Blind Christmas Joy

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all doing well.

December is here and so Christmas is just around the corner. I love Christmas and everything that goes along with Christmas. All the memories that are made, time spent with friends and family, the decorations and sights and sounds everything.

I have been asked before if I decorate for Christmas since I can not see it, the answer is YES ! I do not think that you need to be able to see decorations to appreciate them.

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I may go about buying my decorations differently for sure but I sure love walking the Christmas isles in the stores and looking at all the decorations. I feel them all and I buy my decorations based on the way that they feel. I like to have lots of different textures, I do not buy a lot of lights and things like that as I do not see them however my kids love them so we do have some. My children also love Christmas and when we are looking at the decorations they always say things like “oh mom feel this one I think you will like it” then they will proceed to describe it to me. This is one of the best things about the holidays, having the descriptions of things going on around us from my children as they have grown is something I cherish and look forward to every year.

Having a blind mother has definitely made our holiday celebrations different but we take part in all the activities and my children are always describing the decorations on people homes, the lights on the poles around town, people Christmas trees. This is a memory that I will forever have with me. One of my other favorite things about the holidays is the smells and sounds, the smells of baking and trees and nutmeg, cinnamon, they all bring me a lot of joy. I love the sounds of the shopping malls during the holidays, with the music, the bells from Santa greeting children, the hustle, and bustle, the sound of joy in the voices of the children.

There are so many ways to experience the world around us, vision is only one way. Happy Holidays to all my readers and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season !

Until Next Time
Ashley and Rick

Blindness the least of my struggles

Hello, Everyone !

I hope you are all doing well.

I was talking to someone recently and mentioned that I see a counsellor and they responded with ” I would too if I was blind”. I was surprised by this answer. Then the more I thought about it, I am sure that there are many many people out there who assume that I would need to see a counsellor because of living with blindness or any disability.

I talked with my husband after and kind of laughed a little because to be completely honest I do NOT see a counsellor because I am blind and or have a disability. I do NOT talk to my counsellor about being blind. I know that some people can not fathom that that would not be my biggest problem. For me my blindness is not an issue, I am happy with my life as a blind person. I am comfortable with my blindness and since I do not let my blindness determine how I live my life it really doesn’t cause me any problems. I have issues with other people misperceptions of blindness and my abilities but I have lived with that my whole life and enjoy proving people wrong.

I am so much more than a blind person and I have lived a lot in my life and see a counsellor  because I am a mother to 3 children. My 13-year-old daughter also has ADHD. Being a parent can be a challenge especially to teenagers and when you have a child with ADHD it can really make things difficult. I also lost my father to cancer almost 5 years ago, I was very close with my dad in the years before he passed but we also had many issues that we never got a chance to deal with. There are so many other things in my life that I have had to work through. And even though I am blind, that is not one of those things.

If I could give any advice on this topic, it would be; don’t assume that someone’s disability is their biggest struggle. The person with a disability lives their life every day just like you do and they have things happen that have absolutely nothing to do with their disability . Just because our reality is different than yours that does not mean that our disability consumes our lives to the point where we don’t live them.

Thank you for reading ! Have a fabulous day !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Apple Accessibility

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

I recently got an apple watch, and I also have an iPhone and MacBook Air and thought I would outline why I love apple and their accessibility of all their products. After seeing the new commercials they are running showing how people with disabilities use their products in everyday life. Even better is that the people in the commercial were not being portrayed as inspirational for being able to use the products, but that they enhanced their life and they could use them like everyone else.

Having a product that you can go into the store open up and have it accessible right out of the box is huge for me. I love that I can take my apple products out no matter what it is and set it up myself. I do not need to buy extra software to install on it or wait for someone else to set it up and then turn on the accessibility features for me. The level of independence that I can have with the apple products is great.

I love my iPhone for all of the things that it can do to make my life more accessible. I have many apps on my phone that I use throughout the day to do daily things. I have a GPS app called Blind Square that is a great help when going somewhere new especially. I have two apps that help with finding out what things are such as a box from my pantry or even what color something is. Those two apps are TapTap See and Be My Eyes.I also have all of my social media apps on my phone so that I can interact with all of you !

I use Voice Over on my Apple products this is the built-in screen reader that comes on all of Apple’s products. It will read out whatever is on my phone screen and allow me to do everything a sighted person can do on their phone. I can send e-mails, text messages, even take photos as it will tell me how many people I have in the frame and where they are in the frame.This is available on all of their products, even the Apple Tv making it my go to because I can scroll through Netflix or iTunes to find something to watch without needing my family to read out the program guide.

The Apple products that I have and use on a regular basis are MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone, iWatch, and Apple Tv.

The fact that Apple has made accessibility a priority says a lot, it also shows so many other companies that it is possible and if you take the time to make products accessible you will have people who will buy them and appreciate it more than ever.

Thanks for taking the time to read !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Are You Capable ?

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all doing well. We have had some challenges the last few weeks with some medical issues in our family, this has brought up another misperception that is out there.

