Far Away Friendship

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well. I’m so glad that I’m able to post again this month as I am really missing posting regularly for you all!

Today’s post is both a lifestyle and disability one which I thought might be quite nice.

You all should know Elin from the blog My Blurred World as we do our ‘seeing through sight loss series’ together, and it’s no surprise on our blogs that we’re best friends. This post is also part of the series.

You may remember that we met up back in August last year and wrote a post all about it which you can read here, well after 7 months we were finally reunited again last weekend! We live 150 miles away from each other, it’s not easy to meet up as often as we’d like. Adding to this, I’m a few months away from graduating from university, so the workload is piling up too.

Despite all of this, we manage to maintain a very very strong friendship and I think that’s something to be proud of. Today we wanted to tell you about our recent meet-up and how we manage to maintain a long distance friendship which I’m sure some of you can relate to.

So, let’s get into today’s post!

Ever since me and Elin met up in Manchester back in August last year, we’ve been wanting to meet up ever since. After one thing after another, we set too to plan exactly how we could meet up and spend a weekend together. After a lot of planning and research, we finally came up with a plan that we were going to spend a weekend in Manchester as it is a central location. We needed to find somewhere to stay and somewhere that would cater for two visually impaired guests. We contacted several hotel companies and Premier Inn told us that their staff were trained in disability awareness so we decided that was probably the best option for us. We researched a whole load of Premier Inn’s and found one that seemed nice in Salford Quays, neither of us had been before so it was something new for us both. We booked it, told them that we had a visual impairment and asked for any assistance we might need. They were extremely happy to accommodate, they gave us an accessible room on the ground floor which was close to reception, assisted us to and from breakfast and were there if we needed any help. This was a huge help as we didn’t have to worry about which room was ours as ours was the first room from reception. The staff guided us to and from breakfast and made sure that we got to our room safely, the service and assistance we received was excellent!

On the Friday evening, me and Elin met at the hotel and were both very kindly dropped off by our parents ( thank you so much to them). After we checked in at the hotel we all went for a meal before our parents went back home. Me and Elin spent the Friday night unpacking, catching up and listening to music which was nice and chilled.

On the Saturday, we went for breakfast mid-morning and spent some time in our room afterwards. Later in the day, we decided to go for a walk by the waterfront. We didn’t know the area at all, but our mums had kindly shown us the route out of the hotel when they were with us so we grabbed our canes and decided to have a wander. We successfully managed it, we didn’t bump into anything or fall in the river! Navigating an unfamiliar area when you can’t see is very tricky so we were quite proud of ourselves!

Once we got back to the hotel we ordered a takeaway from Dominos, the pizzas were gorgeous might I add! We did probably get a bit too excited tracking our delivery but oh well, who doesn’t?

The rest of the Saturday evening consisted of watching some TV, listening to music, and having a proper girly chat and a lot of laughs. It was so nice to chill out with my best friend, forget about uni work and all the stress that goes with it and completely be myself.

Sunday soon arrived, we went for breakfast mid-morning again and packed to go home. We were both quite sad as we only had a matter of hours left but we wanted to make the most of it so decided to go for a walk by the waterfront again and have some lunch. When our families arrived to pick us up we walked to a nearby shopping centre, had a coffee, and walked by the waterfront with them and got some photos taken. We both love to keep photos as we think they’re something lovely to keep and look back on.

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(photo of me and Elin)

It was hard to say goodbye to my best friend but we’re reunited in 6 weeks as we’re seeing Shawn Mendes together so that made the goodbyes easier.

I honestly had such an amazing weekend with Elin, I’m so lucky to call her my best friend. I am also extremely grateful to my Mum and Dad for taking me and picking me up, family is so precious.

We also wanted to tell you about how we maintain a long distance friendship. It can be extremely difficult as I live in Yorkshire and Elin lives in Wales and it’s quite a long journey, therefore we hadn’t seen each other for several months. Maintaining a long distance friendship is not easy but it’s possible so we wanted to tell you how we do it.

Text regularly

You don’t have to text all day every day but it’s important to keep the conversation going, ask them how they are and keep them updated on your life, telling them yourself rather than them finding out on social media adds more of a personal touch. Me and Elin are always texting each other to keep each other updated on things, we think that this really does help.

Chat over the phone

Sometimes texting isn’t always good enough, having a phone call gives you chance to have a proper catch up. Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and speak to your best friend which can instantly lift your mood. It’s not the same as being with them face-to-face but it is so important to have verbal conversations as well.

Do something together

You’re probably wondering what I mean by this, but me and Elin have our blog series which we include a range of posts on sight loss, to tag posts, to memories like this so they are nice to look back on. It’s nice to go back and read them sometimes! We also have a collaborative Spotify playlist which consists of our favourite songs, this is something that we like to update and share our music taste with each other. We’re lucky in that we like the same artists/bands. Let me just tell you, it’s a very good playlist!

Plan meet-ups

It’s important to have something to look forward to. Me and Elin have been focusing on this meet up for a while now, we’re also seeing Shawn Mendes and Adele together this year and I can honestly say that’s getting me through these last few months of university! Being able to countdown to something together is so exciting! It also makes the distance more bearable when you’re having one of those rubbish days.

Keep them motivated and always be there for them

Distance is nothing when friendship means everything, so make sure that you’re always there for them. If they’re going through a hard time or need a bit of motivation, then help them along the way.

If it wasn’t for blogging then me and Elin wouldn’t know each other, and I am so grateful. We may live miles away from each other but it makes the friendship stronger.

You can read Elin’s post here.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, thank you so much for reading!

Do you have a long distance friendship? Let us know how you maintain it in the comments.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with a new post for you all.

