Happy 2014

I have started writing this post several times now and deleted and started over. It seems so monumental to write this message. I am not sure why I feel this way, but here it is. Finding just the right thing to say is difficult for me. I am afraid of sounding silly or frivolous or worse, irrelevant.  The simple message is here is to wish you a happy new 2014. Wait! You say, is this all I have to tell you? No!

 

This past year has been a huge mixed bag of everything. I had to retire sweet J, but I got blessed with Frankie. I got to learn how to get around the big city and even meet new people in the process with the help of my new eyes. I have had no end of fun watching him push through crowds while speed walking through subway stations and the Eaton Centre during rush hour. The boy is determined. There is really no other word for it. He is so graceful. I also reconnected with long-time friends. (Note, I don’t want to say old friends). I also met some new people big and small. I now feel more settled here. I have a doctor, hair dresser, and local pub I adore.

 

My hopes for 2014 are more personal. I don’t have a resolution. I don’t like them. It also turns out that I am not good at keeping them for the most part. Today, I came across this one word idea. The purpose is to pick just one word that will be your guide/mantra for the year. Put it on sticky notes, your computer, or wherever you will see it most often. My question is how does one find just one word? I went through the dictionary, but there so many words. I looked through documents I had written and they don’t offer much help either. Asking myself questions did finally guide me to a smaller list. The questions are very personal to me, but I am happy to share2 of them with you. 1. What is the most difficult thing to do for me? And 2. What can I do to help me improve? The answers are really simple but took serious contemplation and I’d like to say whine, but it is too early for that so I’ll say chocolates.  I have noticed that I am constantly doubting myself and blaming myself for everything even if not related to me in any way. I guess believing in me is the ingredient missing here. So, I think my word will be belief. That’s it! How will I use this? I am hoping that I will learn to change my thought process and behaviour away from the constant second guessing of myself to acceptance that things are going as they should.

 

My wish for you is whatever it is that you wish for you. I hope we meet new experiences with joy and adventure. Embrace traditions that are positive, relationships that are enriching, and offer only your best.  Most of all remember to have fun! Feel free to share your resolutions or lack of them. Do look at this one word site and blog. http://oneword365.com

 

Do you have your word? I’d love to hear about it.

New Dog, New Eyes!

It has been a long time since I posted here. It feels like a life time. J is happy in his new home. He is a wonderful boy and I miss him.

Frankie and I met a few weeks before being invited to class for training with him. The trainers brought him and his brother to visit and test walk. We talked about speed, level of activity and compatibility. I was so fortunate to be able to have a match so fast. I am so thankful to have my new boy. He is a flat Coated Retriever. Feel free to look them up. I found him interesting to train with. It is a different experience than training with a lab.

First, Frankie is a smaller dog, but He is tall. Second, he walks faster. Thirdly he has the softest fir. He is also shiny. He has a long snout and long ears. I do love him. He is so sweet. He is not afraid of anything and seems to be like the energiser bunny.

I should back up and say a little about training at the Lions Foundation for Dog Guides. On the first day we arrived, we had room assignments and unpacking. For some, there was orientation. I actually needed it as the last time I was there would have been exactly 6 years ago. We then had dinner and relaxed, but not before signing many documents.

The next day was spent doing walks without the dogs. This was to get us used to commands and corrections. We also spent time softening our new leashes. New leather is painful on your hands. We were also very excited as the next day would be dog day! I think all of us did not sleep well. It was like Christmas. I was the only one who had met the dogs. I knew what breed they would be and who I would be getting. I should have used it a little to my advantage, but I was kind and said nothing. Keeping quiet was hard.

I think I should describe dog day. We got up and did the morning routine. After breakfast, we all went to our own rooms. We had to clear everything off the floor. The trainers then brought our dogs to us. We got a few minutes to meet them and let them sniff around. We then took them down to do some training. The first few walks are without harnesses. We did get our harnesses on the Friday. That day was very difficult for me. Here is where I noticed differences between labs and Flatties. A lab will go with anyone. Flats do not. He simply did not want to take orders from me. I thought that strange as he had worked for me like magic when he did the test walk. They’re more of a one person dog. We eventually sorted out our issues.

