Recipe of the Week – Molasses Cookies

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup trans-free margarine
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 egg white

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat several cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Stir with a fork to blend. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat margarine until smooth. Add Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, molasses, and egg white. Mix slowly to incorporate, then beat until smooth. Gradually stir in the reserved flour mixture until well blended. Dough will be soft but not sticky. Using your palms, roll dough into 3/4-inch balls (1 level teaspoon). Place, separated, on prepared pans. Use the back of a fork to press down on tops of cookies in an X, making a crosshatch pattern. Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges are set. Let stand on the sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool. Continue until all the dough is baked.

Reader’s Forum – Week of January 6, 2013

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

Rodney wrote:

My name is Rodney Neely. I am a reader of the Matilda Ziegler magazine, who was born prematurely. I am totally blind as a result of Retinopathy of Prematurity. In order to keep me alive the hospital staff gave me a lot of oxygen, and they didn’t cover my eyes while I was in the incubator.

I am writing this letter to the Matilda Ziegler magazine in hopes of stimulating a discussion about the prevalence of allergies and other breathing related developments in people with Retinopathy of Prematurity. I have had allergies for the past ten years and I have always hated running because I could never breathe properly when I was running. I used to think that this was because I was uncoordinated. But after having some discussions with some friends who also have Retinopathy of Prematurity, I have discovered that these friends also experienced similar difficulties.

I would appreciate any research that you could provide on this topic. Perhaps you might consider asking a doctor, who specializes in treating visually impaired people about this topic. I have done some preliminary research on the internet, but I have only been able to locate articles that suggest that there might be a link between Retinopathy of Prematurity and decreased lung capacity in adults with Retinopathy of Prematurity.

Any studies that you could locate that discuss this topic would be appreciated.

If other readers wish to discuss this topic, they may contact me at blindlion@verizon.net

##

Ann wrote:

I’d like to respond to a few of last week’s articles. First, to Steve regarding other graduates and their guide dogs: yes, our class had four dogs from the same litter and all are still working. I keep in touch with the woman who has Verona’s sister. It’s fun and rewarding to interact with other handlers and I encourage all dog guide handlers to do it often.

To Terry about Muffs: I would be interested to try them out, however, I am the type of handler who won’t put my dog’s well being at risk unnecessarily. Taking my dog to a rock concert, for instance, is doing this, in my opinion. I have taken her to musicals and classical music shows, however. My thoughts are, take the white cane and leave the pooch at home if you are going to a location that is potentially dangerous to their well being. Loud concerts are chaotic and can cause dogs pain. Plus, the throbbing bass sound that makes the floor shake can be distressing to them if they aren’t accustomed to it.

##

James R. Campbell wrote:

Today is January 6, 2014. We have 359 days left in this year. No doubt, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions. We have resolved to lose weight, stop smoking, or do a million other things.

The word resolution comes from the word resolve, meaning will or determination. We may be determined to spend more time with our families, for instance. But what are resolutions?

Resolutions are promises that are made at the first of the year, all too quickly, however, they are forgotten. A goal would serve us better. A goal is something that we wish to achieve by the end of the year.

Goals are attained in incremental steps. Decide what the goal is, and write down a list of steps needed to get there. As each item is met, mark it, and proceed down the list.

I have found that visualizing the end result and the process involved is helpful. Before I bought my laptop at Target, I visualized the steps that would be involved in learning to use it. I did this during meditation sessions, and began this process before we even went to look at a computer.

Present day peace activist and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda reminds us that those who wake up in the morning with work to do and a mission to fulfill are the happiest people of all. A sense of fulfillment is vital for our well-being and development. Keep this in mind when setting your goals for 2014.

##

Maria wrote:

I was very interested to hear about mutt muffs. We went to a club for New Year’s Eve and gosh I wish I had a pair of mutt muffs for my guide dog and a pair for myself. The music was incredibly loud to me. I love music and listen to it quite a lot, but I don’t enjoy not being able to control the volume. Karly, my guide dog, didn’t seem bothered but I certainly was. I will have to check out the web sites and see if they will ship to Australia.
Blessings!

