, July 23, 2007

To Be Understood

It's always good to be a person that seeks to understand the people you are around, the world you live in, God's plan for your life, and how all of that good stuff flows together. But there are times, where a person really needs to be understood. And that's where my girl, Miko, comes in. This sistah probably understands me better than anyone else on this planet.

Yeah, there are a couple of folks that have managed to see beyond the heavy veil that I have placed around me. But Miko probably knows more than anyone how I look in all of my naked glory. (I ain't talking about butt naked. I'm talking about emotional nakedness. Get your mind out of the gutter. LOL)

I can call Miko, and this sistah can somehow always manage to understand where I'm coming from. Yes, we have disagreements, and we don't always see eye to eye. But even that's okay. The way we disagree is still understanding and full of complete acceptance.

Her ability to accept all of me, makes me open up and lay all of my crap on the table for her wide eyes to see. Well, maybe not all my crap... But most of it... And even though she has seen and witnessed me in most of my most messed up times, she still manages to call me friend. Now, how fabulous is that?! How merciful is that?

I really do appreciate Miko. I really, really don't know what I would have done without her in the last 12 years. Well, I probably would have needed a high priced counselor, some colorful pills, or a glass pipe. Thank God for Miko. Maybe if I had met her 14 years ago, I probably would have never been on the bottle.

Lord, I thank you for the beautiful gift that you have given me in my friend Miko. I will never take our friendship for granted. Help me to be the friend that she has been to me all these years.

God bless Miko. She deserves it.

With love,

Friend of an even Better Friend

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's Weird How People See Me.

The way I see myself is so different from how others see me. I think that my perception of me is sandwiched between these very two extremes of who I really am.

When I enter the community and come in contact with people, I realize that I'm being stared at, watched, noticed, analyzed. Most people have never seen a blind person in the flesh before. Yeah, they've seen Charles and Wonder, the two most famous blind folks. But most have never seen a blind person, especially a blind woman, in the living flesh. So, people watch me in amazement. Sometimes not knowing what to think or say... Sometimes making their amazement with me known to me and the rest of the world.

"You are absolutely brilliant."
"You do so well."
"You're so smart."
"You're such a pretty lady to be blind."
"You get around so good."
"You don't look blind at all."
"You must can see a little. You don't look totally blind."
"You are so brave."

Maybe all of the above is true. I don't know. Typically, I don't give myself that much credit. And some members of my family certainly don't.

There are some in my family that think the exact opposite. They think my blindness is like a headache: something to get over. They think that I use my blindness as a crutch, an attention getter, a reason to demand certain levels of respect. They are not impressed by my degrees, my style, my confidence, or my good sense. They just see me as Angela, their blind cousin, niece, and sister.

They often tell me, I don't see you as blind. I think they think that should be a compliment. But it's not. Because I am blind. It's like a white person saying to their black counterpart, "I don't see you as black." Why not? The person is black. News Flash: It is what it is.

Well, when I look at me, I see myself as a blind woman, who has indeed done well inspite of the obvious circumstances. But I don't take credit for my various degrees of success. I give God credit. If it had not been for Him, I really would not have made it. That's no lie or a fairy tale. Again, it is what it is. I know the truth about me and God. And the fact is that He is the reason why I am and why I've done what I have. God gives me the courage to live, to set goals, to work towards my goals, to integrate with the sighted world, to demand independence, to speak boldly about what I need to make my life better, to demand respect, to smile in the face of adversity, and to familiarize myself with achievement.

The truth is that I'm completely cool with people thinking I'm a brilliant, beautiful, blind woman. I just need that thought to translate into dollar signs. LOL I'm not kidding either. (wink)

**To all my readers: Have a fabulous day! Thanks for giving me some of your time. I do not take your visits here for granted.


Ms. Braden
Brilliant, Beautiful, and Blind**

(It's taken me nearly two decades to finally start feeling comfortable referring to myself as blind. It's still kind of hard to say. But it's a little easier when I added brilliant and beautiful in front of my other description. LOL Don't worry... I'm not vain. I'm just learning to love what has always deserved to be loved-ME...)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Refuse to Look Blind (Whatever that means.)

Even though I cannot see, how I look is so important to me. I guess it’s because I know that physical appearance is so important to others. I live in a world with no sight. But my world is lodged in a world that is full of sight. So, which world do I adhere to? Well, the one that has the greatest impact. So, since looks are important to the sighted, this blind woman pulls out all the stops to make sure that I at least look decent.

I get up every morning and pull myself together, simply because I realize that how I look helps shape what people think of me. I have a huge battle of perceptions to leap over as it relates to my blindness. So, that’s why I make sure that I place a lot of investment in making sure that I don’t look “blind.”

