Last Updated on: October 13th, 2018
Blind people should not be avoided, shunned, or ignored.
This past year, I have encountered two blind people online.
You probably already know Maxwell Ivey, whom I interviewed and who is now a blogging coach and author of Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light (which I edited for him). If you have already visited Max’s blog or had any type of interaction with him, you know that he is a sweet man with a heart of gold. He’s also inspirational in many ways: he lost over two hundred pounds in two years, he owns two businesses (one which involves buying and selling carnival rides), he is a blogger, he’s on social media, and he’s now proud of the fact he’s blind and has accomplished so much in his life.
However, you might not yet know Kerry.
Kerry. Kerry. Who the Heck is Kerry?
Kerry Kijewski is a blind woman. But she is so much more than just that.
She’s a great writer, an insightful person, and a pleasure to talk to, both through emails and Skype. (Aah, I love technology!)
Kerry agreed to let me interview her, too. It seemed only fitting that I should have a post about an interview with a blind woman on my site, as I already have An Interview With a Blind Man on Wording Well.
Kerry is a blogger, a writer, and insightful traveller. Her writing site is a free blog called Her Headache, and her travel site is her new, hosted site called The Insightful Wanderer.
I first met Kerry through LinkedIn, after being told about her by Max, and then through a comment I left for her on her blog.
A Blind Woman Who Wants to Travel?
Kerry’s goals include pursuing a career in writing and travelling the world.
Before you jump to any conclusions about that last statement, know that I initially had a hard time believing it, too. But when you think about it, she has every right to do the same things sighted people do. Her experience, however, will be a bit different from yours or mine. She’ll utilize her other senses to enjoy the locations she visits.
In fact, before we get to the in-depth interview, here is a super-brief introduction to Kerry, using what Kerry has to say about herself and her desire to travel:
I just want to say that I’m no different from anyone else. I’m really not. I’m not scary. I like music, movies, books, autumn, chocolate, and pizza.
I love to laugh and have a wicked sense of humour, if I do say so myself.
I like symmetry.
I love to go to concerts, on day trips/road trips, and theme parks. Even blind girls wanna have fun!
I like to sing, but I am not great.
I love history, psychology, literature, and pop culture.
I love the scent immediately after a spring rain, the fragrance of freshly cut grass in summer,, the crispness of the fall air, or the fresh and still silent snowfall that I smell in the night.
Think what life would be like if you only stayed inside your own little bubble, if you didn’t get out and discovered the world around you. that’s all I want to do. I stand at a place like Niagara Falls and, although I am not taking in its majesty with my eyes, my remaining senses step in and take over. I feel the spray of the mist on my face, I grip the cold railing, smelling the cool windy air, listening to the roar and feeling its vibration through the stone at my feet.
That is what travel can be for me. Just because I can’t see it (which must be really hard for people to wrap their heads around), does that mean I deserve to experience such things for myself any less?
I get something out of going somewhere new and meeting the people who live there. I eat the food and listen to the accents and the differences in speech, but I still see the same humanity that I see everywhere.
We are all the same, despite our differences. That’s the lesson I get from travel and of which I want to impart, whether it’s people from another country, who speak a different language, observe a different religion, or whatever it may be. This translates to living with any difference or “disability” like blindness, that people can’t imagine for themselves, but we all need to try and put ourselves in one another’s shoes to truly find our common ground.
I miss looking at pictures every day. I still like to hear descriptions of something. I can imagine how a certain light hits something. I can imagine a look, but yet I can’t. I try. I don’t just retreat into my own experience of the world.
I have an imagination and I saw more at one time. I have the ability to envision my surroundings.
Travel is also, in huge part, who you are with. It’s the people you experience the world with that make the experience so special.
If the conditions are just right, if the light hits the face of my niece or nephew in just the right way, I catch a glimpse of sweetness in their faces.
Just because blind people can’t see doesn’t mean we don’t wonder what someone of the opposite sex might look like. The inability to see it doesn’t take away the instinct to want to know anyway.
As you can clearly see, Kerry is a woman of substance. Most people, however, can’t seem to look past her blindness, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to showcase her today and do an in-depth interview with her.
An Interview With A Blind Woman, Kerry Kijewski
Some of the questions have several parts, and some of Kerry’s answers are fairly long. However, I hope you read through each question and response carefully, as Kerry reveals certain things about herself that you don’t want to miss!
Without further ado, please get to know Kerry a bit! I’m sure you’ll come to like her as much as I do! At the very least, you’ll learn a bit about this blind woman and realize that not all blind folk should be clumped together in a stereotypical category, or be treated so differently that they are made to feel like freaks.
Enjoy the interview!
1. How long have you been blind, and how much can you see? Were you born blind? Do you know Braille?
I was born blind. My parents had two children before me and they were both born with sight, so it came as a total shock to my parents and the entire family when I came along.
It wasn’t until I was a few months old that my parents began to notice something was up.
I was not following objects with my eyes like babies should be doing, and my mother and father became worried. They took me to the family doctor and he hesitated. It took some fighting for a referral to an eye specialist, but I was then diagnosed with a genetic eye condition, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis. I even wrote a post about dealing with the diagnosis.
The question of how much I can see is a tricky one. It is a bit of a long story so I will try to shorten it for you.
I had quite a bit of sight as a young child. I learned to read both braille and large print. After another battle with the school board, my mother fought and got me into my neighbourhood school. I could do most of what other kids did, but I had a pupil aid in the classroom to help and then a Braille teacher.
I used to love to colour and draw. I loved bright markers and colours.
I wore glasses, which made my world clear once on my face. I learned how to use a white cane, but when I was in a familiar setting, such as my school, I rarely used it.
My little bit of sight remained stable until I was twelve years old. Things after that got complicated.
I started having medical problems, kidney failure, and shortly after starting dialysis my vision became fuzzy and I began to experience blackouts with my sight.
I had always been strictly tunnel-visioned and my left eye was never as strong as my right.
When all the medical issues started affecting me, I began to get horrible pain behind my left eye and simple drops did not help.
The pain continued and got unbearable and after a trip to the ER, many bright lights shined painfully into my eyes, several specialists, and a week in hospital there was still no relief and no answers.
Within a few weeks I had my left eye removed to stop the pain and an artificial eye made.
With the help of some strong drugs (prednisone) to stop any further progression of the mysterious disease playing havoc on my eyes, I was left with reduced vision in my right eye.
Since then, I believe my remaining vision has declined, but it happens so gradually and over many years and it can be hard to define.
During an eye exam I can no longer count how many fingers the doctor is holding up.
I do know I can no longer read print and my beloved colours are now dim, blurry, faded shades to me.
I need my cane more now and if I am not in a place I know well I feel less confident of my surroundings.
I only read Braille and use adaptive technology: Mac computer, VoiceOver, and my iPhone.
I use the little bit of vision I still have to judge what is around me and it does help. I would be lost if my biggest fear did come true and I lost the rest of my sight. I can see only shapes and shadows and shades of what used to be clear and more defined, but what I still have I cling to.
2. What you like to do for fun? Do you watch TV, and if so, how? What else do you like to do for entertainment?
A lot of blind people do not like television or movies, but that has never been me. The term watching to describe it used to be more accurate than it is now. I used to be able to see the screen well enough that I could watch it, but now I really don’t get much from actually watching. I listen more than anything now, but I have always liked it and have always had favourite shows.
I like shows with dialogue, like soap operas and sitcoms. I enjoy dramas and documentaries, nature and wildlife programs.
There has been closed captioning for the hearing impaired for a long time, but descriptive is more recent, but still not easily accessible. Often it ends up being useless and more of an interruption than a help, especially for a sitcom where most things don’t need describing. The narrator ends up cutting off the dialogue.
