Interview with John Sanders (Guest Blog Post #15)

Hi Everyone,

Today’s guest post is from author John Sanders. He write on all different kinds of topics including the eye condition, Nystagmus. Thank you John for being a guest. Please be sure to check out John’s social media links and his books and posts.

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself? – Born in the UK in the late 1950s, I moved around a lot as a child which was an education in itself. I worked as a translator, journalist and manager of the Nystagmus Network. Now I live in Wales and am fortunate enough not to have to do paid work anymore. That said, I still give the occasional talk about Nystagmus and volunteer with several charities. I also try to grow vegetables and fruit on an allotment which means struggling against slugs, pigeons, weeds and weather.
  2. What made you want to choose a career in journalism or writing? – No great plan. It was mostly by accident. My mum saw a job ad which didn’t involve driving. One thing led to another and I became a translator. Eventually that opened up an opportunity to become a journalist where the pay was better and the work more interesting. I missed my colleagues from translating though.
  3. What has been one of the hardest pieces you have written? – Not so much written, but the Dunblane school massacre in Scotland in 1996. That day I was sub-editing for an online news agency as the story unfolded. That meant I was the person checking the copy and pressing the button and sending the story out to screens around the world piece-meal as it happened. Initially all we had were reports of an incident at a school in Scotland. As the minutes and hours ticked by, it became apparent that children were dying and it wasn’t accidental. That was a horrible day. The British Government changed our gun laws following the Dunblane massacre. We’ve not had an event in a school like that here since.
  4. What made you want to write the Northwick stories? – Through fiction and drama you can often reach a larger audience – and have a greater impact – than simply trotting out facts and producing information sheets (although these have their place). Opinion-changing films about illness and disability that spring to mind are “My Left Foot”, “Rain Man”, “The Elephant Man” and “Children of a Lesser God”. One year I had to write up the Nystagmus Network annual open day for the charity’s newsletter. I was fed up (as a journalist) of reading dreary reports about meetings and events. So from almost nowhere sprang the idea of taking a humorous look at the open day through the eyes of the bear we’d raffled to raise money. Some people liked the story (others didn’t), but there was enough support for me to carry on writing about the world from Northwick’s flickering perspective.
  5. What has been the most challenging part of having Nystagmus? –What has probably frustrated me most is how hard it is to learn about how nystagmus affects us. And I’m sorry if this upsets anyone, but after years of thinking about this issue I’ve concluded that – based on the evidence available — much of the blame lies with the medical profession. I know some wonderful people in the medical world who are exceptions to this rule. But so many people’s lives would be so much easier and less stressful if the world of ophthalmology in particular changed the way it communicates to patients who have nystagmus. And, from talking to other people, this applies to other eye conditions too. Instead of simply complaining, I’m one of a small group of people developing a Nystagmus Care Pathway (see https://www.bioj-online.com/articles/10.22599/bioj.126/) which we hope hospital eye departments will adopt one day.
  6. If you could give any piece of advice to a beginning freelance writer what would it be? – A few things: Read good writers. Write short sentences. Be wary of how you use adjectives. And try to write something every day.
  7. What was one of the hardest things that you struggled with in school? – Sport obviously (because of dodgy sight), seeing the board, having to take part in activities I couldn’t see, glare from windows. But also the dreary uniformity — which contributed to making life harder for anyone who didn’t quite fit the norm.
  8. Has Nystagmus impacted your career choice? – I suppose so, but I think most of us are limited one way or another: for instance where we are born, who our parents are, where we live, the subjects we choose to study and to drop early on in school. I was lucky to find work I could do and enjoyed (most of the time anyway).
  9. Has Nystagmus influenced you as a writer (as in how you actually get the writing done, etc)? – Possibly in more ways than I realize. If you’re vision impaired and going along to news conferences you have to develop strategies to get hold of information other people can see and take for granted. On a positive note, not seeing very well has made me more aware of other senses and therefore not limiting myself to describing the world purely in visual terms when I write. Nystagmus was one of the factors that prompted me to go freelance and work from home, mostly by phone and email. It’s so much easier than working in an open plan office (crazy environment for writing anyway) where people generally forget you don’t see the way they do.

