dyslexia

Irony is Not Lost on Me, As a Dyslexic Writer

Jolynn and Christopher

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love. JoLynn with Christopher the youngest son

 

I am always grateful and surprised when I find that one of my blog posts is liked or posted on a Face Book page. It makes me feel like I am reaching all of you and writing in a way that others can relate to.The irony of this entire blogging adventure is that I have a learning disability commonly known as Dyslexia.That problem should prevent me from even attempting to be a blogger, let alone a published writer. My dyslexia is actually in the form of dysgraphia very similar to dyslexia but my problem effects….. writing words and spelling rather than reading them….  ironic don’t you think?

My mind finds it very  difficult to memorize or recall the correct order of letter and number sequences. Things just jumbled up in the brain and come out any possible way but the correct way.Making writing a slow process. It may seem strange that I would take up writing as my favorite hobby where I battle with my limitations so much. The irony is that I get a lot of attention and positive feed back from my writing.

This week I was informed that a blog post/story I have written had been republished on a regional Web Magazine. The MiBurg website usually shares stories that are from the Eastern panhandle of the state in the area of New Martinsburg but this time the theme of my  post was about the entire state and about the AmeriCorps that work in the those areas. The post “The Secret to West Virginia No-profits: Collaboration” was a post about my work and I never thought it would go farther than my blog, my work Face Book page and maybe a local Web Magazine Elkinite. If you are looking for the story on Elkinite or MiBurg look unders the tab IDEAS, thanks!

So as I  look on my situation, where the battle of words is a blessing and I curse, I wonder if others with disabilities feel the same way as I do. I often feel that it makes no sense at all  that  I am writing and getting followers to a blog. That my blog has led me to TV and published writing sites and even my job. I live with the irony every time I put a word on a page. That the one thing I have success at doing is the one thing that I am weakest at.

Jolynn holding television camera in my kitchen

JoLynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew Aug 2015

 

So in the wonderful words of Alanis Morissette: because Word Press is now charging me a fee to link You Tube Videos to my Blog posts…. Booooo !!!!

Isn’t It Ironic 

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, l don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
A little too ironic, and yeah I really do think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: About me, blogging, dyslexia, Elkinite, Elkins Main Street, hobbies, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Challenged Writer, Blogging with Dysgraphia/ Dyslexia

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

Train Bridge at Black Water Falls State Park, WV

The conversation at my resent book club meeting swirled with questions about not only our resent read,”Triptych” by Karen Slaughter but also about how people live and work with learning disabilities.The protagonist of  Triptych, Will Trent suffers from Dyslexia. As I have first hand knowledge, we spent more then the usual time discussing how I survived my education, how and why I even attempted college, and why I write a blog now. I write as a hobby and why I do it is a question that keeps coming up in my blog and from friends and family. So to clarify  I though I would write another post on some of the things that I face when I came to the realization that I really did want to write as a hobby.

The photo above is a metaphor of how most Dyslexic/ Dysgraphics think and how we some times make connections that others do not. Universally most of us with this learning disability are intuitive and can get the over all meaning or concept of an idea quickly and may jump from idea to idea with out the need of fact-finding information or research to support an idea. Like this bridge my mind arches over a lot of numbers, details, research data to understand the over all idea being expressed. I don’t need the support of facts to understand the concept and the more data that is given to me the more confusing the idea becomes. Then to take it a step further, If some one is teaching me something new, and I understand the steps involved to take on the new skill, I will most likely just jump ahead and figure out the next step in the process on my own or may even find a new way to finish the process in a new way. So my mind is constantly linking  bridges over ideas. Touching on the topic and leaping forward to the next landing to get enough information to leap off again. The problem is that you must at some point be able to show how the bridges link. You must support the information or idea that you are using and learning. This is where the problems lie.

To explain and support ideas you have to write about them, prove them with scientific method or mathematics. All of which are troublesome for most of us with this learning disability. My personal problem is with letter and number recall and recognition. My brain translates the world in a symbolic way. Meaning that I read and translate my world more through a group of images and understand their meaning rather than individual letters and numbers. I would have been a perfect scribe in Egypt when hieroglyphics were the modern written language, as this is how I process information.  So I see letters and numbers as more of a shape than an individual character.  So letters and numbers that look similar get confused easily.

