Posted on 13 Comments

Reclaiming Life By Taking A Stand

Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“Time is priceless, yet it costs us nothing. You can do anything you want with it, but you can’t own it. You can spend it, but you can’t keep it. And once you’ve lost it, there is no getting it back. It’s just gone.”

~Allison DuBois, Medium

Recently I accidentally found the above quote. Well, it wasn’t really an accident since I was binge-watching the Medium series. In my opinion, I felt like this is one of the most accurate statements I have come across about time. For me, just thinking about time is mind-bending. While I understand I only have this moment in time I sometimes get caught up in the past and future.

Time, or rather my use of time these past few months has been very challenging for me. The majority of my time is spent working on social justice issues as it relates to people with disabilities. Because it’s unrealistic to take on every cause, even so, my passion can take me down a rabbit hole of mass confusion. Thanks to stretching myself way too thin I’m now a former scheduling stickler. What this means is I reassessed where I am, tossed my content calendar and I’m starting fresh in September.

Life, Times Three

While there is some overlap, looking at my life today I can break it down into three categories:

  • Home Life
  • Work/Virtual Life
  • Real Life

Home Life

In the following two recent posts, I touch on my feelings of self-worth and work:

  1. Juggling Perfection and Efficiency
  2. Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness

For way too long I’ve confused ‘who I am’ with ‘what I do.’ This formula worked for me most of my life if I felt my work was satisfactory. The problem, however, was two-fold: I had unrealistic expectations and there wasn’t a clear separation between work and worth. When things were going well it was good but inevitably when they didn’t go so well I’d beat myself up. Beating myself up was only the beginning. The guilt of feeling like I wasn’t good enough or flawed sent me spiraling out of control.

Since I was my work and my work was my worth home life was practically nonexistent. I’d gotten so good at controlling my environment, that being a single mom and working full time was a piece of cake. The downside? I spent most of my time at work and never learned the value of self-care. As a matter of fact, my first of two vacations was 14 years ago. Needless to say, even when I had downtime I felt guilty because you know, worth and work. If I wasn’t working I wasn’t worthy.

Today, my youngest son lives with me and my grandson stays here four times a week. Then there’s my 81-year-old mother who requires attention, my dog, condo, and myself. While it’s a necessity, things like grocery shopping, gym, doctors, fall by the wayside because you know, worth and work.

Work/Virtual Life

The majority of my work is done at home where my laptop is connected to a large monitor. As an introvert, I work best in a quiet solitary environment with no distractions. Setting up and managing a website isn’t the easiest thing to do if you’re only semi-skilled but I’m doing it.

Cultivating relationships, networking, conference calls/meetings, researching, writing, editing, and scheduling posts can be daunting. Communicating with people on multiple social media platforms along with speaking engagements leaves little time for anything else.

When I closely examine everything I do I really don’t know how I manage. What I do know is when I’m in the zone I get annoyed with having to take bathroom breaks, I know—pathetic. Keeping up with email and text messages can nearly push me to the brink. And let’s not forget all the latest and greatest technology designed to make our lives easier.

Real Life

One of the best things about social media is meeting meaningful virtual connections in real life. When I say this I don’t mean every connection, rather only the authentic friendships that have developed over time. Two examples of connections I’ve met in real life so far this year were:

In October Chelsea, Max and I will meet up once again at the Disability InSIGHTS event hosted by another friend Amy Bovaird.

Real Life isn’t just limited to meeting virtual connections but it involves all those activities outside of the home. Get-togethers with friends, going to the pool, movies, shopping, art festivals, casual strolling or a car ride. Since I was able to travel a little this year I’ve participated in far more activities than ever before. Right now and in the future, I hope to continue experiencing real life.

The Way Forward

After my awakening at the Daring To Own You Story retreat, I knew I had to make some changes. Since I now know I had the whole work/worth thing backward being compassionate with myself comes first. I had already taken some steps a while ago to downsize possessions and tasks.