Let’s have some fun with these last few questions!

  1. Sweets (which is the British word for candy) or Biscuits (which is the British word for cookies)? – Dark chocolate (candy).
  2. Tea or coffee? – Both.
  3. Bed made or unmade? – Not something I ever think about!
  4. Favorite author? – I’m impressed by people who can choose favourites (English spelling). I’ve read a lot of books by very different authors and know that my tastes have changed and continue to change.
  5. Favorite Food? – See my answer on books. Maybe I’m just indecisive?

Please list your links where people can find your work or if you want how people can reach you:

http://www.northwickbear.com/index.html

https://cvisociety.org.uk/news.php?cat_id=143

http://www.wcb-ccd.org.uk/roundup.php

http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/858/1033

If you would like to be featured on my website feel free to contact me at: amanda@amandagene.com

 

2019: More Movement, Patience and Positivity-September Edition

September has quickly come and gone. A lot of things have been happening in my life.

Movement is the first pillar in my saying this year. I have gotten very close to my weight loss goal. I only need to lose three more pounds and then I will be at my healthy weight range. What has helped me make steps toward this goal is a lot of encouragement from my family and friends. I found a workout program that I love, and I have been doing it pretty regularly.

I have turned in my step four for my business plan. I have yet to hear anything back except that my caseworker liked what he saw. I have sent in my teaching course for review too. It is all about waiting to get feedback.

Patience has been growing too. I broke my tripod this past month and I had to order a new one. I had to be patient until my new one arrived. I had to sit at my desk and record two of my weekly YouTube videos, however it is better to do something than nothing.

Positivity has been great! Duke ended up going to the vet this past month. He had an allergy; thankfully his vet was able to get him on some medicine to help him feel better. He is now back to his goofy self.

I have been setting small goals for myself. One of my goals was to send a care package to a friend.  He really enjoyed the goodies that I sent him. My next goal I have set for myself is to go and get my passport.

What goals did you achieve this month? Tell me in the comments below. Remember you are worth it.

 

My first therapy appointment at the counseling center

Welcome back to my mental health series! If you have not read my previous post please do so. This will help explain more about what happened previously, and it will help this post make better sense.

The weeks flew by as I waited for my first therapy appointment. As the days got closer to my appointment, I became more anxious. I wanted more information on what I could possibly expect. I looked on YouTube and found a Kati Morton video. The video explained that more than likely I would be filling out some paperwork about how I was feeling, symptoms I was having, and that I would fill out information for my insurance. After watching the video, I felt a lot better.

The day of my appointment I got to the office early, and the office manager was kind and welcoming. She took my insurance card and made a copy for my file, and then took my $20.00 co-pay. I had to fill out three forms. The first form asked for basic information such as my contact information. The second form was a questionnaire about what problems I was having. I was having problems with anxiety and depression. If I had any physical or emotional symptoms from these problems, such as problems sleeping, worrying, etc, and what I wanted to work on for my short- and long-term goals. The third and final sheet I had to sign was a privacy policy.

Once I turned all that paperwork in I waited for my appointment. My therapist came out and introduced herself; we went back to her office. Once I was settled, she and I went through some of the information from the forms. She asked me questions such as who was in my support network, what were the current symptoms I was having, and what I was already doing to get better on my own- some examples of this were reaching out to friends and exercising.

We discussed a further treatment plan. One of the main suggestions that she made was a change of diet. She wanted me to try a diet known as the no-white food diet. This is a diet where you don’t eat white food such as candy, soda, pasta, bread, etc. Instead you either swap out those foods for whole-grains or an alternative. Some examples of switching out the white foods for whole grains are bread and pasta. Sometimes you either can find sugar free things to enjoy such as the candy and soda or sometimes you have to go without.

Another thing she suggested was to write in my personal journal. This was to help get me thinking and to help me start to process my own emotions. Lastly, she suggested that, despite having transportation issues, to try to reach out to my friends more and to get out of the house more.

I felt that my first therapy appointment was a good one. I knew that it would be a long road to recovery, but I had made the first true step.

Author’s note: I am not a medical professional. I am just sharing my own personal experiences. If you are concerned about your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care.

My top five suggested school supplies for Visually Impaired Students

Across the world many students are returning to the classroom. For some parents this may be the first time their child who has a visual impairment may be getting a formal education. I have seen on many support groups that you want to help your child be as successful as possible.

To help with this here are my top five suggested school supplies to help your child achieve success.

  1. Bold lined paper. I know that paper in general is a required supply, however I found that growing up the regular notebook paper had lines that looked faded and it was hard for me to keep track of where I was writing. When I was little my teacher of the visually impaired introduced me to wide lined bold lined paper. They come in notebooks and college ruled length too!

This helped me a lot as I did not lose my place as I wrote. The only draw back that I found was that bold lined paper is meant to be used with a 20/20 pen, and it easily got onto my hands as I wrote. As I entered middle and high school, I found that using this paper did cause some bullying. That year I was lucky to find the five-star dark blue paper. I love this paper. The lines are dark enough to be seen, and you can use a regular pen or pencil.

  1. Erasable Pens. To help me see my work better I found that using erasable pens were very helpful. They come in either black or blue. When I was in high school, I found that I preferred the blue pens. The only complaint that I had with this tool is how the ink got all over my hands. This happened because of the way I held my pen. Remember guys, I have mild cerebral palsy. Just because this happened to me doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone.
  2. A mesh multi pocket pencil pouch. I am not talking about the clear plastic ones. I found that those made finding items hard to find. I am talking about a mesh multi pocket pencil pouch. These pencil pouches made it where I could separate all my pens, and made it where they were easy to find. Some pouches even come with holders at the top. I used to put my pens in there for a quick grab.
  3. A non-electric low vision device. In this day many students have Iphones, and Ipads to see their work, but what is a student to do if they fail? Use their non electric low vision device. When I was growing up, I used my dome magnifier quite often. I suggest that a student keep a device such as a dome magnifier handy just in case.
  4. Finally, eye glass wipes. Growing up I found that my glasses used to get dirty quite often, so I would have to ask for a pass to go to the bathroom just so I could clean my glasses. Some teachers may only offer a number of bathroom passes during the term, and a smart student would want to use them for what they are used for. (Kids, don’t use this excuse to get out of class, stay in there and learn. 😊 ) So, to help with this problem I suggest that you buy a package of pre moistened wipes that students can keep in their pencil pouches. That way a student can clean their glasses when needed.

 

I hope that you find these suggestions useful. I know that this is a short list. Is there something I missed? What would you add to this list? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Remember parents try not to worry. Your kids are going to be superstars! Happy School year everyone!

 

Disclaimer: Please note, these suggestions are based on my own personal experiences and will only help students who have some vision. These tips will not work for blind students.

 

Nominated for the Disability Blogger Award

disability-award-pic

 

I was nominated by Failure to thrive no more for the  Disability Blogger Award.

As always there are rules that have to be posted with this award-I always forget them. 😊

  • Thank your nominator
  • Recognize Georgina from Chronillicles as the creator of the award and include her link https://www.chronillicles.com
  • Use logo somewhere in the post
  • Answer your nominator’s questions
  • Write 5-15 of your own questions – they don’t have to be illness related!
  • Nominate 5-15 other disability, chronic illness, mental illness or special needs bloggers Comment on each of your nominees’ latest posts to tell them they have

Thank you, Failure to thrive no more, for this nomination and thank you to Georgina, from the blog, Chronillicles for making this award possible.

Here are the questions from Failure to Thrive no more.

