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Seeing Differently A Message Of Hope For 2020

Fireworks image is described in the body of the post

2020 A Year Of Vision

Happy New Year Everyone!!

2020 A Year Of Vision Image description is in the body of the post.
2020 A Year of Vision

Built on the premise that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers,” Bold Blind Beauty was created to empower blind and visually impaired women. In recognition of the year 2020, we are excited to unveil our “2020 A Year Of Vision” Campaign. The focus of the campaign will be on changing perceptions about the disability community and promoting inclusiveness.  

Changing perceptions begins with building awareness and promoting respect for people with disabilities. We plan to achieve the goal of changing the way we perceive one another by sharing our stories and having mutual respect for humanity. In 2020 we are thrilled to present as part of the “2020 A Year of Vision” Campaign: 

Compassionate & Broader Perspectives Promote Acceptance

It seems we must label and categorise to ‘impose order’ over our world, to allocate meaning, to think of things in a prescribed way.

~Robyn Haynes | Big Dreams For A Tiny garden

I won’t pretend to know how or when segregation began as this is outside of my area of expertise. However, as my friend Robyn observes in her post “Star Of Bethlehem” I agree that taxonomies are human-imposed.

As humans we are and simultaneously are not, the same. Think about it, when we strip away our exteriors what are we left with? Sure, many factors go into our becoming the individuals we are and the beauty of being human lies in our complexities. Unfortunately, all humanity isn’t equally valued.

As a nearly 60-year-old minority who lives with an acquired disability, I have some experience in what being different means. Something I’ve noticed; when others who are not minorities become disabled, it becomes apparent how being different impacts their lives. Side note: as a minority group, the disability community does NOT discriminateanyone can become a member. I’ve also noticed that when we experience a national or international tragedy we can come together in shared grief.

Since no one can possibly know what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes it’s our responsibility to be empathetic. Is this difficult? Absolutely it is! Just thinking of all the areas of contention we have with fellow humans is dizzying. And truth be told, some people while we may have to let them go for whatever reason, they are still valuable humans. In “When the corpse is not ours…” my friend and author Jacqueline (A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales) challenges our view of humanity.

“No other “group” has the power to erase and redefine another person’s identity to suit their own bias – to control which areas of society in which others may engage in relative safety.”

~Jambo Robyn | Jambo Robyn Stories about ordinary things

Learning To Respect Differences

Appreciating differences and accepting people where they are is at the heart of humanity. If you subscribe to the idea that humanity is imperfect, respecting differences can begin with embracing our own flaws. So how then can we learn to see differently? Here are a few tips to practice:

  • Gratitude without comparison: Comparing ourselves with one another is pointless and detrimental to our wellbeing. So many of us are overly concerned with being who others think we should be and in the process, we lose ourselves. Being grateful for who you are, begins with knowing yourself. No one can define who you are except you. Self-compassion enables you to wholly embrace yourself and gratitude diminishes the need for comparison. What are your vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and values?
  • Let go of perfectionism: We’re complex creatures none of whom are perfect. Do not give power to your inner critic. Doing the best we can with what we have is enough.
  • Positivity as a choice: In our increasingly divisive culture it can be challenging to avoid negativity however we always have a choice. We do not have to engage in negative behavior or commentary.
  • Kindness: Being open to the idea that others’ lives may differ greatly from your own is okay. We cannot and should not expect everyone to live as we do. Respecting other people’s right to live and choose how to do so is humanitarianism. Live and let live and above all be kind.

In 2020 let’s do better and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be! I leave you with a song I’ve declared as my anthem:

We Are Here To love | Lenny Kravitz

What are your thoughts on how we can transform our culture and respect one another?

