Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blindness Plus... I don't think so!

As I mentioned in the blog post I wrote the other day, I am having some problems with my right shoulder and arm. The docs believe I have a issue with one of my discs in my neck that's causing pain to radiate from my shoulder down through my arms and finally in my fingers.

Some days the pain is not so bad. I actually forget about it. But I guess when the pain wants a little of my attention, it starts jumping up and down on that disc in my neck. The pain cannot be ignored, despite my best efforts to not let it get the best of me. Most nights, I cannot sleep well. And most days, especially when I'm using my arm, I feel the soarness and sharp pain traveling down my arm. Even when I type, the pain starts working on me. I have to take breaks after about fifteen minutes of typing, just to give my arm some relief. Of course, this is not good for a woman that teaches on a college level and takes graduate level courses. So far, I'm not falling behind with my work on my job. However, my graduate school work has taken a hit. I hope I can recover before the end of the semester.

The other day, I had a nerve conduction test to see if there's some issues with the nerves in my arm. I suspect that I will have a MRI some time next week. I start physical therapy in a few days. Hopefully, the docs and physical therapists will help me resolve this issue quick, fast, and in a a hurry. The last thing that this chica needs in her life is an additional disability. No can do! Blindness is inconvenient enough. So, not having good use of my arm would only make my life more physically challenging. I don't want any part of that.

So, if you believe in prayer, ask God to connect whatever that's disconnected, mend whatever is broken, and correct whatever that is wrong. Thanks a bunch!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

My Random Reflections (?th Edition)

It's nearly 3:00 in the morning. Instead of sleeping or doing homework, I'm sitting here in my comfy chair thinking about my life. I figured this is a good time to continue my never ending series of "random reflections" on my blog. Here's the latest.

1. Back in April something happened to my right arm. I don't know if I injured it by carrying something too heavy or if I slept in a compromising position. All I know is that since then, my right shoulder, all the way down to my fingers, has been hurting off and on. The docs are investigating to see if I have a pinched nerve in my neck. Although I hope that's not what it is, I hope they get to the bottom of this soon. The pain is almost impairing my functional use of my arm. And I don't need any added disabilities in my life. So, we need to come up with a way to treat me of this condition quick fast and in a hurry.
In the morning, I'm having a nerve conduction test done. I heard they can be very painful. Pray that I don't cry during the test. I'll update to let you guys know how that went.

2. I'm in great need of a vacation. Does anyone want to sponsor me a trip away from Houston? I need an escape!

3. I'm really upset with our state's vocational rehab agency. I'm trying to figure out what my next step should be. What I am clear on is that I don't like the idea of going to war with the agency. There has to be a way to cooperatively work through this. I'm determine to find it. Keep in your prayers as I determine which direction to go.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Lady and the Tramp: I remember that!

This weekend, my eight-year-old niece, Jasmine, asked me to buy her a DVD of the classic Disney film, The Lady and the Tramp. Without asking how much the price tag on the DVD read, I told her yes, being that movie was one of my favorite when I was her age. I was delighted to have the chance to bring the classic home with me.

This weekend, my three nieces watched the animated film almost a dozen times. I guess they love it as much as I did. Well, as much as I still do...

You see, I still remember what Lady and her doggy boyfriend looks like. I still remember the creepy, siamese cats. I still remember the romantic spaghetti dinner that was enjoyed by the canine lovers. Listening to the movie was like watching it all over again. And even though it's been 25 years, the images are still fresh.

Here are some other movies and shows that the kids like to watch that I remember seeing with my own eyes.
The Smurfs
Scooby Doo
The Jetsons
The Flintstones
The Fox and the Hound
Mickey Mouse
My Little Pony

Jasmine is always shocked and tickled pink when I tell her that those shows were once my favorite when I was her age. I wonder what classic animated show and/or film will be recycled next.

Have a fantastic week!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Disability Defined

Disability as Defined by the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination against "qualified individuals with disabilities."

Determining who is a "qualified individual with a disability" is a complicated process. Under the ADA an individual has a disability and is protected by the law if he or she has an "impairment" that "substantially limits" one or more "major life activities."

What is an impairment?
The concept of "impairment" includes physiological as well as mental or psychological conditions. A physiological impairment is a disorder or condition, a cosmetic disfigurement or an anatomical loss affecting any of the major body systems. A psychological or mental impairment includes most disorders, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and special learning disabilities. Under this inclusive definition of "impairment" a broad range of conditions have been protected under the ADA, including:

Back problems
Mobility Impairments
Think, concentrate and interact with others

What does "substantially limits" mean?
The impairment must "substantially limit" one or more major life activities. A substantial limitation is more than inconvenient or bothersome. Determining whether an impairment is substantially limiting is done on a case-by-case basis.

What is a major life activity?
The term "major life activity" has been expansively defined. Court Decisions in various jurisdictions now include the ability to:

Provide self-care
Perform manual tasks
See, hear, speak
Sit or stand
Lift or reach
Think, concentrate and interact with others

Is it still a disability if medication corrects the deficiencies caused by the impairment?
The determination of whether an individual's major life activities are "substantially limited" must take into account the effects of "mitigating measures."

The Supreme Court has emphasized that impairment must in fact limit an individual in their life. For example, individuals with severe depression are not protected by the law if medication allows them to perform their jobs without exhibiting any symptoms. A person with corrective lenses is not disabled if the glasses enable him or her to see. However, an individual with polio who wears a brace may still be disabled despite the fact that the brace enables participation in a number of physical activities, because the brace also limits the range of motion and causes a limp.

