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Thirty Days of Thanks

Thanksgiving could not have come at a better time for me. I try to give thanks every day because I have so much to live for. I love my life and all of its color, but sometimes when one is going through something that is difficult, it’s easy to forget what we already have, and all the different things that are in our favor. Further, I feel like sometimes we need to talk about being thankful more. I try to give thanks every day, but it does get difficult. I am going through the process of trying to solve a health issue. I’ve had to put a lot of things on hold right now, and say no to a lot of things that have meant the world to me. However, I’ve found out that I still have so many things in my favor. I would like to share those with you today. If I sat here long enough, I could probably write a good size book, but I’ll just narrow it down.

  1. I am thankful for my family. They are my rock. I feel like I have my own private nursing staff with my grandmother who has had many years of experience as a registered nurse, my sister who has taken several nursing classes, and my mother who is a care giver. I couldn’t have asked for better, even if they didn’t have all the experience they have had. We have gone through so much together, and have had so many good times. I would do it all again as long as I had them by my side. Whatever happens next, I know we will get through it.
  2. All of my friends and people who are close to me. Every day I am happy to be able to connect with a diverse group of people from all around the world. I have learned so much from my friends. They make me feel like a queen, so I try to do everything in my power to make them feel special when we are together.
  3. The National Federation of the Blind. Through this dynamic organization, I have learned not only the skills of blindness, but what it means to be an activist. We have written letters together, marched, spoken to our nation’s leaders, and celebrated our successes. We are changing what it means to be blind. Through the federation, I have seen different parts of the country, met some of the most amazing people I know, had once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and gained my independence. I can’t wait to make more memories together.
  4. I am thankful for school and everything I have learned from it. Higher education isn’t for everyone, but ever sinse I was little, I somehow knew that I would be pretty happy spending hours in the pages of a book, listening to people speak, and sharing what I have learned with the world. It does get rough and sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight, but with the help of my peers, the idea that I will someday have the certificates and degrees I want, and perhaps a bit of coffee or tea, I can climb higher.
  5. I am thankful for my job. I have learned so much from it, met so many people, and gained experience in the workforce. I cannot do this job forever, but I feel like I will always be able to help people with their writing.
  6. My clientele. These days, I am working with people both in and outside of school. I get a lot of inspiration from the students I work with. It brings me great joy when a student is no longer afraid to use their voice and write a strong, beautiful essay. I love to see the enthusiasm when someone has figured something out for themselves and has realized that they actually can write.
  7. The theatre. As an actress, I have felt all of the human emotions. Heartbreak, joy, love, and that indescribable feeling that you get when you have found where you belong and have created something wonderful that you can share with the world. I may not be a professional, but I will still look for opportunities when I can find them.
  8. Horses. I feel like I don’t need to go too deep into this one because I have attempted to explain the immense power behind these majestic creatures in several posts. What I will say though is that with each new animal I work with, I learn something new about myself. I am forever grateful to be able to work with these gentle giants who give back much more than they take.
  9. Animals in General. I don’t know what it is, but they just seem to know about the important things than we do. They have been interesting to me sense before I could talk.
  10. Music. What is life without a song. I think we all have a time where it’s better to just turn on the music or grab an instrument and start putting notes together and see what happens.
  11. Books. If reading about places counted in the same way as visiting them, I would be able to tell you that at the age of twenty-two I have traveled the world several times, seen the future, and have spent my evenings with several historical figures. Of course this is not the case, but I am glad I have a place to escape to when life seems to be cold.
  12. My home. I have lived elsewhere before, but I have always come back to this house. We moved here when I was four and the land and the neighborhood have watched my sister and I grow up. I know that I will move on which is a good thing, but our little patch of land will always be a part of me no matter where I end up.
  13. Access to quality medical attention. Health issues are tricky to say the least, but when they happen, it’s nice to know that I am able to get things that will help me.
  14. Technology. without the powerful tools that I use today, I don’t think I would have had some of the experiences I have had. It would be much harder for blind people like myself to access the vast world of information let alone connect with other. Technology has opened a lot of doors for people with various types of disabilities. It is important to me to help make sure that it is accessible to everyone who wishes to use it.
  15. Evening conversations with friends. Nothing compares to a late night chat with someone to whom you haven’t spoken with for months.
  16. Laughter. They say it is the best medicine, and I agree. One could be having the worst day, but laughter makes it all worthwhile.
  17. Spending quality time with friends. There is nothing like a weekend filled with laughter and fun.
  18. The ability to educate others about blindness. In a lot of cases, I am the first blind person a lot of my sighted friends have met. I am glad I can show them that blindness is not a big deal, and that blind people are capable of the same things sighted people are. Having strangers ask random questions sometimes gets annoying especially when one is at dinner with a friend or the like. I would rather people ask questions than believe the age-old stereotypes that have been tightly woven into society.
  19. My town. This town has watched me grow up, leave home, and make a life for myself. I will leave it, but when I do, I hope I have left it better than when I found it.
  20. Farm fresh fruits and vegetables. When I am not in California, I remember how spoiled I am. Not everyone gets fresh food from the market all year long. Not a lot of people have gotten to grow up among strawberry fields. I love the fact that I have these things.
  21. A cane and cane travel skills. I can go wherever I want with these skills. I am not limited by my blindness when it comes to getting where I want to go most of the time. Transportation is still tough, but I can always navigate once I am where I need to be.
  22. Social media. I know that for some, it can be a double-edged sword, but for me it has been a huge asset. I can talk to my friends from around the world and collaborate on different projects. We would love to be together, but when we can’t be, it’s nice to know now that in a sense, they are never far away.
  23. My body. Although sometimes I feel like it is failing me, it still gets me to where I need to be. I can move around and take in all that this earth has to offer.
  24. I love that I always have something to look forward to. It could be as small as not having to get up early, or it could be something bigger like getting away for just a few days.
  25. Having adventures. My life has been full of crazy twists and turns. It’s been a big adventure. I have been rafting down rivers in Colorado in Tennessee, rock climbing, camping on a tiny island in the San Francisco Bay, and a lot more. They make for great stories. I hope to have many more adventures.
  26. Strangers who restore your faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s a story about someone adopting an aging dog or cat from a crowded animal shelter. Other times it’s the person who strikes up a conversation with you and makes you laugh.
  27. The ability to give back. I think that as a citizen we should all give back to each other.
  28. The people who keep us safe. Our military has fought for our freedom on several occasions, our police try their best to keep us safe by working a job that is more difficult than a lot of us will ever understand.
    1. Activism. I am glad that I can be part of groups that will stand up for what is just.Being able to share my writing with the world. I am not by any means a professional writer, but the ability to share my writing has and will continue to change my life.   Wherever you are in your day, I hope you are getting the most out of it. If we don’t speak again for a while, I wish you and those you love a happy holiday season.