I always loved movies: comedies, rom coms, dramas. It can be hard to watch genres such as: action films, horror films and foreign films are especially difficult obviously. It can help having someone describe the visual parts, but not everyone is very good at this. My brother has always been the best person in my life for this. He has had lots of practice, but it seems to come natural for him.
Going to the movies is fun because it is a whole experience of the popcorn and the big screen. This used to mean seeing what was going on, but now I go for the big sound all around you and the fun of going with a friend, family members, or on a date.
I have the most fun spending time with my family. My brother and I are close, my other brother and I like to watch movies, and my sister and I go to movies or shopping.
I love to spend time with my niece and nephews. It can be more difficult when they are barely talking, to communicate, because I can’t see what they may be up to, but once they are old enough to understand that I can’t see, it’ll get easier. I hope, even if I can’t do all the same things with them, that I might be able to if I could see, that we will have a special bond and that they will learn about the world from the unique things I can teach them.
I love to spend time with friends. Being older now, we are all more spread out, but part of the fun can be traveling to visit each other.
I love to go for walks with my dog, in the park near my house.
I love going for road trips, listening to music, and travel.
Reading and writing is fun for me. Internet, blogging, and social media.
I love music so much that one of my favourite things is going to a concert to listen to a band that I love perform live.[Tweet “Learn how this blind woman entertains herself!”]
3. You mentioned a few things I’d like to explore further. What kind of dog do you have, and is he/she a seeing-eye dog?
No, The dog I spoke of is just a pet. His name is Dobby and he is a seven-year-old Jack-a-poo. I have him and my kitten Lumos. They are my pals.
I used to have a guide dog. I got Croche in Quebec before starting high school. I had her for nine years. She then died suddenly of cancer. I have thought about getting another one, but I don’t know if I could go through all that again. I know most people are extremely close with their pets, but there was a special bond I had with Croche and I have a hard time believing I could ever have a guide dog like her again. Who knows what may happen in the future though.
4. Also, you mentioned going on a date. Do you date much? What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to dating? If you want to refer to past relationships, feel free to do so.
Dating isn’t what I’d call easy for me, but I have had some success. I have dated, been in love, had my heart broken just like pretty much everyone else.
I have always been shy and this made it hard to meet guys. In school I would say boys were nervous around me, intimidated, but I don’t mean that in a self-involved way. I just mean that they didn’t know how to approach me and I didn’t really put myself out there a whole lot. I had one boyfriend in high school, but it was not a very good situation.
Then my health was bad for many years. I did not attend university and I did not get out much. this made meeting guys difficult. I suppose I was afraid of getting rejected again, after my negative dating experience from high school.
There are a lot of self-esteem issues, not just when I was isolated and not feeling well physically.
It is harder, when you are unable to see, to feel confident about how you look and how you come across to others. I don’t always feel particularly pretty or stylish because I can’t look in a mirror, I don’t wear makeup, and when I am out I don’t know how to attract the opposite sex. It is difficult when you can’t smile at a guy or make eye contact from across a room. In public I am just the blind girl and it takes time to get over that awkwardness and discomfort. I know I am a pretty great person: smart, fun, interesting. It is just hard to get others to see that sometimes.
I was alone so long I finally needed to do something, to take action, so I started online dating.
I knew there was still a stigma (the common joke in the online dating world is lying about how you met) but I liked it.
For once I could write a few paragraphs about myself. I discovered that I could do what I was good at, writing, and let any guys reading know that I had something to offer, if you got past the blindness thing.
I started learning the tricks of the online dating world. I could sift through all the shallow and the ignorant ones and the real ones started to show through.
I did have to make a decision though. I had to decide just when in my profile to mention that I was blind. Should I say it first thing, so there would be no misunderstandings? After all, online profiles weren’t known for being full of honesty, but I wanted to be as transparent about myself as possible.
Should I mention it somewhere in the middle so it didn’t look like that was all I was or that my blindness was all I was about, leave it to the very end, or should I not mention it at all? I knew if someone didn’t want to talk to me because of that, they weren’t worth it anyway, but I was afraid even online I would scare guys away.
There are many guys who wouldn’t want to date and be in a relationship with a blind woman. there is prejudice and ignorance. A lot of misinformation. I know it can seem overwhelming. I just thought I would try this online bar scene, if you will, and hope for the best. After all, this was much more peaceful. I have always felt awkward in the bar scene because it is often loud and crowded. When you can’t see and then you can hardly hear, it can be very disorienting and thus, tricky to make any real connections with people.
It’s hard to be cautious – like is suggested – with meeting guys online. I learned all the little tools and tricks. I liked to talk online for a while first and then on the phone.
Hearing a guy’s voice is important to me. I also believe I have good instincts and strong intuition, and I can sense if something doesn’t feel right. I have been raised by two happily married parents and I feel I know what a healthy relationship should be.
I spoke with many guys online then with a few on the phone, and met an even smaller number than that.
I would have my sister go with me to get a look at the guy, just at first. I would only have them meet me at my house after talking for a while. Then I would have people around. They could size up the guy or even jot down his licence plate. 😉
I have been in two long-term relationships since then. I have made my mistakes, like everyone does. I have learned about love.
I ended one and the second I got my heart broken pretty bad. That’s life, I guess. It feels nice, in a strange way, to feel normal and to experience the things everyone else goes through.
What is normal anyway?
Now I am single once more and I fear the same thing I feared after ending my last relationship. I fear I will never find anyone else, that there can’t possibly be anyone else out there who could love and accept a blind girl. I know this sounds silly in a way, and it is. I fear ending up alone, just like everyone else.
I fear that the thing to end relationships for me in the past was my blindness, that it is just too hard to be in any long-term relationship with someone who has a disability. I know I can love and that I love deeply and am intensely loyal. Again, I know I am not half-bad to be in a relationship with, but something still gets to me.
I do know how important it is to be passionate, to have a purpose in life and to be confident in yourself if you want others, future partners or anybody else to gravitate to you. I am a work-in-progress and I hope my best days are still ahead of me.[Tweet “Find out how a blind woman goes about dating nowadays.”]
5. How do you go grocery shopping? And how do you buy things using money and not get ripped off?
I don’t go on my own. This means I am avoiding going on my own and the skills and independence that misses out on. I feel like I should take a cab or bus and go to a store alone, ask for assistance from the customer service desk, but I don’t. I would if I had to and it is entirely possible. My visually impaired brother has done it. He has lived in Toronto or London and didn’t always have someone with a car to drive him.
They do have people to help you get what you need, but it can be difficult to always get the brands you might want when the person helping you does not know you and what you like.
I know I am not alone in preferring to shop with someone. Whether it’s groceries or clothes, I like to shop with my parents, my sister, a friend, or a boyfriend.
I shop with my sister for clothes because she is the one person I trust totally with my style. She is only two years older and knows what is “in” and fashionable. Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t have my own opinions on what I like, but she is just my second opinion and my trusted guide. It’s better than a personal shopper, because she is my sister and she knows what I like.
This sort of thing can be hard because I am forced to depend on others. It is just not the kind of thing I would want to switch up, like my father shopping for underwear with me instead of eggs, milk, and bread. 🙂
As for money. Well I “usually” (keyword there is usually) know the difference between a dime, a nickel, and a quarter. A loonie is a little smaller than a toonie and the toonie is rougher.
Paper money has had Braille dots on it for as long as I could remember. Also, the dark numbers were visible at first and more recently they were tactile enough. Anyone who has never seen might not know what print numbers look like to feel their shape, but I did.
