Sunday, January 29, 2006

Overcoming Wanting To Rescue: Misplaced Responsibility.

As with most mornings, checking email was my first order of business. I moderate a small, low traffic computer group. We have attracted the attention of a spammer. This individual joined our public group and then sent out messages in broken English about wanting to impress a girl. The English is terrible and addressed to fifty-eight other organizations. I noted the originating email address, banned the two offending "people" from the group and notified the email client that they had a problem account. All correct so far.

This morning I received, addressed to me personally, a pathetic message from this now banned individual, pleading for my friendship. Actually, he was pleading for his own friendship, but I guess he means to be my friend. The healthy response: delete the message and go on with my life. Even though I've done that, I feel terrible about it.

One of the definitions of the word "rescue" is to prevent someone from becoming lost, or abandoned. The unhealthy part of me believes it is my job to "rescue" this suffering soul. I actually prayed over this situation. I want to document this struggle, as it is symptomatic of the battle to recover from poor parenting and bad role modeling.

Where do I get the very strong impulse to "help" this person? First off, he probably does need help: bad English, (I assume) isolation, based on his communications and I should teach this person, to help them have a better life! What is to account for this sense that I need to get involved here?

As I argue the pros and cons of engaging with this individual, I realize the following. My thinking is simple:

  1. This person needs help.
  2. I am capable of rendering comfort and information.
  3. Somebody should help.
  4. (I assume): nobody will.
Therefore: I have to help!

I immediately realize I'm tapping into an old pattern formed around age seven. My parents are passed out from a day of drinking. The house is a mess. I know they won't fix it. Since I'm able to clean up and make beds, I choose to do it. In some small way, a cleaner house makes me feel better. Eventually I get angry and refuse to continue cleaning up the messy house. I thus teach myself to live in a mess.

I was seriously neglected and learned that I was the only sane person around, so I'd better take care of myself. Trusting my parents had gotten me hurt, not fed and "forgotten". Because of my circumstances as a neglected seven-year-old, I learned healthy self-reliance, unhealthy contempt for the rest of the human race and the misplaced obligation to help everyone, everywhere! Since everyone else is incompetent, the rest of the population needs my help!

The last two "facts" are dead wrong. Most people (thankfully) have not survived major child abuse and for sure aren't incompetent to run their own lives. But even if most people were incompetent, it is not my responsibility to help them. I have learned these lessons by trying to be everybody's miracle. I couldn't manage my affairs, but was sure I could help you. Oh, the needless pain I created for others and myself!

One of the great traps you can fall into, to distract yourself from yourself, is to "help" others. The order is just the opposite of what most people assume leads to health. Get your own life in order before you attempt to "fix" someone else. The reason people avoid this order is because, while involved with someone else's problems, you get to ignore your own. The same holds true for having relationships. It is more fun to have sex, then to face yourself. But until you actually face yourself, I can guarantee you will flop at having anything close to a successful intimate relationship. Two half-people don't come together to form one "whole" couple. Religion knows this truth.

We are accountable to God individually, not attached to parents, mates, or friends. The job of religion is to take us from being spiritually ill, selfish, and one-dimensional beings to becoming healthier, multi-dimensional and less-selfish human beings. The process is usually not understood at all by those going through it. Many people think of religion as a kind of cosmic band aid, slot machine and or butler service. Religion is in the business of building character, not Disneyland.

Note the typical general process of the "new" Christian. They come to God after literally attempting every other possible solution to whatever is wrong in their life. The relief of taking an action which appears to "work" turns them into instant evangelists. I remember visiting this territory via several different faiths and movements. I figured that since I now had an understanding, I could teach everyone else! Among other problems at this stage is PRIDE! But, attempting to convert the world to anything will begin to dismantle (in my case), the tower of pride I'd used as the foundation of my being. Eventually the new believer begins to settle down and go about working on their own issues and problems. Getting me to stop talking long enough to actually learn anything, was God's first order of business! I may not know squat, but boy, could I talk about it!

Pain was always my inspiration to change. Thankfully, now, as I begin to reap the benefits of years of hard work, I attempt to embrace change before God has to put me in something like a spiritual vice. I am not saying don't reach out to others, but look at the structure of most organizations. Before you get to become group treasurer, or leader, you are usually asked to make coffee and set up chairs. My new church has me involved in several small projects. I am extremely grateful to be used in real work, but I have not been asked to preach a sermon, teach Sunday School, or do a solo for Praise and Worship! They want to see if I'll actually stick around over time. When I can be trusted with more complex duties, they will be offered to me, along with whatever preparation is required. I have finally learned to wait. I do not have to use my teaching gifts at church yet.

I also do not have to render assistance, just because someone requests assistance. I have to manage my energy and resources responsibly. The spammer claims to live outside the US and since I don't speak his language, even if I wanted to help, how effective would my inadequate language skills be? I have also learned that, when folks want assistance, they are quite capable of asking me for it. I can relax and concentrate on the goals and dreams of my own life without needless fretting over the state of my friends. I used to think that to worry about you meant that I cared for you. No, to care about you involves prayer and a commitment to help when it is realistic and requested. Again, when I busy my mind by worrying about you, I get to ignore things I can actually change in my own life! I believe getting over the urge to jump in everywhere and all the time, will take time to fade. I lift this troubling dilemma up to my God and He goes to work on guiding me to resources which remind me of the stewardship responsibility I have for my own life.

As I continue to grow in spiritual health and strength, God will expand the scope of my work with others. When I let God do the leading, things work out for both the benefit of others as well as for myself. I have put the troubled spammer into God's capable hands and now return to my own blooming and expanding life.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Expense By the Many, For The Benefit of the Few.

I care about how my readers feel about my blog and anything associated with it. I was given some interesting feedback concerning true screen reader accessibility. The only way I can keep comments on this blog truly accessible for screen readers is to remove all restrictions and use comment moderation, to block the avalanche of unwanted spam. At first I laughed, then mocked and finally balked.

Why should I have to go to all that extra trouble for a small fraction of my audience? What's the big deal, as a Macintosh user (by my choice), I'm blocked from some web content. No blind person "chooses" their condition. I then turned to God for guidance: what would Jesus do? He'd make the sacrifice, but I comforted myself with the whine: I'm not Him! I also spoke to several leaders within the blind community and was shocked at the depth of their passion. I now have respect for the self control political people have to use. I ranted to a trusted friend, only to discover I was tromping on what he considered to be his "life mission" (oops). He made it okay for us to disagree, which has made it easier for me to seriously reconsider my position. Compare this to what a close friend hit me with.

