75 Days

75 Days 
I knew three things for certain the day I met Carley Anderson. I knew that she was blind. I knew that she was sick. And I knew that I wanted to know more. 
It was a beautiful California day. The sun was shining on the beach. The sand was covered with blankets and families and people enjoying their day. I was laying on the beach, on the edge of the water. I was collapsed next to my surfboard, exhausted. I had spent the first 4 hours of my day surfing. I had caught every wave I’d tried for. I’d had a perfect day. 
I saw her walking through the sand even before she tripped over my foot. She walked confidently even though she was walking with a cane. She walked like she knew exactly where she was going. She walked with her head held high even though she was completely and utterly bald. She wore a black 2 piece swimsuit. It wasn’t slutty like most of the girls who spilled their almost naked bodies over the sand. Her swimsuit only showed an inch of her sunken belly. I thought “Cancer” as soon as I saw her bare head and her thin body. 
I saw her coming toward me but I didn’t think to warn her before she stumbled over my foot. She landed on top of me, her legs tangled with mine and her small body pressing mine into the sand. 
“Shit, shit, shit. I’m so, so sorry,” She said as she scrambled to pull herself off of me. “I’m blind,” She added unnecessarily. 
I laughed. I wasn’t laughing at her exactly, more that I was laughing at the situation. A blind girl just tripped and fell on top of me, at the beach. It sounded like the start of a bad joke or something like that. 
“I’m sorry,” She said again. Her face was bright red. I realized how embarrassed she was and what a jerk I was for laughing. 
“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry. I should have told you I was here. I saw you coming I just didn’t think to say anything,” I said. 
“I follow the sound of the waves to the water,” She said. “Most families make noise so I don’t really crash into them. You were just so quiet. I had no idea you were there.” 
I loved this. I loved how she found the water. I loved how brave she was to walk all alone into the ocean with no way to see what was coming. She had crawled off of me and lay in the sand next to me. I found her hand and held onto it. “I’m Justin,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you.” 
“I’m Carley,” She said. “I’m sorry I tripped.”

“I’m sorry my feet are so big and I’m so quiet,” I said. 
She laughed. The sound of that was breath taking. Her laugh sucked the air from my entire body. “Carley, can I go swimming with you?” I asked her. 
She looked over at me. “You want to swim with me?” She asked. She sounded shocked. “I would love to.” She sat up pulling me with her because I hadn’t let her hand go. “Okay, swim with me,” She said. 
I stood up and just because she was so small and delicate looking, and because I’d never done anything like it I swept her up in my arms and carried her into the waves. She was laughing breathlessly from the cold and the shock of being picked up and carried away by a complete stranger. I set her on her feet far enough out that the waves would have come up over her head every time they came in if I hadn’t picked her up each time. We settled in to a rhythm. 
I’d set her on her feet when the waves were calm then scoop her up into my arms when they broke around us. She laughed hard and free every time I touched her. After 20 minutes of this she lay on her back and floated in the waves. I stood there mesmerized by how at peace she looked in the water. I didn’t say a word I just watched her breath in and out. 
Finally she swam to me and took my hand. “Justin, will you take me back to shore? Help me find my cane?” She asked. 
“Of course.” I carried her again. I wrapped her in my oversized beach towel and lay her in the sand. 
“Can I take you somewhere?” I asked. 
She shook her head. “I need to rest,” She said. 
“It’s not a good idea to rest here. You’ll get sunburned. Can I take you to your house? Or to whoever brought you here?” 
She shook her head again. “No one brought me, I walked. I can’t walk anymore for a while though. My body can’t. I just need to rest.” Her voice was slowing like she was drugged, or completely exhausted. 
“Baby you don’t have to walk anywhere. I’ll carry you. You’re not heavy I promise. Just tell me where.” 
Her hand lifted like she wanted to point then dropped back to the sand. 
“I’m the smallest beach house. The white one with the huge glass front windows.” Her lips moved slower and slower with each word but I knew where she meant. I passed that little house every time I came to surf. I didn’t say another word. I just picked her up and carried her to my truck. She was asleep by the time I buckled her into my front seat. 
I went back for my board and her cane. I drove to her little beach house and found the door unlocked. I carried her out of my truck and lay her in her huge white bed. I should have left then. I should have walked out and hoped I’d see her again someday. But I couldn’t. I had to stay. I lay down next to her in my swim shorts. I draped one arm over her and I fell asleep. 
When I woke up a much different girl sat next to me. She smacked my arm, that’s what had woken me in the first place. 
“What the hell are you doing in my bed?” She yelled at me. 
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I, You, you fell asleep on the beach. You told me where you lived and I brought you home. And then I just didn’t want to leave you here alone.” Her pissed off expression fell off of her face as soon as I started rambling out my apology. 
“You’re real?” She asked. 
“Of course I am. What do you mean?” 
She blushed. “I have cancer. Sometimes the medication I take and the tumor itself make me imagine things. But never so real as you. And never for so long.” As she spoke her hand reached out. I took it without thinking. 
“So, you have cancer?” 
She nodded. “I’m going to die,” She said. She said it simply. She didn’t sound afraid at all. It was just a statement. The ocean is beautiful. I can swim. I’m going to die. It was just a clear fact. I sat there not knowing what to say. Then as the silence got more and more uncomfortable she started laughing. 
“You don’t know what to say, right?”