Now our new money is glossy but it still has Braille and with these new plastic bills, the Braille dots don’t fade when the bill becomes old and worn.
I don’t fold my bills in different ways or use a bill reader like many visually impaired people do.
When I use a debit machine I might be nervous about asking for help from a cashier. The exchange at a restaurant table with a waiter who tries to assist me can be awkward. Usually, I am with someone I trust to spot anything fishy. I have memorized where “OK” or “chequing” are located on the touch pad, unless everything becomes digital. Although, my phone is touch screen and I am fine with that, but that talks. They should all talk. It is at times like these that it can be difficult and I wish the world put more consideration into the visually impaired people among them, but these things take time.
These machines always have a little dot on the five and it’s only a problem when a debit machine isn’t laid out like others I may have come across.
You do have to put a certain amount of trust in people, but that is something you just have to get used to when you are visually impaired, if you ever want to go anywhere or do anything. Most people are honest and trustworthy, good, decent, and willing to help.[Tweet “Learn how blind people shop for food. See Question 5.”]
6. Now, I’d really like to know how you know what to wear; a purple shirt and orange pants don’t really go well together . . . especially if you have green shoes! How do you cope with this aspect of your life?
First of all, I don’t usually do something as bold as wear bright orange pants or green shoes. 🙂
I used to see colours so I have a bit more knowledge of what they may look like when paired with one another. I know brightly coloured pants have been fashionable of late, I seem to recall, but I usually stick to plain old blue jeans.
I can ask my sister or someone else when I am unsure of a fashion choice. I am sure I am not always or often the most stylish person, but I do okay. I do love clothes, which may seem surprising to some or it may not. I don’t know. I wish I could have a huge wardrobe, buy clothes whenever I felt like it, which I prefer to a lot of cosmetics or even shoes. I try to imagine how I look in certain outfits and I feel the same boost of confidence as anyone else when I feel good in a new sweater or pair of pants. I never liked dresses all that much, but I wish I wore more of them. I guess I just feel more comfortable in pants, but what I see of myself in my mind and how that translates isn’t always the same.
I know my clothes pretty well and try to memorize the colours of each item. This gets harder when, like last winter, I purchased a handful of shirts that felt the same, but were different colours. I just wear them with jeans and then it really doesn’t matter what colour I happened to choose, but I ask someone if there is anyone around to ask. Usually I am not leaving the house all by myself so there is someone who can see to run my appearance past.
There are apps that will tell you what colour you hold up to them and I have used them before. Technology is pretty cool.
Truthfully I know this is probably one of the main and first question on everybody’s minds, but to me it is the last thing I worry about in life, picking out the clothes I mean. How I look is definitely not the last thing I worry about. Hope that does not sound like vanity, but I have the same concerns and self-image issues as every other woman.
And for your final question for this round, I honestly considered replying that I just don’t shave at all, that I prefer to stay natural, but I thought better of it. 😉
I recall cutting myself shaving the first few times I tried, but doesn’t almost everyone? 🙂 It isn’t only you that wonders this though because I guess people just think it would be more difficult and scary if they had to do it without looking. I have been asked before.
The answer is that when I first had to start shaving my legs I was afraid and only used an electric razor because it had a guard on it and couldn’t hurt me. It’s funny because I have had major surgeries and many years of daily headaches and chronic pain, but I get a little cut, paper or otherwise, and I am the biggest baby. 🙂
I feel my way as I shave, I don’t go wild with it, and truthfully I rarely cut myself at all. I get the occasional small nick, but it’s not really a problem.
7. Do you ever try to “see” someone with your hands, to compensate for your vision loss?
No. Not really. I am not an overly touchy feely kind of a person and I don’t like it. I used to have enough sight to see faces, at least more clearly than now, so I kind of remember what my family all look like. As for people I meet nowadays, I would only do this with someone close to me, specifically a boyfriend, but otherwise I don’t worry about it. I can always ask someone.
The famous deaf-blind woman Helen Keller was, I believe, known to do this, but I prefer to learn about people through the sound of their voice, the way they speak, and how they act. I’d rather not touch a bunch of faces. That’s just not me. 🙂
8. Can you tell me more about you, your education, the kinds of jobs you’ve done, and your websites?
I did not attend a school for the blind, like so many do. I had parents who fought to get me in my neighbourhood school and I think I was better off for it. I have many thoughts, feelings, and opinions on this topic and I hate to blast anyone’s education. I know people who went to these schools and perhaps they fit in better and did better as a result, but I think those types of schools, boarding schools, for one subgroup of the population can be harmful for society. I realize they were all people knew to do in the past, but I have seen damage and I hope we are working to integration in the years to come.
I am not saying it was always easy for me. I had a pupil aid and Braille teacher and I had some social trouble, fitting in and making friends, at first.
I had a best friend, a little boyfriend if you will, in the early years. I had several friends in grades one and two, but I also had times when my pupil aid had to arrange for someone to spend time with me. This was difficult. I spent recesses walking around with the teacher or trying to get permission to stay inside. I often dreaded that recess bell, standing against the wall of the building, out in the schoolyard because I couldn’t find a friend.
I know all my teachers did the best they could with me to help me fit in, but I had my moments of loneliness and resentment. Then I had a best friend, a small group of good friends, which have expanded and shrunk ever since.
It is hard not to feel like a freak sometimes, back then or now, but I know I am a person worth knowing.
I believe any child can struggle with this. I did have best friends and I think that my peers received a certain benefit in their education that other children missed out on, just by having me in their class steadily all through those years. I was just another kid in the class, I hope.
It wasn’t just my blindness. If that were all, I probably would have finished high school and gone to university. That was always my dream and I just assumed, with a little extra help, that this would happen.
Unfortunately it did not. This is something I have been shy about in the past, feeling a high level of guilt and shame that I did not graduate. I felt I needed to hide it for fear of judgment, but keeping it in hurts more.
It’s not like I was a slacker who ditched class for fun and then just dropped out. I was getting eighty and above, in the nineties in grade nine English and music.
I had missed 134 days of school in seventh grade, due to the fact that I was on dialysis, had surgeries, ending the year off with a transplant from my father.
The school wanted to keep me behind in the seventh grade, but my parents, once more, fought for me. They made a deal that if I were permitted to move on to the eighth grade with my friends and peers, that if I did not keep up then I would stay behind and not move on to high school.
The school agreed. I’d recovered from the transplant over the summer and eighth grade was one of the best years of my life. I got to graduate grade eight with my class and made lasting memories.
I felt good until a few months into grade nine and then some other health issues started to get in the way.
I had scoliosis and a lot of back pain and then I started getting headaches. This made school increasingly difficult.
I had the back surgery for the scoliosis and hoped that would be that, but as I went on I still had headaches and other chronic pain.
I had periods of depression, but I continued on a reduced class load. I would do what I could, but each year going forward I fell farther and farther behind and soon I was in grade twelve and only had about half the credits required to graduate.
I basically gave up at this point and isolated myself at home. The pain was all-consuming and I tried so many medications and treatments. Some worked and some did not.
My condition is complicated, but I am mentioning it here because it is hard to separate the two now in how my life has gone. I don’t know where I would be now if I had only the blindness to deal with.
I am basically ten years behind my peers. Education and work are doubly difficult when you are blind, but the pain made it impossible to focus on much of anything.
I am feeling somewhat better, but some of that is simply figuring out how to manage and get on with life anyway. I grew sick of feeling helpless. That leaves me still sort of lost and adrift. I know I want to write, but that alone doesn’t guarantee a job or a career. I am thirty and have basically no resumé of work experience.
