It is finally here! The audio version of my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an “Ordinary” Life in an Extraordinary Way has finally been released.
You can get hold of a copy of the book on a number of different audio book outlets, including Audible.
Here’s a little about the book:
“Have you ever wondered how a blind person pours a cup of coffee? Or how they and their guide dog know when it’s safe to cross a busy road? When Lois Strachan lost her sight at the age of 21 years she had to learn the answers to these and countless other questions of how to live as a blind person in a sighted world. In this delightfully quirky and entertaining book Lois shares some of the secrets she discovered about how to live an “ordinary” life in an extraordinary way despite her blindness”
You can listen to a sample of the book here: https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Different-Way-of-Seeing-Second-Edition-Audiobook/B0B3BVSTNL
Every time I listen to the book I am blown away by the amazing narrator, Julie Norman. She did an excellent job of bringing my words to life in the audio book. And I’m sure you’ll agree when you hear her!
It would be great if you could write a quick one or two line review once you’ve listened to the book – reviews help new readers find the book. Thank you in advance for taking the time to do that for me – it really does help!
Last week Guide Dog Fiji told you how we found ourselves at a remote part of Cape Town International airport, and how I subsequently upset her by climbing into a small airplane and flying away. Of course, there’s more to the story, because lots happened between the time I flew away and when I returned to have a frantically relieved guide dog leap into my arms.
The whole story started a few weeks earlier. When we were asked if Fiji was interested in being in the photo shoot, I was invited to go for a spin in the plane afterwards. Which I naturally accepted – I mean, who wouldn’t?
A few days before the shoot, the photographer asked how I felt about experiencing aerial acrobatics, or aerobatics. Now, you might not know this, but I’m not really an adventurous person. So my instinctive response was “Absolutely no chance!” But then I asked myself whether I might regret not taking up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And cautiously replied that I’d decide on the day…
Which is how I found myself sitting in a two-seater airplane, feeling like my body was being squashed as I experienced double the earth’s normal gravitational pull (2G). Then I felt the plane turn to the left and suddenly my body became weightless – it was like I was being stretched. Which, of course, was because I was upside down as the plane rolled.
What struck me most was how smoothly the plane rolled. I didn’t actually feel like the plane was flipping over, possibly because I had no visual cues and could only judge from what I was sensing through my body.
We did a few more rolls, pausing at various stages of the spin so I could see how I experienced flying sideways, and upside down. At first I felt somewhat detached. I was focusing on what I was feeling, rather than living the experience. It was only after the pilot and I chatted about how the rolls had felt to me that I began to assimilate what I was sensing with what was happening. Which brought me back into the reality of what was going on.
It was only in the final roll, where the pilot paused at each 90 degree position that my body and brain engaged totally. And, while it was breathtakingly amazing, the realisation that I had pushed my boundaries far enough for one day began to sneak up on me.
So, when the pilot asked if I’d like to experience a loop – going into a roll nose first rather than wing first – I shook my head and politely declined. Part of me regrets turning down the offer. Because I am curious what it would feel like for my body to be at 3.5G and how I would interpret a loop without the sense of sight. But there’s also part of me that is relieved that I didn’t give it a try.
A friend of mine joked that I wouldn’t have been as thrilled had I been able to see the ground in the place where the sky should be. And I suspect she’s correct. Even thinking about the world being upside down visually makes me a little anxious. But I didn’t feel that way at all when it happened, so it is probably because of my blindness.
Would I try aerobatics again? Absolutely yes! And I might even be brave enough to try a loop this time!
Oh, I forgot to mention that I also briefly flew the plane. I was amazed at how responsive the controls were – if I so much as touched the stick the plane would change direction or altitude. It was as exciting and nerve-wracking as the time I drove a car independently as a blind person, only magnified by about a million.
I’m busy editing a podcast episode where I talk about my experience of flight with friend and colleague Jeremy Opperman. So, if you’d like to find out more about my experience, watch out for that episode.
The episode, plus my entire library of more than 65 episodes of the podcast can be found anywhere you usually listen to podcasts – simply search for A Different Way of Seeing and you’re bound to find my show.
