After last week’s post about my themes for this year, I found out that I am in a season of waiting. When I look at the long list of things that I am waiting for, it feels like the list is endless. For example, I am waiting for an important delivery, waiting on my state Vocational Rehabilitation Services to get me what I need, and waiting for answers to my prayers.
Because I wasn’t sure what to do while I am in this season of waiting, I begin to get worried and anxious. As a result, God lead me to YouTube, where I found a sermon by Sadie Robertson called “Don’t waste the waiting.” I usually do not watch Robertson; but this time, however, I watching her and connecting with it. In the video, Robertson talked about praising God while waiting for God to answer prayers. I connected with her sermon because I was praising God while waiting for an outcome of a meeting that I really needed. I’m excited to say that God answered my prayer that day.
Meanwhile, as I am praying and praising God in this season of waiting, I am also listening for his voice. The Lord has continued to tell me that I need to let go of all the hurtful past that I have held onto for so long. For me letting go is one of the hardest things to do. I often find myself crying at night before bedtime because of anxiety. I know that letting go of this hurtful past can help me find more joy and peace and lessen my anxiety.
I have often felt lost with what I am supposed to do with my life. To help give myself some direction, I have created a box of goals. My goals are simple: Mail out a few things, get my passport, and continue to work on my business plan. If I continue developing my business plan, I will soon be able to graduate from my state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which I have been affiliated with since 2006.
Have you ever been in a season of waiting? What did you do during this time? Tell me in the comments below.
As I sit here reflecting on December and 2019 as a whole, I come to realize that it hasn’t been that bad of a year.
My first pillar in my life’s theme this year was movement, and in the month of December, I learned that movement played a big part of my future. I have learned that I have a great group of friends, family and others that want to see me have success. A lot of prayers have been answered. I had two big needs on my heart and God answered them. The Bible says in Philippians 4:16, “Don’t worry about anything: Instead, pray about everything; Tell God what you need, and thank him for all that he has done.”*
Another thing that I have learned is to let go of a private matter from my hurtful past. With the help of a friend, I was able to work through one of the biggest issues that had caused me grief for many years. Now because I have been able to work through this issue, I can work on having a healthier and more positive outlook on life. The Bible also says in Philippians 3:13, “…But I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
My second pillar in my life’s theme this year was patience. I have asked God to help me with this problem. I often want answers to my prayers quickly, and God has shown me that I must be patient and wait when it comes to getting answers to my requests. The funny thing is God used a Facebook post to get my attention when I asked, “Why am I so inpatient?” The Facebook post said that Patience has to be learned. In the past month God has given me a crash course in patience. I am okay with the fact that I am still growing this fruit of the spirit. I am starting to see that I am getting patient.
My third pillar in my life’s theme this year was positivity. I have learned two important aspects of positivity this year. The first is enjoy your journey. My grandpa reminded me of this one day while I was impatiently waiting on outcome from a meeting. He said, “No matter what other people say, remember it’s your own unique journey and you should enjoy it.” The second lesson is I have to do my part to help God do his part. This includes staying positive and not procrastinating. I had to learn that no matter what I am facing in life it is better to stay positive and enjoy the outcome then to be negative and enjoy nothing at all. It gives me hope knowing that God already has a plan for my future. It says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For the plans I have for you.” Says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
I hope that you all have met all of your goals in 2019. I felt like I’ve achieved a lot this year. Tell me what your best achievement was in the comments below. See you in 2020 with an exciting new life theme. 😊
*All Bible verses have been taken from the Holy Bible TruthQuest New Living Translation-Inductive Student Bible
Matt is a good friend of mine. He writes amazing poetry. Be sure to enter the giveaway and follow Matt on social media. 🙂
Let’s start with the basics…
What is your name? My name is Matt Harris, and I’m a fifty-nine-year-old poet—and author of Seeing Through Blindness. I live just outside of Baltimore, MD. Before we begin, I would like first to say hello to your readers and to thank you, Amanda, for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit about myself and my work.
What is your college major/Minor? I am currently enrolled as an English Major, with a specialization in Creative Writing, at the University of Baltimore. Several years ago, my marriage broke up; and a year later, I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome (US). US is a genetic disease that robs a person of both eyesight and hearing. At that time, as a former drug and alcohol abuser, who had been sober for 20 years, I feared that I might fall back into that lifestyle again, because I so desperately wanted to numb the pain from my marital breakup and Usher Syndrome diagnosis. The words Go buy a six-pack, one won’t hurt kept echoing through my mind. But I knew that was a lie. I knew from my past substance abuse that this old saying applied to me: one drink was too many and ten were not enough. So, I pushed those lies aside and decided to lean on my faith in Jesus. He has kept me sober and has given me the strength and comfort that I needed to cope with the pain. And shortly thereafter, I enrolled in the University of Baltimore at age 55, with a 99% vision loss and a 60% hearing loss. If everything goes as expected, I will be graduating in the spring of 2020. I plan to write a memoir based on this experience. I hope it will make a nice bookend to my poetic memoir, Seeing ThroughBlindness, which tells about my experiences with blindness and drugs as a teenager and young adult.