Who is a "qualified employee?"
An individual with a disability must also be qualified in order to be protected from discrimination by the ADA. A person with a disability is a qualified if he or she meets the legitimate skills, experience, education or other requirements of the position he or she seeks or holds.

Reprinted by permission of author Contributing: Jane Howard-Martin is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has practiced employment law for 15 years.
E-mail her at
Copyright 2002. Jane Howard-Martin. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. State employment laws vary; make sure to check what those laws are.


I grabbed this article from:

A Challenge to CNN

I really would like to see CNN produce a documentary focusing on people with disabilities in America.
Over 50 million men, women, and children live with a disability in America. This makes people with disabilities the largest minority group in the US. However, this population is very seldom discussed or featured in the news media.
It is far past the time that a networ, such as CNN, should develop and air a program that showcases the history, struggles, and triumphs of this unique, yet diverse population.
I challenge CNN to shine a spotlight on a population that is often forgot about, misunderstood, and shunned for their differences.
I'm sure a network that has been on the forefront of special programming, such as Black in America and Latino in America, will do a great job at developing and producing a documentary on the Disabled in America.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vanessa L. Williams; Glad I got a chance to see her!

**Walk down memory lane.**

One Sunday morning, I was the first in my family to wake up and get out of bed. I slid out of the bed carefully to make sure I didn’t wake up my unwanted bedmate, my little sister, Paula. I went to the restroom to wash my face. I decided to wait to brush my teeth, being that I was about to go in the kitchen to fix me a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. I felt that it was pointless to brush your teeth before you eat breakfast. I would later learn in life that whoever is eating breakfast with you would certainly appreciate the pre-breakfast brushing.
When I got to the kitchen, I noticed a magazine on the kitchen table that I hadn’t seen before. Well, let me rephrase that. I had never seen that magazine in our house before. It was a Penthouse Magazine. I immediately recognized the title, being that I would see copies of Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler magazines behind the counter at the convenience store in our neighborhood. However, the magazines I would see at the convenience store would have the racy images on the cover of the magazine blanketed with an opaque sheet of paper. The only thing you could consistently see on the magazine was the title and the issue date. Every now and then you could see the smiling face of a young, white woman, who obviously had something on or did not have something on that could legally be revealed to young or unwanted eyes.
That morning, right there in my kitchen was my first time actually seeing the entire cover of the magazine. I stared at the magazine, wondering how in the world did it get in our kitchen. And then it finally struck me. That was the Penthouse Magazine that was all over the news that month. On my kitchen table lied the magazine that contained the nude photos of our first African American Miss America. A few days before, I heard Daddy and Mama say they wondered how racy the pictures really were. I guess they decided to buy a magazine and take a look for themselves.
I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone had entered the kitchen without me hearing them. And then I slowly inched closer to the magazine.
“Should I take a peek?” I thought.
I had seen plenty of nude breasts on HBO when my parents were sleep, but this was different. I had never looked at nude photos in a magazine. And I certainly never would’ve thought that I would get a chance to see Vanessa Williams’ infamous nude photos. But that morning, I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek into a magazine that was making headlines all over the world.
I touched the cover of the magazine with the tips of my fingers.
“Okay… I didn’t burst into flames.” I thought.
I stood there, wondering if I was going to be bold enough to open the magazine. It was just something about being caught looking in a girlie magazine that caused me to fear for my very life. If God didn’t kill me, I figured that Mama would.
“Okay… I’ll take my chances. They shouldn’t have left it out on the table.” I thought.
I opened the first page and started to quickly flip through the rest. Pictures and pictures of beautiful and not so beautiful women were staring back at me. Some had on bikini bating suits, while others were topless. Some looked like they were looking playful, while others looked outright intense. I wondered why these women would allow someone to take pictures of them and sell them in magazines.
As my mind was racing, I finally stumbled upon the photos of Vanessa Williams. There she was, looking comfortable as she posed in front of a camera with bare breast in a rather sensual manner. My mind yanked forward the image of her standing in front of the crowd at the Miss America pageant, being crowned as the first African American Miss America. She was so beautiful. And there’s no doubt, in that very proud moment, I wished that I could look and be just like her. But now, as I stood face to face with an image of a naked Vanessa Williams, I had a different feeling. I still thought she was beautiful. And I hoped that I could one day have a body as perfect as hers looked in these photos, but I didn’t want to immolate this particular image of Vanessa Williams. However, I was not ashamed of her. I was still proud that she was our first African American Miss America. And as far as I was concerned, she would always be the first.
I quickly scanned through the rest of the pictures of Vanessa Williams and the other naked girls and placed the magazine back in the same spot it was on the table.
That morning, I decided that the image of Vanessa Williams with the crown on her head was the one that I would forever assign to my initial recollection of her. . Naked Vanessa Williams was definitely interesting, but it wasn’t as intriguing as the beautiful woman that earned the title of Miss America.
As I walked away from the table and headed for the pantry to grab the box of cereal, my mother came walking into the kitchen to fix the babies something to eat. Fear gripped me.
“Oh, my God. Did she see me?”
But my mother registered the same look of fear in her eyes when she noticed the magazine on the table that was just a few short feet away from her ten-year-old daughter. She greeted me and asked what was I doing as she tried to subtly grab the magazine off the table. I made sure to not look at the magazine or my mother as I started pouring my cereal in a bowl on the kitchen counter.
“Just fixing me a bowl of cereal. That’s all.”
When I turned around, Mama was still there, but she somehow made the magazine disappear.
“What did she do with it?” I wondered.
I never saw that magazine again. That issue of Penthouse Magazine went down in history as being not only the magazine that published nude photos of Vanessa Williams, but also the first and last pornographic magazine I would ever see in my life. And strangely enough, I don’t have any regrets for taking a peek into the taboo magazine.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Waffle Fries, Same Sex Marriage, Jesus, and the All Mighty Dollar (Yes, I know. Strange bedfollows.)

