Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Just When I was Feeling Down …

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Hello folks, just when I thought I’d never manage to step out of the pity party pot, someone offered me a hand and helped me get past the worst of it. Actually, it was more than one person, so read on to find out more.

A month ago I injured my right ankle. I was turning a corner with the left knee ACL strain and the left foot fracture from 2015 had healed. I still feel pain but for the most part the rawness is gone. Anyway, I somehow managed to hurt the right foot and ankle. The pain is horrible, the lack of mobility is worse. It was all getting to me and I began feeling unmotivated and blech. I am limping and back to the support cane. The mornings are the worst, too. The injury stiffens and it takes an hour and pain meds to even take the edge off the pain. At these times I am the bitch mother and I cannot even talk without fire pouring from my mouth.

One can just imagine how unpleasant it is to be around me, and my family has been forgiving and tolerant. 🙂

Now that I’ve established how miserable I was, and still am, to some extent, two things happened: a visit to an assisted living facility with the dogs and the husband and an absolutely stellar review of Upwelling by a person for whom I hold in very high regard. The first part with visiting the ALF pushed me past my pain, forced me to put my own suffering aside. Thanks to Jerry and the dogs, we brought smiles to seniors. Jerry knows how much it means to me to help others and let Verona take on her role as a therapy dog. I think Jerry is beginning to like it, too.

The visit renewed my resolved to work past this injury, to be patient and do my best to heal.

The second gift was reading a beautifully written review of my first poetry collection by the editor of Dialogue Magazine www.blindskills.com/ . It brought me to tears, the thankful kind, very different from the tears of pain and frustration I’d been crying beforehand. I am so thankful to be reminded that I do matter, that others respect and like my work and that just when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to push past the struggle, I received two beautiful and meaningful reminders.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 1

Lost

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Uncategorized

Lost in the Parking Lot
(c) 2017 Annie C.
The realization that I am completely and utterly lost rushes through me like a hot flash. The rain changes everything, what was familiar is washed away in moments. Damaged retinas cannot make sense of the rings of light reflecting off the black asphalt. The downpour muffles the sounds I use to orient in the parking lot. I could very well be only ten feet from the door but at times like this, it is terrifying.

My dog is huddled beside me, I stopped asking her to help me 5 minutes ago, when it was clear she wasn’t able to lead me inside. Her docility was one of the reasons why she made a good guide dog but now the very same part of her temperament caused her to avoid making decisions, especially in the rain without her harness.

I remove the hood from my head to listen for a door opening, footsteps, traffic on the parallel street, or the rush of a train so I can figure out where we are. My white cane trails the parked cars and I turn into the empty space in-between two cars, hoping this is the walkway leading to the back door of the apartment complex. The cane tip touches the asphalt and like a divining rod, I hope to find the familiar. It hits a curb and I know it is not the right place; I go back to the row of cars and stand there, frustrated. My dog shakes off the rain.

Then, behind me and to the left, I hear the back-door open and the relief floods through me. By the sound, I am about 8 or so spaces away. I walk toward the spot and then a flicker of dim light flashes in the little window of my vision and I recognize it. My dog pulls me in the same direction and I sweep my cane forward ahead of us. The tip of the cane touches the metal drain and then, thankfully, the door. I fish out my keys, and then we are inside and my dog shakes off the water. As we walk to our apartment door, the frustration subsides. All it cost was five minutes of paying attention and a wet dog.

Support Indy Authors on Independence Day

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Yes, readers, thanks to www.smashwords.com Upwelling is now half price, that’s right, just $1.50 in the downloadable file of your choice. Just put my name in the search field and follow the link to purchase Upwelling at a 50% discount. For the month of July, you can find thousands of eBooks, some for free. I hope you take a look at the sale on www.smashwords.com and load up your eBook reader or tablet and support independent authors everywhere on Independence Day by purchasing a few titles.
Have a meaningful and fun Fourth of July and stay safe and strong.

A Weekend To Remember

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

A Weekend to Remember
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. (c)

April 21 – 23, 2017
Tribute to the First Annual Guiding Eyes Continuing Education Seminar

Like many ideas, It began years ago
abstracts based upon the past
concepts blossoming from a common passion.

