Interview with Matt Harris (Guest Post #20) And a GIVEAWAY!

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…

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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 Through Blindness, which tells about my experiences with blindness and drugs as a teenager and young adult.

Let’s talk about writing/YouTube/Blogs…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Have you ever written a book? If so tell me about it? My latest book, as I mentioned earlier, is called Seeing Through Blindness. 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 Is Baltimore, 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
  5. Where can people buy your books?

My book is available on Amazon—in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Matt
Photo of Matt Harris.

Let’s get to know more about you and your disability…

  1. 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.
  2. Name your best quality? I’m a good listener.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)

I mostly hang out on Facebook. Here’s a link to my Home Page: Matt’s Facebook page

Let’s talk about the holidays…

  1. What holidays do you celebrate during the winter season?

I celebrate Christmas and New Year’s.

  1. 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.
  2. Best gift you ever received?

The Gift of Eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord!

  1. 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!

_____________________________________________

*Amanda’s email is: Amanda@amandagene.com

If you would like to be interviewed on my blog please email me at: Amanda@amandagene.com

Interview with Alex (Guest Blog Post #17)

This guest post comes from my friend Alex on Twitter. She has an amazing blog and is active on Twitter. Be sure to check out her content. 🙂

  1. What is your name? Hi, my name is Alex.
  2. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging and or YouTube channel?  No one particularly inspired me to start blogging, I just started so I could write about what I’m passionate about or what I’m thinking.
  3. Besides writing or making YouTube videos, what do you like to do in your spare time? I love to do photography. I also love to go on adventures with family and friends.
  4. Name a bad habit that you have? Procrastination is a bad habit I haven’t been able to break yet.
  5. Name your best quality? My best quality would probably have to be compassion, I guess.
  6. If you could interview anyone living or dead who would that be and why? If would love to interview my favorite YouTuber Molly Burke. I find her channel inspirational and I love that she talks about the good sides and the bad of living with disabilities.
  7. What is your college major/minor? I’m majoring in Psychology
  8. What is the title of your blog or YouTube channel, and when did you start blogging? The title of my blog is ‘A. P. Livolsi’s Blog’, and I started my blog a few months ago.
  9. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? I was born legally blind and I have other physical disabilities.
  10. How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you have) effect you on a daily basis?  Honestly, when people ask me how my disability affects day to day activities I am not quite sure how to answer. I just do what able-bodied people do. Get up, eat, get ready for the day, go to school, and do homework. I use a White Cane as a mobility device to help me get around. If I can’t see something or I need directions I just ask. I feel like a normal person, despite having disabilities.
  11. How do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? Family members and close friends really don’t care about my disabilities. It’s just a part of who I am. Occasionally someone at school or out when I’m walking will stop to ask respectful questions about my vision. The thing that annoys me is when people ask questions and don’t bother to listen to my answers. They just pity me for being legally blind. I don’t like being pitted because of it. I love myself the way I am and I wouldn’t change it.
  12. If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability) what would that be? My advice to a person who, not just have disabilities, but are dealing with any issue that is not easily solved is to keep going. I see life like a book. One chapter may really suck, but the new chapter might be ten times better. You never know what can happen.
  13. Where can other people find you on social media? (please list and provide links):People can find me via Twitter @alexpl20me  and Via Instagram alex_blindphotographer    Alex’s  blog https://aplivolsiblogonline.wordpress.com

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

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

 

Interview with Ailsa (Guest Blog Post #13)

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post is from Ailsa.

Ailsa has her own blog and she is active on her social media websites. Be sure to check out her blog and her social media 🙂  Thank you, Ailsa for being a guest.

  1. What is your name? Ailsa
  2.  Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging? My friends and other bloggers.
  3.  Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? I like to listen to music and play games.
  4.  Name a bad habit that you have? Biting my lip.
  5.  If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?  I would interview Olly Murs because I have a slight crush on him.
  6.  What is your college major/Minor?  I went to St Vincent College in Gosport,
    U.K.
  7.  What school (college or university) did you go to?  I went to Portchester Community School.
  8.   What is the title of your blog?    My blog is called Brains on Wheels
  9.   When and why did you start your blog?  I started blogging in February, 2016 because I wanted to have something to do besides going to college.
  10.    Where do you see yourself in five years?  In five years’ time, I would like to be living in my own place.
  11. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?  I have Cerebral Palsy (also referred to as CP). When I was born, I didn’t breathe. I was stillborn, but I was resuscitated, it took the doctors about twenty minutes to resuscitate me.   As a result of me not breathing, in that period when my brain didn’t get the oxygen I needed, brain damage occurred. I was on a ventilator for two days; the ventilator took breaths for me by pumping oxygen around my body and into my brain.   There were about three stillborn on that day, and I was the only one that survived. The doctors turned my life support down, so they could find out whether I would breathe on my own, and I did. I came off the ventilator on my sister’s birthday, which was a wonderful birthday present for her.
  12.  How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis?  I need support with almost everything; self-care, eating, drinking, dressing, ect.
  13.  What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?   I don’t know, but I would like to think that it doesn’t bother them.
  14.   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?  Don’t give up, you’ll get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  15. Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)  Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BlogbyAilsa and – https://www.facebook.com/ourlifecp                                                                                  Twitter – https://twitter.com/AilsaSpeak, https://twitter.com/BlogbyAilsa and https://twitter.com/ourlifecp

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ailsa.k.speak

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/4il5a

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

 

Interview with Alexis Read (Guest Blog Post #12)

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post is from my friend Alexis. Alexis runs a Facebook page all about her guide dog,  Yankee.  Be sure to check out her Facebook page to learn more about Yankee.  🙂 Thank you Alexis for being a guest.