If you haven't been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I'm sure you've already heard about the Chick-Fil-A controversy regarding same sex marriage, spawned by the comments made by the fast-food chain's CEO, Dan Cathy.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and ex-GOP presidential candidate proposed a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day to demonstrate support for the Christian company. Chick-Fil-A was said to have racked in the doh that day.

My first thought was that the infamous appreciation day was just as ridiculous as the proposed boycott of the sanctified poultry proposed by gay rights activists around the country. I honestly was thinking that it is absolutely coo coo to gobble up some waffle fries to prove your support of Jesus, and the same level of coo coo for those that deny themselves a chicken wrap in the name of gay love.

But as I sat down and thought about it, I wondered how would I feel about the CEO of any major company if they said that they do not believe that black people should marry white people, or disabled people should not get a chance to have and parent children, or women shouldn't make the same amount of money as men for the same job. I would be outraged, to say the least. There is no doubt that I would refuse to patronize that business until that CEO was removed.

So, finally, when I brought it down to my level, I was able to better understand why the gay community is so up in arms.

Now, here's the interesting thing for me and Chick-Fil-A... I don't really like their food that much. I don't dislike it. I just don't really prefer it. So, if I never eat at Chick-Fil-A again, I will be just fine. So, me stating that I'm never going to eat their again because of the statements made by their CEO would actually be as phony as a chicken nugget being passed off as holy communion. The likelihood is that I probably will not eat there, but it has very little to do with homosexuals, marriage equality, or religious convictions. And if by chance I do patronize Chick-Fil-A and order their awesome Lemonade-tea or fantastic cubed ice, I'm not going to be making a personal political and/or religious statement either. The only statement I'll be making is a choice made by pure convenience.

What's the lesson in all of this?
Business owners and CEO's: Do yourself and your business a favor. Keep your mouth shut regarding social issues, especially if the issue expresses prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or ethnocentricism. Yes, you may indeed stay in business and continue to make lots of money. However, you go down in the history books on the wrong side of the issue. Plus, you open yourself to scrutiny you may not be prepared to publically discuss. Ask Bishop Eddie Long about that.

Do I think that Dan Cathy has a right to feel the way he does? Yep. However, I think it is important for Cathy and any other business executive to recognize how their personal views may impact the organizations they work for and represent if they decide to go public with what they think.

Postscript: While researching this story, I learned of the passing of Don Perry, the founder of Chick-FilA. He passed away in the middle of all this controversy. While I think that his company's current CEO made a bad move from a PR perspective, I do respect and appreciate the work that Don Perry did with his restaurant. It is my prayer that he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Another Edition of my Random Thoughts

Here are a few of my random thoughts about very specific things.

1. One of my favorite things to do is make my nieces and nephew laugh. Whether it's by telling funny jokes, making weird faces, dancing silly, or by tickling them, as long as I get them to laugh, I'm happy. The biology of humor has always been interesting to me, especially the tickling sensation. Tonight, I decided to use Google to try to find out what is happening in our brain when we laugh. I found a pretty neat article on the subject on the web. I thought I would share.

2. This week, I went to my state's voc rehab agency to apply for services. There's no doubt that I was a bit uncomfortable. There's something about unloading all of your personal business to someone that will document it in a system that can be accessed by all of your former co-workers. It's rather unfair, in my opinion. There should be some kind of way to lock my info down to maintain my privacy, especially since I've had a dual relationship with the agency. Oh, well...

3. A couple weeks ago, I found out that I didn't get selected for a job I really, really wanted. I did get a phone interview, but that was about it. I wish I knew what it was I needed to possess to get called in for a face to face interview for that position. I hope I have better luck with the jobs I plan to apply for in the coming weeks.

4. I'm still working on my memoir. I've written about 120 pages. My plan is to complete the manuscript before I try to shop it to a literary agent. Hopefully, I'll be finished with the first draft of this project before November 1st.

5. I kind of sort of experienced a break up of sorts this week. While it is painful to let someone go, there are times when it really is the best thing to do. I wish we could still be friends, although I'm not sure if that's possible. In my rather narrow perspective, I believe that people who love each other should be able to love each other in and under varying circumstances. Just because the definition of the relationship changes, that shouldn't mean that the love has to disappear. Maybe it doesn't.. disappear. Perhaps some people only know how to demonstrate their love with certain people in a very limited way. I'm not sure... I'll admit to being a bit unsure of myself when it comes to issues of love and romance when I'm one of the individuals in the said relationship.

6. Someone I love very much has cancer. Every day, all day, I pray for her. It's so hard for me to consider the future. The idea of her not being present is far too much to handle. So, I will continue to look ahead, only one year at a time. Sadly, I've been doing this every since my mother had her first stroke. That's been about ten years now. So, I have plenty practice when it comes to limiting my range of imagination as it pertains to my future.
It is certainly my prayer that my family member is with us for years and years to come. God bless her and others as they battle cancer.