Let’s talk about writing/YouTube/Blogs…
Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging and or YouTube channel? My mother, who passed away last year, was a great inspiration for me. She grew up in Baltimore with 6 brothers and a sister. And although they lived in poverty, my mom chose to work hard and fight her way out of her circumstances. What inspired me initially about blogging, however, was that I wanted to try to get out information about my book—and to share its message of hope. I also wanted to blog about other poets’, or writers’, work as well. I think it’s important for writers to support one another, as you do, Amanda. But my blog turned into a rather eclectic assortment of topics—everything from an article about a blind man from Scripture named Bartimaeus to a friend whose rock band once opened for Led Zeppelin in Baltimore. But since starting college, I have largely neglected my blog because my studies have taken top priority. I hope to focus more on blogging after I graduate. As for YouTube, other than a few poetry recitations, I haven’t utilized my channel to its fullest potential. But after having watched some of your YouTube videos, Amanda, you have inspired me to take another look at how I could use my channel to help people and, at the same time, support other writers and promote my own work.
Besides writing or making YouTube videos, what do you like to do in your spare time? I love to read. I’m a HUGE Stephan King fan, currently reading Doctor Sleep. I also love reading Scripture. In addition to reading, I like walking, going to the beach, attending plays, poetry readings, going to the movies, engaging in good conversations, and eating at restaurants. During football season, I love listening to Baltimore Ravens’ games. The team was named after one of my favorite poems: “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe.
What is the title of your blog or YouTube channel? My blog, along with information about my book, can be found at my website: seeingthroughblindness.com.
Have you ever written a book? If so tell me about it? My latest book, as I mentioned earlier, is called Seeing ThroughBlindness. It tells about my battles with visual impairment, drugs, and God during my teenage years and young adult life. It speaks not only to the issues of people with disabilities but also to issues concerning addiction and marginalization in society. Since I’m a poet, I wrote the book as a narrative poem in a free-verse style. I like this style because it allowed me to use a ton of imagery to tell my story by showing it. The poetic structure also enabled me to say what needed to be said in 100 pages—instead of probably 300 pages if I had written it in prose. A show called This IsBaltimore, Too produced a documentary about my book, which aired on a local cable television channel. Here’s a link to the show if any of your readers would like to take a look at it. This Is Baltimore, Too — Seeing Through Blindness with Matt Harris
Where can people buy your books?
My book is available on Amazon—in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Let’s get to know more about you and your disability…
Name a bad habit that you have? I have a tendency to rock back and forth sometimes when I’m standing up. I developed this habit when my oldest daughter was a baby. Sometimes the only way for her to fall asleep was for me to stand up and rock back and forth with her in my arms.
Name your best quality? I’m a good listener.
If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why? I would love to interview John Milton, the British poet who wrote the epic poem Paradise Lost. Milton was blind when he wrote this masterpiece in the 1600s. I would ask him how he, as a blind person, wrote and edited this voluminous piece using only seventeenth-century technology.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I would hope to have published my next memoir and several more books of poetry by then. I would also hope to be traveling the country to recite my poetry at various venues.
What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? As I mentioned earlier, I have a genetic disease called Usher Syndrome (US), which causes both blindness and deafness. At age 21, I was first diagnosed with a genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP causes severe visual impairment and can lead to total blindness. At the time of my RP diagnosis, I was declared legally blind and could still hear perfectly. By age 45, I started to experience hearing loss. About 10 years later, after my hearing further deteriorated, and since RP and US are genetically related, I was tested for US, and the results came back positive.
How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis? Having a dual sensory loss can be challenging. It often feels like I’m in a foreign country trying to decipher language and the lay of the land. It sometimes feels as if I’m fading away. But, fortunately, the technologies available today help me maneuver through some of the foreign territory that I face each day. Also, as I mentioned earlier, my faith in Jesus helps to anchor me in peace while I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this new world in which I find myself.
What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? I feel that my condition is very misunderstood and that people have a lot of misconceptions about it. For example, there is a misconception that blind people have bionic hearing. This myth trips me up at times when people think that about me, not realizing that I actually have a profound hearing loss. This misconception can create misunderstandings when people speak to me and then misinterpret my lack of response as rudeness. I try to dispel these misconceptions whenever I can. On the other hand, some people, even though they still might think that we have superior hearing, still insist on speaking loudly to us. Although this irritates many blind people, it actually helps me with my hearing loss. All in all, however, I do believe that for the most part people in general mean well. I think that the people I meet in my everyday travels just simply do not know how to respond to me because they haven’t been around people in my situation. These are just a few of the many obstacles I face each day. I’ll save the rest for my future memoir.