What does “blind” look like? I’m not sure. I figured to most people “blind” looks mismatched, unmade up, sloppy, unfashionable, and homely. All the things I refuse to be... But somehow, others must expect me to look this way. I think that’s why I always get praised for not looking “blind.”

Although I don’t agree with what everyone else thinks “blind” looks like, I still buck against the standards that people have set for me as a blind woman. I refuse to look anything less than good. It just ain’t happening.

My cousin recently told me that she often tells people how nice I look despite being blind. I’m not sure why this woman, who has known me since we were babies, would ever think that I would go down the path of “torn down” when it comes to the looks department. I’ve never been a glamour girl. But I’ve always taken good care of myself. So, why would she think that my habits would change just because I can’t see? Strange… I’m still me. A me that cannot see. But still me.

So, I get up every single day, get my hair together, put my make up on, iron my clothes, and pick out the cutest shoes to put on for two reasons.
A. It’s just in my nature. It’s also because of the way I was raised to try to look nice.
B. I have to make sure that I bring the pain because most people are not expecting the blind girl to look cute.

Earlier this year I wrote a posts where I discussed the idea of "looking blind". Check it out. It’s one of my favorite blog entries. It really supports this particular entry.



Lessons I've Learned Since I've Been Working

It’s very difficult for me to not use some space on my blog to discuss some of my experiences at work. Some of the pivotal experiences in my entire life have occurred in the last 45 days on my job. But I will respect and adhere to my intuition that my public blog is not the appropriate place to discuss much of anything that has to do with work.

However, I will quickly point out some very critical lessons that I have learned since I’ve been working at this particular place of employment.

1. I’ve learned that I need to be more thankful. Being blind is certainly one of the worst things that can happen to someone. But trust me, there are certainly more worse things that a person may be forced to deal with in their life. I’ve gotten a chance to witness some of those terrible things since I’ve been working.
Yeah, I can’t see. But I am pretty functional. I’m able to move independently, to think, to laugh, to make others laugh, to create, to engage, to be in control of my faculties, to be in charge of my destiny. Some people really don’t have that luxury. I’m so thankful that I do.

2. I own my disability. It is mine. So, that means that no one has the right to take it from me and use it against me. Someone tried to do that to me on my job, and they almost were successful. But I snapped out of it and realized that I am in charge of this thing called my blindness. So, I snatched that power out of her hand before she was able to beat me down with it, and used it right back against her.
I might not like my blindness. I might not have asked for it. I might not even want it. But whatever the case, it is mine. Therefore, I choose how and when it will be used.
If I want to use it to get in the front of a long line at a Broadway show, then I can.
If I want to use it to get out of doing something that I don’t want to do, then I can.
If I want to use it to get something I want, then I can.
If I want to use it to make a point, then I can.
At the end of the day, this thing is mine. So, I call the shots as it relates to how it will be used. I think that’s only fair.

3. Assistive technology doesn’t completely level the playing field, but it certainly makes a life a lot better for those of us who need some work place accommodations. The truth is that without technology, I, the very smart, brilliant, captivating Angela, would not be able to do this job. I thank God for technology. And I hope as the days, weeks, and months roll by, more and more technology is created to help people with physical challenges compete in this cut throat world we live in. It’s survival of the fittest. And the fact is technology helps me be fit to survive in this thing called life.

4. Pain and pleasure have something in common. The longer you experience it, the less the pain and pleasure remain as potent. Let me explain… Have you ever entered a stinky room, and after you sat in there for a while, the smell began to fade? Well, that’s because your brain helps you adjust to the environment.
It’s the same way with something that is good. I love cheesecake. But I can only eat so much before I start feeling flushed. And somehow at the very end of the cheesecake, the pleasure that I experienced on the tip of my tongue is just not as pleasurable as it was when the cheesecake first hit my taste buds. The pleasure of eating cheesecake is off the chain. But I can’t overwhelm myself with it. If I eat too much, what was good to me, starts tasting bland and starts to make my skin feel weird. (Strange, but true...)
And pain is the same way. After you hurt so long, the pain begins to numb and feel less intense.
That’s why I’m glad that I didn’t let my pain trick me into quitting my job. As I continued to go to work each day, the pain that I thought was so terrible began to fade. Whether or not I was healed from what was causing me so much pain or I just adjusted to it, is really not important to me. I’m just glad that I didn’t let my pain dictate to me how I should respond to it.

Of course, I’ve learned much more, but I’ll stop right here. Now you know, when my stint is over at my place of employment, I’m going to let it rip. LOL But until then, I have to keep quiet.

Until we meet again, be blessed and overwhelmed with God’s love, kindness, and strength. BTW: You should try talking to Him. He’s listening, and He’s concerned.