##

James wrote:

I am James R. Campbell. I am writing to respond to the op-ed piece in the December 23, issue. Let me begin by pointing out what has been learned from the latest research. The act of showing affection releases hormones and other neurotransmitters that help with the healing processes. These chemicals help to elevate mood, and even boost the immune system. Oxytocin, for instance, is the hormone that aids in the bonding of mothers and infants. It works the same way for the rest of us. It helps develop trust, and aids in the lifting of depression, for example.

Thank you Bob. I agree that the good guys are being punished for the actions of those whose only interest is in tearing down the social fabric of our society. We need more people to take up the cause, and speak out, as you have done.

It is my firm belief that the isolation in our society is the reason the overall mental health of our society is so bad. Well meaning doctors treat those of us who suffer with medicine, and while medication has its place, science has shown that those who have a social support system find their medication is more effective. Add a hug to your prescription, things will go better. I have found that to be true. When my cherished Aunt and I have a difference of opinion, or I make a mistake, I will not go without giving her a hug. It sure helps.

##

Lucia wrote:

I would like to respond to those who did not understand why I am so appalled at the fact that Cecil Williams fell from the subway platform. I am glad he will be well.

Here’s the problem! First of all, the dog is supposed to guide its handler safely! That is first and foremost and cannot be overstated. Schools that train dogs to work as guides must train the dogs on double-sided platforms! Dogs must be trained not to treat the platform edge as a curb, but to walk between the pillars on the platform. Yes, I did donate to a school, but then, they used to train the dogs on double-sided platforms. Note that schools change, and this training had occurred years ago. Yes, I did raise “mucho bucks” but I can only believe in a school if they are training dogs on double-sided platforms.
Of course I am questioning the integrity. It is mandatory that handlers visually impaired and blind be safe with our dogs! My standards are high! I don’t know that the schools are doing training on double-sided platforms. When are the dogs first exposed to the platforms? This must occur prior to a student receiving his dog at the school!
People who do not see the situation, the way I see it, should “write a new book!”

##

Wesley wrote in response to Bob Branco’s op-ed on affection:

While I generally agree that the pendulum has swung too far away from affection and physical contact, I also support and understand why such affection can be labeled as offensive. As innocent as a six year old boy may be, what about the young girl? Did the boy ask to kiss her hand? Did she offer her hand to him to kiss? I have seen plenty of so called acts of affection which are not wanted by the receiver, and it is the receiver who defines whether the affection is acceptable or actually an intrusion of their personal space. Regardless of a person’s age, innocent or not, boundaries are critical. Thus while in his mind he simply wanted to share affection, in her mind she didn’t desire his affection. No, means no, and what one person may deem as perfectly acceptable is not acceptable for another.

I will provide an interesting alternate example of this: recently I attended a workshop, where I introduced myself to the speaker. When I went to shake their hand, they refused. Instead they bowed. I was a bit shocked by this, as it was totally out of the norm. However, I fully respect this person’s custom of bowing versus shaking hands. I could feel insulted, or I could simply accept that their manner of greeting is different than my own.

Now, I will add an additional thought for consideration. In some European countries it is common to kiss a person on each cheek when greeting and parting. This is regardless of their sex, whereas in America it is common to kiss only between a man and a woman, woman to woman, but not between a man and a man. I have no idea how these various customs diverged, but it is clear to me that these are moving targets.

So by today’s standards, from my perspective, even a six year old kissing a girls hand may very well be an intrusion and deserve punishment. At some point we must all learn that each of us is unique and each of us has our own set of boundaries. While these may not match yours or mine, they are still rational and must be observed by others.