I’ve never been a particularly sporty person. Even from the time I was very young I was usually the one with my head buried in a book while my friends were running around, or hitting a tennis ball against a wall to practise their shots. Nonetheless, since losing my sight I have tried a few activities and sports – 10-pin bowling, tandem cycling, pool, mini-golf and scuba diving, which I wrote about last year.
So it wasn’t really a huge surprise when I signed up for an adaptive golf day being run by the Raising Hope South Africa team. Their advert said they could accommodate people with a range of disabilities and would adapt to each person’s particular needs.
I was by no means the only person at the open day with a visual condition. Even more fun, I already knew two of the other participants, both of whom are partially sighted, and there was much laughter at our first attempts to aim the balls at our allocated targets. Well, at least at my first attempts to aim the balls at my allocated target, which was definitely a bit hit and miss. More miss than hit, if I’m honest.
My first challenge was to learn how to find where the ball was located. Even with sighted assistance helping me to position myself correctly, I still had to take the swing and try to hit the ball on my own. After showing a decided talent for hitting the ground near the ball I eventually learned to lift the head of the golf club a few centimetres off the ground before taking my swing, and that improved my chances of actually hitting the ball.
I also discovered that my skills with a putter far exceeded my abilities with a driver. I don’t know whether the shape of the driver affected the balance of the club which left me striking the ball in the most unpredictable directions. Certainly I hit the targets a whole lot more often when I was putting
There are a couple of videos of me taking shots on my Facebook, but please bear in mind that these were taken once I had started figuring golf out a little. So they probably make me look more in control than I felt.
Honestly, I’m not about to give up my day job and spend all my time improving my golf game. But I certainly had a lot of fun exploring adaptive golf and would recommend it to any of my friends with disabilities when Raising Hope SA has their next open day.
Thank you to Mary and Ashlyn of Raising Hope South Africa and Shane of Hazendal Golf Course for giving me the opportunity to try adaptive golf.
To find out more, you can contact [email protected]
Hmm, I wonder what my next adaptive adventure will be?
Two professional speakers with disabilities were recognised at last month’s annual conference of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.
Motivational speaker Nicky Abdinor, who has spoken at events globally, was recognised with the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame award for 2022. This award is presented to professional members of the association who have delivered excellence over a period of years speaking to diverse audiences as a keynote presenter. And Nicky certainly has done that in her many local, national and global speaking appearances.
As an aside, Nicky was the first person I knew of who presented internationally online, way back in the 2010’s.
Disability advocate Nick Smit was awarded first place in the annual Speaker Factor contest, where he competed against the top associate level speakers from the PSASA chapters across South Africa. Nick’s speech, called D.A.N.C.E Your Destiny was well received by both judges and audience.
Nick, also known as the Rebel Ninja, is a passionate disability advocate and teacher and his company Smergos is active in promoting disability awareness and inclusion.
Another link between Nicky and Nick is that they have both been guests on my A Different Way of Seeing podcast, back when I was focusing primarily on accessible travel.
I featured Nicky Abdinor back in January 2019, on episode 05 of the podcast, and Nick and his wife were my guests on episode 50.
You can find those episodes, as well as my full library of past shows, at https://iono.fm/rss/chan/3715
If you’re looking for a fantastic speaker for your next event, you can’t go wrong with either Nicky Abdinor or Nick Smit. Here’s where you can find out more.
Nicky Abdinor: https://nickyabdinor.com/
Nick Smit: www.therebelninja.com
I am excited to let you know that more of my books are becoming available on Bookshare.
So far, my memoir “A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way“ and the first of my illustrated children’s books, “Missy Mouse Goes to the Park” are already in the Bookshare library and the remaining books in the Missy Mouse series will be there soon.
I have been so impressed by the team at Bookshare India/Africa, who have been converting the Missy Mouse books and making them accessible to those who cannot read in the usual manner. I had always thought it wouldn’t be possible to add them to Bookshare because of the need to describe the illustrations, but the team at Bookshare have done a remarkable job of adding the descriptions to the text so that blind and visually impaired readers can learn what is happening in the images.