She was completely disgusted with me and sighed: "oh, man, you just don't get it". All that comment accomplished was to make me angry. I tend to flirt with self righteousness when angry. So, ha-za to the politically minded among us. I am finding a new reaction: respect.

I have taken some serious time to consider this access problem and my duty as a person, a blogger, an inventor / business person and as a member of society. I will remove all restrictions on comments, but will moderate them, to block spam. I realize this is part of my duty to my fellow blind. It was pointed out to me, somewhat harshly, that if I needed a screen reader, I'd learn how to use one. (That was a deserved observation). It is part of my duty as a member of this society. We routinely require (by law) businesses and communities to incur additional expense to benefit people with various disabilities. That expense is spread out over a large number of people to benefit a small, but involuntary minority. As a person I intend to work for the eventual betterment of accessibility. Where do I get off with such a lofty ideal when my "right now" behavior perpetuates the problem? For me the expense isn't financial, but in terms of time, So what? When I figure out that I'm wrong, I am willing to change and "wake up and smell the coffee".

So, now that I'm completely accessible, I hope my work is worthy of your time to read and comment upon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

To The Mall: Thank You God, This Isn't Worse.

There are days where the theory and practice of being disabled don't match up very well. I was adventuring to our local shopping mall, a place completely changed via new construction. My bus driver was human and 'forgot' my stop. I have found that having several major disabilities has helped me to find patience with people, I've never had before. I had a shopping cart with me, so I didn't appear to need any kind of assistance. I made my usual speech and chatted casually with the driver, as I was near the front of the bus. She seemed a bit confused as to the new mall layout. She overshot the "next" stop by a block and I got off the coach.

I had absolutely no clue as to my location. I knew I was in the huge shopping mall complex, but that was all. I was looking for Safeway. There were no people around, so I started walking towards a store, but couldn't figure out their crazy entrance system. I eventually ran into someone and discovered I could cut through the mall, between the stores, make several turns at posted signs and be at the 'front' instead of the 'back' of the mall. Well, now I knew I was opposite where I needed to be. I hoped I could spot the signs.

I began to meander down a long walkway. I felt my tension beginning to rise. If I stayed angry, I could work myself up to tears. I then remembered what they say at church: "No matter what is going on, it could always be worse." I shrugged my shoulders and began to try and talk to God, asking Him for help and thinking of all the things that were still RIGHT. I had some information, it was sunny, my ankle wasn't hurting, I have some usable vision and I found myself quietly laughing! Somehow, this exercise, though absurd, and off-the-wall, helped me to calm down. I wasn't hospitalized, in psych, or anywhere else and eventually I'd find Safeway. Once I focused my thought life on looking for what was going well, instead of, my immediate challenges, I found myself relaxing. Then, the first sign! Make a left at Trader Joes. Then it was a straight shot, right into Safeway. The largest Safeway I've ever seen.

I had a gift certificate from church and $10 in cash. $35 to spend in this huge, uncluttered store. Wide isles, shelving that didn't extend seven feet above my head and freezer cases I could actually see into! (I Located the ice cream first, but didn't buy on this trip.) I got a whole lot of great groceries for the money. Even my favorite brand of powdered milk, which is terrific in my coffee. Leaves room in my small refrigerator for Miracle Whip, as most people know, one of the five food groups.

Oh man, A full deli with EVERYTHING - ribs, potato salad and deserts. Oh be still my cholesterol! Even ready to heat-and-serve garlic French bread. I'd walked the full store and had to get assistance to find brown rice, but since the butcher was helping me, he showed me chicken thighs at sixty-nine cents per pound. All in all, an excellent shopping trip.

Now, to locate the bus stop and head home. No one knew where it had been moved to. Since I was now tired, it was getting harder to remain positive. I located the old stop, but found the sign covered up with a notice - changing in March. (of what year?). I called the bus company and went around and around with a kind person who said that they didn't know where it was either. According to his notes, I was on the wrong side of the mall! I saw the humor in all of this and bid this conscientious man farewell. Looking for English-speaking people is getting interesting. It is like cold-call sales: just keep hunting, eventually you'll find one. "Walk down dare, turn lef ad de willow" (Okay, Lord, very funny. Now, can You please...) Turns out the man was correct. The left turn was at the intersection of Willow and the mall.

Getting home, I had a small celebration with God. All this wonderful food! So much chicken, brown rice, oatmeal, coffee and my beloved powdered milk! Nothing speaks to me like a house full of food. Now that I know what's what, a trip to the store will only take about ninety minutes. Not bad, not bad at all for a day that I chose not to let become a disaster. It could have been so much worse.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Spring Cleaning: A Clean House Before I Have To Move!

You remember that terror. You have to move and its time. Time to decide what to keep and what to throw. While you're under the bed you discover dust bunnies the size of Harvey. (A six foot tall, talking rabbit,only one person could see). Man, has it been that long since I've been under here? Yes, those were the days.

CyberGal has come up with something novel and refreshing. I'm cleaning my room, as though I'm about to move, but I am not moving! My God, to look under this bookcase, you'd never know I get paid to clean up after other people! I finally took a daring plunge. A friend suggested a system to de-clutter. The twelve to eighteen month rule: if you haven't read it, or worn it in either a year, or a year-and-a-half, out it goes! Oh, God, I have to make decisions! Sure, there will be that .001 per cent of stuff I'll miss, but the rest, is GONE! I now have space in my room, and can arrange my belongings outside of cardboard boxes, formerly stored under my bed.

Also, my beloved books will find new owners who will love them as I did. I finally have to admit to myself that I'm not going to re-read any print book again. I have also let go a few treasured religious reference books. I now do all of that on the computer and what good are these beautiful books under my bed keeping my dust bunnies company?

There is true magic in this. I am being really good to me. When I want to I clean and organize exceptionally well. I have hired myself as a professional housekeeper for ME! I can now actually host friends here for dinners and entertainment. I feel somehow free. When I get it all spiffy, I'll upload photos of my small, but very cyberGal-ish room.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

2nd Try To Keep This Blog Accessible for Screen Readers.

My thanks to Mr. Darrell Shandrow and The Blind Access Journal for acknowledging my support of the Google Accessibility Petition. At his suggestion, I have disabled the letters verification task and replaced it with comment moderation. This will make comments accessible to any registered user.
If there is too much spam, sadly, I will again revert to using the letters verification task, as it completely eliminates machine-generated spam.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dealing With A Dark Night of the Soul.

