Category Archives: General

Liebster Award Nomination!

Receiving recognition from people in one of your fields feels good. Last night, my blog was nominated for the Liebster award by my good friend and fellow blogger
Gemma Tutu
Thankyou Gem!

My knowledge of the German language is very limited, but I know liebster means something like darling, sweetheart and so even the name of this award is quite encouraging.

How it works:
Liebster is not a physical award. It’s more of a recognition thing in the blogging community. I was very encouraged by mine though nonetheless, and I hope my nominees will too. I’ll be answering ten questions from Gemma, and then nominate ten blogs I enjoy reading.

I’ll let my nominees know that they’ve been nominated and give them a link to this post. They then have to nominate five to ten blogs and answer 10 questions I’ll put to them. Oh, and the nomination has to be presented on the post. Either as a picture, title or both. It’s a chain and I’m not a fan of chains. But I like how this promote writing you love as well as havin your own writing promoted. But it’s ofcourse up to my nominees if they will accept the award or not.

So let’s get started on these questions Gemma gave me:

1. When did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2011. I blogged before then, but wasn’t satisfied with my blogs, so kept deleting them after a year.
2. What topics do you write about?
My blog started as a blog about blindness. However, I have progressed to write abou other topics that matters to me, such as my work, Nigerian culture and anything else that’s on my mind.
3. What tips do you have to share with others who want to start blogging?
Just write. Your posts don’t have to be long and complicated. As you keep blogging, you will feel more comfortable with it. Also, be consistant if you want a bigger readership. Try to blog at least once a week. I’ve not been so good at this always. And lastly, blog about things you have passion for. Either things you know about, or things you want to explore. Passion shines through in a post and make the blog a lot more interesting to read.
4. What are 3 interesting facts about yourself?
I’m the only Afrobeat singer of European descent signed in Nigeria
I’ve written a yet unpublished novel. It ran as a serial on the blog, but I have updated and edited it since then to improve the story.
I am fascinated with the mafia.
5. What are your hobbies?
I’m interested in other cultures. Particularly African and Caribbean cultures. I am also into cooking, fitness and nutrition. I don’t see writing as a hobby per se, because I treat it like work. But I love reading books, learning languages.
6. How often do you write?
I try to write every week. Though it’s only this year I’ve done that successfully. Before, my writing was more sporadic. Not because I didn’t care about the blog, but other projects got in the way. Ok, as well as laziness. I’ll admit that.
7. What has been your best blog post?
My most popular one has been the one about how to attract blind people. It’s even been published on a few other sites. As for which one I think is my best one, I can’t say. They’re all my babies.
8. What are your goals for your blog?
My hope is to educate sighted people on blindness related issues. Or in other words, try to normalize blindness so blind people are received more equal in all aspects of society. I also want to make people think and laugh and keep them entertained. I hope one day to be published by Huffington Post.
9. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be what I am now. A singer and writer. Those dreams never changed, though I was side tracked for a few years.
10. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, ambitious and fun.

Here are the blogs I love to read, in no particular order. As you can see, these are ten very different blogs. I like variety and blogs from where I can learn and be challenged.
1. Where’s your dog?
2. Lauren Henley
3. White Naija Girl
4. Chidinma Inspirations
5. TheAfricaYouwontSeeOnTV
6. Blind girl moments
7. Erywon Yeahmen
8. A Fulani-Nigerian in Britain
9. The Outlook from here
10. Diary of an exotic escort

Finally, the questions for those I nominated

1. What does blogging mean to you?
2. What was the hardest topic you blogged about and why?
3. How often do you write?
4. If you could feature on anybodyæs blog, who would it be and why?
5. Your favourite blogger e-mails you to ask for a guest post. Who is it? And why that blogger?
6. What are your goals for your blog?
7. How do you feel after having published a post?
8. What do you do besides blogging?
9. What did you want to become when you were little?
10. Mention three interesting facts about yourself.

Workout time!

Exercise is healthy and important for everybody, both for overall health and for more specific reasons. Nothing new. For blind and visually impaired people exercise is important because it can strengthen spacial awareness, movement coordination and because it also gives you increased physical energy, it gives you increased mental energy.

A lot of mental energy is especially important when you can’t see, because that tends to be what we use to complete tasks such as orientation. For example, you may not have a physical issue with going to your corner shop and get that pint of milk you forgot to get earlier, but mentally even a short trip like that can be extremely exhausting. People in the street giving you unwanted attention, shop workers not seeing you and if you have a bad day, finding that bloody counter so that they will see you.

