No New Year’s Resolutions

 

 

 

picture of a New Year's celebration

 

It’s that time of year again! It’s officially 2018! Out comes the pencils and notepads to jot down your New Year’s Resolutions. Every new year I hear the same old thing.

 

“What are your New Year’s resolutions?”

 

Or

 

“It’s now a new year. What are some things you’re going to do differently in the year . . . ?”

 

Hmm . . . Let me think on that for a moment. I DON’T SET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS! I DON’T SET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS! That’s my answer to those questions every time someone dares to ask me. It is utterly ridiculous that you have to wait until a new year comes around to get your life in order. I’m always hearing things like:

 

“In the new year I’m going to lose weight.”

 

Or

 

“In the new year I’m going to get out of debt.”

 

Or even

 

“In the new year I’m going to go back to school.”

 

Why wait for a new year to do these things? Why does a new year mean that you have to finally get your life in check? I can’t, and never will understand people’s logic about setting New Year’s resolutions. If there are goals you want to accomplish in your life, then do it! Don’t wait for a new year to begin to go for your dreams. Do it now! Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so why wait? Why put off what you can accomplish today?

 

If you’re not happy with your size 65 pants, then do something about it. If you’re struggling to get out of $5,000,000 worth of debt, then do something about it. If you’re tired of not getting a job with your second-grade education, then do something about it. Of course, you guys know I’m joking about these items, but you get my point. Do these things now, not when a new year begins. If you really are determined to accomplish your goals, then you will do what you have to do in order to make it happen. The only person stopping you from getting ahead is yourself. The same way you can make these New Year’s resolutions when a new year rolls around, is the same way you can set these same goals any other time of the year and put forth effort to accomplish them.

 

When I set goals for myself, I set goals that I can accomplish short-term and long-term. I set goals throughout the year. If I say I want to lose twenty pounds, then I just start the process right then. I don’t wait until January 1 to begin my diet/fitness regimen. As soon as the idea of something I want to do comes to mind, I begin strategizing ways to tackle that task. If that means I have to lay off the cookies and cakes, then that’s what I have to do. If I want to get out of debt, then I know I will have to put myself on a budget, so I can get my debt under control. There’s nothing to it, but to do it. No excuses. No hesitation. Get started on accomplishing your goals throughout the year. Yes, a new year means new beginnings, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to begin something new.

 

Every day you wake up with strength in your body and a sound mind is another opportunity for you to achieve your goals. Take the opportunities that are laid out before you. No one wants to live with regrets, so take advantage of the time you do have. I know there are probably tons of things you have listed on your New Year’s resolution list, but how much of it will you really accomplish? What crazy and outlandish things have you promised yourself you’re going to do in the New Year? I’m sure it’s plenty, but sadly you probably won’t stick to not one of the things you’ve listed. Why put that type of pressure on yourself when you can set goals anytime and take your time completing them? Most of the time people set these New Year’s resolutions that they won’t even stick to. What’s the point in making that list when by February, you will have fallen back into your same routine?

 

Then another new year will roll around and you will be back at it again.

 

“In the new year I’m going to lose weight.”

 

And

 

“In the new year I’m going to get out of debt.”

 

Why put yourself through all of that? Just pick goals that you can stick to and make them any time of year, not just at the beginning of a new year. Put effort, real effort into achieving the goals you set for yourself. Make sure they are reasonably within your ability to complete. Even if you don’t succeed at accomplishing a goal you have set for yourself to achieve at a certain time, you still have plenty of time to get it done. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just readjust your goals to make them easier for you to complete.  I know some of you are going to totally disregard this post and still make your resolutions anyway, and you are free to do so, but save yourself the time and stress. Don’t make any New Year’s resolutions.

Why His or Her Betrayal?

 

 

Book cover of His or Her Betrayal? A woman is looking into a mirror, but a man's face is reflected back at her instead of her own image

 

I often get asked the question,

 

“Why did you decide to write a story about a trans-gender person? Don’t you think people won’t read your book because of your topic choice?”

 

My answer is because it is a taboo subject in society. Especially in the African-American community. Most people don’t want to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable. I am sensitive to everyone. I don’t hold ill-feelings towards someone just because of their sexual preference or gender identity. People who suffer from (GID), or gender identity disorder are just as human as you or me. I don’t discriminate against them or anyone else. I have enough that I am discriminated on myself in my daily life, so I am not one to judge or point fingers. I think of anyone in the LGBTQ community just as I think of myself. I am discriminated against just for being blind, so why would I put that same hurt and pain on someone else? I know how hard it can be. Our pain might be different, but we all suffer in one way or another.

