The Promoter – May 2017

Table of Contents

From the President


Because I am going to experience a big birthday in May, I find myself in a reflective mood. I think about the dreams I had when I was young when anything seemed possible.
Who have I become? What have I done and what has remained just a dream and not become a reality? What has kept me from doing the things I had wanted to do? Was it a fear of failure or simply a lack of planning?
I am naturally a short-term planner. I usually know what I am going to do today and maybe even what is on the list for the week. Beyond that, normally my plans for the future are vague or nonexistent and I find myself meandering this way and that, doing what those around me want or need me to do and not being very intentional in what I actually do.

My desire to be flexible and accommodating has obviously been more important to me than setting my own goals and rigidly staying on a linear path to achieve them.

As life moves along, it’s logical that the more changes and transitions you go through, the more opportunity you have to learn how to adapt to changes: both the ones you initiate and those that just come about on their own.

There are things that happen that change our plans. Sight loss and illness are just two “game changers” that alter our future. To what extent depends on us. Consider the quote, “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” There are some things that happen in life we have no control of but we are still ultimately in control of our reactions to those changes.

They say, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Preparedness is getting ready for training, doing ground work, evolution, readiness…all things that require action on our part.
Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. Are you who you want to be? Are you doing what you enjoy? Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Is there something you would like to do but your fear of failure keeps you from trying? Or perhaps you, like me, just have neglected to make long-term plans.
I suggest that you decide where you want to be and then determine the steps you need to take to get there. For example, if you want a job, what skills do you need to acquire to make yourself employable? You may need some education or training, learn how to use current technology, brush up on your communication skills, or learn how to use the transportation available in your area.

If your goal is to get healthier, you may need to change your diet, get more exercise and/or rest, take time for relaxation and fun or even consult with a professional. What we need to do is set a goal, identify the steps and be able to make adjustments along the way without getting sidetracked.
No matter what your goals are, remember, “Success is where preparedness and opportunity meet.” Have a plan and then do the things that will prepare you to achieve that goal. It is likely that opportunity will soon follow.

As an organization, NDAB has both mission and vision statements and a list of purposes. We are actively working to fulfill all of them through the development and implementation of our Strategic Plan. Completed activities and objectives, one by one, take us closer towards the goals we have identified and agreed upon.

In each of my letters thus far, I have brought to your attention one or more of the NDAB purposes. The purpose I am highlighting now is “Purpose F. To improve opportunities for employment for persons who are blind or visually impaired.” As an organization, we achieve this indirectly by supporting the two agencies (North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Independent Living and Older Blind Program). Both provide specific services and training to those of us with vision loss. We accomplish this by advocating for adequate budgets both on state and federal levels. I want to take this opportunity to thank the members who responded to my request for them to contact their senators. I contacted the members who live in districts represented by members of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Many did so and I am sure your efforts made a difference!

We also fulfill Purpose F. by providing scholarships to those seeking education and training to prepare for employment. The funds for these scholarships are made available by our fundraising efforts such as the “Walk for Vision” held across the state in different locations. Thanks to all of you who helped with the recent walks by organizing, recruiting funds, attending and contributing!

Could we do more to improve opportunities for employment? Yes, I think we can. Please give it some thought and when you have an idea, give me a call at 701-493-2399.

It is good for us to evaluate where we are and where we are going whether as an individual or as an organization. Goal setting is essential. Our path will have some curves in it as we adjust to things we encounter along the way but we will end up where we want to be if we stay the course.

Have a great summer doing whatever and going wherever your plans take you.

Zelda Gebhard

Coming up:
2017 NDAB Convention, June 9-11
ACB Convention, June 30- July 7
Adult Summer Camp, August 6-13

From the Editor

Everyone who has sent in articles for this issue is ready for spring! I love this time of year with its smells and sounds. I love the fragrant smells of grass starting to grow, hearing the melodious sounds of one of my favorite songbirds, the meadowlark, and all the beautiful colors that will soon appear in flowers and trees. Did you know that the western meadowlark was designated official state bird of North Dakota in 1947?
Thinking about the many colors that will soon be appearing, I’ll share this reading with you.

Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important. The most useful. The favorite.

Green said, “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”

Blue interrupted, “You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing.”

Yellow chuckled. “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”

Orange started next to blow her trumpet. “I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”

Red could stand it no longer. He shouted out, “I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood – life’s blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy.”

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp. “I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey.”

Finally Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination. “Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”

And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamor, Rain began to speak: “You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don’t you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me.”

Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.

The Rain continued: “From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow.” And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.

Friendship is like a rainbow: Red like an apple, sweet to the core. Orange, like a burning flame, never dying out. Yellow like the sun that brightens your day. Green like a plant that keeps on growing. Blue like the water that is so pure. Purple like a flower that is ready to bloom. Indigo like the dreams that fill your heart.

Happy spring!
Kathy Larson, Editor

Thanks to Loris Van Berkom for sharing the following article:

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said that it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful that it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season. The essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall.

Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season. Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come.
(Author unknown)

Welcome to NDAB

“Welcome back” former NDAB members:
Mary Forness and Patrick Schmidt both of Minot; Connie and Larry Osowski from Grand Forks; Gerri Smith of Arthur; Bonnie Streitz from South Heart

We welcome the following new members:
Trampes Brown of Minot; Cheryl Cassman and Diane Smith both from Fargo; Donnie Frasier and Menuka (Jyoti) Rai both of Grand Forks; Carol and Timothy Kachel from Jamestown; Bonnie and Craig Roth, Mickey Teubner, and Ginger Anderson all of Bismarck; Anna Scallon (Junior member) and Jill Herz both of Williston;

NDAB 2017 State Convention

Reminder… Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the NDAB annual convention to be held in Devils Lake, ND, on June 9th through June 11, 2017. 
Make your reservations at The Great American Inn, phone# 701-662-4001 before the fishermen start calling! If you missed your opportunity and the hotel is already booked, you might want to try other hotels/motels in the area: The Cobblestone Inn and Suites at 701-544-0129; The Fireside Inn and Suites at 701-662-6760; Holiday Express 665-3200; or Sleep Inn and Suites at 701-544-1111. 
Hope to see you all there!
Respectfully, Carol Schmitt, Convention Chair
Grace Sharbono and Carmen Suminski, Committee Members

Members of our NDAB Family

By Kathy Larson

We extend our deepest sympathy to Perry and Melissa Olson of Minot on the death of their daughter Natalie. Perry joined NDAB in December. He was the representative from the Minot Lions Club that coordinated the efforts for “Dining in the Dark” with Janelle Olson, the first such event sponsored by NDAB.

