Aside from being overwhelmed which affects my thinking, when I feel stressed there is a tightening sensation in my chest. The more I try to focus on relaxing, the more intense the feeling becomes which ultimately ends up triggering an anxiety attack.
Figuring out what to wear on any given day was an area I felt I could drastically cut down on my stress. I have three zones in my bedroom for clothing, makeup, and accessories; chest of drawers, dresser, and closet. Streamlining each of these areas by assessing what I really like wasn’t as difficult as I might have imagined.
Take two of my dresser drawers for example. One was dedicated to tanks/camis and the other contained tee shirts. I was able to consolidate both drawers into one by keeping only what I wear or like.
For several years I’ve been folding and putting my tees in the drawer in a vertical position similar to file folders, because it makes it easier to see what I want and they take up less space. Likewise, I fold my camis and tanks in thirds, then roll them and place them in neat columns.
In the combined drawer I ended up with three columns of tanks/camis (the third column from the left are exercise tanks) and one column of tees. I separated the tees from the tanks with a drawer divider I got from Amazon. Filing by color (light to dark) also adds to the ease in finding what I need quickly.
Having an organizational system is important and it’s absolutely essential when you cannot see because it aids in independence, saves time, and cuts down on stress. In looking at those things that bring value to my life it makes it easier to rid myself of everything else.
I am blind, I use a white cane, and I wear heels. Just because I don’t fit into some people’s boxes of conformity does not make me any less blind and that’s okay. While I liked seeing well, swapping physical sight for deeper insight was worth the trade.
In a recent interview concerning people with disabilities, I was asked why I chose to go with “blind” as a personal descriptor as opposed to a term like sight impaired. As a legally blind individual I intentionally refer to myself as “blind” because I wanted to change the stigma associated with the word. Little did I know I would meet so many other people who feel the same as I do and we are all working towards creating a more inclusive world. Okay, that’s it for today’s speech.
Downsizing doesn’t have to be hard, it simply requires a little planning. For example whittling down my shoe collection is sometimes just a matter of exchange.
In the image are two pairs of black stilettos which I gave away in exchange for one new pair of chunkier heels. While I liked the other pairs, my feet weren’t happy. So the solution was to go with a thicker heel that provides more support and comfort without sacrificing style.
Paring down is an evolving process that not only clears space (I need my feng shui), but as an individual who cannot see very well, I have an easier time choosing what to wear with less to choose from. The additional bonus, was being able to use a DSW reward for $10 off and free shipping.
Wouldn’t it be grand if we could just as easily swap our misconceptions for enlightenment? Just because things don’t “appear” as we think they should doesn’t mean anything. We should approach those things we don’t comprehend with an open mind before forming an opinion. When we seek to understand that’s when we can make informed decisions and become more accepting.
A couple of weeks ago I had a Care Plan Conference meeting for my mom at the nursing home. Not knowing what to expect I opted for my black Ann Taylor skirt, Old Navy black & white striped v-neck sweater, black knee-high boots, black tights, silver plated cuff bracelet & lacy statement earrings.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest impact. Take this skirt for example. The material is a heavy wool, there’s a split in the back, the waist band is a faux leather and the best part are the three gold-plated zippers (on two front pockets, frontal closure and split which can be zipped closed). This is such a beautiful garment that it would enhance just about anything.
Even though it was very cold the day of the meeting I felt nice and toasty. As a matter of fact I felt so good I was able to pull out the faux fur vest since I would going directly from my place to the facility.
The meeting was very productive and my mom had quite a bit of input. While many people tend to write off Alzheimer patients, the social services and nursing staff treated my mom with dignity and respect by listening to, and addressing her concerns. One of the more serious issues was a medication snafu which mom was able to detect because she still documents her doses, times, etc.
Being unafraid to speak up on her own behalf has worked well for my mother because very little gets by her. I guess we’re a family of advocates.
