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Freedom In Acceptance

Freedom In Acceptance

After extensive tests, I just remember the words “you are going to go blind.” My world just shattered, the room spun and I just had to get out of there. 

Victoria Claire

Women On The Move 57 | Victoria Claire

When I was first diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 19 was a very pivotal point in my life. I was already studying at art college and had just been offered a university place on a figurative sculpture degree course. With only 28 offers in Europe, was one of those 28.

Victoria Claire & The Guardian image description is in the body of the post.
Victoria Claire & The Guardian

After extensive tests, I just remember the words “you are going to go blind.” My world just shattered, the room spun and I just had to get out of there. I drove home and dropped off my mum and then drove off. Ending up on the beach, I sat on the end of the jetty. The sky was grey and the wind was howling, I just cried, and thought the tears would never stop.

That was 24 years ago and my sight loss has taken me on one heck of a journey. I was registered legally blind back in 2002. Currently, I have between 3-5% residual vision, this is hand movement in the left eye and shapes and light in the right.

Although I had to walk away from university I could not deny that sculpture was in my veins. After taking some time to adjust to my new circumstances, picked up a chisel and mallet and begin creating. This was really for therapeutic reasons at first but then I began to put my work into local galleries. In a short amount of time, I was gaining private commission work. Since then my work has gone from strength to strength. I’ve worked in teaching for many years and this was a nice way to diversify my artistic skills and share them with others.

Turning The Corner

My personal epiphany with my attitude towards my sight loss came only 3 and a half years ago. I had always dodged the need to use a long cane. For years organizations tried to introduce me to using a cane without success. Then about 5 years ago I had a very big wake up call.

I was out walking my little Westie dog. It was November and the autumn sun was very low in the morning sky. I had on my sunglasses but it was very difficult to see and I misjudged a left turn. Instead of turning onto the pathway leading to the park, I fell 6ft into a culvert.

The fall damaged my right knee severely, tearing my inside medial ligament. It was extremely painful and I could not walk and it took 3 months to properly heal. This was when I decided I could no longer keep on struggling without a mobility aid.

Initially, I thought perhaps I needed a Guide dog so I contacted my local Guide Dogs Association. After some initial training, I had to stop my application, when we realized our Westie would never let another dog in the house! So there was no other option for me than to bite the bullet and learn how to use the long cane.

After 3 months of long cane training with my incredible trainer, I passed and became a proficient cane user. I now have gone from a cane hater to a cane lover, owning 4 long canes including my faithful purple one and a bamboo one that I created myself.

Crucial Component To Acceptance

Self-development has played a very important part in my acceptance of my sight loss. I worked very hard with my holistic counselor. For nearly 4 years we worked on my self-worth, learning how to love myself, and embracing every part of myself. It’s been the most wonderful journey, connecting on a spiritual level feeds me with all I need. This is the very reason why I am where I am today, through an acceptance of who I really am and a love of all my imperfections. It is truly a beautiful lesson, and I look forward to all the future lessons ahead.

I am happily married to my husband, who is an incredible support, he has such a positive outlook on life and helps me find solutions to how I can continue breaking boundaries. My parents have always been there for me, providing practical help and support throughout this journey.

True Work/Life Harmony

My work has been my source of connection to my inner self. It has seen me through some very tough times and has brought me the success I now enjoy today. My work is symbolic, based on form and shape and I use piercings in many of my pieces–I create my sculpture from wood and I like to suspend gemstones.

I have exhibited all over the South East of the UK, including central London, the Houses Of Parliament and America Square. Also, I have been featured by the BBC and in many national magazines; my work is owned internationally.

A national gallery is reviewing my Blind A Sixth Sense exhibition for inclusion in their exhibition programme for 2020-2021. This exhibition explored a unique concept of placing 6 sculpted pieces depicting the senses into a pitch black gallery space. The public was invited to interpret the work by using their other senses. This was an incredible success seeing over 500 people visit the exhibition and a sell out on work.

Sight Loss Change Agent

As an Ambassador for the national charity Retina UK, I advocate the work of the charity. This includes social media, public speaking and offering support to those newly diagnosed with RP. This advocacy work is very dear to my heart. I want to offer help to those who may be struggling with their sight loss by helping them navigate their own pathway through this very life-changing time.

Victoria Surfing
Victoria Surfing

I share my experience of sight loss through public speaking, exhibiting my work and will be writing my memoirs later this year. I’m also designing a new website which will act as a central hub for those with sight loss. It will be a place where the blind and VI community can connect, share stories, and support one another.

The website will also highlight all of my activities, including my career as a professional sculptor, public speaking and my Ambassador work. I will share all of my other loves, this includes surfing, something that I learnt only 4 years ago. Surfing is one of the most freeing activities I’ve ever done. There are no obstacles in the ocean and the feeling of connection to the force of mother nature as you ride a wave is just incredible. I’m also a keen skateboarder, and again, like surfing it gives me such a sense of freedom. I use my long cane out in front of me in my left hand, this helps me navigate. I am learning to snowboard too, I think the board sports give me such joy.

