This is a pretty specific gift idea and it’s only for ladies who are blind or visually-impaired.  Sorry to be exclusive on this one, but once you read more, you’ll understand.

In lieu of exchanging presents this year, Joy and I have decided to give each other the gifts of travel, mental health, and personal growth all rolled into one.  Merry Christmas!!! Continue reading

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Giselle in between her guide dog Muesli and dog Max. Both dogs are looking at each other.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Giselle, a college student from San Diego, who I met during guide dog training.  She graduated with her guide, Museli, the same day I graduated with Roja, and I have hilarious memories of our weekly trips to Sephora, Ulta and the Mack counter during our 2 weeks of training in San Rafael.

Our fab Resident Advisor., Mick, drove us to whatever stores we “needed” to go to, along with our tagalong classmate, Dale, who was basically there to provide comical entertainment.  The image of Dale and Mick spraying different colognes in Ulta while guessing the name of each scent, along with Dale unknowingly walking behind the checkout counter as if he were an employee still makes me laugh out loud. Continue reading

Boy did I have fun with the first graders at Holy Family School!  They asked Joy questions and she let them pet me!  They were so gentle, and I felt like a furry rock star.  I hope Joy brings me back to that school again sometime!

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Joy and Roja sitting in front of a group of children seated on the floor, during a question/asnwer time at the end of the presentations.

Do you know what I DON’T like?

Antlers.

I’m assuming this is another one of Joy’s ideas, similar to the Halloween cowardly lion abomination.   I guess I’ll cooperate in honor of Christmas.  Just as long as I don’t have to pull any sleighs.  That’s where I draw the line.  Dogs have their dignity to uphold, you know.

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Roja wearing a headband with antlers sticking up into the air.

I have always been proud of the fact that, though legally blind, I can find missing items better than fully sighted people.  My husband will literally spend an hour looking for his keys, and after 5 minutes of asking me,  I have them in my hands.  A friend once lost her wallet within her large purse and spent 45 minutes looking for it.  On a whim, I asked if I could try searching through her purse for the wallet.  Within 30 seconds of me feeling around, I found her wallet.  These aren’t lone incidents either. When my kids can’t find something, I’m the one they come to for help.

Along with finding lost items, I also pride myself on the fact that not much gets past me.  I can be downstairs cleaning the floor yet I know exactly what my girls are doing upstairs.  I run an after-school program out of my house, and the other day I told one of the kids to stop waving something in another child’s face even though he was out of my line of vision.  They joke that I have secret eyes all over.
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Many of you who follow Doublevisionblog on Facebook see all of Roja’s updates, but for those who aren’t Facebook fans, here are a couple recent posts and pictures that include Roja.

December 1st, 2015

December 1st started out rough for Roja’s household, beginning with an ER visit at 1:30am after months of my 9-year-old’s off-and-on stomach issues culminated into a scary mess. Fearing appendicitis, after talking to Lucy’s doctor, my husband took her in while I stayed with our sleeping 5-year-old. Not able to sleep, I paced the house and finally knelt on my knees in my bedroom. Updates from Ben were scarce, and I finally called his cell in desperation, just to hear my baby screaming hysterically in the background as the nurses poked her for the 8th time trying to find the right vein for the IV. I quickly hung up the phone and sobbed, wanting to be there with her and also not wanting to hear or know any of it. My nerves got the best of me and my body began shaking uncontrollably. 

And that’s when I heard the whack of a tail inside the dog crate next to me. Realizing Roja was awake, I opened the crate and she ran out and nuzzled into me with the fiercest hug she has ever given me. The time was 4am and the people in my life who would normally bring words of comfort were all sleeping, so my nerves were calmed by wags of comfort instead. I was able to doze off for several minutes before the next update. CT scan showed no inflammation near the appendix and the IV was replenishing fluids. Of course, in true ER fashion, the full test results took hours to come in and she wasn’t released until late morning. 

So this morning Roja and I set off on our 5 block walk to Walgreens for homecoming supplies, aided by my favorite 5-year-old helper who had convinced me to keep her home from school to wait for big sissy. Our main mission was carpet cleaner and more paper towels to help with the scary mess, as well as soup and jello. As we walked back with our small load of supplies, Roja turned at the wrong curve on the river walk, and I at first reprimanded her. But then my 5-year-old pointed out that we were right in front of a manger scene decoration that our town had just put up. I knelt down with my Walgreens bag and gave Roja a pat. I was reminded that, even on hard days like this, when you’re just a helpless mom who doubts her actions and has no idea how to help her sick child, there are still small moments to be thankful for. 

I used to think my new companion was placed in my life solely to be my eyes, but I am beginning to realize that it’s more than that. Roja leads me to the important things that I tend to forget about when I’m consumed with my own worries and sorrows, like the upcoming holiday and the hope and love that it brings. That little glimpse of gratitude and hope gave me what I needed to greet Lucy, as she returned home with her battle wounds, ready to tell me her war stories while holding up her bandaged arms and hand. I could confidently face her and say, “Sweetie, we still have no idea what’s going on with that tummy of yours, but we will figure it out and get you back to your happy, healthy self.”

P.S. I can tell Lucy is truly my daughter when, between bouts of pain, she is busily writing a story about her trip to the hospital for a school assignment tomorrow.  ‪#‎thatsmygirl

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I’ve always loved fashion, and I always will.  From trendy mishaps like the Blossom-inspired hats of my tween years, to the time I co-owned and operated Mapel Boutique, fashion has been an important part of my life.  But as my vision continues to deteriorate, I’ve often wondered how my relationship with fashion will be affected.  Can people still love fashion without sight? After chatting with fashion diva, Joy Ross, I know the answer is absolutely positively YES.  Not only is Joy Ross adorable, but she embodies everything I love about fashion – a strong sense of self expression and effortless style.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel Continue reading