Ten-year old Natalie Beatrice Olson was lifted from her wheelchair to her heavenly home on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017. She was born on October 22nd, 2006 in Minot weighing in at just two pounds, four ounces. Her first few days and weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were filled with many ups and downs. Her early struggles in the NICU led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, blindness, and eventually a seizure disorder. While these diagnoses caused major setbacks in her life, her bright, happy personality always shined through. Natalie’s smile lit up a room, and she was well known for her beautiful, thick, curly hair. Natalie’s favorite times were in the summer, whether on horseback for hippotherapy at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, or vacationing with her family along the beach in Minnesota. Natalie could not see or speak, but she could feel the horse beneath her, the wind against her face, and hear the birds chirping, and waves coming in. She loved baseball and to be wheeled around the diamond, especially when her brothers were old enough to hit the ball and guide her way to home plate. She recently took a liking to winter, thanks to Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports. She was a special hockey player for the team — and had a special sled made for her that fit her body perfectly — even it was just for a few games. Natalie’s brothers Calvin and Dexter and sister Frances adored her. The family thanks God for giving her ten years and three months to leave her mark on the world. Gone are her earthly disabilities.

Congratulations to Lyle Nelson of Arvada, CO, on the birth of grandson Thomas Eugene Nelson born Monday January 30, 2017. Lyle said that this was the name that Irene had suggested. Irene had told Lyle that the visit to camp was the best part of the trip to ND last summer.

We can never know what the future holds, and one would never expect to include obituaries of a daughter and mother in the same issue of a Promoter. Sherry Neal, age 60, of Rochester, MN, died suddenly at home on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 of a massive pulmonary blood clot. She was born in Rawlings, WY, and grew up in Grand Forks, ND. She was preceded in death by her father, Don Neal, and sister, Donna Neal. She was survived by her mother, Olga Neal; best friend, Marty Klann; very close friends Nancy Joyner and Jeanne Barzydlo; and many four-legged old and/or special needs rescue dogs. She was a fellow sister to the Dahlgren girls; Nora, Karen and Anni. Sherry was a member of the Bahá’í Faith for forty years and a regular nighttime fixture at Kwik Trip for 13 years. She had many interesting hobbies including Twins Baseball, motorcycling, pingpong handball, Johnny West collecting, Western fast draw and twirling revolvers. We will miss her warm hugs, loud laugh, thoughtfulness and genuine kindness.

It is with much sadness that I include the obituary for Olga Neal. She was one of the first friends I got to know at NDAB Summer Camp in 1985. We sat outside every morning in front of our cabin having daily devotions together before our busy day began.

Olga Neal, 91, of Grand Forks, ND, passed away on Friday, March 3, 2017 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

Olga Denise Dorr, daughter of Gustov & Ida (Taxis) Dorr was born October 29, 1925, in Hazelton, ND. She attended the ND School for the Blind at Bathgate, ND, graduating in 1947. Olga graduated from Mayville State College in 1950. She was a teacher at the ND School for the Blind in Bathgate and Grand Forks, retiring in 1990.

Olga married Donald Neal on January 17, 1953, in Grand Forks. They lived in Mandan, ND, and Rawlins, WY, before returning to Grand Forks in 1965.

She was a member of the ND Association of the Blind for over 60 years, holding every office, except treasurer, some several times. She instigated the establishment of its Summer Camp for blind adults and was a director and instructor there for many years.

Olga was awarded the Grand Forks’ Outstanding Handicapped Person of the year and Mayville State University’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. She was active in her church singing liturgy for many years and was a longtime member of the Lion’s Club.

Olga was preceded in death by her husband, Donald; daughters, Donna Lee and Sherry; sisters, Esther, Ottillia and Hilda; brothers, Samuel, Herman, Edwin and infant Reinie.

The following poem was in the service folder for Olga Neal:

When I come to the end of the day
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all a part of the Maker’s plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds—
Miss me, but let me go.

We have lost still another NDAB member. Dorothy Thiel, 94, New Rockford, died on March 3, 2017, at Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd, New Rockford. She was the fourth of six children, growing up on a farm northwest of Golva. Living through the Depression taught her to appreciate all of life’s blessings. She enjoyed dancing, and was an excellent cook and baker. After her husband, Marvin’s death in 2000, Dorothy lived in her house for several years. She volunteered a couple of days a week at the Eddy County Senior Center and was active in the Red Hat Society. Eventually, she moved to the Heritage House Assisted Living Complex. She enjoyed playing bingo and visiting with her neighbors. Dorothy moved to Lutheran Home of the Good Shepherd when her eyesight became too poor for her to take care of herself, and spent the rest of her life there. She enjoyed going to music presentations and enjoyed the camaraderie of her table mates and the cook in her dining area. She was very proud of her children and especially enjoyed being a grandmother and great-grandmother. She is missed by many people.

It is only fitting that I include the obituary for a former longtime and very active member of NDAB. Marlene Nelson, 82, of Watford City, ND, passed away early Friday morning on April 14, 2017 at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Watford City. She and her husband Bob donated many hours to NDAB while helping with the Family Adjustment Seminars in earlier years.