“No. I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s okay. I’m okay with it. I’m going to die. I know that.” “Why are you at the beach then? If you’re going to die?” 
She smiled. “My family raised all this money for treatment. I was never going to get better. I did some treatment and it was so awful. I’ve never been so sick. So I took the money and I rented this house for 6 months. I won’t live to the end of the lease. I know that. But I’ll get an entire summer in a beach house. I can walk to the ocean by myself every day. When I get worse my sister will come stay with me until I die. But for now I wanted to do it alone. I’ve never lived alone before and since life is ending soon I wanted that chance.” 
She spoke of her life ending so easily. I didn’t even know this girl and I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry for weeks because a girl who thought like she did shouldn’t die. She shouldn’t be sick. She should be swimming and laughing in the ocean. I didn’t say anything. I wrapped my arms around her and I pulled her into my lap. I knew it wasn’t right for a complete stranger to do that but I had to. I had to hold her because she was beautiful. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. 
She didn’t pull away. She lean back into me. I did something in that moment that could have qualified as insane. I lay back pulling her on top of me and I asked her a question. 
“Can I stay with you?” 
She laughed. “What?” 
“I’ve never been in love before. But I think I fell a little bit in love with you today on the beach. I saw you walking out into the water with no fear at all. You were the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. The way you laughed with me in the waves. The way you fell asleep on the beach. The way you just told me you’re going to die. It’s all incredible. I want to be here. I want to watch you live until the living is over.” 
I expected her to yell at me. I expected her to tell me I was insane and to get the hell out of her pretty little beach house. But she didn’t say any of that. She pulled herself closer to me and relaxed more into my body. 
“You can stay,” She said. “You can be my partner in this little bit of happiness I get here and now.” 
That was how my 75 days with Carley started. I changed my life very quickly. I quit my job at the ocean side cafe (where I served drinks to healthy girls 5 nights a week) that very first day. I called my roommate and I lied to him. I told him I had a family emergency, my mother was sick. I had to skip out on our apartment. He was pissed but it didn’t matter. Everything that wasn’t Carley had stopped mattering that day. 
In a matter of about 20 minutes, 2 conversations, I had cut ties with everyone in California who expected anything from me. It was only about her. Carley. It would only be about her until it couldn’t be anymore. She sat in the middle of her bed watching me make phone calls with a very small smile on her face. When I was done with the phone calls I pulled her back into my lap and asked her to talk. 
“Tell me your story? I’m meeting you at the end of it. I want to know what came first.” 
She told it all to me. She had been blind her entire life. She had gotten cancer when she was a year old. She had been healthy her whole life, until she wasn’t anymore. “I was in school,” She said. “I wanted to be a writer. I worked so hard. I cared so much about my grades. I cared so much about what people thought of me. Then I got sick. The brain tumor came quickly. I changed my life. Stopped my life. My family wanted me to fight it. TO do treatments and get 