I couldn’t have a paper route or start babysitting as a teen. Silly and valid or not, most people didn’t trust me with their precious children and I am not so sure I had the confidence myself. 🙂
I have completed some education since I was a teenager. I took one counselling course at the Fanshaw College campus, Woodstock. Then I took a one-year Creative Writing Certificate, online through Conestoga, Kitchener. It was an online course, but I would go to the college, to their Disability Services, to complete the final exams.
I didn’t work at a fast food joint or in retail. I have skills, but most employers don’t understand and would shy away from hiring me.
My visually impaired brother and I discuss this all the time. I don’t mean to sound like a victim because I and other people with disabilities such as blindness, with as much stigma as there still exists, we need to play our part too and take some responsibility.
We need to show the world that we are capable and eager to be a functioning part of society.
I am finishing off the last few courses I need to officially complete my high school diploma. I could have taken a GED test, but I wanted to go this route. I do it on my own time, through correspondence.
I know I will feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment, not to mention relief, when I finish next year.
I think I put it off, for as long as I did, along with the fact that I wasn’t feeling well physically, because I feared what would come after and the eventual choices I would have to make about my life.
I am afraid of that, afraid of never contributing and always relying on ODSP and barely scraping by in life. I don’t want to be a drain on anyone.
That is where my blogging and hope and plans for a travel website come in. I wanted to get past my fear of rejection and do what I love, writing, what I am driven to do.
I am bad with technology and have needed help from my more technologically skilled visually impaired brother and also a friend who is blind and teaches others to use all the adaptive technology. I had a boyfriend who was in IT and knew about it. He was always looking into how I used all this stuff and he helped me start my free WordPress blog. We broke up, but I will always be grateful to him for all that.
I reach out to friends and found an old classmate of mine who has a website design business. He knows me and I trust him and he gives me a fair deal. It’s hard and I must manage my money carefully. I don’t have enough to go around for everything I would like, but my parents taught me about how to be responsible with all that.
I don’t know where I am going or if I will go back to school. I don’t know if I will get anywhere with my blog or website, but I have plans and dreams for both. You just never know what can come of it.
I have never been paid for a job, but I have volunteered. I worked at a crisis phone center for a year, I am a peer support person for the Kidney Foundation, and I used to manage Ronald McDonald House in London, with my mother, on certain weekends.
I am behind on resumés and resumé-building skills. I feel like I am far behind in this respect.
My blog is where I can practice my writing skills and I write short pieces of fiction, memoir, reviews, and interviews. I started out broad because I love to write all those things.
Then I narrowed down my interest to travel writing and now my Facebook newsfeed is full of other travel bloggers. They are who I look up to and I want to do what it is they are doing.
I haven’t worked out how I will travel in the future or how I will pay for it, but I will make it happen. I don’t know if I am destined to have children of my own. My niece and nephews are bright spots of light in my life, but maybe I will never have a family. I think then I deserve to see the world. I don’t want to just hear about it and pictures don’t suffice. I want to get up close and experience it with all my remaining senses.
9. Your honesty and candidness is amazing. I’m so happy you’ve agreed to be forthright and reveal so much of yourself to me and to the world. Has this gotten easier for you over time?
I have a lot to say and always wanted to write an autobiography, started one after my transplant and then didn’t follow through. My blog allows me to write the things I want and to get out all the feelings I have. I love music and song lyrics and I apply them to my life and they make me feel better, like now with a breakup I am still trying to get over. I wish I could write songs, but it is too much like poetry and I am not good at being so abbreviated, as hard as I try. 🙂
On one hand I am dying to speak out and speak up, but on the other I shy away from a lot of the world because I am self-conscious and afraid. My brother is getting better at just not caring what a lot of the world might think of him, but I am afraid I am still struggling with that one.
I know you have read my About page on my blog and there I quote Goo Goo Dolls. The best summary of me is in that quote. I can be open and try to be genuine and myself.
10. Does being blind make you lonely? You seem to be an outgoing person, so I’m curious about how you go about making friends.
I am lonely a lot, yes. I don’t have as many friends as I would like. Like I said, I was not the most popular in school, but I was not alone all the time either. I have always been somewhere in the middle, looks wise, with grades, and with social life. Don’t know if that sounds self-deprecating or not, but it seems to be true.
My brother has the friends and I have had the romance, but we often wish we could trade. For a blind man it is probably harder to find a relationship. Don’t know if others would agree, but my brother does. You can ask Max his opinion on this maybe.
My brother has always had music to bring to his friendships. That is what they all have in common. I just had no opportunity to be around others who shared my interest enough to make friends, with say, other writers.
I have a few lasting friends from school and I love and appreciate them, but I often feel like people just don’t stick around. I feel like I am okay to be around for a little while, but nobody wants to see me for any length of time. I lost a good friend that, as a naive kid, I thought would always be there. Who knows why. People grow apart in life and could have nothing to do with my blindness, but guess it’s an easy thing to put that on for me.
I have friends in Toronto and my friend who lives in Ireland. I know they say it’s quality and not quantity. I agree, but I still feel unworthy or unwanted somehow. Poor me right? 🙂 I try to be a glass half full person, but I like to say I sometimes spill.
Internet lets me date and blog and write and I meet people that way. Sometimes that translates to the real world, but often it does not. That is the age we live in now though. In a way it is easier for me to hide out in my house, a place I feel safe, comfortable, and secure. I don’t have to face the world and rejection, but that gets old fast.
I am talkative and outgoing when I am comfortable and if I am in a smaller group, as opposed to large crowds where I feel stifled and disoriented.
I haven’t made a lot of friends as an adult and that hurts me when I see other friends or family who are luckier in that respect. It’s all about putting yourself out there and also finding others who have similar interests. I am working on that.[Tweet “Blind people have a hard time making friends. Find out how Kerry does it, and say “Hi” to her. She’s: @KKHerheadache “]
11. How hard is it for you to use social media, and what are your favourite platforms?
I love Facebook and, more recently, Twitter. I love being able to keep in better contact with people from my past. I have had a bit more luck there in the past year. I reconnected when I wrote fifty thousand words for NANOWRIMO last year. I asked a friend I’ve known since we were five, who has some experience with writing poetry, to read it. A group of us got together last Christmas and have stayed in touch. I hope to visit her in Ottawa this winter, to catch up and experience Canada’s capital for my travel website’s sake.
I sometimes just feel like, in asking something simple like to visit a friend for a weekend, that I am imposing more as a blind person because they may feel more responsible or like they have to watch out for me or babysit me. I know that is a bad word to use and I try to not use negative language and thinking, but it is hard.
I like to follow travel bloggers on Facebook and writers and literary related pages. I focus on those two. The others I have not mastered or I don’t enjoy. The more visual ones I don’t try to tackle.
Facebook is where I feel at home and Twitter is great for sharing others’ posts and building my travel writing career, or whatever you want to call it.
Technology is always evolving and I try my best to keep up, but at times I feel like I am being dragged behind on a jet ski. It can be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting after a while. I know I am not alone here.
I love the FB and Twitter App’s on my iPhone rather than trying to navigate the bigger sites on my laptop. It simplifies things.
I would say I have a love/hate, a bittersweet relationship with social media, the internet, and technology.
12. Do you know what IMHO means? Or TTYL? IMHO is an acronym for In My Humble Opinion. TTYL means talk to you later.
I know those yes. If I see something enough, just like anyone, then I usually pick up on it.
13. Technology is not my strong suit. It constantly amazes me, though. Do you use a lot of technology? How do use your computer?
It’s funny to me when I think about it now, because technology is definitely not my strong suit, either.
Ten years ago I fought even getting a Hotmail email account. My brother, as always, helped me with that, insisting that I would use it. Well, he was right. I could at least send and receive emails from family and friends and that was great.
