Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Whiskey Boy, Where Are You?

| Filed under blindness Relationships Uncategorized

I love games, especially card games and dice games. When I began losing my vision, I transitioned to large print playing cards, then braille cards. I learned to play some games on my computer, though in the early 1990s there wasn’t much to play except solitaire and a few others. When mobile technology finally leveled the playing field, I tested out dozens of games on my iPhone. The one I enjoy the most is Dice World.www.diceworldgame.com It was the first game I played with other players in virtual time and I am a loyal “dicer”. Geek squad here I come,

It’s been about 8 years now and I have been playing with another dicer whose handle is Whiskey Boy from New Zealand. We play Yahtzee. We play one or two games simultaneously and we even tied which is like winning the lottery in terms of dicing games. I really wanted to chat our unique status when it happened but I didn’t; I am trying to figure out why I didn’t in this post. Historically I don’t use the chat option. I want to play and not get caught up in wasting time dictating messages. I think I only chatted with my sister and only did so a few times in as many years. Maybe I don’t want to take the chance at being rejected or disappointed and probably shouldn’t be making any huge assumptions. Yet, there is part of me that wants to know more about this person from down under with a really cool handle and who has tied me, which has only happened once in over 500 games. Maybe I’ll just send him the link to this blog and let him decide.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 1

Please Don’t Use That Word

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized

To what word am I referring? HANDICAPPED. What has triggered this reaction, one might ask? First let me say that I usually don’t walk around calling folks to task over their choice of language, even if I find it offensive. If it is not directed to me or those I am with at the time, I do not engage; in today’s world of hyper-triggering altercations and random acts of violence, I keep my own council. More importantly, I respect our rights to free speech.

The other day was an exception. A few friends and I, who all happen to be blind, were at a meeting along with others who were not visually impaired. The word was used, referring to us. Once the word was out, I found myself cutting the other person off, saying, “Please don’t use that word,”. Then the second person in the conversation used it and I said it again. I hope these two folks learn to eliminate it from their brains and speech references, I hope the H word is struck from our colloquialisms, like society has done with the N word. Furthermore, I do not identify with the H word, nor do most people with disabilities. While it is my opinion written in this blog, I realize folks might not realize just how insulting it is to be labeled by a word that means one is so impaired that one cannot take care of oneself or presents as having a disadvantage. That is not me nor is it the majority of the people living with disabilities. Am I splitting hairs? After reading the word origin, thanks to dictionary.com, I am even more confident the H word should remain as a betting reference

To be fair, I don’t hear it as much as I used to, like back in the 1990s, but there are still examples of eliminating the H word, like, “handicapped” parking signs.

In a perfect world, people with disabilities would not need to be singled out or pitied, but, since we live in a world of imperfections, why can’t we all dispense with the negative, stereotypic labels and adopt more respectful terminology for folks? Thanks for reading.
A rant from a person with a disability.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 1

Driving Blind

| Filed under blindness Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

I had a horrible encounter a few nights ago while traveling to a meeting. It was humiliating and left me feeling as if a piece of the hard-won confidence I have acquired over the years was chipped away by ignorance. I don’t want to revisit the entire debacle but the vestiges of the damage are still in my mind and heart. My post-script has been handled with the cab company and apologies were made, yet I cannot let it go.

When I cannot leave something like this alone, I write to purge and invite the catharsis of the written word and this experience is no exception.

The theme here is a merging of what it means to be blind and how an interaction can leave one feeling successful or unprepared and undervalued in society. I am not speaking of being overlooked in the deli line; I am not referring to avoiding being spirited across the street by well-meaning but clueless pedestrians. While these are all part and parcel of our daily interactions with the sighted world in a general way, we do have some control and influence in these examples. We can speak up and state our needs and folks can listen or pass us by. We have control of where we go and what we do and how we want it to happen

I think what I am trying to describe is a form of passive victimization. I was held hostage in a car by a person (the cab driver) who refused to consider me. At one point I thought to myself, if he doesn’t stop and I can’t get out, I will have to call 911.