I find that the better my physical shape is, the less issues I have with other daily tasks. Investing in a personal trainer and really getting to know my local gym is the biggest favour I’ve done for myself.

If there is one thing blind people should get subsidized support for, personal trainer should be it. Because it is such a life changing experience. In Norway, blind people can get physio therapy, but unless you have some kind of physical damage you need to constantly work on, or rehabilitate, then physio won’t do that much for you. So in a country like Norway, physio or personal trainer should both be offered as alternatives and not just for the blind, but all disabled people. At least for a certain number of sessions.

But of course, not every country in the world is a welfare state, so in those cases, other options need to be looked into.

I can’t stress enough though that any kind of exercise really will transform your life, whether it is working out alone in a gym, or attend dance classes. You may be like how I was and have a bike at home which you work out on because the gym is just a little too daunting. Nothing wrong with that. I still have my bike and use it. But exercising in other environments is so refreshing and confidence boosting.

The best place to start is to find something that interests you and contact the local gym, dance teacher etc. who organises whatever it is. Explain that you’re blind and may need a little extra help to get into the swing of things. My experience is that although you can meet patronizing people anywhere, personal trainers, yoga teacher, dance teacher etc., are just delighted that you want to take up something they care about. And so they have a can do attitude to make things enjoyable and doable for you. The same goes for other people you may take a class or go to the gym with.

And another great thing is that once you feel comfortable with one thing, you can try new things. I do numerous classes at my gym now as well as working out alone. Variation is key.

Finally, and of course I have to say this, the fact that exercise makes you look good helps too. Doesn’t it?

Afterword

I’ve written a novel in just over a month and that’s a fact I’m quite shocked by. But I’m proud too and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
The fact that it got done on time is actually quite a miracle. I wrote this story under less than favourable living conditions in Lagos. And both food poisoning, a record high of mosquito bites and some other tropical ailments at times made the process rather irksome. Due to irregular power supplies which also destroyed two laptop chargers, I wasn’t always sure whether the episodes would be done on time.

The next step now, is to edit the episodes. Improve the language, get rid of inconsistencies and strengthen some of the weaker points. And when that’s done, I’m hoping to get this thing published.

A list of thanks are of course in order. First and foremost I need to thank my secretary Elisabeth who invited me to her home in Homborsund where she took me to all the places you’ve read about in the story. Elisabeth also helped with historical facts, proof reading and publishing the episodes when I had no internet access. Thanks too, to my people in Lagos who went to the market to buy new laptop chargers and generally made sure I was fed, hydrated and medicated,making it physically possible to write.

Nellevine, the house ghost in Elisabeth’s hous,in Homborsund for being the inspiration to the story needs thanks, or else, she’ll haunt me forever, in an unpleasant way I’m sure. I have felt her presence too. And I’m not the only one.I sometimes had the feeling she was feeding me the story and helping my circumstances, turning them in my favour.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my readers around the world for getting hooked on the story and encouraging me to continue when I didn’t have the inspiration.

All the places featuring in the story are real, but I have allowed some artistic freedoms when it comes to eateries and other places in Grimstad and Kristiandsand. The characters as well as the mid-summer drownings are pure figments of my overly active imagination.

The Kindness of Friends and strangers

Yesterday was rather traumatic for me. I was, funnily enough, on my way to the doctor. Just for a general consultation, but walking from the subway to her office, I slipped, fell off the icy subway platform and flew backwards down onto the tracks. It happened so fast, it took me a while to realize I was lying in some awkward position somewhere dangerous. People were calling down to me to ask if I was ok. My voice didn’t come out and because of the impact of the fall and because of my very awkward position, I couldn’t move. A man jumped down to me and lifted me up and a girl stood ready to receive me so that he could climb up. I was unharmed, but in pain from the fall and I was in shock too. The girl offered to take me to the doctor’s office and the man also accompanied us. I was laughing quite hysterically and making fun of how clumsy I was while trying to hold a polite conversation with my rescuers.
At the doctor’s I got painkillers from the fall and she pressed my sore points with her hands to see how I reacted. We both agreed I should come back for an x-ray if I got worse, but that I was ok to go home and rest there and then. They were so kind to me at the doctor’s. A nurse took time out from her work to take me to the pharmacy so I could get my painkillers and she took me back to the subway. Why I didn’t insist on taking a cab, is a mystery to me, but I guess it was the adrenalin speaking. I somehow got home and place myself on the couch. I didn’t want to be alone, so I called a good friend, a girl I’ve known since highschool who came over. She’s one of very few people I like having around when I’m not well and I’ve sat by her hospital bed countless times because she’s often in hospital due to her disability which is not the same as mine. I think having her around helped me relax because I think I was still a little shocked.
Today I am feeling battered all over, and I will probably have to pop pills in the next few days. I’m going away to Monaco tomorrow which I’m very much looking forward to, except sitting in a plane in my state, but I’ll manage.

