Surviving Hurricane Sally

On September 16, 2020, Hurricane Sally hit Pensacola, Florida.  Most of the people in the community were not prepared because we were told that we were only going to get the outskirts of the storm.  However, Sally had other plans.

The storm carried high winds and lots of rain. Downtown Pensacola and some other areas were flooded, and many houses were ruined. Many trees were knocked down.  As for my house. We were lucky. We only had one tree that came down by the side of the house, however a few more inches and it would have been in my bedroom.  Other than that, the front and backyard were a mess. It’s going to take a while to get the yard cleaned up, but it can be done.

We were without power for almost two days. I was so happy when the power came back on.  It felt so good to hear the air conditioner come on again.

As far as my business, due to my limited phone plan I was unable to post regularly. ☹

Please have patience with me as I get back on my feet and answer posts, update videos and more.

I am so thankful that my family and friends are fine and well. I am praying for my city and those effected by the storm.

Interview with Sal Mannan (Guest interview #28)

Hey everyone! Today, we have a guest post from Sal. She runs the blog Under my Umbrella. Be sure to check out her on social media and give her a follow. Thank you Sal for being a guest. 🙂

  1.  What is your name/blog, channel name?

My blog is titled ‘Under My Umbrella’ and can be found at https://mypurpleumbrella.home.blog/wordpress.com

2. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment/disabilities that you have?

Ah, I have already answered that one, I have Congenital Rubella Syndrome caused by contracting Rubella in the womb.  The main damage Rubella caused in me that is noticeable is to my eyes and heart.  Thanks to my mate rubi (Rubella), I was born with Congenital Cataracts which were removed after birth. Which means I am Aphakic and have no eye lens in either eyes as the cataracts were bilateral.  I also have bilateral Nystagmus, Strabismus, and a whole range of other defects and problems in the eyes. I was also born with a hole in the heart, known as Atrial Septal Defect, (ASD) which has been corrected twice.  There are other problems, but I will not list them all here.  I did grow up with a bit of developmental delays, but I think I have come a long way and slowly getting there, and I have caught up quite a lot I think anyway.

3. How does your visual impairment/other disabilities affect you on a daily basis?

Oh, the usual.  Struggling to read small print, seeing things from far, little focus, balance issues and the list goes on.  But I just carry on.  They do not affect me as bad as most other people.  My CRS is quite mild, and so are my visual impairment and other disabilities.  Of course, just because it is mild, it does not mean I do not struggle, because I do.  Just not as much as others, I guess.  Say for instance as one example, I do not need a guide dog or cane.  But I still have my barriers.  I try not to think about those.  I do what I can to the best of my abilities. 

4. What do other people think of your visual impairment/disabilities?

That I am a pain in the butt. Not really only joking.  I do not really know what people think, although most seem to think I don’t sound disabled, and I seem to pass off as normal.  I apparently speak so well you would not know I had a disability.  Apparently, I do not look disabled either, but they can tell something is not right, just that they cannot put their finger on it and has something to do with my eyes. I think they lie; I do not even look normal to myself when I see videos and photos of me, you can see something is wrong.  Wonky head tilt due to null points is just one of them. Lol! People are just too nice, or afraid they will upset me by being honest, I think.

5. If you had to give a piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment or disability, what would that you may have, what would it be?

Oh, this one’s a tricky one, I am not good at giving advice.  I guess I would like to tell the world, that my body might be riddled with damage and defects, but if you look under those flaws and disabilities, you will find a human being with feelings.  A person with a huge personality, with likes, dislikes, thoughts, ideas, dreams, humour and so much more.  Do not treat me like an alien and alienate me, talk to me and you will see a whole person inside this broken body of mine.  I do not need fixing, I’ve had all the fixing that can be done, but while rubella has touched my body, there are things it couldn’t touch.  it did not take away my emotions, I still feel emotions like everyone else, I get hurt, angry, sad, happy, excited, all of those things like the rest of the world. It did not get my intelligence completely; my brain still functions well enough. I am not the smartest person in the world, but I am not stupid either. So, treat me with respect and know that I am still human.  Disability for me does not cause me misery, it is people’s attitudes towards me and my disabilities that cause any hurt in my life.  Remember disability is not a choice, be kind because disability can happen to anyone, and it does not discriminate your age, race, gender, or anything.  We just want to be treated as human beings because that’s what we are.  Just like you!!  Ok I know I talk a load of rubbish and far too much, don’t worry we’re coming to the end now.  Lol!