Finding Freedom

I’ve been a musician for over 20 years, singing and playing in many bands as well as solo work. I love to write new material on my piano, it’s a beautiful form of expression.

I feel so very blessed to have found a sense of freedom within the acceptance of my sight loss. This acceptance has shown me the beauty within blindness–a sense of stillness, a sensory experience that you cannot gain when sighted. A connection to one’s own trust, this trust is what will open you to all possibilities.

I have learnt that blindness is not to be feared, it is to be embraced wholeheartedly, through acceptance, adaptivity, and accessibility. You can live a life that is full, joyous, successful and incredibly meaningful, with limitless potential.

Freedom In Acceptance Featured Image Description

In this photo, Victoria is stunning as she stands facing the camera with her bamboo long cane. She is wearing a beautiful cream lace dress and her straight blond hair frames her face.

Additional Images:

  • Victoria & The Guardian. In this photo, Victoria, in a purple sleeveless sheath dress and matching long cane is posing with her sculpture, The Guardian. The Guardian is a wooden sculpture of a vertical wing. The photo was taken at the FLY Freedom In Acceptance exhibition in central London. 
  • Shaded of Lillies is a lovely wooden tactile tabletop delight. Three graceful flowers, from light to dark shades stand atop a light wooden base. The slender stems of the flowers ever so slightly bend upward to the floral base which resembles raised cupped hands.  
  • Surf, Sand And Spirit. This piece depicts a symbolic upright surfboard with an amber suspension hanging from the piercing. The base represents the ripples that form in wet sand, this piece is created from alder wood and oak wood.
  • Victoria Surfing: An action shot of Victoria riding a wave on her surfboard in a wetsuit.

Connecting With Victoria Claire:

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Too Sighted To Be Blind

Too Sighted To Be Blind

It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything for Bold Blind Beauty. I’ve been so consumed with all the other aspects of this site it’s been overwhelming. Things like updating policies, products, and people to feature, have taken so much time my choices are limited.

Image Description is in the body of the post.
Stephanae

One of the things I seldom talk about is how I adjusted to living with blindness. Next month will be 10 years since I gave up driving and began adapting to losing some of my independence. During that time my left eye was unusable and my “good” right eye had these massive floaters. 

I used to think floaters were these tiny specks that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. As a high myope (severely nearsighted) I remember seeing my first floaters when was very young. But the ones I had 10 years ago were different. They were solid black clouds that constantly moved to obscure everything in my line of sight. Imagine driving and suddenly you’re unable to see street signs, traffic lights, people, and vehicles on the road–it’s scary.

After I stopped driving I’d have to wait until January 2009 for what would be my last vitrectomy (macular hole surgery). During a vitrectomy, a gas bubble is injected into the eye. This particular surgery was a little different because my surgeon was going to remove those annoying floaters as well. 

Seeing Yet Not Fully Sighted

Veering off topic for a minute, if you’ve never held your head in a downward position for 4 weeks or more, you haven’t lived. Yes, this was what I had to do each time I had a vitrectomy. And let me tell you the first few days after each surgery my neck was on fire. I had to do this on four separate occasions and each time I was ALL IN. 

Image description is in the body of the post.
Hey! I’m Walkin’ Here Tote & Ready To Conquer Tee

To help people understand what it might feel like to be blind there are various simulations from blindfolds to special eyeglasses. If I could point to one experience that prepared me for blindness it would be vitrectomy recovery. While I could see peripherally and downward, being unable to look up when I went for follow-up appointments was a strange feeling. Sort of like ‘you can see, but you can’t.’

Anyway, during this last recovery period, my retina specialist found a leaky blood vessel at the back of my right eye. Though an injection of Avastin stopped the bleeding, I’d find out later I was legally blind.

Too Blind To Be Sighted

To this day, none of my doctors can explain how the first macular hole evolved into the series of issues that stole my sight. Back when it all began the possibility of me ending up where I am today was highly unlikely. Going from healthy eyes to glaucoma, a torn retina, cataracts, uveitis, and blindness still seems like a dream. Yet each day I awaken I know it’s real. 

My blindness is the reason why I advocate for inclusion, accessibility, and equity. No one can know what going blind feels like until you’ve experienced it first-hand. Even then, when one or more of us share the same condition our sight is different for each of us.

The one thing this whole experience has taught me is to be more open-minded. I realize I know so much less than what I thought I knew and I’m learning more every day. There are so many conditions people live with and there really is no room for assumptions. 

I am blind and I look like I can see. It isn’t easy being too sighted to be blind yet too blind to be sighted. Even so, I will continue breaking down barriers in the hopes for a judgment-free world. One where blind and visually impaired individuals are doing what they love and are equally represented in all areas of life.