Let me also say at no time was I harmed or put in danger, at least not physically; I was ignored, we were lost, the suggestions I made were ignored; the suggestions by the GPS and two friends over the phone were also lost to this man and when I began to cry from fear and frustration, these were also ignored. Perhaps the driver was also panicking, unprepared for me and the services my disability required; perhaps he was afraid of my dog — but at the time I was not able to reach beyond my own fear. In hindsight, I believe he probably deserved to be part of this experience and I sure hope he learned something positive from it. On a harsher note, it is my opinion he shouldn’t be driving a cab and even I could tell couldn’t read the street signs.

For those reading this, becoming a confident traveler who is blind builds up over time, perhaps even years. I am not alone when I say there is a hint of unease each time someone like me takes up the harness handle or white cane and steps beyond the safety zone. It’s like learning how to drive the first timeand reliving it to a certain extent, depending on who you are and how well equipped you are mentally and physically. Sure, training and good orientation help but there will be times when all your skills have no influence on the outcome, when you have lost control and you have no idea how to respond. This is how it was the other night and it felt like I was in a bad accident without receiving any whiplash.

I hope I don’t have a repeat of this experience , and, if I do, I will be better prepared. Feeling helpless is amplified for a person with a disability and the way I reacted is not outside of the norm, yet part of me feels ashamed of how I reacted and I still feel embarrassed and angry. So, I am left with coping with words of comfort: this too shall pass.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 7

The Writing Village

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Hello all. The past months have been especially full of technological challenges for me. I am a burgeoning author who just happens to be blind and there are just too many things for me to manage in the short time between a full-time job and busy life caring for three dogs, two of which are seniors, along with my hubby. One aspect of it is self-promotion, learning how to apply it and not allow it to take over every spare moment. Let’s say I am still working on how to juggle it all. I am a good student and learn quickly, so I am hoping by the end of the summer I will know how to tweak the various selling applications, websites, and other online tools so I can concentrate on finishing up my second poetry collection and get it published.

Here is a brief explanation of the book writing village for those who are curious: I badgered my daughter until she created an INSTAGRAM account. I manage the Face Book and Twitter accounts myself. I routinely ask my sister to assist with formatting challenges I cannot complete and ask for her help with other tasks requiring vision like ordering items from VISTA PRINT. My editors assist me with other aspects of book promotions, too. My husband often mails books, attends book signings, being driver, money-changer and heavy lifter (books are heavy!), and other tasks as we travel the path of the Indy author experience. I am so grateful for the help and attention and care from my book writing village. When I am rich and famous, I am hosting a party for y’all.
What have I learned from all of this? The act of Writing is singular, but the profession is full of caring human interaction.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 2

My bio

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>el=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Ann M. Chiappetta MS

Is a celebrated Author, poet and consultant. During the past 20 years, her stories and articles have been featured in both hard copy and electronic journals and magazines such as Breath and Shadow and Dialogue Magazine. Ann’s award winning poems have been printed in numerous small press poetry reviews and she contributes regularly to special interest newsletters. Ann’s poetry has been featured on podcasts and other audio presentations, to listen go to http://www.annchiappetta.com

A 2015 Spirit of Independence advocacy award winner, Ann possesses expert knowledge in a variety of topics including blindness and vision loss, service animals, and military culture. Her informative and engaging presentations include topics blending social awareness and education. The subjects of her presentations range from speaking to children, to seniors and to veterans on themes ranging from creative writing to disability awareness.

Ann’s books, “Upwelling: Poems” and “Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust” can be purchased from all eBook and print-on-demand booksellers http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ .

Subscribe to her blog by going to www.thought-wheel.com/

Poem: A Dog’s Breath

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

A dog’s Breath
© 2018 By Ann Chiappetta

A hectic day
aRetreat into four walls of sanctuary
The effort of presentation
of professionalism, of being evaluated
And On the lowest rung
Burned like a premeditative strike.

