2019: More Movement, Patience and Positivity: May Edition

May has certainly flown by. It has been a fast paced but fun month.

When it comes to movement, I certainly have been making some strides. I have slowly started getting my weight in the right direction and I am happy to report that I only need to lose three more pounds. I know with hard work and dedication I can lose the weight I need.

I have also completed my Hadley School for The Blind and Visually Impaired course “Going Places.” I even did a YouTube Series on the subject. Be sure to check my series out!

I have been published and paid for one of my works! You can read my article here.

This month my grandpa had his birthday. A good friend of ours organized a birthday party for him. I enjoyed helping my friend prep for the party by going grocery shopping and cooking some of the food. My grandpa enjoyed his birthday party. He enjoyed the lunch we served and chatting with our friends.  All of our friends had a fun time at the party. The food was delicious.

When it comes to patience, I have learned that hard work does paid off. I am currently working on a special project for parents whose children have Nystagmus. I am excited to work through this project; I want it to be the best project it can be. Therefore, it is going to take time.

I have learned to be patient with myself when it comes to editing my videos because I am having some problems with the software. I believe that I have found a solution to the problem which is so easy. I enjoy making YouTube videos. Be sure to subscribe to my channel.

Lastly, I learned that being positive and having positivity makes all the difference in the world. I have been meeting my goals when it comes to my Facebook, YouTube and Blog subscriber count.

Remember to set your goals and achieve them. ! I believe in each and every one of you. 😊

Interview with Hannah Lawrence (Guest Blog Post #11)

Hi Everyone, this month I got the pleasure of interviewing my friend Hannah. Hannah is very active on Twitter. Please be sure to give her a follow as she tweets out interesting content. Many thanks to Hannah for being a guest. 🙂

  1. What is your name?

Hannah Lawrence

2. Age? 28

3. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging?

In my life, there are  so many inspirational people, but above all I’d have to say my granddad. He was born with extreme curvature of the spine, but never let it limit him. Even though it stopped him being eligible to fight in the war, he served in the home army. He also played cricket. Gosh, he loved that game. By the time I sprouted into his life, his eyesight was bad, he was nearly deaf, he needed oxygen at night because his health wasn’t great. Yet he never missed a moment playing with my brother and me.

He’d be the first chasing us around the ball pit, or taking us down slides, and he learned to swim at the age of 83 so he could take us to the baths.

His spirit was indomitable, and his curiosity, his insatiable desire to understand everything, inspired me as much as his love for life. We’d watch the Christmas lectures every year together, and he’d read to me all about dinosaurs and paleontology as a child, saving his National Geographic magazines to read to us as bed time stories.

He was quietly strong, he never complained, and he inspired me in so many ways to be a better person in the hopes I’d make him proud.

And when I was hospitalized, it was the memory of how well he handled adversity and physical weaknesses which gave me the strength to still smile.

Best man I ever knew.

4. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love taking really long walks, and I’ve taken up indoor climbing with a friend. I’ve also become addicted to the gym because the cross trainer allows me to run, and I’d forgotten how wonderful that felt.

As well as that I love cooking. My Iranian family are currently teaching me some of the more tricky traditional dishes, although I’ll be honest, I  could live on Tah diq forever, and we branched out to try a tagine the other week. It was lush.

I also do kids work, and while I’ve been too ill to do that for a while, now I’ve had my operation I’m hoping to return and pick up where I left off.

When I can, I also love to do any kind of water sports.

5. Name a bad habit that you have?

I love this question and I’m trying to think of a more interesting answer, but honestly my bad habit is probably just keeping chocolate under my bed and eating it before I go to sleep. I keep telling myself I’ll quit, but then more chocolate just appears 🤷

6. Name your best quality?

Interesting question here. I guess the quality I like most about myself (because it means life is never dull) is how I’m always daydreaming and imagining new things. I’m perfectly happy in my imagined worlds, and this means I’m never bored.

Which is fantastic for me, as it’s like having a cinema system on-tap in my head.