Everywhere I look, I see futility, confusion and dreariness. This is no time for friends to come in to give a pep talk. One of the good things I know, even it the depths of this valley is how my friends would rally, if asked. That is a gift of boundless value. No, this is a time for CyberGal to meet with and face herself. A time to forge traits of: faith, courage, endurance, perseverance and patience. A time to work on getting used to needing to lean of God in ways yet new to me.

I told God over a year ago that, with His help I would work to invent a screen reader for the totally blind. My first tentative steps in that direction were guided by an assumption that I would be adding to already-existing technology. As I gathered more information, it is very clear to me, that what I need to do is invent an entirely different method of translating text from a device, into speech. On the face of it, I'm totally out of my mind!

The reason I'm floundering around in the pit of discouragement is I lack the trust in my God to believe that the promptings He continues to give me, will pan out. This is yet another example of my need for something called patience. A trait I usually only visit when circumstances hog-tie me down! This is when I learned not to argue with my back.

In November of 1985, I was hit by a car, crossing a poorly lit, badly marked intersection, in the pouring rain. I pulled the driver's mirror off the car with my leg and got a bad concussion. Strangely, I had no back problems at all. I mis-labeled and mis-dated things for months, but my back was fine. At the time, I was doing heavy duty janitorial work in the building I lived in. They got a clean building and I got very low rent. I was also in college, working part time, reading to blind students. Two weeks before the end of the semester, in June, I discovered I could not bend over at all. I actually had to have a neighbor tie my shoes for me, as I absolutely couldn't do it. I was in a kind of pain I can't even describe, but I went off to class.

My first hour on campus was with one of my students. I was reading an algebra text to her and assisting her in comprehending the material. I was reading a column of figures for her, when I noticed that the nines and sixes were spinning! I couldn't tell which was which. My student could hear the pain in my voice and I was sent off to get an emergency "incomplete" for the rest of the semester. I got home and began a series of emergency Chiropractic appointments.

I was in such bad shape, the woman opened up on a Sunday, to continue daily treatments, trying to get my spasms to stop. I spent hours on ice packs. Every time I moved the air would be crushed out of my lungs and another agonizing spasm, involving the entire left side of my back, was in progress. Whatever position I was in, I was stuck that way, until the spasm settled down. Open weeping in public became a normal event. My apartment manager took a terrible risk by offering me illegal drugs for the pain! (How can I turn the guy in?) No, I get too crazy on grass, I'll just hang on to this door jam, until I can move again and then I'll be able to stop crying.

I actually was stupid enough to try and continue my janitorial duties! One little turn of that industrial mop and I was seeing the room spinning around me. Reluctantly, I bid the job and money good-bye, retiring to my room to lie around and curse my back. I was in this critical state for almost six months. I'd rest and be good for a few days. Then I'd get a crazy notion, that it was over and I could, oh, say, sit at my desk and read a book. WRONG! Down again for another few days. I have learned a kind of patience from that ordeal. I have absolutely learned, that when my back has something to tell me, I listen!

The challenge before me now is with my internal willingness and openness. My external life has radically changed, but old internal thinking patterns still linger. Am I willing to really accept a successful life, friendships, a business and or invention? At first I want to laugh. I may be stubborn, but not that stupid! Sure, bring it on: off Social Security, out of poverty, into a new circle of friends and back into the Middle Class I was raised in. It is not that easy.

There is a familiarity to despair, futility and hopelessness. It may be a bad smell, but I'm used to it. After all, if I make no effort, I don't have to be responsible for my actions, right? I am still accountable to God for what I do with the life He's given me. My body may be disabled, but my mind has been healed and restored. I have a purpose in God's world and nowhere in scripture do I find an escape clause for having a disability.

There is also a steep re-learning curve I must tackle. When I choose to take charge of my life and tackle a project, those around me, who have not taken charge of their lives begin acting strangely. Basically, they do everything in their power to rip my dream out from under me. I have been sad for days over the reality that some of the folks I know can not, or will not support, or root for my new life. This isn't a conscious thing, just a component of other's unresolved despair over the failings in their own lives. I have to say good-bye to the small child thinking: "We'll all get into the sand box and play nice together." I have to grow up. I have to learn to protect my valuable life and goals. I have to think before I speak. (ooh, that sounds like some real work.)

Leaving old relationships implies a bit of pain, loss and sadness. Again, real work. Am I willing to really try trusting God? I realize my valley started last Saturday, after trusting an immature individual with some pieces of my hoped-for-invention-plans. He gave me information all right and a piece of advice guaranteed to sink my soaring hopes. He told me I had to get a degree in Computer Science. I could go back to The Department of Rehabilitation for help. There is enough grief work contained within returning to either school and or especially, The Department of Rehabilitation, to keep me in Kleenex for years! This was the beginning of the "crashing and burning" I confided to a friend, later this week.

Tuesday was a watershed time for me. I had gotten so down, I wasn't sure I even wanted to recover. It somehow felt familiar and a little safe. I could just admit that I wasn't up to this (or any other challenge), go to bed, pull the covers over my head and wait out the rest of my life in despair. I was seriously toying with this option, sitting right here at my beautiful computer, having a host of new friends, opportunities and options literally a few mouse clicks away!

I've been here before. I knew I had forgotten something, oh yeah! I had asked God to helpme. In this swamp of misery, I'd forgotten I was not, then, or now, alone. I had run out of good ideas, but maybe God had something to add to my situation. I made a conscious decision to at least talk to Him.

"God, I feel really shitty, and it feels totally hopeless to me. You know all the reasons why. Right now, I'm not sure I want to get better, but I know I don't want to sleep for three days to duck this depression. What do I do now? I'm stuck in Real Basic, and (at the moment) have no intention of even trying to figure it out. I'm afraid I'm getting too disabled to continue as a housekeeper, but I have to learn Real Basic to sell programs. That's on me. Will you help me find the will to at least want to try? I have a goal of reading through my 43 print news feeds, every day. Even though I feel crappy, I'll do it, and at least I'll have that and my blog post to show for this terrible day. By-the-way, thank you that it isn't worse. My health is excellent, my friends love me, and I have my needs met."