 

I wanted to tell this story from the point of view of an African-American family. Because most African-American families grow up in the Christian faith, it is taught that homosexuality is a sin. In some cases, people believe it is a sin punishable by death. Some people in society are so homophobic, they believe that every person that is attracted to the same sex that they automatically are attracted to them. For instance, some heterosexual men assume that a gay man wants them just because he is gay. That is not the case. Just because someone is attracted to the same sex that you are, doesn’t mean they want you. That kind of thinking really gets on my nerves. As long as someone is not disrespecting you, then I don’t think that their sexual orientation should matter, but that’s just my own opinion. No matter what, people are going to be people. They’re going to think how they want to think, and there is nothing anyone can do to change what has been in-graved in them.

 

In the story “His or Her Betrayal?”, I wanted to depict a real-life situation that is happening in society today. Unfortunately, this is the time we live in. No matter how much we progress, there are still some who want to remain ignorant and hate people for one reason or another. People like to use the Bible as a source for why they think that everyone in the LGBTQ community are sinners and are going to hell. I don’t believe that. I think God made everyone exactly how he wanted them to be. Some think it’s a choice, but I beg to differ. In some cases it is a choice, but not in all circumstances. Personally I know of people who are Gay, Lesbian, or even trans-gender, and I know it wasn’t a choice that they made. Nobody wants to purposely be ridiculed and tormented all their lives. Sometimes you can tell when a child is young that they are going to be gay, lesbian, or trans-gender. Do you think children really choose that? No. As children we have no idea what sexuality is. So, how can they choose to be gay, lesbian, or trans-gender? Things people say sometimes just doesn’t make any sense. They just want to find a reason to shun someone.

 

Although my story didn’t end in a happily-ever-after, I wanted to depict a real reaction that someone would have when they found out the person they loved wasn’t who they led them to believe. My character Michelle had been degraded and ridiculed all her life by her father because of who she was, so she felt that the only way she could find happiness was by keeping her past a secret. It was the wrong thing to do, and the story ended in tragedy. I didn’t want Michelle’s life to end so soon, but the reality was more important than my fantasy. If I had made Jason react in a positive way to finding out about Michelle’s past, then the story would not have reflected reality. In this day and time, people are not fond of trans-gender people, so Jason’s reaction to the news expressed his hurt, anger, and feelings of betrayal. The second part of the story tells the father’s story. Now, I know it probably came as a shock to the readers when they found out why Melvin felt the way he did about his own child. The purpose of me writing this part of the story was to show how society sometimes forces people to hide who they truly are in order to fit society’s mold of who we should be. The truth was exposed in the end and lives were lost, but all secrets were revealed.

 

I feel things like this can be avoided if people would just stop worrying so much about what is right and wrong according to their beliefs. If they let people live their lives the way they see fit, then tragedies like this wouldn’t happen. I feel if God disagrees with the way someone is living their life, then he and only he can be the judge of that. It is not up to anyone else to tell someone how they should live life. I am a Christian and I do believe in God, but I also believe that he doesn’t make any mistakes. He made everyone different for his own particular reason, and it isn’t up to you or me to ask why. As long as someone isn’t harming you, your family, or mistreating you in any way, then they should be allowed to live life in peace. I am open-minded and I don’t believe that everything is black and white. We don’t know why God created the things he did, but it’s not for us to question. I just try to live my life as I see fit and worry about what is going on in my own life, instead of what someone else is or isn’t doing in theirs. When judgment day arrives, we will all have to answer to our life choices. Until then, live for you and not how someone else tells you you’re supposed to live.

 

The title of the book is punctuated with a question mark because I want you as the reader to determine who you believe has been betrayed. That is a conclusion I want you to draw once you have read the book in its entirety. If you haven’t had a chance to check out my novel, “His or Her Betrayal?” Please do so and leave me your thoughts with a review. You can navigate over to my Blaque Diamond’s Books link where my published books are listed. There you can choose from which retailer you would like to purchase your copy of “His or Her Betrayal?” It is available in paperback and as an EBook. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Blind People and Computers

 

Picture of a computer screen

 

Those two words don’t even belong in the same sentence. Are you crazy? Blind people can’t use computers. They can’t see, so how can they use a computer? There isn’t any braille on a computer, so they can’t use one. You must be nuts. Maybe you may need your head examined for you to think such a preposterous thing. These are just some of the things people may say to you when you tell them that blind people indeed can use computers. How is that you wonder? Simple. An assistive technology software called a screen reader.