Image Descriptions:

  • The header image contains multicolored fireworks on a white background.
  • 2020 A Year Of Vision: A simple black outline drawing of an eye on a white background. The iris of the eye is a teal-colored female symbol and the pupil inside the iris is a smaller gray male symbol. The eye is centered above the black tagline “2020 A Year of Vision.”
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Viewing Life Through 2019's Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror described in the body of the post

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

~LR Knost

As 2019 winds down, reflecting on my ordinary, mundane, and routine life sandwiched between amazing and awful moments I’m grateful. I think the above quote about life resonates so deeply with me is because of its simplicity. Even so, a small part of me can’t help but feel that when life isn’t amazing or awful then something must be wrong. However, when I really think about it ordinary is the sweet spot.

This time last year I was riding high on the first publication of CAPTIVATING! a free, accessible online lifestyle magazine. Then as 2018 neared its end, I went into a deep depression that I thought I couldn’t rebound from. Yet I did, and what’s even better is I’m ending 2019 more enlightened. In my very first post of 2019, I ended it by saying “I’ll continue to hopefully come out on the other side more enlightened.” When I made this statement there wasn’t a map for me to follow to enlightenment but believing in possibilities created the pathway. Here’s a look back, through blog posts, on the timeline of how I arrived here:

  1. 2019 New Year Fresh Outlook
  2. Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss
  3. Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose
  4. Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness
  5. My Path From Poverty To Possibilities

The Amazing, The Awful & The Ordinary

Photo of Ariella is described in the body of the post
Ariella

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t have imagined I’d have amazing opportunities to travel. Interacting with people in person was so meaningful and enhanced the virtual relationships we previously developed. Likewise, meeting new people and developing new relationships helped me to grow personally and professionally. Oh, and the most AMAZING thing happened last week when my granddaughter, Ariella, was born.

While traveling, meeting new people, and a newborn fall into the amazing category at the other end of the spectrum is the awful. Devastating news in the form of a broken relationship, a friend’s cancer diagnosis, and another friend’s death were painful. Each of these situations profoundly affected me causing a great deal of introspection, and today I’m still processing my feelings.

Learning to appreciate the ordinary has been a little tough but at the same time rewarding. It’s been tough because I made some difficult but necessary changes in my life and I’m finding this is constant. The rewards, on the other hand, have been less stress, more meaningful relationships, and a greater sense of self.

Enlightenment

In summary, I’ve found life and the journey to my self-discovery a continual, exhausting, effort that requires focus, truth, and vulnerability. Many of us struggle daily with doubts about our worthiness and we try to find the answers outside of ourselves. The thing is, self-compassion which can only come from the inside allows us to embrace our worthiness. When you know who you are, no one else can define you. Owning your worthiness places you in a position where what others think about you is no longer important.

From my heart to yours I wish you the happiest of holidays!

And if perchance, this time of year is a struggle for you please know you aren’t alone.💔 You must know, You Matter!

If you need encouragement, I leave you with a teaser to the song my friend Vicky wrote.💖 You can check out the lyrics here: Know You Matter and be on the lookout for the single to drop in January 2020.

Correction:

In the original version of this post, I included what I thought was the teaser of Know You Matter. This audio clip is the correct file.

Image Descriptions

  • Featured image: Photo of a car’s rearview mirror reflecting the long road behind the vehicle. White transparent “2019” is overlaying the reflection.
  • Photo of Ariella sleeping in her bassinet. She has a little pink knit cap on her head that perfectly matches her rosy cheeks and she is wearing a long sleeve tee
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Becoming A Blind Photographer

A black & white image of a long stretch of railroad track taken from the caboose.

Introduction:

When I began Bold Blind Beauty my original intent was to empower others by sharing lessons I learned through my sight loss. As this site has evolved, however, many of us are beneficiaries of empowerment from the sight loss stories of others. Each of the Women On The Move (WOTM) and Blind Beauties featured here has unmatched strength and resilience. Every story is different as we walk separate paths yet the one thing we share in common is a change in our perspectives.

Experiencing losses in life is universal. How we each deal with our losses is the difference between living and thriving as Megan Sinks, today’s WOTM explains.

Becoming A Blind Photographer

There are events that draw very bold lines between your life “before” and your life “after”, in which nothing is the same on the other side. This is my story.