I’ve learned two important things from this experience.
1. I do really hate the Norwegian winter and all winters elsewhere where it gets icy!
2. The most important thing though, is that most people are kind and willing to help in serious situations.
I dare not think what would have happened if the subway had come, or if there hadn’t been any people to help me up. I am so glad I am alive. And I am going nowhere near a subway in the next few days!

Valid taste

It was when I was a bible study group leader in London. Us leaders where having a meeting to discuss how our groups went and seeing as we were a bunch of young women, we talked about all sorts of irrelevant things as well. “I had a dream about you,” one of the girls said. “Ok?” I was naturally curious, and wanted to know what the dream involved. “You had been healed and got your sight back.” She began. “And a few days later, you showed up at church and you’d had a complete makeover.” I was fine with the dream so far. It was, afterall a dream. “How did I look?” I asked intrigued. “First of all, you had straightened your hair and cut it Rihanna style.” I drew my fingers through my long curly hair and laughed a little. “And my clothes” “they were completely different and you were wearing different make-up. Oh and your hair was Rihanna’s red colour too.” “That’s funny.” I smiled. “Do you know what Linn?” she said suddenly. “I don’t think you would look the way you do if you could see.” “What do you mean?” I asked the smile dying on my lips. “I just think you’d look different.” “How do you mean different?” You would maybe straighten your hair,” “I like my curls, always have,” I interrupted. “I think your style would be totally different too,” she went on. “Is there something wrong with the way I look now?” I asked feeling simultaneously insecure and quite angry because I thought she was being indirectly rude. “Because even though you may not think so, I have certain tastes and I am aware of what I like and fashion in general.” “Well, I just think your taste might be different.” I can’t remember whether the conversation continued after this, but I was a little upset and felt that people assumed I dressed and looked how I did because someone else told me it was nice. Sure, I got some help with finding matching colours while shopping, but I chose the kind of clothes I wanted and because my mum spent a lot of time straightening my hair when I was younger, I knew that I preferred my hair curly both because it was easier and I felt better with my hair curly. I also happen too have a rare hair colour and my hair has both got a little red plus honey yellow in it, making it shine like gold when the sun’s shining on it and I have been asked how much I paid for that colour, so apart from one year in highschool, I haven’t wanted to colour my hair.

My taste in men believe it or not, was also challenged once by a former friend. Our friendship is unfortunately over, but not because of this issue. I have always been more attracted to Caribbean, Latin American and Southern European men, not in that order, but equally. I don’t know exactly why, but those are the type I tend to fall for. I like those cultures too, though I think the primary reason I’m attracted to men from those parts of the world more than others, have something to do with types of voice, how they tend to smell and how they behave. Smell and hearing, that’s too senses which determines how I find them attractive. But according to my friend, I would probably be more attracted to guys who look more like me, blond hair and blue eyes, if I could see. “Because that’s how it is. It’s scientifically proven that people who look alike are more started to each other,” she said.Sight, that’s only one sense to determine initial attraction. So wouldn’t my two senses technically be more reliable?

The point is, that I, as a blind person have my tastes exactly how a sighted person has his or her taste. Our tastes are shaped by both our personality and our environment. That is as true for me as it is for someone who can see. And what if I got to see one day and my tastes stayed exactly the same? I would still love dressing in a variety of colours like I do now and wear jewelry. I probably wouldn’t use so much make-up, because I don’t like the sensation on my skin plus the less foundation I use, the better my skin keeps. And what if I remain blind, can my taste change? Of course. Taste changes all the time. Without sight necessarily needing to play a part.

a tiny little revench

The door phone rang. I had just got up and managed to throw some clothes on. It was 9 AM and in just over an hour, I was going to meet my sister and we were going to this beauty clinic for a couple of treatments. I was feeling terrible. For the past three days, I’d been sitting at home writing a take home exam and yesterday; I’d gone out celebrating with the girls because it was over. I hadn’t been drinking anything except one glass of wine. The evening had been perfect. We’d gone to this Thai place which has authentic interior. Bamboo on the walls, plastic tables, chairs and even plastic plates. Your dining experience was enhanced by the sound of tropical birds and the visuals which also made it look like we were eating at a beach resort in Thailand. Once every hour, there was a fake tropical rainstorm. We had ended the evening with cheese and wine at an Italian restaurant my best friend works at. So my headache I confirmed must be a beginning migraine.

