A blind writer’s path to happiness – Which Mountain to Climb?

Happiness. What does that word mean to me? I’ve been thinking on this question of late. So far, I’ve decided that what happiness is for me is mostly what writing is not. Smiles, fun, good times shared with good people, feeling excited and grateful about life, looking forward to a new day, new adventures.

No, for me, writing, a solitary mentally taxing activity, is not much of any of these things.

Which tempts the obvious question, why do I choose to write if it doesn’t make me happy?

Because some things are simply work worth doing. Some things, like weeding a garden on a hot summer day, may not be pleasant or “happy” in the moment, but the results of the effort bring satisfaction later, sometimes days and weeks later, when the harvest finally comes in. Of course, you must like gardens to appreciate the value of weeding. I confess to liking stories and storytelling, which propels me to write in hopes of creating a good story someday.

Others have labelled such late returns as “delayed gratification.” I’m not sure it’s something to be proud of, but over the course of my life, I’ve become something of an expert in this area. As self-satisfying as this distinction has been at times, I’m now wondering why the hell I put off being “happy” so many times in hopes that my disciplined, focused, often martyr like work would later produce gratifying results. Such efforts included relationships that would have been more wisely abandoned in a matter of days instead of years.

This brings me to another “h” word that has shaped my life-


yes, along with being a disciple of the “delayed gratification” mantra, I’ve also ben prone to the “hope for better” syndrome. the irrational belief that if I worked harder, longer, better at whatever, the clouds would part, the sun would shine, and life would be beyond wonderful.

Someone once told me, “there is no hope.” Please, let’s not get into a pedantic diatribe about this four letter word, perhaps we can agree that “Hope” means whatever you or I or anyone else wants it to mean. I think the afore mentioned person’s take on “hope” was that one just can’t sit on a rock “hoping” that it will start raining gold, life reality is that “hope” can inspire us but “Work” is what makes dreams happen. As usual, this is a rather simplistic statement, at least in my experience.

I’d “hoped” to be an Olympic volleyball player and I “worked” for years to achieve this goal. However, there was a fundamental flaw in my hoped for vision. I did not have the physical attributes required to be a world class volleyball player. For those not familiar with the sport, one of volleyball’s defining features is an eight foot net which divides the two opposing teams. In order to be successful at this sport, you must be able to jump high above this eight foot obstacle. As I barely stand over five and one half feet tall, I was at a distinct disadvantage compared to players towering over six feet. Sure, there are short guys who can nearly jump over tall buildings but I was not one of them. Hence, This life choice was not well grounded in reality.

Did this limit my happiness playing volleyball? Ultimately, yes, because I wanted to win as that seemed to be the measure of success and my lack of height often prevented me from winning. Still, and this is a further reflection on my tendency to hang on too long to things that aren’t working, I played for many years “hoping” to somehow defy reality and reach my goal. A wiser man described such acts of futility as insanity.

Which, finally, brings me to the ultimate subject of this post, which mountain to climb?

I’ve come to believe that if I can face a life challenge each day and create happiness in the process of working to achieve that goal, it’s a mountain worth climbing. Blindness has made such choices much simpler as I’ve had to accept that many things I used to do are not practical anymore. I don’t climb real mountains, sail oceans, or play any sort of sports involving balls which i cannot see. This void was depressing for awhile but eventually I followed my wife’s lead and began to simply enjoy the delights of our daily walks, the pleasure of biting into a tuna fish sandwich on toasted wheat bread, the enjoyment of conversation with neighbors. Then, there’s still writing and storytelling, work I do that is not often fun but eventually rewarding.

All said and done, this blind writer is finding his life path sprinkled more and more with bursts of happiness because I’m making smarter choices on which mountains to climb, and, most important, I’m simply enjoying climbing.

tio stib

Jul, 2017

You might also enjoy “Perfection,” “Fishing

Blind Man on a Bench

a surprise lover
the cool breeze kisses my cheek
my body delights
in sunshine’s warm embrace

wavelets lap softly on the sand
the scent of seashore drifts into my nose
a fly buzzes by

birds surround me
chirping behind
squawking above
honking across the water
laughter approaches

raucous conversation
“good morning!”
“Good morning to you”
the footsteps fade
a blast of male perfume persists

I bite an apple
my lips pucker


immersed in a beautiful day
mind swimming in memories

a blind man on a bench

tio stib

You might also enjoy: High on Gratitude, Hope

Good Humans Being

there is a dream
that I hold dear
of times when men
have grown past fear

when lies and hate
have blown away
when hope and love
guide each new day

this may be fantasy
something that can never be
but I need this dream
to feed my soul
to guide me places
I need go

I dream of one day seeing
a world filled with
good humans being

tio stib
2017, 2020

You might also enjoy: “Desert of Dreams,” “First Snow

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

When I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, “If” is one of the poems I return to for inspiration. Here are YouTube links to great readings of this poem, the first  by Holly Musgrove, the second by Sir Michael Caine-

“If” read by Holly Musgrove 

“If” read by Sir Michael Caine

Life is a gift and a responsibility. Let’s make the most of it!