From then on, we did 2 – 4 walks per day. Some in a group and others were individual. For the first few days, my dog refused to poop. He was under a high amount of stress. Change does not come easily for them. But it turns out that he did not want to use the nice clean and indoor relieving area. He would stand there and cry. It was heartbreaking.

The next week and a half went by in a blur. I felt very exhausted. I just wanted sleep. Having a new dog is like having a new child in the house. More on that another day.

Our training took us on long and short walks, buses, trains, and street cars. We did escalators, elevators, stairs and construction areas. We crossed small and large streets. The trainers drove around in a car attempting to run us down. This was called traffic checking. The dogs normally love it. Flatties know the tricks. Frankie would stop when he heard the car. Yes he knew the car.

Training is a very busy and tiring exercise, but most definitely worth it. The safety of a dog to help find the way is priceless. Oh and big bonus, I can walk for hours again without getting too tired. To learn about the process, adopt a puppy, foster a puppy, or make a donation, visit: http://www.dogguides.com

Feel free to ask any questions. I am happy to share.

Feeling Thankful, Blessed, and Very Humbled!

I am sitting here with a cold drink after a most wonderful and challenging day. My dog is snoring at my feet. I am slowly starting to really understand that likely in just a few short weeks, he will no longer be mine. The sadness and dread are for the minute so strong. I want to hold him and stroke his shiny black and greying fir forever. I truly do not relish giving him up even though I know it is the best for both of us. He has been telling me for the past few months that he no longer wants to work. The move has been difficult for him. I  often wonder if I had done something to upset him or cause this lack of ambition on his part. I am told that his reluctance to work is not personal, but a result of rapid change that he does not understand. His loud and not so gentle snores are reminding me of so many times when he was simply to comfortable to move such as when he slept under council table at court and refused to get up when our business was done. There were the many times court reporters told me they had to edit his snores out of transcripts. He also charmed all the ladies. I learned lately just how big his fan club seems to have become. We should all be so lucky. I am so truly humbled by the amazing response I have gotten after putting out the word that he will need a new loving home. I have no doubt that where ever he ends up, he will be looked after as he deserves. He has worked and earned his rest. Well, Ok, he is demanding it now. I have often wondered about the selfishness of the process. I get a service dog, work the dog for several years, when they are no longer of use, they are put a side, and I get to start over again with a new younger one. The fact that so much thought goes into finding him a home and making sure he is well looked after is only a small consolation. I do hope he will not think I abandoned him. I give up my dogs with the heaviest heart. Thank you to anyone who has ever taken a retiring service dog. You will never know just how special a gift you are giving to the dogs, and those who love and can no longer keep them. I will end this on a happy and positive note. Our day was filled with play, fun, sun shine and new friends. This is a blessing. Once again thank you to all who have reached out over the last 48 hours.  I only wish I could  someday return the amazing love you are sending our way.

Happy Easter!

I hope you are having a great long weekend regardless if you celebrate a holiday or not! I had the honour of being the Grand Martial of the Toronto Beaches Lions Club Easter Parade. My Dog and I enjoyed the parade and all the expected rain did not come! I guess it did not rain on our parade? We even managed to keep the dog awake the whole time. Now, he is a black lab who enjoys his sleep. I could not believe the crowd. It was great to be a part of this event! I am also excited about the work of the Lion’s Foundation for Dog Guides was being featured. Enjoy the picture below and if you can come out next year, trust me you will not be sorry! Hope you are enjoying some treats from the Easter Bunny.