“It’s the electrician. I’m coming to do a routine check up of your fuse box.” I knew he was going to come and I was happy he’d come this early since I had to go out anyway. I let him in and quickly tried to make sure I didn’t look as half dead as I felt. I wanted my bed! Then, the doorbell rang. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where my story stops being similar to the classic porn story. Somehow, I’d preferred it to turn out like that rather than how it did turn out. Not that I found the electrician desirable, but wait, and you may agree that some rough morning sex probably would have been the better option.

“Are you tired?” he asked as soon as I opened the dorm I lifted my hand up to my face. Was I really looking that horrible? I didn’t know what to say, so I did the blind equivalent of a blank stare which technically is nothing except probably in my case, was a very confused expression. “Tired?” he repeated and made no move to come in. “Excuse me, who is this,” I said feeling awkward. “Oh, man, you’re blind!” he shouted and took a couple of steps towards the door. “Come in,” I said, wanting this to be over so I could drink my coffee before going. “What a shame,” he said as the door to my apartment closed behind him. “What is a shame?” I said, feeling the headache increasing. He walked through to my kitchen were the fuse box was. “All the things you miss.” “I miss nothing,” I said. I was getting a little angry. Wasn’t it kind of rude of a stranger who had come to do a job to start saying invasive things to his customer? “I’m sure you don’t but, I’d rather lose my hearing,” he said flicking the various switches to make sure they worked. “Strange,” I said contemptuously. “But I guess, each to their own. If you like having communication problems, I guess being deaf would be your cup of tea.” I didn’t add that he wouldn’t have to work on his bad communication skills because he already had them. Why is it that you think of these things afterwards? Of course I don’t think all deaf people are bad communicators, but the “would you be deaf or blind” debate is one I am so sick of, that any deaf reader must have me excused. I’m sure deaf people get it too and that they must be tired of hearing that if they at least could hear and be blind, they’d be able to enjoy music and easier communication. “all my friends would choose blind.” I added. “Because they see how great my life is, just like theirs.” “You must have some special friends then, he said. “Well,” I snapped. I don’t know if you have a girlfriend, but imagine you don’t. Imagine that you’ll meet her next week and that she’ll change your life to the better. You don’t know it’s going to happen, you haven’t met her, and so you don’t miss her now. Imagine also that tomorrow; you’ll see the film that will become your favourite film. You are not sad about missing that film today, because you haven’t seen it yet.” He had moved to my bathroom now and had only two rooms left. “I get your point, but it’s not the same. Oh, and by the way, are you from up north?” “Huh?” That really shocked me. I am a born and bread Oslo girl and my family roots are from the west of Norway. Northern Norwegians are known to be quite big mouthed and snappy, but so are the people from the west, although northerners swear a lot more as a natural part of their language, something I don’t really do. “Your dialect is really northern.” This is when I should have said that if he wanted to be deaf, he really didn’t have far to go, but again, I thought of that later. “I’m getting everything wrong today, aren’t I?” he laughed and but his shoes back on to leave. “Well I’m done and it’s all looking good. I’ll give you a pamflet about electric safety. Could you get someone to read that for you?” He went through the main, pretty obvious points with me anyway. “Who knows, I said relieved that he’d be out soon.

The rest of that day, I lay flat out with a migraine, but not before I’d had a great morning with my sister and godmother, who happened to travel through Oslo just then and wanted to meet us for coffee. Great accept the headache of course. And we laughed at the rude electrician.

So what do you say? Wouldn’t a passionate encounter have been far more exciting? Today, I did something that made me feel a little rebellious, in a sweet way. I was going out to make a radio report on a marching band and I needed to Braille down my questions. The pamphlet paper made for perfect Braille paper, so I tore out a page since I didn’t have anything else. “Take that”, I thought whilst hammering down the keys of my last century brailler. And I thought that sometimes revench tastes sweet, sometimes bitter and sometimes it felt like Braille dots on a pamphlet given to me by a rude electrician who’d rather be deaf.

A good old rant

Yesterday was the start of the Olympic Games 2012 in my former city, London. I don’t care much for watching and listening to sports, but something like the Olympics is a little different, and when I heard that there was going to be a special audio commentary for the blind at the opening ceremony, I got quite excited.