The last part is something they teach at church. It is okay to acknowledge you are going through something, but always remember, it could be far worse. I could be a vegetable in a coma somewhere. I could die from a stroke. All kinds of "worse" is always kept away from us by God. Sometimes I say it through clenched teeth, but I agree with the idea and I do say it.

Trying to concentrate on reading my normally beloved news feeds felt like I was trying to swim through tar. My thinking was murky and I had to slow way down to actually get the information into my mind. I worked on keeping my breathing deep and relaxed and pictured God beside me, reading and enjoying the information with me. The worst of the pain was beginning to break up. By no means, was it over, but I was doing something constructive against it. Maybe this is a type of resisting the devil and his temptations. I was a bit irked, that I wasn't getting a spiritual cookie for being so noble. At an earlier spot in my relationship with God, He did reward me, but I was older and tougher. I caught my negative thought and pulled my mind back to the news. Then I got a text message signal.

Earlier I had posted my latest blog piece, an upbeat bit about good food and a great hotel. My first in a series: A Ministry Unawares. One of my friends had read it and was reacting. This wasn't a message, but a short speech! I'd never seen my friend text message like this before. I know enough about this person to know that they don't waste time in fake anything. This was amazing! They liked the post, and then went on to discuss my qualities as a person. I literally read with my mouth open in surprise. The joy of being acknowledged by someone I respect is more then I can describe. It is very new to me. I have to ask God to help me accept this changed state of affairs.

I told the truth, that I was having a bad time, but had remembered to pray. Again, my friend entered a small pamphlet in response. I now was thanking God for this unexpected bit of hope cascading through my soul. I then told my friend, how this communication was helping me, get through a tough place, and that I hoped I could return the favor. The response really threw me. I have already done that, "just by being there." I was so blown away, I typed my immediate reaction. I believed they meant it, didn't totally understand how that helped, but I accepted it. I also prayed God would help me accept this entire episode.

After we signed off, I copied the message into my notes file. I wanted to be able to re-read this communication. One of the more twisted habits I've gotten into, is to deny positive reality (later), when I again feel down. Not on this conversation! Wednesday, yesterday, I spent a lot of time in prayer and slept. I'd had too much coffee Monday night, at dinner and messed up my normal sleep patterns.

Today my morass was back. It was a little easier to fight, as I had made up my mind to fight. But I really didn't start to come out of it, until I began this post. I promise to all of you: I will document the good, the bad and even the ugly, as I go for the brass ring of a "normal" life. I hate admitting some of this, but somebody out there will be relieved and heartened to know they aren't some freak of nature, when all their other friends, groups and reading sources deny the less then attractive parts of recovery. It is a back-and-forth kind of thing.

I realize now, that I have to be willing to be open to new things, scary things, even difficult things to achieve what we all think of as "a normal life". Actually, I have to embrace something better then normal. I have to embrace becoming a leader. A CEO of a company, an inventor, a trail blazer and maybe a fall-on-my-face failure, to pursue creating a better text-to-speech system. I refuse to give in to the nay-sayers. I refuse to give up on a hope that I can make a serious difference. I'm 52 now and probably, God willing, will live to 75 or 80. I can leave a trail of documentation of what I've learned and tried. I can make a beginning. With God's help, I might actually come up with the theory that others can build into what I hope will be the iPod of speech technology.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Ministry Unawares: Oakland City Center Marriott Hotel.

Remember long ago, when burgers weren't made with Tofu? When food had carbohydrates, fat and sugar? You can still get GENUINE food, with butter and real sour cream. I present to you my fabulous New York Steak Dinner (complete with desert), from The City Center Bar and Grill.

This meal has all the wonderful things which are postulated to kill me, if I only think about them, much less eat them. Here's what I enjoyed: caffeinated coffee with sugar and half-and-half, rare New York Steak with FAT, asparagus with garlic herb butter, baked potato with more garlic herb butter, sour cream, bacon bits and green onions, chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Obviously, since I'm posting this, I lived to tell the tale!

Oakland City Center Marriott Hotel caters to business people. Everything at this great establishment is designed to calm the harried traveler. Those brave souls on the road for 200 or more days a year. I've been eating at the City Center Bar and Grill since 1998. This hotel knows how to treat all people with class, but especially those of us with a visible disability.

When I used to carry a white cane, I constantly had to fight various forms of insult and abuse. Store owners who would 'hide' behind a counter, refusing to speak, until I left their establishment. Waiters who'd be so afraid I couldn't handle an isle less then six feet wide, who'd throw chairs into the backs of other customers, attempting to clear a path for me. In ways large and small, I was always reminded that somehow, some way, I was, or was about to be, a problem. Children would be hoisted by one of their arms, across their mother's body, to get them out of my way. (And then I wonder why so many people are up tight?) To add to this life on the street, I lived in a ghetto hotel, where people had guns in the halls and nine-year-olds were drinking alcohol out of flasks, just like their parents. It was a hell-hole.

The only good thing about a living situation like this, is it gave me spending money. I could afford to take myself out to eat, to a store, or even a movie. When I returned to Oakland I set out to find a good New York Steak. With the Marriott, I discovered an oasis from feeling like I was radioactive or something.

Approaching their lobby, I braced myself for an all-too-familiar event. Yelling at the blind woman from across the room: "Hey, what you do? Where you go? Stop! Who take care you?" My sighted friends would tell me I was imagining these episodes, until they witnessed them personally. A waitress refused to take my order, informing my supervisor, that he could "feed" me from his plate. To my supervisor's credit, he informed this android, that he was working for ME. This tactic, however, didn't make an impression. And this is supposedly after the American's With Disabilities Act and our cultural "enlightenment"!

No matter how bizarre the treatment, I've learned (the hard way) that anything less then politeness from my end just makes the bad even worse. I crossed the threshold of The Marriott's beautiful lobby and walked toward what appeared to be a tourist assistance desk. A man dressed in a full business suit rose to greet me. He didn't chase me, or lunge at me. In civilized English, he queried if I needed any assistance. What a wonderful beginning. I told him of my quest for a good steak, enquiring if this hotel had that item on their menu. Allen stood up, extended his elbow to me (like Clark Gable did in the movies), as he politely said I had several different steaks to choose from. Would I like to take his arm?

By now, I know Dorthy and Toto (from The Wizard of Oz) would be arriving any minute. This was unreal! Once introduced and seated, I was treated to a wonderful meal. No one showed me where my food was, using the "clock" system. "Your potato is at twelve o'clock and your meat is at four o'clock. Do you need me to cut the meat for you?" My more common beginning to a disastrous meal.