Marlene graduated from Minot State Teacher’s College in 1955. While in college, she continued to be a majorette, was first flute in the band and on the honor roll. Her first job was as a 2nd/3rd grade teacher in Alexander. She worked for 2 years before her career aspirations were thrown aside when she met a handsome young veterinary student who came through town on a summer internship. Marlene Sanford became Mrs. Robert (Bob) Nelson on June 23, 1957. After living in St. Paul, Minot, and Hebron, they moved back to western North Dakota in 1967 where Bob opened the Watford City Veterinary Clinic. Marlene used her love of music and people and her education to serve her community. She participated in the Women’s Club, taught Sunday school, served on the Good Shepherd Home board, the first Children’s Choir at First Lutheran Church, organized the Centennial Choir, subbed at the grade school, and worked at the library. She was honored to be chosen as North Dakota’s Mother of the Year in 1993.

One of Marlene’s greatest achievements was being a mother and grandmother. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren. She taught her children numerous nursery rhymes, finger plays and songs. As a grandmother, she spent countless hours with her grandkids, coloring, singing, and making up stories with sound effects. They grew up thinking all grandmas were like this, not realizing how special her time with them was.

Marlene was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in the late 1970’s and became totally blind by 1983. She also had Usher’s Syndrome which eventually progressed to a severe hearing loss. Marlene was later diagnosed with Essential Tremors and Parkinson’s Disease, which worsened to the point where she qualified for Deep Brain Stimulation.

Marlene was preceded in death by her husband Robert Dale Nelson, her parents Ingeman and Sigrid Sanford and her brother-in-laws Vern Suelzle and Arne Leom.

Another Thank You

The following note is from two more Space Camp attendees with sight loss who attended the camp in Alabama. NDAB gave a $1,000 donation last summer to help support this project. The note arrived after the printing of the February Promoter.

Hello, this is Carter and Cassidy Storrusten. We went to Aviation Challenge for SCIVIS back in September. We would like to thank you for the support you gave us so we could go down and experience it. We did all sorts of things, like patrolling, flight simulators, learned about how aircraft fly, participated in ziplining, rock wall climbing, and many other things like that. Again, we thank you for your support!

Carter and Cassidy Storrusten

NDAB Summer Camp Plans for 2017

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom

Plans are underway for the 47th annual NDAB Summer Camp to be held at the Elks Camp Grassick August 6-13. The Friday night banquet with the theme “In the Garden” will be planned by Karlyn Frantsen and her friend Jackie Freeman. The camp packets will be mailed out toward the end of June so watch for them. If you know of someone who might be eligible to attend, please pass that information on to one of the Co-Camp Directors and they will make the contact.

If you have any questions, call Rick at (701) 793-5210 or Loris at (701) 774-3399.

Below are the NDAB Summer Camp Guidelines:

1. To provide an opportunity for persons who are visually impaired to come in contact with persons with similar impairments and share a common concern.
2. To help in the process of adjusting to blindness.
3. To provide an opportunity to learn new skills, techniques, and leisure time activities to enhance the quality of life.

1. Must be at least 18 years of age with vision loss as the primary disability.
2. Must be capable of participating in the program set-up for camp.
a. Must be able to care for one’s personal needs including bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
b. Must be physically able to get oneself around the camp grounds, with the exclusion of difficulty with mobility due to vision loss.
3. Must be cooperative and demonstrate willingness to abide by the regulations of camp.
a. Alcoholic beverages and/or unauthorized drugs are not allowed on the camp grounds. Any violators will be promptly sent home at their own expense.
b. All campers must remain overnight at camp.
c. Campers must attend the entire week of camp unless other arrangements have been made with the co-camp directors, or a situation arises, such as an illness or a family emergency.
d. Participants must notify one of the directors if leaving the campus for any reason.
4. Must demonstrate respect for authority.
5. Must display consideration for fellow campers.

Geographical Eligibility Guidelines
1. Any adult who is visually impaired and not a North Dakota resident but is attending a North Dakota college or university will be eligible to attend the NDAB Summer Camp at no cost.
2. One member of ACB leadership will be eligible to attend the NDAB Summer Camp annually as a camper at no cost.
3. Any adult who is visually impaired and who lives in another state other than North Dakota could attend camp but must pay for their room and board, which is set by the Elks Camp Grassick Director. At this time, the cost is $250. Any adult who is visually impaired and lives in a border town may attend at no cost. Border towns include East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Breckenridge and West Fairview.
4. Camp capacity, which is set by the Elks Camp Grassick Director, is 60 people. Residents of North Dakota would be given preference to out of state campers if the camp capacity were reached.
5. Any member of NDAB who moved out of state but continued to pay their annual dues would be eligible to attend camp at no cost.

Williston Area Chamber of Commerce Donates to NDAB

Each year, the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce donates a portion of the proceeds from their Annual Banquet Auction to a local non-profit organization. This year’s recipient was the North Dakota Association of the Blind, who was one of the many groups that participated in the Chamber Community Connections Expo in September of 2016. Because of the generous bids of the Chamber guests, they were able to present a check for $1,000.00 to NDAB. In addition to the silent auction proceeds, the guest speaker for the evening, Mr. Dan Meers (AKA: KC Wolf, Kansas City Chiefs Mascot) graciously donated another $100.000 to the NDAB from his book sales at the event. The Chamber President, Janna Lutz, proudly presented the donations to local NDAB representative, Janelle Olson, on February 23, 2017.