In good time before the show started, I went online to check whether the link for the live stream was working. Not surprisingly it wasn’t. I was outside the UK, so I suspected it would be like that.

I know BBC radio works from abroad, but I hadn’t used the BBC Iplayer for a long time and even though a couple of my friends told me it had become inaccessible, I didn’t realise just how much.

I found the station where the audio commentary would be broadcast, but love and behold, there was no play button, nor any other indicator as to what I needed to do to get the radio player started.

It may well have been a play button, but it was invisible to me who use a screenreader.

Getting sighted help wasn’t an option and besides, I shouldn’t have to get sighted help for something so basic. So, I didn’t watch the opening ceremony. I probably could have watched it, listened to the artists, speeches etc on Norwegian TV, but knowing that it was available with audio description where everything, even down to the costumes in the flag parades would be described, this just wasn’t a very attractive option.

Optimistic and in a good mood, I logged on today to see if I could find the show in the BBC archives. I’m ex BBC staff and I can access and watch TV programs abroad. But, they had only archived the bog standard show, without the commentary!

I tried the Iplayer again and found the radio show, but not the play button.

I am deeply disappointed in the BBC for whatever they’ve done to the Iplayer. It used to be so easy to use with clearly labelled buttons. What was the point of changing it? If the point was to increase the user experience, could it not have been kept as screenreader friendly as it once was? If it had been, blind people all over the world could have listened and enjoyed the audio commentary blind people in the UK did.

And while I’m at it, I wish more countries in the world could offer audio description on TV and in cinemas. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I refuse to buy DVDs in Norway because they take away the audio description track from the DVD. Why? Why? Fricking why? What’s the problem in keeping it?

Last but not least, Audio books. I am not sure how many of the books published each year make it to audio. Luckily, audio books have become popular with sighted people, so they are both cheaper and there are quite a lot of titles available compared to before. However. The publishing regulations rub me up the wrong way. Why does it have to be such that if you live in the wrong country, you can’t read certain books? Imagine if the same restrictions applied to print books. I know that I can order books from Amazone in the states on CDs, but it’s not convenient and it seems unnecessary when I know the book is available digitally.

I’m also a member of Bookshare, a great site, but it’s not really fair that in America, users have access to 70.000 books, while in the rest of the world it’s less. In Norway, it’s only 16.000. That’s not even 25%. And what if the book I want to read is among the 54.000 not available to me just because I’m not American?

My ultimate dream would be some kind of world library for the blind. I wouldn’t even mind paying a reasonable yearly fee to be a member if it meant I could access books and material from all over the world in the format I wished. All the excellent libraries for the blind in the different countries could contribute with their material and the books could be water marked so that it could always be traced back to you if someone leaked it online. Watermarking is used in Scandinavia, I believe in America and probably many other countries, though the UK is a little behind here. And it works. All members have full and free access to their library and don’t want to lose their borrowing rights, so nobody is tempted to leak books this way.

It would probably eliminate the need for illegal sites. Especially if borrowing audio described movies and TV programmes would be part of the service. It could have a central administration in a country like the UK or the US or Canada, as well as local departments in whichever country you lived.

And in cinemas, since most movies have audio descriptive tracks, you could just walk in to the cinema and request it be put on for the film you wanted to watch. Possibly call them a little in advance. The only drawback I guess is for people who don’t understand English, but it would improve the experience for many.

If only these things could happen, I would be a lot happier.

Sighted people have access to a lot more media than the blind, although the internet is making the gap a little smaller. But only with solutions like the once above, could we come close to everything they are accessing.

Well done if you read this till the end!

Basic questions on blindness

Sometimes, I like typing the words “blind people” into Google to see what I come across and I get results that make me laugh out loud and some that makes me sigh in exasperation. And I understand people out there have a lot of questions about blind people they’ll most likely have unanswered. Either because they don’t know any blind people, or because they know someone, but they are too shy to ask.

Also, blind people don’t exactly put information out there on the internet for anyone to read, because, the idea of it is a little ridiculous and because the understanding of lack of knowledge on the part of the sighted are not understood. I am only recently beginning to see how much interest there is around questions on blindness and what opened my eyes to that, was my post on blindness and dating which has had loads of hits. I can see what people search for when they find that article and usually the questions are so extremely basic that I’m wondering how people don’t know better.

If you are sighted and have little or no experience with blindness, this post answering the most basic and common questions are for you. I will do my best not to be too condescending, and I hope this will help when you first encounter someone with little or no sight.

