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Women On The Move: Rose-Ann Lyons

What am I Doing Now? How is my Life? It takes Courage!!

After losing my Peripheral Vision in a Boating Accident on July 1st, 2008, it has been a long journey. Nine years later, this is “NoW” What I am doing?

I am learning to Curl! I have joined the Kelowna Curling Team for the Blind and I am being Coached by Dan Martel at the Kelowna Curling Rink. I am providing pictures of what my Coach has created in me with one month of coaching in February; then the season ended, and of coaching that started up on October 8th; the season beginning. I have a whole truckload of thank yous’ to my Coach. He has helped me and inspired me; resulting in me developing a “NeW” passion: Curling! I love to throw the Rocks! I love the ride!   

I have previously provided an Article as a Guest for Bold Blind Beauty.  With this subsequent Article, I am elaborating on What am I Doing “NoW”?

It began when I was approached at Christmas, 2016, and was asked to attend at the Kelowna Curling Rink to Curl with the Curling Team for the Blind. It was February 2017, and I had not yet attended at the Curling Rink. What was stopping me? What was I afraid of? I got upset with myself. I decided that I was going to the Curling Rink. It was the 1st Sunday in February 2017, my Guide Dog in Harness, my husband driving and I was heading to the Kelowna Curling Rink. I had been informed that the practice started at 10:00 a.m.on Sundays. It was 10:45 a.m.; Sunday morning, I’m late! but I was on my way.  

I was tempted to ask my husband all along the way to turn around; take me home. Entering the parking lot, I was still thinking about turning around; take me home. “THeN” the truck stopped at the doors. I inhaled a deep breath! I got out! I “NoW” knew there was no turning back! I walked in and was approached and welcomed by such warm, kind, people. I relaxed! No more panic! The “fun,” the “joy,” the “excitement” began!! When I arrived, I was asked what I wanted to do. I have never curled before so I said I was there to learn to Curl with the Curling Team for the Blind. There was one month left before the Curling season was ending. I began learning to Curl! Coach Dan Martell gave me lessons and with his coaching skills and inspiration, I developed a new passion. “Curling!”

It was a huge step for me to take A N D I am now part of something that gives me great “joy.” New team! New friends! An outing in the winter months! I love the game! I am starting in a Ladies League; with one percent vision, in the second week of November; that being twice a week. I love it so much that I will Curl in the Ladies’ League and continue to Curl with the Team for the Blind. Love the game!! Love to Curl!!

 

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Women On The Move: Megan Darcy

A 5K Blindy Moment

Photo of Megan looking very happy with herself immediately after aforementioned fabulous 5km. She is smiling for the camera wearing a black ball cap and tank in multiple shades of blue.
Here is Megan looking very happy immediately after her fabulous 5K

It may have cost me a pajama day on the lounge, and some serious toddler treat negotiations with Little (Emily) so I’d have to actually parent. But the cognitive overload and exhaustion was oh so worth it.

Guess who challenged her bad arse self to a solo park run with nothing but a sketchy mental map, a trail cane, a buzzy thing, and a Running Rope on her hip in case she made a friend along the way? Oh God but no sunglasses. Why oh why didn’t I retrieve them from the kitchen bench?

Okay, so technically I wasn’t alone, as my sister and husband were on the course, along with a gaggle of walkers, runners, and volunteers. Which was probably just as well given how inaccurate the construct of my narrative was regarding the route. I had only done the course once before early in the year.

I spent much of my run having no idea where I was, confused about what I didn’t know, relying on the shadowy shapes of the world, whispering of the wind, the footsteps of others, and faith in my madness and mobility skills to guide my path, which meant that passing the blue shirt in front was a risk, because what if I missed the next turn? Which of course I totally did on almost every occasion.

So thank you to all who provided directions when I inevitably needed them. Every stride was fraught with dilemma, and was a fight against evolution. What if I fell? What if I went the wrong way? What if I ran into someone?

But just keep going, because I was having too much fun. My cane in one hand bounced awkwardly in front of me, hampering my form. While the buzzy thing which vibrates when it detects obstacles within a particular range proved useless. I wanted to ditch them both, because they were slowing me down, but how would people know to give me a little more room, or more understanding.

The Charles Bonnet* hallucinations didn’t kick in until about 1500 m, and that is when things got interesting. But still I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and wondered why it felt so hard and heavy, when in my head i see myself as moving with grace, lightness, fluidity, and sweet, sweet synergistic freedom.

Should I stop? Nah because that would suck!

Breathe in, breathe out… Surely the turnaround point is somewhere.

I don’t remember this part. This is more complicated than I thought. Everything looks the same. Where am I? Bla bla bla.

I was pulled from the white noise of my mind when my trusty cane failed at the 3500m mark. I was just considering whether to fold it up and run without it, or… umm… actually there was no or. I mean how hard could it possibly be right? Sure I had no idea where the finishing line was, or in fact where I was in relation to my ambition. But I had this. And this was awesome!