The Friendship File

When lightning strikes, what do we do? Who do we have at the end of the day to talk to? Is there someone in the world that we can count on when we don’t have the strength to go any farther? In the end, we have our family, and then our friends.

 

Friendship is to me one of the most beautiful things a person can behold. It is the opposite of selfishness, and is there to store faith in humanity when it feels like hope has disappeared.

 

Friends are there to talk to when no one else understands you. They see you at your very best, but would never think of running away when you are not standing on a mountain. They share your happiness and sorrow, but are never too quick to judge. You are not afraid to be yourself around them, and when you run, they run with you.

 

In my life, I have met amazing people who I am honored to call my friends. They have challenged me, loved, and helped give life to my many dreams. We share everything even if we are not able to see each other. Social media has made it easier to communicate, but it is not the only thing that keeps our friendship flourishing. The mere fact that there are people out there who care is enough. Sometimes, just knowing that is enough to keep one going through life with hope. Friendships sometimes end, but the love and memories cannot be erased.

The Power Of Many

 

I do not live in a world of darkness, nor do any of my blind friends. We inhabit a world of rich experiences that nothing can compare to. We lead normal and productive lives as students, lawyers, teachers, and any other profession one can think of. Some of us wake up in the morning and make sure kids get to school, are cared for, and will learn all the skills they need to succeed in life. Others like myself wake up and go to class making sure our compositions look good, we are not late to class, and making sure we get the most out of every course we take so that we can achieve our dreams. Our blindness has nothing to do with any of the choices that we make when it comes to the things we do every day. It is not what holds us back. However, ignorance is the barrier that separates us from achieving first-class citizenship in this world.

 

We are faced with discrimination in our own towns on a daily basis. Small children have been taken away from their blind parents, school-aged blind students are being denyed the right to read,workers with disabilities are being paid just pennnnies an hour,and college students are struggling to keep up with their peers because materials are not available in an alternative format.