I did choose herheadache as my email address because I felt I was giving it a chance, while still showing my distaste. I had a lot of headaches and having to learn and deal with technology became just one more thing that gave me a headache, literally and figuratively.
I loved MSN.
I often feel like I am cursed, that things seem to go alright for others, but when I try to do something with technology I run up against unforeseen issues.
We had a computer since I was eight or nine years old. I used the old IBM with magnifying programs. I learned how to type properly and I did okay.
When I was fourteen I qualified for a new computer with the government program that provided adaptive technology for the visually impaired.
I learned JAWS, the voice program for IBM or Windows or whatever. My brother took to it a lot better than I did. I hated learning all the key strokes and commands. I never dealt well, my brain has never processed, technological jargon and reading manuals. I had some computer lessons, but I wanted to quit like with piano. 🙂
I know this may sound funny, but I am a visual learner. I prefer to get a picture of something in my mind and I often feel like, with computers, I can’t grasp what others see on the screen very well. I like to picture something in my mind’s eye. That is an important skill. It helps me read/feel/visualize a tactile map when I am trying to learn my way somewhere. I like to either see something in my mind or actually feel it, as with braille. A lot of technology is just out of my line of sight. 🙂
I used my speech software and computer for homework. As a teenager my vision had worsened and I could no longer use magnifying programs and became strictly a speech user.
The internet was becoming the thing by this point and I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what that meant. My visually impaired brother was in heaven, downloading music and surfing the net, and I was looking in on it all.
I started seeing that anything you wanted to look up you could find online. This was greater than I could imagine at that time.
Over the last fifteen or so years I have gradually become acquainted with all this.
It’s great because I can look up anything I could possibly want. Having all that information right at my fingertips is the greatest thing. So how can I say I hate technology? I can’t claim that. Yes, it still bugs me, but it has brought so much to my life too.
I grew frustrated with Windows and JAWS after a while. I was on my second computer through the program with the Ontario government and this time it was a laptop. JAWS was always freezing up on me and viruses and other things made my computer slow at times.
Now that I have switched over to Mac I am much happier. My brother discovered this before me and he assured me I would like it better.
It always takes me a while to learn something new, but I eventually figure it out by simply doing it. I can’t listen to tutorials and manuals to learn. My brain doesn’t seem to work that way. I pick up things as I go along and I do okay. I always have my brother around if I have any questions. I still don’t like techy stuff, but I do like communication and self-expression.
Learning to understand what these voice programs are saying can take some getting used to. It often sounds like gibberish to people listening in, when they hear JAWS or VoiceOver. It sounds foreign to them and I can see why, but all it takes is a bit of ear training and it becomes nothing at all.
I love to open a brand new blank document and start furiously typing away.
I love to be able to Google anything at any time.
Social media and my blog have been the things to get me interested in at least giving technology a fair shot. I honestly believe these things, the internet, voice and speech programs, and Apple products especially have been the best thing to happen to visually impaired users. It feels revolutionary.
I got an iPhone and it only adds to the freedom. I can text like anyone else. I swipe along the phone screen and double tap on any App I want. Smart phones are amazing things.
14. How did you cope with losing your sight?
I was born this way, but the vision I was born with didn’t remain stable.
I adapted as best I could growing up, wearing glasses, for example, but it wasn’t until I needed dialysis and something mysterious popped up and started to threaten my remaining sight that I began to panic. I was scared I had been blind all my life, but I hadn’t known how lucky I had been all those years with the good bit of sight I did have.
I had so much pain and my left eye was beyond help. I was so scared I would go totally blind and that had never really occurred to me before.
Luckily, I became stable in my right eye and I had hope, but as the years have gone by I believe my sight has slowly – so gradually that at times I can pretend and fool myself – grown worse.
I am terrified I will slowly but surely lose the sight I still have, and it isn’t much, but it is extremely precious to me.
I don’t know what I will do if I ever must face only light perception or total blindness. I would like to think I would have some skill and ability to deal with it because I have been dealing with it, in one way or another, all these years. I do rely on the little sight I still have. I use it to let me know if it’s light or what might be directly in my way. I can’t see colour or details now, which bums me out some days more than others, but really it’s just a comfort. I can’t be sure depression wouldn’t overtake me if I were suddenly in total darkness, and in that way I can fully relate with people with sight. They can’t imagine what they would do if they went blind and I can’t either.
As it stands now, I have both good and not so good days. I don’t fight the idea like some. If there were a cure for blindness in the future, assuming it had been tested and was the real thing, I would be there. Right now I don’t jump at it any time I hear about some new development because I don’t want to get my hopes up and because a lot of these things now are only giving people hope at the kind of limited sight I already have.
I am not going to say I am happy as I am and would never want to change it. I would. It would make life so much easier. Sometimes I do get tired and worn out from trying so hard.
If I did get my sight back, the first place you could find me would be in a bookstore or library. Or I would be somewhere with bright colours that I have missed so much and of which are only distant memories to me now.
15. Do you have any regrets or resentments, or is there anything about your life that you don’t particularly like?
I regret that I haven’t been more open and brave in the past, that I let my life go by. Of course other things, physical issues have been standing in my way, but I wish I had gone to university. I resent things, sure, like anyone. I try to keep those feelings in check. I don’t ever want to become bitter about my situation. I have it pretty good and I know it. I could be a blind woman in another part of the world that makes being both female and visually impaired a serious problem.
I have a pretty good life. I have always had the support of a reasonable and loving family and not everyone has that.
I can’t do much about society and how it sees anyone with a disability. I try and I get angry sometimes. I want to yell at them and make them see that I am capable, that I am a real person who doesn’t deserve to be spoken down to or thought less of, but I don’t always know how to get their attention.
The one other thing I’d like to mention here has to do with how some people treat the blind, when they think they are helping, and I’ll relate a personal experience to make my point.
I was in a doctor’s office the other day when the nurse came out and called my name. I stood up and immediately an older man sitting in the row of seats behind me rose and grabbed my shoulder. It felt rough and abrupt, but I am sure that was not his intention. He said he was just doing the gentlemanly thing, trying to show me the way, but the nurse was right there.
I know people react in the moment. If they see a blind person about to cross a busy street they will act, but this was not like that.
Either way, when you relay something like this to people, their main response is that people are just unsure of how to handle blind people and that we should give them a break.
I have nothing against that old man, but I do get frustrated with people.
I guess I understand how some pregnant women feel when a total stranger thinks it’s acceptable to touch their stomach without asking.
I am sure that old man and others will not touch most people, women, without their permission, but somehow blind people are almost like public property to society and it’s just called being helpful.
I only say this because I want to be talked to like a human being, instead of moved around like a piece of furniture.
I understand if people don’t have a lot of experience with someone who is blind. I don’t like to be a jerk about it and I am always polite, but I want to tell people that it is nice to be addressed and asked if I am in need of any assistance.
16. If you could change two things about your life, what would they be?
I don’t like that I am shy and afraid to put myself out there. I wish sometimes that I could be someone else, someone who didn’t stress so much and who didn’t feel hampered by lack of sight or by fear of rejection, but I am not the most social and outgoing person in the group at any time. I work at it.
I wish I had more of a social life and I wish I could find lasting love. I wish I had more education and could have found a career by now, but I can’t and don’t place all the responsibility onto society for holding me back. It’s me too.
If I could change any two things it would be that. I would be more outgoing and I would be further along in life than I am now, but I think, for different reasons maybe, many people feel this way. It’s not just me and it’s not just because I am blind, but that does play a role for me of course.[Tweet “I asked a blind lady what 2 things she’d change about herself. Being blind was not one of them.”]