Was I so horribly misunderstood?

hopes dissipated
Deflated balloons, once bright and buoyant now
Burst, flatulent and dispersed

There I sat
Fingertips on the keyboard, confidence compromised
In the office falsetto
I breathed

And Caught the sound with closed eyes
In-out, in-out, in-out
A partner in rhythm
Lying by my side.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 1

Darned Delete Finger

| Filed under Fiction Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

I’ve been procrastinating in telling this story. A few weeks ago, I was a total derp and deleted files that somehow could not be recovered. Yup, two novels-in-progress and a number of other manuscripts I’ve been working on for the last three years. The computer tech could not recover them, and I am now resigned to taking the original manuscripts and re-writing them. Hundreds of pages, plot revisions, and scenes gone and nothing I can do about it.

Well, I told myself, no use crying about it, I’ve been through this before and I can get through it again and make the stories better.

I’ve also made some decisions about how I back up my work and decided on using cloud storage for my works-in-progress.

The message here is mistakes will happen and the key to recovering from it is staying grounded and revising the plan to reduce the error from recurring. I may have a twitch in my delete finger, though, and I hope to reign in my trigger finger from now on, BAM!

.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 3

Three Years Together

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Bailey and I met in March 2015. The first day he held my wrist in his mouth as if to say, I am so excited I just need to hold onto you. I would gently stroke him on the head and he would let go, opting for a butt rub instead. The next day, as I bent to put the harness over his head, he got in some face licks, too. I was instantly attracted to his energy, his work ethic and the fact that he did not snore. My retired dog snores like a human, so thank goodness for small blessings.

Bailey keeps me grounded when I am faced with a burst of vertigo, a symptom brought on since the final decline into blindness. His goofiness makes me smile, like when he brings me two dog toys in his mouth at the same time. He challenges me, like when he decides not to listen to any commands when a new dog greets him. Not even a dog treat distracts him when he wants to say hello if he isn’t working. Yet, when he is guiding me, my hand on the harness, he somehow pulls it off and we move on past the dog distraction.

He is a licker. Instead of a harness sign saying, “Do Not Pet Me, I Am Working” I want one that declares, Warning: licking Zone,”. I’m not sure it will keep away the unsuspecting victims, though.

He doesn’t become intimidated when faced with an 18-wheeler pausing at a street crossing to let us cross. He doesn’t notice the developmentally disabled man pacing us, trying to pet him. He doesn’t even twitch a paw on the paratransit bus when another passenger calls his name and stays on the floor, ignoring them.

He’s almost five years old and has matured into a beautiful and noble creature, standing straight and tall, weighing in at 73 lbs.; cream colored fur, a little darker around the eyes, on the ears and the tip of his tail. I think the best part of being a guide dog handler is how well we get to know our dogs and the benefit of allowing them to bond with us.

Thanks to his puppy raiser, Pat, he loves to have his face touched, his ears rubbed, and loves his kennel. This part could go on forever, as a raiser does so much when the pup is growing up.

Here’s to our third year together, Bubba, thanks for being by my side, for accepting me despite all my faults and helping me understand the meaning of canine

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Annie and Bailey the yellow lab guide dog

unconditional regard.

Meet The Author

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Meet the Author Ann Chiappetta
Author of Follow Your Dog A Story of Love and Trust © 2017 www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/
Date: March 15th Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Place: Westchester Disabled on the Move 984 North Broadway, suite LL10, Yonkers, NY 10701. Directions: 914-968-4717 or www.wdom.org/
Signed books are $10 each, cash only.
What, exactly, does it mean to share one’s life with a guide dog? The person and guide dog are interdependent, and the bond of mutual trust is what makes the partnership successful and fulfilling for both. Ask yourself how many people you would trust with your life, and after answering, ask yourself if you would trust an animal with your life. Unless you are bonded to and live with a working dog, you might hesitate in answering the second question.
To be sure, guide dogs have performed many heroic tasks and have saved handlers from innumerable dangers. However, there are smaller and subtler things that can mean so very much: the feel of your dog’s head on a foot while riding the bus, the whimpers and doggie dreaming, the way you and the dog move in sync when walking down the street, and countless other tokens of trust and affection.
With this book, I hope to take the reader on a journey of understanding: learning what it’s like to overcome the darker side of disability by walking the path of independence with a canine partner.