better. But there was no getting better. I knew that. I tried. I did treatments for 6 months but the tumor wasn’t getting smaller. The cancer wasn’t being hurt by the poison. My body was. So I prayed. I asked God if he wanted me to keep living through that. The night I prayed that prayer I had a dream of the ocean. I don’t know if it was God telling me that was my heaven or not. But I knew it was God telling me I didn’t have to live in that hell anymore. So I quit. I told my doctor I wanted to stop treatment then I told my family. They were all so angry. They probably still are. But I think when your life is ending you get to be selfish. I wanted this. I wanted the ocean.” 
She stopped talking then for a moment. She pressed her lips against my chest in a very soft kiss. “I didn’t know it yet, but I wanted you. I wanted to live a life that was just mine for a while. I’m 23 and all my life I had been working so that I could have my own life someday. I’m not getting any more somedays. So I took my own.” 
I loved the simplicity of this answer. I also understood why her family was so angry. If this girl had been mine, if I’d been her boyfriend before she got sick I would have been livid if she chose to leave me. If I’d met a mermaid girl in the waves who hadn’t been sick, then watched her get sick, I would have wanted her to fight it too. 
After knowing her for a few hours I already knew she’d changed my life forever. After she told me her story I understood some things. I knew there was beauty in the world that I had never seen and I knew I’d treasure every moment I got with her. I promised myself that first day I would make this her love story. I’d give her that someday for as long as she was with me. It’s a very strange feeling when the happiest time of your life is the ending of someone else’s life. 
It was an ache that lived in my heart every single moment that I was with her. The ache was lost in the mornings we swam in the ocean. It was lost in her beautiful laugh. As the days I got with her added up, 2 weeks, one month, 2 months, the ache became more real. We fell into a pattern very easily. We would wake with the sunrise. I’d make sure she ate with her pain medication. Then we would spend every moment that she was awake in the ocean. 
She played like a child. Completely carefree and happy. I would carry her back to the house when she couldn’t move anymore. The time she got to be awake, happy and truly with me, grew smaller every day. She slept more and took more pills as the days added up. In the last 2 weeks she couldn’t get out of her bed anymore. 
We would lay and whisper about God and heaven. She told me she hoped there was an ocean there for her. I had not truly believed in anything before I met her. I had vague ideas of some higher power. But watching the complete faith she had in her God, in the heaven she was going to, changed my view of the world I had known. I wanted a faith like that. 
Even when she was in pain she wasn’t angry with her God. She would wrap herself around me while she shook and she would whisper thank you to God for me, for the ocean, for the day. I had never seen that kind of strength. I would watch her pray and she looked at peace. The same way she did that first day in the waves. 
I asked her if I should call her family when I knew her time was running out but she said no. She told me she had letters for all of them that I should give them after. The day Carley died, the 75th day I was with her she woke up strong. She sat up in bed and she shook my shoulder. She asked me to go to the water with her. It had been a week and a half since she’d been strong enough to get out of bed. 
I didn’t ask her if she was sure, I just picked her up and carried her out into the waves. She swam on her own and she laughed. That night when we were in bed she kissed me. All of the days I was with her she hadn’t kissed me once aside from the small kiss on my chest that first day. This kiss was different. She pressed her lips to mine for just one moment. Her mouth fit mine perfectly. I wondered in that second why I hadn’t kissed her before right then. She pulled away too soon and she started to talk. 
“Justin, I’m going to die.”

