Your Impatience Cost Me My INDEPENDENCE

To the biker who hit my guide dog;

That faithful day when I took my daughter to go shopping after a big move to the city, and we decided to go for a treat at Starbucks. Little did we know that your impatience was going to cost us so much.

I am blind and have a guide dog, Rick was his name. He was amazing, sensitive, and great at what he did. He kept me safe and made it possible to move my family to the city, maintain my employment and feel confident enough to take my daughter to the mall and feel like I was being the parent and keeping her safe. You see when someone is blind they are capable of anything but in order to do that there are tools that we need in place to be successful. My guide dog was that for me. He turned my world around, opened doors that I never thought possible, and gave me the ability to live the most independent life I had ever wanted.

As I rounded the corner and said “Starbucks”, Rick confidently started on our path to our favourite coffee place. My daughter and I were chatting about what she was going to get and the great purchases we had just made. Then in an instant my world came crashing down……….

A man on a bike came behind Rick I didn’t know he was there and all of a sudden Rick jumped and yelped. He had been hit in the side as you tried to go between my guide dog and wall on the sidewalk, then as my dog tried to get me and him out of the way you ran over his front paw. “Sorry” is all you said as you kept on going.

My guide dog Rick would not work after this, I called a friend to come and pick me and my daughter up and go get Rick checked out.

Over the next 2 months I worked for hours with Rick trying to get his confidence back, wanting so badly for us to be able to work through this tragedy. The school he is from came out from California twice to help me work with Rick.

On Tuesday June 26th I hung up my amazing guides harness for the very last time. He left to head back to California on Thursday June 28th. My children and husband and were crying he was like family, he was more than a pet to even them. My world was torn down, as those four paws walked out of my front door for the last time, i felt like I could not breathe. My independence went out the door with him.

I have not had to rely on a white cane alone since I lost all my vision completely. I had Rick by my side making sure that we were going to get where we wanted to go safely. He made me feel like the world was not that scary when you couldn’t see it. Now I am trying to gain that same confidence with my white cane.

But the truth is, I need to rely more on my children and husband to help me out. It is harder to do things like go shopping, take the bus, get to work, travel for work, and just live my life the way I want to. It is harder because Rick is no longer by my side because you couldn’t wait 5 minutes for us to be out of your way.

The reality is that, service dogs are not just dogs they are a life line for so many. The chances of them having to retire if they have an accident, are attacked by another dog, or have a close call with traffic is likely. No one wants to talk about it but it is true, I am living it right now. Give service dogs their space, don’t take away someone’s independence for your impatience.

Sincerely,

A lost woman and her retired guide dog.

Natural and Low Waste Favorites

Hello Everyone,

Welcome back to Blind Moving On! I have been on a journey over probably the last year and a half of a more sustainable and natural life. I have found that I want to do more to help our planet and just to live more simply and sustainable. This has been a process and we are nowhere near being close but we have made some changes in our home and are taking steps in the right direction.

We first started by pairing down our belongings to live more minimally, and more simply. I feel lighter when we have less stuff in our lives and it has been a process but we are doing really well in this area for our family.

The first swap I wanted to make was an easy one and that was with our cleaning supplies. I have asthma and have always had a hard time cleaning bathrooms because of the smell of the products. It was so strong and I could not handle the smell it made it so I could not breathe and I hated it. So I started trying out some natural products, even just plain vinegar, and water. I have found that my favorite products so far are the method products. I purchase mine from Well.ca and I really like the subtle scent of them as well as they do a really good job of cleaning our messes.

The next things I wanted to tackle was my beauty products. The first thing I changed in this aspect was my razor. I went to a safety razor, it is all metal and the only waste is the blade which is recyclable. It will last for years and years and save so much plastic from going to the landfill. I have also switched out toothbrushes to bamboo toothbrushes, we are using the Brush Naked brand and I purchased those from Well.ca also.

As for products that I use I have been loving this natural vegan shampoo and conditioner by the brand Beauty and Planet. It smells amazing and has done great things for my hair. I have also switched my deodorant to one that is more natural and it is by the brand Beyond Naturals and it is a local small company that I have fallen in love with. The lotion that I have switched to and has been working so well for me is the Everyone Lotion 3 in 1. It can be used on your hands, body,  and face and I use it for all of that and it works great. I have eczema and I find it works great even for that.

My makeup is going to take a while because I want to use up the stuff that I have now and slowly transition. I purchased a new lipstick and powder foundation from Burts Bees and have been really liking them so far. I am really looking forward to moving to more sustainable natural makeup products as I use up my old stuff.

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This has definitely been a process for me and my family but I am loving the journey and am feeling great about some of the choices that we have made. I am also excited to keep going on this journey and to do our part.

Until Next Time!

Ashley and Rick

Independence Can Be Scary

Hello Everyone,

I am a pretty confident blind person when it comes to getting around and traveling. There are so many times that people say to me, you are just so brave and are not scared I just can’t seem to get there. And they feel like they are failing, that they will never be independent because of it. So today let’s be real for a minute.