6. Name your best quality?

Oh, I do not know, I don’t think I have many good qualities, I’m not really good at anything much, I don’t have talents, or anything like that.  There is nothing special about me, but if I had to name one thing, I guess it would have to be my sense of humour.  I love banter and being silly, and just joking around.  I really think laughter is the best medicine and love making others laugh and seeing them happy.  Even if most people do not get my jokes and think I’m strange.  I am one of the most misunderstood people ever. But for those who do get my humour, well at least it gets them smiling. I try to be kind and helpful too, as best as I can.  I’m not perfect, but I think those would probably be my best qualities.  I do not know really.  I think I am my own worst critic, so I really could not say what my best qualities are.  *shrugs*

7. If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Oh boy I do not know.  I guess at this moment in time it would have to be Eddie Redmayne.  (That might change in a few years’ time.  Who knows?). Lol! But right now, yeah, I’m really into Eddie Redmayne.  I love his portrayal of Newt Scamander, who just happens to be my favourite character throughout the whole wizarding world franchise.  Yes, I am a Potterhead, and right now I am obsessed and have a strong fixation on the Fantastic Beasts film and Newt.  I also like Eddie as a person, he seems so interesting and fascinating to me.  When I watch his interviews on YouTube, I find what he has to say interesting. He also seems to have a good sense of humour too, and I think he’d be fun to interview.  I love how he gives us nuggets of his personal life in his interviews and he seems like a really fun person to chat to and interview.  He is quite witty.  I love witty people.  Lol! He is also described by many as being humble and genuinely one of the nicest people to ever meet. Which is a quality I like in a person. So yeah, I would love to meet him and interview him.  I might be on the floor from fear, nerves, and anxiety before I even get near him, but it will be worth my while. Lol!

8. When and Why did you start your blog or YouTube channel?

I think I kind of answered that in another question.  I started this blog fairly recently, it is still quite new, I think.  I cannot remember exactly when, but I think it was this summer.  I started it because I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings on certain topics, I would come across here and there, or my own experiences, and wanted a place where I could do that in more detail.  I find expressing myself helps me get stuff off my chest etc. and I find writing therapeutic. I can forget my troubles sometimes when writing, so why not.  I just wanted to give it a try, plus I want to help make a change in the world and help bring about more acceptance and awareness to disability and make the world a better place for people living with a disability.  I do not think my blogs will make much of a positive change in this world, but I can try right.  Also, maybe to get people to look at the world of disability in a different way to the norm.  I do not know, I guess I thought it would be interesting to see how blogging goes really. 

9. Why did you choose the title of your blog or channel?

Ok this one is rather complicated and not a straightforward answer.  Do I ever give straight forward answers? Anyway, so why did I call my blog under my umbrella? Well I’m one of these people who love a play on words and love using words with meanings and metaphors  I’m not really sure if I can explain the title in a way that would get you all to understand.  Basically, I was born with a condition called congenital rubella syndrome.  CRS is an umbrella of multiple disabilities and defects caused by the rubivirus a viral infection known to many as German measles or rubella, which causes damage to an unborn child in the womb.  When doctors give vaccination and explain that rubella is dangerous to pregnant women, it is not the mother they are talking about, it is the unborn child.  The infection if contracted in first or second trimester during pregnancy causes serious damage and prevents major organs from developing properly.  This can have serious damage to major organs including the brain and heart, and many other things, but that is in severe cases and the infection affects different people differently.  Each individual experiences the condition in a different way. 

