by Roja Thomas (Joy’s guide dog)

When I wake up in the morning, I run in circles 90 mph until I almost fall over (don’t judge).  Joy and her kids laugh really hard when I do this, and hearing their laughter makes me prance around the house like an even bigger maniac.  I love when Joy’s kids are home, and especially when they have lots of friends over after school.  There’s nothing I love more than a house full of rowdy children.  Except when one of them pulls my tail (true story ahead!). Continue reading

If there’s one thing our mom taught us, it’s to write thank you notes.  When we were kids, we absolutely could NOT play with our new toys until those thank you notes were sealed and dropped into the mailbox.  So when late night show host Jimmy Fallon started writing satirical thank you notes in front of a live audience, we knew our mother would applaud.  Then we read author and blogger, Jen Hatmaker’s mommy thank you notes, and we developed a conspiracy theory that our mother was somehow behind this thank you writing trend.

That got us thinking…has anyone written thank you notes from blind people? We haven’t seen any.  But if we missed it, please let us know, and we will start working on our apology notes immediately.

Thank you dishwasher, for always being wide open when I’m plowing through the kitchen.  I love how you announce your presence by pushing abruptly into my shins.

Yours Truly,
Bruised Blind Lady Continue reading

I’m thrilled to introduce one of my newest blogger friends, Stephanae McCoy from Bold, Blind, Beauty.  This post could not have come at a better time for me.  I was just starting the dreaded task of freshening up my closet in honor of the new year when Steph shared this post with me.  These are tips I definitely needed!

Wardrobe Woes? Conquering the Chaos
by Stephanae McCoy

Every day it’s the same drill: You shut off the annoying alarm, contemplate getting up, contemplate calling off work, get up, put on the coffee, use the comfort station (fancy description for toilet), take your shower, contemplate calling off work again, consume first cup of java, do hair, do makeup, inhale deeply, then open the closet.

It’s full of all sorts of clothes, yet you still have not a blessed thing to wear. “What to do?” you ask yourself for the millionth time, as you once again contemplate calling off work one last time. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is gonna work today. “I hate my wardrobe!” you mutter as you angrily stomp away to grab another cup of coffee while you think about what to wear.

If this situation sounds vaguely familiar you can rest assured this is a global phenomenon faced by women and yes, men, the world over. There are many reasons why we find ourselves in this predicament but today’s focus is going to be on how to rectify the issue and it’s gonna take some fearlessness. Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Multi colored plastic hangers

The Assessment

Before diving into a full-blown evaluation of the contents within your wardrobe it’s helpful to have an end goal in mind. You can ask yourself questions like:

  1. What is it I’m hoping to achieve? Am I just clearing things out to make room for more stuff? Do I just want to be more organized?
  2. Where am I now or where do I hope to be in my career in the next 6 months? (For example if you’re a news reporter for a local station who doesn’t provide you with a wardrobe then you’re likely going to require more selections than the average consumer).
  3. If the long-term goal is a minimalist approach how will I be able to sustain the system I put in place? In the future for each new garment I buy am I planning to get rid an equal amount of items I currently possess?

After you’ve answered these questions begin the assessment in your closet by taking out all of your go-to pieces and set them aside. This is easy because you constantly use all of these  things therefore they are within reach.

You’ve Gotta be Ruthless

Go back to your closet and remove the remaining items, one piece at a time to decide if each will be tossed, donated and/or sold. It isn’t easy but this is where you have to be brutally honest.

Remember that gorgeous jumpsuit you bought two years ago that you just had to have but never wore? Well here it is, in pristine condition (with tags even), hanging there just as lonely and dejected as an extrovert in forced solitary confinement during spring break.

Then there’s those fabulous skinny jeans that are just a wee bit snug (originally retailed in the triple digits but you scored them for 50 bucks), every time you look at them they scream at you LOSE weight!! Who needs psychological abuse from a pair of jeans? Send them packing because here’s the thing, you understand that looking put together means wearing clothes that fit well.

Wooden drawer with one knob

Bottom line, you’re going to give, sell or toss the remainder of the closet. Yes, there can be an emotional attachment to the things you own, so to assist you in getting through this process it’s important to be objective, honest and do not linger over your decisions.

Do the setting aside of the go-tos, toss, donate and/or sell routine with your dresser, chest of drawers, armoire (wherever you store clothing). Depending on the amount of garments you own and how dedicated you are to change, this could take a few hours, days or (and I shudder to think about it), weeks.

Immediately toss the dated, damaged or otherwise unwanted clothing. You now have two categories left: sell and donate.