Tio Stib
2019, 2020

My Dementia Diary, a blind caregiver’s journey with his wife and her dementia

In January 2013, Tio Stib lost his sight and his wife began losing her mind. He was blind and she was diagnosed with  Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, the adventurous life they’d enjoyed became a dramatically different journey. Mostly as a way to cope, Tio began to blog, using prose and poetry to describe their altered path in life. His blog posts evolved into this book.

“My Dementia Diary” is Tio’s recounting of the seven year journey that followed, a story sometimes humorous, often poignant, and always intimate, the story of how a blind man became the sole caregiver for his wife with her deteriorating dementia.

This is a story about adapting to adversity, about the devastating impact of dementia, about marriage, commitment, and faith.

Above all, “My Dementia Diary” is a story about the power of love.

My Dementia Diary Final cover copy

The book will be available as part of a GoodReads Giveaway until April 11. Here’s the link- GoodReads Giveaway until April 11

The ebook is available on Amazon KDP

Apple Books

A note from the author-

No way, I thought, this can’t be happening to us. Like millions of others facing the news that a loved one has dementia, I denied it. But my wife’s dementia was painfully real and I felt utterly helpless and alone.

I was saved by love. I was saved by the boundless kindness of good people who cared for us in our times of need and by the unwavering joy for life my wife shared even as her mind faded away.

My hope is our story will bring similar solace to you.

River of Words

River of Words

my life floats down a river of words
on paragraphs, syllables, tales once heard
they call out as I drift by
love and pain, both truth and lies

emphatic “yes!”
a stolid “no.”
the overused, unhelpful “so”
“I’ll be there”
“why not?”
“you said”
“I don’t care”
“quiet, please”
“how can I think?”
“have you ever seen the sky so pink?”

the words speed up
the rapids roar
fearful sounds from times before
then I’m lost and swept away
chaos and cacophony
gulping right and spitting wrong
gasping as I’m thrown along
shouting voices, “me! me! me!”
screaming insecurity
then bashed on conflict’s argument
my heart gives out
my soul is spent

in drowning plight
I see a dove
one final thought


the verbal roar falls far behind
consciousness comes back to mind
as grace, sweet heaven, sets me free
and quiet waters welcome me

my life floats down a river of words
heading towards a voice unheard
yet whispers on the waves call me
“you can, dear one, you can be free”




tio stib

2017, 2019

You might also enjoy: Floating, A Mirrored Smile

Fire In The Hole! Reflections From Summer Camp

It had been a memorable July 4th at Camp Colman. the bright sunshiny day had helped campers enjoy swimming, playing horseshoes, and making those ludicrous craft items you find years later in a box and ask aloud, “what the heck?”

The evening meal had been mouth watering grilled salmon courtesy of the camp’s patron, Ken Colman. After the sun had disappeared on the far side of Horsehead Bay, campers and staff assembled on the beach to ooh and awe at a fireworks show set off from the swimming float. 

As silence finally subdued the crowd, everyone disappeared into the night.

But in Cabin 5, the fun had just begun.

When their counselor left them for adult R & R in the lodge, a voice cried out-

“Hurry up Pat, what’d you get?”

Flashlights beamed on a boy sitting crosslegged in the center of the floor, smiling as he ripped open the recently received package.

It was Pat’s birthday and his sister had kindly sent him a present. Inside lay the obligatory homemade cookies and an assortment of candy bars. But the real treats were hidden under layers of toilet paper.




Can you believe it!

“Man, whose got a match?

As none of the middle schoolers yet smoked, or admitted to it, they seemed to be out of luck. But, the older and always prepared sister had covered this eventuality. Under the secret stash of sparklers, missiles, and bombs was a pack of matches.

Cautious not to draw too much attention to their clandestine celebration, they lit the sparklers first, gleefully twirling their twinkling torches around the inside of the cabin before someone mentioned this might be a fire hazard.

the party moved outside. 

“Hey, what are those?”

“Pop bottle rockets.”

“Yeah, what do you do with them?”

A Coke bottle appeared and was shoved, base first, into the ground, it’s nose pointed haphazardly across the center lawn.

A small digression for a note on local geography. Cabin 5 sat on one side of the large expanse of grass called the center lawn. On the far side of this lawn, perched nobly on a small hill, sat the camp lodge, out-of-bounds to campers but a late night respite for leaders and staff, At this point on a dark night, lights glowed inside the lodges windows but nothing stirred on the campus lawn or adjacent hillside. 

For the uninitiated, a pop bottle rocket is a small missile attached to a stick. This explosive was slid into the waiting pop bottle and a match was lit. Wide eyes watched as the fuse glowed  and quickly shrank to nothing and-

The real fun of pop bottle rockets is that they don’t just go “boom!” Rather, they hiss and whistle and screech as they twist madly towards their target.