“I know that,” I said. It had gotten easier to talk about it with her. “No,” She said. “I’m going to die soon. Probably tonight or tomorrow.” 
I didn’t argue. I could feel something changing in her as she spoke. “I know,” I said. 
She smiled a very sweet smile. “Will you stay with me?’ I wrapped my arms around her as tightly as I could without hurting her. 
“Of course I will. I’ll stay until the end.” 

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What doesn’t work, and what does.

What doesn’t work, and what does.

I’ve always been a different kind of person. I feel things deeply and I have a very hard time letting go of anything. When I was 11 and my family moved from California to a small town in Arizona what I was feeling was incredibly alone. For more than 10 years I tried to find a way to break that feeling. I tried to make myself feel anything else because the loneliness was eating me alive and I didn’t want to be entirely consumed. What I found was a lot of things that didn’t work. I found a lifestyle and an attitude that kept me from disappearing altogether, but in no way filled the empty, lonely places in my soul.CUTTING DIDN’T WORK!

For a very long time I believed slicing myself apart was the only way I could control the feelings that would rip through my head. I thought that lies and blood and secrets and pain were the best I was going to get. I wrapped myself in the identity of a depressed emotional girl and I held on to that tightly. I held my knives and my pain and my scars very close because I believed they defined me. I didn’t really want to be broken, but that was far better than being nothing at all.

STARVING DIDN’T WORK.

When I was 16 I put all the will I had into quieting the part of myself that told me I was UGLY, FAT, NASTY, WORTHLESS. I went on the diet. I pulled all my mastery at lying and hiding to the surface and I stopped eating. I lost 40 pounds within the span of 2 months and I sucked up the approval of everyone I knew. I thanked my parents and siblings and boyfriend when they told me I looked sick. I never told anyone when I passed out on the living room floor. I didn’t care when handfuls of my hair started coming out. None of it mattered. The feeling of being empty because I was starving was far better than the nameless ache for SOMETHING that I’d always had before.

LOVE DIDN’T WORK.

Falling in love with the wrong boys didn’t work. The label of being someone’s girlfriend didn’t give me the belonging I believed I needed. I still felt every bit as lost as I had before, but with the added fear that the boy would leave me. Because of course, I wasn’t good enough for them anyways. Falling in love with the RIGHT man didn’t work. Even when I found the man of my dreams, who has loved me the right way from the moment we met, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. Why would this beautiful, smart, funny, charming man want a wreck of a girl like me?

CONTROL DIDN’T WORK.

Trying to control EVERY aspect of my life and my families life didn’t make me feel any more at peace than I had at any other point in my life. Budgeting our money, obsessively scheduling our time, and constantly worrying about absolutely everything DID NOT WORK. Those things did however drive my family crazy. I became someone I didn’t like being around. The expectations I put on myself and everyone else were nothing short of impossible to reach. So what have I learned from all of these failed attempts to make myself happy?

IT WON’T WORK.

I will never be able to make myself feel better. I will never be able to cut or starve or control the emptiness away. I can’t make my life or the lives of those I love perfect. I’ve learned that I DON’T HAVE TO. Through a faith that is growing every single day, I’ve learned that no matter what I do to mess it up, God does in fact have a plan for my life. In spite of my flaws and all of my brokenness I am loved beyond understanding. I have learned, and am still learning, that if I let go and trust I will be better than okay. Everything will work out exactly the way God means for it to work out. I’ve learned that even the things I’ve seen as bad in my life were being used for good. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved. In all of this, I am finally coming to know PEACE.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11.niv

