2014 in Review

To add to the trend that I’ve seen circulating around Facebook and in conversation with others, wow, I can hardly believe today is the final day of 2014! It seems like only yesterday, I was preparing to usher in this year, and here I turn around and the year is at its close. On this eve of the New Year, and since this blog was my somewhat belated resolution for 2014 (see my first post), I thought it only fitting to post a recap of sorts to my little space on the web.

2014 was a year of immense change in my life, most for the better, some for the worse. The year felt like a car accelerating, or a vortex forming, with many events taking place towards the second part of the year. As noted above, I began this year with a resolve to let others glimpse a day in the life of me – partly to inform and inspire, and partly to try to transform my embarrassment of my condition to some sort of acceptance that I am a blind person. In early 2014, I finally gained the courage to apply for a guide dog, and tried for the better part of the year to wrap my mind around the transformation that was to take place when I would be introduced to my “other half.” Over the course of the year, I feel I’ve lost an incredible amount of vision – or perhaps, I had so little to begin with that every change was insurmountable. Either way, I feel close to what must be classified as completely blind. I can no longer focus on any pictures, most of the world is a mix of origami shades of black, tan and gray, mixed with double vision, and I can’t remember the last time I saw my husband’s face.

As 2014 rolled on, I moved into a new apartment, which was a small change, yes, but was the beginning of an onslaught of newness. A few weeks later, I headed off to guide dog school and met Jingles, my new set of “eyes.” While I was gone, my family grew as my stepdaughter moved in with my husband and I to put her mark on the Big Apple. Upon my return, I set about adjusting to a new dog, a new apartment, and a new family life. Since then, I’ve been doing just that.

Now that the concrete has been reviewed, I’d like to reflect on a few abstracts. For one, I feel like I’ve grown much stronger over the course of the year, not physically (though there’s been a little of that too since training with Jingles), but inwardly. I’ve faced many situations that have scared me half to death, and have not only conquered them, but also found that they all have turned out better than I feared. My family is growing tighter as time passes; I’ve tackled situations in dealing with the public from work to embarrassing moments of blindness, and survived every one. I’m much more confident on my own – and I have Jingles to thank for that. I used to only leave the house alone out of necessity, now I do more for fun. I can now take my much enjoyed long walks solo, though not lately because it’s cold and cold and Bekah do not mix, and being blind in public isn’t so bad when I have my furry companion to look cute and get me around tricky situations. I can speed walk again, and amuse myself leaving folks in the dust on my way home from work. And, I am slowly, slowly becoming more adventurous…slowly.

As far as the whole blind thing goes…I do feel like I’m beginning to gradually come to terms with the fact that until there is some kind of cure, I am without sight. I am no longer embarrassed when someone may hear my voice over on my iPhone or catch a bit of my screen reader on my computer (though I still, and forever will, use an ear bud at work). I am more willing to ask for help when looking for something, and I no longer strain to see something I know I can’t. On the flipside though, the more blind I get, the more isolated from my beloved former life I feel. This isn’t to make people pity me, or start some kind of dialogue about how blind people can do whatever sighted people can do; it is simply a fact of my life. I have always been a very visual person, gaining my greatest enjoyment from small observations of the world around me. From photography, to videography, to graphic design and exchanging glances with my loved ones to watching the snow fall, those I care about grow and change, and spending hours alone browsing through shops just because, my greatest pleasures have been through my eyes. So, now that I have to experience the world differently, I feel a bit numb…jaded almost. Things make me happy, but I rarely feel the pure immense pleasure of what only visual images can bring. Those who care about me will describe things, and thank goodness for audio books and the ever growing accessibility of audio description, but it’s just not the same, and never will be for this girl.

BUT……….not to end this on a downer note. I AM BLESSED. So what, I have hardships. Who doesn’t? I have a wonderful husband, family, and extended family who I love dearly, the spunkiest and arguably cutest guide dog in history, a great job and colleagues who see beyond my blindness to my underlying potential, and a great apartment in the greatest city on earth! Really, what more could I ask for?

So, bring on 2015! I cannot wait to see what this New Year brings. I hope its new adventures, renewed independence and confidence, opportunities for growth, and the strengthening of my current relationships paired with the building of fabulous new ones!

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7 thoughts on “2014 in Review

  1. Happy New Year Rebekah,

    If you remember I have been bedridden for almost 5 yrs now, I am in Aqua therapy now, and possible another back operation. You have a way of showing people, to be thankful for what we have. I can see , but can’t walk,we don’t get to choose, what will happen to us. I am so proud to be related to someone like you, I feel like some days all I do is complain about my situation..and cry a lot because of the pain in my back. I e-mail with your grandma a lot, she is always praying for me. You don’t seem to let your situation get you down. I am going to try to be more like you this year. I guess it is called acceptance. Best wishes for a great year to your whole family. Love cousin Marion

  2. You amaze me; your writing, your honesty, your perseverance. I am believing for great things in 2015… I love you 🙂

  3. Heya.
    I randomly came across your post.
    Im glad 2014 turned out well for you.
    Jingles is such a cute name.
    Im still deciding if i want to put my name down (i had it dowb abd took it off)
    I love reading blogs about gettig on with life dispite lifes challenges.

    Lookinf forward to following

    1. Hi! Awesome, I am so glad you stumbled on my blog! I have found that having a guide dog, while challenging at times, is totally worth it!!!
      Looking forward to sharing my experiences with you!

  4. You definitely had a lot of huge changes in your life in 2014, but with all this new knowledge and a new perspective on life, I think 2015 will blow the previous year out of the water!

    You are an amazing person with such a beautiful heart and mind. I wish you nothing but the best in any new endeavors! 🙂 You’ll rock this year like no body’s business!

    Love and miss you!

  5. What a geat name Jingles is! I hope one day I may get some furry eyes of my own. The poignant mix of gratitude and grief came across so well in your post. I really relate. It is impossible to be resilient all the time, and your blog describes the tension in that balance so well.

    I have just started my blog about what people with RP really see – if you do read it please do let me know if your screen reader and voice over can pick up the descriptions on the pictures (if you use the alt text labels that is).

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