Trina: She decided to write “Your Amazing Itty Bitty Guide for Adult 20/20 Vision Loss, 15 Key Topics for Successful Lifestyle Modification.” So, that, I think, was clever, because it keeps it simple, and it gets it started for people that have gone to the doctor, or they’ve discovered that they’re having vision troubles, and they’re like, “Ugh! What do I do now?” You know.
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Chris: This is the Penny Forward podcast, a show about blind people building bright futures one penny at a time.
Liz: I’m Liz Bottner.
Chris: And I’m Chris Peterson.
Liz: We are blind people learning what it takes to be successful in our personal, professional, and financial lives.
Chris: What do you do if you are a person with 20/20 vision, who is suddenly told by their doctor, that they will be losing their sight? Or, what do you do if you have already lost your sight? It’s a pretty common story, and unfortunately, doctors often don’t know where to direct someone with vision loss to find resources to learn how to live their lives. Gloria Riley decided to solve this problem by publishing “Your Amazing, Itty Bitty Resource Guide to 20/20 Vision Loss.” She, unfortunately, passed away just days before her book was released. So we aren’t able to have her on the show. However, her daughter, Trina Wyldeman, was able to come on in her stead. We’ll learn from Trina how Gloria’s blindness impacted her life, why she thought it necessary to write such a great little book, and how Trina plans to continue her mom’s work. Before we get started, though, I’d like to thank Ron and Lisa Brooks at Accessible Avenue for sponsoring the Penny Forward podcast. Ron and Lisa are making mobility accessible to everyone by providing training, consulting services, and
motivational speaking, to the transportation industry. Visit their website at
to learn more about who they are and what they do, and again, thank you to Ron and Lisa for sponsoring the podcast. Now, let’s get started.
Chris: Trina, thanks for being here.
Trina: Hi. Thank you for inviting me.
Chris: Your Mom was a very interesting lady. And, so our listeners have a better idea of why she was such an interesting lady, can you tell us a little bit about her, and her blindness?
Trina: Of course. Yeah. So, her mother, my grandmother, had an eye disease in her family called retinitis pigmentosa. So she had other family members that had blindness, and it came from her mother, and my mother was born with visual impairments, so she couldn’t really see until she got corrective lenses when she was 16, and her brother, her one and only brother, was blind by the time he was in his early twenties. Her vision wasn’t as bad as his. Her blindness was progressive over a lifetime, so it came along, and as time would pass, you know, she would go for her eye exams annually, and there would be always a new technology, or a new material to make lenses, that kind of stuff, as time went on, so they were able to kind of keep up with her, which was good.
Liz: Could you talk about maybe how her blindness made her feel?
Trina: Yeah, she really had a hard time with it. As a child, her parents wouldn’t allow her to go get an eye exam because they were ashamed. So, finally, her brother decided, he had to go through the same thing with his parents and he didn’t want her to struggle the same way, so he took her to an eye doctor. And she was about 16 at the time, so he was able to fit her with a prescription. It was a difficult one to do because she had such a high stigmatism, and that’s what the main issue was at the time. It was a bit challenging, but the eye doctor actually made it work, and when she got her new glasses, she went outside, she could actually see leaves on the trees, she could stand in little blades of grass, and it totally changed her world. So, she excelled at school, she worked, she started working I believe when she was 16, so she started having an income, and she was a journalist, so she loved to write. The library was one of her favorite places to go ’cause she loved to read.
Chris: She wasn’t only a journalist, though. She had a very interesting career. Can you tell us about that?
Trina: Sure. So, she did secretarial work, administrative assistive types of things, she started out working at a fast food restaurant, and there, she was able to pick up her customer service skills, and she did that for many years. And then as she got a little older, she got out of high school, she went to business school, so she learned all about business, and throughout her young life, she did journalism, so she learned how to do that. She worked at a bank, she worked at a school district, doing administrative and records types of things. And then, she mainly did that stuff until about 78, 1978 or so, and then in the late 70’s, she had two businesses. She had one called Black Diamond Enterprises, it was property management, and the other was an offshoot of Black Diamond, it was called McCullum and Associates. And it was a computerized, bookkeeping secretarial service. A little bit later on, after she gave up her business, I believe it was in 1984, I want to say, she started a career in law enforcement, police station in Galt California. And she was a 911 communication’s officer, and she was also confidential secretary to the chief of police, and a records communication supervisor. So, just had a really good career there. She worked there until 1992, and then she decided she wanted to get out of California, so she decided to move to Florence Oregon, and she was also a communications officer, 911, there as well, and that was from 1992 until 1999, and then after she retired from that, she had other interests that she had most of her life, since the early seventies. She was a professional numerologist, astrologer, she read tarot cards, and she did workshops for these things, and she’s a four time published author. So she’s been a pretty busy lady, and she’s got a very good clientele, both the United States, Canada, and abroad, and she’s done countless radio shows regarding esoteric studies and so forth.
Chris: So then she wrote a book, called “Your Amazing, Itty Bitty, Resource Guide to 20/20 Vision Loss,” and I gather that maybe that was because she didn’t know during her life about all the resources that were available, so she wanted to make sure that other people didn’t experience the same thing, so tell us about her book.
Trina: Yes. You’re exactly correct on that. So, in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic really started kicking up, she actually lived on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, so it’s a very isolated little community. And she went out for a routine doctor’s visit one day, and the medical assistant kind of walked away from her and left her alone, and she needed assistance. Because mobility was a bit of an issue at this point. She was … I think she has about 10 percent of her vision at this point. So, she called the medical assistant back, and she says, “Do you know what this is?” And she holds up her white cane. And the medical assistant says “No, I’m sorry, I don’t.” So she decided to give her a quick education on what a white cane is and what it’s used for. So, then she was like “Oh, I had no idea. I didn’t know. Thank you for telling me.” So, after that, her idea was born. She decided, that’s it, she’s gonna make a resource guide to put out there for people. But she’d also been volunteering with the American Council for the blind, Washington Council for the Blind, United Blind of Whatcom County in Washington State, so that was another motivator to get this resource out. Because yes, indeed, she did struggle with these things all her life, and she didn’t have this stuff then. And she thought it would be really nice to get that out there for people.
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Liz: What sort of challenges did she overcome in deciding to write and publish the book?
Trina: So the challenging thing for her was, one, the technology. She had a bit of an issue with that, and, again, she was remote. She lived far away. She recruited my assistance, and I said “Of course I’ll help you with it. I think it’s great.” So, we would do a couple of things. I would go visit her a few times a year, so she would write, and put stuff in that she wanted. I would go put my USB drive in there, take out the information, bring it home, process it, and put it in a template for the publisher. And then there were gaps of time where I didn’t see her, but she had these creative bursts. She said “I have two chapters done.” I said “Okay,” so we had a standing date every Friday for a few hours. I would sit and listen to her, and she had everything in her head. Like her brain was completely sharp and intact. So she would dictate to me over the phone what she wanted that chapter to say, and I would write it down with pen and paper, and then once we edited it and everything was the way she wanted it, I would read it back to her, so it would sound good, and then I would type it in to the publisher’s template, and then read it again, and I would send it to her. Usually I would put it on a disk and send it to her in the mail so she could go read it. Her monitor was modified so she could look at larger text at night when it was dark. But she couldn’t open E-mails, and she didn’t understand the files and where to put them, and she couldn’t see it. So, we kind of had to struggle through that a little bit, but eventually, it all came together, and that whole process took about seven months roughly.
Chris: Wow. And you also had some challenges during this time also, didn’t you?
Trina: I did. I’d actually had a work related injury and I had fractured my spine, so I was in a lot of pain. (Chuckle.) I couldn’t really do much, so, this was a good opportunity for me to learn a new skill set. And I’m glad I did, because it’s led me to other career opportunities, which has been really nice. So, I’m really grateful for that. Even though it didn’t seem like a blessing, it was.
Chris: That’s an amazing story. So tell us a little bit about what the book contains.
Trina: So the book, she decided to write “Your Amazing Itty Bitty Guide for Adult 20/20 Vision Loss, 15 Key Topics for Successful Lifestyle Modification.” So, that, I think, was clever, because it keeps it simple, and it gets it started for people that have gone to the doctor, or they’ve discovered that they’re having vision troubles, and they’re like, “Ugh, what do I do now?” You know, there’s different things you can do. So, she kind of broke that down, because she herself went through the same exact thing. So, the 15 topics include, number 1 is “Adjusting to low vision.” Topic 2, “Simple home modifications. Topic 3, organize kitchen and bathrooms. Topic 4, Household hazards. Topic 5, label and marking systems. Topic 6, personal wardrobe. Topic 7, getting around and mobility aids. Topic 8, recreation and staying active. Topic 9, caregivers, family, friends, and how you can help. Topic 10, accessibility using technology, amazing modern applications. Topic 11 are resources. Topic 12 include local, state, national, and international groups. Topic 13 includes “fill in the communication gap.” topic 14, “Self help groups vs. professional counseling.” And topic 15, “Reach out to advocate.”
Liz: You mentioned that working on this project has kind of allowed you to have other opportunities to do different things. Could you kind of talk about that?