##

Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Mike’s December 30 Readers Forum in which he briefly states how an iPhone apart from blind-friendly, changes lives, I’d like to share my experience: Yes since the 3GS came out in July 2009 with Voiceover, I was hooked! I listened to podcasts as they came out and through iOS’s updates, thus I kind of was versed on what to expect when in July of 2012, I debuted with an iPhone 3GS! It’s totally one thing to listen to podcast and visualize like I did, on a surface, my Nokia phone or other flat items, how to move through the iPhone’s gestures, but having the iPhone in your hand? It’s totally different! It took me several months to start feeling confident and flowing with workings of the touch screen on my iPhone, but now nearly a year and a half later, I wouldn’t change my iPhone for anything! Aside from Whatsapp, Twitter and other activities that sighted people use, thus permitting me joining them to be in the Social network craze, I listen to radio via TuneIn, use my iPhone for Emails apart from the general phone functions. So any of you still a bit hesitant? Take the plunge!

##

John wrote:

Greetings,

I beg to differ with the writer in Reader’s Forum who stated the history of Christmas is found in the Bible. It is not. The birth of Jesus Christ is described, but He was not born on December 25th. Nor is there anywhere in Scripture where the word Christmas appears. Christians are nowhere encouraged or commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth. While it is a momentous event, Christians are instead exhorted to commemorate Christ’s death and burial through what is traditionally called communion or the Lord’s supper.

John Wesley Smith
Hallsville, MO

##

Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – The Year of the Book, as a new Bookshare member, it’d be awesome to have all the access you guys in the US have! Yes the number of books now available is great (nearly 67,000), more than I’d dreamed having at my fingertips before, especially for continuing both practicing my English and enriching myself both personally and professionally (I’m a Psychologist). My question is who would need to ratify the treaty so we international Bookshare members have total access to Bookshare’s collection, the US or in my case, Mexico? It’s certainly an indescribable feeling of being a part of humanity to have equal access to books! Great job Bookshare!

Op Ed with Bob Branco – The Moby Dick Marathon

During the first weekend after New Year’s Day, Moby Dick, the famous novel by Herman Melville, is read in its entirety at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The reading lasts approximately 25 hours, while dozens of volunteers read different sections of the book. Anyone can sign up to participate in this marathon, including city councilors, the Mayor, business executives, police officers, and anyone else who wants to read aloud before an audience.

Last year, I was asked to read a portion of Moby Dick at the 2013 Marathon. I gladly accepted the offer, and became the first blind person ever to participate. I read part of Chapter 10 in front of a podium, using a braille copy of Moby Dick that was obtained for me. I felt honored that city officials asked me to be part of this annual community event. Though I was the first blind person to get involved, I was satisfied just to be there at all, and not because of my blindness.

Yesterday, I read at the Moby Dick marathon once again, and the experience was just as rewarding.

As I left the Whaling Museum yesterday, I was stopped by a newspaper reporter who asked me many questions about blindness and braille. Although this reporter was there to cover the Marathon, he immediately changed his focus with me when he discovered that I am blind. This does not surprise me. Whether we like it or not, we make sighted people curious.

I hope that my experience as a blind person contributing to a municipal event will inspire other blind people to get involved with their own community. I know that some of you already do that, but there may be others who need a little incentive.

Your thoughts are welcome in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Reading For Me

When I was in grade school, I was taught to read large print text. I attended school in the late 70s and 80s. At the time, my understanding was that children who had low vision were taught to read print, instead of Braille. My large print books were heavy and huge. At first the other children thought my books were cool, but I hated the books because they were big, bulky, and the pictures were awful. They couldn’t blow up the pictures unless it was done in black and white. All of this made me feel different than the other children.

When I read text, I have to hold it right up to my nose in order to see it clearly. I have vision only in my left eye. When I entered the third grade I got a pair of reading glasses. These glasses were extremely thick and could not be used for viewing distance. I liked the glasses though because they allowed me to see a larger area of the print, so I used them most of the time. Reading print took a long time because of the fact that I only had the vision in one eye and because I had to hold everything so close.

