Make the Seeing Eye Dog the NJ State Dog

Today I received a message from the President and CEO of The Seeing Eye, asking me as a graduate and supporter to spread his message to anyone who knows of a person who has enjoyed the dignity and independence of the partnership with a Seeing eye ® dog. As a reader of this blog, you do know one, so I’m passing that message on to you. The back story is that the New Jersey Legislature has unanimously agreed to make the Seeing Eye dog its State Dog. We graduates have been blessed with having these loving, intelligent, obedient, and beautiful dogs as guides since 1933, and the training has happened in NJ for more years than most of us have been alive. We need your help in supporting this bill by asking the Governor of NJ to do the right things and sign it. Here’s the letter. Thanks for reading it and acting upon it.

New JerseyJoin me in asking @Governor Murphy to sign the bill S2849/A4590 to recognize the Seeing Eye® dog as state dog of NJ by calling 609-292-6000. More than 17k partnerships have been made between people & Seeing Eye dogs in the last 90 years and we think Seeing Eye ® Dogs are an important part of NJ’s heritage.

Thank you for your support of our incredible mission.

Glenn Hoagland
President and CEO
The Seeing Eye

Mary Hiland

Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life and The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Adventure Summit

Wright State University is holding a FREE two-day event called Adventure Summit on February 14 and 15, and I’ll be there. Attendees will learn about all sorts of outdoor activities and sports. Speakers will present stories of their own exciting experiences.

I am honored to have been invited to make a presentation. Here’s the perfect opportunity to talk about Ski for Light, tandem cycling, and the Hen Hike, three of my favorite subjects. But even more exciting is the opportunity to promote my book, “Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life,” because three of the chapters are devoted to these very topics. My friend Tricia has agreed to do the readings from the book, which I will select. I have a whole hour to talk about myself and to answer questions. This is a public speaker’s dream come true. I’ve even been promised a table outside the room for selling and signing books, an author’s dream come true. How exciting is that! If you live in the Dayton area, I hope you will come. Everybody is welcome, and I’d love to meet you. and of course, I’d love it even more if you’d buy my book. J But if you can’t make it to this event, you could go to

or directly to Amazon to get your copy.

Oh yes. Dora will be there, so if you’d like for her to sign the chapter on all five of my Seeing eye ® dogs, she’ll be glad to do that too.

Mary Hiland

Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life and The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261


I ordered a swim cap to protect my hair, which has suffered damage from the chlorine in the pool at the Y. I hate having to wear one, but I laughed at the description in the listing on amazon. It said “retro.” Well, that’s OK with me, because at my age, I’m retro too.

In fact, lots of my belongings are retro. While my friends who are blind use fancy-dancy high-tech gadgets to take notes, create documents, and post notes on Facebook, I use one of the earliest pieces of technology there is. It’s so old you can’t buy a new one anymore. It’s called Braille ‘n Speak. No braille display comes with this little wonder, but you have to know braille to use it. A keyboard that resembles that of a Perkins Braille-Writer is used to store data, which is retrieved by listening to synthesized speech. Various key commands allow the user to read line by line, sentence by sentence, or the whole document at once. Other features include backspace, delete, insert, speak faster or slower, louder and softer, and even more. I use the calculator function and sometimes the stopwatch function when I’m practicing a speech. As I said earlier, they don’t make these valuable gems anymore, so I pray mine never dies. Blind friends smerk at my use of such a dinosaur, but I can find a phone number or jot down a note faster than they can boot up their high-tech, multi-thousand-dollar gadgets.

Those of us who use the Braille ‘n Speak can’t play games, send email or texts, or make phone calls, but for storing information and taking notes, I’ll be a loyal fan of this retro piece of equipment.

Every time I go through security at the airport, I fear that their scanning equipment will wipe out my whole life that is stored in my BNS, but since they have no idea what it is, it usually passes through without a second glance.

I’m sure there are other retro belongings lerking in my house, like articles of clothing. My daughter took my granddaughter to LL Bean to shop for a top for me. “See anything that looks like Grandma?”

My grandaugher looked around and said, “This whole store looks like Grandma.”

