Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 06 26 Journal Excerpt Page 40 June 26, 2017


Some days I don’t feel much like writing. Other days, it feels like I didn’t write enough, or I didn’t write about the right thing, or I strayed to the left when I should have veered to the right. Through all of my time spent writing, I have built up quite an assorted array of essays, stories, poems, and a ton of other things that I don’t really know what to call. Through my fingertips a new world has arrived, and as I have read back through this journal, I’m glad I was chosen to create the text.


In a word, thanks.






Page 40

Fall 2011


During the month of October, I had the chance to attend my first white cane and guide dog walk of independence in Augusta. My wife, son and grandson Jack also came along, and again I had the chance to meet some people in the blind community of Central Maine. The day was perfect, with warm temps and sunshine flooding the streets of the capitol, and as the canes and paws made our way around the downtown area, I realized that when it came to mobility with my white cane, I wasn’t alone.


My retired VRC Leona McKenna was also in attendance, but she wasn’t able to go on the walk with us. She had just been through a rather difficult surgery procedure on one of her feet, but she was there 100 percent in heart and spirit.


I did get the chance to talk with another woman, Marge Awalt, and her husband Hugh. They had brought a door prize with them, a voice activated dog that reacted to an accompanying book being read. Did I describe that good enough for you to follow along? Anyway, it was a pretty cool door prize that Jack ended up winning.


I just talked with my friend Lynn Merril on the phone, and she remembers being there. By the way, I should remind you again that this page post differs from others, in that I am writing it right now, the 25th of June, 2017. I am gap solving with additional journal info that I never wrote about, until now.


Well, the fall was full of differences, as you can imagine, and that I never would imagine. A funny thing happened on the way to writing a short story for my Saturday online writer’s group. We were directed to write a short story for Halloween, and so I set off on a quest to do just that.


I didn’t end up writing a short story though.


Usually short stories consist of roughly ten pages or so. As I started writing my story, something inside me kicked into gear. I knew after a couple pages that this story wasn’t going to be a short story. Just the way the events started happening, and the way that the movie inside my head was playing, I knew it was more than a short story.


Well, Saturday came, and during the group meeting everyone started discussing their stories. During the week leading up to the meeting, members usually submitted their writing piece to the groups list serve, an email list only accessible by group members. This way, the writers had a chance to read the other writer’s submissions in preparations for the next meeting.


Anyway, the online meeting started, and the critiques started flowing. When the critique moved to my submission, I told the members that I tried to write a short story, but couldn’t find an ending to it, so I submitted it anyway.


Everyone seemed to like the 8 or nine page submission, which I had entitled, Chapter One. There was another writer in the group who decided not to write a short story, but instead continued with chapters of a lengthy story he was writing. Even though I felt a little awkward not being able to end the short story, I shrugged it off as a stepping stone for things to come.


And come they did.


During this time, my sessions with Mike Adams also continued. I was becoming more comfortable with using my computer, as well as web stuff, in particular, my blog. I had started the blog off with posts declaring my hate for cancer. I had named the blog “Surviving”, as a reminder that I was a cancer survivor, or as I like to say, a cancer conquerer. I hadn’t really thought that the name could mean so many different things, such as surviving blindness, mobility lessons, lawn mower repairs, one sock coming out of the dryer, and probably the worst thing of all, running out of chocolate. The word had so many possibilities, and with each possibility came a world of issues, of chances, of opportunities that could either set you on your ass, or pick you up and take you to the other side where the roses were handed to you in the winner’s circle.


Yes, the lessons with Mike proved to be very beneficial, as I had become very dependant on my computer. I communicated with people with it. I felt so comfortable with writing, and while doing so, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering around my day. I did my maneuvering with the keypad and my fingers. The text that JAWS read to me became a world that I could control, and without the vision there were so many things that I was constantly coming in contact with that kept reminding me how much of my day was completely out of my control. I mean, how could anyone control what they couldn’t see? How is that possible?