Social media is a great tool to reach many people but it can become addictive. It also contradicts the reason why I do what I do which is to create meaningful connections. Here are a few steps I’ve taken:

  • eliminating social media apps on my cell including WordPress
  • muting all cell phone notifications
  • not answering then blocking cell calls from unrecognized phone numbers
  • turning off my cell when working on a project that requires focus
  • limiting/canceling email subscriptions
  • sending salesy emails to my spam folder
  • not accepting friend/conversation requests from everyone
  • scrutinizing and eliminating automatic tools “to help make my life easier”
  • no longer use any social media during the weekend
  • limiting the number of social media posts Monday through Friday

For me, the solution to my time quandary comes down to self-preservation. And it’s pretty simple when you think about it, if I haven’t asked for it I don’t want or need it.

To some degree, I think we’ve allowed technology to control way too much of our lives. Am I saying technology is the big evil/bad? No, not at all and I actually love it. What I am saying and it’s something I’ve spoken on before and that is we have the power of CHOICE. We get to choose what we let into our lives. I don’t want technology making my decisions I want to reclaim my life.

Featured Image Description:

A monochromatic look with shades of beige/tan. I’m sitting on a blue outdoor bench wearing a cream-colored skirt with a slightly darker tank top and suede flats. My ball cap is metallic gold and I have on a denim jacket while posing with my black slimline #WhiteCane.

Posted on 9 Comments

Housewife Hustle Talks Beauty, Blindness & Makeup

WOTM and Blind Beauty Jenni Dunlap wrote this amazing article on beauty, blindness, and makeup. As a body-positive guru, I love how Jenni concludes Blindness and Makeup as it’s a reminder that Real Beauty Transcends Barriers. Thank you, Jenni, for giving Bold Blind Beauty permission to republish here.

Housewife Hustle Talks Beauty, Blindness & Makeup

As a woman with low vision, I hear a lot of surprised reactions when people find out that I love beauty and style. Just because people with visual impairments can’t see well, doesn’t mean we don’t still enjoy feeling beautiful or love beauty products in general.

It’s not complex or revolutionary- blind people can do their makeup and pick out clothes on their own. It might not be the same process, or as easy as it is for the sighted, but don’t count us out of the beauty world!

Tricks & Tools

I didn’t learn how to do my makeup growing up. I watched my mother, who is also blind, get ready to go dancing with her girlfriends sometimes, but I figured out how to apply most of my beauty products on my own. To be honest, I still don’t know all the ins and outs of makeup, because I’m pretty set in terms of my routine. I do want to keep learning and branch out though. It’s just easy to keep doing the same makeup routine.

For example, I don’t use foundation. Instead, I use a tinted moisturizer or BB cream. Sometimes, I even skip those all together and just use a primer. I don’t use a bronzer. I rarely use lip liner unless I have a liquid lipstick that desperately needs a helper. I guess I never really do a full face because I tend to like a simple, natural look. Although, a full glam face is something I want to learn.

What I do is watch and learn from a variety of places online, and then I figure out what works best for me. My favorite tools are my fingers because I use my hands like eyes sometimes. I feel where things go rather than see. I do own brushes and sponges and use them too, but the majority of my application process is with my fingers.

I can see a bit, and I’ve talked about the way I see before. My visual field is like looking through a straw, but at the end of that tunnel is almost like broken glass. I have no peripheral vision, and I also have a lot of floaters. I don’t see color the same either, but I still find a way to make it work.

I do use a magnifying mirror when doing my makeup. The only time I find myself needing the eyes of someone else is when I ask my husband if my eyebrows are even, but that’s about it.

Products Galore

I have a lot of makeup, but I also have a handful of favorites that I use regularly. Not only am I a bit cheap, I have to find makeup that is sensitive enough for my eyes, so the combination of budget and sensitivity can be tricky sometimes.

I love Almay, Rimmel, and Maybelline products. I use a decent amount of them, and my new favorite eye shadow palette is Rimmel Magnif’eyes Nude Palette. It has the right amount of shimmer and gold tones for spring too.

The products in the picture above are pretty much what I use if we are running errands. I switch out eye shadow palettes occasionally, but I’ve been using this one for a week or two now.

