What is the source that drives your force?

I only recently became a Star Wars fan.  Our family owns all seven episodes, minus Rogue 1.  That one wasn’t really that good and not part of the series.  So, since today is Star Wars Day, and we’re all wishing each other, “May the fourth be with you,” I thought that this was the perfect time to publish this post.

What is the source that drives your force?

Whether you are a Jedi, a stay at home mom, working mom, single mom, a teacher, firefighter, cop, lawyer, politician, bus driver, house keeper, nurse, doctor, whether you may be young or old.  Think about that question for a minute…

What is the source that drives your force?

or in my husbands way of saying it, which often follows some snotty or passive aggressive comment from my mouth,

“What is the motivation behind that?”

I admit, I have had my ups and downs.  I want to thank you for hanging in there with me as I work through my craziness.  I recently went back and read some of my older blog posts and saw that my earlier pieces were so much more uplifting and inspiring.  I also found a new book I absolutely love, and begin each day with.  I’ll be writing all about this wonderful book soon, so don’t worry.  I never keep those sort of things to myself.

What is the source that drives your force?

Is it status, recognition, power?

Is it money so you can keep up with the Jones’s ?

Is it fear?

Is it obligation?

Is it duty?

Is it guilt?

Or…

is it love?

In my attempts to isolate what is causing my ship to spin without a working compass, I took a hard look in the mirror.  I did not like who was looking back at me. My engine was overheating and on the edge of exploding or going under.  It was vital I unloaded all that I was taking on board and weighing  me down.  It was time to clean out the gunk that clogged the gears.  It was time to get back to the old me, the joy filled me.    It’s still a work in progress, but with the daily practice of self love, I will be able to find land again.

It is love that I needed to power my force.

What is the source that drives your force?

 

IMG_0664

My kids sledding together on a bright green saucer

Five Minutes

Five minutes.

That’s what I’m giving myself to write this blog.

Five minutes.

That’s the amount of time I’ll be hiding in the bathroom.

Five minutes.

That’s what I need to regroup, refresh, and redirect the trajectory of my day.

Five minutes.

For deep breathing.

Five minutes.

for self care.

When you feel the weight of to do’s crushing you,

When your plate is about to shatter or tip over because of the imbalance,

It just takes five minutes.

Do it with me friend.

Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Anniversary to Blogging

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 34th birthday.

Today, I celebrate 5 years of blogging.

IMG_0265

29 year old me wearing a baby Jackson, and holding a toddler Marley’s hand at the park

 

I want to thank those of you who have been following my journey from the beginning.

I want to thank my friend Jessica for sending me the text that read, “Was just talking to my sister today about you and discussing how you do it being a blind mom in the burbs.”

I want to thank those of you who have just begun reading my ramblings.

Before we take a look back at a few of my favorites from the last 6 years, I’d like to take a moment to be just slightly bit serious.  When I began blogging in the spring of 2012, my children were 2.5 and 6 months old.  I had recently found myself running a neighborhood mommy meet up group.  My biggest worries were potty training, spit up, and where to host the next playdate.  In just a few months, my baby will be starting Kindergarten.  I will find myself in the next chapter of my life.  If you have read a few of my recent posts, then you have noticed that I am not well.  I have spread myself so completely thin with obligations and commitments that I am constantly on the edge of an anxiety attack.  The lines around my circle of concern and circle of influence are so blurred they have turned everything into an ugly grey.  In the beginning, I wrote to share my adventures on my life as a blind mom in the burbs.  Then we found ourselves in our Marley and Me series as we advocated for our daughter, who just so happened to be given mom’s eye condition.  Over these last 6 years, I’ve shared many joys, tears, hopes, dreams, and fears.  Many family members wondered why I wrote so openly and freely for strangers to read.  Why not?  If what I share can be a source of connection, inspiration, education, I’ll happily keep writing.  Today, however, my writing has a new purpose.  I invite you to continue along with me on my journey of self discovery, self compassion, and self growth.  I write for clarity.  I write for comfort.  I write as a creative outlet for self expression.  I write for me.

Happy Birthday to Me, and Blind Mom in the Burbs!

Here are a few of my favorite blogs.

My very first post was actually titled, “Blind Mom in the Burbs.

See With Your Fingers Mom

October Reflections

Do’s and Don’ts to Remember When Meeting a Blind Person

From Mommy Can’t, To Mommy Can

The Princess and the Mask

Meet the Rupp’s

 

The Practice of Breathing 

All you yogis and practicers of mindfulness, you all make it look so easy.