~Megan Sinks

The Body Battles Itself

Megan & Her Mom (#1 Supporter)
Megan & Her Mom (#1 Supporter)

My line was drawn when I was 25 years old. It was 2011; I was a newlywed and recent college grad with big dreams. What started as excruciating pain in my feet became much scarier when I could no longer see my face in the mirror. Although it’s still not well understood, I’d had an autoimmune attack. Many of my nerves had been damaged, including my optic nerves. Fortunately, after the hemorrhaging subsided, I was left with some functional vision, but I’m legally blind and in constant pain.

My first 25 years were as bright, as I had been, in terms of both grades and spirit. I was a happy person who studied abroad in Germany while getting my Bachelor’s degree in philosophy. My plans were to either go on to graduate school to teach or attend law school. Those plans—everything, really—changed when I was plunged into a disorienting, blurry world of alternating darkness and unbearable light.

My body and mind couldn’t make sense of the sheer amount and variety of pain sensations that never stopped. When I did sleep, it was during the day to avoid the harshest light. I didn’t have much of a schedule, sleeping or otherwise, for the years it took to get my pain under control. I could no longer drive, work, walk well unaided, even prepare a meal or have any semblance of a social life.

In Search Of Answers

My family and I were doing all we could to find the cause for my body’s deterioration, regularly seeing new specialists and trying increasingly dangerous treatments. Our lives were focused totally on this. My young marriage couldn’t handle the stress of this sudden and debilitating illness that made me very dependent, depressed, and… different. We all wanted “the old Megan” back.

I was no longer the bubbly, vivacious, smart young woman I had been, I was desperate and exhausted. I had become a tragic version of myself. In moments of lucidity, I recognized how bad things had gotten but had no idea how to address them.

When my husband and I separated, I felt even more physically and emotionally isolated, living on my family’s farm in rural southern Illinois. As difficult as that time was, I am so grateful for it because I had a lot of internal work to do. I had to learn how to live in this body that seems to hate me, how to appreciate what I have and define what I wanted. My primary goal was to become a contributory, functional part of society again. The only way to do that was to reframe how I saw myself and my situation. I’d been missing “the old Megan” so much, I hadn’t thought I’d appreciate my current self.

The Awakening

In my “Before,” I took everyday beauty for granted like most everyone else. That is until I lost most of my sight and identity. Sight loss caused me to see the world differently, both literally and metaphorically. I used the camera on my phone to take photos of things I wanted to see or read. Then I zoomed in to see the details I couldn’t identify without help. This was my first taste of assistive and adaptive technology which opened up a whole new world for me.

Organically I started to take more and more photos, which gave me a positive way to view my disability. I see the world differently than others and that can be positive as I can use my new perspective to become a better photographer. I’d taken photography classes in college but truly fell in love with it after becoming legally blind. I feel so much joy in rediscovering the visual world and sharing the experience with others.

After spending years going to doctors like it was my job, we were left with more questions than answers. It’s been almost 9 years since the autoimmune attack. I haven’t given up on finding the name of my disease, but I no longer see that as the key to my ability to live a good life I had to move on, somehow.

I attended a school for the blind in Chicago for a year, where I learned essential skills like using my cane properly, reading Braille and performing regular daily activities without sight. (Thank you, Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education/ ICRE-Wood!) From there, I was hired to work at the Base Supply Center at the Great Lakes Naval Center for the nonprofit AbilityOne agency, Beyond Vision.

Moving Onward

My husband and I decided to give our marriage another shot, so he moved with me to the northeastern Chicago suburbs. That was in the summer of 2017 and we are still here, I am still working at the Base Supply Center and I continue to explore the world around me with my camera.