Step By Step

When it comes to the application process, it’s fairly simple and just like a sighted person. I just poke and touch my face a bit more.

Primer

First, I put on my primer. I put two or three pumps on my fingers and spread it around my face until it’s all covered. After my primer, I do the same thing with my BB cream. It’s not full coverage, but it blurs and minimizes the appearances of my freckles and uneven skin tone areas. Some days, I skip the BB cream though.

Brows

While my primer and/BB cream is drying, I use my pronged brow pencil to darken and shape my brows. I try to tweeze the unibrow and all the unruliness that isn’t where the hair is supposed to go, and then I fill in.

Eyes

I start with my eyes, and I put concealer on the lids and under the brows. Then, I put my highlight shade under the brow and in the corner of my eye. Next, I cover the center of my lid in my base color, which is usually a neutral tan. Sometimes, I mix it up and do something that isn’t necessary neutral. Then, I add a dark shade to the outer edge. Finally, I blend.

When I do my eyes, I line the top lid after I do my center/base color, and I also line the bottom then too. I do a few swipes of mascara after all the shadow and liner is on.

The last step to my eyes is putting concealer under my eyes and cleaning up any shadow that is out of place. I use q-tips or wet a brush if I have too much of a mess. Usually, the concealer takes care of any little smudges.

Blush & Highlight

When I put on my blush, I do use a brush, and I smile and hit the apples of my cheeks. I use a fan brush to highlight the tops of my cheekbones. If I’m feeling fancy, I put highlight in a few extra areas.

When everything is applied and I’m feeling good, I finish it all off with setting spray. And there you have it, a blind lady’s makeup routine!

Colors & Textures

I mentioned that I can’t see color very well. As much as I love red lips and my giant lipstick collection, I have a hard time seeing the differences in most reds. My husband helps me pick out a lot of my lip colors.

Eye shadow is an area I’m picky with, but I’m learning to explore new colors. I own a lot of nude/neutral palettes. I love plums and amethyst purples. I have hazel eyes, and those colors always make my eyes pop. I have been gravitating towards rose golds and pinks lately too. Even if I wear color or a metallic, I try not to go crazy. I’d love to have a dramatic smokey eye, but I need to learn a bit more about blending and application. I don’t want to look like a raccoon.

Asking for Help

I’ve thought about taking a class so I have help learning how to do more with my makeup. I’ve watched tutorial videos and been through the makeup corners of Pinterest, but I really need to have it all in front of me to touch and feel so I can get used to it that way.

I don’t have an issue asking for help, but I don’t really know any makeup mavens personally. My family and a few friends aren’t major makeup experts. They tend to have routines similar to mine if any at all.

I also hear a lot of, “you don’t need makeup.” Let me just say, no one needs makeup, but some of us genuinely enjoy it. Loving makeup doesn’t mean I’m trying to hide my face, so that assumption about makeup lovers needs to disappear. I hate when people say “that’s too much makeup.” Mind your business, please. What makes some happy, doesn’t have to make others happy. Just be kind.

Seeing Beauty

I can see beauty, but I don’t see it the same of course. Because of my blindness, beauty is different for me. I see beauty in a way that’s hard to describe. Of course, personality and someone’s character are a major part of their beauty, but when it comes to the bare aesthetics, it is obviously not the same for me.

I don’t know if I’d want to see like everyone else. For years, I struggled with body image, beauty, and eating disorders. I used to blame my vision because I couldn’t truly see how I looked.

Now, I see that my eyes aren’t to blame. It took some time, but I love myself. I love my face, and I’m learning to love my body. Beauty will always be more to me. There’s a bigger picture at hand, and blind or not, I’m going to keep wearing makeup and seeing beauty way.

Calling all makeup lovers: share some of your favorites and tips! I’d love to hear from y’all. ~Jenni

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured image: a white cup with assorted makeup brushes is in the foreground. In the background is an eye shadow palette and beside the cup are more brushes/pencils, etc.
  • Wide assortment of different types of makeup: pencils, lip colors, foundation, etc.
Posted on 8 Comments

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Thinking of a career change. Does anyone know the going rate for jugglers? I’ve got tons of balls in the air and just may qualify.

