Cry Purple

One woman's journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness

Posts Tagged ‘blindness’

Living with Blindness

Posted by crypurple on February 7, 2013


Today, I wanted to take some time to talk about what it is like to live day to day with a disability and be a parent.

I was triggered to write this as this week I was asked a question, “How does having no eyes change your daily activities?”

I chuckled and thought to myself, really?  What area of my life did it not effect might be a much shorter answer!

Living in total darkness, sheer blackness, endless nothingness, can have its down moments. I dream when sleeping in vivid color, so often that, when feeling down I like to sleep to capture those   colorful things – things that are not black.

I have a team of people that assist me. That is the only way I can live alone and care for myself and my little guy.

So I get 4 hours a day of assistance.  They help clean where I miss, they help match our clothes so we are ready to face each day, they assist in mail reading, finding things in the store for me, and even putting together toys when Ricky and I cannot  figure out the directions ourselves!

You see, although there are many things I can do without help, like type up a blog post, there are many things I cannot complete without some assistance.

I mean, I cannot walk in to a store and find my items without asking for help.

I have to admit, it is humbling over and over again.  If I visit a new place I have not learned my way around, then I have to ask for assistance to the restroom.

After all the years on the streets, all the things I have survived and experienced, I cannot find my way to the potty in a new place.

Often this inhibits me from going to places or visiting friends or family.  It is very stressful to be where I can’t even find my way to my own drink of water.

But in my home, where I know where things are that  I can cook, get a drink, or make coffee for my company, I can function without stress,  I can tend to my needs  and my son’s own needs,  and most  importantly find my own way to the potty!

I long to see the sunlight’s bright gleam, the green of the grass, the endless blue skies, or the floating of a cloud.

My heart longs to see the face behind my son’s laugh that I hear so often.

I, however, know I did abuse my sighted life, and I learn each day to see in other ways, I have learned to have vision without sight.

I am learning to become interdependent of those around me, in order to live as normal of a life as I can.

I love giving back to my community and my voice and experiences are tools that I am mastering to be able to do just that.

I struggle sometimes as to where I fit in as a person with a disability.  Having lived in the abled world so long, that is indeed where I feel more comfortable, but often the abled world does not know how to receive me past the disability.

Just as if someone’s eyes are blue or hair is blond, my blindness is a characteristic of me; it is not my identity. However, the world around me often identifies me by my limitations, not by my strengths.

In seeking employment, I find employers puzzled as I enter for interviews, questioning my abilities to do the job.

I am confident that God has a wonderful job for me in line where I can use my life experiences, as well as my learned talents, to help others and continue to attempt to make a difference.

Stay tuned for my next blog post.  It will be about my attempting to date now that I am blind! I will share some of the experiences I have had trying to meet new folks and hopefully those stories will make you laugh!


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And so it begins…

Posted by crypurple on January 22, 2013

Hello everyone!

At last, the book, the cover, the mentions, and every tidbit is done.

As you know, the digital e-book is out on Amazon and Smashwords.  Go to my Buy The Book tab on this site and you can find information on how to purchase it for your PC or e-reader.  On January 25, you will be able to purchase your copy of Cry Purple in paper back form through me or by going to the Barnes and Noble website. People that buy the book through me will get a signed copy!

I thought I would share a little about the book, and the work put into it.

First about the book!

Cry Purple Cry-Purple-E-Book-Cover(3)

One woman’s journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness.

I wrote the book, Cry Purple, to share what it was like to be homeless for nearly two decades, and to share the struggles to find my path once I left the streets. As I faced many life challenging events on and off the streets, I find myself today thankful to be alive. Although I have not yet found a pink cloud to float me through, and life still strikes me sometimes at lightening speeds, my hopes for sharing this journey are, to shine a different light of what it is like to live/ survive the streets.

I hope I clearly touch on the fact although you take the drugs/ addiction out of the equation, things don’t magically get better!

These are some of my challenges:

  • Readjusting, reconnecting, facing guilt and shame, re-learning to live, these are huge struggles that are not fixed overnight.
  • Facing judgment in things as simple as finding work, even though it has been many years since my felony convictions.
  • Being challenged with the private sector’s perceptions of what a blind person can or cannot do.
  • The daily struggles as a totally blind mom who has never seen the faces of her children.
  • Society’s often unknowing view and understanding of what is like to live on the streets, and the barriers that, although I have been off the streets a number of years,  will follow me for a life time.

I am aware that I made those choices, I made those mistakes, and I cannot take those back.  I can’t change the past.

What I can do is move forward, embracing each day, and educating the world around me, that people do change,  and when that change occurs, simple things like a job, a home, or even food for a drug felon, in the state of Missouri, are little things that empower us to keep doing the next right thing. They crack the door of hope that we, daily,  are moving closer to a normal life and the American Dream, and that we, too, can tap into the tools and opportunities  that our fellow humans in our great country are allowed!

