Good and tired

October 29, 2013 • Posted in blindness, guide dogs, parenting a child with special needs, public speaking, travel, Uncategorized, visiting schools, Whitney by
That's us at the Drummond Thomas Montessori school, one of several gigs last week.

That’s us at the Drummond Thomas Montessori school, one of several gigs last week.

Whitney and I visited four different classes at Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago last Wednesday morning. After I told one class that even when my eyes are open, all I see is the color black, one preschooler wondered, “Then how do you know when you’re tired?”

I can tell you this much: I’m pretty tired right now! Stimulated, too –Whitney and I traveled nearly 500 miles last week giving presentations everywhere from Central Illinois to Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

  • Tuesday we were in Champaign, Ill., giving a guest lecture in an animal sciences class at the University of Illinois
  • Wednesday we were at that Montessori School
  • Thursday we spoke to students enrolled in a disability studies class at DePaul University here in Chicago
  • Friday we took an Amtrak train to Milwaukee to give the keynote and lead a workshop for an organization called Vision Forward

That Vision Forward conference is all about kids in the public schools who are blind. Many of their parents, some grandparents, and teachers and other staff members who work with them attended the writing workshop I gave after my keynote. These folks hav a lot to say, and I hope the workshop encouraged them to get some of their thoughts down on paper. It’s amazing how therapeutic writing can be.

Oh, and about the keynote: I ended it with that seven-minute Good Stuff video. If you’ve seen What’s it Like to Go Blind? you might recall the part where there’s a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces on the screen? One mom came up afterwards to compliment the visuals and ask for the YouTube address. “We have such trouble explaining what our daughter’s vision is like,” she said. “Those missing puzzle pieces, that’s a perfect way to describe it.”

I signed books after my keynote and workshop were over, and it was no surprise that we sold more Braille copies of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound than print ones.

While a 9-year-old who is blind waited for me to Braille my name into his book, he asked a question about Whitney’s harness. I took it off, let Simon check it out firsthand. He returned it when he was done, and before I buckled it back on, I asked, “You want to pet her?” He sure did, and Whitney wriggled and wagged and kissed Simon in return. Don’t look now, but I think we have a future guide dog user on our hands.

Whitney and I had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends last week, and now that we’re home, you know what? Somehow, someway, even without being able to see, I know we’re both tired!

Cynthia Smith-Jans On October 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

What a great week!

Nancy On October 29, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Wow! I’m new to your blog but I must say that your energy and commitment are amazing. You are an inspiration to all people who have obstacles to overcome in life, no matter what the issue. Go out and be a force.

Catherine Rategan On October 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Loved the video. Thanks, Beth. See you tomorrow.


*Catherine Rategan* Writer, Inc. 312-266-8146

Annelore Chapin On October 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories, Beth. They open for us a whole new world without light. When we lived in Houston, I befriended a blind neighbor and became her ‘seeing eye dog’ who took her everywhere. Your stories bring back that friend for me.

Carl On October 31, 2013 at 8:45 am

I can just imagine that little boy holding the harness and figuring things out in his head.

ojdohertyJenny On November 1, 2013 at 7:52 am

Sounds like a busy but fun week. Interesting that you sold more braille copies. That little boy will probably never forget feeling that harness, petting Whitney and meeting you of course.

bethfinke On November 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

Yes, and it’s thanks to my generous publishser at Blue Marlin Publications and the non-profit Seedlings Braille Books for Children that those Barille copies of “Safe & Sound” are available at such a low cost — $8, compared to the print copies, which sell for $18. Yay, Blue Marlin and Seedlings!

Deborah Darsie On December 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm

How wonderful that the Braille editions are so reasonably priced! A definite ‘shout out’ to Blue Marlin and Seedlings! Books are an incredible doorway to new experiences and a way to learn that others have been in the same boat –

bethfinke On December 31, 2013 at 10:20 am

Yes, I’ll definitely be doing a cheers with my champagne tonight to Blue Marlin Publications and all the others who have helped make my professional life what it is — miraculous in many ways. Happy New Year, Deborah!

Judy Spock On November 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I loved your Annie Hall costume on Hallowe¹enŠbeing dressed as a pumpkin, myself, just didn¹t compare! Your travel schedule is dauntingŠI can¹t believe we¹re sharing you with so many other worthy peopleŠin such a short time! I¹m getting ready for knee surgery on November 20, will keep you posted. Maybe I¹ll write about it? (Just don¹t get us Lincoln Park Villagers started! ) xxoo Judy Spock

From: Safe & Sound blog Reply-To: Safe & Sound blog Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:20:59 +0000 To: Judith Spock Subject: [New post] Good and tired bethfinke posted: ” Whitney and I visited four different classes at Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago last Wednesday morning. After I told one class that even when my eyes are open, all I see is the color black, one preschooler wondered, ³Then how do you know “

Go ahead and brag | Safe & Sound blog On November 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

[…] my post about Vision Forward, the conference about educating kids who are blind? I signed more Braille copies of Hanni and Beth: […]

Deborah Darsie On December 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I enjoyed the video interview!
The analogy of vision (or deterioration of it) can be like puzzle pieces just about blew my mind!

I loved the description of how you monitor the bathroom habits of Whitney & company. It makes so much sense, but I have been asked so many times and been unable to answer – since I have not worked with guide dogs in my puppy-raising (yet).

Yay! My year ended on a learning note!

bethfinke On December 31, 2013 at 10:12 am

Oh, Deborah, so glad to hear you liked the video, and, especially, that you found it educational. Didn’t realize the puzzle-piece analogy would be so poignant, thanks for letting me know that. I think the Good Stuff staff did a phenomenal job, the video is swell. I plan to use it in some of the presentations I give in 2014 –happy new year!

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