  1. What is your name? My name is Alexis Read
  2. Age?: I’m 37 years old.
  3. Who has inspired you the most in life and your blogging?

My teacher of the Visually Impaired, Phyllis LeDosquet, inspires me as she was such an excellent teacher. Her teaching inspired my work with others with vision loss. When Phyllis was my teacher, she taught skills and concepts using real examples. For example, when I didn’t know about sizes of fruit in late elementary school, Phyllis took me to a grocery store to show me various fruit. She also had a brilliant idea when I was so negative. She had slips of paper where each negative comment was written. Phyllis had all of these comments on one side of the desk. As each comment was read, Phyllis explained why the trait is positive. She then moved the trait to the opposite side of the table. This activity helped me develop my own teaching tool for a 10 year old student in the summer of 2003. Another person who inspires me is a man from Louisville, KY. He’s blind and has a variety of physical disabilities. His arms and legs are unable to be bent so he’s unable to walk independently. He plays the piano and trumpet as well as sings. He has a message of positivity and setting achievable goals. His PAT acronym is something I use regularly when setting goals. PAT stands for perseverance, passion, patience, attitude, and trust.

image1 (1)
Photo of Alexis and guide dog Yankee.                                                                                          Photo credit: Vicki Curtis Stoner. She’s a local photographer.
  1. Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing with my guide dog Yankee, and listening to music. Some of my favorite authors include Jodi Picoult and John Grisham. I also enjoy learning more about forensic science.
  2. Name a bad habit that you have? A bad habit is using scientific words with people who aren’t familiar with the terms,
    If I could meet anyone living or dead, I’d love to meet Patrick Henry Hughes. This is the young man from Louisville described above.

6. Name your best quality? My best quality is my attention to detail.

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

If I could meet anyone living or dead, I’d love to meet Patrick Henry Hughes. This is the young man from Louisville described above.

  1. What is your college major/Minor? I have a BA in psychology and English literature with a minor in German. These degrees were obtained from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. My master’s degree is in vision rehabilitation therapy. I obtained this degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.
  2. What school (college or university) did you go to?
  3. What is the title of your blog? I don’t have a blog, but my guide dog Yankee has his own Facebook page. I decided to start this page because I thought it would be fun to write from his perspective.
  4. When and why did you start your blog?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be working at a university with students with disabilities. This would be very rewarding because I believe college education is important for individuals with disabilities.
  6. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? My vision loss was caused from optic atrophy and nystagmus.
  7. How does your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) effect you on a daily basis? I have more central vision than peripheral vision. I use a guide dog for independent travel. He’s a sweet and smart yellow Lab. I use screen reading technology to access the computer and my iOS devices.
  8. What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)? Others appear to accept my vision loss, but acceptance isn’t a universal theme. There are people in Society who seem not to accept people with disabilities. Society’s ignorance is the biggest barrier to success for those with disabilities.
  9. 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? If I could offer any advice to others with disabilities, I’d advise young people to find a field they enjoy and that has good job prospects. I also would advise people to have good blindness skills like daily living, travel, and assistive technology skills. Being competent in the skills of blindness will serve you well in life.
  10. Where can other people find you on Social media (Please list and provide links)   www.facebook.com/YankeeGuide

 

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

 

Interview with Luke (Guest Blog Post #10)

Hi Everyone, this month I got the pleasure  of interviewing my friend Luke. Luke has his own blog. He is an amazing blogger.  Please be sure to check out his blog and other social media links. Many thanks to Luke for featuring me on his website.

  1. What is your name?

Luke

  1. Age?

I’m 28, although I feel much older.

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

I would probably have to say my Mum. She always supports me whatever I do, but my biggest blogging inspirations would have to be Mikhela and Caroline Hirons.

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

I really like to read, mainly Autobiographies, and also love to watch as much TV as I can.

  1. Name a bad habit that you have?

I occasionally pick my Nails, but I can often go months without doing it.

  1. Name your best quality?

I would probably have to say my willingness to help anyone.

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

I would have to say either Joan Rivers or Sarah Millican, as I think that they would have some great stories about their lives and the people that they’ve worked with to tell.

  1. What is your college major/Minor?

I don’t have one.

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

Queensbury School in Bradford. It was a decent School at the time but it’s gone very downhill since I left and at one point ended up in special measures, which is kind of OFSTED’s, the governing body of Schools, naughty step.

  1. What is the title of your blog?

Luke Sam Sowden.

  1. When and why did you start your blog?

I started on the 1st of October 2014, and I started because it took quite a lot of work. to film, edit and promote the YouTube videos that I was uploading at the time.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully still writing my Blog but to a bigger audience, and maybe even the owner of some kind of small business.

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

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is a hereditary Eye condition, which unfortunately means that I have Tunnel Vision, which is more like looking through a Funnel rather than a Tunnel, Night Vision, which means that I can’t see at Night and floaters, which are like little pieces of White Fluff that float around my Eyes every so often.

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

My visual impairment makes it difficult to read text like my mail and misjudge where things are.

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

Most of the people including my Family and Friends, are perfectly fine with my condition as they know that I can’t change anything about it, but there are some people that aren’t and somehow take the fact that I can’t see properly as an insult towards them but I don’t give them a second thought.

  1. 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?

Just that the best thing is to get on with your life and don’t take any notice of what other people might think.

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

My Blog |http://www.lukesamsowden.com

YouTube |http://www.youtube.com/user/lukesamsowden

Facebook |https://www.facebook.com/lukesamuelsowden

Twitter | https://www.twitter.com/lukesamsowden

Instagram |https://www.instagram.com/lukesamsowden

If you are a disability writer, blogger, or YouTuber and would like to be a guest on my blog feel free to contact me by email at: amanda@amandagene.com