I started writing notes on the book when I learned to type, which was after I had lost my sight, after my total blindness occurred.  I had never typed, or taken typing classes prior to that time of my life, although I do remember, as a youth, we had a typewriter in our house and I loved to click the keys on it!  However, I never mastered that, other than maybe finger pecking my name!  I guess learning to type blind took the peeking out of typing class!  So, for 5 years, I typed little lines here and little notes there, of things I remembered – some pretty, some not so much, some things I still struggle with.  I had hundreds of pages of stuff: many incomplete thoughts, or pages of rants, of emotional, things that made me sad.

Then, I had to choose which of these stories would be able to be shared without causing harm to others.  Being mindful of those in the book was huge to me.  I also had to think about how, although my book shares a lot of stuff, there are still many things that are painful to me and are not shared.   Some things are painful to others as well, and thus I chose to leave those things out, as well.  I think that, for me,  those thoughtful  things that are not mentioned, so as to not open old wounds, are a huge growing experience because for a long time in my life, I didn’t care who I harmed, or how I harmed them. And believe me, that list is long.

So if, by chance, you might be one of those people, and wonder why there is nothing about you, I promise it is out of true care and concern for how it would affect you, as my book’s intent is to cause no harm.

When I lost my job, I chose to weed through a lot of this junk, toss some out, or put it in a file on the computer titled: Junk I don’t want to use in the book, but might find use for later.  Then I created another file that was titled: Stuff for the book.  Reading through each line, using my  adaptive technology – a computer screen reading software program called JAWS,  or Jobs Access With Speech, I would copy and paste a line here and a line there or a page here and a page there to  separate documents for one  of my two files!  Then once I had completed that task, I had to go back, and complete the story, toning down thoughts, or expanding on the event.

So this has been a 5 year process for me that has at last come to pass! Believe it or not, I have enough of other things to write yet another book! I will first see what comes of this first book.  Who knows, maybe my writing will suck!

Once I was ready to go, I hired an editor to clean it all up. I broke things down in chapters and stories, and we worked together as a team to make sure each story was clear to not only someone   who knew of addiction and those life styles, but also to those that might not have a clue about some of the terms and slang words I had used.   I had to make sure that from church woman to inmate, the story was understood!

That brought many changes, as I would read and re read, changing words, adding phrases that might expand on a word, and then I toned the story down so the stories painted a clear picture of the events as they happened, but were not offensive to the reader.

I had a dear friend, who was my test proctor in college.   She and I stayed in touch, and became the best of friends.  I trusted her nonjudgmental perspective of the stories I wrote, as some were uncomfortable to read, to proof them to send off to my editor.

Some stories were edited a number of times, by a number of people outside my hired editor,  to ensure that  the story and emotion I wanted to convey was achieved, and to clearly express what I was telling in the story.

Those tasks were hard on all of us.

Then, at last, the book covers!

Although I am blind, I had a vision that I wanted to paint.   I wanted the book cover to be symbolic of the pages inside its cover and fulfilling that desire was difficult. I knew what I wanted, but had to lean on the sighted to tweak it out to what I wanted to achieve. Once again, I relied on my friend’s judgment.  Through many trials, we finally designed a book cover that illustrated my vision, but it was certainly not an easy task for her or the couple with the editing and publishing company that I hired for the job.

At last, it was done, and although I have no eyeballs, if it is as beautiful as I picture it in my mind’s eye, then our hours of hard work were worth it.

I know I’ll never see the book cover and the picture I hope it tells, but I am sure it is lovely!

I have to say thanks to one very special friend, Malcolm Garcia.  I first met Malcolm as a beat reporter for the KC star.  He wrote a series of stories of me about when I first left the streets, and my fight to see.  He encouraged me to write this book – he believed I had a story to tell.

I guess you the public will be the ones to determine that.  You can let me know on the blog!

As you know or might not know, I have been seeking work for a while, turned down sometimes due to the blind thing, and sometimes because of the 9 felony convictions on my background. In my struggle to just find work, I chose to write this book and put it in print to help me and Ricky purchase a small trailer that has a fenced yard, so I hope you will spread the word.  Tell your friends, post the website on your face book time lines, and walls, as we hope to sell 3500 books!

After the book goes for sale, I will start a page on the site that posts how many donations I have gotten on the Ways To Get Involved page, and how many books have been sold.   I hope this book is also a tool to allow my experiences to help us reach our goal – a job, and our idea of the American dream!  Buying a paperback from me, as opposed to buying it online, allows you to contribute double the amount that I would make if you bought it online.  So if you want to buy a book that will allow us to get to our goal faster, buy the paperback from me directly.  If you don’t want to buy the book, but want to donate to our cause, got to my Ways To Get Involved tab on this site and you may do so there.  I make just over 3 bucks on each book sale, so a 5 dollar donation on the Ways To Get Involved page is like selling 2 books!

My hopes is that this book will open some people’s eyes, let others that are living the life I led see that  they are not alone, and be an encouragement to people that want to get out of their rut and move forward with their life.  And maybe this book might educate people on some things that they might not have thought of.

Gosh if you read all this, then you are indeed my hero!

I hope you will spread the word, I also hope you will return to the site, and let me know how the book made you feel, or what thoughts or questions might have surfaced in reading it.

Enjoy your day! May you enjoy, embrace and journey through each day, we can’t change our past, however, we can strive through each day doing the next right thing!


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