I am scared, I am terrified, I am anxious as all heck, I doubt myself, I doubt my abilities. These are all very real things in my world. It can be scary to stand at an intersection with all of the noises around you and trust that you are going to get yourself to the other side safely. There are many times where I doubt myself and stand there for two cycles of the light so that I can work up the courage to go.

When I go somewhere new for the first time in the same city, or a whole new city. I feel anxious and my brain gets pretty creative with what may happen on that journey. I plan it out, I  talk my self through the process.

Fear is real and fear is ok. It is how we push ourselves to do the things that we feel like we can’t do. I feel like there is no one sighted or not who doesn’t have some sort of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt at some point or heck many points along the way.

Fear is what can drive us to work through it and prove to no one but ourselves that we can do it. You are not alone in fear and you are not alone in doubting that you will get to where you want to go, but you are supported to get there and you will get there. Believing that you will get there and telling your fear to “watch me” will get you to where you want to go. Whether that is crossing that busy intersection, riding the bus, moving out on your own, going for that new job or promotion, or just living the life you want to live; use all those feelings to propel you to where you want to be.

YouTube video of me crossing a street and having a little chat with you and my dog Rick .

Until Next Time

Ashley and Rick

Blind Dreamer – “Do you see in your dreams?”

Hello Everyone,

Do people who are blind dream? How do you dream if you don’t see in your daily life? These are questions that I get all the time. Now everyone is different but I can see how people would wonder about something like this so let’s chat about how I dream.

First of all, do I dream? The short answer is yes. Now how I dream has changed a little over the years. Why is that you may be thinking, well it is simple; because the way that I see has changed over the years.

When I was younger and had more vision I saw things in my dream the same way that I saw them in real life. So they were not clear, they were blurry and I could not always make out what I was seeing. Which makes sense because that was how I saw the world at that time. As my vision got worse over the years that is what was quite normal for me.

Now I have been totally blind now for about 5 years and that has really changed for me. For the first little while, I would dream like I had before. It was like I was dreaming from my visual memory. But over the last year, I have really noticed that I don’t have the visual memory that I used to. So now I really only dream with my other senses. I will hear things, or smell them and sometimes oddly enough taste or feel things.

I have found over about the last year that I don’t always remember how things looked or have a hard time pulling up an image of something in my mind. I was always told that your visual memory will sometimes fade, and I have definitely found that. Now I don’t think that this is for everyone, just like blindness the experience that one has when you are blind is a spectrum and not the same for everyone.

There isn’t a part of life that someone who is blind doesn’t experience they just experience it differently.

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Rick

Support Local – Reduce Waste

Hello Everyone,

I have been on a journey the last few months trying to cut back on my waste, adopting some zero waste alternatives in my home and in my personal life. I am far from zero waste at this point but I am definitely working to reduce my waste.

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I found this local granola company that I fell in love with last summer. I found them at the Farmers Market and loved their product. They make small batches of amazing vegan granola, my favorite is the Maple Pecan Olie Oil granola.

They recently have made a huge change on the suggestion of a customer and that was to offer growlers. So you purchase a growler full of granola and then you return the growler and receive a new growler full of granola. You only pay for the jar the first time. I think this is amazing, a small company that makes it a priority to listen to their customers and reduce their waste.

When we shop local and support our local businesses we are helping to support those that are in our communities and we are also supporting sustainable business. I tend to feel like we have become such a big box store kind of society, and not for the better.

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My parents owned a bakery for 26 years and it was a great way for our family to earn their living, it instilled a work ethic that I never would have received had we not owned a family business. It also taught me so many valuable skills at a young age, like management skills, problem-solving skills, customer service skills, and that quality matters. I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of a small family business that shaped me to be the person I am today. It is also the reason that I try to support as many local businesses as possible and I have a passion for business and management.

I believe that listening to your customers and doing business the way that you feel is right, not the way society tells you, you should, makes for an amazing business. There are so many times when the personal touches and ethics are taken out of business. We forget that morals, ethics, compassion, and passion is what will make an amazing company.

Check out this company they are amazing and have some Amazing granola. Small Batch Granola Mix , Instagram @mixsmallbatch, e-mail mixsmallbatch@gmail.com. Lets all show them some love.

Until Next Time!

Ashley and Rick

Winter …… How we do it in Canada !

I get asked all the time how we (my guide dog Rick and I) get through the winters. Do I commute to work by walking, what do I do when it is really cold, So I figured I would answer those questions in this post.

I live in Saskatchewan Canada and it gets very cold here, this winter has been brutal. There have been many days between -30c and -42c (-22f to -43f) here. This is normal for us and we always have to factor in the wind chill and the wind chill makes a huge difference. I always hear people say, ” you can’t go out in that weather with your dog”. But the reality is that if I didn’t go to work with my dog each day he would have stayed home more than half of the winter which is from October – April. And the other option people say is, “I would not go to work if it was that cold”, but reality says I live in Canada it is cold get your butt to work.