Perfect In my Eyes

If you are like most people you probably don’t think about your eyes often. I don’t mean all of the things your eyes do for you, I mean the existence of your eyes in general. Your eyes being in your face is a given for you. I am not someone who has had this luxury in my life.
When I was 1 year old I developed bilateral retinoblastoma. This is a cancer of the eye which develops in young children. When presented with all the treatment options my parents chose to have my eyes removed. This was a decision that I will always be grateful to them for making. I have been blessed to have been healthy ever since. My eyes though. How does one deal with a toddler who suddenly has a lack of eyes in her face?
My parents did what most parents would do. They had prosthetic eyes made for me. As I grew older I learned to take my eyes out and put them back in again. I also learned that my ability to remove and replace my eyes made me interesting! I drove my parents crazy by taking my eyes out and leaving them places they didn’t belong. I educated my Friends about the mysteries of the prosthetic  eye. But somewhere along the way I developed a deep insecurity about my lack of eyes.
I have learned in my life that this world is a very visual place. If you look different, people are going to judge you differently. So I can respect the fact that my parents wanted to shelter me from a certain amount of that judgment. They taught me to never leave the house without my prosthetic eyes in. If I was sick, or suffering from a headache, or couldn’t find my prosthetic eyes, they made me wear dark sunglasses. They told me to never let anyone see me without my eyes in. They told me that I didn’t look good without my eyes in. They taught me to be ashamed of something I couldn’t change. I don’t believe this was the intention. I believe the intent was one, to stop me from losing my very expensive prosthetic eyes. Two, to save me from the judgments of an uneducated world.
In the last few years though, I’ve learned something else. It is a lot more healthy to be confident in who you are with or without eyes then it is to search for The acceptance of the whole world. I will never be exactly like everyone else. When I go out in public people stare at me! They stare at me if I had my eyes in or if I don’t! They stare at me because I use a cane. Because I’m blind! They stare at me because I have an interesting hairstyle. because I have tattoos and piercings. Whatever! I have learned that they are going to stare! There is no getting around that! But I’ve also learned that I have a safe place within my family. That when my husband or my step kids look at me they don’t see a girl with no eyes. They just see me! They except me with or without the prosthetics. And they never ask me to change. If I’m not in the mood to wear my eyes it doesn’t matter. I can just be myself and not worry that the people closest to me, who should always except me for exactly who I am, are judging me. It’s a very safe feeling.
When I read on social media about parents of children who are struggling with the same kind of cancer complaining about their child not wanting to wear their eyes, it makes me remember the little girl I was, and the young woman I became. I understand and respect the desire they have to keep their children safe from the judgment of others. I implore them to also teach those children that they are beautiful no matter what they decide to do with their eyes. Teach them that people will stare, people will ask questions, sometimes people will be mean! But that’s life. it’s far better for them to know they have a safe place in their parents arms than anything else. They need to know that they are perfect in their parents eyes, even though they no longer have perfect eyes of their own.

Blue.