 

And what is a screen reader you ask? It is a software that converts the text on a computer screen into synthesized speech for a blind or visually impaired person. Whatever text is on the screen, this screen reader will read the text back to the person in speech. So, the text has been converted to speech that is spoken aloud. This can be pretty distracting or annoying for someone who is not used to this type of technology, so to be courteous the blind or visually impaired person uses headphones to listen to the speech in privacy. They don’t want the wrong person hearing the wrong thing, right? Especially, the naughty email that they plan to send to their spouse. LOL. Unfortunately though, not all blind people are courteous, so sometimes you will hear their annoying synthesized computer voice while you’re trying to watch your favorite TV show, or driving to your nearest destination. There are different configurations that can be done to make the software more personalized for the user. Everyone doesn’t use a computer the same, so they can alter the settings to fit their personal needs.

 

The blind or visually impaired person types the same way that any person with sight does. With this text to speech software, what they type is spoken aloud letter by letter. Depending on how fast of a typist they are, the words or letters can be spoken fast or slow. As a blind person myself, this technology has made life a lot easier for me. I am an author, so having access to a computer is very important to my success. The fact that we can do a lot of the same things that a person who can see can do on a computer is marvelous. We can search the web, send emails, create word documents or excel spread sheets, and anything else we want. Of course, it takes some training to figure out how to use this technology. You’re not going to wake up blind tomorrow and be able to install the software on your computer and just be able to use it. No. It doesn’t work like that. It requires a lot of time and patience. There are so many keystrokes to learn and commands to do things that a person with sight would just do with a mouse.

 

Technology has advanced so much that this assistive technology is now available on mobile phones. Yes, blind people do use phones also thanks to this awesome text to speech software. Majority of blind or visually impaired mobile phone users are I phone users. Apple had the bright idea to design their products with the disabled in mind. Instead of having to buy a screen reader software, Apple has their own built-in screen reading software called Voice Over already installed on any Apple product they make. Having a screen reader software on a mobile phone is similar to how it works on a computer. Of course, the commands and keystrokes have been adapted for touch screen use though. Instead of learning commands, the blind or visually impaired person learns touch screen gestures to get what they need done. Before phone companies started including assistive technology already built into their phones, blind and visually impaired people had to buy a separate screen reader software and install it on the phone so that they would be able to use it like a person with sight does.

 

Some of the popular screen readers for computers are JAWS, which is an acronym meaning job access with speech, Window-eyes, Voice over for apple computers, NVDA, which is an acronym for non-visual desktop access, and a pre-installed software on windows computers called narrator. On mobile phones, the popular choices for screen readers are Voice Over for I phones and Talk-Back for android phones. Narrator, NVDA, and Voice Over are free screen readers, but there is a price for JAWS and Window-eyes. To access Voice Over or Talk-Back on mobile phones, all you have to do is go to the settings section of your phone and find accessibility, then click on the text to speech software for which ever phone you have to turn it on, and there you go! Your phone is now able to speak whatever text is on the screen. If you are familiar with the voice of the GPS in your car, then that is what a screen reader sounds like. Beware though, that means you can no longer hide those dirty text messages from your secret lover that you thought your blind spouse couldn’t read, because they actually can. So, if I were you, I would start deleting them really quick.

 

Well, now that you know that blind people can use computers and you’re not crazy, what else can they do with them? Yeah, yeah, yeah. We can send emails, create word documents, and surf the web. Is that all? Of course not! Thanks to screen reader software, blind and visually impaired people can keep up with the latest and greatest. We can shop online, post to social media such as Facebook and twitter, and read online magazines and newspapers. We can even fill out online applications, take online courses, and so much more. I can even type this post I am typing now for this blog. See how amazing it is? Lol.  Thanks to advancement in technology, we are able to keep up with the best of you. No more running circles around the little blind woman, because she is running right beside you. Want to watch a YouTube video? Well, I can too. Let’s check the menu of the hottest Italian restaurant in town! I can do that too. Assistive technology has made all of this possible. Now, if only they can work on that car for the blind. I will be first in line to receive my driver’s license. I’ll see you on the road! So, the next time someone asks you if a blind person can use a computer, your answer should be, of course they can!

 

I hope you enjoyed this fun and informative article about how a totally blind or visually impaired person can use a computer, despite their vision loss. I always like to educate others who are not informed on the way I and other blind and visually impaired people live our daily lives. Life had to be adapted to fit our situations, but thanks to the adaptation, we are able to live life just as anyone else does. It has been an interesting learning journey for me, and I’m looking forward to see what else technology has in store for the blind and visually impaired people of the world.