Donations and Memorials

The following donations were made to NDAB during the past quarter:
Hazen Community Chest – $191.00
Boeing – $487.50
Giving Hearts Day – $3,033.37
Total Donations: $3,711.87
The following memorials were received during the past quarter:
Ruth Phalen, Loris Van Berkom and Rom Thielman in memory of Irene Nelson
Stan and Kathy Larson and John and Ginger Goodell in memory of Steve Skjei
Rom Thielman in memory of Ray Frantsen
Rom Thielman in memory of Pearl Van Berkom
Kathy and Stan Larson, Cassel Everson, Rom Thielman and Kathy Johnson in memory of Olga Neal
Rom Thielman and Kathy Johnson in memory of Sherrie Neal
Kathy Johnson in memory of Don Neal
Total Memorials: $275.00

Total Donations and Memorials: $3,986.87

Helen Baumgartner, NDAB Treasurer

Nominating Committee Report

Make sure to come to this year’s NDAB State Convention June 9-11th in Devils Lake and be ready to cast your votes! Missy Miller and I have found several worthy candidates willing to serve the organization. The slate of candidates to date reads as follows:
2018 ACB Delegate St. Louis, MO: Lexee Steffan, Doug Stip
Alternate Delegate: First Runner up for ACB Delegate will serve.
Editor 1-year term: Kathy Larson
Board Director 3-year term: Kathryn Schmidt
Secretary 2-year term: Gretchen Campbell
Development Director 2-year term: Allan Peterson

Nominations may also be made from the convention floor with the members’ prior consent. According to the NDAB Constitution, nominees must meet the following qualifications:
The president and vice president and two of the directors must be legally blind or visually impaired.
the age of 18 and Payment of annual dues are prerequisites.
All elected officers and directors shall be a resident of ND during their term of office or a city in a neighbor state; that city shall share a common border with its sister city in ND.
To avoid conflict of interest, officers shall not hold office while serving as an officer in another consumer organization of the blind.
If you have any questions about position responsibilities, or to add your name to the slate of candidates, please call 701-541-2970.

Respectfully submitted,
Michelle Zentz, Nominating Committee Chairperson.

Candy’s Corner

In this column I would like to talk about the teen short-term programming weeks that are hosted by North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. In the interest of full disclosure, I happen to be employed by NDVS/SB as a braille teacher.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, NDVS/SB held three such week-long sessions for teens. Students arrived at the school in Grand Forks on Sunday evening and classes ended around noon on the following Friday. During the week, students participated in a variety of different classes focusing on the Expanded Core Curriculum, or subject areas that are not normally included in the standard high school curriculum, but which are vital for students with low vision or blindness to achieve independence. Examples of the Expanded Core Curriculum, or “ECC,” would be braille, orientation and mobility, independent living skills, assistive technology, social skills, and others.
During the Teen Weeks the students have the opportunity to focus on career exploration and even get the chance to do job shadowing and to have some work experiences in the community. They are able to find out what it is like to have a job and to earn money, and learn how to develop a budget. Other financial literacy skills are taught including how to set up a bank account; the importance of savings; the need for insurance; and how to pay bills.

During the week the teens do laundry, help with meal preparation and clean-up, and work on grooming. They practice interviewing techniques and talk about how to write up an eye-catching resume. They even have set up a small “business” of their own: a coffee shop which they run by themselves, with support from staff when needed.

The young people receive career guidance and have the opportunity to visit college campuses if higher education is in their future. They also gain real-world work experience by spending time volunteering at non-profits or local businesses. For example, they might help out at a thrift store or deliver Meals on Wheels, or perhaps learn to stock shelves at a grocery store. They also learn about transportation, good work habits, and how to present themselves well.

In their down time, there is goal ball, swimming, movie night, and perhaps a visit to a local attraction or the mall. By the end of the week, the teens are usually exhausted but happy to have spent the week making new friends and gaining skills and knowledge that equip them for that big day when they graduate from high school and begin their lives as young adults.

2017 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

The Constitution and By-Laws Committee presented their report to the NDAB Executive Board on April 2. It contains the following four amendments. These will be considered for adoption during the business meeting at the 2017 NDAB State Convention.

Please read them prior to convention. If you have any questions, call one of the committee members: Allan Peterson 701-282-4644, Michelle Zentz 701-541-2970, or Zelda Gebhard 701-493-2399.

1. Article IV. Officers Section 3. Qualifications of officers
Proposed substantive amendment: Submitted to Constitution and Bylaw Committee from membership in 2016 to add the following wording:.
D. To avoid undue influence and any potential conflicts of interest, no more than one member from any household shall hold office at the same time.
*Wording revision of proposed amendment: Delete potential “,” of interest” and “hold office” to read as follows:
D. To avoid undue influence and family conflicts, no more than one member from a household, regardless of marital status, shall serve concurrent terms as a member of the executive board.
2. Constitution Article III. Membership Section 7. Dues. Membership dues shall be established or changed at the annual convention by a two-thirds vote of the members present. Members shall pay annual dues each year. Payment of annual dues shall be a pre-requisite for the right to vote or hold office in NDAB. Members shall be considered delinquent if current dues are not paid during that calendar year.
*Proposed substantive amendment regarding motion made by Loris at 2016 convention: Strike out” by a two-thirds vote of the members present” as this is repetitive and applies to all amendments to the governing documents. Strike out the following sentence: “Members shall be considered delinquent if current dues are not paid during that calendar year.” As members are considered delinquent in payment of dues as of March 15. See: By-Laws and Standing Rules Article II. Membership Section 1 through Section 3.
*Replace Section 7. Dues with the following wording:
Section 7. Dues. The annual convention reserves the right to establish or change membership dues. Members shall pay annual dues each year. Payment of annual dues shall be a pre-requisite for the right to vote or hold office in NDAB. If a member’s current dues are not paid during a calendar year, that person’s membership is forfeited and they must reapply to become a member.

3. Article IV. Officers Section 3. Qualifications of officers reads as B. Payment of annual dues shall be a pre-requisite for the right to hold office in NDAB.
*Proposed substantive amendment: Add minimum age requirement to qualification of officers to read as follows:
B. Attainment of the minimum age of 18 and payment of annual dues shall be pre-requisites for the right to hold office.