When I was not in school, I didn’t read for pleasure. Once in a while I would pick up a book, but it was usually something I had already read and I would skip around and only read the parts I thought were interesting. Every time there was something to read for school, I would think, “Oh no, I have to read this.” I would actually glance through the text to see how long the paragraphs were and I would look for pages that had lots of pictures because it meant I could skip them. Sometimes I would count the number of pages that I had to read, wasting time that I could have been using to get the reading complete.

When I entered high school, I was placed in the Reading Lab a few days a week. The teacher would give each of us interesting short stories to read. It was actually the first time I read something that seemed enjoyable. At the beginning of the year, the teacher would test our reading comprehension and repeat the test at the end of the year. I did notice that my reading comprehension improved each year and that made me feel good.

When I went to college, I took a required study skills course, which taught me many valuable techniques and strategies to help me find the important parts of the text books. But, I still hated reading and would find any way possible to either avoid it, or get someone else to do it for me and read it aloud to me.

Once I graduated from college I really didn’t read much of anything, unless it was necessary. I have many friends who use the NLS books and the BARD website to listen to audio books. Sometimes people will buy audio books for me. They are nice to listen to, but it has still taken me a long time to do reading for pleasure.

Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution. I promised myself that since I write for this magazine, that I would read every weekly edition. Well, I made sure to read each and every weekly edition of it. I have to tell you, I’ve learned so much from all of the other writers and I’ve gotten great enjoyment and education from reading it each week. I’d like to thank my fellow writers for doing such a great job and thank you for inspiring me to read each week for pleasure. I intend to read each week’s edition in 2014 and am looking forward to learning from everyone. Thanks for making reading a pleasure for me!

Feature Writer Roger Cicchese – They Named It After Me

Those who know me well are aware that I love to eat. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the entire gustatory experience.

Several years ago, while living in a working-class community west of Boston, Massachusetts, I visited and sampled the extensive variety, including many ethnic foods, at numerous local eating establishments.

One favorite hangout was called Harold’s Truck Stop. It had the usual bill of fare: all sorts of burgers and sandwiches for the crowds of truckers that flowed through its doors on a daily basis.
I can still recall those burly men with their rumbling voices, laden with unfiltered cigarette smoke, and the loud back and forth calling of the short order cook and wait staff as they rang up the fast-paced orders constantly being placed by hungry customers in a hurry for their food.

As you can tell, I really took immense pleasure in the atmosphere and the environment of that multi-sensory eatery. The wait staff was very funny and the employees and customers treated me with humor and made me feel quite welcome. This was perhaps because I was a regular customer and that translated into dollars spent on lots of sandwiches and drinks. I was also a bit of a contributing jokester myself.

Now, readers beware! I have somewhat of an odd taste in food combinations. When I started visiting Harold’s I would order my favorite sandwich combination. The wait staff would always ask me if I was sure if I really wanted to order such a strange mixture. They would always warn me that it would cost extra because it was really like ordering two sandwiches in one.

They initially seemed reluctant to fulfill my request. But since I was insistent and always willing to pay extra for this rather strange combination they acceded to my demand.

After visiting this establishment for several months and ordering my favorite sandwich combination over and over again they stopped making fun of me and when I’d walk through the door they would simply say “the usual Mr. Roger?”

This continued for several more months. Finally, after about a year I walked in one day and was told “we’ve revised our menu and since you’ve made your signature sandwich so popular among our staff and customers we’ve named it after you and placed it prominently on our new menu. It’s called The Roger Special Sandwich.” What is in this fancy sandwich, you might ask?

Thickly sliced apple-flavored bacon, Boston lettuce, tomato on the vine, home-made cranberry walnut chicken salad, melted mild cheddar cheese on sour dough toast with lots of mayo. It comes with a side of steak fries and a large soft drink. The pickle is optional!

To this day, it is still one of my most favorite culinary delights. Give it a whirl and perhaps you will agree. Having a sandwich named after me was quite an honor and for at least a while I was famous. What a way to be famous. Well, they did name it after me!!! Since I never had a son I guess a sandwich will have to suffice!

