Posted on

WOTM Featuring Suzanne Clarke

Suzanne Clarke Featured Image Description

men On The Move Featuring Suzanne Clarke

“For me, my biggest fear was being seen. Not just on the outside, but on the inside… like really being seen. For as long as I can remember, I’d always kept myself small, blending in and not really wanting to stand out. 

Image 1 Suzanne Clarke image description is in the body of the text
Image 1

I’ve continually dimmed my light and played the wallflower. So much more comfortable than standing in the spotlight. Even though deep down, I knew there was something much bigger I could be doing. I didn’t know what it was, it was just an inner knowing that I’d been put on this earth for a much greater purpose.” ~Suzanne Clarke

Today we are pleased to share Suzanne’s story of grit and determination on receiving her devastating blinding eye disease diagnosis. Throughout this article are some of Suzanne’s favorite quotes that help to keep her grounded.

A Dream Fulfilled

I’d wanted to be a nurse since I was 4 years old. I achieved that dream and completed my Nurse training in 1987. I later found my niche in Hospice and community palliative care nursing. It wasn’t a job to me, I loved what I was doing. Yes, it was hard at times, but oh so rewarding.

2. Image description is in the body of the post
Image 2

In 2016 I relocated to Dorset. Another dream of mine to live near the sea. A year later, I had a job all lined up in a hospice there, and all was going great. Then I broke my ankle, so I was out of action for a good few weeks.

“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” ~Ziad K. Abdelnour 

Later I had a diagnosis of osteoporosis confirmed. During that time I was under the hospital ophthalmic team. The opticians had picked up something on my retinas. My Dad has RP (retinitis pigmentosa) and there was concern over whether I had inherited it. I was in denial, so put it to the back of my mind to deal with when the time came.

A Diagnosis Confirmed

That time came way too quickly! A series of tests confirmed that yes, I had RP. Shortly after that, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) asked for my license back. I was emotionally crushed for quite a long time and turned into a hermit. I didn’t leave the house much, because what if I fell over again and broke something? Additionally, I couldn’t see in the dark without a torch. If I could fall over in daylight and break my ankle, what damage could I do at night? That made it an incredibly long and dark winter – and not just the long evenings, my emotions were in a dark space too…

“Don’t lose hope. When it gets dark the stars come out.”

I couldn’t take the job at the Hospice. It was ok to drive to, about 45 minutes away. It was too far and difficult by public transport – which doesn’t mix well with shift work!

Image 4 quote and description is in the body of the post.
Image 4

I didn’t know about the RNIB Access to Work scheme back then. So I moved back to Hertfordshire where I’d lived previously for 40 years. I was looking for security and familiarity. If I was going to lose my sight, I wanted to be somewhere I knew well.

A Destined Calling

Fast forwarding a few months, I found help and support where I least expected it. An RP Facebook group and an awesome poet, Dave Steele!

I’d also been doing some intense internal healing work, in groups and one to one— thanks to Denise Barbi and Anna Hunt. I’d reached my rock bottom—the only way back was up! Along with that returned the niggle of serving my purpose, of getting my story out there to help others. I’d suppressed this for so long, but I couldn’t keep it or me hidden anymore. It was fit to burst.

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” ~Stephen Hawking

The urge to help, guide, support, mentor and teach others was too strong. I knew I had to be seen to do this, but it just had to be done. It started with social media and has gone on from there.

I am now working as a volunteer for the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). One of my many roles is to co-facilitate confidence building and living with sight loss courses. Also, a community connect role bringing people together and meeting up, so they feel part of a wider community and less isolated. I’m also going to be a roaming technical volunteer. Visiting blind/visually impaired people in their homes. Helping them with their technical equipment, which again helps them feel a sense of connection and belonging.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. ~Jellaludin Rumi

So I have now made friends with my RP. I had to in order to move on with my life. What at first felt like the end of my world, was actually a wake-up call that broke me open at the core. It showed me that, for me, my life had to be shaken up from my foundations and rebuilt on more solid ground. It’s actually been a beautiful transformation. As painful as it was at the time. After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!

Suzanne Clarke Featured Image:

Suzanne smiles brightly for the camera wearing dark-framed eyeglasses and sporting her sassy short silver hairstyle. She is wearing a red and black floral v-neck top.

Additional Images:

  1. A selfie of Suzanne wearing eyeglasses and a white v-neck top.
  2. “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.” The image is an arrow above the quote on a yellow background.
  3. “True confidence doesn’t come from your not having any fear it comes from hurling yourself to act in spite of your fear.” ~Dr. Barbara De Angelis In this image the quote is above sand dunes against a dark purplish night sky.

Connecting With Suzanne Clarke On Social Media:

Posted on

A Dedication To Advocates A.K.A. Champions

Champion Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

A Dedication To Advocates A.K.A. Champions

Courage
Honor
Attitude
Motivation
Persevere
Integrity
Optimistic
Never giving up

One of the definitions for the word champion is “a person who fights for or defends any person or cause.” I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to work with so many champions (women & men, sighted & nonsighted of all abilities) featured here on Bold Blind Beauty.