So many times those slogans of AA came into play, Keep it simple stupid, Turn it Over, Let go, Let God, they all reminded me of the one true thing that I could always control, and that was me. Little old me.


Every once in a while I go back and read an old blog post. Often times I sit and laugh while reading, and I ask myself how I ever learned how to write the things I do, the way that I do. I’ve often said that my writing is sometimes like a ping pong ball bouncing all over the place. I just shrug it off, and consider that as long as all the words end up on the screen, then it’s all good. Most of the time, they do, but how the hell would I know? grin


And now, for those three little words,


To be continued…


2016 07 26 In The Books July 26, 2016

It looks like another semesteris in the books. Do I look smarter? Do I feel smarter? Am I dressing smarter? Grin Probably not is the answer to that last one, for three quarters of the time I don’t know what color the clothes I have on are, but I’m sure I’m color coordinated for just about any occasion, right?

It’s been five years since I started my blog, and I can honestly say that I still hate cancer. In all of cancer’s ugly forms, none is uglier than the one that attacks me and you, for none of them have a care in the world how much evil they possess. They just keep moving forward with that stupid smirk on their face of death, without thought or care.

As you know, my vision loss in 2010 was directly related to my own battle against cancer as an infant. The radiation I had at five months old directly caused the blood flow to shut off to my good eye, my right eye, and after starving for blood, the retina finally shut down. The tiny amount of vision I enjoyed for a few years after the series of strokes finally succumbed to even more strokes, as the artery kept collapsing these past few months, and now I stand before you a completely blind goat on the verge of a thing.

I like that line from a song that Peter Frampton sang back about ten years ago.

The thing that I am on the verge of now could be considered the rest of my life. The mobility lesson I have recently embarked on is unlike any other from my past, in that when I remove the ecluders now, I am still in complete blackness. I’m not complaining in the least, as I knew it was just a matter of time.

Life is only a matter of time. Our time is a matter of life, and as this life of mine rolls on, it’s up to me, and no one else to see what I can do with it. So far, well, I guess I’m keeping sort of busy, but man have I slowed down. I feel most of the time like I’m moving like a sloth on qualudes. My balance is crap, my agility is crap, my sense of fashion is lacking and I still love chocolate.

The saying, Out of sight, out of mind”, is having fun with me. The visual cues are no longer something that I can take for granted, so I have had to try and make mental notes of my daily routines. Mental is right, because my short term memory without the visual cues really sucks, but then again, that happens with age a lot of the time, right? Right? Help me out here, ojk?

Fact is, I can’t remember crap either, and that gets me into a mess a lot of the time, but it’s my mess and my oh my how the times have changed.

I am all signed up for two more classes this fall, and no, I’m not going to take three. I do fine with two, and I’m in no hurry. Both of my classes are online, and with a little work, I have a pretty good grasp on BlackBoard, although that could change at any time, due to technological updates that have a habit of hampering digital accessibility from time to time. My tutoring has paid off, but my hard work has paid off as well.

The bouts I had these past three years with the meningioma slowed me up some, but it isn’t gonna do me any good to sit back on my goat caboose and wonder why I didn’t keep moving forward. There’s not much going on in my past, and although I moved a little quicker back then, it isn’t gonna help me if I don’t find a way to help myself today.

So, here I go, bouncing down the road with my white cane in one hand, and my laptop bag in the other. I did migrate both of my computers to Windows 10, and can honestly say that I am glad I did, as they seem to be running more efficient, especially with the taxing properties of JAWS tugging constantly on the system resources. It’s a similar platform to Windows 7, but with differences that are distinct. It’s a ton better than 8.1 ever dreamed of, and hopefully will be keeping me company for some time to come. Now, if I can get a better grasp on the ribbons, I might feel brave enough to move past my Word 2003 that I still use on this desktop machine. Yes, that’s right, Word 2003. My old buddy. My ally.