 

All of these things are the result of age-old stereotypes. For centuries, the blind have been believed to be incapable, unfit for work, and unable to make sound decisions for themselves. Even today, we are still being marginalized, even though we have come a long way.

 

Although it is hard, we still have hope. We are working together to end this unneeded discrimination once and for all. Now more than ever, blind people are being encouraged to be trained by otherblind people so they can live full and productive lives. Many sheltered workshops where people with various types of disabilities have been shut down for good, and said people are being payed the full wage they deserve. We as blind people are no longer charity. We are giving back in big ways. We are volunteers on our school campuses, service workers, and active members of our communities. All of thisis  possible because we speak for ourselves, fight for ourselves, and do for ourselves.

 

Nobody knows what is best for us accept ourselves. We cannot be seen unless we are willing to stand alone. If we want to win all of our battles, we have to fight for ourselves.

 

People tell us to just be happy with what we have, but what we have is less because of discrimination. . We are people, but we are sometimes treated as if we are invisible. Despite this, hope still remains. When others tells us to stop, we keep fighting. We have never settled for less. The road has been very rough, but we have won so many battles. We have marched, and we have celebrated. We will keep climbing. Nothing will stop the organized blind.

 

Back at the Ranch

It’s a summer afternoon, and I am back at the ranch where my horse used to live. I hadn’t been there in ages, and I wanted to visit the owner, a good friend of ours, and see how things were going. I was a little apprehensive at first, I was afraid that maybe the owner had moved on and sold everything, but what I found was the completely opposite. I had never seen this land so alive, even when my horse, Romeo was there.

 

My dad and I found the owner, “Uncle” Billy at his house with his wife Isabel. They invited us in, and were very happy to have visitors. We talked of all the things that had gone on during the time that passed. He invited me to come out whenever I wanted like I used to so I could work with one of the horses.

 

The horse was found at the auction where livestock is bought and sold. Uncle Billy felt sorry for this mare that was merely skin and bones. Nobody wanted her, and her body was full of soars. He bought her, took her home, and fed her. Today, she is still quite thin and the soars are still healing. However, despite her condition, she is mellow and loves to be petted. I have decided to practice equine massage on her with Uncle Billy’s permission.

 

We have only had a little bit of time together, but I know that she will teach me a lot. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get too attached to her, but for me that’s kind of a tall order. Every horse I work with, even for a little while teaches me something, and in turn engraves a hoof print on my heart. This will be no different.

 

When I met her, she was eating, and didn’t want anything to do with me. When I came back with a little treat, I was a little more interesting. At this point I expected her to be very timid, but she walked right out to me. She took the food and ate. Then, I let her sniff my hand. I touched her neck, and she didn’t walk away. I did a couple massage strokes on her, and then I had her. She put her head down and was enjoying it.

 

She had no name, so for the time we are together, I decided to call her Eva. It seems to fit her well, and she even started to respond to it a little bit when we worked together last.

 

I am so glad I decided to come back to the place and people that mean a lot to me. The ranch was my Friday night hang-out in high school. The people and animals on it will live on in me long after I have moved on.

Reading is Believing

I will never remember the first story I read or the first one that was read to me. All I know is that from that day forward, I had a love for reading which in turn gave me wings to fly away from reality and into a world of endless possibility.

 

Growing up, my parents read to my sister and me every night. I have fond memories of drifting off to sleep with vivid pictures of faraway places, exotic animals, and little people who did big things. These pictures guided me on my way to a love of language and the written word. I loved reading so much that I even got in trouble for doing it when I wasn’t supposed to on numerous occasions.

 

The first time I was caught reading was on a Sunday night. I had school the next morning and it was passed my bedtime, but that didn’t stop me from being enthralled in whatever it was I was reading. The lights were off, but because the book was in braille I had no problem. I simply hid the book under the covers when I thought I heard footsteps. The night I got in trouble I was so into what I was reading that I didn’t realize that my sister had gotten up and heard me turn a page. Mom and dad found out and we had a little discussion about bed time and following the rules.

 

As I entered adolescence I sought refuge in books. I felt alone and misunderstood after being bullied into depression. Ifelt like everything was my fault, but it was comforting to know that I could still spread my wings and leave the world behind for a short time.

 

All the characters in my books spoke to me and guided me. They were like lighthouses on the rough sea that was my teen years. They told me to keep sailing because one day I would reach the sunshine again. They were right, and I know now that if it gets that bad again I still have a place to go.