How do blind people use a computer?

We use normal computers, but we install screenreading software on it so that it either speaks to us, or displays information on a Braille display. Braille is the name of the letters for the blind invented by Louis Braille and we read it with our fingers. Because of this, we can use computers as efficiently as a sighted person. Most of us learn touch typing from a young age as well, and so blind people tend to type rather than using voice recognition software.

How do blind people manage to match their clothes?

That is a matter of learning which colours go together and which does not. When I buy clothes, I always remember the colour of each and every thing I own and can match that way. I have a little machine as well called a colour indicator which tells me what colour a certain clothing item has. It’s not accurate, but if you have two tops that feel exactly the same and you know that one is blue and one pink, you will be able to tell the difference by using that machine. Cutting the label on one of them is also a handy trick. For simplicity, I only own black socks so as not to mismatch there.

Do blind people have a concept of colours? The short answer is no. Being completely blind myself, I only classify blind as not being able to see anything at all apart from perhaps some light, so even though some people are termed as legally blind can see colour, they’re not part of this article, because I do not know anything about seeing a little bit. But I am digressing. Blind people have, if they are born blind, no proof that they have a concept of colour. However, I know for me and for some other people I’ve heard of, that we have our own image of colours in our head. So for me, if you say that the shirt is maroon, I’ll immediately understand what you mean, but whether it is the same maroon that you can see, or even the same maroon other blind people imagine, we’ll never know. I enjoyed painting when I was little, and my mum used to put different kinds of grain in the different colour pots so I could mix and match to my hearts content. I recently heard of a blind Turkish painter who uses exactly that same technique.

Are blind people able to cook, clean and do other housework?

Of course. Although I have to say not everybody have parents who are willing to teach them from a young age and so sometimes they can find it hard. But blind people can operate cookers and ovens as long as they have buttons. We can cut fruit and vegetables and all that. Of course, certain things are hard, like separating egg yolk from the white, but if you have a blind friend who cooks well, let him/her make you a gourmet meal if he or she so wish. Sometimes the fingers look as if they are a little bit too close to the knife or oven, but unless you hear a loud piercing scream or a series of swearwords, assume it’s all under control.

Laundry is not a big deal. My fully sighted parents always had one basket for the dark and one for the light clothes and this is a great tip for the blind. I’ve already talked about how we recognize our clothes, so as long as the washing machine is easy to use and have buttons, it’s all fine and hanging the clothes out is a piece of cake.

Cleaning is possible, but a blind person doesn’t always have a way of knowing whether a spot is left etc, so a cleaner is a good idea. However, maintaining a clean house in between having a cleaner is something everyone can do if they can move. And even sighted people have cleaners.

Shall I tell my blind friend if he/she has smeared make-up, a spot on their shirt etc? Yes please! You can be friendly and discreet though.

Do I always help a blind person who looks lost or who walks along and doesn’t look lost?

If someone looks lost, ask if they need help, but if they say no, leave them alone immediately. If they look fine, but you want to do a good deed, look for an old lady who looks like she may need your help more. Or an old man.

Can blind people live independently?

Yes and thank goodness for that. A blind person with no additional disability and who has learned the necessary skills all children should learn can live and maintain a pretty and happy home.

Is total blindness black?

I’ve heard some people say it must be gray, however I have know idea. I have detached optic nerves, so in my case it is colourless. Don’t try to understand it, because you probably won’t be able to and I can’t explain any further.

What is it like to be blind?

Let me ask you this: What is it like to see? I think coming up with an answer to that is pretty impossible just like it is in my case. How do I know what being blind is like? I can’t compare it to anything. It’s all I’ve ever known. Only someone who has been able to see before could maybe answer that question for you.

Do all blind people need the same kind of help?

No. And the important thing here is to let the blind person you are with tell you what he/she needs. It might be fine helping with cutting up the food for one person, while for someone else that is an insult. Some people like to hold your elbow and some like to walk next to you etc.

I cannot think of any more basic questions, but if I forgot to cover something, please leave me a comment. Let me just end by saying that blind people get educated, get jobs and careers, date, go travelling, have sex, have children, go grocery shopping, have dreams. In fact, our lives are remarkably similar to YOURS and we are as different as all the sighted people out there. Just bare that in mind when you meet a blind person for the first time. Or a person with any other disability for that matter. And by the way, you can say watch TV and see you later to a blind person. They are figures of speech and we use them ourselves.

