I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Thursday, May 31, 2012

           It's All About Community

         I've been contemplating the idea of "community" for the past month. And I've come to realize how very mportant the concept is within my life.

         A dear friend of mine has lapsed into dementia, rather suddenly following a health issue. Anyone who has a family member or friend, or knows someone  connected to an individual in the dementia spiral, can appreciate the toll it takes on those closest to the afflicted. Your interactions change, your communications change and you must accept it and move forward while grieving the loss of the person you knew. It helps to have a community of people who care about the individual. Together we can hopefully help our friend still feel valued and loved.

       I find I need  a community of visually impaired and sightless people, as well as family and friends who support me through  the vision loss challenges. That's why I'm a Board Member for the local chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness and assist with our support group. When I had to give up driving and then when I needed to learn to use a white cane, I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge. [To see how I handled it, check my archived posts for those labeled "Visualeyes"] But those in the support group knew exactly how I felt having gone through it. They reassured me I'd get there when I was ready.

     I also participate in a listserv for the visually impaired. The other day, a woman confessed to hesitation about using her white cane because she just knew everyone was staring at her and it was embarrassing. She was going on vacation and planned to use the cane elsewhere, around people she didn't know. She thought it would be a more comfortable environment to practice her mobility skills. My heart was racing and my palms were clammy as I read her post. With every cell in my body I understood her fear, her embarrassment, her sadness because I experienced it all. And guess who else tried out the cane on vacation around strangers? Yup, I took mine first to a beach town and then made my first "public appearance" at the LA-SCBWI summer conference. I was only semi-mortified in LA because I just knew 3 people out of about 1,000. 

         As writers, we definitely want a sense of community. Writing is usually solitary, and can be isolating. It's easy to feel vulnerable and lack confidence on your own. 

          But critique groups, blog buddies, web writing challenges, surround us with support, with guidance in writing, cheer us on after rejections, and understand the frustrations and snail's pace we've come to know as trying-to-get-published. 

        So many aspects of our lives involve a community. Even communities within communities. I for one, depend on them. I thrive with them. I'm grateful to be a part of them. Long live communities.


  1. Hi Gail! So nice to see you blogging again.

    I'm sorry that your friend has lapsed into dementia. I have a couple of friends who have family members who are going through this. It is so sad. I remember reading your posts about the white cane and some of the other things you have dealt with. I'd like you to know that I think you are a very inspirational person.


    1. Thank you Susanne for your kind words!

  2. And I for one know that your community spans all the way to Zip City, Alabama... I've known you was special from the first moment we met at a conference. Keep busy my friend, busy hands fights off depression, self-doubt, distrust, bitterness. I see and hear only love and joy in your face and in your words

    1. Thank you, too, Pat; for your support and friendship.