Monday 27 May 2013

Reaching for a Dream

Recently, I’ve finished my first novel, “Looking for Love”. It’s about Chloe Smith, who, abandoned as a child, grows up feeling unwanted. After finishing school, she works as a live-in nanny. She falls deeply in love with her employer, Richard Taylor. But he needs time to heal from the tragic death of his wife. Also, his domineering parents strongly oppose her presence in their son’s life. Then she becomes blind in a car accident. As she learns to cope in a sightless world, she discovers how love can really conquer all. I’ve sent my manuscript to a few publishers. In the meantime, I’m working on my next novel. I haven’t decided what to call it yet, but the story is about a blind girl who has been very sheltered all her life. She meets a man who has recently lost his sight. They fall in love. There’s only one problem; her family don’t like him and he doesn’t like her family. Writing has always been my passion. I remember as a little girl, typing short stories on my clunky brailler. I made tactile pictures and stapled the pages together to form little picture books. My Mum still has them today, for sentimental reasons. It’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve decided to take writing more seriously. While it’s always been my dream to be a published author, I used to think I would never have a chance. But one day, I realized that it’s better to try and fail, then to do nothing at all. At least I know that I’m giving it a go.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Importance of Communication in Relationships

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new…, all the time, made new…” Amy E. Dean I always find conflict unpleasant, especially when it’s with a close friend or loved one. But sometimes the experience can help the relationship to grow. That is, if we communicate with each other. The other day, I felt depressed. Instead of telling my husband how I was feeling, I bit his head off and said some things I didn’t mean. I wanted to be alone and tried to shut him out. While the incident was painful, it helped me to realize that I need to communicate more, particularly with my husband. It encouraged us to really “talk”. Of course, I apologized for lashing out and he said he forgave me. It’s impossible, however, to unsay something you’ve said. But we have a deeper understanding of each other now. Lack of communication is a major cause of relationship problems. We need to be able to share our thoughts, feelings and wants. For example, when I’m feeling depressed, I need to let my husband know, instead of biting his head off or shutting him out. Verbal communication is particularly important for me, because I can’t see a person’s face or body language. When someone doesn’t speak to me, I feel isolated, unsure, frustrated. I rely on listening to what people say and their tone of voice. I’m also realizing that successful relationships require maturity. It’s important to recognize and respect each other’s differences. We also need to know how to compromise. When disagreements occur, We should try to find a middle ground. My husband and I always try to be there for each other. It’s the best feeling in the world, having someone to share my life with. While we do have arguments occasionally, if we talk things out, we can learn from our mistakes and grow as a couple.

Monday 13 May 2013

Itching Dogs

Lately, my Seeing Eye dog, zora, has been very itchy. I give her Sentinel and Advantage once a month, so fleas shouldn’t be the culprit. I’ve heard from other people, that their dog is also scratching a lot. I asked the Vet from Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, for advice on how to fix the problem. She recommended the following: 1) Bath your dog about once a week, using QV Wash instead of shampoo. As this product is actually targeted at people, you can find it in most chemists. QV wash, however, is also beneficial to dogs displaying itchiness or flaking skin, as it doesn’t contain any soap, which can contribute to increased itchiness and dry coat. There are a few varieties of QV, but the vet recommends using QV Wash and Intensive Moisturizing QV Wash for best results. 2) Give your dog daily doses of Fish Oil and EPO (Evening Primrose Oil). While these products are used as traditional supplements for people, they are also safe for dogs. EPO has many benefits, but in this case, it is quite effective in managing skin issues. Fish Oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which, for dogs, provides anti-inflammatory effects and can help relieve itching due to atopic dermatitis, an allergy-related skin condition. According to a dermatology specialist, it is best to use BOTH Fish Oil and EPO for allergies/itchiness, rather than just one toe or the other. She recommends the following dosage per weight of dog: • Evening Primrose Oil: 1g per 10kg of dog • Fish Oil: 1g per 3 kg of dog For the average dog this would mean around 8 or so fish oil capsules per day and 4 or so EPO caps. However, to cut down on the number of fish oil capsules there is a brand that makes 2000mg fish oil caps which would half the number of capsules given per day. For example: if your dog weighs 26kg, you’d give him/her two 2000mg fish oil caps in the AM and two of the same at night; with the 1000mg EPO caps you’d give him/her two in AM and two PM. You could drop them in their food bowl, add a bit of water then swish around. Most Labs will eat the capsules in their food bowl without question. 3) The Antihistamine Telecast is another product that can assist in managing seasonal allergies and itchiness. It’s important to note that other antihistamines are not created equal. Telefast can be found over-the-counter at most chemists. While it is safe for dogs, to get the best benefit it must be given in high doses - 16mg per 1kg of dog. For example, an average 28kg dog: Multiply 28 X 16 = 448; divide that by 180 (mg per 1 tablet) and that gets you to roughly 2.5 tablets in 24hr period. Telefast is safe for regular use. If your dog is really itchy, especially at seasonal times, then using Telefast or its generic version might give additional relief. I’ve been following these steps and, to my relief, have found that Zora’s skin is improving. My Seeing-eye dog is like my child. I want to do everything I can to ensure she is healthy, happy and safe.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Zora's Explorers