“Belle et rebelle” (beautiful and rebellious)

I recently came upon the lovely term “Belle et rebelle” from a blog post. My friends at Green Global Trek recently used the phrase in Postcards from France ~ La Rochelle. When I saw the phrase I immediately thought of this community because we are shaking things up. The following song with the lyrics (below the video) is dedicated to you. Together we are breaking down barriers!

Here’s to all the Belle et rebelle:

Helen KellerAngela WinfieldSusan & Sherri RodgersEmpish ThomasAmy Hildebrand, Libby ThawKaren RowieJule Ann LiebermanEmily DavisonSuzanne GibsonFatmatta WurieStephanie Stephens VanSue Wiygul MartinJennifer RothschildLeigh Anne FocaretaKerry KijewskiJill KhouryChelsea StarkPaul MugambiMaribel SteelMary (Mel) ScottAmy BovairdCharlotte PoetschnerAudrey DemmittDonna HillSusan KennedyHolly BonnerKimberly WhiteTosha MichelleAshley NemethJenelle LandgrafJoy ThomasArie FarnamNicole Schultz-KassMara LaurenBecky AndrewsCarla Ernst, NicoleChristie SmithSilvia SeyringerJo Elizabeth PintoMaria JohnsonTaylor PapadopoulosVirginia MazeMegan DarcyRose-Ann LyonsLynne NicholsonCasandra XavierChristina HoltzclawEileen RobinsonDiane KrekMelody GoodspeedAngie RobertsLiz OleksaJill StephensShaini SaravanamuthuBeatriz García MartínNysha CharleneChrissy AntonopoulosBrittany WinnerEmily MetautenIvana TorbicaLizzie CapenerJayd Alex, Mja StæinarrJade RamosVictoria ClaireJennifer DutrowJ RenéeHawkeyeFaith & SavannahSuzanne ClarkeMarieke DavisNasreen BhuttaKathy Keck, Kirsty MajorLisa SalingerCaitlin HernandezAshley MorganLeslie ThompsonTori ClarkMichael RobertsonSherry IngramPortia MasonPenny ParkerPeggy FleisherMatt De GruchyJessica JannengaGlenda HarrisonJennifer Barrille, Laura Sottile, Jessica Marano, and let’s not forget you, our followers and supporters without whom none of this could be possible.

The Champion (Carrie Underwood)

I’ll be the last one standing
Two hands in the air, I’m a champion
You’ll be looking up at me when it’s over
I live for the battle, I’m a soldier, yeah

I’m a fighter like Rocky
Put you flat on your back like Ali
Yeah, I’m the greatest, I’m stronger
Paid my dues, can’t lose, Imma own ya, ay

I’ve been working my whole life
And now it’s do or die

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion

When they write my story
They’re gonna say that I did it for the glory
But don’t think that I did it for the fame, yeah
I did it for the love of the game, yeah
And this is my chance I’m taking
All them old records I’m breaking
All you people watching on the TV
You go ahead and put your bets on me, ay

I’ve been waiting my whole life
To see my name in lights

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion, oh

Born champion, Luda
The C is for the courage I possess through the drama
H is for the hurt but it’s all for the honor
A is for my attitude working through the patience
Money comes and goes so the M is for motivation
Gotta stay consistent, the P is to persevere
The I is for integrity, innovative career
The O is optimistic, open and never shut
And the N is necessary ’cause I’m never giving up
See they ask me how I did it, I just did it from the heart
Crushing the competition, been doing it from the start
They say that every champion is all about his principles
Carrie

I am invincible, unbreakable
Unstoppable, unshakeable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion
You’re gonna know my name
You can’t hurt me now
I can’t feel the pain
I was made for this, yeah, I was born to win
I am the champion

I’m the champion, yeah
Surpassed all rivals
It’s all about who wants it the most (I am the champion)

Fight for what we believe in
That’s what champions are made of

I am the champion

Songwriters: Brett James / Chris De Stefano / Christopher Brian Bridges / Carrie Underwood
The Champion lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Champion Featured Image Description:

Two blue boxing gloves standing upright on a white background.

Posted on

White Cane Guru Leads The Way To Independence

White Cane Guru featured image description is in the body of the post.

White Cane Guru Leads The Way To Independence

Intro: We’ve got a real treat for you today! But first, (in hushed tones) can you promise to keep a secret? Okay, please don’t tell our interviewee that I’m a cartoon character or that he’s an inanimate object. Between you and me, apparently, he’s very touchy about the topic.

Introductions

Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.Abby: Today, we are honored to be in the presence of Hawkeye a rising star in the world of white canes. Hawkeye, in light of your busy schedule it’s so lovely of you to join us. The first and most important question is this, what is your secret to keeping so trim and fit?

Hawkeye: Lots and lots of travelling!

