Can’t see it? Just do it. Stuff for the blind and everyone else.
Can’t see it? Just do it. Stuff for the blind and everyone else.
It’s nearing the end of February, and judging by the crowd I encounter on the evenings I hit the gym, people are still keeping up with their 2014 new year’s resolution to get into shape. I’m not one to make resolutions, as I believe goals should be made when a person finds the desire and is ready to do so. I don’t believe in waiting until January 1st to stop smoking, start eating healthier, start exercising, etc. If you know you should stop drinking two liters of Coke a day, and you’re ready to take that plunge on December 8th, then do it on December 8th.
Ever since I turned thirty and grew a muffin-top, I knew that I would soon have to undergo some lifestyle changes. No longer were the days when I could eat fried chicken, pizza, eggrolls, and pan-fried noodles to my heart’s content without worrying about my waistline, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. But I wasn’t ready to take that next step to getting fit. I wasn’t ready to drink kale juice and enroll in bootcamp classes.
Until the summer after I turned 34 last year.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the winter Olympics are going on now in Sochi, Russia. Growing up, I loved the winter Olympics. My favorite sport to watch was figure skating. It was a pastime I enjoyed with my mama. But now that I can no longer see, the Olympics on TV have dropped on my list of enjoyable activities. But since they only happen once every four years, I figured I should try to have some idea of what’s going on, so this past week, I’ve tuned in my television to the Olympics, if only to listen to the sportscasters narrate the competition.
I do wish I could see the snowboarding sports though. I used to live in L.A., which must explain my fondness for surfers. And the winter alternative to a surfer is a snowboarder. And ever since I picked up snowboarding, my affinity for the sport has grown.
Telling time has been the bane of my vision-less life. When I was still in grad school, I was wearing a talking digital watch. It had a button on the face, and when you press the button, it announced the time in a muffled, mechanical voice. It never failed: every class period, I’d accidentally knock my wrist against the table or chair, and the voice would say aloud, “You’ve still got another painful 98 minutes of class.”
Okay, just kidding. It would read the time, but it was embarrassing nonetheless, and I felt like a dunce. My ears would burn, and I’d apologize, even though nobody seemed to care. I just didn’t (and still don’t) like a lot of attention on myself (which is why it’s all the more surprising that I chose to do a televised competition).
It’s the beginning of November, and that means the holidays are right around the corner. And that means draining your bank account to buy unappreciated gifts for your significant other, your children, your great uncle, your neighbor, your coworker, your boss, your pets…Then there’s the long hours (days?) of holiday cooking only to result in a dry turkey that nobody touches. And then there’s the stress of feeling your gut oozing out over your waistline and then the dilemma of trying to finish that dry turkey yourself since you hate wasting food, which leads back to the muffin-top issues. Sigh. The insanity. The stress.
Whew. Talk about a long-winded headline. But lately, I’ve had lots of energy. Not only did Pop-up Episode 1 at MKT BAR go off without a hitch (more on that soon—I’ll have a surprise for you in that regard), I’ve been [sort of] relaxing lately with some down time before the culinary adventures begin again.
I’ve been sleeping better than I have in years, trying to eat a little healthier, and working out a little more than usual (which, sadly enough, isn’t much). But I’m feeling good. I have a few weeks to shed the apron for the pen; with a personal essay and short story on my revision desk, not to mention that pesky memoir I haven’t touched since my thesis defense, I’m welcoming a change of pace in my daily routine. But what I’m looking forward to the most is being able to wear pajamas, no make-up, and bed-head every day.
This week, I have a guest blogger (my first one ever, so be kind). Meet Jon. He reached out to me after learning about me on “MasterChef.”. Jon is a photographer. Read on to find out what makes Jon’s story so intriguing.
Hi, I’m Jon. Like many, I have been inspired by Christine to achieve my Dreams.
I have 2 things in common with Christine. First, I am a creative person; I couldn’t cook to save my life, but I can paint, draw, and take great photos. Second, I have temporary blindness—I’m currently legally blind in my left eye from a secondary Cataract, and am fighting permanent blindness from Glaucoma.
My story began when I was just 19 months old and was Diagnosed as one of the youngest cases of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). This was well treated during my youth and went into remission. Meanwhile, I was showing a lot of promise as an artist; my grandmother and father both taught me how to paint and draw. Growing up, I was always known as the artist.
In junior High, the JRA struck hard and fast, almost crippling me. I was quickly treated before it could cause permanent damage. With medicine like Celebrex, and Enbrel, I was able to suppress it and live a normal life.
At 16, I noticed some blurriness in my right eye. It turned out to be Uveitis (arthritis/inflammation in the eye caused by my JRA). the treatment of this disease is what ended up causing my Cataracts and Glaucoma a few years later. During this time, I had honed my craft and was able to draw pictures with such detail that people often mistook them for photos. I won competitions and was accepted as a Sophomore in High School to a prestigious Art School in Brooklyn.