7. This week I found dozens and dozens of blogs that I want to take a look at. It's my plan to check out at least a blog a day for the next 30 days. As I find blogs that I really like, I'll post them to my blog roll.

8. I got a new bedroom group. It's cute! I'm really enjoying being in my room these days.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Something New

I'm so excited. I bought my three-year-old niece some flashcards to teach her how to identify the most common colors , shapes, numerals, and the alphabet. Because I wanted to be able to work with her myself, I put braille labels on the cards. Although I taught my other niece and nephew a great deal when they were in their pre-school stage, it was all verbal. This will be the first time that I have taken on the challenge to teach a child something that is so visual. So far, she and I are doing well. Wish us well as we both learn something new!

Angela Braden

P.S. I'm going to finish the second half of the Superwoman Syndrom post in the next 24 hours. Be on the lookout.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Superwoman Syndrome (Part 1 of 2)

In the last ten years, a number of my friends and family members have endured a number of major challenges and suffered some significant loss. There response to their experiences with loss and hardship have been what I think of as normal. They admit and demonstrate sadness, grief, frustration, anger, hopelessness, and depression. While I think all of these responses are normal, I do feel that people should do whatever they can to rise from the ashes and find their way to a place of healing, wholeness, and recovery.

Do I think it's easy? Of course, not. It takes a lot of hard work to dig yourself from the rubble of your shattered pieces of your life. However, I think that staying underneath all of that rubble will only cause further injury, more loss, and possibly even death.

Nearly thirty years ago, I started losing my eye sight due to an aggressive case of Glaucoma. Almost overnight, I went from being a highly active kid, who love to read, write, ride bikes, paint, sculpt pieces of art, and play kid sports; to a frightened, sick kid, who was locked within the blinding uncertainty of each day. I couldn't see well enough to read any of my books, ride my bike, play sports with the other kids in the neighborhood, or paint. Even my handwriting took a hit. My once perfect handwriting and cursive started looking like oversized chicken scratch. I felt sad, hopeless, ashamed of my physical disability, punished, victimized, and deeply depressed.

At the age of thirteen, my family made a decision to send me to Austin, Texas to attend the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Being forced to go to the state’s blind school was the icing, the whip cream, and the candle on top of my two layer cake of total despair. The only thing I thought could happen to me that was worse than what I was already going through was total sight loss. So, I made a decision at thirteen that I would kill myself if I ever lost all of my sight. I was fully convinced that I couldn’t live my life as a blind person.

Each night, I would call my mother and father collect from the payphone in the girls' dorm and cry on the phone at least fifty percent of the conversation. They would try to console and encourage me to be strong. After I would get off the phone with them, I would give it a try, but I would still fall in my mode of feeling weak, depressed, and hopeless.

I would also call my mother’s friend, BJ, who later became a great friend to me. I would tell her all the stuff I would tell my parents when I would call them. She also made strong attempts to cheer me up, but depression still burdened me. One evening, I called BJ with heaviness on my heart, tears in my eyes, and whining in my voice. BJ said something to me that I will never forget.

“Okay… You’re blind. And at this point, there’s nothing that any of us can do about it. It’s time to end that pitiful, poor me, blind, little girl bullshit. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? It’s not up to your mama or your daddy to make the best of this situation. It’s up to you.”

That challenge shocked and even slightly offended me. However, my spirit was awakened and jolted into a place of self-confrontation.

What was I going to do with the rest of my life?

**I’ll post the other half of this tomorrow.**

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blogging While Disabled

I'm thinking about starting another disability blog. This particular blog will not just focus on one disability. The new blog will be a platform to allow individuals that have been impacted by disability to share their stories.

I'm going to need help with this project!!!!!!!!! I already know I can't do it alone.

So, please pray that I get connected with those that can and will help this new initiative achieve great success.

I'll keep you posted.

Angela Braden
Award Winning Blogger

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting Back in the Groove

Almost a year ago, I began the journey to write my first memoir. A few months into the project, I became distracted with the usual suspects; family medical illness, unpaid bills, and wavering confidence. Well, I'm back at it. This time, I'm going to write until the first draft is complete. I will not allow one day to pass me up without writing for at least an hour. Wish me well.
And while you're wishing me well, go ahead and pray that when I finish this project, a literary agent and publishing house is waiting for me be their next successful author.


Monday, July 23, 2012

New Blogger?

Google has introduced their new Blogger interface. It appears that Blogger users will be forced to move to the new platform in the coming months. I certainly hope this move will be a polite, easy adventure. I would hate for my new home on the web to be unfriendly, barrier heavy, and inaccessible. So far, Google has a pretty good track record. Let's hope they maintain their trend to be considerate to blind computer users.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My birthday turned out okay.

For those of you that read my post the other day, please find comfort in knowing that my birthday turned out okay. It was a relatively quiet day. Thankfully, there were no fires to put out, no gunshot wounds to nurse, and no hot lava chasing me after an unexpected volcanic explosion. I made my family promise to give me 24-hours of drama free energy. For the most part, that's what they did. A day void of a crisis is a great day for me. It's worth more than any birthday gift you can find for me at the mall.

I will admit that my birthday was made special by all of the beautiful posts my family and friends left on my wall on Facebook. Sometimes, FB gets on my nerves. But on my birthday, I love it! It's not that I'm attention hungry. I just love reading posts from people that have touched my life in one way or another. It helps me remember how blessed I am to know so many absolutely groovy people.

