Last Year’s Resolution About Learning Braille
In January of last year I made a resolution to refresh my braille skills. I wrote a blog post for VisionAware called “My Journey Back to Braille.” In that post I shared about how I had learned braille many years ago but had not put it to full use. I shared how I knew the basics of my letters and numbers which is called Alphabetic Braille. I described how I could read a few words, some punctuation and short form words but that is really about it.
Took a Course to Improve Braille Skills
So, I decided to challenge myself and take a Hadley School for the Blind course on braille to become more proficient so that I could read books, magazines and write notes. I specifically noticed at work that I needed to use braille more in reading documents for meetings, workshops and presentations. So, I signed up for the full course and got started. I shared my goal with friends and family and even created a work space in my home specifically for my braille work. I received my instructions and assignments in the mail on a monthly basis, completed them and emailed my homework. I regularly corresponded with my instructor via email with an occasional phone call. Each week I practiced and noticed an improvement. I finished my first course rather quickly and got my certificate in Alphabetic Braille in January. I immediately signed up for the next course that concentrated on Literary Braille which focuses on contractions, punctuation, writing, reading full sentences and paragraphs. But this is when things shifted in my life.
Didn’t Complete Course
I have to be honest in saying that I don’t even remember what exactly happened but things got busy and my practice time began to decrease. I noticed around the spring that I was running late in turning in my homework. So, I finally had to contact my instructor to say that I could not complete the course and had to return my materials. When I think about it, it was not that the course was too hard or demanding. It was not that I was bored or that the lesson was not interesting. I think that my life was changing and I had to change with it. Sometimes when we set a goal for the New Year it looks good on the forefront. We plan it out and put things in place to achieve that goal. It is not that we are unrealistic or our expectations are off bases; but life moves us in a different direction that we did not expect. I think that is what happened to me.
Not Distressed About It
So, when I realized that my journey back to braille was not going to be achieved I was not distressed about it. I was not angry or upset. I was not sad or depressed. I was not anxious or worried. I was at peace and okay about it. This fact helped me to realize that not achieving this goal was not necessarily my fault and that I should not blame myself; that perhaps at a later date I could come back to braille and try again. Or that maybe this is all the braille that I need to know for this time in my life.
Know Enough Braille for Now
Today, a year later, I have had time to reflect on my braille skills and see that I have enough braille to do the things that I need to for my life; that being proficient in Alphabetic Braille is enough for now. I realize that reading books and magazines is a great thing to want to achieve but in all honesty my life is busy and I don’t have the time to read them in braille. I have learned to be okay with that. At present I use braille to label file folders both at home and at work. I use braille to label the CD cases for my computer and music. I use braille to read the bathroom signs and office signs in buildings. I use braille for identifying my spices. I use braille for labeling my clothing. And I even use braille for labeling my lipstick tubes!
Social Pressure to Read Braille
I also realize that part of wanting to achieve this goal is because of social pressure. As a blind person you are supposed to be proficient in braille. That is what everyone expects and even sometimes demands. People are genuinely surprised when they hand me a book or document and I tell them I am not able to fully read it. There is a perception that knowledge of braille automatically goes with blindness-no questions asked. So whether you want to or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether you can or not, you do it or die trying! LOL! I realize that is also what I was doing. I was trying hard to live up to this expectation that really did not fit who and what I am. I realized that in the midst of taking on a challenge I was not being authentic and true to myself.The important thing is that I had already mastered enough braille to carry out the everyday tasks I need to do such as labeling and identifying signs. I did not need it for reading at this time.
When New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Happen
So, what happens when a New Year’s resolution does not quite happen? January is not only the beginning of the new year to look at setting new goals but also a time to look back at what goals were set the year before and reflect on them. What happened last year? Why did it happen? Are there things that can be done differently for this year? How can you make peace with resolutions that you did not achieve or maybe won’t?
Let’s talk about this. Have you ever had a New Year’s resolution that did not happen such as starting an exercise plan? If so, what did you do and how did you feel about it?