I want to show people, through my art and life, that our limitations can become our strengths and there’s great beauty in disability. Disability is often thought of as simply a lack of ability, but it’s truly having different abilities and perspectives with value. Blindness and other disabilities are so badly understood, yet nearly one in five Americans is living with a disability. Widespread misconceptions are a problem that I hope to help, as no one expects a legally blind person to be a photographer (especially if they don’t realize that most blind people have some vision.) I hope to spread awareness and advocate for people with disabilities we have value and unique talents to offer if given the opportunity.

When I lost my sight, I didn’t think I’d be gaining anything, but I was wrong. The “old Megan” had more depth of field and visual acuity, but the new me has more depth of character and emotion, plus more vision than she could’ve imagined.

Connecting With Megan:

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured photo
    • A black & white image of a long stretch of railroad track taken from the caboose.
  • First Gallery (before Megan’s autoimmune attack):
    • A color wedding day photo of Megan standing with her arms around her smiling Mom and #1 supporter. Both ladies look lovely with Megan wearing a strapless white wedding dress and her mom in a sleeveless black dress.
    • Black & white wedding photo of Megan, her husband, and two adorable young nephews. The boys are being held by Megan and her husband.
    • Photo from Megan’s vision test at the beginning of her illness.
  • Second Gallery 3 Black & White Photos:
    • A bare reflection of a tree in a puddle of rainwater on asphalt. 
    • Closeup of the center of a flower.
    • Another closeup of a leaf with water droplets on it.
  • Third Gallery 7 Color Photos:
    • A partial closeup image of a bright yellow sunflower with a brown center.
    • Downward perspective closeup of the pink and white petals and filaments of type of lily.
    • The veins of a brownish leaf with water droplets.
    • Closeup of white tufts of a dandelion.
    • Reddish/brown veins on a green leaf.
    • Yellowish/brown withering leaf and the bright glow of the sun can be seen in the distance.
    • Another pale pink flower belonging to the lily family whose filaments are the focus of the photo.
  • Fourth Gallery 3 Color Photos of Megan today:
    • In the first and third photos, Megan is posing with her mom sporting a stylish cropped haircut.
    • The second photo is Megan, her husband, and adolescent nephews. The four of them are standing close together decked out in winter gear.

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Bold Blind Beauty Reveals

2020 A Year Of Vision Image description is in the body of the post.

POSTED ON DECEMBER 7, 2019
BY CHELSEA NGUYEN
POSTED IN FASHION & BEAUTY
TAGGED BLINDNESSBLINDNESS AWARENESSBOLD BLIND BEAUTYEMPOWERMENT

“2020 A Year Of Vision” Campaign

By Chelsea Nguyen

Abby

Today we have a special guest visiting CAPTIVATING! who will be sharing some exciting beauty news with the blind community in mind. Abby the fashion-icon-extraordinaire of Bold Blind Beauty is with us and will be unveiling her new campaign called “2020 A Year Of Vision.

For those of you who don’t know, Bold Blind Beauty is an online community built on the premise that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” Its main focus is the empowerment of blind and visually (B&VI) women and Abby is going to tell us what’s in store for 2020. So with that, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Abby.

Chelsea: Hi Abby, we here at CAPTIVATING! are so excited to have you here with us today. Before we get into your 2020 Campaign can you tell us a little about yourself?

Abby: Hi Chelsea, thank you for the introduction. It’s an honor to be here at CAPTIVATING! where you’ll be the first to hear about Bold Blind Beauty’s 2020 Campaign.

As you said, my name is Abby and I’m the fictional blind fashionista of Bold Blind Beauty. After taking an extended sabbatical from the corporate world I became an adventurer traveling around the globe. From hiking mountains to sailing worldwide, dabbling in spelunking and gliding down runways in the major fashion capitals of the world, I was sought out to run Bold Blind Beauty.

Chelsea: Wow Abby it is so cool being able to interview a fictional character as I believe you’re the first fictional guest we’ve hosted. And your accomplishments are extraordinary. How did you become such an amazing well-rounded fictional character?

