And Then, CBC Called…

Yesterday, I posted on the significance on November 17th for me. Not only was it my late husband’s birthday, burt it was also World Prematurity Day, and as a middle-aged preemie myself, I wanted to celebrate the occasion by telling my story. I was really touched by the response!

And then today, I got a call from CBC Vancouver, wanting to talk to me as a follow-up to my piece and my life as a tiny survivor. I was excited, happy and terrified! But I had met  host Stephen Quinn a few times before, and was very comfortable, so I made it through!

You can hear the CBC On the Coast interview at approximately 1:16:55.

I’ve discovered that I’m also in an article on the CBC web site. I am truly blessed.

But it’s not just about me. It’s about every tiny baby who’s struggled, survived and is a miracle, no matter what they achieve in life. Anything and everything is possible.

Stay scrappy kids. This old gal did.

The Me You May Not Know – Chapter Two

Day Three of my #NaBloPoMo journey…

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, I was just about to tell you how my life took a 360 degree turn after I was rejected for a teaching degree.

So, here’s what happened.

I got mad. Very mad. I had been through a lot in my life, and I had accomplished a great deal. I had already exceeded many people’s expectations. I was NOT going to let some official in a suit tell me that I was incapable of teaching ‘normal’ people.

So, I went to the university newspaper, and I made noise. And they wrote an article about my situation, calling me a ‘squeaky wheel’, which pleased me no end. And later, mid-way through the fall semester, the Education faculty reversed their decision, and accepted me. But I was long gone.

I had discovered the power of media relations. I left Montreal and moved to Toronto, and began what is almost a 40-year career in PR. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I started in non-profits, most notably with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and then, in the early 1980s, I started working in the emerging tech PR business – and it was my love and my passion for many years! And I couldn’t have started at a better time, as the world was evolving from electronic typewriters and press kits and news conferences, to computers, voice mail, faxes, email, and in the last decade, social media, tablets and smart devices.

Over the years, I’ve worked in Toronto, Ottawa, Silicon Valley and Vancouver. I’ve worked with the best PR practitioners in the business, for the best and most innovative companies in the world. I’ve been able to meet industry giants, world leaders, visionaries and the hard-working people who are the ones who bring ground-breaking products to life. My only regret is that social media came a few decades too late for me to share some of these memories with posts, tweets and selfies!

Thinking back, I can’t believe my good fortune. I saw and was part of the most incredible technology innovation we’ve ever seen, and embraced it all. As a result, I have both the traditional PR tools and the tech savvy that makes me the person I am today. I can’t help but think how much value I can offer a generation that takes so much of what we have today, but that’s the stuff of a later post!

Much has happened on the personal front, too. I got married to Dave Kane in 1981.

Photo by Cathy Browne

The Two of Us

And I was widowed in 2011, after watching Dave’s heart fail over the course of two decades following a near-fatal heart attack at 44.

We were bolstered by family and friends both online and off. Indeed, the love, friendship, encouragement and support of my social media community keeps me and my cats going to this day. I couldn’t have made it otherwise.

And then, unexpectedly, another door opened that changed my life yet again. I picked up a DSLR camera and found new meaning and passion, and the courage to keep going.

But how does a legally blind person take photos like these?

Photo by Cathy Browne

Rose after the Rain

Photo by Cathy Browne

Storm along the Seawall

Photo by Cathy Browne

Paris – Where Else?

That’s my post for tomorrow – stay tuned. It will be an #EyeOpener.

The Me You May Not Know – Chapter One

Yesterday, with some trepidation, I committed to writing a post a day for the month of November as part of #NaBloPoMo for the first time.

Today, what I feel is more like panic.

What the hell do I talk about now?

I guess, for a start, what makes me, me. But the me that you don’t get from the About Me page.

I was born in Montreal, very prematurely and weighed in at two pounds. And that presented a challenge for the medical profession in the early 1950s. So, into an incubator I went, where a steady supply of oxygen kept my lungs and my brain going. But, in those days, the intense supply of pure oxygen destroyed the fragile eyes, and I lost most of my sight. I don’t see anything in the left eye but a vague sliver of light, and I see 10% in my right eye, which makes me legally blind.

Simply put, if I look at the standard eye chart with my ‘good’ eye, I can’t read the large E at the top. Mind you, I know it’s an E, it’s been an E for 60 years, but I don’t see it clearly. I’ve been telling ophthalmologists for years to change up their eye charts so I don’t feel so smug!

I grew up pretty well doing what every other ‘normal’ kid did, with the exception of riding bikes or go-karts, and went to ‘regular’ school, thanks to the determination of my mother, who resisted numerous attempts to persuade her to put me in a special school. I often call myself a good fake, and I credit my upbringing with that.

I went to McGill University, and got a First Class Honours degree in Classics, so I was proficient in Ancient Greek and Latin. I figured that with my knowledge of dead languages, I should go into teaching, so I applied to get my Masters in Education.

Imagine my shock and dismay when I was rejected, because I “wouldn’t be able to teach normal people”!

That’s when my life changed, forever and for the better.

Stay tuned for Chapter Two tomorrow:-)

Finding Beauty – in My Back Yard

Sometimes, you don’t need to look far…

I’ve been shooting photos for my landlady so she has a collection of the flowers and trees she has on her property. No photo walking here – all the beauty I need to find is right outside my door! It’s an #EyeOpener we should all remember.







My Roving Eye – Gastown

Vancouver, British Columbia has been my home for the past five years, and I love it for its beauty, culture and diversity. And there’s nothing that expresses that diversity more than its many distinct neighbourhoods.

I love choosing a neighbourhood and capturing its personality and vibrancy through my photos. Last week, I wandered through historic Gastown, the oldest part of Vancouver, and one of the most colourful parts of the City.

Here are some of my favourite shots from that walk. I look forward to sharing my photos from other Vancouver neighbourhoods as I continue my #EyeOpener adventures as a blind photographer.



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