Love in Seventeen syllables

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Hello readers, an interesting thing happened the other day after posting a humorous haiku about poo to the email list belonging to my guide dog school training program. The outpouring of love and respect for our canine partners overflowed into dozens of haiku. The edited collection is below. It is one of the best things about the creative experience: passion drives creativity and our incomparable companions keep us passionate, for sure.

Thanks to all who contributed; while there were over 8 pages of poems, the pieces here are only a small sample representing the love and respect I think we could agree is a reflection of how we feel about our dogs.

Haiku
Poetry Collection
A Profession of partnership
Guiding Eyes for the Blind Graduates

What does your dog do
Alight upon the sun beams?
Yes, each day we fly

Mac has love so blind
My faults hidden from his view
So simple, so real

Rub Prince’s tummy
Safely Guide Judy day/night
Gifts of Love for each

The squirrel runs fast
Legs are twitching as he runs
In the Guide Dog dreams

People, subs, shadows
Julia’s loves in six years
Julia the first

Yankee Doodle guide
Buses, sidewalks, and streets
Guiding quick and true

Blind, alone, afraid
Geb guide no longer alone now
Guide is my best friend

Amos, my sweet boy
Soaring through crowds to targets
Lying on my feet

Henley is so sweet
Sugar and candy can’t match
German shepherd love

The Concrete Jungle
Where Kit and I stroll daily
Freedom beyond dreams

Small, fast, and agile
Like supercar and driver
Dog and I are one

Dixon, first in line
He wanted to lead the pack
When not on my lap

Jada is my wings
Watch us fly across the sky
We don’t see the ground.

Adler went too fast
He taught me trust and patience
How to replace him?

You are my best bud
My loud and lively Lawson
Thanks for all the joy!

JJ son of “Wildman”
Playful when out of harness
All focus in harness

Squire, dark as night.
smart, strong, and ever so sweet.
Ever and always.

Observant guide dog,
Counters sadness with face licks
Makes me laugh and smile.

Pip, out of harness,
my social butterfly girl
Has more friends than me.

Irish cream doggie-woo
Giant heart spirit of two
Taken hold of me

Hadley is two dogs
At play: run and slide! Bounce! Fly!
Harness on: a king.

Quincy was my first Guide,
That Golden boy stole my heart,
Always in my Heart

The trees and sky breathe
My golden girl goes forward
Our hearts together

Curled asleep at feet
Waves of love from guide Ryan
Smiling a tear falls

My vision’s as wide
As a dog can see, hear, smell.
Guiding Eyes radar.

Liza is so quick!
Gave that candy a big lick.
The clerk put it back!

Walking by my side
You safely show me the way
Teamwork everyday

Flying through our world,
Brilliant mind and stellar step . . .
Marli’s guiding eyes.

My dog is Cici,
She is my guiding Eyes girl,
Without her I fall

Two Years together
Yankee and Mom a great team
Working and playing

I walk in snowshoes
Dog is in four black Mukluks
Home, now there are three

Guides. Finds, loves to play
Always willing willing to retrieve
Muzzle stuck in shoe

Hadley loves to love.
He’s all cuddles, no kisses.
Mouth’s reserved for toys.

Naughty puppy face
Harness on, working face on!
What to do without?

With sudden blindness
Clare became my light and sight
My guide and friend

Our talks as we walk
Open volumes clearly spoken
Unheard by strangers

Night comes, harness off
Naughty puppy face once more
We dream together.

Akron, gentleman
Needed a much slower pace
Sleep contortionist

Tessi bouncy girl
Met no one she didn’t like
Glad at work or play

Find eighty-eight keys
That is where you will find Mac
Snoring underneath

Sweet but sneaky Pip,
will commando crawl for food
Dog foodaholic.

The one that started it:
Brown nuggets drop from
Dog to snow, hidden in white
Lost until spring thaw.

Love in Seventeen syllables

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0