Abby: I’m really more of a representation of real-life B&VI people who are doing the exact same things as our sighted counterparts. The only difference is those of us in the B&VI community do things a little differently by using adaptations. Being blind can have its challenges but then again life is challenging and while we have little control over the things that happen to us, we can choose how we respond to our challenges.

Chelsea: You know I’m really glad you brought up this topic as I’ve been an advocate within the B&VI community for a number of years now. I’ve learned so much as a result of the many friendships I’ve developed with those within the community and even developed nonvisual makeup application techniques which I teach as an image consultant. As a member of the beauty industry, I saw an opportunity to bring products and services to the B&VI. How did you get involved in the beauty business?

Abby: Good question Chelsea. I’ve always had a thing for advocacy and given my experiences when I began working with Bold Blind Beauty I was able to wholly tap into my fashion sense. Extending advocacy into beauty made sense to me because there are limited resources in this area for blind women.

Chelsea: It’s unfortunate that beauty resources are limited for the B&VI community. How do you think we can change this?

Abby: Chelsea, this is an excellent segway into the “2020 A Year Of Vision” Campaign. As part of the campaign, the “Triple B Stamp Of Approval” is a beginning that will address the dilemma of limited beauty resources for our community.

Chelsea: Oh, this “Triple B Stamp Of Approval” sounds intriguing. Please tell us more. How will it work?

Abby: Essentially, the “Triple B Stamp Of Approval” is a product review rating system to gauge the accessibility of a product or service. We have a team of Bold Blind Beauties who will test makeup and cosmetic products by our favorite brands in areas such as accessibility, pricing, packaging, user-friendliness, and then they’ll give an overall score, a Triple B rating!

Then each week I will host a weekly podcast highlighting the outcomes of the products tested, to help our community learn about the beauty options available to them.

Chelsea: This sounds so exciting Abby! The “Triple B Stamp Of Approval“ will help brands and companies reach a broader audience and become more inclusive. Can you give us a sneak peek at the system?

Abby: Sure!! It’s a rather simple process where:

  • 1 B = Needs Improvement
  • 2 B = Good
  • 3 B = Fabulous

Bold Blind Beauty will be collaborating with brands/companies to obtain products to test, in exchange for product reviews. The goal of this system is a mutual effort to expand brands/company’s reach to include the over 7 million B&VI adults of whom nearly 4 million are women age 16 and older.

We see “The Triple B Stamp of Approval“ as a unique opportunity for brands/companies to engage with members of the B&VI community and allow our voices to be heard.

Chelsea: What else do you have going on for the 2020 Year Of Vision Campaign? Can you share it with us?

Abby: Sure I can give CAPTIVATING! readers a quick overview of the campaign. First, since the year 2020 is almost upon us, we felt this is an excellent opportunity to bring awareness to blindness/sight loss. With this in mind, we’ve refreshed our branding for the year and in addition to our regular features (Blind Beauty, Cane Enabled, and Women on the Move) we are incorporating:

  • Abby’s Triple B Stamp Of Approval weekly podcast review
  • Men In Motion: A monthly feature published on the first Monday of each month.

Chelsea: It’s cool that you’ll be introducing your audience to B&VI men. Can you tell us what to expect?

Abby: Awe, Chelsea I wish I could but some things still need to be kept under wraps until the right moment arrives!

Chelsea: I’m disappointed yet excited to see what Bold Blind Beauty will bring us in 2020. Thank you so much, Abby, for sharing your news with our CAPTIVATING! readers. And folks to learn more about Abby’s journey, visit Abby’s Corner at www.boldblindbeauty.com/abbycorner.

Connecting with Abby:

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured Image – A simple black outline drawing of an eye on a white background. The iris of the eye is a teal-colored female symbol and the pupil inside the iris is a smaller gray male symbol. The eye is centered above the tagline “2020 A Year Of Vision.”
  • Fashion icon Abby is holding up a teal dress on a hanger in her right hand. She is wearing a stylish black off the shoulder dress, black heels with ankle straps and a white hat with a black band with a loose end waving. In her left hand is her “gold” colored white cane.