 

Today, I am still an avid reader. The love I have for words is the reason why I write. These days, I have been finding that the more I write short pros such as this, the more I want to do it.

 

My hope is that one day I can be the lighthouse for the person who is feeling lost. I want to give back to the world of boundless possibility.

It isn’t every day we have the choice to do something that we normally wouldn’t do. Just because we identify more with a certain type, doesn’t always mean we shouldn’t go out of our way to do something that you wouldn’t exactly do. This was the case for me when I decided to go to the drag races with my sister, her boyfriend, and my dad. I’m not the type to ever say no to a good time or an adventure, so with a little bit of trepidation, I said yes to another adventure.

 

My dad is an auto mechanic and used to own a shop where he fixed all kinds of cars including race cars. This meant that our family was at the race track a lot. I had a good time there when I was a little kid. We always knew someone who was racing, so that made it all the more fun. Going to the races also meant staying up late and eating candy. As I grew older though, my interests were elsewhere. My sister still loved going to the races and still continues to be an avid fan. I had agreed to go to the drag races with her to experience something new and to see if everything that I had heard about these fast cars was true.

 

We left early Saturday morning. The ride up to the speedway took about two hours, but was easy with my sister navigating, her boyfriend driving, and very little traffic. We stopped to get food for a tailgate picnic and headed to the track. It was late morning, and cooler than we had anticipated which was great because we thought it would be very hot.

 

After our picnic, we headed down to where all the action was taking place. We started at the pits where the race teams were hard at work on their cars and motorcycles. I was surprised that the public was even allowed in, but it was a qualifying day and they also had various venders in that area. It was here that some of the highlights of my experience took place.

 

The first thing I noticed as we neared all the cars and motorcycles was the smell of nitromethane or simply “nitro.” It was so potent that I nearly choked, but I know that now if I ever smell it again I will know what it is. I had heard of it before, but I was expecting it to be similar to the alkanol that on the afore mentioned track.

 

We passed a lot of venders with various items for sale. All the teams were getting ready for the afternoon’s competitions and had roped off areas so that curious fans couldn’t walk into the work space. Others had a few fans around them. This is when I got to touch a pro stalk bike.

 

As we were walking passed the different motorcycles that would be participating in the “Battle of the Bikes” that afternoon, my sister mentioned that a friend of hers works for one of the people on a team that would be competing that day. She pointed out the bike, and we walked over to have a closer look. The team was nice and let me feel it and it was pretty incredible. I felt the seat, the tank, the gears, and everything else. I also got to meet the driver and wish him luck.

 

We walked a bit farther and I got to touch one of the enormous tires that go on the cars. The are big and broad with smooth rubber. I couldn’t imagine one of those going around as fast as they do.

 

Then, I got to see something that not many people get to see. It was a drag race car from about 1967 that was a replica of fiat (one of my favorite kinds of cars) with a racing seat in it. The outside was made of fiberglass, and I could feel the stripes on it. The owner let me feel the entire car all while explaining everything to us. It was a very fast car, especially for the time it was on the track.

 

After saying goodbye and thanking our new friend, it was time to find our seats for the main event. As we were walking out of the pit, one of the cars started up. I was so glad I had my earmuffs around my neck because it was one of the loudest noises I have ever heard. The car started and then made a sound that was so loud that I jumped. I could actually feel the sound in my body.

 

We got to our seats as the “Battle of the Bikes” began. Each one seemed faster than the last. I had my earmuffs at that point because the bikes are quieter than the cars. The bleachers were crammed with excited fans. The first race was short, and then it was time for what we all had been anticipating, the top fuel cars, aka dragsters.

 

After a short break, it was time. I sat eagerly awaiting the thing that my dad, sister, and all her friends said was so incredible. The first car moved to the starting line. I heard it in front of where we were sitting. I covered my ears and waited. Then, the loud roar of the engine filled my ears and pulsated through my body, and just like that the car was at the other side of the track. As other spectators yelled and made racecar noises (proper red neck manners I guess) I was left completely speechless and want to see more.

 

We left near the end of the events. I was really glad I went. We were all tired, and by the time pulled into the driveway of our house the only thing I could think about was a good sleep.

 

I will always remember this experience. It was something I almost said no to, but was so glad I went ahead and had the experience because it’s things like this that make the best of memories.