These folks never let me see the bottom of my coffee cup, offered relaxing banter and made me feel like I was just another human being. Not a human being with a problem. I hated to leave! I have had the joy of watching this talented staff work with people having other disabilities. It is always handled with no fuss, bother, or insult. I spoke to a confused bartender, who couldn't figure out why a gal in a wheelchair tipped him $10 on a cup of coffee. He said she raved about how she'd been treated. Man, I could write a book on it. To be treated like a regular person is SO RARE. When you find people, or especially a business, doing it "right", you want to shout from the rooftops.

I have been going to this Marriott for years and have gotten to know some of the staff fairly well. I think of them as a part of my family. I have been told they feel the same about me. It is lovely. While working for a woman in El Cerrito, I had to deal with her contracting Huntington's Disease. This lady was already totally blind and now had to wear a football helmet in her apartment, so she'd not hurt her face, walking into walls! She had come to terms with her rapidly deteriorating body and lightly told me why I ironed and cooked for her. Her muscles were not working right any more. She'd be moving away to an assisted living arrangement. I watched the room swim in my tears. She was coping great. I couldn't handle it at all!

I took BART back to Oakland and cried all the way in. When I left the train, I headed for the Marriott. I just couldn't be alone with what I had heard and seen. Not only was she totally blind, but now had a disease that would eventually cause her to choke to death as muscle groups stopped working. I would have raged at God, but I couldn't get past my tears.

The folks at the Marriott always treat me as though I'm the high point of their day. Unlike my usual smiling laughing self, I dissolved into tears and stammered out my tale. Everyone came to listen. People hung around longer then usual, to let me talk and attempt to process this shock to my system. What completely stunned me, was the check. The staff had put in their own money to pay for my meal. The manager was a little tearful herself, praising my courage to continue to work for someone so ill. This is behavior far and above any training, or company regulation.

So to all of you wonderful folks over at the Oakland City Center Marriott. You are more then a business, you are: A Ministry Unawares.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Figuring Out God's Will In Your Life.

This is a topic which can make a normally sensible Christian totally crazy. I assume other faiths go through this anguish, but I stay with the group I'm involved in. There are books everywhere on this topic. I used to think I could study my way into that magical state of always "knowing" what God wanted from me. God is not out to play Hide and Seek with you. I have discovered, a bit sheepishly, that determining His will in my world is so simple, I have dismissed it. He prompts me, with a "desire" to change churches, or speak to someone, or buy a certain book. I assume my mind is deficient and ignore this simple system. God then lets me comprehend what is happening around me, and I can no longer "resist" the temptation to leave my old church. The new church is in my neighborhood, and a much better spiritual fit. I arrive at the new church and discover they need my particular brand of prayer. I am assigned the emergency prayer line duty.

Then there are things that are so absurd, they could only be orchestrated by God. Even though I have 20/200 vision, I've had three different job assignments as a graphic artist! It began like this:

"I know you do things with a computer. Can you make Place Cards?"

Me: "I don't know, what's a Place Card?"

"Those things that say: "reserved". I need six of them for Mother's funeral."

Me: "Sure, I can try. When do you need them?"

"Tomorrow by 7:30 AM" It is now 10 PM.

Me: "Sure, They'll be ready" Because it was a rush job and very important, Pastor's Wife's mom had passed away, I got unexpected payment for my work. It was easy. I found a simple sketch of a cross, made a border and selected several different fonts to convey the message that these seats were reserved for the family. Only God could have come up with this one. The colors in the sketch I used were a perfect match to the decor of the room!

Then there is the matter of being "led" to people, companies and information I will need in the future. Note, God will NOT give you His plan, as He knows you'd probably argue with Him about it! I was in one of my beloved bookstores, wondering through their "Sale" section. I saw a huge book I really wanted, even though I had no idea why. It was on economics! I just had an overwhelming urge to buy it. It was 70% off and I snagged it. Six months later, I ran into an ecumenicist who wanted to know about Jesus. I then quickly read through the introductory portions of this text, to get a bit of a feel for what my friend did for a living. When I needed a reference book, it was already in my home.

Pod Casts came to iTunes and I began searching for what I wanted to listen to. I laughed when I read: "MacPhilly Almost Live! A twisted show about the Macintosh". Bingo! Subscribed without previewing. If its twisted, I like it! MacPhilly requested Geek stories. I sure had one. Friends assume I'm a systems engineer because I (now) know the difference between a Megabyte, Gigabyte and a Megahertz! And a continuing association was begun.

Finally, as my focus on product invention becomes sharper, I'm stumbling over companies and people who will be invaluable further down the road. How does this happen? I'm reading something and a website is recommended, or an ad shows up on a site I trust. Relax! God will use your personality to direct you. He knows you really want to do right and please Him. He even uses your mess-ups. I'm amazed how an apology, when I've been out-of-line, speaks to people. Apparently, it is rare, in our world, to be apologized to. I have to engage in it, as I am prone to shooting my mouth off without bothering to check in with my brain!

There will be times when you feel a prompting, which is misread, or just plain-old wrong. Always consult the Scriptures. If what you want to do conflicts with scripture, DON'T DO IT! Prayer is always helpful. I can get very excited over a new adventure and need to pray to keep my feet on the ground. Also, don't hesitate to check-in with trusted friends. I am learning to worry less and live more. Remember, it is easier to keep a heavy box moving across a floor, then to start it moving in the first place. Keep moving and doing! God will correct you as you go! Relax and enjoy the process of life!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Update On Spam Problem.

Sad to say, within less then twenty-four hours my blog was hit five times with the 'fake' comment spam. I had to spend over an hour going back through all my posts to thoroughly pruge this one spammer. I do not have the time, or patience for this! With apologies to my blind readers, I've reinstated the 'letters in the box' task. This is yet another motivation for my hoped-for-invention of a different screen reading approach.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Google, Accessibility and Spam.

I loathe spam. My first email account was with hotmail. I had to have an email account, as I was emailing out resumes and needed an electronic contact point. Within days the parade of filth began cascading through my inbox. My name was clearly for a female, but somebody thought I was "hot for those naked beauties...". I had to read the brief header to find my real email. Reading, while not painful for me, is more work than it is for most people. I see about 1 inch square, with a magnifier attached to glasses. I move my head back and forth to cover a line of print on my screen. I use speech when I do not need to intensely study something. Spam steals my energy to no good purpose. Can I get a witness out there? Anyone else ticked off?