When I was asked if I would write about my experiences for “Bold, Blind, Beauty”, I have to admit, some of the insecurities of my youth emerged. “Do I even fit with the other women who have shared their experiences?”, I thought, “Am I really a bold, blind, beautiful woman?”
The answer is, “Yes!” But, that answer doesn’t always come easily when decades of insecurity preceded finding my strength and confidence.
When I was a child, all I wanted was to be like everyone else. I would have given anything just to fit in.
I was born with a condition called Oculocutaneous Albinism, which is also the primary cause of my blindness. As a result, my experience with blindness is closely intertwined with my experience of beauty and physical appearance. I believe it is not coincidental that as I accepted my blindness, I also began to find true appreciation for my own unique beauty.
As a person with albinism, my skin, hair, and eyes lack pigment, resulting in a fair porcelain complexion, light blonde-white hair, and light blue/grey eyes. Albinism is typically accompanied by low vision, but there is a wide spectrum for people with albinism in terms of eyesight and photophobia (sensitivity to light). My eyesight has always hovered between a measured acuity of 20/200 and 20/400 with strong photophobia. As I have aged, my photophobia and functional vision have worsened.
As a child, teenager, and young adult, standing out and being seen as someone so visibly different in appearance from others left me self-conscious, shy, and far less confident in myself than I would like to admit. Throughout my childhood, and into my adulthood, I didn’t recognize “beauty” in myself, at least not the aesthetic beauty typically referred to with that word. My grandmother would say I was beautiful (I mean, she’s a little bit biased), because I had and have a beautiful heart and deep caring for others, I could recognize this “inner beauty”. But, if I stood next to any other girl, young lady, or woman my age, I could not recognize physical beauty in myself. I felt so different from everyone around me.
It wasn’t until late in my twenties or early in my thirties that I came to recognize, accept, and truly appreciate, that the features I have because of albinism: my porcelain skin, my white hair, and the unique blue-grey of my eyes, these features are rare, they are beautiful, and they are MINE.
This past summer, at the age of 36, my husband and I attended his university alumni reunion, and a friend of ours referred to me as an, “Alabaster Princess”, and in that moment, he managed to bring together decades of personal struggle with “beauty” in a pivotal, beautiful moment. It was one of those “aha” moments Oprah talked about throughout her career. Aha, my friends, I AM an Alabaster Princess, and I AM BEAUTIFUL!
For many years, due to a combination of lack of services offered by my school district, and my own self-defeatist avoidance of anything “different”, I refused to travel with a cane and I completed school work and activities with top grades but endured neck and back strain and massive headaches from eye strain. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I came to understand and accept my blindness as part of me. I believe being blind has been as important in my development as my values, hopes, and talents, but that blindness is still JUST one part of who I am.
Around age twenty, I attended adjustment to blindness training, which may seem silly to an observer when you consider I had been blind since birth. This training allowed me to meet others blind people and helped me move toward self-acceptance. It also provided me the tools I needed to be independent, competent, safe, and confident. I began traveling with a long, white cane, learned the basics of Braille, and learned how to go through life as a bold, blind, beautiful woman with confidence. I became a guide dog handler a decade later and experienced yet another level of confidence, poise, and grace as I traveled with a canine partner.
My blindness is one piece of the puzzle that is “me”. (If you ask my husband, that’s probably one massive, complex, 3D puzzle!) I am a daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, advocate, counselor, speaker, writer, blogger, and crafter. I love life–I enjoy this world full of color, reading, movies, travel, organizing, meeting new people, inspiring others to live their best life, and lifelong learning. There are many things I’m good at, and there are things I am working to improve–just like anyone else.
When I was a child, all I wanted to do was fit in, but as I consider the course of my life, I wanted to fit in when I was born to stand out. I wanted to be invisible in this world where, for some reason, my greater purpose involves being seen.
Today, I am a bold, blind, beautiful woman because I utilize the tools of blindness. Today, I am a bold, blind, beautiful woman because I know who I am, what I have to offer the world, and that I may be blind, but blindness will not stop me from living life fully, learning, growing, and giving, one day at time.
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