When I found her she was just a tiny thing. Not like a little baby, like something from a fairytale. She was alone. I wasn’t a child, not someone who floated away on delusional thoughts. I was 21 and finishing up my degree in english literature. I was a little obsessed with my weight then. I’d go running every morning in the park across from my apartment. That day was cold, freezing really, but i didn’t care. I ran every day, no matter what. I was in the middle of my third lap when my hair came falling around my face. I stopped to look for the hairband i lost. I saw the flash of color among the grass next to my feet. I bent to see what the flash of blue could possibly be. It was a basket. Not big, probably just a bit bigger than my hand. It was surprisingly heavy when I picked it up. I went straight home, not bothering to finish my run. I somehow knew I shouldn’t open the box outside. I opened the box on my kitchen table. Inside was a baby. There was no other word for what she was, she was undeniably a baby. She was wrapped in a pink blanket and a note was on the inside lid of the box. It wasn’t written in english or any other language I could read. She was sleeping. I felt the breaths move in and out as she dreamed. Her hair was blue. It was obviously not fake blue either, where ever this tiny baby was from, blue was a natural color for hair. That morning, Blue also became her name. I knew from the moment I saw what was in the box, that I was keeping her. I had no idea what I’d do with her when I was at school and work, I knew I couldn’t tell anyone about her. I didn’t even know what she was. When she started to cry, it was a shockingly human sound. I pulled her from the box and held her in 1 hand. She looked at me with her tiny blue eyes and smiled. She was beautiful. The first 2 years were a long list of secrets. My little sister was the only other living person who knew of Blue’s existence. She took care of her while I worked nights so my parents wouldn’t see my tiny baby and lose there minds. I knew Carley would keep everything to herself and take care of my baby girl. I told her the story of how I found my Blue and she never asked another question. The year she turned 2, Blue was 7 pounds and long enough to pass for a human new born. Her long blue hair was not the least bit human. When I decided I was going to pull her into the human world, I cut it all off. Carley was pissed when she saw the color of brown I dyed it. She screamed at me that I couldn’t put this baby in a normal daycare, I couldn’t even tell anyone there was a baby. I didn’t even know what she was, how could I take her to a doctor to get shots for school? I told her I couldn’t let her grow up all alone. I had a back up plan though. I told Carley if it didn’t work, we’d take the baby and go. Car would be 18 in 2 months so we could just go. She agreed to the plan only after I put this version of it to her. The 2 years I worked nights at a hotel I had also been getting my license in foster care. The morning I pretended to find my 2 year old daughter on the front porch of my house I was horrified. I only put her down once the doctors had to get her weight. I think now it was part of her magic that everything fell into place. There were only a few questions. Where did i find her? How long had she been there? They determined that she was 1 week old. Somehow they didn’t notice the fact that she had teeth. I don’t even know if the hair color would have really been necessary. No one asked anything. They let me take her home. From then on she grew more normally. She had been talking and walking for about a year by the time I took her in to the real world, so there was a little more pretending. By the time she was 5, she was testing at the level of a second grader in preschool, because she had lost the first 2 years. She was my sugar fairy. That’s what I called her. She drew pictures in the sand at the beach. She ran up to me every day after school and hugged me and told me how much she missed me. I held her close and sang her to sleep every night. She remembered everything from the first moment I opened the box, but not 1 thing from before. I wondered sometimes if some night when we were sleeping if some supernatural thing I couldn’t even imagine would be in my house taking my baby girl Blue. Other nights I wondered what she would grow up to be. What world had she been taken from, what was she missing, what couldn’t I give her? The year she turned 12 in reality, 10 to everyone but Car and I, I gave her the letter from the box. She held it in her hands and read. I could tell she was reading it, she was understanding it. “Mommy? Can I go see the place?” “I can’t read that baby girl. What does it say?” “Oh my God, you never read it? You don’t know?” “Know what? What don’t I know?” She was smiling even as tears fell down her beautiful face. “Mommy, it says if you took care of me while I was tiny I’d be safe. It says when I turn 12 i’m old enough to go back.” “Okay, where are we going?” She took my hand and walked outside. We were still in that apartment so the walk was only about 5 minutes. She stopped in the grass and just stood there. She put her hands into the air and took a deep breath. The trees to her left rippled slightly before the woman stepped out. She was a copy of my daughter, just looking wild. Her long blue hair was twisted and curly not like my baby girls straight smooth hair. The woman put her hands on my shoulders and hugged me. “I can never tell you what you’ve done for my family,” She said. “What are you?” It was the only way I could phrase what I was asking. What I’d been wondering for the last 12 years of my life. “I can’t explain it to you. But by keeping her safe, you have saved us.” “What does she have to do with the saving of anyone? She’s just a little girl.” Blue hadn’t moved from the spot in the grass. She simply watched us, her mothers, talk to each other. “She is not just anything. She’s the princess. She’s the hero we need. My people, her people, have been under attack for the last 2 hundred of your human years. We age differently as you probably noticed with your baby girl there.” “Why did you send her to me?” “When we have children, they are tiny. The box you found her in is where she would have spent the first 2 years of her life if she had been in our world. There were others who wouldn’t have let her live them. They would have found the box and taken her before she could save herself.” I didn’t care about anything but what this meant for her now. She had finally found her voice, and she was wondering what I was wondering. “What do I have to do?” She asked still standing in the grass. “Just stand there Blue.” The woman said. That same ripple happened, and my daughter disappeared. “What did you do to her? Where the hell is she? I need her. You can’t just take her.” I lay down in the grass and started crying, hard. “I’m so sorry I can’t give her back to you. You did well for her.” She took the place my daughter had been standing in before and rippled out of my life. I called Carley to come pick me up. I cried the story to her while she made 1 up for the cops. I spent the next 5 years pretending to look for her, while on the inside and to Car I broke for her. I couldn’t leave that apartment because I had to remember her. Had to go lay in that spot in the grass every day and pray to God I’d get to see her again. The day she turned 17 I got my wish. In the grass where I’d last seen my daughter standing there was a box.