In… out… in… out…

There’s something about that process I wasn’t getting.

Yesterday evening, I had a lesson on how to breathe.  I don’t breathe.  I take in and release air to function my physical body, but I do not know how to breathe to release and refresh my soul.

In through the nose…

Out through the mouth…

Pulling that breath through the body, down to the toes, and letting it all out with the exhale.

I could feel a huge lump in my core as I breathed.  My breath was catching on that hurtle and having to work extra hard to continue moving.

This is me practicing breathing and choosing to be happy.

Deep breath in through the nose…

Deep release out my fingers through my writing.

In the words of Glennon Doyle Milton, “I can do hard things.”

They may not seem hard to you, but don’t discount another person’s struggles.

In my five minutes alone in the bathroom, I will breathe, release, and choose happiness and gratitude to get me over that hump of endless to do’s.

In…

Out…

In…

Out…

In…

Out…

What do you say… when you are not ok?

Life is good, half full shirt

When your family and friends ask how you are doing…

When you’re kids ask if your allergies are bothering you again because your eyes are red from crying the night before…

When you find yourself hiding in the bathroom or bedroom…

What do you say… when you are not ok?

When you feel like somebody is sitting on your chest…

When your stomach is constantly feeling sick…

When you are breaking out in hives…

What do you say… when you are not ok?

When you are supposed to be this pulled together person…

When there are so many people looking to you to be a role model…

When you are supposed to be a leader…

What do you say…

When your outsides don’t match your insides?

When you feel like you are constantly on the edge of an anxiety attack?

When your shirt says half full, but you feel empty?

I don’t know the answer to getting past anxiety or depression because I have just begun to acknowledge those words in myself.  However, I do know that Dr. Brene Brown’s words ring true to me in, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” which I am rereading again.

“If you put shame, isolation, and secrecy in a petri dish in the dark, they will multiply and take over.  the opposite to shame, isolation, and secrecy is courage, connection, and compassion.”

This is me being courageous by putting it all out there.

This is me being connected by being honest with myself, my family, my friends, and all of you.

This is my act of self compassion by saying it is ok to admit that I am not ok.

Comfort in the Little things When You Have Control Issues

Many people will probably be surprised to learn that I’m not that easy going, put together person they think I am.  That’s the stage me.  That’s the straight hair me.  In reality, I’m messy, suffer from anxiety, and struggle with control issues.  I find comfort in my tiny daily rituals like straightening my hair, and applying lotion to my sensitive dry desert dwelling skin.

My trusted companion of almost nine years has left me high and dry.  Actually, she’s left me frizzy and fried.

I feel completely lost without that daily piece of control.

I know, it’s sad, but it’s the little things in life that count, right?

So, my ten minutes of me time in the morning help to ground and balance me just a little bit.

I don’t like change, and I don’t like pulling the trigger when it comes to shopping for myself, but like the blue butted monkey in the Lion King says, “It is time. ”

So, the question is, do I buy the same Chi Pro for $87, or do I get the cute purple one for just $20?

How Do You Measure the Value and Worth of a Stay at Home Mom?

This question has been coming back to me quite often these last few months.  While California has been experiencing an abnormally wet winter, the state of my emotional self has also been experiencing a rather wet one too.  This is a post I have wanted to write for a while, but the emotional rawness that accompanies the words cause me to keep pushing it back.  However, like I’ve learned about myself time and time again, the only way for me to deal, process, and heel, is to put it all down into words.  So, here I go.

While everyone around us were in celebration of love, family, peace, and making memories over the holidays, a storm was brewing beneath the surface.  Every now an then the thunder rolled and lightning would strike an unsuspecting victim.  Why was I feeling this way?  Where was this self destructive, self pitying, self loathing, self coming from?  It was time to turn on the lights and take a long hard look in the mirror.

While my mother has always cautioned me to not air out my dirty laundry, and to, “Keep the fire in the house,”  Her inquiries of, “What’s going on?” set off the water works yet another time.  This time, they kept flowing and flowing.  Sometimes, all you need is just your mama.  In this case, my mama helped me to pull up the heaviness of my being for some fresh air in the light.

My mama, you see, is the strongest most courageous woman I know.  She survived the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. She married my dad in a refugee camp in Thailand, the same camp where I was born.  She traveled to a country with a toddler, and another baby on the way, without a penny to her name, and not knowing a single word of the language.  And now, she lives 10 houses away from me, enjoying retired life after running a thriving business for twenty five years.  That’s my mama.