Not too long ago I laughingly shared the above post on Facebook. At that time I was gonna look into prospects of becoming a juggler, because, you know, balls in the air. Then l had to admit that I was dropping more balls than I was catching because I had too much going on.

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency image is a selfie of me (Steph), in my bald glory, wearing a white open back top and my grandson is peeping over my left shoulder.

There’s a thin line between perfection and efficiency both of which I struggle with constantly. I know perfection is highly overrated yet I still become paralyzed when I feel I haven’t given my best. As a life-long abilities crusader (fancy title for advocate), I understand how important it is to be selective. Focusing my time and efforts where they will do the most good is an essential skill. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, desiring to do too many things makes me less effective because I become overwhelmed.

I love the following quote because it reminds me:

  1. my efforts are fruitless when I’m overwhelmed
  2. it helps me to refocus on my ‘why’

“If I stop to kick every barking dog, I am not going to get where I’m going.”

~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

While advocacy is around the clock, work, a friend reminded me that we should plan our work around our lives. Advocating for Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation is why I do what I do. However, to be effective, I have to reassess, narrow my focus, and let some things go. Afterall there are over 7 billion people on the planet and none of us have to go it alone. There are many great causes in the world and plenty of opportunities for everyone who so chooses to make a difference.

The Internal Struggle

I cannot be the only person in the world who thinks there is way too much of everything around us. A simple example that comes to mind is light bulbs.

Not too long ago I was looking for some bulbs on Amazon—simple right? Wrong! A quick search returned over 50,000 results. Of course, there are options to narrow the search and even options within the options like:

  • brand
  • color temperature
  • usage
  • wattage
  • size
  • shape
  • brightness
  • features

Geez, all I wanted was some bulbs to illuminate my home and it ended up becoming a research project. I learned far more about light bulbs than I ever expected or desired, not to mention the time wasted. At one point I got so frustrated I had to take a nap and resume my search later.

Anxiety over buying light bulbs sounds silly, I know. But, when I multiply this one choice by all the others, made within one day I can easily feel paralyzed. The simplest tasks become complicated burdens and losing focus because of overstimulation rules the day. As a result, clouds of guilt, shame, and a sense of unworthiness smother me and I feel like a failure.

Placing way too much value on my work and not enough on myself is destructive and I have to change. I love what I do here on Bold Blind Beauty and I love the connections I’ve made. This community means the world to me and I’d be lost without you so I’m evolving by taking a stand.

Taking A Stand To Create Meaningful Change

When clarity begins to fade due to trying to maintain a frenzied pace something has to give. Because I’m adaptable and very low maintenance it’s easy for me to declutter. Self-compassion however, is a more challenging process that requires an overhaul. Here are some of the steps I’m taking to reclaim my clarity and overall sense of wellness:

  • Self-compassion: Being kind to myself is the only antidote to self-hatred and unworthiness. Craving acceptance is what led me to believe that my work was the only measure of my worthiness. A recent reassessment of my life revealed the cause of this toxic thinking. Practicing self-compassion and mindfulness are the keys to restoration.
  • Flexibility: Embracing flexibility has been one of the best gifts I’ve given me. Changing direction at any given point is a welcome escape from being so rigid and it feeds my creativity.
  • Adaptation: Life is constantly evolving and so are we. Recognizing I am not the same person today as I was yesterday means doing things a little differently. Being low maintenance along with the ability to adapt breeds contentment and balance.
  • Simplicity: Like my light bulb example in the “Internal Struggle,” I do not need lots of anything. Cutting the cable a few years back was so liberating. Limiting time spent in other areas like, say, social media can also be freeing. With the exception of Instagram, I don’t have any other social media on my phone. I don’t want to be connected 24/7.
  • My Voice: Remembering my values while remaining true to who I am and what I stand for sets me apart.