So, if you or anyone you know is a registered member of Bookshare, you can access some of my books – with more to follow soon.
And it won’t be long before Fiji’s book “Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog” will be there too!
If you would like to learn more about the Bookshare library, you can hop onto Bookshare.org or listen to the interview I participated in with members of the team from Bookshare India/Africa for the Global Rainbow Foundation, at https://fb.watch/bBQZIcmWar/
I’m sure I’m not the only one who grabs for her phone whenever I hear a notification. Or who hunts around to find it when the phone alerts me that I have an incoming call. Or dash into the kitchen to check on supper when I hear the oven buzzer. In all of these cases we are making use of our hearing to gain useful information.
I rely on sound to help me navigate the world because I can’t use my eyes to tell me what is happening around me. It’s the only way I know what’s beyond the range of my hands or white cane. When I’m travelling around with my guide dog I use sound to help me orientate myself. I know the houses where dogs usually bark at us. I listen to the direction of traffic, to the sound of trains passing – anything that can help me pinpoint my location.
Have you ever consciously paid attention to the information you’re gathering with your hearing?
How often are you aware of the sound of the traffic that surrounds you? Have you ever realized it sounds different when you drive into a tunnel? Have you ever wondered whether your reactions are informed by sounds like these, even if you’re not consciously aware of them?
I’ve been thinking about the ways I use sound as a blind person. And how much being more aware of sound could add to a sighted person’s perceptions if they could tap into it more often. And that’s what I spoke to Brian Bushway, of Acoustic Athletics about in my latest podcast.
Brian, who is himself blind, travels the world training people, both with and without sight, about ways that using input from the sounds around them can add to their lives. It’s a skill called echo location.
Brian and I discussed what echo location is, how it can be used, and the neuroscience of how the brain interprets both sight and sound. I found it a fascinating conversation.
We even chatted about how Brian uses echo location to ride a mountain bike independently, rather than with a sighted pilot on a tandem as most blind and partially sighted mountain-bikers do.
If you’d like to learn a little more about ways you could be using sound to add a different dimension to your world, give my conversation with Brian a listen at http://iono.fm/e/1160293
Or search for A Different Way of Seeing on your usual podcast player to listen to the conversation. Oh, and while you’re there, why not follow the podcast. That way you’ll have our episodes drop into your feed automatically.
I promised to update you on what is planned for A Different Way of Travelling, the podcast on accessible travel that I currently host for Accessible South Africa. Which I will do – but first, let me tell you about our most recent episode, where we chat about adaptive golf.
For some reason it feels like I’ve been coming across an increasing number of adaptive sports. It’s exciting to be constantly finding people who are making sports more inclusive for persons with disabilities in South Africa. And my latest podcast episode contains yet one more example of this – namely adaptive golf.
Admittedly, I don’t know if the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy is the first of it’s kind in South Africa, or whether adaptive golf is available all over the country. But it is new to me, and I wanted to tell my listeners about it, in case I wasn’t the only one for whom this is news.
You can hear the story of the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy, and about some of the other projects being run by Raising Hope SA, in my latest podcast episode, at http://iono.fm/e/1155543
The academy is open to anyone, regardless of their age, disability, and financial status. I really like the approach they are taking – to work with each individual person and figure out how best to accommodate their needs and abilities. Because, as we know, each person’s abilities are uniquely different.
On a broader scope, we are going to be making some exciting changes to the podcast in the coming weeks. Firstly, the name is going to change to A Different Way of Seeing, though that won’t have any impact on you if you subscribe to the podcast on any of the usual podcast players.
We’re also shifting the focus of the podcast to explore the lived experiences of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life – work, education, sport, the arts, and leisure, as well as travel. I’m excited about chatting to people and hearing more about the tools and techniques they use to make their lives easier in all these areas.
The changes will probably only come into play in episode 60, which will most likely be in March or April. But watch this space – we’ll be sure to keep you updated as things happen.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy learning about adaptive golf and the Raising Hope SA Golf Academy. And, if you know of other adaptive golf initiatives in South Africa, please let me know about it.