4. Article IV. Officers Section 5. The president shall have the following duties: reads as follows:
E. To make appointments to all vacancies not otherwise provided for.
F. To appoint the members of all committees not otherwise provided for by the convention or by the executive board and to replace vacancies that occur.
* Proposed clerical amendment: Delete E. As committee appointments and vacancies are covered in listing and this statement contradicts section 2 Elections F. Whenever an office or directorship is vacated, the counsel and consent of the remaining members of the Board shall be required for appointment to fill vacant positions of officers or directors.

Executive Board Policy Review

In response to the request made at the 2016 NDAB Convention that the NDAB Executive Board review the current membership policy concerning delinquent members, a committee worked together and made the following proposed changes to the 2015 Delinquent Members Resolution. These were presented to the full NDAB Board on March 5 and are now provided for your review prior to the 2017 NDAB Convention. They will be considered for adoption at that time.
Executive Committee Report: Regarding Resolution Delinquent Members 2015
Whereas, our By-Laws Article II. Membership Sections 1 through 3 state, “Members shall pay annual dues by February 1st of each year and payment of annual dues shall be a pre-requisite for the right to vote or hold office in NDAB and members shall be considered delinquent if current dues are not paid by March 15 and delinquent members may be re-instated upon payment of current dues but If a member’s current dues are not paid during a calendar year, that person’s membership is forfeited and they must reapply to become a member”; and
Whereas, in order to implement strategies to both gain and retain members and to align our current practices with the By-Laws, streamline the collection of membership dues process, encourage all to pay yearly dues at the appropriate date of February 1, and to ensure all members receive official notification of the organization’s activities; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the executive board has approved the following policy; “NDAB shall pay the current calendar year’s membership dues of persons making application to the organization for the first time. No dues are to be collected at the time of application. Former members that re-apply for membership shall pay the applicable dues for that current calendar year.”
*Proposed Amendment: Delete “NDAB shall pay the current calendar year’s membership dues of persons making application to the organization for the first time. No dues are to be collected at the time of application.”
Replace with the following- “Membership dues collected from persons making application to the organization for the first time and dues collected from former members that re-apply for membership shall be applied to the current calendar year only.”
Delinquent Members
Any person whose dues were not collected before the membership list and dues are sent to the national office on March 15 are considered Delinquent Members.
Reinstatement of active membership in NDAB will begin upon receipt of dues. The ACB dues that are collected are to be sent to the national office during the year as deemed necessary by the treasurer but at least periodically by June 30 and September 30.
*Proposed Amendment: Change date of “June 30.” To May 30th to align with ACB’s policy for certification of voting members.
If payment of delinquent dues is not made during the current calendar year, the individual is to be removed from the membership list as of December 31.
1. The treasurer shall continue to maintain a list which includes the status of both actively paid and those members delinquent in payment of their dues.
2. Change of dues payment status, address changes, contact information of new NDAB members and notification of deaths are to be sent between the treasurer, membership chair, editor, secretary, and co-camp directors as they are received.
3. The editor is to extend delinquent members a grace period to receive the May and August issues of the Promoter so all receive official notification regarding activities of the organization. The editor will include in the August issue a notice that if a person doesn’t receive the November issue and would like to continue to receive our newsletter; they are to contact the treasurer regarding their dues payment status.
*Proposed Amendment: Delete the first sentence of 3. “The editor is to extend the delinquent members a grace period” Reword to read as follows: “The editor will send delinquent members the May and August issues of the Promoter so all receive official notification of activities of the organization.”
4. The membership list sent to the convention planning committee is to also include and denote delinquent members enabling all to receive the “Call to Convention” packet.
*Add- “Only members current in payment of dues may be eligible to receive state and national convention stipends.”
Delinquent members that pay the year’s dues during registration are to have an appropriate sticker or ribbon added to their nametag to denote their ability to vote and run for office.
5. The camp co-directors are to also include delinquent members, who meet camp guidelines, in their mailings. Delinquent members will need to make their dues payment to attend Summer Camp at no charge.
6. The membership chair is to submit a notice to the Promoter editor by October 10 for publication in the November issue of the Promoter so all receive an accessible notice that membership renewals will start in January and all dues payments are to be made online or sent to the treasurer before February 1. A second reminder of membership dues payment deadline is to be submitted by January 10 for the February issue of the Promoter. The membership chairperson is to send out renewal forms in the persons preferred format of mail or e-mail by January 1; excluding Lifetime NDAB members. Reminder phone calls or e-mail messages may be made by the membership committee after February 1 to members late in payment of dues.
These changes are to be reflected in the appropriate manuals and guidelines, website text for proper implementation along with revisions to the hard copy and the online versions of the membership application and renewal forms.
The secretary shall place a copy of this Board Policy on permanent file.
Adopted by the Executive Board: August 3, 2014; Revised May 17, 2015.Amended and Adopted by Convention June 13, 2015

Fish Eyes May Hold Key to Regenerating Human Retinas

If you were a fish and your retina was damaged, it could repair itself and your vision would be restored in a few weeks.
Sadly, human eyes don’t have this beneficial ability. However, new research into retinal regeneration in zebrafish has identified a signal that appears to trigger the self-repair process. And, if confirmed by follow-up studies, the discovery raises the possibility that human retinas can also be induced to regenerate, naturally repairing damage caused by degenerative retinal diseases and injury, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