When I set up my blog. I did not want to have to deal with 'fake' comments made to my blog. These are registered users of blogger, who aren't real people, but electronically generated spammers. Once they have a blogger account, blogger has a problem determining where its true customers are, verses these 'fake' customers. I'm sure driven by a desperate desire to maintain their actual customers, Blogger set up a 'copy the letters in the box' task. I went for it because I do not desire to have to constantly moderate comments, deleting the garbage. But, to do this violates another very important part of me.

I want my blog and anything associated with it to be absolutely accessible to my totally blind readers. I got an email asking me to sign a protest petition to Google to get them to change the 'letters in the box' task to something where the totally blind, using a screen reader can access, not just blogger, but all the other fine Google services. I have removed the 'letters in the box' task, but still require comments from registered blogger users. To make my comments open to anyone will flood my inbox with a host of comments I then must moderate, to delete the spam! I just don't have enough time for that! The problem of spam is also why I choose not to have contact information. I am also not a counselor, and I'm sure some real email from my readers would tempt me to try to counsel. Again, I just don't have the time.

Please investigate signing the petition to Google. I like Google and am sad that so many totally blind folks I personally know are blocked from signing up for Gmail because of the "letters in the box" task.

Here is a portion of an email detailing the problem and the petition:

> Hi all podcasters,

Please visit , sign the Google Word
> Verification Accessibility Petition and cover this issue on your podcasts.
> Many podcasters, myself included, use Blogger to drive the feeds and
> shownotes to their audio and text content. Google's word verification
> scheme is currently inaccessible, barring the blind and visually impaired
> from doing such basic things as creating new blogs, commenting on most
> Blogger blogs, creating new Gmail accounts and much more. Please help make
> Google see the error in their ways so they will make this situation right by
> providing equal access to their visual verification regardless of the
> presence or lack of eye sight.
> Thanks.
> Darrell Shandrow - Shandrow Communications!
Technology consultant/instructor, network/systems administrator!
A+, CSSA, Network+!
Check out high quality telecommunications services at
Information should be accessible to us without need of translation by
> another person.
Blind Access Journal blog and podcast:

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

If You Like my Work, You're Gonna Love MacPhilly!

MacPhilly has graciously featured my post: "The Difference Between Sex Appeal and Asphyxiation" on his podcast: The Metro Moment. Be sure to listen to the pod cast and check out the banner over the title! My commentary: Beautiful commentary! Somebody finally said it!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dueling Disabilities:"Not Only Can't I Walk Worth A Darn, I Don't See Too Well Either!"

The title comes from a quick speech I rattle off for our local bus drivers to get them to tell me what bus has just pulled up. With a walker, I no longer appear to have almost zero vision. I did not admit I needed a walker much easier then I admitted I needed a white cane. I thought I could "fake it". I was at a religious retreat, in my teens, and fell down a brick stairway on the side of a steep hill. I was falling head first. I knew if a miracle didn't happen, I was going to be in heaven in real short order. I cried out to God in my mind: "If you keep me from getting killed, I'll get serious training as a blind person!" In mid air, my body righted itself and I landed feet first (in balance) on a stair about four feet from where I'd started to fall. Needless to say, I got some cane travel training. I was still convinced I could "pass" as sighted. I viewed being blind as worse than death.

Eventually, I got proper training in alternative methods for travel, sewing, cooking and reading. I was relieved that, with a cane, people answered my questions, instead of assuming I was a nut. You can't blame people. I'm standing under a train sign with letters six inches high and asking: "What train is this?". People would just walk away from me, when I had no cane. With a cane, the response rate was higher and positive. I grudgingly took on the role of being "blind".

Dealing with my Cerebral Palsy, was another problem entirely. I've had problems falling down ever since I can remember. It is like, every so often my brain forgets to tell my legs to support my body and I fall, sometimes, standing, but mostly while walking. I used to blame it on not being able to see very well. I was totally ashamed of having Cerebral Palsy, as I have been called "spastic". My movements are a bit jerky. It is a very touchy area for me, even today.
My aunt and cousin said my handwriting made me look retarded and I looked like a freak with those "things' you have to put on your face". (very strong magnifying lenses in glasses). It is still painful to write this. So, I never considered that my walking problems were from my Cerebral Palsy.

Then last year in November, I got mugged for the second time in ten years. I fought to keep my cell phone and was violently thrown to the ground. My right ankle has never been the same since. My falling episodes became weekly events. I ripped the knees out of four pairs of pants. You'd think, I'd want to investigate this. No, I just decided I was afraid of walking and avoided going outside whenever possible! (This is called D-E-N-I-A-L, the first step in the grief process). What little physical strength I had began to leave. As a housekeeper, I need physical strength to do the job. I also need to not be falling down stairs! Here's what it took to get me to investigate getting a walker. (No, see, you aren't the only stubborn one around.)

I was at work at Maria's starting to walk her huge Newfoundland Hound, DeeDee. The sidewalks are extremely root infested and uneven in Maria's neighborhood. She also lives on a rather steep hill. I was about two feet from the path leading to their home, when I felt the all-to-familiar sensation of falling. My cane flew out of my hand, as I instinctively tried to brace myself for another ground-kissing episode. I also let go of DeeDee's leash. DeeDee immediately backed up and deliberately sat down right in the path of my falling body. She broke my fall with her back turned to me, in a sitting position. She remained absolutely still. I can't get up immediately after I fall. My body just lays where it is, for a few seconds, and then I can start trying to stand up. I felt DeeDee's fur in my face. I was in tears. I wanted to bury my face in her fur and sob. But I had real problems.

The street is on a steep hill and my cane had jetted into the street and rolled away. I was bleeding and disoriented. I wondered if I could walk the dog, after all of this. Luckily, a neighbor saw me fall and retrieved my cane. With cane in one shaking hand and dog leash in the other shaking hand. I timidly walked a very slow moving DeeDee. I swear that dog understands my problems well enough to read what I can't handle her doing. I got through that ordeal, not telling Maria of my adventure, other then to try and cover why my knees were skinned-up and my pants torn up. She didn't push it. I wonder if she'd seen this one coming?