Letters of confustion

Letters of confusion

to this list I would add, W-M, M-N, W-V,  Then some of the numbers that are just as confusing are the numbers

5-6, 3-8 and sometimes 9-6. So let me explain this in another way.  If I were to show you a photo of a Yield Sign… like this

yeild sign

You would normal say that you know this shape and know its meaning even without the written words.” Stop” signs are the same way… but what if you turn them on their sides or turn them up side down? Dose that change the meaning of the Stop sign? Dose the caution needed when seeing this Yield sign change if it is on its side or upside down,… not  really. Even if we see an upside down Stop sign or a ” caution sign”  side ways we can finger out the meaning of the sign. This is not true when it comes to letters or numbers, the letter b does not  have the same meaning as the letter d although they appear as the same symbol just back words. So with the confused rules  of reading and writing words become a challenge to decode. Now string lots and lots of confusing letters and numbers into a paragraph. A simple sentence becomes a night mare. The English language fallows very few rules and the ones that they teach are usually broken, leaving us with learning disabilities  hanging. With mountains of words that make us confused, unable to sound out, with no pattern to fallow the Dyslexic/ Dysgraphic is left to tricks and basic rules of grammar to try to share in your world  . So as you could expect reading and writing becomes a monumental tasks of trying to decode the images into readable sentences. It takes forever for me to write on paper.I never even share my grocery list if possible because the spelling is so bad most people would never find what I was looking for. Just think how you spell spaghetti. Well I do not spell it like that! We here at home just laugh and go on with our shopping.

Some how I was fortunate enough to learn to read,the letters do not jumble when I see them just when I recall them from memory. I discovered in school that I could tell you about the story and I could draw pictures of what I had read but could not repeat what the author had done and write about the story they had created. It was exhausting to try to recall all the words and how to spell them and all the rules of writing. I spent my entire education in spectacle education classes until my second year in college. Then I discovered that typing my papers was so much easier than hand writing them. My brain discovered a different pathway with a keyboard and it was easier, not perfect but better. My body memory kicks in and I only think of a word and I type it almost correctly.

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

Isis drawing done during the worst of high school 1987

I have heard that a person must do an activity about 52 times to commit it to memory…. what if that never happens. What if you can never remember something no matter how many times you see, hear or act out something. That is the challenge, to continue to repeat things again and again well over 52 times to memorize them. The language decoder in my brain is faulty and non-repairable.  I work around the words and letters that give me the hardest time. Some times that means using a totally different word or trying, 4 different spellings of the same word. Thank God for spell check on the Word Press site this has given me a way to correct most of the misspellings and some of the grammar errors.

Most Dyslexic/Dysgraphics are also kinetic learners, meaning that they learn through physical movement rather than reading or through hearing. This leads to most of us being thought of as ADD/ADHD although I was never thought of as hyper until I was an adult. I am like some many others with this disability, happiest when on the move or working with my hands. I discovered Art young and used it to pacify my anger and frustration at school and the learning systems that did not work for me. So I excelled with art, reading and public speaking but still struggled with writing my own papers and speeches. It was later in college that I found that I actually liked writing.I love doing research on Art history and loved the idea of at some point sharing an artist statement with the world. I loved books and reading so I knew that I wanted find a way to share words in a more artistic way but just didn’t see how at the time. This was 1999 and blogging was not something I would have even known about.

15 years pass and I am still struggling to find jobs that don’t focus too much on writing skills. I have sold furniture, done interior decorating, worked in retail and now do merchandise audits from retail chains. I worked on our farm and others and love it, but something was missing. Sharing and creating something of my own was a major part of my daily life. I had spent 4 years in college to learn more ways to create and at home on the farm their was nothing but work. I could have made artist books, painted or worked on my drawings. But the truth is that I had a hard time dealing with the distractions I faced as a mom and farm worker.  The supplies for painting are expensive, and the thing I loved most was engraving and a press was about an hours drive away and taking a 4-year-old into a studio full of caustic chemicals, acids and inks was not a great idea.