Ya, you’re probably right. I might as well move the rest of my past into the present too. Grin

Some things will never change the mind of a goat though, and one thing is for certain, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find the receipt to exchange it, color coordination be damned.

Thanks for hanging in there, and thanks for your continued inspiration.

Those of you heading into the fall semester, good luck to you all.

Take care for now my friends.



2016 04 11 Poetry: So Much, So Many April 11, 2016

Happy April the 11th.

With vision loss comes a unique array of emotions. With each emotion comes a journey through the past, followed by a quick glimpse of today. So much to think about with so many options involved. So long are some of the days, yet so quick the nights.

Oh my! That sounds like a poem, right? I better cut and paste while the cutting is good. Grin

Anyway, like I was saying, vision loss, blindness, teaches the senses a perspective untold with sight. It becomes an instructor, yet at the same time, it is the student. I imagine with a different vision these days, and I lie in bed at night arranging my dreams, for they are becoming such a vivid and descriptive movie in my mind.

Life doesn’t seem easy sometimes, or fair, but it does allow for an opportunity with each new day.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I’m starting to learn where I have come from, and where I am.

This is the eleventh poem of the month, and thanks once again for stopping by Surviving.

And away we go!



So Much, So Many
A poem by DP Lyons

Frustrations build from deep within
A past darkened by night
Clinging tight to yesterday’s song
With hopes of finding the light

I searched for your eyes, for your voice, for your touch
I gazed where you once used to stand
I remembered that smile that lit up my room
And the footprints we left in the sand

In the blink of an eye, at the drop of a hat
As quick as a cricket can be
Everything vanished without a trace
I was left with my fears, and me

So much of my past came flooding in
, so many memories rushed by
So badly I wished I could open my eyes
And look up at an endless sky

I longed for the hue of a morning’s dawn
I pined for a rainbow or two
I craved the shadows dancing about
I missed the morning dew

The dandelions painting an endless field
The majestic mountain views
The rolling waves as they crashed to the shore
So many visions to choose

I flipped through a book of a world gone by
A hint of what once used to be
I whisper out loud as I lower my head
I then close my eyes, and I see


2016 01 05 One Scoop, or Two? January 15, 2016

I went out and shoveled the driveway a couple days ago. I didn’t do it because I wanted to. I mean, who in their right mind would ever want to shovel a driveway, right? Thank God the frozen white stuff was the light and fluffy kind, for I really didn’t want to have to over exert myself, although I could use it.

I’m getting soft in my semi old age. In fact, I’m probably in the poorest shape of my life. I don’t really understand why, I mean, I get my proper nourishment every day. Ok, ok, I admit it. Some days I don’t have my recommended daily allowance of milk chocolate, but I more than make up for it the next day, or the day after, ok?

Tell you the truth, I had a hell of a time shoveling. It felt like a taste of those old panic attacks I used to get a few years ago. Maybe not quite as strong, but along the same lines. You see, as I have said a few times these past few months, my vision is nearing the end of its existence. I can’t see what I used to, and what I used to see just plain sucked. I guess I had grown complacent that the limited vision I had since 2010 would be with me for eternity. It wasn’t much to work with, but oh how I worked it. A landmark here, a door frame there, a shiny line of chrome, topped off with my two favorite trees on either side of my driveway, and I was all set to go and get some for myself.

As I slowly and deliberately pushed my snow scoop back and forth down the driveway Wednesday morning, I was faced with a deep, dark blackness that I neither welcomed, nor found any hope of being able to use. It was midnight at 10 o’clock in the morning. My two favorite trees were gone, my shrubs in front of the porch had disappeared, my garage door had vanished, the blue spruce that pointed me towards the East had up and walked away, and I was standing there, waiting for a car to go by, so that I might regain my orientation.