Holly x

Embracing The Cane

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m sorry for the lack of posts at the moment but third year of university is the reason for that!

Just a quick note, today’s post is very long so grab a drink and a snack, sit down and enjoy!

I know that not all of you will be able to relate to this post but I know many of you like to hear my experiences of living with sight loss and this post is one of those where I discuss my experiences and also give some advice.

I hope you enjoy today’s post!

Embracing the cane is something that many blind and visually impaired people struggle with, others not so much. I was one of those that struggled with it for a few years; but now I’m completely comfortable using one. Looking back, I’m glad I did have that doubt, apprehension and anxiety when using one because it’s contributed to my thoughts and feelings when using a cane today. I can also empathise with others that don’t feel so comfortable using a cane.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m comfortable using a cane and I can openly discuss this topic. Today I want to tell you my cane story and how I learned to embrace it, seeing it as something positive rather than something negative. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reminder that the glass is half full, not half empty.

 

My story

I first had cane training (mobility training as it’s formally called) when I was at school. The training is done by a professional, called a rehabilitation worker. The rehabilitation worker taught me some cane techniques and in the following sessions we proceeded to do routes around my school, to my classrooms and such places. Let’s just say, I absolutely hated the training. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy learning to use the cane, because that’s not true, I love learning but there was something about it that filled me with dread and a hatred towards this white cane. I don’t know fully what it was but I think there were a couple of contributing factors: the fact that I was using it for the first time around my school, the place where I knew a lot of people and they’d see me with this thing and probably wonder what the hell I was doing? The second being the negative thoughts that I was having, what would people think of me using a cane, was I standing out even more so than before, what if I bumped into them? Having mobility training isn’t something your average teenager does, unless they have a visual impairment. When you’re in your teens, you want to fit in, make friends, socialise with others…you get my drift. How the hell was I going to do that when I was lumbered with this thing? I also didn’t find the lessons fun, I’m quite a motivated person so I’d have preferred to get out and about rather than being in the same environment. Obviously, I needed to learn the routes round my school, but I would have liked a variety of routes, have a change of scenery, rather than just the same building constantly. I got to grips with using the cane and things improved slowly.

Later on, I was then taught how to cross roads safely and independently. One of the major downfalls of this though was that I only learned the route between my home and my school so I didn’t really enjoy it. There wasn’t any option for me to learn other routes and do things that I wanted to do. I was proud of myself for achieving this goal and getting that far but I still wasn’t fully happy within myself using a cane. I didn’t use the cane around school and when I went out I didn’t use it as much as I should have, when you don’t like something it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it.

When I entered sixth form, I gradually became more confident and comfortable using a cane. I started to realise that it was my way of being independent; rather than relying on others. Granted, I wasn’t 100 % comfortable with the whole concept, but I was getting there.

When I entered my second and final year of sixth form I started applying for university, just like everyone else. When I was doing this, I knew that I wasn’t fully confident using a cane and knew that I needed to get myself into gear and needed to do something about it. I spoke to my parents about it, we spoke long and hard and did our research into different options and this is when I enquired about going to a specialist school for a short period of time. One of them got back to me and it was agreed that I would spend a week there in summer. During this week I had intense training on independent living skills and mobility training. Let me tell you, I learned more mobility skills during that week than I had ever done previously. I’m not saying that this is the right option for everyone because it was something that I enquired about myself rather than a professional advising me to do something like that, but it was definitely a great experience for me. It really gave me the confidence boost that I needed. After attending mainstream school all the way through education, spending a week at a specialist school was rather interesting for me. I feel like that really set me up for starting university that upcoming September.

A few weeks before I started university I had mobility training around campus so that I knew where everything was, in order for me to be able to navigate to my lecture rooms and for me to have a good idea of the campus. I think this was really the turning point for me in terms of my mobility; I was far more confident using a cane and I genuinely felt comfortable using one; I wasn’t as bothered what people thought as it was my mobility aid and my way of getting around. The rehabilitation worker was genuinely lovely and made it enjoyable which took away any anxiety that I had previously. I think it also helped being surrounded by people that weren’t that bothered about my disability, they cared but it didn’t faze them as it did others in school. There’s people from all walks of life at university and others that have the same or similar disabilities so you’re not usually the only one in your institution.

Looking back, I think university was definitely the turning point for me. I found independence and I think that’s one of the most important skills for blind and visually impaired people to have. Since becoming comfortable using a cane I’ve been on a plane on my own and continue to tackle the challenges of public transport. But without motivating myself to be independent I would not have got this far.

 

How I embraced the cane

So as you’ve probably gathered from my experiences above that embracing the cane didn’t come easy to me, my experiences are just one of many and every blind or visually impaired person has their own experiences. Some, like myself learn to have a love/hate relationship with a cane, but for others they may never have this.

I want to tell you how I learned to embrace the cane in the hope that it might help some of you out there.

Do not give up

You may want to give up at first, especially if you’re finding it challenging but not giving up is key. If you give up then you won’t achieve anything so why quit? No one said that it would be easy.

Believe in yourself

This is so important. Believing in yourself is one key to happiness and independence.

Stop caring what others think and focus on yourself

This applies to many aspects of life but things become so much easier when you stop caring what others may think of you and focus on yourself. So what if you’re walking down the street with a cane or guide dog? Your disability is a part of you. Feeling comfortable within yourself is so important.

Think of the positives

Embracing the cane will provide you with independence, lifelong skills and so much more so rather than thinking about the negative aspects, look at the positives. Remember what I said before, the glass is half full, not half empty.

Look towards the future

Just think what you can achieve if you can conquer something like this.

 

That concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed reading and possibly learnt something from it.

As always, thank you for reading.

Holly x