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of collage 1998

engraving of big horn sheep during last years of college 1998

Then a friend started a blog and I began to read more and more blogs and it seemed to me that I could do just about anything with a blog floor mat. Their were poetry blogs, cooking blogs, political blogs and even cartoon and artist blogs. I thought that even though I can not spell, I can share what it is I love through all of the options bloggers have. I can take photos, I can write poetry, tell stories and cook and share them, so why wouldn’t I want to have one of my own. The spelling and technical aseptic are all secondary to creating. Creating a world of my own is why I fight to write.  I know it really makes no sense at all, that I would spend  hours every week doing the one thing that is hardest for me. I guess my only answer is that I love a good challenge.

I am in no way saying this is a competition with others. It is a competition with myself, with the inner demons who tries to put me down, saying that what I do is not good enough. This is who I fight, the same self loathing and judgments that any creative person fights. I challenge myself as some athletes challenge themselves, to work harder, reach farther and do your best.  This kind of challenge is good for the soul and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Categories: About me, Art, blogging, Drawing, dyslexia, education, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Letter Writing in the Electronic Age

Letter from Mary and Ron 2009  

Lets get this straight from the beginning, I am completely guilty of not sending out enough real cards and real letters. I still try very hard to make a physical holiday card/letter every year and have for well into 10 years now. I am not sure if the recipients of those letters love them as much as I do, but they are so fun to make that I do it for the sheer joy of creating them. I also send out cards, I make home-made ones, others are store-bought with the recipient in mind. I always write a nice note or add a funny photo or even confetti to the cards. I know  what you are thinking …Really who has time to think about a card the much? I do! I  want the people in my life to remember how wonderful they are to me and this is how I do it. I take the long road and write on paper or print it out and put it in the mail with a lovely stamp and doodle on the back and let the my joy spread slowly with anticipation about what is in side. I am telling you good letter writing is a lost art.

birthday card from my mother

birthday card from my mother

  I love e-mail don’t get me wrong. Inside the work place it is the very best way to communicate with co-worker and it is so much easier and cheaper to sending a thousand letters to people around the globe. I get that, but what I don’t get is why we would Facebook the words …. “Happy Birthday” to 46 different people in a year. It is fun the frist year… adding up the number of sentiments, comparing it to your friend who has 1100 friends and some how got 800 “Happy Birthdays” compared to your lousey twenty six.  But the following year you are disappointed with the fact that very few people take the time really say anything of value and you certainly don’t remember in a month who even typed the standard line on to your wall. If you are lucky some one might drop you a short note via E-mail about your plans for the weekend or the party you are planning but it is not the same.winter wishes holiday card

  I have a friend who I communicate with regularly in every way that is possible. We send letters, cards and talk on the phone we like home-made letters and we have both been known to save, for years, the letters and cards that we have sent each other. Do you do that with e-mail? How often have you gone back 10 years and looked over your best friends e-mails about their divorce, or pulled up a Happy Birthday e-mail from high school. It does not happen and no one stops and cries over a love note on Face Book.  Thank you card

I have and will again look over love letters and poems that I have received over the years. The torn corners of blue lined note-book paper, the napkin from a bar with a note and home-made cards all mean the world to me. I love them they take me back to a time, place and person who took the time to write them. Remember that you are making memories when you take the time to not just write your blog or that e-mail but write something on paper. You are physically touching another life when a letter arrives in the mail box. If that person on the other end of your gesture does not see the importance of your words and toss them in the trash, then forgive them and do it anyway. Any normal person will still smile and linger over your gift more than if it was electronic.chicken card

Yes, it is slow and more expensive for me to send out  holiday cards and letters. Many things are so much better when done slowly and when they cost a little more. Paper and ink are such a wonderful combination why not share them.

  As I am sure you can already tell I am in the process of sending out more than three dozen letters for the up coming Christmas holiday. It is tradition and it is fun for me to get responses from those that receive them about how they enjoy them and the photos I enclose. In my world I have friends who save and reread some of them and I keep copies for myself. I still cry at times over a holiday letter that  friends send out about their  very tough year where a family member dies or a relationship ends.

   I will not say that I am a skilled writer to anyone. I can barely use this blog most of the time due to my dyslexia. But I am good at getting to the heart of things and seeing things that others over look. So when I  write that letter, note or card, it is hard work. It is painful for me … I hate that I misspell and forget grammar rules but I put it out their.. I stick my neck out and take the time to share my love in a real way.  I made a difference to some one a thousand miles away  who is taking chemo today… did  you? All with a letter I sent.

Categories: dyslexia, holiday cards, letter writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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