25 Nov 2015

What You Can Do with Time & Under Pressure

using time and pressure. He’s working on you, too!”
Rick Warren

Over the past few months, I have seen what I am capable of achieving with time and under pressure, some would call this working to a strict deadline.

My dear Gateway blog has taken a back seat as I have been furiously pumping out another  20 articles for the blindness.about.com site!

So…for those who might like an update, here are the 7 most popular posts to date.

And…there is one more bonus I just have to share with you.
A community event I designed that took place on November 8th 2015 called
Click on the link above to see all the magic of this awesome day.
Who knows, we could be coming to a city near you too!

Would be great to know what you have been doing with time and under pressure too…please leave your comments!

My deep thanks to my partner and tech wizard Harry Williamson, for film footage and for his tireless energy to produce our Youtube clip.

Copyright © Maribel Steel 2015

13 Sep 2015

Something Happened on the Way to My Future

“The best dreams happen when you’re awake.”
Cherie Gilderbloom

There has been a little less activity here at the Gateway over the past couple of months – and would you like to know why?
Something happened on the way to my future!

Over the past fifteen months or so, I’ve been writing posts as a peer advisor for VisionAware, a branch of the American Foundation for the Blind, and loving it. With a wonderful group of peers, we contribute helpful articles on many topics relating to living with being blind or visually-impaired.

So there I was, typing away on one of my posts when, I received an amazing invitation in an email from New York!

A recruitment scout from About.com – a Top ranking online network website was in the first phase of their redesign effort and this person was asking me to come aboard to write for them on the topic of vision loss.

At first, I had to reread the email three times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and the offer was legitimate and not a spam letter. Then when I realised it was a genuine offer and a brilliant opportunity to expand my skills as a writer – I got straight down to writing up a list of articles I could offer (after doing a merry-dance all around the house with joy!).

Many More Posts per Month

Having begun in August, I am writing 6 posts per month on the NEW network, blindness.about.com, so I’ll be sharing the links here to recent articles as well as some of my pieces for VisionAware.

Gateway readers, it is my delight to share with you the first batch of posts…

How to See Blindness as a Word and Not a Sentence

Taking Charge as CEO of Your Life

5 Ways to Avoid Daily Chaos

How to Create a Successful Double Act with a Sighted Assistant

How Do You Cook for Your Family when You Can’t See

Cooking is a Sensory Affair

And for those who would like to celebrate our loyal guide dogs, head over to VisionAware to read my tribute to Run Melbourne: a Walk in the Park with our Guide Dogs

Thanks all – do write a comment here if you have a topic you would like to see covered in upcoming posts…go well, flow well…may something wonderful happen on the way to your future too…

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” Eckhart Tolle

My heartfelt thanks to my partner who has taken on the complexities of being the web-master behind the scenes to deal patiently with tasks required to make all this possible

– Harry Williamson, please stand up and take a bow, you’re a legend!

21 May 2015

Treasure the Art of Being Blind

Do you sometimes get lost or frustrated hunting down articles of interest when visiting a blog? I sure do. I am aware my blog is not the easiest one to navigate around due to my lack of vision in setting it up with tabs and categories, social shares and friendly comment boxes.
So, to avoid any frustration you may experience at the Gateway, I have dug up some of the little treasures hidden within 200 pages on this blog and have placed links to each one in today’s post.
If you are new to the Gateway, or if you are a subscriber, here are my 15 most popular posts as a quick reference map to read more on ‘the ART of being blind’.

1: 8-threads to weave into the garment of change

When I began to lose my eyesight, it was natural to fear losing so many other aspects of my life that I treasured. The hardest hurdle to overcome was knowing how to weave positive threads into the garment with the label of disabled firmly secured to the fabric of my life.

2: Many Different Hats

My mother hat is swiftly replaced with a survival hat to help me cross the six-lane highway with its heavy traffic using my white cane as my trusted guide. I listen intently with complete focus and concentration – not one other thought crosses my mind except “Stay safe”.

3: 5 key ways blind people do it better

It’s true! Anything sighted people can do, visually-impaired or blind people can do it better. Be warned, we know our limitations and we’ve adapted to this blind-challenge. Being blind brings a new spin on life. When you accept the ride, you actually find many ways in which to excel.

4:  What colour is that?

For as long as there are some shades in the colour spectrum to discern, my brain will offer logical deductions to help make sense of the blurry world all around. But when the object is too far away or impossible to see because of faulty light- sensitive cells at the back of my scarred retinas, my brain asks: ‘Eyes, please be more specific, I have no idea what that is!’

5: Benefit #1 being blind: you are the rose among the thorns

There IS a better way to take hold of this thing they call blindness. When we choose to look for the symbolic rose among the thorns, life takes on a new perspective.

6: Insight through sound

Imagine a spider in her well spun web who becomes acutely aware with her sensitive receptors when an accidental intruder bounces onto the invisible threads guarding her territory. I too receive information from the ‘vibes’ bouncing towards me, partly through hearing and partly by trust and intuition.

7: It’s touching to see the world

As I stand at the gateway facing the ever-diminishing sense of sight, my view of the world would be dim indeed, if my hands were bound together, and never allowed to reach out and touch what my eyes fail to see. 

8: Tools of the blind-tradie

Among my collection of tools are four qualities that I recommend to any person embarking on the profession of blind artisan. No matter what the obstacle ahead, I can guarantee from personal experience four attributes that will help you meet any challenge – and come out smiling.