SONY DSC

Reflections on International Women’s Day

In honour of this day, I am thinking about how far we have come. However, I must remember those who are not so fortunate. Only a few years ago I was oppressed by the powers of ignorance. You see, when my family was living in the United Arab Emirates, I was not allowed to attend school. Why you ask, well, I am a female with a disability. In that world many people like me are still hidden from the world and kept from being able to have an education, a family or a job.   Marriage which would have been most female’s destiny, would not be a possibility. The general attitude was that we weren’t whole no matter how intelligent or what each woman has to offer. I am so sad to say that little improvement has been made in this situation. This is not only sad, but wrong. So many people lack the basic human rights. I was so lucky to have been able to receive an excellent education. I have 3 degrees from Queen’s University. I have my own business helping people have positive workplace experiences. I have been able to have a mostly normal life with my husband and cat with the help of my guide dog. I am constantly pinching myself to make sure this is all real. The day I got my law degree was beyond amazing. I still can’t believe I could do such a thing.  I had always believed that I would not be able to do much. My wish is for young girls and women to be allowed the opportunity to realize their potentials through education and support. So, here is my call to action for you. I challenge you to learn about the plight of just 1 oppressed woman in another part of the world. It is through awareness that we will be able to change the world we live in 1 person at a time. Here’s to hope, and change for those who need it no matter where they are. Happy International Women’s Day!

Almost Lost

It struck me a few days ago that I did not have an outline for my goals/tasks set out for this year. So, I was kind of doing this and that without a direction. I spoke to someone who has been very helpful in this department in order to gain clarity about my purpose for this business. Let me stop and thank all those people that motivate and inspire me to go forward. I was afraid of getting overwhelmed and just hiding out without any accomplishments or a way to track them. So, I feel a ton lighter now that I have a written map for the next few months. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will share my main goals in order to help me stay on track. For the next 10 weeks, I am to meet as many people as I can. I am to also attend 2-4 networking meetings per week.

The following 12 weeks continue with above. Also look into media introductions of my services to the larger community.

The fall continues with previous activities with the addition of offering training to businesses about healthy workplace relationships.

Winter should find me doing 2 – 3 mediations a week, 5 – 10 negotiations a month, and some seminars.

I also decided today to run a contest on my Facebook Page. When we get to 500 likes, I will give away a gift. Do you want to win? Visit www.facebook.com/insightfulmediation Good luck!

What do you think? Are my goals reasonable to achieve? Will I get there? What else should I be doing? Share your suggestions for me here.

Why Do I have To Sit Down?

 

This may seem like a silly question to you. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some experiences that are baffling to me.

 

It seems like every new person I meet wants me to sit down. It is so aggressive in some cases. I was pushed into a chair against my will many times. I am always in shock when it happens.  . This is always very uncomfortable as it is often in situations where I am a guest and do not want to offend. I am not just talking about a recent experience, but I can remember asking this question ever since I could articulate it.  BTW, if you are one of the people who did this, I am not upset at you. My own family treated me this way.

 

Here is where I think it comes from. I think people do not know how to interact with a “blind person”, me. They just want me to sit so I am out of harm’s way. It is truly amazing as sometimes this happens at networking events or Service club meetings where everyone else is mingling. It is actually not appropriate to be sitting down. I want to scream sometimes! I want to just tell them to sit down and get out of the way. Of course I know that would be a bad diplomatic move. I am thankful for all the people in my life who do not do this and actually often forget that I have a disability. Well, with the help of my guide dog, I am usually ok. I just want to wear a sign sometimes that says” I do not want to sit down”. “I am able to order my own food/drinks and pay for them thank you very much”. “I am blind not helpless”!!! Now, these words sound really harsh, but I wish people would stop and think sometimes. One of the consequences of these things, is a feeling of total isolation. I would often feel like I don’t belong.

 

I am also quite capable of asking for help when it is needed. I welcome it when it is needed and offered in a respectful manner . There was a film I saw years ago where this blind guy was wanting to get off a bus. The driver gets so uptight he picks up the guy and carries him across the street! It was funny at the time, but it does make the point.

 

I have had this experience several times. Well, ok, they did not carry me across the street, but pretty close. I have been grabbed and dragged across the street often landing in a totally different location or direction from where I intended to be. I don’t get angry, well, most of the time, because again, I know people are thinking they are being kind. I have the desire here to tell them to “mind their own business”! Again, I don’t as I don’t want to insult anyone. I do appreciate the people who offer help, but are respectful when help is declined or accepted. I am very aware that there  are times when it is necessary to ask for and receive help. I am very thankful when it is offered in an appropriate situation.

 

Do you think there is a  good polite way to let people know not to do these things? Of course   this question I am asking is for new situations. Looking forward to your ideas.

 

PS When we meet, don’t feel like we need to stand for our entire visit.