The fact that Congenital rubella syndrome is an umbrella of different disabilities and defects is where the umbrella came from.  It was a way to describe my condition in one word.   The under my bit is a sort of metaphor or message to say look under my disabilities and you will find a person with many thoughts, ideas and dreams.  A human with feelings.  It is a way of saying come and look into my world, as I share my thoughts.  I cannot explain it properly, I tried explaining in the about section of the website.  I do not know if that explanation is any better.  But it makes sense in my own head.  Well I wanted something centered around the world umbrella, I nearly went with my purple umbrella, either that or in my own bubble, but cannot remember why I did not.  I guess there were already blogs with those names, and I wanted something unique and interesting.

10. Who has inspired you for your blog or YouTube channel?

This one is a little tricky to answer.  I do not think there was anyone in particular who inspired me to write my blog.  At first the idea started when I found myself expressing my thoughts and feelings on certain topics around disabilities, after seeing articles, discussions, and certain content on the internet, during discussions on Facebook in certain groups.  Some of the things I saw often frustrated me, or had me thinking, or just had my interest.  And I just thought maybe I should re start blogging again, except a bit more seriously this time.  The idea sat and simmered in my mind, I got distracted, started other projects, and was also writing other things too, so it never happened for a while.  Then I started seeing other people blogging about their experiences, or thoughts on similar things I had expressed thoughts on too and wanted to give it a try. 

A few people also encouraged me to start up a blog, as they felt I write from the heart and people would benefit from my honesty and thoughts.  And so, Under My Umbrella was born. Lol!

11. Where can other people find you on social media?

You can go a hunting and find me at:

WordPress: https://mypurpleumbrella.home.blog/

Under My Umbrella!! Why try to fit in, when you were born to stand out? Dr. Seuss! mypurpleumbrella.home.blog

Facebook,  https://www.facebook.com/MyUmbrella/

tumblr:  https://www.tumblr.com/blog/undemyumbrella

Well I hope you enjoyed reading that.  Thanks for reading. 


2020: More Courage, Self-control and Joy-August Edition

This month God really had me look at my heart. This month was full of ups and downs. But, when I stop and pause, I see all the blessings that God is working in my life.

Courage is not a fruit of the spirit, but it is a commandment. Joshua 1:9 says, “I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  This past month one of my back teeth was hurting off and on for about a month. I was not sure what was causing it, so I made another appointment with my orthodontist. While I was waiting on the doctor to come in, I was nervous. My mind was so worried about losing my tooth or getting a bill that I would be unable to afford.  I took a deep breath and the Holy Spirit reminded me of this verse. My cousin also reminded me before the exam to “Be anxious for nothing…” and to “Cast all cares upon him…” I prayed a quick prayer. My orthodontist came in and did an exam, and he had a technician take an x-ray. He could not find anything wrong other than I was hitting that tooth before my other teeth. I am back to wearing my retainers full time for two weeks and I need to make a dentist appointment for a cleaning and another x-ray just for a more thorough exam since my orthodontist can only do so much. I am still trying to make my appointment; however, I am happy to report that I am feeling better than what I was.

Another way I showed courage and it was a huge blessing was I got my phone repaired. Last November I threw my phone against my carpet when I became angry about my hard drive. I thought the screen was cracked. I was saving for months to get a new screen put on. Come to find out it was only the screen protector and case that needed to be repaired. The cost of the screen protector was less than what I thought the bill was going to be. Praise God! Another blessing is getting a new case should not be that hard; I just have to find one I like from Amazon and have it shipped to me. God is amazing! He also has shown me ways that I can curve my anger.

Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit. This is one of the things that I have asked God to help me work on this year.

God has shown me that some of my BDD comes from a lack of control of food. I go to food for comfort most of the time. I need to learn to better control my sweet tooth. I need to eat my fruits and vegetables and get more exercise. My goal for next month is to get a doctor appointment and get my eyeglasses frames updated. I need to also research more of a diet plan that will work for me.