I find myself these days leaning and reaching as I make my way around the inside of my house. I am constantly searching for counter tops, chairs, door jams, doors, and anything that lends a hand with getting from one room to another. My wife keeps telling me I need to use my cane around the house, and I keep telling her that I will never use a cane around the inside of my house. I guess the sniveling little brat of a goat is hanging on to a sense of dignity that perhaps even I don’t understand.

No matter what it is, or called, or referred to, it’s what’s in front of me, and as I go after it, over and over again, you might say that I’m preparing for battle against a foe that will never get the better of me.

At least that’s how I approach it on most days.

My wife, God bless her, is putting up with an oil tanker full of crap that no one should ever have to endure. She has been my anchor these past six years. Hell, she’s been my anchor since 1980, and as I have said before, I owe her my life, and then some.

She has chosen to stay with me, for sicker, for poorer, for goat be in debt up to his goat caboose.

As I was saying, as I made my way down the drive with my snow scoop in my hands doing what snow scoops normally tend to do, the familiar shards of slighted sight were nowhere to be seen. I can’t imagine how the driveway looked after I finished, I mean the edges must have been as if a demolition derby wreaked havoc on the linear edges of the perfectly manicured attempt at snow removal.

As I stood there, leaning on my scoop, I listened for the oncoming traffic up and down our road. At one point, I stood there for what seemed like a goat day, until a lone car came slowly down the ridge. I was trying to gain some orientational clues as to how close I was to the road.

Is orientational a word?

As the car rolled by, I pulled out my talking calculator, my T square, my daylight savings sun dial, my bag of chocolate chips and equated that I was still 20 feet or so from the end of the drive, so, on I scooped, back and forth, South to North, and as I finally broke through the packed snow at the end of my mission, I smiled deep inside, for once again I had found a way to get it done.

I swung the scoop out in front of me, trying to find the mail box, and after several pitiful attempts, “Clang!” there it was, the steel pole of the newspaper box. Five feet further south, and there was the mail box, in all its frozen glory, waiting for me to pluck its prize, and pluck the prize I did.

With a smile, a sigh of relief and a feeling of accomplishment, I headed East up the drive, and realized I now had to try and find the front porch door again.

Orientation’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.
If you can see what you’re doing, please take the time to try and remember what it is that you see.

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by Surviving.



2015 07 01 Almost Cut My Hair July 1, 2015

Almost Cut My Hair

It happened just the other day.

Actually, I did cut my hair, and it happened yesterday. Yes, it was getting kinda long, a few inches longer than is required to donate to an organization that takes donated hair and manufactures wigs for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from different medical diagnosis.

This is the first time I have attempted to grow my hair this long, and as my wife cut it yesterday afternoon, I decided that I would begin growing it out again. It’ll probably take a year and a half, or so, but with such a great cause, why wouldn’t I?

My wife has donated her hair several times over the past few decades, and I had always admired her for doing so. Her hair is incredibly thick and I would imagine they got a good head start on a finished product with each of her donations.

I was a little upset at the amount I was donating, for my hair has been falling out fairly quickly the past couple years. I’m not sure if it’s from the craniotomy I had done back in 2013 or not, but with this last double bout with a meningioma, the brain surgery and the radiation this past winter, I’m surprised I had any hair at all.

Anyway, I’m starting fresh, with a new hair cut, a new goal in mind, a fresh batch of apple sauce bubbling in the crock pot, and hopefully in 18 months, I’ll be chopping off my pony tail once again.

I woke up this morning and reached behind my head to do up my usual pony tail, but the hair was gone. I smiled as I reached in my mouth, took out my hair scrunchie, slid it in my pocket and tried to find my slippers at the end of the couch in the living room.

I am blessed beyond belief. Blessed that I have come through some health issues in fairly good shape, blessed for having an amazing woman stand by my side through the ups and downs, blessed to have an occasional piece of chocolate, blessed to still be able to attend college, blessed to have had the chance to meet some incredible people the past five years, blessed to have such an amazing family, immediate and extended, blessed to have my God to pray to every day, and I’ll stop right there for now. No use getting carried away, right?