Shouldn’t Be News Worthy

Today I saw a post on twitter about a young woman who is blind being offered a braille menu for the first time in her life. The twitter post and subsequent BuzzFeed article made it seem like this absolutely normal moment was life changing for the young woman. At first it made me smile, that blindness was being discussed on social media. After a while though, it began to bother me quite a bit. I’m 24 years old and I have been blind for 23 of those years. I learned at a young age to ask for menus in braille. They aren’t always available, but in most chain restaurants they are. Because most of the general public isn’t used to interacting with those of us who don’t use our eyes to see, you have to ask for the braille version, but it’s always fun to be able to decide what you want for yourself. I myself, am a creature of habit. Once i find a food I like at any given restaurant I’ll usually just order that food because that’s what I want. The last time I was given a braille menu I used it for the purpose of showing my stepson what braille looked like in a book. I never saw something like a braille menu as anything more than I deserved. Maybe my opinion here is a product of the self confidence I’ve been actively fostering in myself over the past 2 years. But I believe the fact that what should have been seen as an ordinary moment in a young woman’s day became a news story says something very negative about how blind people are treated by the majority of the sighted public. If we as a Society are surprised and emotionally moved when blind people are simply treated like everyone else, what message does that send? From where I sit it screams that people who happen to not have eyes that work should feel very lucky when they are treated with common decency. They aren’t usually seen as full, capable, functioning members of the world, so when they are they should be extremely grateful. The sad part of this to me is that it becomes a vicious circle. Blind people are taught that they shouldn’t expect to be treated like everyone else. So they grow up not demanding the respect they should be given automatically. On the other side of this equation, the rest of the world is learning that they can, for the most part ignore blind people. When they do treat the blind like they are actually people too, they expect a parade for their goodness! I see this whole situation as just sad and wrong. I live my life demanding respect. If someone is genuinely kind to me I am thankful for that. But if I’m offered the same treatment as my sighted friends, I just call that a normal day. It shouldn’t be news worthy that a young woman who is blind was able to order dinner with the same ease as her sighted sister. Blind people need to become strong enough to take what they, as human beings in this world, deserve. And in return sighted people shouldn’t feel like saints when they do the minimum to include blind people in everyday life.https://twitter.com/buzzfeed/status/846786971385171968

Adoption.