In many ways I feel as though my year has only just started. For some reason I seem to have lost the last two months. My brain feels as if 2021 ended with November and 2022 only really got going this month.
There are reasons for this. My plans for December were derailed when I came down with COVID-19. So my plans had to be put on hold for a week or two while I recovered. Having said that, I’m immensely grateful that I wasn’t seriously ill as a result of the pandemic, just immeasurably tired most of the time. So my productivity plummeted.
The strange thing is that January wasn’t a whole lot better for me. And I have absolutely no excuse for my general apathy and lack of progress on the projects I’ve been working on. Somehow they just didn’t seem to happen.
In contrast, the first half of this month has been wonderfully and crazily busy as my year has finally got going. I published my speaking show reel after having it waiting in the wings for almost a year. I also published a book promo video for Fiji’s book “Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog”, which was a fun mini-project that Charlie Dyasi created for Fiji and me.
I’ve started making a few changes in my business, thanks to incredibly valuable coaching from Heather Cresswell, from Business Brilliance. At least part of my flurry of action is the result of the shifts Heather’s coaching is creating in my life and business.
Now that my year is well and truly underway, you may be wondering what I have planned for 2022.
I’ve realized how much work I’m doing within the disability sector, speaking, training, coaching and mentoring. And it’s work I love doing! Being able to support others with disabilities, especially those who like me have a sight-related condition, is probably the most rewarding work I can envision doing. I am grateful to have so many opportunities to interact with people around the globe and encourage them to reach for their dreams. So I plan to build this aspect of my business this year.
In terms of my writing, the honeymoon period following the publication of Fiji’s book is over and it’s time I sat down to consider my next writing adventure. I’ve been chatting on and off with a friend, Meiki Motshabi, about a possible collaborative book project but we haven’t yet settled on the details of what that might look like and who might be involved. So, you’ll have to wait to find out more as our plans develop. Needless to say, writing will definitely remain one of my major activities in 2022.
There are also big changes happening in the podcasting work I’m doing. But more on that next time…
All told, I think it’s clear that I have managed to shrug off whatever lassitude affected me over the past two months and I am finally diving into 2022 with a wildly wagging tail… much to Fiji’s confusion since wagging tails are usually her responsibility.
And if you’d like to watch Fiji’s book promo video, you’ll find it at at https://youtu.be/y3rqzxUFbV0.
It’s taken me a long time to hit the publish button on this video, but I am excited to finally share it with you.
If you are looking for a speaker for an event – online or in person – then please take a look at my latest YouTube video, where I share a little about the work that I do. You will also have the chance to hear what a few of my previous clients and presentation attendees have to say about my talks.
Even if you are simply curious to learn more about who I am and what I do, this video will hopefully answer those questions. And it’s only 5 minutes long!
So, here it is:
Reach out if you’d like more information – you can contact me on whatever platform you are reading this and I’ll respond with more details.
And watch this space for more announcements in the near future – there are lots of changes happening in my business!
Wow, where has this year gone? I can’t believe we are already heading towards the end of October. And I still have so much I want to have completed by the end of the year. And I’m definitely running out of time… fast!
One of the projects I had expected to have finished long before now is the publishing of the audio book of my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way. After all, the book was published a year ago tomorrow.
Somehow 2021 has been swallowed up by the writing, launching and marketing of my guide dog Fiji’s book called Paws for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog. Fiji and I started working on the book in January 2021 and published it in September – a whole lot faster than any of my earlier books!
Somehow I never seemed to get around to the next steps in the process to launch my audio book. Till now.
Over the past two weeks I’ve listened to the recordings of the book and have once again been reminded what an amazing job my narrator, Julie Norman, has done with the book. It is sounding fantastic!
Now that I know the recordings are ready to go it is time for me to investigate getting the book into the various outlets that sell audio books. So that will be the next, and hopefully the final, step in what has become a much more complicated project than I originally expected.
But it will be available soon… after all, it’s been long enough!
As an aside, I am also working on the audio versions of my children’s books, so watch out for more information on that project as well.