It was a new idea, unique and untried;
For some, the Challenge instilled apprehension
Perhaps a reason for hesitation
Or for decisions being delayed

For a time, hope came second
As it happened,
Voices united, attitudes changed
Wishes became goals, then actions

The desire to gather together
was no longer waylaid

Human hearts made it happen
To honor Inter-species relationships
The most powerful relationship of all

The spirit of canine propelled us
To the meeting place.

To 3 days of inspiration
36 hours of memories
And laughs to last a lifetime.

exuberant Labradors
Stoic and steady German Shepard’s
80 teams
30 instructors and staff
40 puppy raisers and volunteers

And really good food
Cumulated in achieving
cooperation totaling 150%
And Energy that could not be measured

A coming together
as vibrant as Woodstock but
Not as muddy.

There were dog tangles
Reunions and tears,
Obedience practice, play time
And Challenges including
A hotel that seemed to be built like a corkscrew.

Faces split in smiles lasting hours
Full hearts sharing meals
Imagine a ballroom lined with
Classroom-style tables
A person sits in each chair facing the podium
Beneath each place lies a dog, quiet
Or silent, asleep or awake
Snoring or dreaming
Licking a paw
And these canines
Our eyes
Our joy
Our inspiration
Our independence
Our family

Our reason for being who we are
And the reason why we were all there
Elicits an inner glow, a sense of pride
Or accomplishment, or purpose
We know intimately how well
These dogs gave us the ability to soar
not for only 3 days or 36 hours
but continually.

Our dogs connect us, bonding Hearts and minds
Later, after the reunion
In the afterglow
We will draw upon the link
Recall the shared experience
And, with humble words, thank our dogs.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

On Being a Good Dog

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Our Good Dog Story
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. Verona and Bailey
This story began at the time I met Verona, a black Labrador retriever bred and trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I was matched with her in 2009 and we worked together for six years. When she started to tell me it was time to hang up her harness as my guide dog, it was heart breaking. She had become such a loving and intuitive dog, helping so many people during our work together. I am a family therapist and also visit schools and other facilities and institutions, and Verona was unfailing with her ability to bring a smile and ease the stress of someone who was suffering in some way. She was a dog whose job wasn’t done just because her guide dog harness was no longer being used; I did the best I could to honor her doggie work ethic. A year after she retired as my guide dog, she was evaluated to become a therapy dog.

“She is a natural,” the evaluator said, “this is just a formality.”

Verona did possess an advanced doggie degree, having worked as a guide dog, after all, right?

A year later, we were in the advanced class with eight other teams. Once we passed, we would graduate as one of the official pet assisted therapy teams for the Good Dog Foundation http://thegooddogfoundation.org/ .

This part of the story will explain the most unique piece in our journey together. Being blind and wanting to work with not just Verona but also my current guide dog, Bailey, and making it work for all three of us was the real challenge. I was anxious and a tad fearful that this trio of blind person, guide dog and therapy dog would not be accepted by the instructors or the general public. When I got up the nerve to verbalize my worries, the instructor said as long as I want to make it work, there is a way to make it work. Our class instructor was not going to allow me to quit. She made it clear at the very beginning that being blind and having another dog with me wasn’t going to be a reason to walk out with an incomplete or be turned away.

We made it work by preparing and practicing with both dogs and asking for help when I was required to focus on training with Verona. We went to most of the classes with a third person who sat apart from Verona and I. The helper, which involved either my sister or husband, held Bailey, who stayed in harness. The first two classes were the most disruptive to him, but he earned food rewards for settling and not whining when he saw me give Verona a reward. Bailey was still young, very attached to me, even after an entire year of being my guide dog. I think his tolerance was challenged when he was asked to settle and let me work with Verona. By class three, however, he wasn’t even whining. He settled down and even napped during the last half of the class. Class four was a test for all of us, I was handling both dogs and it was a little more frustrating due to the logistics. For instance, the three of us had to work out how to walk together, when to allow Bailey to perform the guide work, and train Verona to heel on the right. I felt that both dogs, having been living together for two years and having already accepted their respective roles, were up for it. We practiced for two months, taking practice walks and the preparation paid off.