I’ve written in here before how much I hate cancer, and there’s no doubt that I always will. The only good thing about cancer is that it sometimes points us towards an open heart, so that we may realize all of the truly beautiful things in our lives.

I am fortunate, as a cancer survivor, a cancer conqueror, that I’m still able to feel the warmth of the sun, hear the waves crashing on the shore, hear the wonderful voice of my grandson, and taste the magic of life itself.

I cut my hair just the other day, because it was getting kinda long. It was the best thing I have done in a while.

Thanks for stopping by and have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July.



2015 04 15 Poetry: Blessed April 15, 2015

Well here we are on the 15th of April, and don’t look now, but we’re halfway to May. As we live, the time flows by, like a river flowing to the sea. It doesn’t care where it’s been. It doesn’t care where it’s going. It doesn’t wonder what’s around the next bend. It just flows and flows and flows, and there isn’t anything more natural on God’s green earth.

Rivers? Water? Where the heck am I going with this?

Hmm? You don’t know either? OK, then I guess we’ll move on.

As you know by now, unless you’re stopping by for the first time, I am blind since 2010. I lost my vision due to lifelong complications I have been dealing with from a bout I waged with infancy retinal cancer. I lost an eye back then, at the ripe old age of five months, but kept vision in my other eye for nearly fifty years, with graces handed down from on high. I saw a lot, worked a lot, lived a lot, played a lot and without saying, I have a lot to feel blessed about.

Don’t get me wrong though, as these last five years have been a crazy ride, with extreme highs and pulverizing lows that hand me my humility every single day. I don’t like being blind, but I am none the less. I have written many pieces on vision loss, and it has been a great source of strength and growth for me to be able to look back on them and reflect where I was, what I went through, and what lies in front of me.

The following poem I wrote last night. I wrote it rather quickly, but that’s how I write a lot of things. It is what it is. It’s what was inside of me at the time I wrote it. It meant something different to me as I read it back tonight, and if I read it tomorrow, it will probably mean something else. That’s what’s so great about writing, it stays the same, but it is always changing, as are we.

Thanks again for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment. I love critique of all forms and welcome them with optimism and thanks. There’s growth out there wherever you look, and if you look long enough, the blessings start piling in.

Take care, and thanks.



I close my eyes, but what’s the sense.
The view is just the same.
The flashing lights are an imaginary show.
The obscure, colored arrangements saunter by, smile, then wave goodbye.

I woke up from a dream and I thought I could see.
For a moment or two, I thought I could see.
The color of my arm was right in front of me.
The color of the bedroom wall was right in front of me.
The windows shape had its familiar edge.
The lines of the pine boards whispered hello.
It was all right there, in front of me.
Everything was perfect, and it was right in front of me.
Everything was perfect, but then everything changed.

I clutched at the visions with all my might.
I begged the colors to stay.
I held my breath, and prayed.

The color of my arm faded to a dull grey, then disappeared.
The windows sank back into their murky whirlpool.
The color of the wall drifted back through the hours of yesterday.
The unwanted blackness crept back in through the morning breeze.

I realized that I was blind, once again.

I still see things in my mind.
I still remember.
I still feel.
I will forever dream.
The memories keep me company through the day.
The songs carry my emotions.
The sounds have found a home.
The warm and comforting feeling of love closes in from all around,
And for another day,
I am blessed.


2015 01 05 Unexpected Gift January 5, 2015

An Unexpected Gift

In 2011 I joined a couple writer’s groups. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to do. The only thing I knew was that I loved to write, and planned on writing a lot. You see, losing my vision and then learning how to touch type brought a purpose to my life that seemed to take up the slack of so many other things that came to a sudden and abrupt halt. Writing filled my days, my nights, my dreams and reinstated a passion in me that had always been there, but over the years had been suppressed by other things that I convinced myself I needed more than writing and more than living.