I ended my birthday with dinner with my friend. He and I went to a texmex restaurant near my house. The drinks were okay. And the food was less than okay. But the company was great!!!!!! I appreciate him for insisting on getting me out the house.

Well, I'm already looking forward to my next birthday. My plan is to do something special in a beautiful city that I've never visited before.

Be well and in peace.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the Eve of my Birthday

Here I am, only a few hours away from my birthday. Instead of me feeling happy, I'm incredibly frustrated and perplexed with almost every area of my life. I'm almost tempted to have a pity party instead of a birthday party. But I'm not going to do that. I'm going to insist on finding any and all reasons for me to be happy to be alive.

Message to me from me: Happy Birthday Angie. Don't let your family steal your joy, peace of mind, or compassion.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Q&A Regarding Braille Labels

The other day, one of my Facebook friends posted the following as her status update.
"Can someone explain how braille works? Does a person with visual impairment need assistance to find braille? Are signs generally in a standard location? Does anyone know anyone who reads/uses braille? Do they find it to be helpful in asserting their independence? Just curious."

Here's my response to her initial inquiry.

"If traveling alone, I absolutely rely on the braille markers in buildings to navigate and confirm that I've arrived at the right place in the building. Furthermore, I use the braille labels in elevators to select which floor I would like to go to. When staying in a hotel by myself, I rely on the braille label outside of my room to make sure I'm trying to enter the right suite. There is no doubt that the braille labels create more accessibility for the person who is blind.
BTW: While technology has made amazing strides in the world of the blind and visually impaired, braille literacy is still critically important.
My microwave, washer and dryer, and oven timer has braille labels. I use braille notecards when I'm giving a speech.
Of course, I probably use technology 90% of the time as it pertains to my independence. However, the 10% of the time I use braille, I'm glad that I have the skill and access to such a wonderful tool."

My response sparked more questions from my friend.

"Angie, when you are out, how do you know where to find the braille markers? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you use braille. Is the placement standard? Are there national guidelines as to the dimensions and placement of the markers so you know how/where to find them? You can make your own braille notecards? So a braille writer is like a word processor? Angie, you already answered my next question, which was about what % of the time would you say that you use braille? Are the braille labels in the house custom?"

My response...

"I don't know if there is an ADA guideline that is used to mandate where the braille labels must be placed. To be quite honest, I've noticed the braille labels in different spots. Sometimes, they are to the side of the door. Other times, the labels are on the door, right above the door handle. I guess it all depends on the facilities manager and/or engineer.
I very seldom travel within buildings that I haven't been introduced to by a sighted person for the first go round. I always ask the sighted person who is introducing me if there are braille labels that I can use to help me navigate if or when I may be alone. If you've noticed, many of the braille labels are also accompanied by large, embossed, print letters. I also feel those labels to help me navigate, being that I still remember what print looks like.
Do I go around feeling all of the braille labels posted in buildings? Absolutely not. More often than not, I count doors, openings in hallways, listen for the sound of open space, air condition units, and vending machines to help me navigate. But if I'm trying to make sure that my orientation has landed me in the right place, I like to have a braille label there to make sure I'm entering the right room.
Blind or sighted, it's not cool to barge in the wrong gender specific bathroom. Know what I mean?
Answer to your next question...
I have two manual braille writers here at my house. I also have a braille printer that works conjointly with special software on my computer. That software converts print into braille code. And the braille printer spits out what was once print in a form that is accessible to the blind. YAY BRAILLE!
I do not use my manual braille writer or the braille printer often. I have found that the speech on my computer systems is more convenient. However, there are some special instances that I prefer braille.
Part of the reason why I prefer speech over braille in most situations is because my Braille reading speed is slower than I need it to be. I can type it fast as lightening. But I read it slow as a snail.
Since I'm a person that has to do things fast, I use the tool that is the fastest for me.
Remember, this is my unique stance on the aforementioned. Every blind person is different.
Here's the answer to your last question... No, the braille labels in my house are not custom. I have a hand-held braille machine that I use to make braille labels. I type what I want the label to say, and post the label where I want it to be."

**If any of you have questions like the above for me, post them here. I'll be glad to answer! That's what NuVision for a NuDay is all about!!!!!!**

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preparing for the 18th Time

Next Friday, I'll be exchanging my easy, breezy, summer outfit for a thin, hospital gown that has been worn by countless other people that are sick enough that they need to actually be in the hospital. **I certainly hope they use hot, hot, hot water and bleach to wash the towels, linen, and gowns in the hospital.** Let me move on before I stall here. LOL

While this will be the 18th time I'll be having a surgical procedure, this surgery will be the first time I will have this particular part of my body cut on. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to being forcibly put to sleep by the doctors, just so they can poke, probe, and cut on me, all without me sensing anything at all. My only comfort is that I won't feel the pain that they'll be causing me during the surgery. Likewise, I take comfort in knowing that the end result of the surgery means that I'll be free of the pain this medical condition is causing me.

The docs have informed me that I'll have about a week of recovery time. I guess I'll be in my bed catching up on sleep, and for sure catching up on my reading. The Texas State Library has updated their digital book catalog.
So, I'll be cozying up with a few John Sandford books and the latest from John Grisham. Yay!

Perhaps I'll post another entry before my surgery. But just in case I don't, go ahead and wish me well now!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Final Status Update

It has just dawned on me that when I die, my various homes on the web will be the place my friends and family will come to memorialize me as soon as they hear of my passing. That's exactly what I've done for a few of the people I know. As soon as I get word of their departure, I go to their FB page and spend a few moments with their status updates they left behind as tiny treasures. I even read some of the kind words people post on their walls.

Perhaps it may be strange to some, spending a little time on their social network pages helps me feel like I'm getting a chance to spend a few more moments with that person. I believe that in a way, FB immortalizes our thoughts, ideas, and even expressions of our personalities.

I don't know why it never dawned on me that people would one day visit my social netowrking sites after I'm gone. I guess it's because we seldom give "real" energy to the fact that we will all pass from this life to somewhere else. But the truth is that we all will leave here one day. And most of us will not get a chance to change our FB status or post a new blog entry to whatever we want our final words to be.

At this point, I've asked my family to leave my FB page up for a year after I die, but to leave my blog up for as long as Blogger allows it to stay up.

I leave you with this question.... What does your presence on the web say about the life you've lived?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

42 Things I really Hate

Of course, this is not all the things I hate. This is just a quick list of things that just popped in my brain this morning.

1. Bullies
2. Bugs
3. Rats
4. The way many sighted people. perceive blind people
5. A rocky airplane ride
6. Cancer
7. Stroke
8. Glaucoma
9. Overly Priced Consumer Goods
10. Feeling void of control.
11. Not being able to see the people I love.
12. Whatever gene that makes a body prone to holding on to fat!
13. Not being able to be as mobile as I would like.
14. Betrayal
15. Mental Illness
16. The pots lack of empathy and sensitivity for the skillet. **The nerve of the pot!**
17. The taste of coconut
18. 08/02/2002 **The night Mama had her stroke**
19. My inability to say no when I need to not just say it, but scream it.
20. Not having enough money to frequently manufacture moments of happiness and bliss.
21. Not having enough money to change the lives of the people I love.
22. That I never learned how to swim.
23. That they still haven't found a way to reverse my blindness.
24. Dealing with people with explosive personalities.
25. My lack of will power. **If only I could stay on track...**
26. Racism, Xenophobia, Sexism, and Disabilityism
27. Not having a magic wand, a crystal ball, and/or supernatural powers.
28. Not having the ability to time travel.
29. Feeling like I need to pretend to be happy, strong, or at peace curing those many moments when I'm not.
30. Stepping in puddles or mud, whether I'm barefot or with shoes on.
31. The smell of a soiled diaper
32. Green Peppermints
33. Touching Spiderwebs
34. Not knowing how the story is going to end.
35. Nasty Public Restrooms!
36. Eye Pain
37. That the info-guide on my television is not accessible to the blind.
38. Ridiculous storylines on the Young and the Restless
39. Raw Onions
40. SPAM
41. The smell of a decomposing body
42. that I have a strong fear of rejection.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Random Reflections About Very Specific Things (?th Edition)

Since I've been blogging here at NuVision, I've published collections of my random thoughts from time to time. I always title it with the above title. However, as the title suggest, my thoughts are quite random and never similar to prior posts that have the same title. This post will be no different. Today, I thought I would write and publish a post about the random thoughts that are floating in my head. And just so you know... While these thoughts are quite random on some level, they are actually quite specific. So, here goes...

1. I have a triple minority status in this great country we call the United States of America. I'm African American. I am a woman. And I am disabled. All of those labels represent experiences that have introduced me to a laundry list of isms that have a wide range of social challenges.

Perhaps some will be offended by what I'm about to say. So, allow me to apologize now. And I invite you to read beyond the part that may offend you. There's a point to the thought I'm having on this issue.

I'm glad I'm not gay.

Okay... Here's the part when you continue to read so that you can understand why I said the above. No point in you clicking away from this post with anger or disgust, without giving me a chance to explain myself.

The reason why I say I'm glad I'm not gay is not because I think gay is immoral, sinful, or void of the possibilities of real love. I'm glad I'm not gay because of the way people that are not gay look at gay people. I hear all the things that heterosexuals say about homosexuals. I won't repeat it here. I'm sure that many of you already know the opinions that are commonly spouted off by those that are not gay. And I'm also sure you already know how often people that are not gay shun and excommunicate people that are gay.

If I was gay, it would further complicate my life. The skin I live in is already bruised and battered by the social experiences that are unique to people that are black, female, and blind. If gay was added to my list of minority labels, I think that would be just too much for me to handle.

My heart goes out to all of my friends and family that are living in that skin. May you experience peace and strength as you live in a world that is not accepting and understanding of your reality.

2. If I could see to drive, I cannot number the places I would go. I would probably always be in the street visiting loved ones, shopping, and just enjoying the outdoors. These blind eyes of mine really keep me grounded in the house way more than I appreciate. I'm hoping that one day, I'll meet someone that loves to enjoy life outside of the four walls of the house, the same way I like to.

3. Two weeks ago, I traveled to Atlanta, GA. I had a fabulous time! The last day I was there, my friend took me to the CNN Center. For the first time in my life, I got a chance to know how the CNN logo looks. He allowed me to feel a metal construction of the logo that was mounted inside the building. He was shocked that I didn't know what the logo looked like. But the truth is that I've been blind almost as long as CNN has been around. So, it is not farfetched that I wouldn't know what the logo looks like. I plan to blog more about my trip later.

4. Someone I love has cancer. While I was in ATL, I dreamt about this person and their cancer. Tears slid from my eyes after I woke up and contemplated my dream. I've never had a dream that has brought me to tears. That's how much I'm impacted by all of this. I pray that everything will be okay. Perhaps I'll blog about this later too.