And that is when it happened. That is when I finally made a friend. That is when Charles stopped to ask if I needed any help, and if we could run together. And the rest is beautiful history.

An avid runner, Megan is also a wife, mom, fashionista, and author of Blind Mama. If that weren’t enough, when Meg puts on her entrepreneurial hat, she runs Taylored Thinking, maker of creative fashionable accessories and athletic gear for people who are blind or visually impaired. 

*Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) is a common condition among people who’ve lost their sight. It causes people who’ve lost a lot of vision to see things that aren’t really there – medically known as having a hallucination.

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Women On The Move: Virginia Maze

It’s Not a Curse

Recent picture of Virginia Maze sitting in a car smiling for the camera wearing Aviator sunglasses.
Recent picture of Virginia Maze

Losing one’s sight is no walk in the park and I think it’s safe to say that no one would argue against that. In fact, many sighted people probably would consider it a curse. I know the younger me certainly thought so.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome. This diagnosis explained my congenital moderate to severe hearing loss, something that was no big deal to me. In fact, I have embraced my deafness as a beautiful gift. A blessing. I enjoy being a part of two unique worlds: the deaf and hearing. I also love being able to turn off my hearing aids to shut out annoying sounds, like the roar of a vacuum, or when I just need some peace and quiet. But the diagnosis also revealed something else. Something that was looming on the horizon: I was slowly going blind.

Blind? How? Why? I could not see any good coming from my impending gradual sight loss. No, this was a curse.

Virginia is straddling the equator in Uganda. She is standing with arms outstretched in an upright circle that has "Equator" in bold lettering at the top of the circle.
Virginia straddling the equator in Uganda.

My vision has now progressed to the point where I am deemed legally blind due to no peripheral vision. And though it has been a difficult adjusting to my ever-changing sight, I no longer view it as a curse. I certainly still experience feelings of disheartenment, anxiety, and a desire for restoration, but through it all, I have been blessed with opportunities and friends that I would have missed out on if I did not have Usher Syndrome. Opportunities like advocating on Capitol Hill on behalf of deafblind individuals nationwide, standing in the Oval Office to meet one of the presidents of the United States, straddling the equator while in attendance at the World Federation of the Deafblind conference in Uganda, and of course the many friends I’ve met all along the way. I can confidently say that I have lived a fulfilled and satisfying life and I plan to continue to live a joy-filled life even when and if my vision completely fades away.

Photo of Virginia at a strawberry picking farm. She is standing in a field of strawberries holding a bucket of the fruit.
Virginia at a strawberry picking farm.

Blindness does not have to be a curse. No struggle or trial has to be viewed as a curse. In fact, it will only a curse if you make it one. The trials we face are real, but it’s important to take a step back and find the blessings among them. They are there, even if they are small.

 

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Women On The Move: Taylor Papadopoulos

My name is Taylor Hosea-Papadopoulos and I am twenty-eight years old. A little under two years ago I was diagnosed with posterior uveitis; this condition is similar to wet macular degeneration.

Posterior uveitis causes inflammation in the back of the eye near the macula; the inflammation causes choroidal neovascularization which ultimately causes vision loss. I have a small amount of vision loss in my right eye due to neovascularization causing scar tissue near my macula. Even though facing posterior uveitis is daunting I remain hopeful that with science, a positive attitude and faith that a cure will be found for myself and for many others living with vision threatening conditions/vision loss.


The initial blow of finding out that I had a sight threatening condition was completely devastating and I found myself in total fear of the future. After finding support through my family, husband, friends and various people who I had met that were experiencing similar struggles I realized that life was not over, it was just beginning.

Although dealing with the loss of vision in my right eye has been less than easy I have not let this hold me back from anything. I have realized that when we are put in certain situations we are stronger than we ever imagined possible.

In any bad experience in life the best thing to do is to try and make the best of it in any way possible and that is what I have done with my eye condition. ~Taylor

Since I was diagnosed two years ago I have gotten married, graduated with my Associate’s Degree and have now moved on to work on my Bachelor’s Degree, seen 9 different countries in Europe, made the Dean’s List every semester in school, worked full-time, been a full-time wife, friend, daughter and sister among other things.

I have really used what is going on with my vision as motivation and drive to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be and to accomplish every goal that I have set my mind on. ~Taylor

My appreciation and zest for life has grown immensely and I wake each morning with relentless gratitude.

In two years, I hope to be graduating from Cal State Dominguez Hills and applying to grad school so that I can obtain my LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and begin my career. I cannot wait to be in a field where I will be able to truly help people who are in need.

In a world that has become so hateful, I want to be able to spread love and compassion through sharing my experiences with others. If you are going through a hard time whether it be vision loss or something completely unrelated keep putting one foot in front of the other and I promise it will get easier; positive thoughts breed positive outcomes.

You can follow Taylor on Instagram at @mrspapadopoulos.