In empathy for Bailey and his situation, imagine the person that you have bonded with and guided is suddenly going back to interact with another dog; I could feel Bailey’s confusion. I have since given him some slack but also provided directions and a way for him to perform even when he is not guiding and required to “turn it off”. He is rewarded with treats and praise for being quiet and not engaging. He still wants to greet the children, licking hands and wagging his tail, but he will settle when asked.

November 6, 2016 was graduation day and since then we have been visiting local libraries. We are now working on making smiles happen. Verona is giving back and helping by being the one to give the gift of positive energy. Bailey has matured measurably in the last 8 months, too. I am so proud of his ability to make the transition and step into his harness when I give him the forward command. I am a very lucky lady. I have learned so much about both my dogs and their personalities. It’s given me the confidence to go out and help others. It helps me because I am able to give back, and being a person with a disability, I am often the recipient of kindness and it means so much more for me when I can return it.

I don’t know where our path will lead or what the future holds for our trio but I do know one thing: we will continue to do it together for as long as we can — When I clip on my I.D. tag and tie on Verona’s scarf, it feels like we can conduct miracles with a smile and wagging tail.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Binge Watching

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Uncategorized

I’ve taken on a new social behavior. I suppose being who I am, having been raised in the 1970s in the crib of the boob tube, it was inevitable.

Friday and Saturday nights, after the laptop is closed, I escape into the bedroom. I open the iPad, tap on Netflix and settle in for some entertainment.

As I plump my pillows and wait for the dogs to follow me into bed, I think of those late nights in my childhood, bathed in the eerie luminosity spilling out from the black and white TV. I recall sneaking down to the Livingroom and turning it on, the volume barely above a whisper. I would sit close to hear it — because of being extremely myopic, getting close meant I could see the details and not be dragged away by a concerned family member who feared I would ruin my already ruined eyes. I would place my fingers on the channel selector, gently turning it to dampen the clicking sound and surf the late-night movies until the stations signed off after midnight.

Now, with a finger flick I peruse the choices from anime to westerns. The most amazing part of this is the audio description track offered for blind folks like me. I can watch an entire season in two nights and afterwards, after shutting down at about 2 a.m., I can sleep late and take the time to decide on the next binge.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 2

What Have You Been MIssing?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Well, constant reader, life has been full, overflowing, in fact. Just because winter has influenced just how much I miss benign outdoors and feeling the sun on my face, it doesn’t mean I’ve been curling up by the proverbial fire and tucking in to read a good book and wishing the world away. I’ve been a busy little pea hen, pecking away at the responsibilities of life and such.

When the solstice passed and it began to stay light longer, I did feel a sense of relief from the winter doldrums. There is still so much to do, to get ready for the exploits of spring and summer, which I am longing for in a way I haven’t felt before. Is it aging? Maybe. All I know is I am happy to be busy and productive.

Speaking of being productive, our pet assisted therapy visits, made possible by The Good Dog Foundation, are going well; Verona enjoys them and Bailey is learning to accept it when I handle Verona and he has to “turn it off”. He still has to work on this but is doing well for a young and energetic dog. I am enjoying working with them both by myself. Sometimes it’s just easier when we go without another person. Strange but true.

I am gearing up for the editing process for my next book, a memoir written about my experience of going blind and working with a guide dog. Teasers to follow after the summer. Cheryll will be helping me with the cover photo and I cannot wait to have it ready for the holiday season. I’ve got a few bylines in local and small press magazines, too; this helps keep the writing muscle in shape and helps me reach other audiences.

Disability awareness presentations are ongoing, too. I have gotten very positive feedback from the organizations and schools where we’ve been invited to talk and this is the best ego-boost in terms of knowing that our efforts on behalf of people with disabilities is making a difference.
I hope to blog more frequently as I know it’s important for all of my followers. Thanks for reading and following this blog.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

MEET THE AUTHOR

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Ann Chiappetta, Author 914-393-6605 [email protected]

Local Author Returns to Childhood Library

March 7, 2017 – Mamaroneck, NY Ann Chiappetta, a Westchester resident who grew up in Mamaroneck, will be available for a book signing at the Mamaroneck Public Library’s community room this coming Saturday, March 11 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Chiappetta, who has written her first poetry collection titled, “Upwelling”, was raised in Mamaroneck.
“I spent a lot of time here,” she says, “the library was my home away from home.”