Joy is also a fruit of the spirit. I have also asked God to help me find joy in my life. This month he has! God has allowed one of my friend’s book’s Seeing Through Blindness to be added to Bookshare.org. My friend, who is the author of the book, was hoping to one day get it out to the blind and visually impaired community. I was happy to help another friend of mine to help make this prayer answered. God be praised! My friend’s voice reflected this joy when I told him it was quickly added to the collection. I used my scanning skills to scan a copy of the book to prepare it to be proofread by a volunteer.

Another thing that makes my heart sing is I was able to bring a friend of mine to Christ. For over a year I was praying for this young man. I was asking for the right words to say and to help him see that we have all sinned and that through God’s grace he could be saved. I am so happy to now be able to call him my brother in Christ.

How was August for you guys? What Joy did you see? What prayers were answered?

Writing my book…one word at a time

For the past few months, I have been re writing my book. Ever since the loss of my hard drive back in November. I had to go back to a previous saved copy of my book. Therefore, I have not been doing a lot of extra writing projects. My goal is to finish this book.

It has taken a lot of work to get my book written. I have cried, laughed and everything in between. I am now on the second round of edits. I only have six more sections of my book to go. I am so excited to have it done. From there my second editor will review it for me.

The book is ten questions that I get asked quite frequently from parents whose children have Nystagmus. I thought about these questions a lot, and I have added some antidotes from my childhood to illustrate the points in the book. I really hope that this book and course helps parents find peace in their own journey of raising their children.

My goal is to have my book ready to be released on Amazon by the end of the year.  I plan of having it published on both Kindle and paperback. Once I have the book out, I will also be releasing an online course that can either be taken in conjunction with the book or by itself.

One word at a time…I am getting it done. 😊

Five Key Tips To Help Your Student Succeed In School

  1. Sign your visually impaired student up for Bookshare.org: Bookshare.org has thousands of books that your child can access. The best part of this is if your student is in K-college they can have a membership for free. If a student needs a book for school, and it is not already available on Bookshare, a request can be made for it to be added to the collection.
  2. Stay organized: When I was in fourth grade, I had to learn to keep all my supplies in order. It was a struggle for me due to my vision.  I found that having matching colored folders and notebooks helped. Some schools have a system like this in place. If they do not sit down with your child and find colors that they can see well and start matching.
  3. Teach your child to use their accommodations: When I first started getting accommodations in school, I hated using them. I had extra time to complete tests and my peers used to snicker at me when the teacher allowed me a few extra minutes to complete my tests. Therefore, I used to rush through my tests. The consequence of my actions were lower grades on tests. My teachers and my mother saw this, and my mother sat me down one day to have a chat. She explained to me that it was better for me to take the extra time and get my answers correct than to rush through and get my answers wrong. I told her that my peers were being ugly towards me. She told me to focus on me and not to worry about my classmates. I listened to her and my grades improved.
  4. Communicate with your child: If you see your child struggling with school, sit down and ask them why. If it is a visual problem, try different tactics until your child can see it. If it is an academic problem, seek help in form of a tutor if you can. We all have weaknesses in something and that is okay.
  5. Stay positive: I know with this virus and possible changes to school, no matter if it is virtual, homeschooling, or traditional, can be challenging to all of us. Remember to stay positive and you can achieve anything.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your student. I wish everyone a happy and successful school year no matter how you are learning. 😊

2020: More Courage, Self-control and Joy-July Edition

Wow! The year is halfway over. My heart is full of thankfulness as I sit down to look over the month of July.

When it comes to having courage, I feel great knowing that I have completed a temporary job with Perkins School for the Blind. I learned some new skills and met some nice people. I even got a chance to get some help with getting my resume up to date.

I had my follow up visit with my orthodontist and I am happy to report that I do not need a new retainer and my back tooth finally moved back to where it needed too.  Speaking of health, I was brave, and I broke down and I went to my low-income health center and applied for the sliding scale program. I am just waiting to hear back.