17. How do you cook for yourself? What is the hardest thing for you to make? What is your favourite meal? Do you have a way of labelling soup cans differently from, say, cans of fruit or vegetables? What are the toughest challenges you face when it comes to food preparation?
I think maybe you have to actually be watching me in person to see how cooking without sight is indeed very possible, but I will do my best, in place of that, to explain how I avoid burning myself on a daily basis and setting the place on fire. 🙂
It’s okay. I can understand how the thought might make some nervous or how it may seem difficult to cook without seeing what one’s doing.
A lot of visually impaired people have others cook for them. I am just as guilty of this, if I may use that term, because when others are just there and offer to step in and do it, I am not going to argue.
I wouldn’t say I am great in the kitchen. This may just not be one of my best skills. There are some, blind as blind can be, who are more naturally suited for this than myself.
With most things in life, the more one practices, the better they get.
I have a mother who is a whiz in the kitchen and this comes in handy, even now that I live on my own and she is not there to cook for me every single day. She is only a short car ride away, happy to invite me over for a family dinner, stop by and cook me a meal, or bring over a plate of leftovers when she can.
I get self-conscious about the methods I use. I learn little tricks, but I have felt judged when I had sighted people there, looking over my shoulder. Often, in cases such as this, I would step back and let them take over.
This does not lend itself all that well to the independence that is, so often, highly valuable.
After all, if I gave up every time someone with sight offered to step in and make me dinner, I might just starve in the future at some point. There isn’t always going to be someone there with a pair of working eyes to make me a meal.
I have, again a wonderful mother, who is skilled with practice at offering helpful suggestions on how I can adapt to using a stove and an oven. Anytime I have a cooking question, she is only a phone call away. She never would jump in and grab a ladle right out of my hands.
Sometimes people see me reach for a hot pan and a flipper and it is their natural instinct to leap forward and save me from almost certain pain. I understand this.
When I am on my own I tend to eat uncooked foods such as yogurt, fruit, and sandwiches. I don’t find the drive to cook a meal for myself alone and my laziness has kept me from a meal or two in the past.
When I find the motivation, I do alright.
I love anything with chicken. I love pasta.
Sure, I too find it easier to go for the convenience foods, as bad as they often are. My microwave is my friend, for sure.
However, there are those times that something quickly warmed up just won’t cut it. I do not like frozen dinners and I am definitely no “Hungry Man.” 🙂
I label the buttons on my stove with anything tactile, stickers to mark “bake” and “broil.” I press and count: 50, 55, 60, 65 and so on. I count until I reach the temperature I seek. If I lose count I simply hit cancel and then I start again.
I like my older stove with the old burners you can feel. I feel and place the pot on top, before I turn on the heat. Sometimes I may knock a pot or pan a little, and this can make getting it back on the burner a little bit tricky. I am extremely cautious, probably more than most people, because I try to avoid burning myself as much as possible. I can say I have done it only a handful of times, but I am not the most adventurous cook there is.
Technology in cooking and appliances is, I hope, improving all the time. Cook surfaces that only heat up with a pot on top are on the way, but often digital makes labelling trickier. It can go either way, really.
I fill up a pot with water, place on burner, and turn the knob. Once to the right is “high,” straight down is “medium,” and over to the left is “low.” The dial makes a click and I feel it to know it is straight up to the top and off. Rarely have I forgot or left it on by mistake. Perhaps this is the assumption or fear of landlords or people when they imagine the blind living and cooking on their own. We are probably the most careful people when it comes to cooking.
I use my hands above the pot to sense warmth. I listen to hear for when the water begins to boil. I carefully lift the lid and stir, lifting a noodle out after some time has passed, letting it cool a moment before testing for level of softness or firmness of my pasta.
I like my noodles al dente.
I do not, I will admit, like to fry food whenever possible. For one thing, I am sensitive to many strong smells and fried foods have always been right up there. I do make eggs, oiling the pan well, turning on the burner, then giving it a few minutes on each side. I can see a light coloured egg on a dark pan’s surface. I slide the flipper along and under, flipping as best as I can. This doesn’t always turn out the way I want, I will say, but I do alright. I don’t like the fan on because I prefer to hear the sound of the sizzle. My smoke alarm has gone off a time or two, as I rush to open windows to air out the room and to wave a tea towel frantically beneath. My father is extra nervous that something might happen, checking again and again that my smoke alarms are in working order, but wouldn’t any father do this for their daughter? 🙂
The Ove Glove is a wonderful invention, replacing the alternatively bulky old oven mitts. I can put them on and reach into a hot oven, avoiding the mishap I once had where I panicked with a full tray of cupcakes in my hands as I went to slide it in. The tray fell and batter went everywhere. This was before the Ove Glove, of course.
I jump back at the slightest feeling of heat, my reflexes being what they are and my fear of pain, always on high alert.
I will tell one story. I was making Shake & Bake chicken legs once, when I lived with an old boyfriend. This was pre Ove Glove, of course. I was being stupid and using a small tea towel as an oven mitt. This was unsafe and I should have been more careful.
I didn’t realize, when I went to put in the tray, that I had left the towel on the stove above and it silently drifted down into the open oven.
Soon there was smoke and black ash everywhere. The meal was a bust and I felt like a failure. All I would have had to do was close the oven when I noticed and when my just-having-arrived-home boyfriend noticed what was going on. My mom told me about this tip later.
I felt stupid, but I’m telling this story because it is important to remember that anyone can make a mistake. I have made Shake & Bake so many times before and since then, with perfect results, the chicken turning out deliciously. Sure, not seeing that little tea towel slip in the open oven was because I could not see, but there are no guarantees, not for anyone.
I use my other senses to cook like I do for everything else.
I put things where I remember them next time. I make mistakes. I leave something in the oven a minute too long or I undercook it just a bit. Who doesn’t?
I like to tell the story of how a babysitter I once had put salt in the juice she made instead of sugar. Oops! 🙂 Things happen. I have not poisoned anyone yet and have not sent anyone to hospital with salmonella.
I say all this to drive my point home. Anyone can be a mediocre cook, sighted or not. Safety is a completely different story.
I can follow a recipe I get online. I can repeat the steps my mother tells me over and over. I try and learn, simple trial and error, but if you sit back all your life and let others do it for you then you won’t ever learn.
I try to recognize cans of soup from their size. A jar of tomato sauce helps distinguish itself. And if I open the wrong one, the world does not end. 🙂
I don’t think I have a natural affinity for cooking and so there are plenty of things I find difficult to make. I don’t usually attempt recipes of any great skill or complexity. I probably should, though. Of course it isn’t so easy to react in the moment, watching something frying in the pan, making sure to add in a pinch of something at just the right time. I don’t like to flip foods, but I do it.
I do like to keep things simple, if I can, because the more complicated you make it, the more chances there are to mess up, but in cooking as in life, there are no sure things or perfect meals. 🙂 I try not to have too many things cooking at one time. It makes it harder to focus on any one thing in cases like that.
I am always on the lookout for cooking tools that make my job a little bit easier. I time out my cooking time. I listen and I smell and I do plenty of taste tests to confirm readiness.
My brother, also blind, cooks his signature dish of spaghetti and his stir fries are the best. We cook together all the time. I chop and he fries. 🙂
I don’t cross-contaminate and I wash and rinse. I keep meat away from veggies. I take my time and proceed with caution. I haven’t cut off a finger yet, although I’ve probably frightened a sighted cooking companion a time or two. I use sharp knives and potato peelers like anyone else, feeling with care as I go.[Tweet “Find out how this blind writer cooks for herself. See question 17.”]