What is your ‘why’ for starting your blog? I started my blog almost ten years ago! I had to do ten blog posts for a grade in one of my classes. Since that time, I started blogging and never really stopped. Now I want to help inspire and educate others who have my eye condition, Nystagmus.

What is your coping strategy? My coping strategy for my disabilities is to learn to adapt to my needs. I may need to take a few minutes to rest my eyes when they are sore. I may need to use some adaptive technology to help me with my visual impairment. It all depends on the day and my needs.

What is your favorite movie? Why? My favorite movie? Hmm.  Frozen because I like the history of where the movie came from.

What is your favorite social media channel? Why? I love YouTube. I like seeing other people’s lives.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? That my life would be difficult at times, however I walk in God’s grace which is beautiful.

My questions for the nominees are:

  1. What is your favorite food?
  2. What is your favorite time of day to work? Why?
  3. Why did you start blogging?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. If someone gave you $100 what would you do with it?

I would like to nominate the following people for this award.

  1. BeckieWrites
  2. viblind
  3. well_eye_never
  4. DisabledDisney
  5. lukesamsowden

If there is anyother blogger I should check out let me know by leaving a comment.

2019: More Movement, Patience, and Positivity-August Edition

As I sit here, I must admit I feel lost for words. This past month has come and gone with a blink of an eye.

Movement, to be honest, I feel I am lacking. My weight loss journey has gone to a stop. I have been feeling slow and tired. One of the phrases that keeps coming to my mind is, life is about movement and enjoyment, not fear and anxiety. I have been letting my anxiety get the best of me, and I know this is not a good thing. I have been taking some self-care steps, such as reading, talking to friends, and getting extra sleep, to manage my anxiety.

For those of you that have been asking about my book, please have patience. It is in the hands of my editor. Once it is edited, it must go through another check by my caseworker before it is published.

Patience has been a hard thing for me to grasp. Have any of you felt stuck in life? I have been feeling that way. I really want to get to my next phase of life. Once again, my friends and family reminded me to “keep going until God moves you.”

I have a lot to tell you when it comes to positivity. For those of you who don’t know I have been working with Vocational Rehabilitation to help me get my business off the ground. I had a meeting with my caseworker, and he is happy with my progress. I hope to be graduate from Vocational Rehabilitation in the near future.

I was made top fan of the week for one of my favorite charities. This made me very happy.

Lastly, I was nominated for the Liebster Award.

I have a lot of fun things planned for the month of September. How was this month for you guys? Let me know in the comments below.

Interview with Stephanie Davis Bolinger (Guest Blog Post #14)

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post is from Stephanie.

Stephanie is a friend of mine, and we met at our local independence learning center for the blind. Stephanie is very active in the community.  🙂 Thank you, Stephanie for being a guest.

  1. What is your name? Stephanie Davis Bolinger
  2. Age? 32 years old
  3. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging and or YouTube channel?  There is not one individual who has inspired me the most in my life. I have been fortunate to surround myself with women and men who strive to be the change this world needs so I am inspired on a daily basis. My traumatic childhood is what has inspired me to become a writer for my blog as well as my upcoming book.

4.     Besides writing or making YouTube videos, what do you like to do in your spare time?  I was just asked yesterday “When do you sleep?” during a news interview so reading this question made me giggle. My response was “Well, I get 2 to 3 hours per night.” However I will share a few of my hobbies.   My biggest passion besides being a Local Outreach Ambassador for multiple organizations is interpretive ballroom dance. I have been lucky enough to dance locally for about 6 years and have even had the opportunity to dance with some of the professionals of the ABC Dancing With The Stars television show during a local benefit on two occasions. I very much enjoy spending my Sunday’s on the beach with all of my friends relaxing and paddle boarding. I am an avid reader and even have my own tutu making business on the side. I would love to go in detail about some of my daredevil stunts on 4wheelers, zip lines down mountains or some of my other blind adventures but those will eventually be out in my own book.