When it comes to self-control, I have had to wait on seeing things come to pass. For the past week I have been working on my self-employment paperwork. It was frustrating because I was not sure what I was doing. I really had to google a lot of the answers. I am happy to report that my business coach was happy with my progress. I learned that God walks with me no matter where life takes me. My friend from Alabama sent me back my hard drive and it still is not working. I know that God allowed this to happen to teach me to back up my work and not to be lazy. Always have a couple of copies of things in case something happens to the original.

Lastly, when it comes to joy, I have tried to focus on the fact that I am right where I need to be. I am still working on my book and online course I am writing. I have just finished reading the book of Revelation, and now I am studying the book of Daniel. I love getting closer to Jesus. I am learning to trust him more and more with my life.

What has happened in your life that has helped you draw closer to God? Let me know in the comments below.

Interview with Chris Catt (Guest Interview #26)

Chris is a friend of mine who has helped me get ideas for my own business. Be sure to check him out on social media, and if you want to start your own business and are stuck be sure to contact him. 🙂

  1. What is your name)? My name is Christopher Catt aka Enabled Entrepreneur from the UK.

2.Age? 54 years old.

3. Who has inspired you the most in life? To be quite honest, very few people inspire me.  But I have certainly learned some lessons from a few people who I respect enormously.  Amongst People with a Disability, I would have to say a good friend of mine, Yasmin Sheikh.  I met Yasmin through Andy Harrington’s Professional Speakers Academy here in the UK.

4.Who has inspired you for your blog or YouTube channel? James Nicholson.

5. Besides writing or making YouTube videos what do you like to do in your spare time? I have got back into getting myself fit and healthier.  I used to go to the gym several times a week when I was in my 20s, but this dropped off the radar when I took up Scuba Diving, Mountain Biking and got married and had a young family.   I am a massive motorbike fan.  My family are well known in the Guinness Book of Records.

Photo of Christ Catt.
Photo credit: Photo provided by Chris Catt

6. Name a bad habit that you have? I tend to overcomplicate things at times and this can lead to procrastination.  Another thing is that I struggle to come to terms with having Severe Sight Loss.

7. Name your best quality? I like to learn from my mistakes, which are many.  But I always ask, how could I either not do that again or use it to create an opportunity.  One of my greatest qualities is TRUST and INTEGRITY.

8. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why? I would love to interview Stephen Hawking.

9. What is your college major/minor? Upper Second with Hons in Politics at the University of Plymouth.

10. Why did you choose the title of your blog or YouTube Channel? I didn’t. It was my customers who call me “Enabled Entrepreneur”.

11. When and why did you start your blog or YouTube channel? I started my Blog about 5 years ago.  My reason for starting it was that I want to see People with Disabilities being able to escape the BARRIERS that their impairment causes and can find solutions to achieve FREEDOM, CLARITY and being part of a COMMUNITY.

12. Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as a world-renowned thought leader who has created a community of People with Disabilities called Enabled Life.  This will include those who seek work and want to set-up in business.

13. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disabilities that you may have)? I have ROP, Retinopathy of the Prematurity.  As its name suggests, I was born premature at 26 weeks (3-months early).  I see myself as fortunate in that I do have some useful eyesight in one eye.

14. How does your visual impairment (or other disabilities that you may have) effect you on a daily basis? I don’t let it affect me, that’s the person I am.  If I want something and I am determined, I will succeed.

15. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? I don’t know to be honest and I am not bothered.  If they have issues with it, it is their hang-up not mine to worry about.  If they have issues it says more about them having a problem than me.

16. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have What would that be? First you must believe in yourself and your ability before you can expect anyone else to believe in you.

17. Where can other people find you on social media? (Please list and provide the links.) Facebook, The Life Coach Station the Enabled Entrepreneur

Twitter @catt_chris

https://www.enabledentrepreneur.co.uk

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