Trina: Yeah. Sure. So, I had to do a lot of research for this, and I started facilitating some zoom workshops. And so, that helped me communicate with her because she started zooming as well. So sometimes we’d be on the phone, and sometimes we would zoom, and we could do that. She could finally figure that out. So, I facilitated three workshops. One was called “Personal Finances,” one was “Find a Better Job,” and the last one was “Emotional Resilience.” And they were each twelve-week courses. So the first one I did in person, that was pre-covid, the other two were all virtual. By me starting off this project with her, I had the skill set and confidence to do those facilitations. And I think that was really good, and it also led me to another job that I did. I would take over when the recruiter would hire staff, I would bring them on board, and I would do their orientation and training virtually and in person. So that gave me the skill set to be effective in my new job. But unfortunately, she passed away, and before she did, I resigned that position to do her end of life care. So, it taught me a lot, and it’s bringing new opportunities for me as I’m job hunting and looking for work again. So, again, it’s been a blessing.
Chris: So, that’s all really, really amazing, but, wait, there’s more, because this isn’t the only book she wrote, is it?
Trina: That’s correct. The first book that she wrote and had published was called, “Navigate By Numbers.” She was a numerologist. A numerologist is a study of numbers. It’s kind of like astrology, but instead of using the stars, you’re using the vibrations of numbers and the values of numbers. She always would describe it as, “It’s laying a foundation like a map, and it’s a road map to help you navigate through your life.” And so, when she wrote her books, she used a nautical theme to do it. So she would always refer to something about the sea, or ships or travels and journey, and so I thought it was a very clever way to do that, the way she wrote it. So, “Navigate By Numbers” was her first book. That was done in the early 90’s. And then in 2003, she did a second book called “Gateways To Change.” It was co-authored by a close friend that she’s had all her life. Her name is Jenny Sinclair. So they co-authored that together. That can be found on Barns and Noble, and also Amazon. The first book is out of print. It wasn’t published, it was a little bit before Amazon came along, so that one’s not in print, but “The Gateways of Change” is still available on Barns and Noble, and Amazon. And then, in 2018, she co-authored with, again, Jenny Sinclair, and another close friend that they have, Elizabeth Mochette, and that book is called “Gateways To Change, 2018 and Beyond.” So she wanted to update her original version “Gateways To Change.” And that’s also available on
and that one talks about, it’s mainly numerology, there’s some astrology in there as well, and so if you’re wondering, you know, what your day’s gonna be like, you can go in there and look up your numbers, and it tells you what you can expect that day. And it’s really clever. I like the way she did it. They did a really great job. And so in that one, it’s just “Gateways to Change, 2018 and beyond,” it’s “Keys to navigating the seas of life using numerology and astrology.” So that one’s a bit more elaborate, and it’s a little bit bigger book, and it’s an updated version of her original book, “Gateways to Change.”
Liz: What sort of advice do you think she would have wanted other blind and/or low vision people to hear?
Trina: Yeah. I think she would want people to be contemplating their new situation, and, it’s about kind of humbling yourself and knowing who you are today and what your skills and abilities are. And hey, you know what, if you’re having trouble seeing, or physical mobility or whatever it is, there’s resources out there that can help you. And if you reach out, and learn about them, you can modify your lifestyle, to still continue on and live your passions, and inspire people by doing it, and teach, and get involved and advocate for others that may be struggling with the same or similar issues. And I’m pretty sure that’s what she’d say. And when she wrote her book, “The Itty Bitty Guide,” she really wanted that to be a good resource, ’cause she had been involved with the American Council for the Blind, and United Blind of Whatcom County was her main place where she volunteered, and that was a big inspiration for her to get that book out. So, she did tons of advocacy, tons of articles she has written, she’s taught, she’s counseled, and I know she’d want that resource to be available to everybody. When she finally got it out there on August twenty-sixth, that was her launch date. Unfortunately, she passed away on August nineteenth, but I promised her that I would make sure that it would get launched. It did very well. It ranked best seller in three categories for E-book on that day, number 4 for paperback. And the publisher was so amazed that it did so well, the publishers agreed to try and get it into a large print format, and also audio. Right now it’s available in paperback and E-book. But if they can do those two things and update it for large print and audio, that creates a much larger readership. So I’m gonna do my best to let people know about this book, and it gives the publisher more reason to make that possible. To have more formats for anybody who wants more access to it.
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Chris: I wish that it were possible to convey the amount of creativity that came through when we were talking to your mom. ‘Cause I could tell, the times that I spoke with her, before the book launch, how great it was gonna be. And it really is. I bought a copy myself, and so did Liz. And both of us think so. And I really appreciate you being on here to talk about it, because it is such a vital resource. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to someone who says, “You know, when I lost my vision, nobody could tell me where to go or what to do. And so, you know, I went years, sometimes, before I could find the resources to connect me to the things that I needed.” And I think a lot of people knew her, even in spite of her limited understanding of how to use technology. She was online and she was active and stuff. And people knew who she was, and she was a really, really neat lady. So, before we go, though, why don’t you tell everybody, even though you touched on it a little bit before, where they can get the book.