Read the full article at

NDAB Promotional Materials

In an effort to equip all of our NDAB members with the materials you need to participate in a public education or awareness event, we have taken an inventory of what is available. These promotional items may be used by any NDAB member. If you have an opportunity to give a talk or man a booth in your area, contact the person with the item you would like to use to make arrangements.
For NDAB brochures, thank you cards, and letterhead,
contact Allan Peterson at 701-282-4644 or
For electronic copies of “What Can I do to Help” handout and “NDAB Activities for ____” Handout (list of the past year’s activities),
contact Zelda Gebhard at 701-493-2399 or
For Lions Foundation Video Magnifier brochures,
contact Kevin Vannett at 701-426-8050 or
For Vision Resources in ND Brochures and NDVS/SB Brochures,
contact Ryan Torgerson at 701-795-2714 or
NDAB Display Case: Genie Lang, Bismarck, 701-751-1101
NDAB Duffle Bag: Zelda Gebhard, Edgeley, 701-493-2399
8’ fitted 3-sided table throw: Mary Stip, Minot, 701-839-4138
8’ fitted 3-sided table throw: Genie Lang (See above)
6’ or 8’ full table throw: Loris Van Berkom Williston 701-774-3399
6’ or 8’ full table throw: Missy Miller, Fargo, 701-298-8091
Table runner: Zelda Gebhard (see above)
Set of 3 plastic display boxes (8×11, brochure and business card): Zelda Gebhard (See above)
Set of 3 plastic display boxes (8×11, brochure and business card): Mary Stip (See above)
8 X 11 plastic display box: Genie Lang (See above)
Brochure and business card plastic display boxes: Not yet located

Popover Pancake

Submitted by Susan Jorgenson

Oven: 425 º
4 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk
Stir and pour in cast iron or Corning Ware heated with a dab of butter.
Bake for 20 minutes. It will come out puffy and fall. Delicious with syrup or fruit and cream or cottage cheese.
Serves 4 or more when cut like a pie.

Eatsa, Restaurant of the Future, Excludes Blind Customers

New York, NY—Eatsa, a chain of eateries touted as the “restaurant of the future,” has arrived in New York City with two Manhattan locations. Yet its high-tech ordering and food pick-up process has failed to include existing, readily available usability features for blind and low vision people, in violation of civil rights law. Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, filed a class action federal lawsuit today with plaintiffs the American Council of the Blind and Michael Godino, a New York resident who is legally blind and cannot access Eatsa independently, representing the class.

Read the full article along with legal papers at

SFL 2018

The Ski for Light, Inc. 2018 Annual Event will be held from Sunday January 21 through Sunday January 28, 2018. We will be skiing at Tahoe-Donner Cross Country ski area in Truckee, California, and staying at the Nugget Hotel Resort in Sparks, Nevada. Tahoe-Donner is a world-class Nordic ski area, with 100 kilometers of well groomed trails. The Nugget is a large hotel with everything that you could ask for in an event hotel. It is also just a few minutes away from the Reno airport, so getting there will be quick and easy.
Please look for more information about the 2018 event on the SFL website at in the months ahead. Complete information and applications will be available in late July, 2017.

For a Half-Century, She Has Led the Blind with Chutzpah (and Often, No Cane)

“It’s like the blind leading the blind,” Rosemary Romano, 79, said folding up her cane. “But with a positive connotation.”
Ms. Romano, who is blind, has been leading blind students through life and work lessons for 54 years.

Read the full article at

American Council of the Blind (ACB) Update

and 2017 Legislative Seminar Report
By Allan Peterson

For the second consecutive year, the American Council of the Blind has held its Legislative Seminar at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Approximately 90 advocates representing 32 ACB state affiliates were in attendance for this year’s Seminar, held on Monday, February 27th and Tuesday, February 28th. Among this gaggle were Zelda Gebhard and myself representing NDAB.

As has been a long-standing practice, ACB chooses to hold its Legislative Seminar in conjunction with the winter meetings of its board and the affiliate president’s/leaders meeting. These three meetings are referred to as Mid-Year meetings and are always held near the ACB National Office in the Washington DC area sometime in late February and/or early March.

At last year’s Mid-Year meetings, two notable changes were witnessed: it was the first time that Eric Bridges addressed the Mid-Year meetings as ACB’s Executive Director and it was not Eric, but was Anthony) Tony” Stephens who was Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs. He took on the role of directing the information presented during the Legislative Seminar meetings on Monday before we all trucked off to Capitol Hill to meet with our legislators and their staff people.

As an ACB update, I’m pleased to report to you that during their brief tenures in their respective positions, both Eric and Tony have done outstanding work in their new roles; Eric has done a great job in establishing relationships in the tech industry and business community for ACB, and Tony has proven to be an eloquent and passionate leader on advocacy policy issues for ACB.

Personally, my trip to attend the ACB Mid-Year meetings was actually my second to the same Crown Plaza Hotel during this new year of 2017. I was there in late January to participate in a strategic planning meeting that Eric Bridges and the staff at the National ACB Office had arranged for the board and a few others among ACB’s leadership team. Eric was successful in finding grant money for this endeavor, so, I along with about 30 other individuals in ACB’s hierarchy, spent two days working to develop a strategic plan for ACB. In truth, we didn’t finish our work; it’s an ongoing endeavor. We split up our group into five different teams and are continuing to refine the plan in each area. The five teams are communications and marketing, advocacy, affiliate relations, conventions and conferences, and financial development. I’m serving on the development team to help further refine ACB’s overall strategic plan.

A bit more information about pertinent evolving changes in the ACB administrative structure: As I’ve indicated previously, ACB’s National Office is located in the Washington DC area. We lease office space in Alexandria, Virginia. ACB also leases space for a business office in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, MN.

The reason for these separate offices was due to the fact that Jim Olson, who served as ACB’s long-time treasurer and business manager, lived in Minneapolis. To help retain Jim’s expertise at that time, ACB chose to establish its business office in the Minneapolis area. Unfortunately, about ten years ago, Jim died due to health complications associated with diabetes. After his death, Lane Waters was hired to be ACB’s business manager. I share this with you because last summer Lane chose to semi-retire from this position and his assistant, Nancy Marks Becker, was elevated to fill the role as ACB’s current business manager.