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

I’m a sucker for ancient Egypt, so the person I’d probably want to interview (as they just always capture my imagination, and lived through such a fascinating time in Egypt) is Nefertiti’s daughter, Ankhesenpaaten/ Ankhesenamun.

Her parents changed the face of Egypt, rearranged the religion to a monotheistic worship of the sun god, and then they died and everything they did was erased, but Ankhesenamun had to change her whole life to adapt to the traditional Egyptian worldview.

To be able to interview her on her honest opinions, her actual thoughts on her parents and on religion… well, that would be just fascinating.

7. What is your college major/Minor?

My Undergraduate degree was Japanese studies

8. What school (college or university) did you go to?

I went to the University of Sheffield

9. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see myself with a book published, working on more to sell, (this is my hope, at least!) in a home I’m not renting, with a pet dog and a cat and a degu.

I also see myself fostering children and fostering other animals. Lots of animals.

10. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I had spinal surgery, which caused temporary paraplegia. My condition is steadily improving with physio, but so far I’ve been unable to walk unaided for over three years.


Picture of Hannah
This is the day I was discharged from the hospital, in my wheelchair. It was a while before I was using crutches, and I found day-to-day life in a wheelchair was extremely difficult to get used to. Things became a lot easier when I was safely mobile on two elbow crutches. Photo provided by Hannah.

11. How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis?

Since I cannot walk unaided, I require a walking stick at all times.

From using crutches/a stick for so long, and putting a lot of weight through them, I’ve also developed tendonitis in both my arms.

I’ve had to have the house I live in fitted with grab rails.

And I’ve had to take time out of work and pay for weekly physio, and take time out of work for hospital appointments and tests.

Honestly, I’m used to this now, but when I was first discharged from hospital and my condition was far more severe, the daily effects of my condition weighed a lot more heavily on me.

My condition meant I wasn’t fit for work; I had to have carers in every day to help me with basic thing; for trips out of the house I had to have the wheelchair with me, which limited who I could hang out with as not everyone had a car, and even out of those that did, not many had cars big enough for my wheelchair; I was basically limited in ways I had never been before and it was very difficult.

Things have greatly improved since then, I’m pretty much able to do most things. I’m no longer socially isolated, and can hold down a job. Sometimes, until someone reminds me, I can even forget about the walking stick that is my extra limb.

12. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I’ve had various comments. My ex-boyfriend’s friends made some rather horrible comments, and a few people have given me funny looks, although those are the only two negative things. I’ve been extremely lucky. Some people barely even register it now. Some of the youth I volunteer with decorate my stick, and grab it when I’m not using it. They enjoy sitting there and clicking the little notch markers. My cousin’s cat has adopted my walking stick as her family and lies across it whenever I place it down, like a dragon guarding her hoard. The kids I look after love to play with it, one pretends he’s gandalf, another pretends it’s a sword.

My friend’s often ask for progress on how I’m doing with mobility, and are so supportive.

One of my youth pokes the muscles in my legs to see how they’re coming on and it has become our inside joke that she’s my unofficial physiotherapist.

Sometimes it upsets my family that I’m not walking yet. They know how I love being active (I used to adore karate, running, assault courses, mud runs etc) and they want that for me again.

So while I’ve had some bad comments from certain people, I’ve mostly been surrounded by support, curiosity, understanding, and love.

Sometimes, when I’m climbing and I balance my crutch against the wall as I grab onto the hand holds, I get curious questions, and lots of surprise and praise at the thought I’d be able to climb at all (I can only do the easy routes with very generous hand holds) which is kind of them to say, but it feels strange to elicit awe for doing something so basic (routes that require no skill)

I can see that I using a stick points to a physical limitation in such a loud way, so i understand the comments, it’s just sometimes I forget how others see me. And sometimes forgetting is nice.

13. 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?

I’m coming from a position of my condition improving over time, so I’m not sure how helpful my insight can be as this isn’t the case for many, but I’d say the one piece of advice is give as it helped me so much is to find things you can do, and see yourself improving with, whether that’s a hobby/skill you already had, or something new you’ve never tried, and pour your energy and frustrations into that. Because there will be frustrations, and when things aren’t improving physically you’ll want something you can do which you feel a sense of achievement with.