A word on selling: When you opt to sell your clothing there are several options available:

  1. You can do it online on your own through sites like ebayTradesy or Swap
  2. A brick and mortar consignment retailer like Plato’s Closet2nd Time Around (online too) or Consignment Pal Resale Directory
  3. An online consignment retailer who takes care of everything ThredUpMy Girlfriend’s Wardrobe Consignment StoreDelvage

If you are going to be selling any of your clothing to a consignment retailer, you’ll want to check their policies on acceptable items (some will only accept designer labels). Recently I chose to sell some clothing to ThredUp and because of the quantity of items, I took pictures (for my records) of each piece prior to shipment.

Okay, so let’s review: You’ve tossed the tossables, bagged the sellables and by now are packing up the donatables.

Bunch of full garbage bags

Remember how I said we would look at your go-tos in a bit? Okay, now’s the time to appraise your favorite clothes. Do they still fit well? Could they use some altering? Are they worn or damaged due to wear and tear? Ultimately you want to see what needs to be replaced and act accordingly.

If you keep only those things that you love you will be getting more value out of your investment. Plus, the added bonus of feeling fabulous is priceless!

Continue reading

I pride myself on being able to do things just as well, if not better, than fully sighted moms.  I blog about how much confidence I’ve gained with my new guide dog and other blindness-related training.  And I speak at schools about how I don’t let my failing vision get in my way, especially when it comes to being a mom.  .

So, of course, when my 5 and 9-year-old daughters asked to go to the city for the day and my husband couldn’t accompany us, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

With my new Uber and Lyft apps, I figured transportation would be even easier than cabs, especially since I’d had such good luck with both of these ride services in the burbs.

I’d gone to the city twice with my guide dog, Roja, by myself, so I figured adding a couple kids in tow wouldn’t make a huge difference.  And for the most part, it didn’t.

But the thing about kids is that they have a lot of requests.  They get hungry.  They want to go skating.  They have to use the  bathroom.  They like to buy things.  They enjoy exploring.  They like to play at city parks in January and don’t realize that they’re nearly frostbitten until they’re nearly frostbitten.  You get the idea.

5 year old, Elli, climbing on rope bridge at Millennium Park

Photo description: 5 year old, Elli, climbing on rope bridge at Millennium Park

The train ride to the city was a breeze, but as soon as we set foot into the bustling Windy City, Calm, Together Mommy was replaced by Anxious, Frazzled Mommy.

And so begin my confessions:

#1 – I confess that, while fumbling for the soap dispenser in the public restroom, I poked an oddly placed outlet instead, nearly electrocuting myself (note to self: do not wet hand until after locating soap).

#2 – I confess that, after Lyft’s GPS pinned our location incorrectly, I couldn’t explain to the driver on the phone where to find us, because I had no idea where we were (fortunately, a frantic mom with a guide dog calling out, “Excuse me! What cross street am I on?” elicits a nice response from passerby).

#3 – I confess that I did a little dance with a blind guy on the street corner, me not seeing his cane and he not noticing my guide dog. It was only later that night that my 9-year-old informed me I’d tangoed with a blind man.

#4-  I confess that I got stuck in a revolving door with my guide dog (I must’ve missed that lesson during guide dog training?).

#5 – I confess that I knocked over a display at the American Girl Store (it probably needed some spiffing up anyhow, right?)

FullSizeRender 7

Photo description: My daughters at the American Girl store with new “doll of the year” (thank you Grandma Judy for the gift card!)

#6 – I confess that I couldn’t get Roja to get out of an Uber car and that the frustrated driver had to push her out.

#7 – I confess that I paraded my daughters to the wrong end of the train station on the way home and that we almost boarded an Amtrak to Kalamazoo.

#8 – I confess that I bought an entire bag of donut holes at the train station and binge ate them on the ride home.

#9 – I confess that I didn’t notice Roja’s tail was sticking out in the train aisle until it got stepped on (when a woman is focused on her donuts, attention to detail wanes).

#10 – I confess that, despite all of the above, I’d do it all over again.  I’d rather be a clunky mom out in the world than a smooth one holed up at home.

Photo description: All three of us in Millennium Park, with Roja peeking around the side.

Photo description: All three of us in Millennium Park, with Roja peeking around the side.

Many of us spend the final weeks of the year in a whirlwind of plans, often leading to stress.  And after shouting “Happy New Year!”, we let out a long sigh, in an attempt to release the stress from the previous year.  We take a deep breath, and hope to breathe in a new sense of purpose, balance, and joy.  

Some of us make new year’s resolutions, and join a gym, or throw out all the crappy food from the pantry.  While others write down goals, hopes, and dreams for the coming year.

Most years, this is my pattern, too.  I try to “get through” the holidays, and then regroup in January.  But this December, I did things a little out of order.  I still bought Christmas presents for my loved ones, attended holiday gatherings, and watched endless Christmas movies while wrapping gifts.  But just when my busy month was getting started, and I began feeling anxiety between sips of eggnog, I made a conscious decision to carve out daily me time.   Continue reading