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Tech Trails

The year is barely a week old but I’ve already experienced technological turmoil and triumphs. Here’s a brief sketch on how my 2014 began.

Have your fingers and mind ever conspired against you, forcing you to perform unexpected tasks at your computer keyboard? Generally a mindful computer user, I sat momentarily horrified when I thought I’d deleted the My Documents folder while attempting to delete another folder altogether. Returning to my senses, I restored the folder and immediately backed it up to my Drop Box storage area. Heaven help us if anything ever happens to that indispensable service.

This might be old news to many, but I thought it the coolest thing. While reading a book using the BARD Mobile app, a song was mentioned that I’d never heard. I immediately paused the book, opened the YouPlayer app (more about that in the next paragraph), searched for and listened to the song. I’d never thought to do that. Back in the day when an unfamiliar song was mentioned we didn’t have immediate access to hearing it. These days information is literally at our fingertips, and it is a magnificent thing.

For those looking for an alternative to the less than stellar YouTube iOS app, YouPlayer is a wonderfully Voiceover-accessible solution. I liked it so much I purchased the premium version. Activities such as searching for, playing and saving videos to the Favorites section are a breeze. After Twitter, this has become my go to app for YouTube content. I wonder how many videos I can save to the Favorites? I’m certain YouPlayer will provide a little popup message to let me know.

Speaking of iOS apps – have you heard of or begun using Voice Dream Reader? I first heard this app mentioned on an NPR podcast. The developer created it while on an extended vacation in a country with extremely cold days and long nights. He admitted to needing something to occupy his time. The app “plays” a multitude of text formats, including mp3 files and it syncs to your Drop Box account. It took a bit of fiddling but I’m getting the hang of it and believe the app will be quite useful for learning lyrics. Impressed with the Acapella James voice, I purchased it and downloaded a book from the Guttenberg Project to try it out.

While on the subject of speech synthesizers, I was introduced to The Synthocast Players. Curious, I downloaded the album “A Most Unusual Vacation” from www.amazon.com/mp3. It took what seemed forever to download. The entire tale is told by speech synthesizers with excellent sound effects. Upon first hearing, it appears to be a delightful Harry potter-esque adventure.

I’m forever travelling the technological trail.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – When Large Snowstorms Left Us Snowbound

In the course of most winters New Englanders usually get at least one large snowstorm. When snowstorms pair with bone chilling temperatures New Englanders often are content to stay in their homes.

There are two instances when I have experienced being snowbound, but they have been made better by the fact that I was with company, right after New Year’s.

After the large weekend New Year’s Eve party of 1994 was over, two guests remained at our home. A snowstorm was predicted, but we thought they would be at home before the brunt of the storm hit. That afternoon we phoned our local cab company an hour before the commuter train would leave from Fitchburg to take them to Boston. As the minutes ticked by we were anxious because we had not heard the toot of a horn or the rumbling of an engine in our long driveway. Around quarter to three we called and the driver said there was no guarantee he could get them there on time because of worsening road conditions. We canceled the taxi and were happy to have our two friends stay until Wednesday afternoon.

That night we ordered pizza and happily talked and listened to music with good friends. The next day a friend shoveled our driveway. Marshall suggested I make “that delicious ham and cheese soup.” Everyone enjoyed this new recipe, which was partially made from some left over New Year’s Day ham and a maple flavored stock. It was accompanied by my delicious homemade rolls, a good hearty supper on this cold night. We were happy to share this experience with friends who were welcome at our home.

After breakfast Wednesday morning, they reluctantly went home in the bone chilling cold. That afternoon, after I went shopping with a friend and felt the severe bone chilling temperature, I was grateful to return to our warm home away from the snow and bitter cold.

Right after Christmas in 2013 I began monitoring the growing threat of another snowstorm right after New Year’s. By Tuesday the seriousness of the storm was evident. I suggested to Jenny that she cancel her train trip home on Friday.