Me, I am just a stay at home mom.

That sentence there, that deserves me a slap to the face.  That’s that self loathing, self destructive, self pitying, self I dislike.

I am not just a stay at home mom.

I have sacrifice a professional career, so that someone else does not have to raise my children.  It is up to me to create caring, compassionate, and confident human beings who will make loving contributions to our world.  I keep their bellies, hearts, minds and dreams fed with nutrients.  I am grateful for a husband who provides for us and allows for me to be here.

In addition to all my work in the home, I dedicate countless hours to my passions.  A passion that does not pay in dollar signs, but pays in the number of lives changed through my work in advocating for the rights of blind people.

My two roles are causing imbalance, and my compass was washed overboard during one of the storms.

This husband of mine, the one who provides for us.  He has been the one to help me see the sad eyes I’ve been trying to cover up.  He is also the victim of my emotional storms and lightning strikes.  Why is it that we typically take out our turmoil on those closest to us?  He did not deserve my cold, mean, and hurtful behavior.  He responded by shutting down and tuning out.  This thus caused me to react with even more engine power as I search for land in the midst of my lonely seas.  It wasn’t until my behavior was causing both of us to question the stability of our marriage that I began searching inward to find some answers.

I was feeling resentful because I felt like I had no control.  I felt like since I did not contribute to the family financially I had no say in where our finances were being spent.  Thus I made withdrawals out of our emotional bank account and only depositing anger, bitterness, and sadness in return.

Yes, I know that is ridiculous.  In my head I know that I contribute so much more than can be added up in dollar signs.  However, when I’m in that storm, it’s really difficult to see the sunshine through the tears.  Recently I testified in a court case as an expert on blind parenting.  Because I don’t have a list of letters behind my name, I didn’t make hundreds of dollars an hour.  Because when I filed my taxes, I wrote, “Stay at home mom,” in the occupation field, I go back to questioning my worth in dollar signs.

I have posed the question to a few of my friends, and found their responses quite interesting.

How Do you measure the value and worth of a stay at home mom?

How would you answer that question?

Join Me on this Giving Tuesday in Raising Low Expectations and changing the Lives of Blind People

I’m sure many of my friends and family wonder why I put so much time and energy in spreading the message of the National Federation of the Blind.  The message that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Why am I so passionate about educating blind people and parents of blind children that the real problem is the low expectations, that those low expectations are what create the obstacles between blind people and their dreams?

This grass roots organization of innovative, imaginative, energetic, and inspiring individuals is the reason I am an independent and confident person today.  For the first twenty or so years of my life, I lived in shame and fear about my low vision.  I used words like legally blind and visually impaired to described my vision loss.  these low vibration words attempted to soften the blow of blindness in it’s political correctness.  Ironically, referring myself as visually impaired or legally blind,, suffering from low vision, led me to low self worth, low self confidence, and always wondering if everyone was seeing through my, “Fake it till you make it,” facade.   It wasn’t until I met positive blind role models, finally became literate at the age of 23 when I learned Braille, and embraced my blindness. I learned that I no longer needed to try to fit into a sighted world. Thanks to the endless support, mentorship, and love of my federation family I freely and whole heartedly identify with the, “B,” word.  I am proud to be blind, proud to raise my Marley to be her own self advocate.  Finally, I am proud to serve as the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada.

It is my dream that one day that my Marley will live in a world where she will have complete access to her textbooks at the same time as her sighted peers.  A world where  she can independently use all electronic devices she comes into contact with from voting, to checking in at the airport, to shopping, to renting a movie on a Red Box machine.  I give tirelessly so that all blind children can one day have access to Braille instead of the 10% who are receiving Braille instruction today.  I dream of a world where blind parents no longer need to fight for their rights to raise their children because sighted social workers question whether or not a blind person can take care of a baby.  I ask you, my friends and family to give on this Giving Tuesday and support the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind.

 

To learn about some of our  year’s achievements and to make a donation, visit

https://nfb.org/blog/vonb-blog/national-federation-blind-reflects-another-successful-year-advocacy-blind

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BUS DRIVER CONCERNING MY DAUGHTER’S CANE

Wednesday October, 5, 2016

Dear Bus Driver,

Just so you are aware, I write a very public blog.  By the time you have received and read this letter, a few thousand people have probably already read it.