My husband and I run a social group for people who are blind or have low vision. It’s called Zora’s Explorers, after my seeing-eye dog, Zora. We meet and do various activities, such as ten-pin bowling, movies and dining in cafes and restaurants. We always try to ensure that our events are accessible by transport. Today, we met up for lunch in the city. We had a lovely time. Everyone seemed to get on very well. The afternoon flew by. I enjoy meeting people through Zora’s Explorers. It’s great chatting with people and having a laugh. I’ve also made some fantastic friends, and even met my amazing husband. I’d been running the group for a few months, when Phil signed up as a member. First we chatted on the phone a few times, then arranged to meet up. And it went from there. He proposed to me after 8 months. We married on 9th of March, 2013. I feel like the happiest and luckiest girl in the world! Coordinating Zora’s Explorers, has helped me to grow as a person. I’ve learnt that we sometimes have to step outside of our comfort zone. While meeting new people has often been daunting for me, overcoming this fear has been very rewarding.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Empowering Ourselves

Empowering ourselves is important if we want to follow our dreams in life. Empowerment leads to confidence. It helps us to realize our potential, and take control of our destiny. Empowerment is generally defined as “a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives.” We can experience empowerment on an individual, group and community level. Empowerment is a social process in which we develop understanding, confidence and resilience. The way we think, usually affects how we feel. Constantly viewing ourselves in a negative light, will usually diminish our self-esteem. Possessing a negative self-image, will often influence how others treat us. Empowerment involves having control over our self-image and believing in ourselves. When others realize that we are no longer content to be their “doormat”, then their attitude towards us will usually change. Having faith in ourselves, will inspire others to also have confidence in us. Self-empowerment may sometimes be a daunting prospect, as it requires us to accept responsibility for the decisions we make in life. We make choices based upon our core values. We are not a victim of circumstances, but rather, a central player who has the resources to choose their course in life. Motivation is a key factor when developing empowerment. If the will to change is absent, then it is unlikely that we will achieve empowerment. Others may pressure us to be a stronger and more assertive person, but their efforts will be largely ineffectual unless it coincides with our own heart’s desires. We must be the one to decide if we want to empower ourselves, and what form this will take. Empowerment also requires self-awareness. In order to become self-aware, we must develop a better understanding of ourselves and identify areas we want to strengthen. Who are we at present? What traits do we want to improve to fulfil our dreams? It is also important that we acknowledge ways in which our own behaviour may adversely affect our pursuit of empowerment. Is the way we act, harming our relationships? Are we being hampered by our own inhibitions? Following this, we need to develop a strategy for overcoming the barriers we face. What supports and resources do we have? How can we make the most of opportunities in life? Finally, it is crucial that we try to overcome our fears, doubts and anxieties regarding our goals. These reactions are toxic and inhibit our progress in life. We should try to turn our negative thoughts in to positive ones. Possibilities are limitless if we believe in ourselves. Developing self-empowerment is a life-long journey that requires practice, perseverance and patience. We’re in the “driver’s seat”, and thus, direct the changes we make in our lives. Achieving self-empowerment however, requires commitment. If our motivation and dedication is constantly waning, we perhaps need to evaluate whether the goals we have set, truly reflect our heart’s desires. Developing self-empowerment will not only change the person we are, but may also facilitate positivity in the world. When we’re liberated from our own inhibitions, we’re able to radiate self-confidence. When we believe in ourselves, we have the power to change not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us!

Sunday 21 April 2013

In The Drivers Seat

I had so much fun today, driving cars and riding on the back of a motorbike! AS I’M BLIND, it felt exhilarating to be in charge of a motor vehicle for the first time in my life. Of course, the driving instructor had dual control, but he let me do most of the steering and press down on the pedals. My speed reached 95kph at one point. Apparently, I drove okay for the most part, considering I don’t have any sight. But I must confess, I accidentally turned off the track a couple of times and, towards the end, flattened some witches hats! Oops! Riding on the back of the motorbike, gave me a thrill! The man steering, had handles attached to his belt. Holding onto these and keeping my arms rigid, we zoomed around the track at, what felt like, top speed. Throughout the ride, I found myself laughing with glee. The wind whipped through my hair and my heart soared. I had a fantastic driving instructor. He was very encouraging and clear in explaining what to do. I really appreciate, respect and admire him and the other volunteers who gave up their time today. Through conversing with my driving instructor, I learnt that he helps out many other disadvantaged groups, too. People like him are so inspirational and deserve a lot of recognition, though I know they don’t do it for this reason. They seem very humble and warm-hearted. There are so many good people in the world. The media, however, tends to publicise the bad things that happen. I know that news needs to sell, but I think it would be nice if positive deeds received more exposure.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Being grateful

If you need a reason to be grateful, just feel your pulse. You’re alive!! I know that might sound a bit corny, but it’s so true. Sometimes we can allow little things to annoy us or get us down, and forget to be grateful for the fact that we are alive. I’m certainly guilty of this. Over this past week, there’s been so much tragedy happening in the world, especially in America. My prayers go out to everyone suffering right now. I find it hard to get my head around how such horrible things could happen to some people. While I’ve had to face some challenges in life due to my blindness and hearing impairment, I’ve also been very blessed in many ways. I have a loving husband, supportive family and great friends. I’m healthy, comfortable and free. I hope I never take my good fortune for granted.