It’s noteworthy too that ACB President Kim Charlson will finish her second two-year term in this office at this year’s ACB Convention in Reno, Nevada, this summer. Kim does plan to run for her third term at this summer’s convention. Constitutionally, ACB has a term limit for officers, so that no person can serve for more than three consecutive terms in the same office. Kim is the first woman to have served as ACB’s President. I share an opinion with many that Kim has done an outstanding job in her role, and her service has proven to be highly beneficial in helping advance ACB’s mission.

Why am I sharing this information with you? I feel that it’s necessary to demonstrate to you that ACB is a strong, viable organization with new leaders that have distinguished themselves, and hopefully that we will be witness to more growth and capacity building in the not too distant future.

Note dear readers: The remainder of this report will be primarily limited to the happenings at this year’s ACB Legislative Seminar.

After their swearing in ceremony, the 115th session of Congress began its work in January. At that time, those who were elected in last fall’s election officially began their terms of office. Perhaps what for me distinguished this year’s visit to Capitol Hill was the uncertainty expressed relative to what direction the federal government would be taking, given that President Trump has declared his desire to dramatically cut spending for federal programs, and at the same time grant significant increases in spending for defense and national security.

With some exceptions, the policy initiatives that ACB chose to feature for its 2017 Legislative Seminar are similar to those for 2016. Briefly, the three policy initiatives that were the topics of this year’s Seminar were:
Issue #1: H.R. 2050. reintroduction of the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low-Vision Devices Act of 2017 (H.R. 2050). This legislation would establish a national demonstration/research project that’s tasked with identifying the impact to Medicare and Medicaid recipients who are prescribed low-vision devices over a certain threshold cost.

Issue #2: Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the U.S. Senate. This Treaty is the result of an international diplomatic conference that was conducted under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013. The terms of this treaty would allow libraries and other organizations that produce accessible format copies of works for distribution to people with print-reading disabilities to share these works across international boundaries. Ultimately this would free up resources that are currently used to make multiple copies of the same work, so that more publications could be put into accessible formats for all who have a print reading disability. To date, 27 countries have ratified this treaty. Since 20 countries are needed for it to become recognized as an official agreement among the community of nations, it is now a certified International Treaty –, unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has, thus far, failed to take any action to ratify this Treaty.

Issue#3: Safeguarding services and programs for people who are blind and visually impaired. Because of all the speculation about what programs could be cut or eliminated, ACB seeks to maintain the current level of federal appropriations for programs that provide blindness related services throughout the country. Federal funding is the primary source for a number of critical service programs which are invaluable to people who are blind and sight impaired, among these are the older blind program, the Talking Book Program through the National Library Service, the Helen Keller Centers for the Deaf and Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, and others. These programs have been highly effective in helping promote independence among people who are blind and sight impaired for years. Cuts to these programs would lead to losses of independence that would lead to higher costs for personal care and a very demonstrable reduction in quality of life for numbers of people who are blind and sight impaired.

For our part, Zelda and I spent a part of Monday, February 27 and all of Tuesday, February 28 on Capitol Hill. We again made a total of 12 separate visits. We were in each of the six large office buildings on the Hill. We were forced to make two of our visits late Monday afternoon because there wasn’t a possibility to fit them in on Tuesday.

Our “Hill Day” began at 8 a.m. with a cab ride to the Capitol and ended at 6:30 that evening. The Hill hasn’t gotten any smaller since last year, so consequently it was necessary for us to do almost four miles of walking to get to where we needed to go.

You might remember that President Trump gave his state-of-the-state message to the joint session of Congress the evening of Tuesday, February 28. As a precaution that afternoon, security officials blocked off the tunnel “tube” transit system between the House and Senate buildings. Consequently, we had to do significantly more walking to get from one office to another.

Again we made visits, not only to the offices of our North Dakota congressional delegation, but also to those of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming as well. Those visits were made because of financial constraints that wouldn’t allow anyone from our neighbor ACB state affiliates to attend the seminar. As always, arrangements were made in advance for our visits to those offices with the assistance and approval of those affiliates.

We had an audience with two of the U.S. Senators – Senator Hoven from our own state and Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming. More often than not, we meet with the same staff people from year to year because they are assigned to cover health issues in their respective offices. Our policymakers are of the opinion that all of our issues are related to health?

My belief becomes firmer with each passing year that our investment in attending the seminar is so very important to NDAB and ACB. Not only does it give us the opportunity to advocate for our current legislative initiatives, but it is so very important in the respect that it builds ongoing relationships with our elected leaders and the people who staff their offices.

It’s also my firm belief that its’ vitally important that they hear from as many of you as possible. You can tell them your own personal story of how blindness programs and services and blindness equipment helps you in your own life. Please contact the offices of Senators Hoven and Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer here in their North Dakota offices. They each have offices in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot. Directory assistance can help you find those numbers.

Thank you once again for the privilege of representing your interests at this year’s ACB Legislative Seminar! A huge and very appreciative thank you too to my fellow traveler, Zelda, for her great help to me during this latest adventure to “the zoo” in Washington DC.

Legislative Report Spring 2017

By Allan Peterson

When the last (winter) edition of this Report was written the 65th North Dakota Legislative Assembly had just then been gaveled into session. Now some three months later, the Session is quickly drawing to a point when it will be gaveled to a close. Current speculation is that this is likely to happen just a few days after Easter.

Without question, the news from the session and many of the decisions that have been made are based upon the condition of our state’s economy and the consequent decrease of revenue in the state’s coffers. The other area of great concern is how the federal budget will be structured, as much of what the state relies on for income for its programs and services, are reliant on revenue that’s received from the federal government. President Trump proposes to in general cut federal spending, and increase spending for defense and national security. At the same time he would like to cut taxes. This poses the question as to how all of this is going to be accomplished – who are the potential winners and losers in this scenario?