10 things I love about Norway

Just before leaving the UK I did a post on 10 things I love about the UK
as well as a post on 10 things I dislike about the UK
and I promised I’d do the same regarding Norway. Though I’m born and raised here, I’ve spent so much time away that even after four months, I feel relatively new to Oslo, but in a good way. It’s nice to rediscover and actually quite enjoy the city I was desperate to leave at the age of 19.

But let’s get to the list!

1. The chocolate! It’s not too sweet an there are so many varieties from the pure milk chocolate to the one with bubbles and the ones with crunchy/biscuit fillings or soft fillings. When I lived in the UK, I made sure to bring a stock of Norwegian chocolate which I hardly shared with my friends because I enjoyed it so much. And as I’ve resettled in Norway, I still can’t get enough. However, I’ll happily share with friends now as I need only walk for 10 minutes to buy more.
2. The nature. As a child, I groaned and moaned when my parents made me go for a Sunday walk in the forest. BORING! But now I really like it. I had a couple of friends from London visiting me earlier this week and on their last day; we went for a walk in the woods near my house. As we sat down on a picnic bench in the sun, listened to the birds sing and the ducks walking close buy, feeling the fresh air and the smell, I was proud of living in a country with such lovely nature. I am by all means a city girl, but a walk in the Norwegian nature, be it forests, mountains or parks, with or without skis on, will always clear my head and lift my spirit.

3. Oslo. I love it especially in the summer when the main street has a market, buskers and other street artists from all over the world doing their thing, the restaurants on board boats down at the port and, well I could go on forever. It also has the multiculturalism I love so much in the form of shops, restaurants, cafes and people from everywhere. There is also a lot to see, so it’s a great place for tourists.

4. The water. It tastes great and it doesn’t have that white stuff in it that London water has, so washing up is easier. The water is so good; I don’t by bottled water unless I want sparkling stuff.

5. Norwegians. My people are not fuzzy, down to earth and honest. You don’t get that oh so annoying British politeness and I find that if I’m ever lost and Norwegians offer help, they do so without all the “I’m ever so sorry if I intrude” or the “are you absolutely sure?” if you decline. If I had any criticism, it has to be that I wish there was more warmth between and towards people like you find in other parts of the world, but Norwegians are generally quite friendly.

6. Everything is very organized. Buying and selling property is very easy here. It took me only 3 weeks from I saw the flat I wanted till it was mine. And it only took that long because we waited to sign the contract on purpose so that it could be done on my birthday. Otherwise the whole thing would have taken less than a week. Also there are not all the middle men involved in buying and selling like there is in Britain.

7. Good quality houses. In the UK, I often got the feeling the houses and flats were not built very well on the inside. I remember my heavy glass shower door falling over me one day I was cleaning without me even moving it. I also think the doors and wood of the walls were bad quality which would need frequent renewing. And carpets! I hate carpets! Rugs that can be moved I like, because they can be cleaned. Here I have a feeling more thought is put in to the building and the quality of what’s inside the houses.

8. Food quality. I’m not really talking about the Norwegian cuisine itself, more that the food usually is nice, clean and of good quality. And I no longer have the 5 extra kilos I seemed to carry in the UK.
9. Beauty. I know this is both biased and boasting, but Norwegians are generally quite pretty and dress well.

10. There is no class divide. Sure we have rich and poor, like anywhere else in the world, but there isn’t quite the working class, upper class thing there is in the UK.

Watch out for my post on the 10 things I dislike which I’ll do my best to put up tomorrow!

Hands on not required. On faith healings and disability.

Today, I’d like to talk about a topic which I am feeling strongly about. Faith healings and healers.

Being a Christian has been mostly a positive experience for me. Through my faith, I have gained an inner strength, joy and peace I did not have when I wasn’t saved. But the bit I find hard when it comes to my faith, is interacting with Christian strangers. I especially hate joining a new church.

Why?

Because often within the first hour of me being in a church, some well meaning, but clueless person walks up to me and offers prayers of healing. “Being disabled was never part of God’s plan”, or “You should pray for the spirit of blindness to leave you in Jesus name!”

I used to get beyond furious when people like that approached me and if I could, I’d get a rude comment in there, or just turn my back on them.

I still get angry, but as I am maturing, I realise that me turning my back on those ignorant people won’t teach them a thing. In stead, I try reasoning with them in the most Jesus like language I can think of such as “Would you give a rich man a million dollars?” or Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” or simply, “I realise eye sight is practical for many reasons, but I don’t understand how, apart from that my life would improve.”