Chiappetta goes on to say she is excited to be able to return to her roots and share the collection with Westchester residents.
Printed copies of the book will be for sale for $8, cash only. The 60-page soft cover edition expresses a wide range of subjects and include Chiappetta’s experiences of vision loss, counseling trauma victims and many other aspects of the human condition. She also writes of learning how to work alongside and trust a new guide dog. Ms. Chiappetta has been blind since 1993, the loss resulting from a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Two poems in the collection are about her vision loss and coping without the benefit of sight. From the publisher: guide dogs, death, and a disturbing dream. Marriage, memories, and intriguing mysteries. In this collection of 23 of her short, highly accessible poems from several decades, Ann Chiappetta explores an enormous range of emotions and topics. Travel with her as she moves from illness, death, loss, and grief to renewed hope, security, and serenity.

Chiappetta says she was inspired to publish the collection after losing her Mom, Mary Coelho last July.

Ann is available for local signings and readings.

. To Purchase Chiappetta’s collection in e book or printed formats, go to http://www.dvorkin.com/annchiappetta/

To read Chiappetta’s blog, go to: www.thought-wheel.com

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Mum from Mom

| Filed under Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized

Last night I was a guest on a phone conference broadcast to talk about my new published poetry collection, UPWELLING www.dvorkin.com/annchiappetta/ . Thanks to Bob Branco for inviting me on his show, Branco Broadcast, recorded and then distributed by Bob to a wide listening audience. If you cannot make the live call, you can listen to it later on Bob’s UTUBE channel. Very unique and accessible to all audiences. I’ll post the link when I receive it later on this week.

I read three poems and received much needed feedback, all of it positive. One caller asked me to talk about being a child of divorce and if it had any influence upon my writing, and I said yes. I then read a poem I’d chosen called BEFORE YOU GO, which was about my relationship with my father, which was never the same after he remarried. Another caller asked me who my mentors were; he was also a teacher and was curious to know about my mentors in school. I said that my seventh grade English teacher, Ms. O’Brian was the first to actually mentor me with my writing talent. In elementary school, my English teacher for fifth and sixth grade, Mr. Ankowitz also was my mentor in terms of grammar and spelling. He also was a leftie and would tell me that it wasn’t how my handwriting looked that was important; it was the quality of the actual words, sentences and paragraphs that mattered most. In college, it was many professors and a neighbor who was an editor who made my term papers shine. Needless to say I had more than my share of mentors and this allows me to pay it all forward when I get a chance.

Prior to this event, my first book signing was another success. Many of my family, friends, former co-workers and colleagues came to congratulate me, purchase copies, and chat. I was so touched by the outpouring of support. Verona came with us, too, and she was the greeter as folks walked into the room. Some folks hadn’t seen her since her retirement in 2014 and complimented as to how good she looked. Bailey tried his best to behave and he did pretty well considering all the people he recognized.

I have said that there are stories within stories, so here is one I am sharing because I think it is very special and serendipitous.
I was talking to the receptionist, carole and while we were setting up the conference room, she handed me a beautiful yellow chrysanthemum in a vase. I realized this was a sign that all I had done and will continue to do is being witnessed by our Mom’s spirit. Why, one may ask, how can a yellow mum make me get so emotional? For months I struggled to find just the right flower to be part of a tattoo dedicated to Mom. After searching around, I made the mum my choice. Now, Carole could have overheard me talk about it, but I wasn’t going around flaunting that I was going to get a mum for Mom tattooed on my bum, er, I mean, shoulder. 

When she presented me with the flower, I shed a few tears and hugged her, telling her that what she did meant more than she could have ever known. I did not see a butterfly, cardinal, or other signs of the afterlife trying to communicate with me; instead, Mom came to me through another person, in a one-to-one moment and her simple gift of a single golden token of congratulations. Mom’s grace has been apparent in every step of this book and while I don’t necessarily believe that every flower means it is Mom saying hello, I do pay attention at times when it is important to pay attention to a greeting from the veil. Thank you, Mom, for showing up and being there in spirit. I love you and miss you every day.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

First Real Interview!

| Filed under Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized

Hello all, I am sending off this quick post so you can listen to my first official interview with Fredreic Bye, a podcaster. You can find the interview here: I am on #Creative #Magic #Unchained today! Listen here! http://www.fredericbye.com/ann-chiappetta/

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0
Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: