Welcome When I was practicing for job interviews, the question I hated most and thus needed the most practice with was “tell me a little bit about yourself.” With this question, you are supposed to sell yourself, showcase your qualification, how you would be perfect for the job, and essentially have life all figured out. But the truth is, I don’t have life figured out, and that is why I love to write.My name is Allison Nastoff and as I write this in 2020, I am thirty years old. I am totally blind, the result of a brain tumor that damaged my optic nerve when I was seven months old. Gilbert was my first guide dog, and I originally started blogging in 2009 to reflect back on my experience training with him in 2008. Sadly, Gilbert crossed the rainbow bridge on December 2, 2020. I thought about changing the title of this blog, but last night, I had a dream that Mom asked me to get something out of my bedroom, and when I went upstairs and opened my door, I was shocked and delighted to find that Gilbert had come back to life and was sleeping peacefully on the floor. I have been thinking about this dream all day, and I believe it means that Gilbert will always be alive in my heart. Therefore, I decided to keep this title for my blog as a tribute to the special place he will always hold in my heart as my first guide dog, and unofficial emotional support dog that saw me through college, and my first job.The tagline of my blog is no exaggeration. I live a blessed life. Though being totally blind has had its fair share of challenges, I grew up surrounded by loving family, outstanding teachers, and an affluent school district that was willing and able to accommodate my special needs. In 2012, I graduated from Carroll University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a Journalism emphasis. Due to a journalism landscape that had changed since I graduated high school, and an economy still recovering from the Great Recession, I was unable to find a job as a writer. So in 2014, I earned a Paralegal certificate from Milwaukee Area Technical College. In 2015, with the help of a job coach, I was hired by a law firm that assists people applying for Social Security disability benefits. I worked at this firm until March 18, 2020 when my family convinced me it wasn’t safe to work in an office environment given pre-existing conditions that could cause serious complications if I contracted COVID-19. My coworkers were also friends, and my manager said I was welcome to come back when the pandemic was under control. But I wasn’t sure when that would be, and for a couple of years, I had been sensing a call to take seminary courses and pursue a career serving God somehow through teaching or writing. I sensed God wanted me to see the pandemic as an opportunity to take a new direction in life, so I officially resigned on April 24, 2020. I am currently taking online courses toward a Masters certificate in Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. When the pandemic is behind us, I hope to take courses at their campus in Deerfield, Illinois where I will also be able to network with people and find where I belong out in the world of work again.I love living out in the world, and I wouldn’t trade my face-to-face interaction with family and friends for the world. I will admit the pandemic has even tested the patience of introverts like me. Although my job at the Social Security disability firm wasn’t the job I imagined having when people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I miss the dignity of earning my own money, and contributing to society. I also miss singing in choir, and going to church and bible study with Mom. But I am most relaxed when in my bedroom writing. The truth is, face-to-face interaction can be like writing on the old-fashioned Perkins braillewriter I used as a child. If you make a mistake, you can try to scratch it out with your fingernail, or cross it out by typing full braille cells over the mistake, going down a line and re-typing it. But the mistake, the stupid thing I said before giving proper thought, never fully goes away. But when I write, I feel like I can be my true self, yet also have a chance to ponder what I am saying, erase, and re-word until it accurately reflects what I really want to convey. I could never find the inspiration to keep a private diary. I think it is because I am just like my grandmothers who lost the motivation to cook when their husbands passed away and their children grew up and moved away. Like a big meal, writing is meant to be shared.Today this blog is primarily a place where I muse about the joys and challenges of life. I have matured a lot since this blog began, and especially in the past three years, my faith has helped me figure a lot of things out about life, but by no means do I have everything in life figured out yet. Perhaps that takes an entire lifetime. But you are welcome to follow along with me as I blog about my life journey. I hope this blog will encourage and inspire, and if you have thoughts or insights you would like to share from your own unique life journey, feel free to post a comment!