With work out of the way, I boarded a bus for the forty-five-minute trip home. The bus broke down, so we had to get off and board another bus that was waiting for us. I was attempting to leave the crippled coach, when I tried to put my weight on the right leg, and it just crumpled under me. Down I went, that's two falls in one day! I couldn't get up. The poor bus driver, already stressed out from a mechanical issue, started to run for her radio screaming: "Do you need an ambulance?" I freaked out. That would cost at least $100 and I wasn't ready for a hospital! I screamed that I was okay (what a joke,) and scrambled up to a standing position. By now my entire body was shaking. I looked like a diabetic going into shock.

Once safely in my room, I began to relax. I had a hard time ignoring the events of the day. I decided, that if I'd be more careful, everything would be alright. Then I got up and began to walk across my twelve foot by twelve foot room. My right foot caught on something and down I went! That is three falls in one day. This was the first time I'd fallen in my home. I grabbed a flimsy hobby table, trying to break my fall and managed to bang me and some of my belongings up very badly. That was the moment I surrendered. I knew I was going to call my HMO in the morning. I had to DO something!

I got the standard Advice Nurse and related my tale. To the credit of my HMO, when they think there is a real problem, they jump to it. I had an appointment with my regular doctor the next afternoon! It was nice not to be in a psychiatric examination mode. This was very different.
I could feel my doctor intently searching and working very hard to determine what was wrong.
He had me do a lot of movement things. Touch my nose, lift my arm, and then he started working with my legs. I was passing everything and wondering if I was making this entire thing up. Was I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Then my doctor discovered my right foot.

My right leg is a half inch shorter then my left leg. My right foot had almost zero flexibility, or range of motion. He had me take a barefoot stroll around the office. He started entering a small novel into his computer. Sure enough, my doctor had found something. He was going to send me to Physical Therapy: "You have the worst Palsy gait I've ever seen" (Well, I never do things in half measures!) I then asked about a walker. He had to make the more and more common speech of his day: "Yes, you could use one, and it's not covered, unless you're totally bedridden". I sensed his tension. I bet the doctors hate this routine. But, being a veteran of The System, I already figured I'd have to buy my own walker. I couldn't wait to get one. I now could admit that walking, at all, scared the hell out of me.

I researched on the net, but didn't feel I could wait a week for shipping. I went to several pharmacies and right across the street from my home, I found MY Baby! It is a Rollator. A walker with the two front wheels able to pivot, for turning (truly in a circle, if you desire), a built-in seat and two sets of hand brakes! Just using it in this tiny pharmacy sold me. I knew I walked better when pushing my shopping cart, or a grocery cart, but THIS was IT! The pharmacist let me make time payments while taking the Rollater out the door immediately. A truly merciful man. I felt better and more confident immediately! I knew I could prevent falling, because the walker gave me more points of balance on the ground. I wanted to truly dance down the street! Hell, I wanted to walk down the street, something I'd been avoiding for six months!

I don't particularly like Physical Therapy. My doctor is wonderful, but the personal discipline of those daily exercises throws me. I was sure, with my Baby, in tow, I'd never fall again. Oh, but old CyberGal likes to push limits. Maria's home is off-set from the street, sharing a hillside with several other homes. There is a brick path made up of very unevenly placed bricks and stairs. I forgot that my vision is still an issue, miscalculated and fell on the path. I still haven't quite gotten over that moment of sorrow. I have taken a break from Physical Therapy, as my morale is still in the dumper over that fall.

I have to walk a 120-pound Newfoundland Hound, with a walker and a long leash. It has its comical moments. Before we got a longer leash, poor DeeDee had a walker rail constantly goosing her! She is excellently behaved and knows that if I put any pressure on that leash, she is to STOP! She does, every time. I think she knows that our walks together are a bit hard on me, she now shows more affection towards me, after our walks. She is a terrific girl.

Maria, seeing the writing on the wall, hired a dog-walker. I went home and cried, as I was terrified of losing my job! Maria and John are wonderful people. They just look at this situation as something that has to be dealt with and that is all. I love them for being so good to me.

I've had my Baby for almost nine months now. For the first few months I'd sing to it and wanted to write poems to it! The relief of not being afraid of falling was like nothing I ever remember. I never had this kind of a reaction to my white cane, but three falls in one day made a believer out of stubborn old CyberGal! I had to change my entire approach to riding busses.

With the white cane, I'd sit as close to the driver, as possible. Usually in seats specifically for the disabled and or elderly. I could request my stop to be called and even with my slight hearing difficulty, I knew when to get off the bus. Yes, I blew part of my hearing, standing under the base speaker at a Lead Zeplin concert. (marijuana induced bad judgment). With the Rollater I had a problem. I couldn't get it and me in the little cramped seats (on platforms, no less). So, I had to board at the side of the bus, where passengers are getting off the bus. This is also where the Wheelchair Lift is located. Once on board, there are lovely pull-down seats that accommodate me and my Baby, just fine. But, now the driver thinks I can see, to figure out my stop. I'm also far away from the driver and my hearing may be a problem.

This is why I make a cute speech to locate my bus. I then ask for permission to board in the back, as I flash my bus pass and once seated, I yell out my other issues to a very helpful bus driver (99% of the time). Using humor helps them and me deal with all of this attention-to-my-disabilities. I hate being a bother to people. I still fight mountains of guilt, as people man-handle my Baby into their cars. Sometime, I have to take the front piece off my Baby, to make it fit. Oh, I want to crawl away and hide! This too, is all part of ye 'ol grief process. God continues to show me, through my wonderful friends, that it just ain't that big a deal. I now am back to walking an hour every two days and my general physical and psychological condition is much improved. Exercise, IS really a good thing. But, not falling down all the time, is the BEST thing!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My Liberation Theme Song.

My blog features:

(Don't you hate the fact that the entire world is turning into a giant advertisement? Even seeing basically one inch square with my magnifying glasses, I am distracted by the flashing, whirling and sometimes SOUND EMBEDDED websites. If I can't quickly turn off the chatter and or Muzak I NEVER COME BACK!)

This is my private liberation from the incessant pitching that is truly everywhere. At least we are free from most pop-ups! Who ever came up with that little gem ought to be put in a room of wall to wall televisions and computers and forced to listen to and watch ads until they go insane!

Before I share my personal liberation theme song, I must give a brief sketch of some of the family dynamics which set me up for years of therapy and agony. I was basically raised by three different families:

  • Parents: ages 1-7
  • Aunt : ages 7-12
  • Cousin: ages 12-19.

My Parents:

Alcoholic and my mother was psychotic (she'd fly into uncontrollable rages, possessing super-human strength, speed and cunning.)