By Wednesday night, storm watches had turned in to storm warnings everywhere in southern and part of northern New England. NOAA weather said we could receive anywhere from eight to fourteen inches of snow in central Massachusetts. Jenny canceled her New Year’s Day train home and instead opted for the Sunday January 5 afternoon train. As she said to the operator at Amtrak, “we will be snowbound here.”

Thursday night, as we watched the progress of this Nor’easter, I made the macaroni and cheese recipe everyone loves. I worried more about the oncoming zero or below zero temperatures and the powdery snow that would blanket our area. I left my bathroom faucet on at a trickle to avoid frozen pipes at my apartment in Liberty place.

Friday, as the storm died down, I fixed French toast and hot coffee for breakfast. We enjoyed the extra two days and used the time to finish a cassette book, talk, and listen to some old time Christmas radio programs Sunday morning.

We in north central Massachusetts did not receive the brunt of the storm. The Nor’easter blanketed anywhere from sixteen inches on the coast to over two feet in parts of central Massachusetts. Although the powdery snow and extreme cold are inconvenient this will be a memorable winter.

I hope this snowy winter is short and we have warmer weather with budding trees by the middle of March.

Feature Writer John Christie – Six Tips To Make Your New Year’s Resolution a Success

People in the New Year try to set goals and attempt to follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions. However, in a recent University of Scranton study, only 8 percent of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Making a list of these 6 tricks for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions will help you stay on track in keeping them all year. First, limit the number of goals. Having fewer goals keeps you focused on what’s most important for you to use your willpower on according to Social Psychologist Chris Berdik. He also said that many of us lack the structure to support our behavioral changes our new goals require.

Next, write a list of your goals. In addition, a Sports Psychologist says to take it one step further by writing what might get in the way of accomplishing those goals. Michael Gervais also says that doing this will help you identify what might be stopping you from going for this goal. For instance, if you have a goal of making 20 cold calls a day, but you have a fear of rejection, state those fears and then turn a negative rejection in to a positive one. For instance, before every call, say I am the perfect fit for this client.

The third step is to set realistic goals. According to Gervais, you want to set goals that are neither uninteresting nor overwhelming. You must set goals that are in the middle so that you won’t get discouraged or overwhelmed.

Next find a partner to help you to achieve your goal. With a partner, you will be able to stick to your goal better. In addition, you can go to a web site to have others track your progress.

The fifth step is to make a tangible goal. For instance, instead of eating a healthy diet say I will eat a vegetable with every meal.

Finally, find a theme for the year. For instance, will this be the year you will concentrate on your health?

These are just a few suggestions that will help you get through your New Year’s Resolutions. Good luck and try to stay on track.

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230534

Feature Writer Jane Kronheim – Sailing the Seven C’s

When we enter the field of education, it is like navigating uncharted waters. Each child is unique, filled with new and interesting challenges. This is true of all education, and not only with regard to the special needs population. As we launch a ship of understanding and patience in the new year, we will encounter difficulties on our journey. And, after 35 years of itinerant work in the vision field, I can see a new horizon up ahead. It is surrounded by the seven “Cs”. Perhaps this sounds like a play on words and in fact it is. Early adventurers traveled unknown waters called the Seven Seas and much like those sea-faring men and women, many of us are aware of undefined waters looming in the not-too-distant future.

When I considered my own type of “C” faring adventure, I discovered seven “Cs” of my own that I wish to share. The first “C” has to do with change which is not only necessary from time to time, but which will hasten new beginnings and new ways of thinking. Change can shake up some people or it can become a reward to others. This depends on your willingness to accept what happens next.

In order to change we need to challenge ourselves, the second “C”. So, when we take up this challenge we allow ourselves to “think outside the box” of conventional ways of doing things. While some folks sign on to the latest trend or “educational fad” there are still a few of us around who dare to challenge this herding instinct as we step outside of the fold to raise critical concerns. But this cannot happen if we are unwilling to express ourselves with freedom of thought.

