First Day of Rehab

First Day of Rehab for Newly Blind Person

Scary is the best word I can think of for the first day at rehab. I walked in on the arm of my friend who was dropping me off for my first class at the Center for the Visually Impaired in downtown Atlanta. Not knowing what to expect gives pause for one’s imagination to run wild. If one has been sighted for her first forty years and now totally blind, each step is strange and frightening. Constant fear of rejection or falls or stumbles.

Stepping into this new world, I felt very small, a little like Alice in Wonderland only I wasn’t so sure this was going to be fun.

The second day I was bundled up walking Peachtree Street against the frosty wind, begging my mobility instructor to stop for hot chocolate while promising to entertain her with one of my stories. To my surprise, she guided me into the revolving door of Peachtree Plaza. Laughing, I thought maybe there will be “fun” times after all. As we sipped our refreshment, I marveled at how a car turning right on red as I stepped off the curb could be quite challenging. One had to have perfect hearing.

At break, I timidly tapped my way to the pay phone, fearful of walls and step downs. This was my sweet time– talking to my boyfriend . I admit I whined a little as I said, “the Legislature should change that “Right on Red” law. Jerry is a DOT civil engineer and he set me straight on this idea.

“Right on red “ saves Georgian’s lots of gasoline in a year’s time. I don’t imagine they would change a law which is economically sound.”

And I thought it was only for convenience. Read on by purchasing my memoir. Go to the book tab, “My Nightlife Is 24/7”. www.Fionapage.com Braille Fail is one of my favorite stories in my book.
More blogs about my escapades living with blindness on  CVI’s siteseeing web page
 

Attitude

Attitude

It’s our attitude in life that determines life’s attitude toward us.–Earl Nightingale  
 
As I write to my grandson, a new cadet at Riverside Military Academy, I can’t help but think about how important attitude is. He didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be blind. Jumping these hurdles of life require the right attitude. How do you achieve that?
 
For me, it is looking at the alternatives. I could be a whiner, constantly complaining about my state of affairs.  I could live in a state of depression, getting smaller each day or just withering away as I succumbed to the sofa and a box of bonbons. Well, not really getting smaller—maybe a lot larger. That is escape. What use is it?
 
I cannot imagine doing that! What’s the point? I love being productive, doing things—whether it is organizing a closet or organizing ideas. Discipline is what does not come easy to me. I would rather do what I want to do when I want to do it. Who wouldn’t?
 
 
Being blind makes discipline even more difficult. Here I am 68 years old with two books published and three CDs.  I was so determined to get a book published by the time I was 70.  I didn’t realize the work is just beginning.
 
Sometimes I want to while the day away by reading. I must make phone calls to let the world know about My Nightlife Is 24/7 and Bettina the Bold. Otherwise the world won’t know about my new books. I must keep the right attitude.
 
Remember that old adage from the seventies? An open mind is like a parachute. For me it meant a safety net. For someone else it could mean something all together different. Today it means opportunity for endless possibilities. How could I be bored? I never know what tomorrow will bring. Live a little dangerously.
 

Good Morning, World!

Good Morning, World!

I am excited to face the New Year of 2012. Imagine making it this far in life! God has been good. I know there is a lot of sadness and evil in this world—we are bludgeoned with it every day. But I also know God gives me the will to stay positive.

What changes will come your way this year? As I write in my memoir, my journey from sighted to blind has taught me many things about embracing change, even when it isn’t the change you want. We need change for the good. Without change, there would be no butterflies.

I resolve to learn, love, and thrive with whatever purpose God has for me.I hope for you the same. Remember as you face others, connect, or disconnect, each of us wants favor and acceptance. Take a moment to SEE the other person’s perspective.

 

So This Is Christmas

So This Is Christmas

“So this is Christmas…"

The words to this song make me think about how we reach out at this time of year.

’Tis the season we connect with each other—those who are happy, those who are sad, the fortunate, and the unfortunate.