Love and hugs,

Angela L. Braden

Monday, July 09, 2007


I was tagged by the Free Slave. I’ve never been tagged before. So, this is my first time. Honestly, I don’t usually get into chain letters and/or tag situations. But because he asked, I did. So here goes…

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My Eight

1. I’ve had 17 surgeries. Oh yes… Your girl has gone under the knife that many times. And all 17 were pretty much unavoidable. But the next three that I plan to have are absolutely elected procedures. But they are must haves for me. I’ll leave it right there.
2. God talks to me, and I can hear his voice. No, not an audible voice. But it might as well be. That’s how clear His voice is for me at times.
3. I was a heavy drinker in college. But I never once in my life have done illegal drugs. I believed them when they said, “This is your brain on drugs.” Maybe I should have seen a commercial that said, “This is your liver on liquor.” I’m sure if I had seen that, I wouldn’t have ever been passed out on one of the sidewalks at my university.
4. I hate, hate, hate, hate bugs! One day, without realizing it, I picked up a living cricket that was in my bathroom sink. I was trying to figure out what it was. When I felt his legs moving, I freaked completely out. I threw the bug down and basically had a panic attack. I cried like a baby. And after I stopped crying, I realized that I’m really crazier than what I thought.
5. I really do wish that my parents could live as long as I live. I don’t want to go one day without them.
6. It takes a lot for me to decide to love someone. But when I do love you, I love you a lot. Maybe too much.
7. I don’t know how to swim. As a result, I am frightened of deep water. The fear of drowning freaks me the heck out.
8. People that know me EXTREMELY well are able to see straight through the wall that I purposely have up around me. However, there are some things about myself, that even my closest friends, Miko and Alicia, do not know about me. Will they ever know? Probably not. Will anyone know? If I meet my soul mate: yes. I’ll tell him everything of anything there is to know about me, the way I think, what I am thinking, what I’ve once thought, and so on.

There goes my 8. Who am I tagging next?

Faith in Action, The Thinking Black Man, Renea, Asa, Miko, Lola, Byg, and Tae’

Will they respond? Let’s see.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Brother's Arm

Most people would say that I have bad luck. But I choose not to look at my circumstances that way. I see them as challenges, obstacles to overcome, unfamiliar territory that God must have thought I needed to discover and conquer. I trust that all of my life experiences, the good ones and the ones that didn’t feel so good, were God’s way of teaching me something I needed to know.

My last semester in college, God must have been trying to put me in a crash course of some wild, highly complicated science of surviving a crises. Here I was, trying to get out of college as soon as possible. I was taking twenty hours, and all of my teachers acted as if they had all teamed up and decided that each of them were going to shove as much work on me as possible. But I was up for the challenge. I had already endured four tough years at University of North Texas. Why were the years so tough? Well, being totally blind probably had a little to do with it. But I didn’t let that stop me. I had one more semester before I would be walking across the stage to receive my bachelors degree.

Everything was going smoothly, that is, until I slipped off the side of a sidewalk and cracked the bone in my ankle. When I heard the bone that helped my left leg balance on my left foot snap, I panicked. I knew that this broken bone was going to possibly throw a monkey wrench in my goal to graduate. I thought to myself, “How in God’s name will I use a cane for the blind and use crutches to get to class?? This was absolutely great. I was already blind. Now here I was, in the middle of the semester, blind and crippled. I started to ponder the possibility of not graduating. I guess this would be yet another time that people would probably say that my buddy, bad luck, had thrown me another party. But I was determined to vacuum up the confetti and pop all of the balloons. I was going to crash this party. I was going to graduate on time.

One of my brothers on campus… Well, he’s not my birth brother. But that’s how I referred to Dhati. He was one of the few men in my life that I felt close enough, trusted, enough, fought enough, forgave enough, and loved enough to call my brother. He did what any good brother would do. This strong, chocolate college football star offered to give me what I never expected him or anyone for that matter to give. He offered to help me get to all of my classes until I got strong enough to walk on my own. He knew that it would be hard for me to hold a white cane in front of me and grip crutches with each of my hands. I would have to grow another arm to do that. But now I did have another arm, my brother’s arm.

Every day, Dhati would knock at my door with his strong fist and tell me to hurry. Even though he seemed to be a little impatient, I didn’t mind. He was doing more than I could thank him for doing. He helped me get to class, so that I could walk to the stage that I longed to cross, the stage that I did cross. I graduated on time, just as I hoped to do.

Dhati reached out his hand and offered his arm to help hold up his sister, just as a brother should do. I knew in my heart that this man would be my brother for life. I can still fill his arm of love holding me up and helping me get to my various stages of success.


It’s been years since you and I have talked. But I never forget about what you gave to me. Thank you for helping me cross one of the most important stages in my life. I don’t take it for granted.


Angela Braden**