Trina: Yeah. So, it can be purchased on
if you type in “Gloria Riley,” her book will pop right up, or you can type in “Your Amazing, Itty Bitty Guide for Adult 20/20 Vision Loss,” or you can type in the publisher, which is Itty Bitty Publishing, either of those, but when you type in her name, it does pop right up. So, Gloria Riley.
Liz: As I was reading the book, the thought that kept coming up for me was, “I would have loved this to have been a resource earlier.” I did not lose my sight later in life, I’ve not had my sight all of my life, but I was thinking, “This is the perfect resource for someone who is losing their vision,” because it is very comprehensive, and so I just wanted to speak to that. And, lastly, I guess, is there anything that we didn’t ask that either you would like to share about you or your mom, or you think she would like us to know about her that we haven’t asked?
Trina: Yeah, sure. So, one reason I wanted to work with my mom so badly on this project is, I’m a certified home care aid in the state of Washington, so I have many types of clients, but I also, when I grew up, my uncle, my mom’s brother, was blind, and I worked with him a lot, and I would help him with things, and the same thing with my mom, because she couldn’t navigate these things anymore. She was my home care client as well. So not only was she my mother, she was also my client. And I would help her, I was kind of in the shadows, so I don’t get credit for any of this stuff, it’s all her creativity, but my job was to help her navigate with her activities of daily life, including her other passions that she needed, and if she had trouble navigating it, I would bridge that gap and make it happen for her. So a lot of the email, social media, anything like that, I usually created it for her, and I managed it, and I would read it to her and that type of thing. So, this book is excellent for caregivers, and family, and friends, and one of the things that we talked about, her and I, is that when someone is visually impaired or blind, sometimes people might see them trying to cross the street and they’ll go grab on to them and try and help them. Well, not everybody likes that. They would rather be asked, or there’s certain ways to move around with them. Maybe they want you to walk ahead and then they hold your shoulder, or maybe they don’t want to do that at all. Maybe they have a cane, or a dog. So, there’s all kinds of different ways to work with people, but I thought this was great, because this really helps people not be so frustrated trying to navigate in life. You know, going out shopping, or trying to cross a street for that matter. So, and one day, I may lose my vision too. It’s hard to say. I don’t have it, I have 20/20 vision, but it could also effect me. So, there you go. Self help.
Chris: I think you probably do deserve more of the credit than you take for this, and, if nothing else, what a great relationship you had with your mom! And again, thank you for being here. We’re gonna put a link to the book on Amazon into the show notes so that people can click on it and go and grab it. It has things that I didn’t know existed. So, even if you’ve been blind all your life, there might be something in there that you didn’t even know that you wanted to know. And if nothing else, buy it for a friend. cause eventually, you’re gonna have one, who’s gonna come with the question, “What am I gonna do?” And I think it’s really important that we do our best to be able to answer that whenever we can. Trina, thanks again for being here. Really appreciate it.
Trina: Thank you, Chris, for inviting me. I’m glad that I could do that. Since my mom couldn’t be here, I could follow in her shoe steps and at least do what she was planning to do with you. I know you guys had planned to do a podcast, so, I’m very honored that you invited me to do it for her. So thank you.
Chris: Yeah, thank you again, and, if you knew Gloria Riley, or if you have comments or questions about the book, why not put them into the Penny Forward Facebook group? It’s a safe space where you can discuss your finances, or anything else, for that matter, and we will make sure that if you put something out there, that it will get back to Trina so that she can get in touch with you, and, you know, just maybe we’ll find a way to give away a copy of this book at some point because it’s so great. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of “The Penny Forward podcast.” Thanks again for listening.
Chris: Is there something you’d like to talk about? We’d love to hear from you. Visit pennyforward.com/podcast to learn how to contact us or to leave us a voicemail that we may share on the air. And while you’re there, please make a small donation to support our work to develop accessible and affordable financial education programs for people who are blind.
Liz: The Penny Forward podcast is produced by Liz Bottner and Chris Peterson, Audio editing and post production is provided by Byron Lee, and transcription is provided by Ann Verduin. Music was composed and performed by Andre Louis and Web hosting is provided by Taylor’s Accessibility Services.
Chris: Penny Forward is a community of blind people building bright futures one penny at a time. Visit pennyforward.com to learn more about who we are and what we do. Until next time, for all of us in the Penny Forward community, I’m Chris Peterson
Liz: and I’m Liz Bottner. thanks for listening and have a great week!