18. What are your plans for the future? What are your plans for your writing career? How do plan on funding your travels, and who are you planning on travelling with? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Please share some of your dreams with us.
My dreams: well they have been plentiful of late, in a real and tangible way that they never used to be.
Oh, don’t get me wrong… I still see a lot of blank, wide open space ahead, but for the first time, I am truly allowing myself to dream it and then to take the appropriate steps. They might be small ones, but they are getting me further this past year alone than I had previously come.
I spent my twenties learning about love in ways, both big and small, that I did not get to start experiencing as a teenager.
It happens, in love and relationships, that you inevitably lose a part of yourself to be a part of a couple. Either way, I have come out on the other side a much stronger and wiser woman.
Now I am trying to really focus on myself and where I want to go with my life, whether I have a man as a part of that or not.
I started by getting past my hang-ups and putting my writing out there, and this is an excellent example of that.
I love literature and writing, but when I started my blog last winter, I did not know where those things might lead me.
It all seemed to reveal itself slowly and one piece at a time, through the fog. I have always wanted to travel and have done a good bit already, such as my spontaneous trip to Ireland, a place I believe I was always meant to see.
I still don’t want to give up my platform to write about books and authors, literature, important social causes (gender studies and feminism/equal rights/organ donation/infertility/mental health), and reviews of the art that inspires me (film/music/books). I also believe I can learn about people by interviewing them and I have found a way to do this in a number of areas, including writers, activists, and now, travellers. Give and take. I want to learn from them and share with them what I have learned.
I have put a lot of effort and consideration into my “brand,” although that word has never sat quite right with me. I don’t think I will ever become truly comfortable with “selling myself.” I believe I can remain genuine and true to who I have always been.
I want to build something, to find my own way in the world in perhaps less than Orthodox ways because I don’t believe I will ever go about things the way others are able.
I think the internet is a growing tool for this and there are doors that’ll open up, I am just beginning to discover, to my total shock.
I want to wander and to explore, to discover insights about this world. I have traveled with family, friends, partners, and even a little on my own, before now. I hope to have all sorts of experiences with different people. I may choose to have a guide or companion or I may be brave and try it on my own. My brother and I have talked about braving the big wide world on a trip, just the two blind: brother and sister.
There may be a few extra challenges for a visually impaired traveler, but I can’t and won’t let that stop me from at least trying.
I want to visit the places that I have heard exist out there, but of which I need to experience for myself.
I really can’t say and yet the future feels full of possibility.
I thought I wanted to be a writer and I am realizing that doesn’t necessarily have to mean a writer of fiction, although I can’t totally rule that out. However, I think it’s important to keep learning and this may mean receiving some more formal education, having something to do with writing. I can always use more mentors and guidance.
I believe I am probably better suited to writing memoir and non-fiction, travel writing and other things that mean something to me and of which I am highly passionate about.
I don’t just want to write about what I know I want to know it first and then write about it.
Maybe I’m meant to be a mother, or maybe I’m meant for something else.
I will find innovative ways of achieving my goals and experiencing the world. I will save my money because I know how unnecessary “stuff” is in the grand scheme of life. I know there is a certain element of positive thinking, goal setting and planning, and then there’s the element of surprise. I have had a lot of this last one in my life and not all in a bad sense. I do believe the best things can happen when you are expecting/planning for other things.
I list all the most wished travel destinations in my WanderList on my new site, but I will spend some time now writing about the places I have been already and the things I have been lucky enough to do.
I will continue to add things to the list as I go along.
One of my wishes for the future would be to eventually find someone who is passionate about travel as I am. I would love to have a travel partner and a partner in life, all-in-one.
In the meantime I will keep writing and reaching out to others in positive ways, a give-and-take I firmly believe in. Perhaps I will eventually build up enough material and will write travel memoir.
This doesn’t mean I won’t do something such as go back to school, but I am just taking it one day at a time until I am ready to take another big step. I really am looking forward to 2015 because 2014, although challenging and painful at times, has been one of the most transformative years of my life.
19. Why was 2014 such a turning point for you?
This year has been such a turning point for me because I opened up and faced my fear of rejection. I faced it head-on in love and in writing and I experienced the sting and the pain of it all, but I got so much out of it too. I got my dream come true of a blog where I found the motivation to write on a consistent basis and I discovered the blogosphere and all the supportive people therein.
20. How is your health these days?
My health is fairly stable at the moment, which is why I am able to dream as big as I am.
I have my struggles and I know how quickly things can take a turn for the worse, but I can’t stay hidden in fear of this possibility. I know doctors don’t have all the answers, but I have learned to adapt to my unique situation.
My blindness may not always remain stable and so I want to be happy now.
I have had a kidney from my father, going on 17 years now, and knock on wood that continues. I believe we are so similar that the gift he selflessly gave me was meant to be, but our bodies are complicated in ways I can’t possibly express in words. All I know is he gave me an incredible gift and I can’t squander that. That realization came to me in one dramatic moment on my front porch, one particular June anniversary of the transplant. I didn’t want to let him down and I knew I had to do something special with the second chance he gave me.
I know what pain is and I go on in spite of it. It may slow me down at times and prevent me from being a huge adventure-seeker and hiker. I may never climb a physical mountain, but I think life is full of metaphorical mountains and I have climbed my share. Then again, who knows? I will send a wave if I ever do make it to the top.
I know my limits and I pace myself, physically. I work within my limitations because I don’t think it is realistic to deny that I have some. I just won’t let that make me afraid to try anything, if it is truly what I want.
I must take care of myself and take my meds. I will always make sure to have them properly labelled for travel. I wouldn’t want to end up on one of those border guards shows on TV. 🙂
Rare syndromes such as mine can be unpredictable, but they teach you; they taught me to never stop hoping and dreaming. No lack of sight or physical pain will take that away from me.
21. Because Christmas is right around the corner, I was wondering how you enjoy holidays as a blind person. Do you put up a real tree so that you can enjoy the scent of pine? Also, what kinds of gifts are good to give blind people?
My family always had a real tree at Christmas. Yes, the smell of real pine is the best. I could always see the lights though. The combination of the lights and the pine made all the difference.
I used to love going for a drive at night, to see all the lights on the houses, but since my vision has declined and, with the advent of LED lights, I can’t do this anymore.
When buying gifts, my advice is to just use your best judgement. Of course, don’t get a book or a paint set for someone who can’t see! Then again I would love to get a book for Christmas. If someone knows what the person likes, then they know more what to get them for Christmas. Sure, right now I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on What To Get Someone Who Is Visually Impaired… likely something that can talk or that you can feel.
For me in particular, this year I need a new toaster, would like a Blue-ray player, and I always love candles/perfume/Bath & Body Works scented soaps. I also can always use new clothes. 🙂
My family and friends know me and what I like and it is not really anything all that different from anyone else. I love books, so it would still be good to get me books. I love the smell of a book, the feel of a book in my hands, and as a lover of literature, I would just like them as collector items. I can’t read them, but I love them still, whereas another person who was unable to see might find this a totally useless present. Then again, it is the thought that counts.
I have always loved Christmas. This year it is a little sad and lonely, because of my breakup this past spring, but in past years I always felt happiest this time of year. I miss the innocence of Christmas and love to see that feeling rekindled in my niece and nephews now. No matter how lonely I’m feeling, being around them can always make me smile. I watched a favourite Christmas classic, Frosty, with my nephew the other day. By the end I was singing along with my sister and loving to watch my nephew get into the program for the first time.
My favourite line from a Christmas song would have to be: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.”