The Way Forward

I’ve begun the process of shifting my workload to restore my sanity. Some of this involves asking for help from others and some of it means letting go. While focusing on self-compassion will be my primary goal, for Bold Blind Beauty there will be a renewed emphasis on:

Kindness, compassion, and a deep desire for social justice are central to who I am; these are my values. Bold Blind Beauty was born out of a personal need for empowerment that I wanted to share with others.

I began this post in a lighthearted way to help anyone who is feeling overwhelmed. When you add the need for perfection into the mix it can do a number on your psyche. Please know that if you do feel this way from time to time you are not alone. Sometimes the best course of action is to drop some balls to improve our juggling skills. Here’s to ball dropping perfection! 🥂

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency Featured Image:

A woman in business attire is juggling a house, alarm clock, cell phone, sippy cup, and laptop.

Additional Image:

Selfie of me, in my bald glory, wearing a white open back top and my grandson is peeping over my left shoulder.

Posted on 7 Comments

Why We Need AIR: Accessibility Inclusion Representation

AIR is vital to sustaining all life. For people with disabilities, AIR is equally important to our survival. AIR, in this case, symbolizes Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation 3 key elements required to break down barriers.

Why We Need AIR: Accessibility Inclusion Representation

Capitol Crawl

July is Disability Pride Month and today is National Disability Independence Day. On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law.

Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation matters. As a person of color, over 50, female, and living with an acquired disability, I know how exclusion feels. Exclusion is one of the reasons social justice has always been important to me.

When you’re born into several marginalized groups there’s a certain amount of uncomfortable familiarity where discrimination and exclusion is concerned. There is a whole other level of discrimination when becoming a member of the disability community that makes day-to-day living a bit more uncertain. Well-meaning friends and family try their best to understand our experience and we try to help them by inviting them into our world. Living with a disability is a uniquely personalized experience for every. single. person. None of us, even those who share the exact same disability will live with it in the exact same way.

Many people aren’t aware that the disability community is the largest minority group in the United States. What makes our minority group different from others is anyone, at any time can become a member. Our community doesn’t care about your social status, education, sexual orientation, age, etc. ANYONE can acquire a disability during their lifespan. As we get older the likelihood of acquiring a disability increases significantly.

While we’ve made strides towards increasing accessibility, inclusion, and representation we still have a long way to go. The fight for equal rights in housing, education, employment, transportation, and more continues as we still face many barriers.

The Fight For Disability Rights

“The “Capitol Crawl” protest for disability rights on March 12, 1990, might have been the single most important catalyst for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25 29 years ago. The law aimed to end segregation of physically and mentally disabled persons and promised them equal opportunity to participate in society, live independently and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

See Capitol Crawl Image Description

PBS did a moving documentary in 2011 on the Disability Rights Movement called “Lives Worth Living.” The first time I saw it I felt sadness, anger, and the need to act. People with disabilities share many of the characteristics of our non-disabled counterparts, we simply do things a little differently.

In “Observing 25 Years of the ADA” I found this bit which I’ve edited: Our lack of understanding, fear, and inhumanity towards people with disabilities I believe, promotes continuing injustices. It’s no wonder when a life-altering event occurs and we acquire a disability, we have a difficult time adjusting. Coming face to face with our prejudices, then navigating a still-flawed system to protect our new status, can be a difficult transition.  

Sadly, some of us take the stance that disability rights are ‘not our problem,’ that is until we are disabled. However, being ‘temporarily abled’ as the majority of us are, makes it our problem.

Air is free yet there are some who believe not everyone is deserving of AIR. Disabled lives are human lives and all human lives matter.

We’ve come a long way since the ADA became law however the fight for Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation continues.

Why We Need Air: Accessibility Inclusion Representation Featured Image Description:

A bright blue sky with puffy white clouds is in the background. In the foreground is a big red sign with white capital letters that says “No Problem.”

Capitol Crawl Image:

A group of handicapped people led by 8-year-old Jennifer Keelan, left, crawl up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 12, 1990, to draw support for a key bill now pending in the House that would extend civil rights to disabled persons. The group of about 1,000 people or rode in wheelchairs down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. (AP Photo/Jeff Markowitz)