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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?

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Blindness = stupid, naive and needy

I’ve already devoted more space to blindness than first was intended for this blog. But it’s a part of me as much as the fact that I’ve got curly hair, or that I like reggae. It has defined and shaped my character, my life choices and opportunities to a certain extent. People usually ask me whether I wish I could see and the answer is yes, but not because I’m bitter about the fact I can’t see, or because I want to see the beautiful red/orange of the sunset, or the twinkling stars in the sky. No, I want to see because the society was never made for a blind person. Electronic or braille books was never the norm, and neither was audiodescription in cinemas, brailling in shops and blindness in general really. My biggest reason for wanting to see is that I’m always having to prove to people that I’m capable of living and breathing and that I sometimes have to fight for things sighted people take for granted. And there are people who won’t leave me alone because I carry a white cane. There are old ladies who always think I’m up for a chat, or people from certain countries who ask me who cooks my food or what I’m doing outside after dark. And last, but definitely not least, are the men who think they can get easy access to my body and money just because I’m blind. Afterall, I’m blind, so I must be a bit naive and desperate right?

Luckily this has only happened to me twice, but both times got my blood boiling with anger. I am no fool.

In the first case, it was a rather bad relationship with someone I thought was exciting, but someone I knew was bad for me. To cut a long story short, it ended when he understood I was too smart to let him have full access to my life, be it keys to my flat or bank account.

3 years later, I was friends with someone whom I genuinely had only platonic feelings towards. Sweet guy, but I was taken and he wasn’t my type. This friendship also ended because he realised I was never interested in being more than friends.

Surely, that happens to a lot of girls and it has happened to me in the past, but I can tell the difference between someone who plays on my supposed vulnarability to try and win me over so they can make some extra cash by making me trust and love them and and someone who got disappointed who genuinely thought me a suitable girlfriend and it really makes me sad to think that some people, be it women or men, befriends blind people and try to get with them to fulfill their own needs whatever they might be.

I realise it doesn’t just happened to blind people, but I know of other disabled people this has happened to.

The question I ask those sneaky “do gooders” is Where is your dignity? You certainly wouldn’t like the same thing done to you?

At the same time they make me laugh, because thinking that anyone would be stupid enough to fall for their game, means that they would be stupid enough to fall for someone elses game should the situation have been reversed!