It is strange how we notice the sad events which happen at Christmas. We lose a loved one, we listen to the tragedies on the television.  Maybe it is magnified because we are hungry for joy and happiness especially during this season. I know we all have times when we are walking in darkness. Sometimes it feels like forever. I am sixty-eight years old. I remember the dark times. Thank God I don’t remember all of them.

Remember the expression "needle in a haystack?” Many of us don’t even know what a haystack is.  We are just scurrying to get things done in this busy season. What is important is what we are blind to. I am talking about the ways we try to connect as we party and seek out our friends and acknowledge our families.

If you are looking for a needle in a haystack this holiday season, look closer. They are all around you with hopeful, expectant faces. I am talking about the innocent. The children. We adults have a responsibility to "see" what children need. They are our hope for a better world, for peace on earth.

One year I was amazed at the enormous number of packages we give to children in special places like rehab centers.  Yet we forget them the rest of the year.

So when you’re out shopping like crazy little beavers working to bring JOY in the hearts of your children or some neglected child on Christmas morning, think deeper. Remember that precious child needs not your money or the things you can buy them, but the most valuable of commodities: YOUR TIME. Look at them, listen to them. They need encouragement wrapped in a package of sound judgment, guidance, and structure to feel safe. These three gifts are the foundations for happiness.

 

Deadlines! Deadlines!

Deadlines! Deadlines!

All of us have been pressured with deadlines. For me it was, “putting the show in the can" each month. After I started recording my radio show on GARSS in January, I learned this was the term used for finishing a monthly segment. "Eye to Eye—Fiona’s Perspective, What’s Yours?" was fun to host and see what it was like to produce a show. If you haven’t listened to any of the episodes, they are all on my website. Just a click away!

 
Then I had those deadlines for getting Bettina the Bold and My Nightlife Is 24/7 published.
I have spent the entire year learning and making new friends along the way.
 
I have always heard friends are the present God gives us. This is a season of reflecting and appreciating those we love. As we scurry and hurry and impose stressful deadlines on ourselves about  giving gifts to those we care for, we don’t stop to think that the most precious thing we can give is ourselves—our time.
 
Bettina, bold though she was, discovered she needed friends. If Helen, the bat, had not been willing to help Bettina, she might not have learned to "see" the value of friends. I hope you "see” how you attract friends and show them how you appreciate them.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

One day when I have more time, I will master this world of technology. Facebook messaging eludes me. I count on my grandson to help when he has the time. I couldn’t live without my talking computer and I plan to conquer the iPhone, but alas, the internet still is a challenge. My favorite thing is my book reader which is about the size of a tiny MP3 player and carries 20 books around for me.

I love hearing about my former 8th graders and their huge families.  Write more!

I hope to see many of you at  Humpus Bumpus bookstore in Cumming on Dec. 4th. I will be signing both Bettina the Bold: A Blind Butterfly Discovers How to Make Friends and my book for adults, My Nightlife Is 24/7: Turning Tragedy to Triumph.

Enjoy the special dinner with family and friends and giving thanks for all the wondrous love you have in your life.

 I love you all,

Fiona

Savannah Children’s Book Festival

Savannah Children’s Book Festival

 

Amazing how friends appear out of nowhere and create magic! My fiftieth high school class reunion was recently. So excited, I dug out old friends from my memory. I was surprised that I could name almost every classmate—how many can do that? At age 68?

I wrote emails and made phone calls cajoling the lot that fifty years was a milestone–we might not even recognize each other in another year. We had a great event and I reconnected with special friends.

Two of those have made connections for me to be interviewed on News Radio 1290 WTKS with Bill Edwards as the host. Imagine me talking for an hour! After that my high school buddy will whisk me over to WTOC (channel 11) for "Mid-Morning Live” with Jody Chapin for another interview.

The weekend promises to be a fantastic one. I will be signing books and selling Bettina the Bold at the Savannah Children’s Book Festival. I can’t wait for the Low Country Boil on Friday night. All this because I have two great high school friends to make the events run smoothly. If you are in Savannah on Friday, November 18th, tune in or better yet come meet me at the Forsyth Park in front of the Bull Street Library. I will be the one with the red table cover and lots of butterfly friends.