5. Name a bad habit that you have?  Wow, giving up my bad habit secret is difficult for me because it reveals the vulnerability that I so often try to hide from others. I discredit myself all to often. If you compliment me I will most likely give the credit to someone else. This seems strange to so many considering the amount of local attention that I receive on a daily basis for my efforts within my local community; however I do none of it for attention. Everything that I do or have ever done is for a purpose of helping someone else or helping a specific organization so I will 10 out of 10 times credit my many mentors for helping to mold me in to the woman who receives such compliments.

7. Name your best quality? My best quality… hmmm… since I’m the same lady who just told you that I struggle with giving myself credit for my efforts to better the world this one is difficult. I suppose that my best quality and my biggest strength is honesty and empathy which in turn mold in to one great thing to have which in my opinion is helping others with compassion in my heart and mind.

8. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?  If I could interview anyone living or not I would without hesitation choose to interview my Daddy. He passed away when I was about 8 years old which is when my life turned in to hell on earth. I would like to ask him what he thinks about the woman I am today after overcoming so much and I would like to ask him so many questions for the book that I’m writing about my life.

9.  What is your college major/Minor?   I am a Massage Therapy student graduate as well as an Accessibility Specialist graduate holding 26 international web accessibility certifications.

10. What school (college or university) did you go to?  I Graduated as an LMT from Pensacola School of Massage Therapy. Graduated as an Accessibility Specialist with 26 international certifications from Deque University.

11. What is the title of your blog or YouTube channel? My blog is on Facebook and is called From Trauma; To Triumph Inspirational From Trauma to Triumph Inspirational speaker

12. When and why did you start your blog or YouTube channel?  I started my blog in 2018 because so many people wanted me to write a book. I do not write as often as I should but then that is due to that 2 to 3 hours of sleep, I find time for each night. Little did everyone know I have been writing a book since a couple of years after becoming blind due to a suicide attempt as a way to help myself heal from the experience, as a way to help me cope with everything I’ve gone through. I only recently announced that I have decided to publish the book once I’m done.

13. Where do you see yourself in five years?   Five years is such a short time yet such a long time away. I can honestly say that almost 8 years ago I never imagined myself where I am today so I can only hope that I am growing as a woman, wife, friend and employee 5 years from now. I hope and pray that my book is out helping others through their situations and I also hope that my public speaking opportunities have grown.

14. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? My visual impairment is total blindness. I do not like to refer to it as a disability because it has strengthened me in so many ways as a person.

15. How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis?  Nothing can affect you negatively if you choose not to allow it to take you over so I would say that my vision loss affects me on a daily basis by offering me opportunity to raise awareness by teaching others about my many abilities regardless of the vision loss.

16.  What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?  Others, the word I work so hard for in order to help yet the same word I use when I experience cruelty. As I stated above I specifically choose to surround myself with like minded friends which all treat me so normal they often laugh forgetting that I’m even blind at all but I do experience bullying from others as I’m out and about. I would say it’s a mix of good and bad however I refuse to allow the bad to change who I am as a person. I choose to smile and appreciate the good.

17. 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 it be?  May I have 10 pages to answer this question??? I would simply tell someone else in my situation or even a different type of situation that blindness or any disability for that matter does not define us as people. We are not disabled, we are people who live productive and independent lives with a disability. I would also say that you are the only person who can hold you back from achieving your goals so as long as you care enough to work harder than the average person has to and you put your entire heart and mind in to achieving a goal you can do anything you go after. As wrong as this may seem to others I will also say that because I’ve been at rock bottom and worked with more determination than anything before to be successful, to help others, to have confidence, to have self respect, to have self worth, to have self love, to respect and love others that I have no pitty what so ever for someone whether they live with a disability or not if they do not put in the necessary effort to help themselves. Once we become adults we have the right to choose who we will be and what we will do with our lives so choose to be the best you every single day. Choose to be the change, to be the inspiration that this world needs.

17. Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links) My social media pages are private for family and friends other than my blog page.

If you would like to be interviewed as a guest on my blog feel free to email me at: amanda@amandagene.com