For me that was writing. I had been saving up money to travel before I was hospitalised, and saw that I wouldn’t be able to do that in a hurry, so used the money I’d squirreled away to get a Chromebook and I started to write.

Now, three years on, I have something to show for this journey, and through my writing I’ve found a way to thrive, even when life was dark and felt hopeless.

Perhaps for you it could be art, knitting, learning a language, or trying a sport, but I’d say just (if you can) find something to pour your energy into. To excel at. To thrive in.

It helped me get through many dark times, and it’s not a fix-all solution, but it could just bring some light.

Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

I’m on Twitter if you want to connect @Hannah19168315

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


How I plan to spend Memorial Day and reflecting on this holiday

When people think of Memorial Day they often think of picnics, fireworks and the start of summer. For me, there will be no traveling or picnics. Maybe one of my neighbors will shoot off some fireworks that I will try to watch. I will either spend the day in two ways working or maybe spending the day relaxing. If I have to work I will. I am working to start my own business. With that comes working on all of my projects. From blogs to my top-secret project I have a lot I can work on.  I know I will get their one day. When it comes to relaxing, I will probably listen to some music and read a book for my book club.

For those of you who do not know, my father was in the Military. My father retired from the Air Force. I personally want to thank all of those who have died and fought for our country and our freedom. Being able to write my own blogs and life an independent live is a great gift.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!


Mental Health Series: Let’s kick it off during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health is important to me. I have learned through volunteering for SANE: Changing Mental Health for Good that Mental Health Awareness week is celebrated May 13 through May 19th. I feel passionate about mental health, and I decided to start a series on my blog and YouTube channel dedicated to mental health. I want to share some of my mental health journey with you. I hope that opening up about my health will get more people talking about their own mental health and about the resources that are available to help in healing and to sustain wellness. I have had a range of mental health issues such as low-grade depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I learned through therapy that my self-esteem and wellbeing could improve through the use of different coping techniques and positive self-talk. It took a lot of hard work and time, however I am now a happier and much healthier person because of it.

I hope that you enjoy this series. I feel ready to be open on each topic I discuss.   Together we can talk about these topics down in the comments and I hope that this helps others in their own journey.

I am no longer afraid or ashamed to talk about my mental health journey. I find it very beneficial and healing.  Here’s to a new series and to Mental Health Awareness Week!


Section Five: Taxis and Drivers-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This is the last section of “Going Places.” This section talked about taxis and hiring drivers. To be honest I have rarely used these modes of transportation.

When it comes to taking a taxi, I usually use them as part of paratransit. Just like the course said there are many advantages and disadvantages to using a taxi. When I think of the disadvantages several come to mine. Such as the smell and the cleanliness of the taxi, and the cost. When I use paratransit my fair is $3.50 each way.  Once when I had to take a taxi to work I had to pay around $40.00. Truly, the cost of using a cab can be costly.

There are some advantages to taking a taxi. Like actually being able to go somewhere. I have known of some people who live in cities that do not have taxi services. I feel lucky to have this service.

When it comes to hiring a driver, I have never done this before. I am glad the course mentioned it.

The second section the course talked about was about how to gather information about taxis. This information is pretty easy to find. When I have to look up a phone number I either find it using the internet or the old-fashioned phone book. When it comes to hiring a driver it is up to the person who is visually impaired. You have to decide on several different things such as how many hours you need the driver, amount of pay, how many places you need to go, and the type of driving record and car you are looking for. The course offered tips on how to write an advertisement and where you can post the advertisement to find a driver. Of course, safety is always important.

The third section talked about hiring the driver and what to do if you have to terminate the contract that you have between you and your driver. The course recommended that you keep a list of what you are looking for when you are interviewing different candidates. Once you have hired someone be sure to keep a record of their performance.  That way if you do have to terminate someone you have a clear record of why you are terminating their services. The course recommended to always stay professional even if you end up hiring a friend or family member to be your hired driver.