Some get it. Most don’t. And as a result, I only feel comfortable in churches where people pay me no attention, where I have a friend I can escape with after the service or a church where people know and accept me for who I am.

I know many disabled people of any faith share my opinions. Religious people and I don’t call myself religious by the way, are trying so hard to be compassionate that what they actually end up doing is talking to you like you are some kind of inferior being. They try to comfort us with stories of so and so who lives in a remote village in a country on the other side of the world that got healed. I’ve also heard of the blind man in Scotland who got healed and is now a bus driver. Seriously, wouldn’t he do something a bit more high flying than driving a bus if he got his sight back?

I don’t think these stories are true at all. Do I believe faith miracles can happen? Yes I do. But I find it strange that they only happen in remote places and that there’s no news of them otherwise. Wouldn’t someone who suddenly become sighted or hearing be on the news? I certainly would speak quite publicly about it as I simply wouldn’t be able to keep it from the world. I also think they are exaggerated. One woman in the church I used to go to in London, asked me after pointing out that I’d be a more complete human being if I could see that she got healed from sight loss. I asked her how this could be, and it turned out she’d had cataract or glaucoma, can’t remember, and but that whatever she had got removed by surgery and that now she could see again. I heard of a lame that suddenly started walking. But on asking questions, this was a person who learned this with the help of physio.

These can be called miracles or healings in their own right, but it’s not the kind of laying hands on healing these religious people keep talking about. And healing can also be a mental process. For example, there are people who claim to have lost pain in their bodies by having had hands laid on them, but often, these are the results of believing it will work and then, as a result, they feel better after such a healing meeting.

Fake faith healers unfortunately exists. The greatest example of someone like that is Benny Hin who has been exposed in the media for trickery in making people believe they’ve been healed. And those faith healers are clever. They make those who wish for healing write down their prayer request along with their names and financial details on little cards. Then, the Faith healer’s right hand man or woman communicates with them through a walky-talky device giving out people’s names which the healer then communicates in the audience. “Is there a p, Peter J, I feel a name starting with J, Johnson, Jackson?” AT this point, poor Peter Jackson jumps up, goes to the stage and gets a prayer of healing. He really wants to believe that he’s healed of whichever affliction he suffers from. He doesn’t want to disappoint the healer with a bad result and it would also destroy the great shows those kinds of healing meetings are. So he’ll claim that “Yes I am healed” to which the fake healer responds” In the name of Jesus! He has been healed in the name of Jesus! Glory be to God Almighty for an evil demon has left him” or something very similar.

These people are dangerous. Darren Brown once made a programme about fake faith healers where he got a normal man to pose as one. In the program, we heard of people thinking they had been healed from for example cancer and then stopped taking their medication and treatment. They died of course. Darren Brown successfully put up a service for the fake faith healer and at the point the healers normally ask for donations, this man gave a speech warning the audience of fake healers.

I have also been made to feel awful because I refused healing. A pastor at my London church right out told me I wasn’t brave enough to want to see, or had enough faith. If I was meant to be healed, his faith would have been sufficient according to the bible. So I went up and asked for healing, reluctantly and it was awful.

The worst time though, was at my friend’s mother’s wake. After commemorating her life with worship and a sermon, I went up to the pastor to ask for prayers for my own mum who was in the terminal stage of cancer. I wanted to pray for her peace and for no pain. However, on seeing that I was blind, he turned the attention to me. I may have needed prayers in regards to keeping strong through the difficult times, but none for my sight. I left feeling nothing but disrespect for someone who thought a healthy person’s eye sight was more important than a cancer patient’s well being.

Christianity is simple. So simple that many of us, me included fail to grasp the simplicity of it. Love. Simply love. Loving means accepting people for who they are and not try to change them. If you truly love, you won’t go up to that new wheelchair kid in church assuming they want healing. For by being who you are created to be, you fill some sort of roll in the world. I believe in the resurrection, and when that happens, I will no longer be blind. It will be wonderful, but for now, I am who I am. I have found my place in the world and in Christ and through being blind, I have been given a perspective on things which I believe has made me into a better person. I thank God for the blindness just because of this. Not having a certain physical ability, does not mean you’re not a perfectly healthy and strong human being who doesn’t have a lot to give.

So to you lovers of healing, you’ll do a lot more good and cause more healing in a disabled person’s life by including them in the church. Let your first question b if they’d want another doughnut or what they thought of the service rather than asking if they feel incomplete. If a disabled person wants faith healing, they’ll go to the appropriate person. Someone they trust.