22. What about other holidays, like Halloween? Do you give out candy? Do you don a costume?
For Halloween, I have always loved candy and chocolate, but it was the dressing-up I was never too keen on. This doesn’t really have anything to do with my blindness; I was a bit of an odd little girl in that way. I dressed up and went trick-or-treating. We lived in the country so my mother would usually drive us from house to house, sometimes with friends. My mother was creative and always made costumes.
I was a bunny, Dracula, a butterfly, a baseball player, a cheerleader, a pumpkin, and a wizard. I never wore makeup on my face because I thought it felt icky. My brother, who is blind, usually did, so that was probably just my own issue.
I never loved it. My trick-or-treat days came to an end a few years earlier than most children, but that was because I was ill and not feeling well. I began to prefer staying with my grandmother and helping her hand out candy at her door. She lived in town and got many more children than we ever did, out where we lived.
I give out candy at my house now, but really I prefer that someone else actually gives out the candy. It’s just hard to know where to drop it when groups of unknown little children come to the door. I like to do it, but someone else usually does it.
I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to scary things, but I have tried to get into the season lately.
23. Out of curiosity, can you tell me your top reasons for agreeing to participate in this interview? What are you hoping to get from the exposure on my blog, or in return? Do you have any expectations… at all?
I agreed, possibly with a bit of hesitation at first. Not because of you or anything really having to do directly with you. I read Max’s interview and saw what he was doing. I admire him, but I also probably have more self-doubt and self-esteem issues and fear being known as the blind girl and the blind girl alone. I truly want to be known and respected and thought of for more than just that. It is just part of what I am, but I know it also shapes everything at the same time.
I want to be understood and that is the main reason I want someone as capable as you to help make that happen. I fear being always misunderstood and I truly believe blogging is an amazing place to knock down stereotypes and misconceptions. If people read about me maybe they will give me a chance to prove that I am worth the trouble of getting to know.
Now that I have been writing my blog for nearly a year I am an unstoppable writing machine, no longer afraid of rejection and no longer lacking motivation. I plan on writing a lot more, with my new travel site, The Insightful Wanderer.
24. Where have you travelled to? Please list as many places and as many details as you can remember.
I have been to Florida twice. Once when I was eight and again when I was a teenager. I believe all children should see Disney World at least once, and I was lucky to see it twice. The first time we drove and stayed all over the state for two weeks.
The second time was my first time on an airplane and we were sent by Wish Kids, an organization sending seriously ill children to a special family village in Orlando. I was given the trip with my family, just after my kidney transplant. We were supposed to go one year earlier, but that is when I lost my left eye and was in hospital for a week. The trip had to be postponed and didn’t get rescheduled again for an entire year. It was really the last vacation my entire family would take together, before my brother and sister were too old to go with us any longer. It was all recorded on video for posterity.
My favourite place in the world is right in my own backyard. I love Niagara Falls and it has so many memories for my family. Our parents took us there many times and my grandparents made it their mission to take all twenty-one of their grandchildren there for a night.
I love Toronto being so close by. I love the baseball games, the CN Tower, and Toronto Islands. I wrote about my CN Tower Edge Walk on my travel site.
I got my guide dog in Quebec and that was the first time I would be on my own and away from my family, when I was fourteen years old. I did not speak the language, but I made friends that would continue on and learned about being on my own and achieving something. My guide dog, Croche, was it.
My brother went for a guide dog of his own a few years after me and we visited him, camping and touring around. I hope to return to this province again.
I have stayed in cottages up north and gone to camps for the blind and for families affected by kidney disease: Lake Joseph and Dorset.
I went on a long weekend road trip to New York City with my brother and my sister. We left early Friday morning and returned late Monday night. We got to experience Times Square, Central Park, and Coney Island. Manhattan has an energy that’s hard to describe. It must be experienced firsthand.
I got a second trip to California through The Sunshine Foundation (TSF), an organization making dreams come true for children with disabilities and life threatening illnesses. I was a huge fan of Beverly Hills 90210 as a sixteen-year-old girl, and I got to meet a few of the stars from the show. We stayed in L.A., visited Santa Monica and the famous pier.
My brother got his own wish from TSF and my father, sister, and I went with him. We went to Washington, D.C. to meet his favourite band at the time, R.E.M. We rode in a limo and sat in the front row of their concert. We saw the White House and Ford’s Theatre.
My grandparents loved to return to Cuba, time after time. One of those times, my parents and my brother and myself went with them. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a week in Cuba is something I will never forget. We toured Havana and spent our time on the beach and by the pool.
My parents wanted to introduce their children to the family we have living over in Europe. They took my brother and myself to Germany when I was in the eighth grade. We spent two weeks visiting family in different parts of the country: from Berlin to Munich. I don’t speak German, but I met family and got to see castles and other historical sites that will always stay with me.
My dream was to see Ireland and I jumped at this chance when my friend was accepted to medical school there. I spent almost two weeks touring around the country with her, from south to north and back again: from Dublin to Belfast. Twelve days wasn’t nearly enough time to see it all and I am hoping to return one of these days because I feel a connection to that island which I can’t quite explain.
I know I visited several castles while there and they kind of blend together for me. They were amazing to see, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of it isn’t easily accessible and so I had to rely on imagination, my friends’ descriptions, the little bits I could actually reach out and touch.
I did visit the famous Cliffs of Moher, which were made famous in the Princess Bride movie and, to my excitement, where a key scene from the sixth Harry Potter movie was shot.
Those are the main places. I owe my grandparents and parents for opening up my eyes to the wider world out there and I know how much they all have always loved to travel. I hope to see all the places they were lucky enough to see and more.[Tweet “Find out how Kerry, a blind blogger, enjoys travelling. See #interview answer 24.”]
25. Do you see yourself as an inspiration to others? Why or why not?
Some Final Words from Me to Kerry (and Me to You)
Kerry, you are an amazing woman! I can’t thank you enough for the time, energy, and courage it took to share what is basically your life story with me and the rest of the world. I appreciate it so much! You are simply fascinating, and yet… so completely “normal” (dare I say it), and have your own struggles, joys, and desires, like anyone else. I have come to appreciate my sight that much more, but will readily admit that I’m a tad envious that you have travelled so much in your lifetime already. 😉
I am honoured that I know you, pleased that I can feature you, and grateful for this interview. It answered many of the burning questions I still had about blind people in general, and permitted me to get to know you further.
Readers, don’t you feel the same way?
My Blind Friends Taught Me To See
I’m that much more blessed for knowing you, Kerry.
Not only has Max helped lead me out of my darkness and into the light (coincidentally, this is the title of his first e-book in which he provides coaching and guidance along with exercises to help others achieve their goals and dreams), but you have helped me appreciate the beauty I’m surrounded by in nature, in my world, and online. It is knowing people like yourself that make my world a better place!
Thank you again, Kerry and Max, for teaching ME to see.
I’m sure many others are going to feel the same way as I do after reading this wonderful interview, my interview with Max, and learning so much about you both!
It is also my sincerest wish to help break the blindness barriers and aid others in changing their negative perceptions of blind people.
Blind people are people who have depth, fears, talents, awesome qualities, and feelings… like everyone else.
Kerry on the Internet
Kerry published a guest post about Louis Braille, the French inventor who changed blind people’s lives forever.
Kerry can be found on social media, on Twitter and on Facebook. She can also be found on her writing blog, Her Headache, and her travel blog, The Insightful Wanderer. She’s still learning about Google+ and how to navigate LinkedIn.
Please be sure to leave a comment for either of us in the comment section, and thank Kerry for this wonderful interview on Twitter.[Tweet “My Blind Friends Taught Me To See #inspirationalmonday #interview”] [Tweet “Thank you @KKHerheadache and @lorrainereguly for a wonderful #inspirational #interview! “]