The fourth section taught me a lot about what the course called the Bartering system. This is basically exchanging goods or services for rides instead of money. I already use the bartering system somewhat. When a friend takes me out for a day of shopping, I often offer to buy them lunch in return for the rides around town.  Of course, you can offer other things such as house cleaning and pet sitting.  😊

The fifth and final section was on trip planning. Again, this felt like a review to me. Some tips that I learned was to study your route in advance, so that way if you are paying cash you are not cheated on mileage, carry a cell phone with you, make sure a friend or family member knows about your trip,  and lastly never be a chatter box and give out  your personal information to someone  you just hired or if you decide to take a taxi.

Section four: Public Transit and Paratransit-Going Places: A Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired review

This lesson was on public transit and paratransit and it gave me feelings of anger. That is because I know how limited paratransit can be in my local area. Using my local paratransit makes me feel trapped.

There were four sections in this lesson. The first one was about the advantages and disadvantages of both public transit, which can include buses, subways, trains, etc. and Paratransit. When it comes to public transit, I have only taken the bus twice.  The first time was for Orientation and Mobility training. I was really nervous when I took the bus that day. It was nice to have a lesson on it though. The second time I took it was when I took it with my best friend to get back to her dorm when we had a sleep over. I felt that the second time was much better because my friend knew the bus route very well. I felt confident in her travel skills. Because the nearest bus stop is too far away from my home, I have to use paratransit. I really wish our public bus system was closer. I would travel more and I think I would feel more confident with my travel skills.

For most of my travel I use paratransit or I get rides from family and friends. When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages the disadvantages of using my local paratransit outweigh the advantages. One of the main disadvantages is the paratransit is either very late, up to 30 minutes to an hour or more or sometimes they forget you all together. I have lost count of how many times I have missed events or appointments due to the lack of quality of service in my area.  I agree with the course that sometimes you can get bad feedback because you use a service that is for those who have disabilities. I personally have had feedback both positive and negative from people in our community.

Even though this is a problem there are some advantages of paratransit I like. For example, I only have to pay $7.00 for a trip. I like the fact that they come right to your door and drop you off at your location. I agree with the course when it says that some of the paratransit companies have trained their drivers to help people who have disabilities. I have had some very helpful drivers.

The second section was on finding sources of information. I felt that this section was more like a review for me. I found out more information about the bus and paratransit system when my family and I attended a local community fair. I also heard about the bus and paratransit from my Division of Blind Services Caseworker. There are many resources such as websites, and community organizations that can possibly help you with information when it comes to learning about your local public transit or paratransit in your area.  Be sure to check it out.

The third section also felt like a review. It covered a basic knowledge of how to plan your trip. One thing that I did not know before this lesson was when taking the bus, plan your route backwards to achieve being at your destination on time.

The last section was on travel tips and this section helped me immensely. I learned there are a variety of ways that you can file a complaint. I personally would like to start using these tips and I want our paratransit system to improve it’s service.

2019: More Movement, Patience and Positivity April Edition

April was a really tough month for me for personal reasons; however, I am proud of my achievements and for pushing through it.

When it came to movement I had to remind myself that the more I move and walk the better I would feel. My weight has been going up and down. Thankfully it is in the right direction again. I am proud of my achievements as I have been volunteering by writing for SANE: Changing mental Health for Good for one year.  I accomplished an even bigger achievement by getting my first paycheck for an article I wrote. I never thought that I would be paid for my writing. My perseverance has paid off.

When it comes to my education, I just finished my second Hadley course. I cannot wait for my final grade and to be able to sign up for my next course. In addition to this, I finished my training at the local center for the blind and visually impaired; and I have earned my certificates.

When it comes to patience, I am waiting for a few things to come in the mail. I will be using these items for my blog and YouTube videos. I have been working on a #Secret project, and it is slowly coming along. I learned that I must be very patient with this.

Lastly, I am still learning that being positive has a big impact on what I can achieve. If I think positive thoughts and I set goals I can achieve just about anything. I truly am getting closer to my dreams and goals one day at a time.

Remember that you can achieve your goals and dreams too. 😊