5. I wish I could be taken care of for a while. Taking care of others for the last ten years has left me exhausted. I wish I could win the lotto or convince some moderately wealthy man to love me. Pathetic, right? I know. You would never expect a proactive, strong sista, like myself, to admit that she wishes she had a man to take care of her. Well, the truth is that I do. That's how tired I am. But if you'd notice, I wished for the lotto ticket before I wished for the rich man. I'll leave you to think about why I wished in that order. LOL

6. I'm starting another work-out and diet regiment today. Wish me well as I make my one millionth attempt to lose this weight for good. Say so long to the overweight, unhealthy girl that has taken over my life. Say hello to the healthy girl that's been crying to come out of the closet for so many years.

Have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Touch It

My soon to be three-years-old, absolutely gorgeous, sugary sweet, but occasionally bossy niece, Elyssa, has figured out that her auntie is blind. Her slight awareness of my sight impairment began this time last year. She started to notice how I wouldn't know she was doing certain things right away. She also noticed that it would take me a long time to find something that may be within sight range of someone who had normal eyesight. I could tell that she knew something was wrong with me, but she really couldn't put her finger on it. Well, she's finally figured it out.

Now, if Elyssa wants me to see something, she brings it to me or directs me to come to wherever she is. Once she has whatever she wants me to "see" in front of her, she takes my index finger on whichever hand she is pulling on, and she tells me to "Touch it." It's clear that Elyssa knows that the way her auntie "sees" is by touch. How cute and smart of her!

One day, she asked me what happened to my eyes. How do explain to a two-year-old the cause and outcome of Glaucoma? I don't think you really can. So, I just told her that my eyes were sick. Her next question... "But why?" My response... "Elyssa, I wish I knew the answer to that question."

One day, I will be able to sit down and tell Elyssa all about my blindness and how it has impacted my life. However, I will probably never get a chance to explain why my eyes got so sick. Only God knows the answer to that.

**Elyssa, thank you for helping your aunt see by touch! Love you, pretty girl!!!!!!**

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quotes I've Come to Love!

**I just wanted to post a few quotes that I've come to love over the years. Perhaps you will think I lack in modesty, but I did post a few quotes that I've also penned in some of my writing. Be inspired!**

"Don't be blinded by what you see." Ms. Angela L. Braden

"I'm a barrel of imperfection, a wardrobe of flaws, a garden of conflicts, an ocean of frailty, and a coppice of ambiguity. When you blend all of that with love and faith in God, I become full of amazing potential to become perfect and beautiful in Him." Ms. Angela L. Braden

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens
us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

"When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly." Barbara J. Winter

I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Mahatma Gandhi

"Close your eyes, and take a look around. You just might see what you've been missing." Ms. Angela L. Braden

"Technology cannot replace touchology." Michael Drayton

"Never make a life decision when you're feeling dead tired." Ms. Angela L. Braden

"Borrow a little from yesterday to make today better and tomorrow the best." Ms. Margie Wyatt Braden

"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; but Faith is the courage to dance to it today!" Anon

"In all labor there is profit, But mere talk {leads} only to poverty." Proverbs 14:23
"Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit." M. Gandhi

"I am perfectly imperfect." Ms. Angela L. Braden

"In the beginning, GOD" Genesis 1:1

"I will never come to understand a hatred that is so deep that it cripples and maims the human spirit to such a degree that murder, torture, and deprivation of human liberty seems like second hand nature." Angela L. Braden

"Three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." Buddha

"What would your life look like if fear wasn't present?" Devia Long-Wynn

"Broaden your circle of inclusion. Don’t ever reject someone just because they are different than you are. Everyone is valuable to God, and they should be valuable to us." Joyce Meyer

"Make each day count." Ms. Margie Wyatt Braden

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's really been 20 years?

I absolutely cannot believe that I graduated from high school 20 years ago. No matter how much I try to wrap my mind around it, it's hard for me to understand how 20 years stand between the ending of my senior year in high school and where I am today. But it's true... I'm 37-years-old. And so much about me and so much around me has changed since then.

Do I wish I could go back to high school? Absolutely not!!!!!!! That was perhaps the second most difficult period of my life. **I'm currently living in the most difficult. But that's an entirely different post for another time.**

The day I graduated from high school, I sat on the first row of our auditorium and spilled salty tears on my rouge brushed cheeks. I cried because I was so thankful that I was finally getting ready to leave the Texas School for the Blind. I cried because I was so grateful that I was getting the opportunity to begin the life that I wanted to live. I cried because I was so glad to put an emotional partition between my past and future. I cried because I couldn't believe I had actually made it to that point.

My senior year in high school was extremely difficult. A month before school was scheduled to start, my Glaucoma took a turn for the worst. My pressures sky rocketed and stole the little sight I had left. The doctors scrambled, trying to do whatever they could to try to save my sight, but their best efforts failed. I spent the first few months of my senior year, recovering from surgeries and trying to adjust to the darkness that seemed to be smuthering me in more ways than one.

Finally, my mother came to me and insisted that I return to school to finish my senior year. I protested. I wanted to either get a GED or stay in Houston with my parents and attend my local school. My mother refused to go along with my plan. She basically forced me back to Austin so that I could finish what she forced me to do four years before.

When I returned back to TSB, I felt like an orphan. I felt all alone. I felt betrayed. I felt lost. I felt resentful. I felt totally and utterly depressed.

I didn't want anyone to talk to me. I didn't want to do anything fun. And I didn't want to even live.