So communication becomes the third “C”. Without timely communication teachers will have a difficult time teaching their students. And without communication with each other, they will be at a loss for further insights. Often when we communicate, we might confront each other as we seek change and strive to challenge mislead ideas.

Although confrontation is difficult for most people to do, it is often necessary. So, confrontation, the fourth “C” is imperative if we are to move ahead on a sea of progress.

At the turn of the next wave is creativity and collaboration, the fifth and sixth “Cs”. Sometimes creative solutions might appear controversial at times, but as a doctor/friend once said: “Controversy is good!” This can bring about new ideas and invention. If we can collaborate properly and in good spirit, then the sky’s the limit and who knows just where this ship will sail.

Finally, it takes a lot of courage to get this ship back to harbor. Every day I see teachers and therapists who are willing to go the extra mile to help a child, to teach a new technique, and to support their colleagues. To step outside the box of conventional thinking, this takes courage, the seventh “C”.

So, when I tell you that “I am sailing the seven “Cs”, you will understand what I mean: change, challenge, communication, confrontation, creativity, collaboration and courage. If you can embrace even one of these seven “Cs” then know that you are embarking on an expedition that begins when you take the first step towards a truly human endeavor called exploration.

Now, make sure that the ship you are on has the right navigation tools. For instance, a compass will give you direction. Make sure that you know how to use it. Be certain of how to read it. Ask others to check the course with you. Be of one mind. Have clear thinking. Don’t let starfish, icebergs or the briny sea muddle up your thinking. Otherwise your ship might sink. Education, like a ship, needs to flow evenly, full steam ahead. With the right amount of “Cs”, the ship may toss and turn for a while, but it will eventually right itself.

Now there is another ship that might cross your path to the seven “Cs”. This is the “ship of fools”. The “ship of fools” attempts to chart a course with a compass that no one can read. This ship has all of the best equipment, but the ship’s captain and the men and women on board were ill-prepared for the journey. I could go on and on about the description of this foolish vessel, just know this: that without honest assessment of the ship’s needs, this ship will fail to return. One can compare this to the preparation of our children, as well as ourselves. Without proper instruction, at the right time, with honest materials and approaches, a student receives a flawed direction. This can even happen to any of us, at any age. It will take forever to reach back and find the seven “Cs” that could have helped our students and ourselves.

So how do we embrace the seven “Cs”? I believe this can happen as we honestly apply ourselves, living our lives with integrity, learning by experience and through the appropriate educational channels and having the courage to recognize the sea of change that surrounds us.

Feature Writer Ann Chiapetta – Sharing the Warmth

On January 6, 2009 I met Verona, the dog who changed my life. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I paced in my room at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, folding and unfolding the leather leash that would soon be attached to the female black Labrador with whom I’d be matched. The previous evening instructors told us each the names of our dogs and the breed and color. That night I didn’t really sleep so well, being full of nervous energy, like the rest of my classmates. We stayed up late playing cards and talking, many of us first time handlers.

The morning of dog day, I didn’t eat much and after the morning lecture we all went back to our rooms, some of us doing laundry, some making phone calls and others going to the tech lab to check email.

The knock on the door startled me even though I was waiting for it. The class supervisor came in. I stood up and put out my hand. “Ann, this is Verona,” I clipped on my leash and he unclipped his and left. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but I was crying, petting her glossy black head. She wagged her tail and soon we were sitting on the floor together, watching TV.

It’s been five years since that day and to honor our partnership I created a fundraiser on crowdrise.com in order to sponsor the January 2014 graduating class. We’ve reached our goal and even got a little extra, a total of $530. Graduation is on January 25, and it will be a special one, as my family and friends will be there as well as my Guiding Eyes family and another friend who is getting his new dog. Becoming a dog guide handler is one of the most enriching experiences in my life so far and I want to share it with people so they can appreciate how much these dogs increase our confidence and independence. Happy anniversary, my sweet girl.

To find out more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, go to: www.guidingeyes.org
To find out more about the donation platform crowdrise, go to: www.crowdrise.com