9: A license to laugh

Humour is a tool that has the capacity to open the heart and unlock the gift of laughter to any soul seeking the truth. Seeing the ‘funny’ side of life when it could also be seen as ‘tragic’ is a tool worth its weight in gold.

10: To braille or not to braille: that was my question

Sometimes, my mother sat by my side and coloured in parts of my school work that I was struggling to see. She added her artistic flair to brighten up the pages of my books as well as lighten our hearts. But then came the Question I had been dreading, to braille or not to braille.

11: Blind Sherlock and Dr Memory

As sight fades, I am aware of how much I am gathering clues from listening, touching, smelling, tasting, feeling and observing as best my eyes can but above all, there is one undeniable device working over time in helping me to adapt to change.

12: The scent lingers on International Women’s Day

True friendship grows out of a genuine desire to sweeten the life of your friend when they have a bitter pill to swallow. When sight began to fade during my teen years, I found such a true friend at school. Like two peas in a paranoid-pod, we soon became inseparable confidantes for one another.

13: Why be fashionable if you can’t see?

Choosing one’s clothing is a matter of FEELING first, then seeing how it all fits together. When you feel good in what you wear, you will look great. Feeling textures of clothing is not always because I want to buy it but is a curious desire on my part to see the choices at my fingertips.

14: Writing Blind: how blind people manage to write

As a visually-impaired writer I compose stories, store documents to folders, read and send emails, create posts for blogs and surf the internet – all without being able to see the screen on my laptop. Come and meet my verbose parot, and see how we work together…

15: Mastering Blindness: Radio Australia Interview

if you want a front row seat, sit back and listen to the conversation where I speak with the charming Phil Kafcaloudes, presenter of a popular morning breakfast show on Radio Australia. We talk candidly on ‘ Mastering the daily challenges of living with blindness and journey back in time to explain how it all began with the diagnosis in my teen years.

Got any of your favourite stories to share? Please leave your comment here…

You may also like to read travel stories from a blind perspective. 

Copyright © 2015 Maribel Steel
Photographs Copyright © 2015 Harry Williamson

3 May 2015

How We Can Be as Wise as a Child

“Tarry a moment to watch the chaos of a playground,
crayola-colored shirts of running children, all trying out their wings.” Sun Wolf

Have you noticed how the little people in your life know the true meaning of living in the moment? If we take time out of our busy schedule to stop and observe their play, we will see how their chaotic activity is actually a better strategy to making the most of life.

They experience everything as the present, being in tune with the gift of time.

My three-year-old grand-daughter surprised me one day when we were spending a few days together. Silver delights in going to the café to eat cake and have her own cup of bubbachino  – so off we went, with her mother too, and it was this outing that really taught me the meaning of time.

Making light and letting go

It was during our four day holiday on the sunny shores of Queensland where I met up with my daughter Claire and her little Silver. I had forgotten how being with a small child can be both laboriously slow and athletically fast. They can be happy one moment, demanding the next. It’s a life of swinging contrasts that move by the second, not by the hour.

Being with a small child challenges your energy level and mind, challenges your patience yet brings incredible joy.

I noticed that Silver’s day consists in appreciating minute by minute distractions but in allowing herself the
freedom to explore the newness of everything, she is being fully present to the activity of the moment.

Claire and I often found ourselves laughing at the way our plans were diverted to following Silver’s non-planned agenda. She stopped to admire what seemed to us to be every bug and leaf on the pavement: completely living in the moment, one by one by one.

When we decided to let go of controlling the time it was taking to walk to the café, our annoyance shifted to one of acceptance and in making light of being led by our cheerful toddler, we could relax into the moments with her too.

Swing into the moment

When we finally arrived at the café, I decided to be on holiday too and watch Silver play.

I noticed her mother swiftly remove any breakables from the top of the table and produce a soft toy to distract Silver while we placed our order.

Silver sat looking, with wide-eyes observing everything in the world around her at each moment. She pointed at the noisy bus passing by the window, then squealed with delight seeing a cheeky pigeon pecking at a doughnut on the pavement and then quickly swung around in her seat to contemplate what she might do next with the leftover piece of banana in her hand.

Her happiness was pure and simple. In that moment, I saw the gift of time as she did.

Her joy is in the small detail of experiencing life.

Like all children, Silver is never ahead of herself, she is always with herself in every single second of her day and lives life to the full. She is not planning what she and her mummy are doing in ten minutes time. She’s seeing the plane flying high in the sky or knocking over the ice cubes in her drink, throwing herself down on the floor with bitter disappointment for her spilt drink followed by a swift pick-me-up cuddle!

It’s a rollercoaster ride with a young child…swing right up there in a burst of laughter, dive down there in the pit of despair. Children take us on this ride of our lives too – to experience every moment as it happens without judging it as good or bad: it just is!

"Love children especially. They live to soften and purify hearts

and, as it were, to guide us.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky


we can’t behave like young children in every moment of our day. But we can stop to give ourselves the precious gift of time when life is getting way ahead of us.

Whatever life-challenge or stress you may face, remember that it is taking time-out to proceed step by step that will bring you joy in the moment. Let go of your plans every now and then and discover the healing gift of time!

Let your joy be in the small detail of experiencing life as it unfolds, one amazingly beautiful moment at a time.

In loving memory of my mother Piluca, who's love of children is especially remember today on her earth-birthday... and felt every moment in my life as my heavenly-angel  xxx

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Copyright © Maribel Steel 2015