Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Reid My Mind Radio – Tony the Traveller

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Yes, I spelled travel with two l’s – he’s British.
Tony at the top of Marble Street, Ephasus, Turkey, September 2009

Salto Hacha waterfall, Canaima National Park, Venezuela, November 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tony in a small local boat, floating market in Banjarmasin, capital of South Kalimantan, Indonesiam 2015
Tony Giles, the author of two books capturing his journeys, has visited 7 continents and continues to travel to cities and countries around the world – independently. As a person who is blind and has severe hearing loss, we learn how he began traveling alone, how his early education paved the way for his exploration along with several valuable take aways for anyone!

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

Whats good RMM Radio.
I know you all are busy and I appreciate you taking the time to listen.

Reid My Mind Radio is actually a good companion on any journey so just take us along with you wherever you go.

I know it helps me along my journey.

So as my little girl used to say in our early recording days…

[Audio of my little girl Raven at 3 years old:]
“Let’s start the show. 1, 2, 3 4”

[Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music]

TR:

Tony Giles is the author of two books on traveling;
Seeing the World My Way…
and Seeing the America’s.

From South West England, Tony at 39 years old has visited all seven continents.

If your image of a travel writer consists of
fancy hotels, spas and restaurants, well allow me to present you with a new vision. Tony Giles travels with a back pack and sleeps in hostels But there’s more that sets him apart from the others.

TG:
I’m totally blind and severly deaf in both ears. I use a long cane and I wear digital hearing aids and I travel the world independently.

TR:

Tony was diagnosed with a rare eye condition at the age of 1. With extreme sensitivity to any light (in or out doors), it wasn’t until he was given dark glasses that he was able to play outside.

TG:

We lived in a coldesac so I always knew which way traffic was coming . I’d play with my friends, play football (soccer) run rode around on a big three wheeler bicycle and sort of crashed into walls and lamp posts.

TR:

At 5 years old, Tony began attending a school for children with disabilities located about 30 miles away from his home. In a way, you could say this was the precursor to his traveling life style.

TG:
I used to go there by taxi. I could read and write with very big black letters on white paper maybe 4 inches tall until about the age of 6 or 7. Then I began using something called a CC TV to try and make print bigger. Then it was realized that my sensitivity was lessening and I would stop looking for objects and wasn’t able to read and write.

TR:
By age 10 and a half Tony was enrolled in a specialized boarding school over 300 miles away from home.

TG:
And that’s sort of where my travels began. I wanted to see my family as much as possible. So beyond the age of 13 or 14 I was learning to catch buses, cross roads, catch trains (we tend to use the train to get everywhere in the UK).

[TR in conversation with TG]
Were your parents at all hesitant about you traveling?

TG:
I think they were but my Mom and my step Dad came up at parents evening so they knew what my mobility skills were like. I don’t think they were too worried.

How confident were you with your Orientation and Mobilityskills?

TG:
Supremely confident!

By the age of 16 or 17 I had fantastic mobility training. We start off with learning how to use a cane when I was 11 years old. I walked up and down this corridor for months with me teacher behind me yelling everytime I made a mistake.

TR:

Having the confidence to head out on his own, it was the opportunity to study in the United States that sparked Tony’s adventurous spirit.

TG:
I went to South Carolina, Myrtle Beach. In 2000. I said how are we going to study if you send us to a beach town. I spent 4 months there and spring break my friends decided they were going to Florida to see Mickey Mouse. They’re not going to let me drink or party and stuff so I go, I’ll go to New Orleans.

I got the teachers and staff to help me book a hostel and book a flight. I’ve been hosteling for about 5 or 6 years by then. I got to New Orleans and took a taxi to the hostel and then asked for directions and one of the staff in the hostel said you go down the steps turn left, walk two blocks and find the tram and go downtown. I walked down the steps and it was really hot and humid , about I don’t know 95 degrees and 98 percent humidity and I just froze. I’m in a foreign city in a foreign country by myself how am I going to find this tram. I don’t know what I’m doing.I took a few deep breaths and said well this is what you want Tony. If you don’t want it go back in the hostel and go home. So I turned left and walked down the street found the tram and I’ve been traveling for the last 20 years.
[TR in conversation with TG]
Do you recall what you considered to be the barrier there?

TG:
Just butterflies really.Insecurity in my own abilities really. Maybe just the culmination of the heat as well.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Laughs! The heat will do it to you.

TR:
That successful solo trip to New Orleans set the course for becoming a true world traveler.
Tony captures his experiences in his two books. The first of which is titled Seeing the World My Way.

[TR in conversation with TG]
In chapter 12 you wrote: “Towards the end of that trip recognition and self awareness began to dawn on me. I was beginning to realize my blindness was not a burden which stop me from accomplishing things, but an attribute which opened even more doors thanit closed.”

Can you talk a little bit about how was this actually so and what doors are you really referring to?