Abby: Nice! I understand you travel quite extensively what’s it like being responsible for leading your vision impaired friend Cassie?

Hawkeye: It is an absolute honour to lead Cassie through her day. We get along so well now, in the beginning, it was tough. She was determined to prove that she didn’t need me despite the issues it was causing her. I’ve watched and helped her go from a struggling cane user to a confident cane user. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

Sweeping From Side To Side

Abby: I notice that you are a rolling ball white cane which means you use the constant contact cane technique. Can you explain how you function as a guide? 

Hawkeye: I guess you could say I get up close and personal with the ground. As a rolling ball white cane, I’m constantly in contact with the ground. This gives Cassie information as to what the ground surface is doing. She can feel whether the ground is starting to slope, or the ground surface has changed so she can adjust accordingly.

Abby: There’s been some controversy within the blind community on customized white canes. What are your views on different colored or decorated canes?

Hawkeye: It’s certainly a tricky one. I’ve been known to add some tinsel or some lights on myself at Christmas time. Other times I have added gold stars or other decorations depending on how I am feeling. I am all for personalisation but it can also complicate matters. When I am decorated it does make it harder at night time as my reflective tape can be covered up. So people/cars might not see me as well as what they would if I wasn’t decorated. It may also confuse the general public as well when colours are introduced as it is no longer a standard looking cane that they may recognise.    

Interactions With Humans

Abby: Some people who use white canes feel like they attract unwanted stares from passersby. What are your thoughts on questioning looks from people when you are out and about?

Hawkeye: I don’t understand why they stare, have they never seen a person with a cane before? It is one thing to do a quick stare but unnecessary to do a long obvious stare. How would they like it if someone was doing that to them? I sometimes feel I need a sign on me to say don’t worry I’m just a cane, I don’t bite.    

Abby: Since you take Cassie with you just about everywhere you go, how do people treat her when she is with you?

Hawkeye: Ahhh this is always an interesting one. We meet some amazing people along the way and some not so nice people shall we say. There are helpful people out there that will offer assistance to guide us around an obstacle, cross a busy road, find an entrance to a building or locate a building/street. You then get some mean people that will say hurtful things as we walk past. Other people find it to be a joke and will lie across in front of our path or wave their hands/objects right in front of Cassie’s face to try and get a reaction.

Abby: I suppose we will always encounter not so nice people. However, I have to believe amazing people greatly outnumber the unamazing folks.

Final Thoughts

Abby: As an ambassador for people around the world who use white canes, do you have any other words of wisdom?

Hawkeye: Embrace the cane! We are here to help you live an independent life.

Abby: There you have it folks straight from white cane guru himself. Hawkeye and his fellow white canes give one of the most precious gifts a person can receive—the gift of independence. Thank you again, Hawkeye for stopping by and helping us understand the importance of your role to people like Cassie and me.

White Cane Guru Featured Image Description:

Hawkeye is seen in the middle of a path lined with grass and trees on both sides. In this picture, our white cane guru looks like he is ready to take on the next challenge almost like a superhero.

You can catch up with Hawkeye on Instagram at @hawkeyestravels.

Posted on

Nasreen Bhutta | Blind Beauty Issue 44

Blind Beauty Issue 44 Nasreen Bhutta

Nasreen Bhutta | Blind Beauty Issue 44

“Dynamic professional, loving Woman and Mother! Life is like a roller coaster, embrace its thrill and enjoy every moment.” ~Nasreen Bhutta

Being The Change

If I had one word to describe Nasreen Bhutta, CEO of Project Starfish America, it would be fiery. Nasreen is one of those rare gems who is truly passionate about people. She is an open, intelligent, tenacious, energetic agent of change who also has Retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa, also known as RP, refers to a group of inherited diseases causing retinal degeneration.

The first time I met Nasreen was several months ago on a conference call with several attendees. Since the call was our first meeting, each attendee was asked to introduce themselves to the group. Like a true introvert even though I know it’s coming I always choke during these initial sessions. So instead of paying attention, I was rehearsing a silent dialogue of what I’d say. I felt I did alright until the last person spoke.

By now you’ve probably guessed the last person at bat was Nasreen. She not only introduced herself, she went around the virtual room making a comment on something each of us said. This may not seem like a big deal but it spoke volumes because it showed she was carefully listening to each of us.

When Nasreen spoke about her involvement with Project Starfish America I knew this woman was fully invested in the program. In a nutshell, the organization works to help people with disabilities to launch or re-launch their careers. Nasreen, who speaks passionately about the project, is committed to making a positive change in the lives of these individuals.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Nasreen is a living example of what this quote means.

Contact Information for Project Starfish America and Nasreen Bhutta:

Blind Beauty Issue 44 Featured Image Description:

The featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Pretty brunette and sunglass-clad Nasreen, is standing outside wearing a burgundy dress with a black sweater. In celebration of her daughter’s graduation, she is smiling broadly while holding a bouquet of red roses.

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