Through the years of growing up and becoming a man, I didn’t really do much growing up. With all the wreckless attitudes and behaviors that entangled my existence, even though I found the love of my life and held my baby son in my arms, there wasn’t much growth inside me emotionally. The suppressions of addiction put a stop to my journey, and although the years passed, there were less and less of life’s happenings that defined me as a man, as a person, as something I could have, and should have become.

I always toyed with the idea that if I stopped my addictions, I would instantly be transformed into the man I might have been. I convinced myself that with a little sobriety, everything would just, happen. The only person I fooled with this train of thought was myself. I never achieved growing up, because I never learned how to grow from the inside, out. I never really listened to the learned experience that those mentors of the halls tried explaining to me. I didn’t understand how a person needs to listen to their heart, to their inner being, in order to be able to start the transformation. Although this process doesn’t really stop until the day we take our last breath, the journey that transpires is something that the human spirit should always have the pleasure of experiencing.

Something happened inside of me in 2010. All that I knew, all that I was, all that I thought I had figured out was swiftly swept away by the winds of change. What I was left with was dramatically unfamiliar and completely unexpected. Although I couldn’t see the man staring back in the mirror, I felt his heart pounding, his blood surging, his emotions rising and falling like the tides of West Quoddy. I truly believe this is when I started taking my first steps forward of life’s progression in a long, long time.

At a recent meeting of one of the writer’s groups I take part in, we were asked to talk about a gift we had received, or given to someone that had something to do with writing. I thought and thought about what I would present, but I couldn’t think of anything that I had received or given that had anything to do, even remotely, with writing. Yes, it’s true that my passion for writing had begun at a very young age, but I never really told anyone about it, and had never known anyone else who loved to write. I was left with a dilemma that had me searching through my database of memories, but kept coming up empty.

A few hours before the meeting started, I remembered something I had written of a few times, and had also spoke of while talking about my writing these past four years. I decided that this was the only true gift I had received that had anything at all to do with writing, so I chose to use it for the meeting’s discussion.

My turn finally came around, and I was asked to describe something I had received, or had given as a gift for the purpose of writing. I spoke of the days in early Summer 2010 when my world suddenly went dark. I spoke of a life changing event that turned the tables of my life and spun me towards a direction that at first frustrated me beyond belief, but as time went by, opened my eyes to a new path of existence. I spoke of how becoming blind presented me with a new opportunity to explore parts of myself that had been at the tips of my fingers for my whole life. I spoke of how becoming blind presented me with the gift of the written word, and all that surrounds the possibilities that writing presents.

The forum of writers was quiet as I tried to convey the message swirling around in my head, and when I finished, these writers remained quiet for a few more moments. The ensuing response I received was poetically positive, and actually took my breath away. I’m not sure if I caught everyone off guard, and perhaps I even caught myself off balance, but as my heart started to return back into my chest, I knew that every word I spoke was indeed from my heart and meant everything that it could.

I don’t know if I’m finding the proper words right now to describe the moment, or the feelings, but after the meeting, I felt a cleansed awareness that stayed with me for a few days.

It was true. I had received a gift the day I lost my vision, and the gift was being reintroduced to my lifelong passion for writing. It was there all the time, but from those early days of Summer 2010, I slowly came to the realization that it had suddenly become a source of growth for me. Writing helped me get through a traumatic experience, and with it came an opportunity to heal, to grow and step towards the man I may someday become.

I am blessed for each opportunity I have encountered since then, and have tried to take each situation head on and make the most of it. With opportunity comes growth, and these past four plus years have given me more of an opportunity than any other period of time in my life. Mix in the love of my wife, my son, my grandson, family members, friends, and others in the blind community I have come to admire and love, and how can a man go wrong?

My vision loss, my gift of losing sight has given me new experiences, new direction, new purpose and a new beginning. It has given me countless writings that have taken me away and brought me back. It has given me more than I realize, but it has also given me more than I could ever say.

I am blessed today, and I’m just beginning to understand why.