TG:
I began to realize by the end of that chapter thhat people liked me because of who I was not because I was disabled. So it wasn’t like “Oh we want to be with you to help you because we feel sorry for you. I was more like we like you as you are Tony and I also began to realize my blindness rather than stopping me from going somehwere or doing something it was actually an advantage. It meant I could jump lines or queues at airports I could alot of the time not have to pay for some things or pay less for things. later I discovered or I could go into national parks for free. It made somethings easier. Particularly airports because I could tget assistances and jump all the queues. The same on buses.

[TR in conversation with TG]
How important do you think is the attitude?

TG:
Once you sort of come to terms with your disability or realize your disability is there to stay it’s part of you . You can’t really don’t anything about that. If you can sort of embrace it and look at it positively, that will make life a lot easier both in terms of traveling, working or studying or whatever you want to do and also relationships. Then you can sort of put down that baggage and that apprehension or anger in my case and it makes things become a little less frustrating. Where its all about attitude and positive mindset.I meet so many sighted people and non disabled people on the street and their attitudes are negative or their lack of confidence is startling. For instance, when I was at University in the states, I think Imentioned this in me book, I was really surprised that my fellow students lacked confidence. The AAmericans I saw were all sort of noisey and confident and very brash, but the younger people my age, 19, 21, 22 they weren’t quite as confident. They were sort of afraid in class to ask questions and answer questions. Because I’ve been answering and asking questions ever since I was 10, 11 12 at school because obviously I couldn’t read the white board so that was my only option. But I think it’s an inner confidence that I have . I was given the mobility trainin. The teachers told me I would do things, I would go to these places, I would cross roads.

TR:

That confidence is a big part of Tony becoming known as the blind independent traveler.

TG:
Independence for me is being able to do things by oneself but it doesn’t mean doing it alone. Whether you’re blind or not, if you’re traveling you need help. Being independent means I’m in control of it I suppose.
TR:

Ocasionally circumstances that are out of his control may
require Tony to make adjustments, but he moves forward.

TG:
My hearing is more like someone losing their sight cause it can change all the time.If I get a cold or if it’s too windy that can affect my hearing. Too much traffic.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Does that impede your travel?

TG:
It can restrict it. Sometimes the hearing aids are dameged.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Out of all the places you visited, what’s the most inaccessible?

TG:
Georgia Armenia in terms of sort of language barrier, I don’t speak any Russian so places like that are difficult. In terms of infrastructure or lack of infrastructure parts of Africa, Burkina Faso, somewhere like that which is this third world country very ppor. Parts of Thailand, Bankok there’s open sewers and open drains so you could fall into a hole quite easily. Try and cross a road in Vietna. Five thousand bicycles all moving at once. Some times you get people that will try and stop you from doing things like I was in Barona with my girlfriend who is also blind. We wanted to visit this famous house, Romeo and Juliet house and one of the staff members wouldn’t let us go up the steps. They were worried about us going up steps, which is quite ridiculous. And in Sydney they wouldn’t let me climb the Sydney Bridge because they said well health and safety but really they thought I’d slow the other people down. But things like that… you get discriminated against.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Yeh, how do you deal with that?

TG:
Well you can try and state your case. Say I travel around the world, I’m completely independent I can do this this is not a problem, but some times if they’re really adament about sort of not letting you go like the Sydney Bridge I just well stop it. it’s their loss of money.

TR:
For some, the idea of a blind person traveling to different cities and countries doesn’t make sense.

[TR in conversation with TG]
What would you say to encourage those who feel that there’s no longer a benefit to traveling the world like you’ve you did. How can you convince them that traveling is more than “sight seeing” and I’m being literal with that word sight seeing.

TG:
Yeh! Well acountry is not just about seeing it with your eyes. It’s about experienceing with all your senses. You don’t go eat different foods with you eyes you go and taste it with you taste buds and smell it with your nose. When you’re walking down the steet or up a hill or walking through a forrest ok so you can be looking at that with your eyes … but really you should be taking it in with all your senses. The textyures under your feet, the changes in gradients when you’re walking up and down a hill. Gravel soil mud sand the texture of trees and plants. The space the change in atmosphere in a forrest or all these things sighted people probably only briefly notice and that gives us the blind person a more interesting picture I think.You’re not just going to a foreign country to look at the vistas really you’re going to meet the people. You don’t need to see to meet and talk to people. That’s what its really about. Without people there’s no traveling, there’s no point.

TR:

Reading his first book, Seeing the World My Way, it’s apparent Tony really is interested in getting to know the locals.
And the local bar was the perfect place to make friends.
Tony wasn’t shy about sharing his adventures.

[TR in conversation with TG]
The things that jumped out at me were you know, the brotherls. I was like woh!

TG:
Yeh, I was very frank. It was never my idea to write a book. I’ve been traveling 6 or 7 years by then. It was kind of like going to see a therapist but without paying. I’m able to sort of express myself on paper where I couldn’t express myself verbally to anyone. That’s just the way I’ve been brought up and stuff. I mean you should see the stuff that didn’t get put in the book. I felt at liberty to sort of be fairly open. And that’s the person I am, open and frank.