I have run into this a few times in my life having three kids so I thought it was time to speak out about it.

My daughter has epilepsy and she recently had a few seizures and we needed to visit our local hospital. They are a great group of ladies and are amazing for the most part. However when I took my daughter in I felt like a second class citizen. Why you might ask, well the doctor on that day would not speak to me he would only speak to my husband and I was also asked how i knew if she was having a seizure if I could not see. They also asked if there was someone else there that could see.

This is not the first time that people won’t address me when we are at a medical appointment, they speak to who ever I am with. I have also in the past been questioned whether it is safe to be a parent since I am blind.

These things are just ridiculous, I am capable, I know when my daughter is having a seizure, I am capable of telling you what happened during her seizure. I am also very capable of listening to what the doctor or medical professional is telling me and comprehending these things.

There is only one thing that I lack and that is vision however that in no way makes me lack in any other area of my life. If you think that I am not capable of being a parent then you should talk to my kids.

I asked them the other day if they wished that I wasn’t blind. Their response to me by all three of them was “no it doesn’t make any difference, you are just as good as any other mom.” Now if the whole world could see people who are blind for more than their disability the world would be an amazing place.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Blind people go to sporting events ?

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all well.

I recently went to a football game and had a great time with friends. I have been asked after posting some pictures why would I want to go to sporting events if I can not see what is going on.

My answer is why not ?? I may not be able to see what is going on on the field but I do have the option to listen to the game on the radio while sitting with my friends. Most of the time I do not listen to the game on the radio but I take in the whole experience around me.

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The smells of the stadium, the excitement, the cheers and boos, the whole atmosphere. Even if you don’t like football (which I don’t really) I love going to sporting events and experiencing everything going on around me.

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My absolute favourite sporting event to go to is a hockey game, I love the sounds and experience of a hockey game. You can not help but get excited and into the game.

There are so many things like sporting events and shows that people believe as a person who is blind we can not enjoy these things. Believe me when I say I enjoy them immensely and remember that I do not miss out but experience it differently.

Now that the snow is starting to fall here I can not wait to go to a hockey game with my family !

Until Next Time !
Ashley and Rick

Light Sensitive a Understatement

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well and enjoying the fall season.

As many of you know I have no vision except for some light perception. So all I can see is if it is light or dark which does not bother me at all except for one thing. That light that I can see is my nemesis.

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People who do not suffer from any kind of light sensitivity or pressure issues in their eyes do not understand the pain. I have many many days where it is just too painful to keep my eyes open. It is not just the sunlight that bothers me but even lights inside, computer screens or my phone screen.

My family has had to live in the dark for a very long time, I can not have the blinds open or I will have really bad eye pain as well as a headache in no time. I also keep my phone and computer screens turned off (I don’t need them anyway). There are many days where I will wear my sunglasses in my house or simply go about my day with my eyes closed. If you add pressure issues and pain in with light sensitivity you have quite a painful day.

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Why am I telling you this you may ask, well this is why I am always wearing sunglasses. It is not because my eyes look funny or just because that is

what blind people do. That is a myth by the way. It is because I am trying to save myself from the pain of not wearing them. When I do not wear them the light feels like it is lighting my eyes on fire and the pain is just unbearable, then the headache / migraine that will ensue following is just horrific.

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There is usually more to the story that you don’t know, and this is what I want to emphasize. Don’t judge based on what you see as you never know what someone is trying to cope with behind those sunglasses !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Blindfold Challenge Not Reality

Hello Everyone,

There has been a campaign online that gets people to blindfold friends and family members and have them do something that they would do on a regular basis as a blind person. For example going to the gym, cooking a meal, walking down the street.

I think the intentions were good with this campaign however it missed the mark for me. Here is why, it never gives a positive view of the disability. If you were to put on a blind fold and walk around you are not going to get a realistic view of my life, you are however going to pity me at the end. Since you do not have any of the skills to be a successful blind person you are going to think that it is horrible and you would never be able to do it all day every day. How is this helping to make people understand that our lives are full and amazing even with the lack of sight ? It doesn’t it is that simple !

The last thing that I want is pity, I live a full and amazing life. I am successful and independent and would not change a thing about my life. Please don’t put on a blind fold and think that you have any idea what my life is like because you do not have a clue.

Do not pity me but see me for a person who has many things to offer the world around me. I am a very capable person and that is what I want people to see, not think that everyday tasks are hard because they are not. I do them without vision which is simply different you are a visual person and are trying to things visually with a blind fold on, that will never end well !

If you are not convinced that I live an amazing life please subscribe and let me show you.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

She’s Not Completely Blind !

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well, I wanted to share an experience that I had today.

I went for lunch just myself and my Guide Dog Rick, I needed to get out of the house and it was a beautiful day. We had a fabulous lunch at a local cafe. In this cafe they also have a boutique for women’s clothing and things. It is a great little place for our community and I love to go every now and then.