I would like to address an incident which occurred on your bus on my daughter’s way home from school this afternoon.  Marley Rupp’s cane was taken from her by the kids sitting behind her.  Marley, knowing the rules of the cane, and the fact that no one has the right to take it from her, asked them to give it back.  The cane was pulled on and passed back and forth.  Before giving the cane back, the string was ripped off of the handle.  As Marley was leaving the bus, she did the right thing by telling you what had happened.  You, however, DID NOT, by telling her it was no big deal.

I understand that in your eyes, a string getting ripped off the top of my daughter’s cane was no big deal.  Here’s where you’re wrong.  It is in fact a very big deal.  We have had many battles with school district employees on the issue on Marley and her cane.  They were concerned that other children might get hurt because Marley is so young and might not know how to properly handle it.  This afternoon, those children on your bus who took my daughter’s cane could have very easily injured Marley or other children.  Marley has been taught to advocate for herself from a young age.  She proved this by both telling those children to give her cane back, and by telling you what happened.  You, simply disregarding her, and not addressing it with the other students shows ignorance and negligence.

As October is Blindness Awareness Month, and October 15th is National White Cane Safety Day, I feel it it is my duty to educate you, so that you may educate those children you drive.  Before driving off with my daughter in your next busload, I ask you to please address Marley’s cane, the fact that it is her tool, and absolutely not to be taken from her by anyone.

Sincerely Yours,

Terri Rupp

White Cane Safety Day: A Symbol of Independence

by Marc Maurer

In February of 1978 a young blind lady said, “I encounter people all of the time who bless me, extol my independence, call me brave and courageous, and thoroughly miss the boat as to what the real significance of the white cane is.”

The National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled on the 6th day of July, 1963, called upon the governors of the fifty states to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day in each of our fifty states. On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as “White Cane Safety Day.” This resolution said: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives”, that the President is hereby authorized to issue annually a proclamation designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day and calling upon the people of the United States to observe such a day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.’

Within hours of the passage of the congressional joint resolution authorizing the President to proclaim October 15 as White Cane Safety Day, then President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the importance of the white cane as a staff of independence for blind people. In the first Presidential White Cane Proclamation President Johnson commended the blind for the growing spirit of independence and the increased determination to be self-reliant that the organized blind had shown. The Presidential proclamation said:

The white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person’s ability to come and go on his own. Its use has promoted courtesy and special consideration to the blind on our streets and highways. To make our people more fully aware of the meaning of the white cane and of the need for motorists to exercise special care for the blind persons who carry it Congress, by a joint resolution approved as of October 6, 1964, has authorized the President to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day.

Now, therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America do hereby proclaim October 15, 1964 as White Cane Safety Day.

With those stirring words President Johnson issued the first White Cane Proclamation which was the culmination of a long and serious effort on the part of the National Federation of the Blind to gain recognition for the growing independence and self-sufficiency of blind people in America, and also to gain recognition of the white cane as the symbol of that independence and that self-reliance.

The first of the state laws regarding the right of blind people to travel independently with the white cane was passed in 1930. In 1966, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder of the National Federation of the Blind, drafted the model White Cane Law. This model act–which has become known as the Civil Rights Bill for the Blind, the Disabled, and the Otherwise Physically Handicapped-‘contains a provision designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the nation.

From 1963 (and even before) when the National Federation of the Blind sought to have White Cane Safety Day proclaimed as a recognition of the rights of blind persons, to 1978 when a blind pedestrian met with misunderstanding regarding the true meaning of the white cane, is but a short time in the life of a movement. In 1963, a comparatively small number of blind people had achieved sufficient independence to travel alone on the busy highways of our nation. In 1978 that number has not simply increased but multiplied a hundredfold. The process began in the beginning of the organized blind movement and continues today. There was a time when it was unusual to see a blind person on the street, to find a blind person working in an office, or to see a blind person operating machinery in a factory. This is still all too uncommon. But it happens more often and the symbol of this independence is the white cane. The blind are able to go, to move, to be, and to compete with all others in society. The means by which this is done is that simple tool, the white cane. With the growing use of the white cane is an added element’-the wish and the will to be free’-the unquenchable spirit and the inextinguishable determination to be independent. With these our lives are changed, and the prospects for blind people become bright. That is what White Cane Safety Day is all about. That is what we do in the National Federation of the Blind

Foundation Fighting Blindness, I am Not Against Medical Research for a Cure for Degenerative Eye Conditions, Just Your #HowEyeSeeIt Method of Raising Money

Disclaimer… this is an emotionally charged post, so pardon my neglect to catch all my typos.  I just got off the phone where I was interviewed by a woman in the Louisiana Tech Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness.  This woman is currently in the graduate program for teachers of blind students.  It wasn’t until I was recounting with her what it was like for me as a child with vision loss, not until I shared with her my struggles with self-worth, struggles in school, and comical attempts to hide my blindness that I realized why I so strongly oppose the Foundation Fighting Blindness Campaign.

Some of you have been following my blog since the beginning over five years ago, and some of you have just recently discovered it.  For my dedicated readers, I apologize for letting so much time go by between real posts.  Life gets real crazy when you’re busy living it, and before you know it you find yourself in the first days of fall and you’re still working on your,” How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” blog post.

So what is all this hype on the Foundation Fighting Blindness #HowEyeSeeIt Campaign exactly?  Basically, FFB is asking people to partake in their blindfold challenge to attempt to see how hard it might be to sort coins, keep track of children at a park, and do every day tasks while wearing a blindfold.

Let me get something straight.  I am not opposed to Foundation Fighting Blindness and medical research for degenerative Eye conditions.  I may not have an eye condition that effects my retina, but both my daughter and I do have a degenerative eye condition.  It may or may not come as a surprise to many of my friends and family that I have lost a significant amount of eyesight.  Does the possibility of loosing every bit of my remaining eyesight scare me?  Absolutely not!  Does the possibility that my daughter might also lose a majority if not all of her eyesight scare me?  No, not at all!  People ask these questions to my husband all the time who works in EMS, so he’s seen his share of tragedy, and his answer is usually something like, “Whether or not she looses her remaining eyesight doesn’t change the person she is.  She’ll still be an awesome mom, and partner in life.”

So here’s a little bit about me, my story, and why I oppose the Foundation Fighting Blindness #HowEyeSeeIt Campaign.   Note to the blind people reading this that the eye in #HowEyeSeeIt is spelled with the word “Eye,” like eyball and not with a capital I.

My family immigrated to the U.S. just before my second birthday.  After fleeing Cambodia, spending years in Red Cross refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines, my parents found themselves in Northern California searching for an answer to their daughter’s vision loss.  They barely spoke the language, drove up and down the state seeking specialist and being told things like, “She’ll get her eyesight back,” to “We have no idea what caused this,” to “She may possibly one day  go blind.”  I can’t even imagine to put myself in their shoes.

My first memory of my blindness making me feel different, and beginning the, “Fake it till you make it,” phase of my life came in Kindergarten.  A boy held a book to his face and asked me why I read like that.  So, from then on I pretended to see, pretended to be what I wasn’t, pretended that nothing was wrong.  I went through the motions of pretending to do my school work in the classroom and spent hours on hours really doing it at home.  It finally got to where the students and teachers would just skip over me when it was time to read out loud in class.  My blindness was never spoken about, never acknowledge, I, we, just pretended it wasn’t there.

One question I was asked tonight was, “If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be, and what wouldn’t you change.”

My response?

If I could go back in time and change one thing, I would have made sure that my mom and dad found the National Federation of the Blind during those first scary years dealing with their daughter’s blindness.  As for what I wouldn’t change, I would not change the fact that I am blind.  Without my blindness, I wouldn’t have a vast network of friends whom I consider family all over the country.  Without my blindness, I would not have had the opportunity to travel to China to speak to blind children.  Without my blindness, I probably would have never met my husband and had my beautiful children.  Without my blindness, I would not be an advocate for blind people and blind children like my own daughter.

The #HowEyeSeeIt blind fold challenge is degrading to all blind people.  It perpetuates the low expectations and negative misconceptions about blindness.  For the person facing the possibility of loosing their eyesight and going blind, these videos make blindness and blind people look like blindness is the end of the world.  I’ve read comments from supporters of the campaign that blindness was so scary for their friend, it nearly drove them to ending their life.  The loss of eyesight is not the end of one’s life.

The worst part of this whole campaign is, in this current day and age blind parents are being questioned on their abilities merely on the fact that they are blind.  Babies are being taken from blind moms because social workers believe the blind mom has no possible way of knowing how to take care of a baby.  Meanwhile, crackheads child abusers, and neglectful parents continue to keep their children.

As the hour is getting late and my kids need me, I will leave by saying, “That’s all I have to say about that.”