Featured Image Description:

In this three-quarter profile shot, I’m wearing a teal colored sleeveless sporty dress with a hoodie. It looks great with my Bold Blind Beauty braille teal wristband. Photo credit: Jana N. Williams Photography

Additional Images:

  • I posed with my “gold” white cane and wore a black tee with a white tote bag. The tee has an image of fashion icon Abby. To the right of Abby is a checklist Handbag, Heels, White Cane and directly under her and the checklist is the slogan: “Ready to Conquer.” The bag has black handles, features Abby, and say “Hey I’m Walkin’ Here!” Abby is front and center above the slogan
  • In this picture, I’m standing in front of a gorgeous red door at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Since there was a wedding in progress we couldn’t get any shots in front of the building so we found this magnificent red door with these tactile black knobs. 
  • The mug’s design includes fashion icon, Abby (in trio format) who are to the right of the handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.” To the left of the handle, the slogan is tactile braille.
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Naomie Inas | Blind Beauty 53

Blind Beauty 53 image description is in the body of the post.

Naomie Inas | Blind Beauty 53

“My hope is for my music to reach and inspire as many people as possible. Especially those with visual and other challenges to encourage them to be anything they desire. Because sight is mostly internal, having limited or no vision will cause you to adapt to your world to accomplish things.” 

~Naomie Inas

Reaching for the Moon

Musical Artist, Naomie Inas, was recently featured here on Bold Blind Beauty as a Woman On The Move. A talented woman dedicated to her craft, she is pursuing her dreams and is an excellent role model. Naomie exemplifies what a person can do when their passion takes center stage.

Blind Beauty 53 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Naomie is on the cover and she has a certain je né sais quoi that makes her look like a star. Fashionably elegant and sporting a blond bob, she is wearing an open cropped jacket with a fur-trimmed collar. In muted shades of brown, her outfit includes a bra with a coordinating skirt and a long pendant necklace. She is standing with her left hand against a red brick wall.

Blocks of text superimposed on Naomie’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others.”

Connecting With Naomie:

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Figuring Out Foundation

Figuring Out Foundation featured image description is in the body of the post.

Figuring Out Foundation

“You can layer these foundations. For example, start with CC Cream for a great primer and then add a liquid foundation for more coverage.” 


~Amy Wilson
Image 1
Image 1

Let me just start off by saying foundation is a struggle for most women, and for us blind beauties wow. So I thought I would do two things for you today.

  • One, talk about what types of foundations are out there.
  • Second, discuss where to apply it so it doesn’t look like a mask.

Let’s get some of you off the foundation struggle bus. Lol! I am going to start with the easiest and work my way up to the tougher ones to match. Now I admit I am totally biased on this one because it’s my favorite., it’s CC Cream. The CC stands for complexion corrector.

This CC Cream is a powerhouse. It does multiple things for your skin all at once: it moisturizes, primes, sunscreen and of course foundation. This product blends to match your natural skin tone and it’s the easiest foundation to match for anyone.

Other Types of Foundations

Mineral Powders

Mineral powders are a popular one. They are great for light coverage. Many different companies make mineral powder. They typically come in circular containers. You shake some of the product onto the lid and apply with a powder brush.

Tip: Investing in a set of quality makeup brushes will take you far and take your product even further. I know by using my brushes I lengthen the use of my foundation and other products. I can recommend different brushes you may want to use.

Now let’s bump it up to some more coverage for that beautiful face.

Timewise Liquid Foundations

Mary Kay has what we call our Timewise Liquid Foundations. These have age-fighting ingredients included in the foundation. It comes in two different types:

  • One is matte-wear for those ladies who have combination to oily skin. This formula won’t make your face as shiny.
  • The second one is luminous-wear for a skin type of normal to dry.

Tip: Checking the foundation on your jawline is the best way to find your match. Remember Mary Kay consultants will let you try these before you buy. We want you to love the products, satisfaction guaranteed.

Medium Coverage Foundation

There is a Medium Coverage Foundation which gives your face 8 hours of coverage. Its been described to me that it can give you that airbrushed look.

Cream to Powder Foundation

Finally, there is Cream to Powder Foundation. From my understanding, you can either love or hate this one. For myself, having a normal to dry skin type this one sounds nice. I am sure if you have really oily skin this one could be frustrating.

Wow! That’s a lot of information about foundation. I hope you find it helpful.

Tip: You can layer these foundations. Example start with CC Cream for a great primer and then add a liquid foundation for more coverage.

Application

Now let’s talk about how to apply foundation to the face.

  1. Start in the middle of your face and blend towards the outer part of your face. You can apply in your T-zone (this is your forehead and straight down the middle of your face).
  2. When getting to the jawline, make sure to take the foundation to your neck. If you stop at your jaw it can look like you are wearing a mask and that’s not good.

Alright, I will wrap it up and wish all of you a fresh and fabulous day!

As usual, you can find me on Facebook or join my Facebook group:

Bye Beauties!

Figuring Out Foundation Featured Image Description:

The image is assorted black makeup brushes on a white background with a zippered case.

Image 1:

This photo is a bottle of CC cream next to several swathes of different shades of the product.