This particular pop bottle rocket performed perfectly on its three second flight towards the lodge. As the missile exploded into the hillside there was a simultaneous scream and the distinct sound of something or someone crashing into the bushes.

This unexpected result was barely noticed by the frenzied pyrotechnicians.

“What else is there?”

“Jeez, what’s that, it’s huge?”

“Cherry bomb. Man, can it make noise.”

“Put it in the garbage can.”

another match burst into flame, a fuse lit, and the cherry bomb was tossed into a garbage can, lid dutifully replaced.


I swear that lid blew 10 feet into the air. The echo from the explosion reverberated up and down Horsehead Bay.

but what was even more surprising, is that before that lid crashed back to earth, a searchlight swept the area and a voice yelled out, “What’s going on!”

Somehow, in the seconds it took for Camp Director Jack to jump up the steps into Cabin 5, every single one of its delinquent residents was fast asleep deep inside his sleeping bag. All except for the unfortunate kid in the back corner scrambling for the safety of his upper bunk. The searchlight illuminating two squirming legs seeking shelter inside his bag disputed his innocence.

There was no happy ending to this story. The next day, all Cabin 5 campers were put on latrine duty, requiring multiple trips to the two outhouses , Nellie and Egypt, for cleaning purposes.

However, it was difficult for us not to smile as we walked back to camp after our odious chores. Somehow, Director jack had missed the birthday present box, and we lit up the remaining fireworks and dropped them down the outhouse toilets.

“Fire in the hole!”

Respectfully submitted,

Camper 4601

(Camper name has been omitted in fearful deference to the ghost of departed Director Jack)

Footnote: This historian readily admits that fifty years of time and a failing memory may have resulted in some distortion of facts in recounting these events. However, I’m certain that the above mentioned garbage can lid flew at least ten feet up into the air. As for other Camp Coman happenings, the camper sleeping bag stuffed with jellyfish, the various articles of camper clothing run up the flagpole, the painful proddings  by the Order of the Fork, the life altering impact of snipe bites, and the imaginative uses of peanut butter and marshmallow cream on the initiation outing to Dead Man’s Island, I shall entrust these details to more sound minded scholars. I will admit though, that I was the last one on the campfire stage to figure out the metaphysical mantra of the turbaned visiting Siam Prince Shambu -“ohwhatanassSiam.”

Additional footnote: For the curious, the unheard scream when the pop bottle rocket exploded into the hill below the lodge belonged to Jr. counselor Dan downey. Since nicknamed “ducker,” it is reported that Dan still suffers from PFSD, post fireworks stress syndrome. It was noted in the newsletter from his 50th high school reunion, that when a champagne cork popped off, “Ducker” dove under the refreshment table, causing some embarrassment and a lot of spilled drinks.

You might also enjoy: Love’s Least Obvious Threats-Chihuahuas & Mosquitos, Life Journey Poems & Prose



Jumping Off

leaning out the open door
time roars by
it’s gone
no more
I wonder what my life might be
had I the courage to jump free

behind me in the train’s cocoon
dreams fly off to distant moons
faces glued to heartless screens
joyless stares and silent screams

and so we travel every day
secure and safe or so we say
the child no longer comes to play
the status quo will have its way

will I stay an untold story
remain in hopeless purgatory
pretending that I care no more
soul crying for its need to soar

then I jumped off into space
the unknown flying in my face
It’s not clear where I will land
no matter
I am free again

tio stib

2016, 2017, 2019

You might also enjoy: Life is Like a Broken Egg, Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life.

Afternoon Sun

for the first time 
in seeming months
we sat at water’s edge
mesmerized by stillness
to the gentle lap of waves
feeling the warmth
of afternoon sun
slowly melt our frozen souls

shadows passed
as geese honked overhead
laughing children scurried by

I heard a voice within

at last,
there is hope again

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Blind Man on a Bench, Life Journey Poems and Prose

My Dementia Diary 6 – A Shared Life

“for better for worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.”

These thoughts are part of many marriage ceremonies, I’ve committed to them myself. Yet, until recently, I’ve never fully grasped their significance.

In the past, the bumps on our life road were never terminal, there was always a way out, there was always tomorrow, things would get better, time was on our side.

That’s not our reality now. Alzheimer’s dementia is no game of the day, not a trivial illness that will go away, we’ve now entered a path that is one way only, and it well end only one way.

Most of us take all measures to avoid the subject of death and dying. In younger years, I was certainly that way. However, later in life, death has knocked on my door several times and I’ve learned to open my heart and appreciate the gift of being with other’s as they end their life journey. Is this tough work? Beyond words. But, so are the rewards.

Being blind has humbled me. Blindness took away many freedoms, many activities and experiences I often took for granted. Our life now, our shared life, is simple. There are no complicated agendas, no long “to do” lists. We get up and enjoy the wonders of a new day. I listen as my wife delights in describing hummingbirds hovering at the feeder, as she greets passersby and talks to children, and reminds me we have to buy more cookies.

Our shared life has become a series of special days. Our special days have become a series of precious moments.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 5-“Groundhog Day”