There was never a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. There was no big sit down conversation about where I came from. One of my older brothers is also adopted so in my immediate family, being adopted isn’t even that special. When my brother and I were younger we’d compare our stories. I’d say, “Well at least you know who your father is.” To which he’d reply, “Well at least you’ve met your little sister.” We’d usually end up laughing at the end of this while our non adopted siblings looked on in confusion. With my parents and I there was always a disconnect around this issue. While my dad didn’t mind talking about it, he took the stand in our lives of if he didn’t need to know information, he didn’t. He always told me that the details surrounding my birth family wern’t known to him. From the time that I was very young my mom would get upset if I asked any questions about my birth mother. So as I got older I learned not to ask. The things I do know, that she was a teenager, an addict, a general wreck of a girl with a 2 year old daughter already when I was born i picked up by listening to the conversations of the adults and my older siblings. As a teenager I had a lot of anger for a woman who would give her baby away and not look back. I couldn’t understand how any drug or issue could be more important than your daughter. I couldn’t understand how she could have just walked away. As an adult I understand that 19 isn’t all that grown up. And that addictions can be very strong indeed. I understand that she did what she felt was best for her, and me. And I couldn’t see my life any other way. I couldn’t imagine a life with out my siblings and parents. I couldn’t imagine being anyone but who I am today and I owe my birth mother a thank you for making the choice she made for me 24 years ago. Accepting all of this for what it is, there is still this feeling I get every year around my birthday. I read a book once that theorized that children who are given up at birth equate their birthdays with their first sence of loss. I don’t know if I believe that, but I do know that I get this intense heartache feeling in the days leading up to my birthday. And my birth mother and little sister are constantly on my mind. I decided last year that I don’t have an interest in finding my birth mother. I don’t want answers, I’m not angry, I don’t want a new mom. And as curious as I am about my little sister, I’m not curious enough to actively look for her. Most of the time there is peace in having made all of these decisions. But for about a week every March there is just a lot of pain. The part of my heart that is still very much a little girl is just sad. She wonders how life turned out for those people she never new. She wonders too sometimes, if their ever wondering about her.

Healthy Lifestyle.

I’ve spent most of the last year and a half learning an acceptance for my body I’d never known before. I’ve let go of damaging patterns of behavior and negative self talk, to replace them with a confidence in who I am and how I look. In the process I’ve gained 40 pounds and 4 jean sizes. I’ve also gained the strength to not let that become a bad thing. I realized that I’m more content with myself at 160lbs than I ever was at 120lbs. I have never dieted like a normal person. There was never a time in my life when I looked at eating as simply a necessary part of being a human. Food was good or bad. If I ate food that I loved, which of course was all bad, then I was weak. I spent 14 years denying myself the foods I wanted and beating myself up when I would eat them. When I would exercise it was never purely so that I could feel healthier. I always had my weight in mind. When I decided to let all of this go, I did it completely. If I wanted pizza I’d eat an entire pizza. If I wanted chips I’d eat the whole bag. I ate what I wanted when I wanted and I didn’t feel guilty for it. While I know eating a whole pizza is in no way healthy, I absolutely believe it is better than starving and hating myself for eating. In the past few weeks though I’ve been wondering if I’m ready to find the middle ground. I decided that I’m finally ready to define healthy eating and exercising for myself. Last month I left my nanny job to work with my boyfriend working  nights running a paper route. This means hours sitting in a car every night followed by a whole day of sleeping. As a result of this, my physical activity has decreased. I thought at first that my weight would shoot up. To my surprise this didn’t happen. I haven’t gained any weight at all. I have felt myself becoming more lethargic and lazy though. I’ve realized that I want to move my body more than I do. I want to exercise because I want to feel better. I want my body to feel stronger and more energized. This week I took the first step in my fitness journey. I ordered my very first workout CD from Blind Alive. This company makes accessible workout materials for blind people. I love this because it means I can truly be in control of this part of my healthy lifestyle. When I want to exercise I can just get up and do it. I don’t have to wait for someone to go to the gym with me. I don’t have to follow anyone else’s schedule. While preparing myself to start exercising in a healthy way I’ve also been more mindful of what I eat. I haven’t been restricting my diet, I’ve just been noticing what I’m eating and how much of it. I’ve been eating because i’m hungry instead of just because I’m bored. My definition of healthy may not look anything like anyone else’s. Maybe instead of a whole pizza I have 2 slices for dinner. I won’t feel like I failed if I have cinnamon toast crunch for breakfast. I don’t have to count calories or hit a certain number on the scale to feel like I’m doing well with my health. I’m very much looking forward to starting this new phase in my life. Thinking of food as fuel and exercise as a way to make my body strong is an entirely new idea to me, but it is one that I’m ready to imbrace fully.