[TR in conversation with TG]
It goes hand in hand to me with your whole philosphy on travel… your freedom.

TG:
Yeh, and also it would help sell the book!

[TR in conversation with TG]
Laughs!

I want to talk about your choice in accomodations Tony. Reading your book I never really considered my self Bourgeois, (using slang version pronounced Boo- zhee) but I don’t know if I would stay at a hostel. {Laughs} The dormitory style. No, I would stay at the ones with the room. Ok, I would have a room but you stayed at some that are like dormitory style. Like you just grab a bunk? {Exhale as in huh!}

TG:
Just grab a bunk and even on one trip I was up in Minneapolis and I stayed with a friend and I had to catch a bus super early in the morning so I was thinking there’s no hostels near the bus station so someone said go over to this hostel across the street and it was literally just a matress on the floor.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Oh my gosh!

Are you sure that was a hostel or was that a homeless shelter.

TG:

{Laughs…}

Well, I don’t know what it’s like losing your sight as an older person. You might worry more about wwhat you can’t see but when you’re sort of young you don’t worry about it so much. You’re just meeting people. You talk to people that’s the key I think.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Yeh, Tony I’m not worried about that. If I had my sight I don’t think I would stay in the hostels, in the dormitory style… {Both TR and TG laugh…}]

TG:
Ah, then it’s just you then.

TR:
Again, I would get a room, I would do a hostel with a room, a nice clean room with a bed not just a mattress. Some blankets, nice pillows – fluffy pillows. {laughs}

TG:
Oh dear, you sound llike my girlfriend.

[TR in conversation with TG]

So how has that affected you in terms of traveling with your girlfriend? Are you still staying at the hostels?

TG:
We stay at hostels but we get a private room so we can be romantic and stuff. Yeh, she did have a couple of hostel experiences. We shared a dorm and luckily it was two other women so it wasn’t too bad.

TR:
Seeing the Americas, Tony’s second book is based on a trip he took in 2004.
He says it’s quite different from the first.

TG:
I started in Brazil and sort of wandered around South America for about three months and then worked my way across the middle of the states well down the east coast to start with and then crossed New Mexico and Texas and down into Mexico and Cuba and then back up through the states and eventually across Canada and Alaska. And that books a more sober reflection. I stopped drinking and I was dealing with sort of more emotional issues with relationships and stuff.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Outside of not sleeping in dormitory style hostels, how has traveling with your girlfriend changed or has it changed anything in terms of traveling?

TG:
We travel a little slower. We have to sort of plan things a bit more. Where as I can rush around and spend one night here and one night there my girlfriend doesn’t want to do that. She wants to spend 2 or 3 days in each place. I never unpack, she sort of moves in.
When I’m traveling with her I have responsibilities with someone else to worry about. When I’m by myself I don’t worry about anything at all. But it’s good though you have someone to share the experiences with and stuff. But the ultimate travel for me is when I’m by myself . You just meet more people when you’re by yourself. It’s good because there’s countries she doesn’t want to go to like Africa. She doesn’t like mosquitos and the heat and stuff so it works for the most part. I sort of have to promise I will Skype every day when I can let her know I’m safe. I get told if I haven’t emailed for three days. Where are you what are you doing who are you sleeping with…It was rough in the beginning because she didn’t sort of trust me. Relationships are about trust. Traveling is about trust. As a disabled person it’s about trust. You have to trust people to get money out of ATM machines when you’re traveling, trust that someones not going to get you run over when crossing the street and things like that. It’s easier for me because I learned to do that when i was young. That’s one of the hardest thigns for people losing their sight especially in older age is to trust people.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Yeh, expecially when you learned the opposite.

Let me ask you these final questions here and let you get on your way.

TG:
No worries, we can talk all night.

[TR in conversation with TG]
What have your travels taught you about humanity?

TG:

In general, most people are trying to survive, make ends meet, put a meal on the table for their family, roof over their head. Most people are kind and helpful if you take the time to interact with them. You’ll always get some people who are just out to gain something for nothing. The generosity and kindness that has been shown to me around the world is staggering. You couldn’t put a price on it. Sure I’ve been robbed had things stolen but that’s life it could happen anywhere. The positive outweigh the negatives ten to one. I’m totally blind I’m severly deaf and I should be vulnerable to every kind of negative thing that could happen to someone yet I never been shot or knifed or mugged. I met one guy who was shot. He was in a hotel in Mexico and just came down to reception to buy a drink or something and they were robbing the place and he got shot in the leg. I met one guy in Brazil, this was weird, they stole his back pack but left all the contents.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Must have had a lot of crap!

TG:
You go to Africa and you realize what life is really about. You think about something like water. We just turn the tap on and oh water, we don’t think about where it comes from. In villages in Africa, they walk 2 or 3 miles to collect water and bring it back and they can’t drop any. Things like that make you more humble and realize how lucky I am to live in a country with free health care etc.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Have you encountered other people with disabilities and what it’s like in various places.

TG:
Yeh a few. I met a young boy in Venezuela which is a very poor country.His parents had gotten him a little stick. He’s about 5 or 6 years old. They couldn’t believe it when they met me It just gives people hope. With a documentary which has been made by the BBC, more people say to me oh yeh my son’s got RP and reading your story and seeing you documentary makes me smileand they say yeh my kid can do whatever they want to. I met a lad in Kenya who 2 or 3 years old and his bones are deformed. And he met me, he doesn’t really like smiling at people. When he met me he just kept squeezingly me fondly and they said yeh, you’re making him smile.A guy in Brazil emailed me and asked me questions about traveling to Sweeden and italy… I said yeh come on you can do it. My aim is to inspire people to get off their bum and do what they want achieve their goal, lift their dreams. It can be done. It’s just fear that holds them back, lack of confidence. If you have the right planning, research and a little bit of help here and there then you can do anything you want. I’m not saying you have to travel around the world like I’ve done – that’s crazy. Maybe just walking down their own street or making a cup of tea. If you can achieve that by reading my book or listening that’s great. That’s my role in life done.

[TR in conversation with TG]
What has traveling taught you about yourself?
I’m a better person than I often think I am. Not so much now than I used to. I’m funny, I’m fairly kind for the most part. I’m inpatient… I’m still working on that.

[TR in conversation with TG]
Reallly? See I thought that goes hand in hand. Like patience, that’s one of the things that I think to be successful, you have to be patient. You obviously seem like you’ve been successful so… why do you say you’re impatient.

TG:
Well I think I’ve learned to be patient waiting for buses and planes, but I still find myself impatient with people some times. People let you down they don’t do things you think they’re going to do. I suppose I just want to do things and go places… I’m still in a rush. I have slowed down a lot an awful lot

TR:
Slow down? Maybe…

Tony’s working on securing the appropriate documentation for
a trip to Lebanon & Iraq.
In fact, while editing this story Tony and his girlfriend are
preparing for their trip to Russia.

TG:
European Russia so Saatchi (where they heldthe Winter Olympics)… eventually over to Moscow and St. Petersburg.
We’ll do that for a month and that will be fun that will be a challenge. No English, long train journeys cold weather . My theory is we just take bottles of Vodka and we’ll make friends easily.
TR:
Both of Tony’s books, Seeing the World My Way and
Seeing the Americas are available in EBook format from
various distributors and in Braille from the RNIB.

He’s interested in having the book recorded by the National Library for
the Blind here in the states.

For more on Tony Giles

TG:
My website blog is Tony the Traveller.com with two l’s in traveller.My Facebook page is Tony the Traveller and I have my own YouTube page. Or you can just search for my name, Tony Giles. And you can the BBC travel show.

TR:
If this topic of travel and exploration interests you as much as it does me,
let me suggest a couple of past episodes of Reid My Mind Radio.

The Blind Nomad – which profiles
Jim Paradiso and how he ended up living
in Ecuador after he lost his sight and almost his life.

Of course you have the Holman Prize winners series and specifically
my man Ahmet the Blind captain who is preparing to kayak
the Bosphorous Straits from Europe to Asia.

Like Tony mentioned, you don’t have to go to
extremes to find adventure.

may I selfishly recommend listening to this podcast?
Ok, that’s not a bad start but there’s probably other things we can do.

Notice I said we, I’m not being my most adventurous self.
I have a few ideas for some adventures but I’ll keep those close to me for now.

When I do move forward on any, you can be sure of a few things;
I’m taking my microphone and recorder and will bring you along for the trip.
and
[TR in conversation with TG]

Again, I would get a room, I would do a hostel with a room, a nice clean room with a bed not just a mattress. Some blankets, nice pillows – fluffy pillows. {laughs}

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast whether you use Apple Podcast, Google Play, Sound Cloud Stitcher, Tune In… or of course you can come over to Reid My Mind.com to listen,
read the show notes and access any links mentioned in the show or even the transcript.

However you listen, make sure you stay subscribed and tell a friend.
There are so many benefits to doing so;

TG:
That will make life a lot easier both in terms of traveling, working or studying or whatever you want to do and also relationships.

[Reid My Mind Theme Outro]

TR:
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio: The Sabbatical

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

That’s right, RMMRadio will be on a short sabbatical. I guess I could have just said I’m taking a bit of time off from producing the podcast, but taking a sabbatical sounds cooler; more sophisticated.

I’ll be back in December, but for now as we get ready to approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season I want to re-energize and focus on some other projects. I’ll be sharing some of these real soon.
If by chance you are new to the podcast and have landed on this episode please hit the archives, we have some good stuff here. Look around and feel free to try on anything you like. It really is one size fits all.

See you in December. Peace!

Hello, From the Other Side!

Friday, July 14th, 2017

After over two years of interviewing different people I’ve become more comfortable with the process. I think I have a long way to go to become really good at it, but one thing is certain; I much rather ask the questions.

However, recently I was interviewed for the Vision Aware blog and the process was pretty painless. Writer, Susan Kennedy asked some good questions that really gave me a chance to get into the back story of Reid My Mind Radio.

While I don’t want to put myself in a box in regards to the things I talk about in the podcast, people adjusting to any form of disability, specifically vision loss; low vision or total blindness and everything in between, those are my people! I want them to know they can come here and hang out and it’s all good! I got you!

Head over to the Vision Aware Blog and check out the article. Hopefully this piece will attract all sorts of listeners & readers (don’t forget we have transcripts for Deaf and Hearing Impaired).

Either way, the plan is to continue amplifying these experiences and having fun while I do it!

If there are any new readers/listeners finding this blog & podcast … welcome!

Reid My Mind Radio – The Gift

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Picture of Jay Worthington

Jay Worthington knew he wanted to act from an early age.

Struggling to accept his blindness, fighting the bullying and discrimination; he searched for something more… The Gift!

While listening to “The Gift” is a present for the listener there’s more to this episode. I’ve been inspired to stretch my own creative chops with acting, impressions and and an original rap!

Now time to unwrap this episode and recieve The Gift! Then Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any future episodes.

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
Wasup good people? I got a goodie!
Then again, maybe I shouldn’t go on the limb like that.

Like so many things, listening to a story or a song, reading a book or watching a movie or play…
any response to that piece of work is subjective. I may like it and you may think it sucks! And that’s ok, you can be wrong some time!

I’ll share more about this latest piece for Gatewave Radio a little later, but for now you take a listen and maybe you can
tell me what you like or dislike about it. I think I am open to that. Again, I don’t mind if you’re wrong!

Ok, now lights, camera…. it’s showtime!

[Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Theme Intro]
]

JW:
“We will never work with him we will never bring him into so much as audition because he will never work with those eyes on camera.”

My name is Jay Worthington. I’m thirty three years old. I live in Chicago Illinois. I’m a professional actor and a teaching artist.

When I was like four or five years old my dad took
me to see Batman in the movie theaters. The original Tim Burton Batman. I was just trance fixed by it. After the movie when we were walking out in the parking lot at 4 or five years old I turned to him. That’s what I want to do!

TR:
That experience was more than a movie, it was his first time receiving the gift.

Not all gifts are obvious. Lots of things have to fall into place in order for that gift to be recognized

JW:
I was born completely blind. I was also born months premature.

My parents got called into this doctor’s office and apparently he pulled out a gigantic book of Braille and was like you know you should take this home and look it over. Your
child is blind.

TR:
Jay was born with a rare visual condition called Ocular Albinism.

JW:
Which causes my eyes to move; sort of an uncontrollable erratic movement that I have no conscious awareness of. It just happens. As I
got older and older my vision began to improve and around the time I was two years old I could see in shadows. My vision steadily got better and better until puberty in which it bottomed out and will remain the same for the remainder of my life. And it’ll deteriorate a little bit just like anybody’s
vision as I get older. And it already has but I am legally blind but I do have some vision.

When my parents could obviously start to tell that I was picking
up visual cues, I think they were freaking out. I think they were pretty overjoyed.

TR:
Jay’s parents had access to one specialist in ocular albinism. His summary of Jay and his abilities?

JW:
The doctor would usually just say it’s a miracle. Really there is no explanation for how he’s able to do what he does, he shouldn’t be able to. do certain things that he can do.

TR:
Another gift.

I know, growing up legally blind it’s pretty hard to imagine this being a gift, but stay with me and I’ll show you.

It’s said, You have to bear the burdens before you can receive the blessings.

First, the burdens..

JW:
it took me a really long time to come to terms
with my vision.

The problems started occurring when I got into grade school and the bullying started. A lot of bullying I encountered growing up. I was one
of those kids who eight times out of ten I’m not going to back down. I was getting in a lot of fist fights and a lot of scuffles growing up
and losing most of them because I’m a blind kid [He laughs!]. But there was just this anger in feeling like I was being persecuted for something I had no control over.

TR:
The blessing!

JW:
I took a drama class in middle school and I was in.

From the moment I was born to fourteen years old I don’t have any recollection of anybody; my parents,
a teacher or a friend, anybody ever telling me I was good at anything.

I’m not saying that is indeed the case I’m saying I really and truly don’t
remember if somebody did tell me I was good at something before that.

It was scary going up with this kid that I knew didn’t like me and made fun of me because I was this awkward kid and made fun of my eyes. I didn’t go out there with the intention of mess with him in the scene or anything, I just wanted to go up there and play and just have that freedom. Almost immediately the moment it started I just felt home. It just felt so natural and so right.

I remember getting done with the scene and that kid coming up to me that did the scene with me, and being like Man and he put his hand on my shoulder and was like, you’re really good at this like that was awesome man. There were more kids in that class than just this guy that bullied me and made my life a little difficult who are now coming up to me being like Jay like we didn’t know we didn’t know you could do this. This is crazy, you’re awesome. I just remember
feeling wow people are positively supporting me in something I’m doing. This is a remarkably new feeling!

TR:
On that stage he found home!
that’s a gift many people never really receive.
Finding that one thing or place where they truly feel comfortable and can express themselves.
If Jay were writing the script for his life play or movie at that early age,
I’m sure he would’ve chosen to make that early acting experience the point at which all of the bullying ends.

JW:
the bullying never really stopped from first grade to senior year of high school. I remember getting out of high school and be in like thank God I’m going to college. Going to be around adults. Nobody’s
ever going to disparage me or judge me for my vision ever again.

I was wrong!

TR:
Unfortunately, bullies are a part of the real world. They grow up to have jobs like college professors who told Jay he’d never get work in the business.
They even work in casting agencies.

JW:
Excluding one casting office. All of the major casting offices in the city have either told me or told my agent we will never work with him we will never
bring him into so much as audition because he will never work with those eyes on camera; there’s no way!

These people have no idea they’re practicing discrimination. None! That same person would never in a million years go to a person of color or a person with a different type of sexuality or a transgendered person and
tell them hey I’m not going to bring you in because of the color of your skin. I’m not going to bring you in because of your gender or your sexuality. The same people that would make that call against me would be outraged and offended if they even heard somebody making that call against somebody else. That’s to me what’s amazing about the disabled experience.

Going through my life and experiencing this feeling of constant discrimination on a certain level just
kept building this anger.

I can tell it got to a point where I woke up one day twenty eight twenty nine years old took a look in the mirror and it’s like
you’re a highly functioning alcoholic. With a huge dependency problem. You’re miserable, you’re angry all the time, your girlfriend can’t hardly
stand you half the time, cause You’re never sober you’re a train wreck. Just all this anger. Over trying to do this thing that that alone makes sense
of the world to me and all I seemed to feel like I hear is people telling me it’s never going to happen.

TR:
It was an acting role that would help Jay come to terms with his internal anger.
Come to terms with his vision loss.

The role forced him to act on stage completely blind.

JW:
There was a huge shift in my work at that point. Acting had always been this quasi spiritual practice to me. When I did that play, it stopped being a quasi-spiritual practice and became a full blown healing ritual. There was something about going out there every night and telling
this story. That I think just made me come to terms with something that I’d been fighting for twenty nine years. Six months later I was sober. I haven’t had a drink in three and a half years. I just actively started turning a lot of stuff around and just getting better and better every day as I continue to do to this day. But it was that play in getting sober and really asking myself Is it this industry in these people that are holding you back? Or is it you realizing that no matter what these people say they’re not the ones holding me back. It’s me because I’m taking the outrageous information that they’re giving me. Information that’s based on nothing. They don’t know anything about disability. I think it was when I got sober and started tearing down all those beliefs and filling the void where those beliefs were with good positive beliefs about myself and deepening a spiritual practice and deepening
my relationship with God, that’s when everything started to turn around.

TR:
That’s the Gift of enduring trials and tribulations and
finding strength deep within.
Along with a belief in something greater than yourself.

Once again, it was through his stage experience that led Jay to more self-discovery.
Trying to tap into a role, a director and friend recommended Jay read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
This helped Jay find lots of other writers focusing
on eastern philosophies and religions including Buddhism.
Jay says his spirituality consists of
pieces of different philosophies that help him find his way through life.

After working all types of day jobs to support himself
Jay decided to try and pair his original goal of becoming a teacher with his love of acting.
In 2012 Jay began teaching acting classes during the day.
Combining the two proved to be even more beneficial than Jay probably thought.

JW:
At this point in my life it’s become just as big and just as equal level as acting.
I believe that acting is a holistic practice. I believe that it’s healing for the audience as well as for the performer.

A huge part of my life right now is how do I incorporate teaching acting as a holistic practice into my teaching. What sort of techniques can I create to show and illustrate the healing properties of this work and how they can open somebody up.

I have zero interest as a teacher in making people better actors. I have great interest in helping people to be the best version of themselves. As the best human beings they can be. If you do that that acting stuff will take care of itself.

TR:
Acting for 20 years and 10 of those professionally,
Jay has played all types of roles including Shakespeare and premiere roles bringing with them unchartered territory offering freedom to interpret and approach the role.

But what he really l loves are those roles that scare him.
They cause him to question his abilities and reach even further.
That too is a gift.

The gift of being challenged at your craft.
Especially when that’s something that drives you.

With all of these different roles and experiences auditioning, there was one he thought he’d never see.

Then one day, out of the blue, 2 separate friends on the same day alerted Jay to an open casting call that he just couldn’t believe…

JW:
I’ve never in my life heard of an audition post where they were looking for a visually disabled person.

TR:
He contacted the casting agency, auditioned on camera via Skype.

JW:
I think it was like the day before Thanksgiving they emailed me
and said are you ready to fly out to L.A.

TR:
After all of the years of being bullied for his blindness imagine how that must have felt to be
sought out as an actor with vision loss.

On top of that Jay received the star treatment.
He was flown out to Los Angeles, put up in a nice hotel,
he even had his own driver.

The role was for a public service announcement –
an initiative of a website and campaign called Blind New World.
their objective?
Challenge us all to test our own biases and fears about blindness
with a hope of creating a new world… a blind new world.

And Jay’s role?

The handsome guy in the PSA entitled the get together.

JW:
You’re trying on a million different outfits and then they’re taking you into this room full of these producers. And the producers are just standing there talking about you like you’re not even in the room. Every time I go in with a new outfit they’d be like you know he looks too handsome he’s got to be a little nerdy. And then finally I went in, they’re like oh he looks like a nerd and I was like great thanks guys. Thanks.

TR:
Now, I’ve been called handsome before,… (thanks mom!)
But two words never heard after my name… too handsome!

the final gift, it’s unexpected, it’s not what he thought he wanted, but I suspect it’s something his heart was seeking.

JW:
My whole life up to that point I’d always felt like an outcast. It always felt like an observer sort of on the edges of things.

I just wanted to be this freelance actor who hopefully got to a Point One day where, I’m doing a show at this theater now I’m doing a show at this theater over here. Being this freelance guy going wherever he’s needed.
What ultimately happened was I was asked to join an ensemble – a group of actors who live together, work together for years and years and years. Who are a family taking care of each other and loving each other. Taking that energy and that love out on stage every night. And in my opinion it’s the finest theater in the country.

TR:
Some may see irony in the name of the ensemble.
Call it what you want, but I’m choosing to see this as something greater at work,
something more divine, destiny !

JW:
The gift Theatre Company, the company I’m a part of; this huge family. They are blood they are my biological family I would do anything for these people. I love them and cherish them I’ve never felt the level of acceptance and love that I feel from these people.

What actually happened has given me everything. I feel like. Just about the luckiest guy. You know?

TR:
Yeah! You found your tribe.

JW:
Yeah that’s the best way to put it I feel so blessed!

TR:
I’m Thomas Reid…

JW:
Being this freelance guy going wherever he’s needed.

TR:
For Gatewave Radio, audio for independent living!

[Audio bumper…]

TR:

I may have said this before, but doing this podcast is very special to me.

Writing and Editing the podcast is definitely time intensive, but I like so many things about the process. Finding a way to connect the story,
thinking about the lessons and how they relate to me personally.

Editing for Gatewave though, that’s hard especially when those you talk to give you really good stuff to work with.

This was the first time I decided to have two versions of the same story.
This version while branded Gatewave, is not the same that was submitted to my Gatewave Producer Toby.
She understandably needs a more abridged version to fit into a scheduled show…,
but there was so much I wanted to include. Even in the natural flow of the episode, there were things that I left out and decided to incorporate right here.

[TR in conversation with Jay:]
Talking about Hollywood, what’s
your take. On non-disabled people playing roles of people with disabilities.

JW:
I don’t necessarily have..
[hesitation…]
No there’s no way around it for me it infuriates me!

[TR and Jw laugh!]

I can’t come to …, I’m trying to be level with this interview and I don’t want to I don’t I don’t want to offend anybody but it really does.

Like Star Wars Rogue One.
There is a blind character in that. In that movie he is played by a martial artist to who I I’m sure has twenty twenty vision I think
his name is Donnie Yen and he’s an incredible martial artist but yeah he’s a guy with able bodied vision and he’s playing a blind character and I
am of the belief that if you spend enough time with a visually disabled actor that they’re going to be able to do martial arts. They’re going to be able to do whatever they need to do. I very much subscribe to the belief that a disabled person can do anything an able bodied person can. And in many instances I think disabled people can exceed what the able bodied can do because their level of faith their level of belief in themselves naturally has to be so much greater than the average human beings.

It really angers me.

A really good buddy of mine who is the artistic director of the theater company I’m a part of, he’s a very well-known actor in Chicago who works in a wheelchair. He’s got the same thing it’s like if you’ve got a character in a play or in a movie who’s in a wheelchair and you cast a guy who can walk and doesn’t use a wheelchair in life. There are far greater number of disabled actors
out there working than people are aware of and it’s so rare to even see a disabled character in a major film, T.V. show anything because we don’t want to show that to the world right now. We want to show perfection. We want to show a perfect reality so in the rare instance that there actually is a role written where the character is disabled. It would seem Yeah you should cast a disabled actor.

TR:
By the way, why is there always that blind guy in movies who is more than often black and runs a news stand?
He usually has some extra powerful sense of smell, which folks, that’s not true. It’s not more powerful it’s just used more.

And for the record, I can play that role! Watch…
“That will be 2.50 Luke. Yes, I knew it was you by the sound of your boots 10 blocks away, plus I smelled that Egyptian musk oil you always wear.

Marvel, get at me!

Anyway, I’m happy with the slightly abridged version of this story submitted to Gatewave
and I think it contains the main points.

Like the power of bullying.

For lots of people of my generation, bullying is a new concept. Many of us looked at that as kids will be kids without really considering the repercussions.
I was never a bully! I got into some fights but don’t recall initiating many.
I had experiences of being bullied to some extent but
even that I still view as a sort of neighborhood rites of passage.
The older guys in your neighborhood test you. When you stick up for yourself you get props. You earn the occasional head nod from them and maybe
… what up little man!

But that’s not everyone’s experience.
Over the now 19 almost 20 years of being a Dad I come to view bullying differently.
I learned of real situations and see the impact it has on people even when they are older.

As a Dad, I really felt it when Jay talked about never hearing he was good at something until 14 in his drama class.

I am pretty certain my children wouldn’t say that, I think I may have done the opposite and told them, they were good at stuff they had no business doing!
I’m just kidding!

The main thing I walk away with from this story is finding the gifts.
Jay literally found his.

I have found some of mine, but I guess I find myself searching for more.
That’s not appreciating what I have, it’s just more like feeling as though I have more to do.

One gift I definitely recognized with this last episode is the opportunity this podcast provides me with meeting cool, interesting people.

If I’m going to be honest, ever since losing my sight my access to cool conversations with new interesting people, well that’s been greatly reduced.

Some of that is due to my access – getting out here in the Poconos isn’t the easiest thing to do.
There’s no bus service near me and para transit sucks and
even then, people tend to limit their interactions…
well all of that is probably the topic for a separate podcast.

Looking at that from the same lens as which I viewed Jay’s story, things tend to fall into place.

I don’t know if I would have began podcasting or rekindled my relationship with audio production
if I hadn’t experienced vision loss.
I really don’t know what my life would have been like.
I don’t think it makes much sense to even give that too much thought.

What I do know is it was an incredible feeling when I received an email from a listener who said how much they appreciate the stories. They recommended the show to another person who I believe is adjusting to vision loss.

That’s what I want!
I want to know that people adjusting to blindness or something are digging this and possibly find something in the stories.
I want to know someone received some help…
There’s a lot of real practical help in many of these episodes. Some may be considered inspirational, but honestly I don’t go for that…
all of these stories are people from different backgrounds, countries,
genders, ethnicities, but there all people.

I tried to interview a guide dog a few months ago…
I thought I could make it work, his name was Scooby!
(Rooby Roo!)

Or maybe I was feeling a little Shaggy that day! LOL!
Sorry!

On the real though, I felt there was something for others ever since I began realizing this experience of blindness isn’t inherently bad. Becoming aware that it’s not the blindness, it’s not the disability it’s our society and the way disability and definitely blindness is viewed.
The barriers are put there by society.

If you’re listening to this and don’t get that, first of all thank you so much for listening. You should contact me at reidmymindradio@gmail.com. You should explore this idea for yourself and I think it’s going to open your eyes.
No pun! Just the way we speak in this sighted world!

Well there’s always big pun!
Can we start some sort of internet thing where when someone mentions a pun we have to play a Big Pun verse?

Since I’m talking rappers, let me bless you with an original TReid verse and I’m kickin it Acapulco.
(Acapella!)

Reid My Mind Radio, it’s about to be done
I hope you learned a bit and had some fun!
Even though it’s recorded you are listening live
Before I sign off, let me get you to subscribe
The more who do, the better chance for discovery,
rollin with RMM you get production see
it’s not just turning on the mike and talking bro
I give you writing, editing a real produced show
Apple Podcast, Google Play
Stitcher, Tune IN, nothing left to say.

Ok, don’t forget to subscribe and if I get enough, I’ll stop the corny jokes and rapping!

I’d probably would have more subscribers if…
[Scooby Doo… wasn’t for those stupid kids…]

[Audio: RmmRadio Theme Outro]
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio: Do You Believe in Magic

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

“Rule 1: Nothing is impossible!”

As I was preparing to interview a magician who performs on the streets of New York City among other places; I learned of another magician on the west coast. It just so happens, they’re both blind.

Picture of both Magicians shuffling cards...Chad Allen & Justin Sight

In this RMMR version of a piece produced for Gatewave Radio, I include a bit of sample magic that requires no vision. It follows the piece so stay tuned!

 

*If you enjoy, please tell a friend to check out the show!*

 

I’m in the process of making this an official podcast so hopefully by the next episode, if not before, Reid My Mind Radio will be available via your favorite podcast application.

 

Check out both of these magicians, who just happen to be blind:

Chad Allen

Justin Sight