So what’s that supposed to mean? Retro? Flannel shirts? Lined jeans? No nonsense boots? Yet, that’s me all right. Retro.

Mary Hiland

Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life and The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Book Club Choice

Like many of you who enjoy reading, I belong to a book club which meets monthly. And like most book-lovers, I choose books in the genre most interesting to me, but when you’re in a book club, you might be required to read something you wouldn’t choose for yourself.

Today, the leader of our group announced that my book is now available on amazon, and she also announced that next month, we’ll be discussing my book, “Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life.” Now some of the women might not choose a memoir type book, but they all bought a paperback edition of my book from me and will be prepared with questions and comments next month. I can hardly wait.

This book is not just the story of my life but a narrative of what it’s like to be a blind person in a sighted world. I think it’s a fascinating topic, if I do say so myself. Just kidding. But I do believe that these women will say to themselves, “Hmm. I never thought of that.” In fact, I hope that all readers of this book will say that. The women in this book club all know that I have children and grandchildren, but have they ever thought of how I kept track of them when they first started walking? Or how I babysat my grandchildren? They all presume I graduated college, but have they considered how I got my assignments done, took notes in lectures, or typed my papers without being able to see them? They all know that I’m an active person, but have they ever heard the stories of my adventures in Norway as a cross-country skier? Who cares where I was born or where I went to school? But someone might care about how I survived dodgeball as a kid or how I rode a bike with limited vision. And I suspect that they don’t know how I became a pretty good ballroom dancer after missing my performing days.

I hope that while discussing this book, the women in this group will share their own experiences that might be just as surprising as my own.

And here’s a shameless plug. If you belong to a book club, I hope you will consider choosing this book to discuss. If you belong to a group that needs a speaker, please consider asking me to present. I have years of experience as a Toastmaster, and I love talking about my books. Think about it, and contact me at


And thanks.

You can order my book from Amazon or at

Mary Hiland

Author of Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life and The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

A Peek Into My New Book

“Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life” is now available on Amazon or through

Today I’d like to offer you a peek into the book by giving you the Forward. Here it is.

Tipping the aspirin into my hand, I accidentally let one fall into the sink. I tried to retrieve it, but it had already slipped down the drain.

Oh well, I thought. I have this huge bottle. There are plenty more.

But when that bottle is nearly empty, I won’t be so casual about the loss of a pill here or there.

It’s the same with anything we value. If we know we have plenty more where that came from, who cares if we lose some? Take money, for instance. It’s easy to be generous when your wallet is full. It’s tempting to spend freely when you have plenty of money.

But what about opportunities that have slipped down the drain, like making someone smile, doing someone a favor, showing affection, forgiving a transgression, asking for forgiveness, or sharing a story about your childhood with your grandchildren?

Indeed, what about our days in this life? Each time I let one slip down the drain, wasting it, I can’t be sure there are plenty more. It’s good to think of that when I make decisions about what to do or not do with each day as it comes and goes.

Now that all the people in my family who were older than I are gone, I find myself wishing I’d had the forethought to ask more questions about their lives before I came along. The world did not begin with me. I missed a whole lot of it. Not that I needed to know everything about everyone, but even though I heard stories from time to time, I still wonder why and how and when and where some important pieces of the story of my family turned out the way they did.

My descendants may not be at all interested in my history, but just in case they are, I’m not letting my story slip down the drain.

Mary Hiland

/Author of

“Insight Out: One Blind woman’s View of Her Life”


“The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

My New Book, Just Launched

WraparoundCover.jpgFor many years, good friends have urged me to write a book about my life. As I approach a mile-stone birthday, this seems like a good time to launch my second book, “Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life.” Here is the synopsis, which you will see on the back cover. I hope you will be inspired to buy a copy through

Have you ever had questions about how a blind person survives in a sighted world? Have you ever wanted to know more about guide dogs or service animals? If so, did you think that asking such questions would be rude or inappropriate? Have you ever avoided a conversation with a blind person because you didn’t know what to say? Or have you made assumptions that you found out too late really didn’t apply?

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life gives you a peek inside the life of a real live person who is totally blind. While she’s never climbed Mount Everest or sailed across the ocean alone, she reveals her strategies for pursuing a life full of experiences, achievements, and realized goals.