So, I distanced myself from the few friends I had. I sat in class quietly, avoiding conversation with my teachers. I would come home from school, take a double dose of over the counter cold medicine, and sleep until everyone else was sleep. Then, I would get up and sit in the solitude of the night until the sun revealed itself to me. Seeing the sun was my only hope, being that the rays of the sun was so bright that I could actually perceive its glory.

**I'll post the second half of this tomorrow.**

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can't a girl get some help?

There are many occasions that I visit family members at the hospital without anyone else being with me. For example... When my parents or sisters are in the hospital, I'll pack up my things, get someone to drop me off at the hospital, and hang out with my family member all day or all night.
Here's my problem with that though... Whenever I get hungry, I'm stuck out. Most hospitals won't bring food to the room for the patient's guest. So, when I want and need something to eat, I just have to wait until someone else comes up to visit the patient. Then, at that point, I can get some help to get something to eat.
I know you're probably wondering why don't I ask someone that works at the hospital to assist me. Well, I've tried that. They won't do it. Since I'm not a patient, they don't have me anywhere on their list of priorities. And I've yet to check how this whole issue relates to the public accommodations provisions listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Today, I'm headed to the hospital to sit with my sister. So, I'm planning in advance this time around. I'm packing up a lunch to take with me. There's no point in me being at the hospital blind, hungry, and ticked off.
Have a wonderful day, good people!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Love you Whitney! So glad I got to see and hear you!!!!!

I found this clip of Whitney singing at the 1986 Grammy Awards. I actually saw this performance with my unblinded eyes.
When I was a kid, I loved her so much. She was as beautiful as her voice!!!!
Today, I'll be sitting in front of the television as her friends and family honor her life. I'm so glad her mom agreed to let us join them in their celebration.
Good night, Whitney. Rest in the sweetest peace available to the human soul. May your legacy live forever!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Does smart technology cause us to choose to not be so smart? Hmm...

I just wanted to share a pretty interesting story that NPR posted, regarding the impact that technology advancements has made on individuals that are blind and their willingness and commitment to read Braille.
I can certainly attest that I very seldom use Braille. However, I'm so glad that I actually know how to read and write it. Braille certainly comes in handy from time to time. So, yes... I think that every blind person needs to know how to read and write Braille! No matter how smart the technology is around me, I still want to make smart choices and engage in smart behavior!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I've Decided

If you've read this blog in the recent weeks, then you're probably aware that I was seriously tossing around the idea of becoming a teacher for the visually impaired. Well, I've decided against the idea. And here's why...

To begin with, I will soon graduate with my masters in counseling. I need to invest as much of my energy into successfully finishing that program. Once I finish that program, I will likely start working in some capacity as a counselor or life coach. I even hope to work at a college or university as a director of disability services or intercultural initiatives.
Now, tell me... How would teaching factor into that schedule? Hmm... I'm thinking not at all.

Secondly, my larger and most ideal goal is to be a highly sought after professional speaker and well paid author. So, I need to do everything I can to make that happen. I'm in the process of writing my memoir, and i'm going to aggressively start promoting my speaker services this spring. If that kicks off like I would like it to, I'll be thrilled beyond belief.

So, I'm closing the door on the idea to become a teacher for the visually impaired. And I'm more than confident that my decision to walk away from that idea is the right thing to do.

Be well!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Sometimes you just have to do what you got to do.

I'm seriously considering making a huge career switch. Well, I probably shouldn't say it's that huge since my current career is not really working for me. To switch now really wouldn't be making a huge splash. No one would probably even notice it.

What am I considering as my next career move?
I'm actually thinking about becoming a teacher for the visually impaired.
Yep... Me...

The fact that I'm seriously considering this as a career option comes to a shock for me. I remember when I was in high school... I vowed I would never pursue a "blind" job. What's a blind job, you might ask. Well, I considered any job that was traditionally done by blind people as a blind job. I didn't want to be forced into a box that was specially designed for blind people. So, I avoided any jobs that were seen as being favorable or common for blind people.

In my maturity, I realize how dumb that was. Do you know that I actually shied away from doing music because I didn't want people to think of me as Stephanie Wonder or Rayna Charles? Yes, I know... Dumb! Now that I'm older and functionally broke, I now wish I would've continued my music lessons.

So, now I'm taking the steps to try to get certified as a teacher. After I climb over that hurdle, then I will pursue the extra certification that will allow me to work with blind and visually impaired students.

The reason why I said getting my teaching certificate was going to be a challenge is because I'm not really sure how many principals will allow a blind woman to student teach or intern in a classroom filled with sighted children. So, I'm trying to explore other ways I can get that done. Perhaps I can student teach at a small, privately ran school or even at the school for the blind in Austin. We shall see.

Now, here's the thing... If another career option opens up for me before I take all of these steps to become certified as a teacher for the visually impaired, then I will probably pass on the teacher thing. It's really not my first choice. But remaining functionally broke is my last choice for everything. So, at this point, I'm trying to do whatever I can to raise myself out of this financial hole I'm living in. So, if that means I have to leap over hurdles to get a job that's not even what I want to do for the rest of my life or even a part of my life, then I'll do that.

I'm a do whatchu have to do kind of woman. So, right now... That's what I'm doing.

I'm also still working on my masters in Counseling, writing my first book, accepting speaking engagements as they come, and about to mount my first stage play. Yes, I know I'm a busy girl. I'm working hard to try to make something happen for a girl that deserves a break.

Keep me in your prayers as I journey to a life that is stamped with destiny and sprinkled with prosperity.