But I decided to go to college in Idaho for business. After just a semester, I was pulled out because I had full-blown Glaucoma in my right eye and had lost 75% of my optic nerves life. I spent the next few years in surgery and recovery. That was when I reevaluated my life and realized there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I then spent my early 20s soaking up life: traveling, skiing, hiking, spending time with my friends at their colleges—getting the most out of life that I possibly could. This was hands down one of the 2 best decisions I have made. I still live my life with this mindset and love it.
Three years ago, I made the other best decision of my life: I started my photography business. I jumped in head first, bought a professional camera and lens setup, and immediately started building my portfolio. It was a few years before I learned how to be a professional in the industry, all the while losing vision in my right eye to the point where I couldn’t see any definition through my viewfinder. I would use my left eye to see the shot and try to frame the composition with my right eye. Amazingly I did some great work during that time. I was able to get the blurriness cleared up, thanks to my great doctors and new technologies.
I am now becoming one of the best photographers in the area, and I’m working towards national recognition. God gave me challenges and shortcomings, but two things He gave me in abundance are Aspiration and Drive. I spend every day studying and teaching myself how to become better. I want to be recognized as one of the best photographers in the world, and won’t settle until that happens. Watching Christine take on a challenge that seemed insurmountable, and not only do well, but excel and ultimately win was all the affirmation and inspiration I could ever ask for. It just goes to show that your limits only reside in your mind. Knowing this has amplified my determination and growth. I have seen a great deal of personal and professional success since being inspired by her on “MasterChef.” Knowing that I am capable of becoming the best has torn down the walls that were once limiting me. I just turned 30 a few weeks ago and am looking forward to my future.
Thanks, Jon, for sharing your story. And you all thought I was nuts for being a Blind Cook, huh? Check out Jon’s work at Jon M Photography, and show him some blind love.
We’re deep in the season of baseball. Who said blindness has to stop you from playing America’s most beloved sport? Check out this video clip about the Long Island Bombers, a baseball team for the blind. And I thought I was brave, being on ”MasterChef” and snowboarding. But I would still be scared out of my mind to hear balls flying at my face.
Yeah, yeah…so this is old news. But I’ve only recently begun clearing out my inbox, and the hubster had sent this article about the world’s first Braille phone, but I’d only read it recently. The functionality is very similar to how a Braille display works. I’m not sure fedex generic viagra how competitive this device will be against such innovative Apple iPhones, but it’s nice to see advancement in technology for the visually impaired. Now if only they could make a plane where the cockpit controls are all in Braille so we could become pilots. Just kidding. Or am I?
Last Wednesday, I got an email from the communications director at Rodale (my cookbook publisher) stating that my very first book I’d ever published, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, was going to debut at #12 on the New York Times best sellers list for the week of July 14th under the Advice/How To/Misc. category. I was so incredibly stoked. I was in the car with my girlfriend on our way to a happy hour for a friend’s birthday.
“I’m not going to drink to her birthday,” I’d said. “I’m drinking to my making it to the NY Times best sellers list!”
I thought getting into University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program and graduating with my MFA was an awesome feeling. Winning the title of MasterChef last year was superb. But I have to put being a NYT best selling author on to that same list if not at the top of it all. It was seriously yet another dream come true. Now to work on getting that Pulitzer…and then the Nobel…
Speaking of my cookbook, many of you have been asking since its release back in May, “Can I send my book to you for you to sign it?”
I’ve always had to turn down these requests because I simply, as a one-woman (with an occasional half or two) show, did not have the capacity to receive, sign, and ship back books. If I said yes to one person, I’d feel obligated to say yes to them all, and with all my traveling and workload, I just couldn’t do it. I felt bad because I don’t like disappointing people.
And then my local Houston book signing at Brazos Bookstore came and went. And then because I support Brazos for their long-lasting relationship with our graduate program, I decided to suggest they carry signed copies of my cookbook. It was a win-win situation: Brazos gets to be the exclusive store carrying signed copies of my cookbook which obviously leads to more sales for them, the fans get what they want, and I am happy to please everyone.
Ask, and you shall receive. Buy signed copies of my cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, from Brazos Bookstore. As always, thank you so much for your love and support. xoxo
As you can probably tell by my many micro-blog updates lately, I’ve recently joined Instagram. Before my Instagram days let’s call it the dark ages—no pun intended), every time I took a photo, I’d have to open my Facebook app and post on my personal page, then open the Pages app to post on my fan page, then open Twitter to post to one of my three handles. What ended up happening was, nothing got posted. Simply because I got too lazy since it was all too tedious. My techie husband has been urging me forever to get on Instagram, explaining that he could use IFTTT to automate (like a trigger) where the photo posts from Instagram via the hash tags I use. How cool is that? And if you’re wondering how we blind people go about navigating Instagram, take a look at this video where Tommy Edison gives us a rundown on how the blind use Instagram on the iPhone. We can do just bout anything a sighted person does—just differently. Follow me on Instagram, and see how well/poorly a blind girl takes photos!