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 would say to try and develop a good sense of humor about visual impairment and smile a lot and try to put people at ease. Also, if you are losing your sight gradually, I think it’s very important to be aware of–and grieve–the emotional and psychological trauma that can occur in each stage of sight loss. These continual losses over a course of a lifetime can be harmful if not dealt with properly.
Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)
What holidays do you celebrate during the winter season?
I celebrate Christmas and New Year’s.
What is one of your favorite memories of the holiday? I liked when my daughters opened their presents on Christmas Day when they were little. They would get so excited. I also enjoyed the warmth and the scent of seasoned oak logs that crackled in our wood stove that we always burned on Christmas Day. These were very fond memories.
Best gift you ever received?
The Gift of Eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord!
What does the holidays mean to you?
In recent years, the holidays have become a time of reflection for me. But, of course, they also represent a time of giving. And with that thought in mind, I would like to conclude by giving a free copy of my book, Seeing Through Blindness, to the first five readers who comment on your blog using a quotation from your article. (Unfortunately, I can only send copies in the United States.) Just PM the location to Amanda to where you would like me to send the book.* Thanks again, Amanda, for inviting me to your blog. Happy Holidays!
Another month has come and gone. I am so shocked with how fast the year has been coming and going. Soon I will be telling you about the next theme for 2020.
Movement I have been making some positive movement with life. I continue to exercise. This has helped me with my weight management and with my mental health. I had a meeting with my new Vocational Rehabilitation caseworker and business coach. We are going through step four of my business plan. I was nervous about the outcome of the meeting. I am happy to report that I was able to get a lot of questions answered about my business plan. I am waiting to hear about my technology needs. I have plans to share a special YouTube video on an update on how my meeting went.
Patience has really been tested this month. I have been having some anxiety about the changes with my caseworker. Two of my past caseworkers were not very helpful. Now that I have talked to my new caseworker, I have learned that she wants to help me when it comes to reaching my career goals. I have to remind myself that it takes time to reach your career goals.
Positivity has been pretty good for me this month. My editor and I have made even more progress on my book. I know that I keep saying I want to have it published by a certain date that has already come and gone. I just need to get this book right before everyone sees it. I have to keep reminding myself that the more positive thoughts and feelings that I feel the more positive things will happen to me.
What has been going on with your lives? Has anything positive been going on? Tell me in the comments below.
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.
I was excited to receive a box of Canada treats to try. Thank you, Aunt Wendy, for the treats. 😊
The first candy I tried was a Big Foot Gros Pieds. The texture remined me of the fruit rollup snacks we have in America. I liked the fruit flavors of Banana, grape, and apple. I enjoyed this treat a lot.
The next treat I tried were chocolate covered almonds. I love chocolate and almonds. The candy was very sweet and it tingled even after I finished the sample. I liked the crunch from the almond. I am sure I will finish the box very quickly.
Sugar Shack Maple Candy Pastilles were next. I honestly feel that if I sucked on the candy longer, I could have enjoyed it more. However, I did not care for it right off hand. To me it was too sweet.
The next treat I tried was a hard candy that was in the shape of a maple leaf. Even though the candy shape looked unique, I did not care for the strong maple flavor.
The last treat I tried was a Canada milk chocolate bar. I loved the markings on the bar because it remined me of tree bark. I liked how sweet the bar was. It really was delicious.
Tell me what country I should try next by leaving me a comment below!
The past two months have really flown by and I have met some milestones that go along with my theme for this year. As with my last 2019-more movement patience and positivity post, I am going to break down my reflections into categories.
Movement: Even though I have not lost as much weight as I want to, I am doing the very best I can by trying to continue to exercise by walking. I have also finished my Independent living classes at school. I have more confidence when it comes to cooking and being able to use my cane more effectively. I am continuing my education by taking online courses through Hadley and I have finished my first course called, Self Employment with a Minimal Investment. I am now onto another course which will help me reach my goal of self-employment.
Patience: I still have to work on reaching this value of patience. However, I have learned that being able to reach your goals does take time, patience and positivity.
Last but not least is positivity: I am learning each day how to be more positive and happy. Learning this last skill is not easy but I am getting there. One example of this is learning to be positive that I will get out of poverty. With the help and support of my grandpa, who I took out for lunch this past Monday to celebrate 14 years of living together, I know that I will meet my goal.
If you have a theme for this year how have things been going for you? Let me know in the comments below.