 

Room to Read

Room to Read

 
Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy man in the late 1800s who knew that education was the key to success. We still use his libraries today. When libraries are closing in Atlanta, see what is happening on the other side of the world.
 
John Wood, a former marketing director for Microsoft, is little known according to the New York Times, but he has surpassed Carnegie in his contribution to literacy. Since 1998,  he has left his job at Microsoft and started "Room to Read," establishing 12,000  libraries and 1,500 schools in remote villages. Wood became a self published author too,  providing 591 titles in languages including Khmer, Nepalese, Zulu, Lao, Xhosa, Chhattisgarhi, Tharu, Tsonga, Garhwali and Bundeli. "Room to Read" also supports 13,500 impoverished girls who might otherwise drop out of school.  This is accomplished at the cost of $250 per girl. While people are spending millions on weddings, missiles, and America is trying to use its influence with force,  this astute 47-year-old man left his executive position to make a difference. 
 
These cherished books, which are well-suited for teenage girls, are providing literacy and the desire for more education. Wood asks corporations to give $5,000 to provide for these libraries around the world. Where else could you get more  bang for your buck  to start a library. A mammoth challenge met by a man without fear, but with a vision.

 

It Started with a Book

 It Started with a  Book

It all started with the Doll Hospital—my first hardback book given to me by my aunt who lived in a city faraway from my small South Georgia town. The bright red book about dolls who needed to be repaired was my first travel to another place. We only had a Bible and a reference book about animals at our house. My parents read the newspaper and Readers Digest. I read my Weekly Reader in third grade. By fourth grade I had a Western Blue Flyer bike and was allowed to ride it four streets away to the library and to Girl Scouts.

My first adventure into books took me to the library every week in the summer—I wanted to be the top summer reader. I explored Trixie Belden, Betsy Byars, and, with the encouragement of my librarian, soon graduated to Earle Stanley Gardner.

I traded books for boys by ninth grade. College only allowed time for required reading. I had a serious boyfriend by then.

Graduation, a career in teaching, a husband, and, two years later, a bouncing baby boy meant no time for pleasure reading. In just a few years, I was studying again for a Master’s degree. Still no time to enjoy reading.

I discovered storytelling at thirty-seven and fell in love with stories—folk tales, fairy tales, sci-fi, and ghost tales.

Saturated with stories, life turned upside down. I was blind and couldn’t read in the normal way. All those printed books I bought were now unreadable to me. Audio books were not plentiful in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Today I am a writer—or am I truly a writer? I don’t know yet. My two books are published and I wait for them to be read. Comments are trickling in. "Fiona, it’s a page-turner. I can’t put it down." "This deserves national exposure." Exciting times. I wake up wanting to write a new story.

One thing I know—I am a lover of stories!

 

Bettina on Literary Rambles Blog

Bettina on Literary Rambles Blog

Check out my guest blog at Literary Rambles, a fantastic blog dedicated to children’s book authors! Thanks Casey and Natalie.

"You can't depend on your vision when your imagination is out of focus." --Mark Twain

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“Fiona captivates her audiences by knocking their blinders off” Jim Cashin, Director of Georgia Radio Reading Service (GARRS)

Fiona Spoke Here:

  • American Council of the Blind
  • American Library Association
  • Asso. of Teacher Educators
  • Atlanta's Paralympics
  • Bregman Conference
  • Callaway Gardens
  • Chic-fil-A
  • GAEL Conference
  • Georgia Dept of Family & Children's Services
  • Georgia Dept of Juvenile Justice
  • Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Helen Keller Foundation
  • Lake Lanier Villages
  • National Conference on Storytelling
  • National Council of the Teachers of English
  • N. Carolina Brain Injury Assn.
  • Project Lift
  • Riverside Academy
  • Salvation Army Auxiliary
  • SPADD Conference
  • St. Jude's Children's Hospital
  • Tommy Nobis Center
  • Youth Villages Author Series
  • Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus