Well, hello!

I completely forgot that this so called blog existed. LOL.

Life in the past year, or entire 2017 was definitely something else. But I’ll try and keep up with sharing more thoughts and experiences on here. For now, let’s celebrate the last day of Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month. This entire month, I have really reflected on how life has changed for me. It’s been exactly 7 years this month that I have been diagnosed with RP. It is even more fitting since it is Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month.

Going back to that time, before being diagnosed; I had the career I wanted and I was newly engaged to my husband now. I remember that day when the first specialist told me that something could be wrong. Something that deals with my retina. Showed me the visual picture of what my vision looked like. But fully didn’t explain what was really happening. He just said that I was going blind and that there is no cure. I was with my mom and Bas. We knew from that point, we needed a second opinion. There were so many specialists that I saw, appointments after appointments and the amount of tests I had to do to finally get an answer. Can you imagine being hit with something so devastating and you can’t do anything about it? I was a mess. I was broken. I was lost and had no intention to keep going. I quit my job, I stayed home majority of the time, I stopped being active and just lost interest with life. I even asked Bas if he still wanted to marry me. The overall feeling of being scared and not knowing what the future would be like was all I thought of. I was miserable and came to a point that I knew I was depressed. I saw a psychiatrist to help me figure out what I needed to do to get through what I was battling at St. Joseph Health Centre in Toronto. But even that, I felt like it didn’t help me as much because I chose to let RP get the best of me. The thought of not wanting to live, praying and wishing I would just die had crossed my mind many times. I even attempted taking random pills and hoping to not wake up anymore. All kinds of awful things crossed my mind of what I could do just so I would have to deal with this new situation. The amount of crying and feeling sorry for myself, my goodness, it was just horrible. Because I couldn’t imagine my life and what the future will be like battling RP. This depression lasted for 2 years. OMG!

When Bas told me he wanted to marry still. And that nothing had to change, that we can still do what we love and most of all, he will be here by my side through it all and will love me regardless. I knew I had to change. As much as it was so hard, I had to do it for the sake of my future with Bas. He made me realize that I can’t let this get the best of me and most of all, I will be missing out on the great things that life offers. Despite this condition I have, that there is so much more to life and so much more to look forward to. It was really up to me to to change my mentality and how I looked at life. The negative thinking needed to stop. Trust me, every day was a battle and it was damn hard to move on forward. But I knew I needed to change.

Fast forward to now. I will be celebrating my 6th year wedding anniversary this year with Bas. After a couple years of praying and trying for a baby, God finally blessed us with a son. We try to see the world and travel as much as possible, to take each day as a blessing because I can still see a little bit. To just enjoy life. To try new things, to challenge myself and stay active. I have let go of all the negative things, people and thoughts that weren’t good for me. And I try to look at things in the most positive way. Of course there will be rough days, we are all allowed to break down because I still go through all that. There are days when I am still scared, worried that soon I won’t be able to see my son. Or how life would be like for me and Bas. We are all human, we are allowed to have our down days but I try to snap out of the funk, focus on the happy thoughts and just tell myself to keep going. That life is still worth living. And that life could be so much worse.

Ending this month, reflecting on how far I have come, it’s crazy to think that I went through all that. And I am still going through so much but the love and support from Bas, my family and close friends have really played a big part to where I am now. Especially the motivation to be better mentally and physically for my son has to be the number one reason to why I am so excited and loving life even more. Even if I am going blind and deaf. God is still so good and I always say, everything will always be ok. I’m blessed and thankful for the person I am now.

And wow, I talk so much. But just wanted to share some thoughts. I know how life can be when you are battling something like this or anything really. Remember, you are never alone. Stay positive and know there is so much more to life.

Happy Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month!

Stay Blessed,
Ate Mara

Stop the hate.

I’ve come across many memes all over social media about this matter and have been meaning to address a few things. I’m just finding the right time when my heart and own self has calmed down from being angry, more so hurt. It’s happened many times in my life and especially right this moment while being away. People personally coming to my face and asking questions and making comments regarding how can a legally blind person be on their phones, or take pictures and do certain things when you are suppose to be legally blind. Trust me, I have heard it all. As if being legally blind should stop us from living the life we want. Or doing the things we want to do. Do people want us to completely just shut the world? That because we have a disability, that we can’t be like everyone else? Or people thinking that we are all faking it because we are still able to live life and use certain gadgets to help us in this world but we are legally blind? Seriously, I have heard many hurtful comments out there.

First of all, being legally blind doesn’t mean you are completely blind. And that you can’t see anything anymore. There are many different types of eye conditions out there. And different stages of vision loss. Not necessarily because you are legally blind and have a white cane, that you are completely blind. And you are not entitled to use a phone or a camera and other gadgets out there. Has it ever occurred to you that technologies now have improved so much to help the visually impaired and blind community? I personally love my iPhone, my iPad and Macbook Pro. Because it’s built for me and my own personal needs. I have my font so big to the max to help me read a little, or I use the voiceover function as well, to help me when someone is messaging me. I am legally blind with 5 percent vision left for both eyes, and I am partially deaf as well now. But all these gadgets I use, is to help me and I’m sure it helps everyone else who are going through the same situation as me. Because I’m using a white cane, doesn’t mean I am already completely blind. It’s to help me find my way, and guide me through my paths right this moment. I’ve mentioned this on one of my previous Instagram post, regarding what I really see. And that just because someone is legally blind, using a white cane and on their phones or cameras and such, doesn’t mean that it’s what people call “bullshit, they are faking it. They’re not legally blind”. No, this is not bullshit. Please find the time to do your own research and educate yourself to how life is for me and my other friends out there. And how all these new technologies are finally useful for us as well and caters to us. It’s been such an amazing feeling to still grab my phone and talk to someone using voiceover. Or the font being so big to help me. Or able to type on my laptop because of the zoom text and I personally love my cameras. I love to take pictures and capture every single amazing moment. I look back at these memories and I memorize them; the colours, the features of peoples faces and so on. Because it’s for me, and when that time comes that I am completely blind, I can still remember everyones wonderful smiles. It’s in my mind and heart. I always preach that we should all be kind to everyone. Why hate on people like us? Or just hate in general. Shouldn’t you be more proud and happy to see us enjoying our lives and being able to also join in the technology fun? Reaching for our dreams and goals? Travel? Workout? Even smiling? Do yourself a favour, rather than judging so fast on me and my wonderful friends, how about we spread the love, light and awareness on how special the visually impaired/blind community is. And how we can all still be happy despite battling our eye conditions. Because as you can see, we are still doing it all in this world. It may not be the way others may do it and get things done, but we can still do it. No disability should hold us back from living the life we want. Because we can certainly do it all.

I’m currently still away and enjoying this time with my husband. I’ve shared a few pictures though of Bas catching me using all the friendly gadgets. And I really do wish you call can be with us on this adventure.

Stay Blessed,

Ate Mara

stages of vision loss

Thanksgiving Day

If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.– Meister Eckhart

Those who know me, would know that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank the Lord enough for blessing me. If you were to ask me this a few years back, I barely did though. My prayers consists of always asking the questions “Why?, Why me?”. Not only was I going through learning about my future with vision loss and processing the many possibilities of what else could happen along the way and of course, preparing myself to being completely blind and completely deaf was just another. But the little things as well in my life. Such as family stuff. But that is always another story to tell. But the more I kept asking the “Why? Why me?” the more I realized all the bullshit in my life and the mindset kept drowning me more and more into depression and nothing was changing in my life. Well we all know that, negative thinking will always just lead to negative things. And that’s when I knew I needed to change.

With that said, lets fast forward.

I always say, I really don’t have a lot. Because I don’t.

But I am so rich though from all the love.

I’m rich because of my husband, my family and my friends and the little vision and hearing I have left. What else do I really need? A lot of people can look at me and just feel sorry for me. But don’t. I am honestly fine. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. And most importantly, I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone else. I appreciate everything that I am going through and my life more now. I look at things differently. I value more of my time with my loved ones and always so excited to be with them and see them. I take my travels seriously and literally always in tears whenever I see all the wonderful things and just everything I do in my life, I cherish it all.

