My guest today is Cynthia Meyers-Hanson, and she’s here to share the inspiring story behind her book The Vision.
I was born legally blind but was blessed with landmark surgery in the early 1960s, which gave me better vision. However, it’s not like the movies portray because I didn’t wake up suddenly cured or having 20/20 vision. My eyes improved individually before they acted as a unit; I experienced clear but double vision. Therefore, when I read a book, the letters skewed all over the page making it hard to decide where words started and ended. However, I had the drive to learn and desperately wanted to be normal. Thus, I stumbled through my world figuring out if I winked, blinked, or did other maneuvers- sometimes- my eyes worked together, and I could learn as well as read.
The doctors gave me exercises to help balance my eyes, which –over time- reduced my double vision. My glasses were equipped with refracting prisms and lenses specially made for my roaming, crazy eyes. However, it too years to balance my vision and life as my lack of focus led to stammering and stuttering as well as ridicule when reading aloud. Many people labeled me incorrectly, which harmed my very intelligent brain. Meanwhile, one of my fans was my mother; she experienced eye problems; she could relate. She tried to bring me back to positive reactions centering on my improving vision while my famous surgeon swore my eyes would get better over time.
By the fourth grade, my label felt hopelessly ingrained but one teacher finally came up with a solution to my desire to read, write, and do arithmetic. He made me place a blank sheet of paper above and below the line I wanted to read; it guided my eyes while focusing on one line at a time. Quickly, I learned to read moving above grade level by the end of the fourth grade. In fact, Mr. Cannon told me when I read silently the standardized test scored me at eleventh grade but I still needed to overcome the stammering and word play that I did when reading aloud. He made me practice oral reading, scolding any student that dared laugh or ridicule me. As a result of his intervention, Mr. Cannon shot me successfully into the academic world. With this fundamental skill developing, I became an expert at other school subjects because I wanted to succeed.
Meanwhile, some other teachers helped me achieve my goals. In the seventh grade, my math score didn’t reflect my ability; Mr. Byrd noticed that my skills surpassed classmates. He put me in independent study in a textbook far above my grade level; he helped me soar. Almost everything else fell into place by the ninth grade because I worked hard to achieve my academic targets or benchmarks. By high school, I took mostly college level classes except that my writing skills lagged.
Even as English challenged me, I desired to master essay and prose creation. In spite of the odds against me, I took journalism in high school. To everyone’s surprise, often, mu stories made it to the front page of the high school newspaper. One year, I even won first place in an editorial contest; a local paper offered me an internship in the eleventh grade.
However, most of my English teachers kept disrupting my ability. One teacher even said snidely, “When I ask you to explain how to kill a fly, you do the assignment but without much creativity, you write, ‘get a fly swatter and hit it!’”
In spite of the lack of cheerleaders in my writing camp, I’d stand in the classics [section] of our library admiring the names such as Hemmingway; he was a Florida resident like me. No one expected I’d graduate with honor and do the commencement speech- especially not those English teachers that kept me labeled long after other educators propelled me into success. In spite of my critics, I graduated top of my class of over five hundred students. In the school library, I posed for my yearbook picture with a book held upside down while pretending to read it. My maturity allowed me to poke fun at my early years.
After leaving high school, I did the unimaginable. A female, in a fairly new field based on logic and reasoning skills, I majored in math and computer science. Once in the working environment, often, even after I received the Engineering Excellence Award for telecommunications, people mistook me for the department secretary. In fact, I was lead engineer in many instances; the humiliation of such misunderstandings hurt me less due to my growing self-esteem. However, no matter how many groups I led into ‘state of the art communications software,’ I still felt the tug of my past memories.
Many educators and relatives told me I’d never be a Hemmingway. After I read that writer’s biography about his personal issues and suicide, I was glad that I’d never be him because I have a zest and zeal for life. Maybe, that is why I never embellished my stories on how to swat a fly. My true problem included NOT using my voice; I wrote mechanically.
After my mother died, with drive and great passion, I wrote her miraculous story. Then, I wrote another inspirational tale and another motivational saga while using my real life as a backdrop. Soon, people asked me to ghostwrite their encouraging accounts. As a teen, I stood in the school library admiring the classics and those able to string a few sentences into life changing books. I’d finally made it my way to that group of authors that I most admired.
After some more life changing events, I went back to school. In fact, I became a reading teacher helping high school students believe in themselves and try to really read instead of going through the motions. They had no real disabilities- except that early on- they disengaged from their education; I needed to spark their motivation. As their mentor, I’d repeat, “Your past explains why you have problems but the past is NOT an excuse to continue failing at your education. Reading is your ticket to success it’s the root of all other subject matter.”
As a result of compassionately relating to their life’s plagues, while not allowing those experiences to become their failure mechanisms, many of my students went on to college or vocational schools. Even year later, they e-mail me updates of their successes; if I see them locally, they greet me with a hug and their great news about their current endeavors.
Due to personal issues including my health, my career path changed- again, I went back to my hobby- writing. I’m like the energizer bunny; I just keep going and going.
In my lifetime, I’ve learned that for success, the first step is REALLY wanting it. The next step is ignoring the critics while latching onto those genuinely involved in showing you the path to triumph and victory. Your mentors or heroes can help you achieve. In short, don’t go with the flow and excuses- go with your heart that produces beyond expectations when given a chance.
Years ago, I wrote that essay for a “be inspired” anthology entitled You Don’t Know My Story. To my surprise, it was placed as the number one story in that book. More importantly, it inspired my novel The Vision, which is loosely based on my reality. Some other books that I wrote come to mind while reading my essay including but not limited to Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down, Surreal- the Hell in the Family, and Race Against Time. Find all my print and eBooks via the links provided.
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/hanson8046 or @hanson8046
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/127257870690610
Personal Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/#!/meyershanson
Here’s a look at the book inspired by Cindy’s experiences:
Once upon a time, Helen was born legally blind and unable to find a bench- let alone navigate life. HOWEVER, she’d tell you, “I’m no Helen Keller! At just about the same age that that girl lost her vision and hearing- my eyes started enjoying sight.” It’s NOT like the movies depict! You don’t just wake up form ‘landmark eye surgery’ and see clearly. It takes healing, eye exercises to help two eyes work in unison, glasses, and great tenacity to survive- especially in the 1950-60s school system that was NOT equipped to handle ‘special needs.’ Compounding the girl’s personal struggles, her dad suffers bipolar disorder wreaking havoc on her family life? Will she break the dysfunctional chains? In spite of all her issues, this girl finds ways to rise to any occasion by stooping to honor other BEINGS- especially her image of God. What is THE VISION that sustains her? Do her thoughts keep her sane, or is this lady lost in her own imagination? Does she ever succeed in life?
Thanks for reading.