My Aunt:

Alcoholic and sadistic. (She found humor in making me suffer in very twisted ways.) masochistic, (she got a perverted pleasure out of being a martyr and making herself suffer.)

Her daughter/my cousin:

alcoholic: sadistic, masochistic and narcissistic. (a condition of seeing every life event as though it is happening to you. She had a headache, therefore, it was my fault.)

My cousin was by far the hardest person to live with, in some ways, harder to deal with than my mother, but that is a close race. Narcissism is named after a tragic Greek figure, who saw his reflection in a pool of water. He fell in love with it, and stood transfixed, looking at himself until he died! I thought everything that happened to my cousin was my fault, or my evil intent. It made me into a total co-dependent, as the only way to live with a narcissist is to devote your entire thought life to figuring out what you'd be blamed for, or accused of next!

I found a song that captured the warped dynamic between my cousin and me. When I first heard this song, I literally got goose bumps, as it helped me see that I wasn't the entire problem!

Alan Parson Project,

The Lyrics - (from

You Don't Believe

My eyes with your vision

My choice but always your decision

My play with your direction

Well it's my lead but always your connection

But when i look into your eyes you don't believe me

I can see it in your eyes you don't believe

My words, your expression

My land, always your possession

My song, your production

My expense is always your deduction

But when i look into your eyes you don't believe me

I can see it in your eyes you don't believe

And the face i see before me

Is both sides of a mirror

You really know you've got a hold on me

And the face you're looking into

Is both sides of a window

And any way you look you see through me

My fame, your reflection

My weakness always your protection

Well it's my terms on your conditions

And they're my tunes but they're your compositions

But when i look into your eyes you don't believe me

I can see it in your eyes you don't believe

(Notice "I" is capitalized only at the start of a sentence, grammar, not a proper noun, like he doesn't exist at some level.)

I heard the Dan Fogelberg song "Phoenix" years ago, but the song absolutely captures my freedom from my complex past. I think of the "old lady" as my mother and or my cousin. Neither of them loved me, and I almost destroyed myself trying to get my cousin to love me.

In a very major sense, the nightmare is over! I am finally reaping the rewards of a lot of very hard work, (in spite of), false starts and wasted time. I hope you can relate to the lyrics. Both songs are at the iTunes Music Store.

Dan Fogelberg Lyrics - (from:


I have cried too

I have cried too long

I have cried too

I have cried too long

No more sorrow

Got to carry on.

Found deep water

Before I'd even learned to swim

Found deep water

Before I'd even learned to swim

Never thought I'd

See the sun again.

Once I was a

Once I was a man alone

Once I was a

Once I was a man alone

Now I've found a

Heart to call my home.

Like a phoenix

I have risen from the flames

Like a Phoenix

I have risen from the flames

No more living

Someone else's dreams.

I have cried too

I have cried too long

I have cried too

I have cried too long

No more sorrow

Got to carry on.

You almost had me, old lady

You almost tied me down good

You played the lady in waiting

And I waited as long as I could.

Too long the songs have been silent

Too long the strings have been still

I never knew what you wanted

And I guess that I never will.

Like a Phoenix

I have risen from the flames

Like a Phoenix

I have risen from the flames

No more living

Someone else's dreams.

I have cried too

I have cried too long

I have cried too

I have cried too long

No more sorrow

Got to carry on.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Life-Affirming Gift.

(ID characteristics have been changed to protect privacy).

Happy 2006 everyone! After much labor and anguish, I managed to salvage one out of twenty photos I took for Christmas! A lesson: ALWAYS FORMAT your new memory card, before you start snapping away, with your digital camera! The picture is of the gift wrapped painting I commissioned for Maria and John, of their dog DeeDee.

Reviewing 2005 has been a joy. I've made many new friends, joined a terrific church closer to home, achieving goals preparing for my work life and am in the blogosphere! I shed a few tears of absolute joy, over how my world has truly come full-circle. It all began when I finally decided to stop trying to tell God how to do His job and just started to really get to know Him, not just facts about Him.

All the years of anger and rebellion just evaporated under the gentle and friendly spirit I experienced while just sitting in God's presence, being quiet (to listen, for a change!) It was scary. I was sure a big hand, or something, would materialize out of thin air and start slapping me around! There are actually people, good people, who find comfort in a God like that! Not me. God is feather-soft with me. He knows how easily I'll bolt like a spooked horse and head for the emotional hills.

I began to notice other interesting changes. I became agreeable to the positive in the world. A reversal of having a PhD in negativity. That too began to transform. I find that I'm braver about people then I've ever been before. I no longer am willing to say, or do anything to gain their approval. It feels very good to take up the responsibility of adulthood. I'm learning to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. I assure you, when I first realized I may have nothing to post for this blog in pictures, I was discouraged. I took a break and turned my attention to God and the (still) wonderful things going on around me. Eating dinner also helped, low blood sugar makes me feel down. I still have a problem retrieving my 19 remaining photos, but I no longer want to cry about it. That is a miracle!

The life-affirming gift, is friendship. I've learned to make friends with healthy people. People who are (or appear to be) more skilled then I, in certain areas. I respect them, their lives and their opinions. My last post was absolutely from my heart and soul. I reached out to someone I respect a lot, asking for their evaluation. I then held my breath, waiting to be told that I was becoming delusional again!

Their reply caused me to tear up, with gratitude, in church. They thought it was a great post and hoped that I'm able to help many people. This is adult to adult communication and encouragement. I rarely got praised for much of anything, (I cared about). That couple of sentences filled up a hole in my heart that has been there ever since I can remember. I can feel the strength growing in response to a caring friend.

I used to try to be someone's everything. Oh, if you liked football, I'd try to like it also. Not in an adult way, but I'd lie about my true feelings, driven by a vortex of internal emptiness. I'd say, and or do almost anything, hoping someone would just like me!

What happened last night was totally new and healthy. This person has no need to pass out fake praise. There is depth to their thinking. They don't suffer poor performance from so-called professionals, much better then I do. (Don't you hate the way the English Language is being butchered, in written and spoken form?)

It was an inspiring experience to be evaluated well by someone I respect. I am enthused to continue this blog and my computer work. When trouble, or critics come, I can look back at this on-going friendship and find the inner fortitude to weather the storm. God works with and through people. My prayer is, when my friend runs into rough going, that they can reach out to me, so I can return the support given to me. Friendship is absolutely the life-affirming gift.