This memoir is constructed not in chronological order, not as a medical history, but as a realistic description of many aspects of the author’s life. While each chapter reveals a new facet of how she meets the demands of living without sight, this is no Pollyanna–like picture. Ms. Hiland tells it like it is. She is always honest. Her observations are authentic, and her story is inspiring.

Her personality is on full display. You’ll feel her frustrations, celebrate her victories, and share in her sense of humor. You’ll gain new understanding of how blind people are different and how they are not. Myths and misperceptions are explored through thoughtful, sensitive, and personal stories—some of which may even give you a new perspective on your own life.

This book is for you if you know someone who is blind and would like to understand that person better. It’s for those who are experiencing vision loss and need a positive perspective to deal with this traumatic time in their lives. It’s for sighted people who are simply curious, who want to learn more about people who are not like them. And it’s for people who are blind, so they can say with the author, “Yes. This is how it is.”

Christmas Card Spoof

Do you send Christmas letters? They are not coming to my mailbox as often as they used to. One day, back in the 90s, I was feeling a bit mischievous, so I sent out this one. I still chuckle when I read it for old time’s sake. I hope you do too. No offense, please, to my friends who sent such letters. This is just for fun.

Dear Friends,

Here it is 1999 already, and I didn’t have time to send you our

family Christmas letter. I didn’t get a chance to brag about all

our accomplishments, our fabulous vacations, the intelligence of my

grandchild, the beauty of my home, the amazing talents of my dogs,

and all our altruistic and philanthropic endeavors. So, here they

are now.

Kara has been working on her phd in metaphysics. She got a late

start on this career choice, as she’s been leading an

anthropological expedition in outer Mongolia. Her work with Unwed

Mothers in Crisis in the inner city was put on hold, while she

completed this part of the fellowship grant she received from


Steve has passed the CPA exam, the Bar, and the Boards for medical

examiner for the CIA. In his spare time, he has been writing a

documentary on preserving cacao trees in Brazil. For fun, Steve

has taken up mountaineering, and last June, he completed his fifth

ascent on Mount Everest. Tammy does not accompany him on these

expeditions, as she has been busy prosecuting the attorneys in the

Monica Lewinski hearings. Her travels to Washington have not

interfered with her love of flying. Last spring, she bought her

own plane and is now teaching their little girl, Meghan to fly. On

January 1, Meghan will fly her first solo, although she is only

three months old. We think she’ll be ready though, as she has

already mastered the internet and is fluent in three languages,

thanks to her Aunt Kara.

Mother celebrated her 107th birthday with a modest party in London

for 500 of her closest friends and international business

acquaintances. She turned down a marriage proposal, however,

because she still likes her space and independence. As she says,

why should she put up with some old man who probably wouldn’t let

her race cars anymore.

I’m still working, although my lottery winnings from last February

have allowed me to try some exciting new experiences. I bought

some state of the art cameras and developing equipment, and have

become quite good as a photographer, and I really enjoy processing

my own photos. Perhaps you’ve seen some of my work in the Chicago

Museum of Modern Art. I’ve also resumed dance lessons, and just

last month, I was finally accepted as a member of the world famous

Rockettes. Imagine that, at my age! Of course, I’ll have to give

up my job at the radio reading service, but dancing has always been

my first love, as you know. Chocolate is my second love, so that’s

why I’ve been so thrilled with Steve’s documentary on cacao trees.

Sherry continues to be the epitome of Seeing Eye superiority. She

was honored at the Whitehouse for her bravery and supreme

intellectual agility, when saving the lives of three infants who

were drowning in Lake Erie. She wears her ribbons proudly as she

conducts weekly tours at the Seeing Eye. Her goal is to recruit

only the finest of golden retrievers and to increase their

percentage of the class. It’s her version of affirmative action.

Genie’s still kicking at age 17. And that’s the truth, the only


Here’s hoping your 1999 is at least as glamorous and exciting,

fulfilling, and memorable as this fantasy I’ve just recounted. And

if that’s not what you really want, here’s hoping you keep smiling,

keep loving, and keep in touch.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261