I’m currently away with my husband.

He is still sleeping, it’s 7:09am here in Portugal. And all I can think about is how much I am so thankful and grateful for everything. For this life. Not only for my riches; my husband, family and friends. And not only to be able to travel and see the wonderful places this world has to offer, but it is the wonderful people I get to meet along the way. Such as the people here in Lisbon! They are so wonderful and caring. I normally don’t use my white cane when I travel to Europe. The roads are not as friendly and smooth as it is back home. But O-M-G! The people here are wonderful. When they see me alone, (meanwhile, I’m just posing so Bas can take photos of me) they would come up to me and ask if I need any help. I’m still here in Portugal, still exploring. Just want to share a few pictures with you and wishing you all can be with us.

And I really just wanted to say how thankful I am of you.

For all the wonderful people in my life and the people I get to meet along the way. To those I have connected with, thank you. Everyday for me is thanking the Lord of how amazing he is, for the little vision and hearing he is still giving me and reminding me that life is still so wonderful despite all the battles he has us facing. There is always a reason behind it, and for that, thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful Canadian people!

Stay Blessed,

Ate Mara

October 5th, 2016

It’s been exactly a year today, since I had the idea of possibly making a blog. I remember that day perfectly, I was in Vancouver visiting family. And I received one of the nicest comments on Instagram about one of the photos I posted and how confident I look walking with the white cane. And even added, how I made it look so cool and how it was just like an added accessory to my outfit. But what really made me happy was when she told me how I inspire her to face her fears and deal with vision loss. To embrace life regardless of the eye condition she has. From there, the comments and messages came more often and even from others around the world. The feeling of meeting so many amazing people with different types of eye conditions made me want to do so much more. To build a little outlet of where we can all fall back on, to just feel inspired and motivated to keep going and still reach our goals and dreams. More importantly, I wanted an outlet for anyone feeling alone out there, going through the same or similar condition as me.  Because I have been there, so I thought the idea of making a blog. To have this for all of you to just follow my journey outside of Instagram. For you and everyone to feel connected with me and others who I built that friendship with. And share their stories and their journey. My blog is for us all.

A year has passed, wow. A lot has happened. A lot of ups and downs. Tears and laughs. It’s really true when they say a lot can happen in a year. And as much as it was a struggle and lots of battles faced, it has been one of the best years of my life. To be able to come this far with being close to completely blind and now dealing and learning to accept my hearing loss as well. It really is still one of the best years of my life. The work I put in with giving back to the visual impaired community, the new adventures and going out of my comfort zone to try new things and reach for the goals I had set for this year, it was all done. It was all done!

Since it’s been exactly a year for me, I want to take this blog and start fresh. Start new and set new goals. It doesn’t have to be New Year exactly to start fresh and brand new. This is my new year, my brand new start. I can always go back to my Instagram posts and relive my past. But this is all new. New adventures and just new everything! I’m so excited to start sharing my thoughts, adventures and just everything with all of you.

And so with that, lets cheers to my first blog post.
Tomorrow, I will be celebrating big.

Stay Blessed,

Ate Mara

Taylor Papadopoulos

My name is Taylor Papadopoulos and I am twenty seven years old. I live in Southern California and I enjoy hiking, camping and spending time with my husband, friends and family. I work full time and I am a full time college student working on my Bachelor’s in Sociology and hope to go to graduate school after in order to obtain a Master’s in Social Work. In November of 2015, I was diagnosed with Wet Macular Degeneration in my right eye. Aside from my husband being here by my side, I still felt lost, hopeless and defeated. It’s just a different feeling when someone is going through something similar than you and that’s how I found comfort and friendship in Mara. I found her on Instagram and I messaged her. To my surprise, she replied back and from there, we have been friends. She was there for me in the darkest of times and helped me see that no matter what we may face, as long as we face it with positivity and faith, we can get through anything. My relationship with Mara has truly helped me to stay positive about my future and to never give up. She has played a huge part in my journey to accepting what is happening to my vision. I really don’t let my hardships or fears define me, however, I use these experiences as motivation for me to achieve all of my hopes and dreams. The sky is truly the limit.