Perhaps the largest “elephant in the room” is that of how federal funding for Medicaid is going to be handled. Currently Medicaid is funded jointly through the state and federal governments. The state’s share of the program is based upon the economic health of each individual state. If you didn’t know, Medicaid is the health insurance program that provides basic medical coverage for many people who have disabilities, are low income, or are residents in long-term care facilities.

Many of the republican legislators in Congress are proposing to “block grant” Medicaid which would give each state a set amount of federal funding for health care for their Medicaid programs. Because North Dakota has proportionally a small population base, its “block grant” for Medicaid would be much smaller relative to states that have a significantly larger population base.

The next question that needs an answer is what Republicans can do relative to their desire to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, the so-called “Obama Care Act.” This decision, with its possible consequences, will undoubtedly have much to do with how health care is delivered in North Dakota for some time into the foreseeable future.
No matter what your personal political philosophy may be, it’s hard to argue that there hasn’t been a lot of political theater on display during the current political season with President Trump in the White House and Al Carlson pontificating on state policy in the North Dakota State Legislature. I know, and do well appreciate, that I have to be strictly nonpartisan when I represent NDAB, which I make every effort to do. As a political junkie, however, I do have my own perspectives on all of these goings on.

Bringing the dialogue closer to home, Zelda and I, during this session, have been closely monitoring the appropriation bills for the budgets for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind and the Older Blind Program within the agency of North Dakota Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. During this session, both of these bills were first heard in hearings that were conducted by the House Appropriations Committee.

Even though bad weather prevented me from testifying at the first House hearing for the appropriation bill for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind, Zelda and Steven, nevertheless, braved the bad stormy weather conditions on that day to travel to the State Capitol for the hearing. She also testified a week or so later on behalf of the Older Blind Program and manned the booth for NDAB at “Disability Awareness Day” at the State Capitol on February 17th. A million thanks, Zelda!

Blind Joe was featured as a performer at “Disability Awareness Day.” He was very well received. Although he didn’t realize it until later, he had spoken to Governor Burgum during his performance.

I did somehow manage to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee when the appropriation bill for North Dakota Vision Services/ School for the Blind presented their biennial budget request to that Committee on the morning of March 16th. I have also during the session attended many of the Friday sessions of the Legislative Working Group that’s hosted by North Dakota Protection and Advocacy. Janelle Olson is a regular participant at these instructive informational meetings as well!

In an effort to involve more of our NDAB members in advocacy, Zelda has determined in which of the legislative districts we had members that were represented by one of the 14 senators on the Appropriations Committee. She then reached out to these individual members to encourage them to communicate their support for the budget request for NDVS/SB to their respective senators.

So where are we now with all of this? Paul Olson, NDVS/SB Superintendent, believes that their biennial budget for the School is set for now, with a possibility that changes might be made in conference committee. Without going into great detail he says that NDVS/SB will be reduced by one and a half FTE’s (full time employees). He says that this will force them to make some significant changes but that they will be able to fill their critical positions. In the end they will still have a significant net funding reduction for the 2017-2019 biennium, compared to what they have had to spend during the current 2015-2017 biennium.

On a much broader scale, the State Legislature is dealing with some very serious budgetary issues as this session of the Legislature is coming to a close. So you ask how this all happened, when not so long ago, we seemed to be flush with resources.

The following scenario may have something to do with it – when times were good, the legislature chose to cut the state income tax rate during each of the past three legislative sessions, significantly cut the corporate tax rate, significantly modified the oil and gas extraction taxes, and then the farm and oil economies more recently have gone into a rather serious economic downturn. So it is at this point that the legislature now has some hard decisions to make, and none of them are very attractive.

On Sharks and People

Reprinted with permission from Steve Goodier

One man sat at a stop light. The woman in front of him was going through papers on the seat of her car, and when the light changed to green she didn’t go. A green light is not a suggestion, you know, it is more of a commandment. But she didn’t notice.
When the light turned red again, she still had not moved. The man in the car behind her now started screaming epithets and beating on his steering wheel.

A policeman tapped on his windshield. “You can’t arrest me for hollering in my car,” the man said. The cop asked for his license and registration, returned to his car, talked on the radio for a while and finally handed the papers back. The driver protested, “I knew you couldn’t cite me for yelling in my own car!”

The officer replied, “I didn’t want to cite you for shouting in your car. But I was behind you at the light and saw you screaming and beating your steering wheel. I said to myself, ‘That guy is out of control. He’s going to hurt someone.’ Then I noticed your ‘Love Is a Choice’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’ bumper stickers and I was sure you stole the car.”
What the signs on his vehicle said about him and the way he actually behaved looked like, well, two different people. But let’s not be too critical. Are we always the people we want to be? I believe in love and justice, forgiveness and second chances and generosity – but I don’t always live up to the ideals I profess.  

It helps me to think of sharks. We’re told that some kinds of sharks can’t breathe unless they swim. They get oxygen from the movement of the sea over their gills and they can only make this happen by constantly moving through the water. In other words, they must keep moving forward to live.

Likewise, humans who want to live well must also keep moving forward. Forward toward the people we want to be. Forward toward our goals and ideals. Change is almost always incremental – a little bit each day. But we must keep moving forward.

As author Marianne Williamson says, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” But I find great passion in stretching a little farther than I think I can. I hang on to the belief that it is better to reach too far and fall short than to settle for mediocrity and succeed.

Yes, I don’t always give peace a chance and I don’t always choose love first. And more often than I care to admit, the person I am today doesn’t wholly resemble the one I hope to be tomorrow. But all of that is all right, so long as I keep moving forward, little by little, every day.
Life demands that sharks and people keep moving forward.

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