It is possible to have a guide dog and be able to get to and from work walking to and from and using public transit even when your eye lashes are freezing (waterproof mascara is a must). There are a few things that I use for my dog to make sure that he is warm and comfortable and then there are things that I use that make sure I won’t be getting frost bite and freezing. There is definitely no time for a fashion statement when it is that cold. So here is an actual version of what ones winter wardrobe should look like while living in Saskatchewan or where ever there is winter. I always see and hear about all these cute trends for the winter and think, “hmmmm I might look cute but by god I would have frost bite and be freezing by the time I made it anywhere” so there is a huge difference between fashionable and functional, we are going for functional.

There has been some trial and error in what works and what is warm so here are some of my favorite winter weather must-haves when it is cold, really really cold.

The most important piece is a winter coat. This coat I invested in, I had enough of being frozen by the time I got anywhere. The jacket is made by a Canadian company which I really liked because they understand the struggle of cold weather and the extremes. It is made by a company named Quartz Nature. I have had this coat for 2 years now and love it, I stay nice and warm no matter how cold it gets. On -40c days I am able to get to work and stay relatively warm.

The next thing is boots. All I can say is invest in a good pair of boots if you are anything like me as soon as your feet get cold you are cold all over and there is no warming up until your feet are warm. So I have had a few different pairs of boots of the years and usually wore Sorell boots but this year I needed a new pair and wanted to try something a little lighter and found these boots by Keen. They are super light and have been warm. I always add some really warm cozy socks on really cold days but they are great.

The next few things are obvious one would think. But so many people just want to look nice but being cold sucks. So a good winter hat or tuque if you are Canadian is a must as well as a scarf and good mitts or gloves.

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I have many different hats and scarves but the mitts are very warm they are leather and have a wool lining and they have stood up over the last about 4 winters and are very warm. I have worn just those on -40c days and my hands have been nice and toasty. The scarf and hat are just the ones I have been gravitating towards but I always try to choose something that is warm and cozy and soft.

Now I do have a Guide Dog so he needs to also be warm and toasty so he also has some winter gear that he wears to help us get to and from work. He wears a Ruffwear fleece lined jacket as well as some Canine Equipment boots. I love these boots they have stood up over this year, they don’t fill with snow or come off. You will also notice that there is a black bump on the toe of two of the boots. That is puff paint I added so I knew which ones were the front boots (they are different sizes).

There is nothing worse than being cold. I love all the fashion we see for winter but we never see practical, I walk everywhere I go fashion for winter. Hope this helps anyone who is like me and lives somewhere cold and needs to have practical fashion.

Stay Warm, Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

 

 

Blind Judge for Beauty Pageant

Hello Everyone,

I was recently asked to be a judge at the Mrs. Canada Globe pageant. So many people since then have been asking, what was your reaction? Why do you think they asked you? And most of all, “How did that work?” So here it is. I am going to answer all of your questions right here.

Why me ? Well I think you would have to ask the organizers, but, in talking with the organizers their pageant is more than outward beauty; it is about their personality, character, leadership, volunteerism, and everything that is on the inside. I pride myself in being a vocal advocate for the blind and partially sighted community and breaking down the misperceptions that are out there around blindness. This was something that I never thought that I would be a part of, as it seems like a very visual thing. But I was honoured to have been asked to be a part of this pageant and think that this is a step in the right direction. There are so many women out there who think that their outward beauty is all that matters and they have to look a certain way to be successful or to be liked or to go out in the world. That is not the case what is inside is what truly counts. Your character, personality and everything that you are is so much mor important. Me being a part of this pageant shows that, this is the case even in the beauty pageant world.

How were you able to be a judge for a beauty pageant ? How the pageant worked was there was a preliminary round where they did a introduction, which was a 1 minute speech on themselves or whatever they wanted to tell us. Then there was the swimsuit as well as the evening gown portion. After the introductions and before the swim suit portion I went back stage and got to meet the girls and had them describe what they were wearing in the swim suit competition. This was to give me a chance to talk to the ladies and see how they interacted with me, were they genuine, were they comfortable, and confident in themselves. During the evening gown portion the ladies had to answer a question for the other judges and myself to get to know them as well, and this was part of their scores.

After the preliminaries there was the finals. The scores from the preliminaries were thrown out and they got a score on overall performance or impression and the question that they had to answer. The questions that they had to answer were deep and had to have some thought put into them, they were very moral based and I liked hearing what they ladies had to say on some very heavy topics.

The ladies that were a part of this pageant were intelligent, leaders, volunteers, and all around great women. They had so much to offer and had been very successful in their lives. They were strong independent women who were confident, and sure of themselves. I applaud them for having the courage to put themselves out there and be a part of this pageant. They are all doing amazing work in raising money for charities and being true leaders in their communities, and that is what makes every last one of them beautiful.

So how did I judge a beauty pageant, I judged it the same way I judge the world around me. I listened to what was going on, I listened to what they had to say. I listened to how confident they walked down the runway. And I was able to truly get to know them the real them and leave all the superficial things behind.

When people are blind or partially sighted they don’t miss out on the world around them, they simply experience it differently and the same goes for a beauty pageant.

Until Next Time!

Ashley and Rick