After we had lunch I thought I would take a look around at the clothes. Yes I like to “look” around at clothes and things. I usually just feel the fabrics and the cut of the clothing and if it feels like something I like I will ask what the pattern or colour is and for more detail. As I was feeling around the store at some of the clothing a lady approached me and said how beautiful Rick was. I said thank you and we had a good conversation about Rick and how amazing service dogs are. As she was going to leave she told the other lady with her to watch her step. She then turned to me and said watch your step to dear. The other lady then says “oh she isn’t completely blind.” I said well actually I am, but thank you. She then began to tell me that she watched me while I had lunch and I ate just fine and used my phone.

These types of comments come often and they used to really make me mad. It is like they are saying that I am faking it. However, anger gets me no where. These kinds of comments now just fuel my fire and passion to make the world understand blindness more.

I am able to eat and not make a huge mess because I am an adult I am aware of how a fork and knife work and I am also aware of where my mouth is. Had she been watching carefully she would have seen me ask the waitress where things were on the table and also she would have seen me using my knife almost like a cane around my plate. She may have also noticed that after I tried to pick up my sandwich stuff fell out and I did not want to wear it so I cut it up with my fork and knife. Had she been listening closely she would have heard that my phone was talking to me.

These comments are so unnecessary, I wish people would realize that the way they perceive blind people they have learned through the media and they are not accurate depictions.

Even though these comments get under my skin, I know that the only way to change the way society sees me and other people who are blind is to live my life to it’s fullest. One day if I keep working at it people will understand blindness and the misperceptions will be gone. A pipe dream I am sure but I am also very stubborn and determined.

Have a great day !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

2 Year Guide Dog Anniversary

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all well.

September is International Guide Dog month, there is so many ways that Guide Dogs impact the lives of blind and partially sighted people all over the world.

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2 years ago today I was so grateful to be walking across the stage to graduate with my first guide dog. It was an emotional day I was so happy to have received him and what he was going to do for my life. But I was also sad, I was sad for Rick’s puppy raisers they loved him just as much as I did and they had to say good bye. I was very happy that they had made the trip to Portland, OR to meet me and be a part of Rick’s graduation. Rick’s puppy raiser gave me the best gift besides my children I will ever receive. Being able to raise a dog for a year and pour so much of your heart and soul into training and socializing the dogs and then have to say good bye. This has to be a very hard thing to do and I am beyond grateful for their huge hearts and incredible gift.

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Now that Rick and I have been a team for 2 years now we are a pretty well oiled machine. We have an amazing relationship and I could not ask for a better guide. He knows me very well and can usually predict where I am wanting to go, also his coffee finding skills are out of the park. He is happy to traipse all over the country side going to events and shopping and sitting through many hours of meetings and he is happy to cuddle and keep me company when I work from home.

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There are so many ways that Rick has changed my life he has helped me to embrace my disability and live my life my way. He has helped me to find my confidence that I have always wanted to have. Rick has also made the work of advocating and educating the public a little easier because people want to talk to you when you have an adorable yellow lab wagging his tail sitting next to you. It is like he makes people more comfortable to approach us and talk.

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So many of the things I have mentioned are not even guiding tasks, and that is what I want people to know, a Guide Dog does more than just show us the curbs and take us around obstacles. They enhance our lives so much.

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Thank you to everyone who makes it possible for people who are blind or partially sighted to have Guide Dogs in their lives you are amazing !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Blind Yoga

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well. I have really been trying to work on me and take care of myself and making that a priority. I also love to try new things so today I am going to tell you about my experience trying yoga for the first time and how it is going.

I am someone who always likes to try new things, I have been wanting to try yoga for a while but I was unsure how it would work with me not being able to see what the instructor was doing. After thinking about it for way to long, I took the plunge and booked 5 private sessions. This gave me the opportunity to learn the moves and have one on one instruction before I went into a class. This was probably the best thing I could have done.

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Rick trying to join me for yoga this morning. Picture of my feet on the green yoga mat and Rick laying with his front paws right in front of my feet. 

I was not sure if yoga would be for me, I mean I am a pretty high strung person. I need to be busy all the time and my mind is going a million miles an hour always. So to say I was nervous for my first session was an understatement.

I made it to my first session and was really surprised at how comfortable the instructor made me feel. We went through what I wanted to get out of my yoga practice and also why I wanted to try yoga. We devised a plan from our discussion about what I wanted to get out of these 5 sessions.

We have been working on breathing and relaxing and some stretching. Then this week we went through a full practice and some basic poses. I have a long way to go but I am really enjoying the challenge and to be honest learning to turn off my mind and focus on only what I am doing has been really nice.

I am enjoying learning to relax and the poses have been fun to do. I think that we all need to take time for ourselves, no matter what you do or who you are. Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others that we forget that we can not give what we do not have.

Being blind has not been a factor in me being able to do yoga in the slightest which is great. The instructor is very descriptive and hands on to help me to get into the pose properly. I think that if you are someone who has a disability and wants to try something new go for it. You are your biggest obstacle when we get out of our own heads and just go for it, we can be pleasantly surprised.

I am looking forward to getting the basics down and going to a group class ! I will let you know how that goes !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick