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Spellbindingly Surreal

 We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn’t for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose… embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God’s wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that I’ve been feeling miserable with the time change of last week then later in the day as I was visiting other blogs my spirits lifted. When I started blogging three months ago my intention was to reach and give voice to a targeted audience and though the mission hasn’t changed my world has opened up in ways I did not anticipate.

Sure, I imagined corresponding with fellow bloggers to seek your guidance/exchange thoughts/ideas however I did not consider the breadth and depth of the blogosphere. Through my travels within this virtual world I am transformed by, and in awe of, the extraordinary talent of you who have honored me with your visits, kind words and encouragement.

Each time I visit each of your unique communities I am greeted with wondrous works of creativity through many mediums and I am always provoked to learn, laugh, cry, reflect, or relate. Who would have thought many years ago when we were first urged to write to pen pals in other parts of the world that we would come to a point where all it would take is a literal click of a button.

Meeting and building relationships with people on the other side of the world blows my mind. Being able to experience what matters to you; your travels, your joys, your sadness, your life’s journey is beyond captivating as I am able to partake of your adventures from the relative safety of my personal universe.

Since I’m able to travel with you I wanted to return the favor and take you on a recent trip of my own. Come with me if you will to dinaillustration.com who posted an illustration titled “Your story…” This illustration (you have to use your imagination here) is of a frame with someone in the lower left corner peering upwards. There is one ominous dark cloud from which raindrops are falling, 2 lighter clouds behind it all on a white background with a tiny sliver of blue sky in the upper right corner of the frame. Dina, the artist posed this question to her community:

“My goal in running this blog is to create illustrations that resonate and stir your curiosity and imagination. So, I’m putting this out there. I would love to hear if this illustration has any meaning to you.. or in some way prompts you to tell a story that is only limited by your imagination…”

I was very intrigued by the feelings inside of me that came to the surface upon looking at the picture. My response was “The thought that popped into my mind almost immediately was a cartoon character in the Flintstones. The character always had a dark cloud following him everywhere and the thing that struck me was putting myself into the drawing and watching the cloud/rain from the relative safety of “indoors” but at the same time realizing that the rain is falling on someone out there. There was a time when I related all too closely to the character and thought I’d never catch a break until I learned to quit struggling and just live. Great drawing.”

Here’s where the journey got interesting. In response to a Bold Blind Beauty visit I went to holisticwayfarer.com and like so many others of her followers found the eloquence of her writing exceptional. So I stayed for a while soaking up the beauty of her words and came upon thesprightlywriter.com, a blog she recommended to someone else, so I traveled there.

Remember the drawing I spoke about a minute ago? Well here’s what thesprightlywriter.com wrote about “One day I noticed a bit of blue sky peeking from behind gray clouds, and snapped a photo of it, because it feels just like that.

The blue sky is always there, behind the clouds. My spiritual journey has taught me something: My loving consciousness is always there, hiding behind the deceptive and sometimes gloomy veil that is my ego.”

As soon as I saw her photograph and read her interpretation of it I remembered the illustration from a few days ago. I do not believe in fate but what I found interesting was the commonalities of both posts in two entirely different mediums.

After I exercised my philosophical muscles on the above three sites I needed to do something a bit daring. An adventurer I am not so when presented the opportunity to go to Taiwan I could not resist. Wehavepizza.com had the most amazing pictures of FantaSea, Thailand’s famous Elephant Show, canoeing at James Bond Island, Phi Phi Islands with sparkling blue/green water and these mountainous green covered rocks or maybe mountains sprouting out of the water. Being able to enjoy this trip through my computer topped off my day and I found myself completely uplifted.

Then there are the very first bloggers I connected with Glenda of So What to Twenty, Alicia of Spashionista, Fatmatta of Maono Ya Chini and Shelley of Living with Shadows. I just want to thank each of you for your inspiration and motivation. I’ve always believed that we are all interconnected and being able to experience this first-hand through the miracle that is the internet is a wonderful gift, thank you.

If you’ve read this entire post you may be wondering what all this has to do with jewelry. I’ve given it much thought and come to the conclusion that while I do enjoy the sparkle of jewelry, people are the most valuable gems.

“All of us have wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke them.” ~Charles Dickens

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WOTM 12 Featuring Stephanie Stephens Van

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. ~Helen Keller

Stephanie Stephens Van, MA, CLVT
Stephanie Stephens Van, MA, CLVT

“Try another way” are the words that resonated most with me upon meeting Stephanie Stephens Van. An author, lecturer, consultant, instructor and Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT), Stephanie, is one of those people with whom you are immediately at ease.

I met Stephanie a few weeks ago when she came to my apartment to assess me to determine my needs as it relates to performing personal/household tasks with vision loss. This was definitely one of those times when I wondered why it took me so long to seek some professional guidance. My first session with Stephanie was so enjoyable partly because of her sparkling personality, her passionate advocacy for those with blindness/vision loss and her wealth of knowledge on vision loss solutions.

In my teen years I fought becoming a professional in the field of blindness. I wanted to ‘break out’ of what I perceived as a stereotype. ~Stephanie Stephens Van

Even though Stephanie balked at the idea of working in the field of blindness her life’s path led her to this destination. She received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Edinboro University and went on to obtain her graduate degree from Western Michigan University. It was upon entering graduate school that she gave up on her initial opposition and received her Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind (now known as Vision Rehabilitation Therapist in Vision Studies). Western Michigan University by the way was the first university in the country to offer such a degree.

Over the past 32 years, Stephanie has worked in direct service to those with vision loss, non-profit and state funded agencies. She has also lectured nationally other blindness professionals, community organizations and graduate students on a variety of issues on vision loss.

If I were a betting person I would bet that one of the reasons Stephanie has taken the path set before her has been a direct result of her upbringing. Some parents of children with disabilities sometimes unknowingly coddle the child thinking they need more protection. Stephanie’s parents allowed her to explore, fall down and pick herself up. In her own words she says “It wasn’t always fun, but I am grateful to them when I look back.

In addition to her work and being a passionate advocate, Stephanie also loves creativity and art as one of her vocational dreams early on was to become a full-time artist. She’s published articles and 3 versions of her book, Craft Adaptations for Adults with Vision Impairments (copyright 1998, 2008, rev. 2013).

I wish to share this creative streak with those who are blinded and believe they cannot be creative. I believe in my heart that creativity calms the senses while enhancing the mind and productivity. ~Stephanie Stephens Van

Stephanie has also written several articles posted on VisionAware including:

Stephanie, thank you for being my encourager and giving me excellent advice and tools to do those things that gave me headaches. I relish the thought of freeing up some extra brain space. You are a remarkable woman and I’m so blessed to have you in my life.

“Try another way” is one of Stephanie’s personal mottos that she lives and teaches.

“I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with.” ~Sonia Sotomayor

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A Shot in the Dark

Shooting Down Assumptions

Acrylic Makeup Cosmetics Organizer Luxury Crystal Insert Holder Box www.amazon.com
Acrylic Makeup Cosmetics Organizer Luxury Crystal Insert Holder Box
Amazon

Long before I lost my eyesight my middle son, Devon, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To the casual onlooker, if Devon was having a good day, he would not appear to have anything wrong with him. If that same casual onlooker had the opportunity to spend some time with Devon they would soon need nerve medication.

Devon’s ADHD was a hidden disability that began long before his diagnosis at 6 years of age. From head banging as a baby, behavioral problems at 4 daycare facilities to never finishing kindergarten because he was expelled, to say he was a challenge is putting it mildly. I remember one of his daycare teachers telling me she just didn’t understand it because he was such an adorable, loving child. Every morning he would come and give hugs and kisses to his teachers and then later in the day something inside him would snap.

Upon the ADHD diagnosis the doctor told me that the mechanism in Devon’s brain that should keep him from acting compulsively was broken. This was why he acted out and just kept me on the edge of my seat. Life with little Devon was never boring and his disability was my introduction to the special education system and advocacy efforts on his behalf.

Devon is completely fine today and is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He majored in psychology and minored in music and is looking to start his own business.

Having experienced inaccurate assumptions first-hand, I remind myself things aren’t always as they might appear. The other piece that bears mentioning is the struggle for people who have hidden disabilities is multilayered. While some of us may choose to keep our disability under wraps there are others who want to be taken at face value without judgment.

Take cosmetics for example, wouldn’t you think it would be rather odd for someone to say to a person wearing makeup “You don’t really look like that…?” Likewise, when someone has a hidden disability and they self-identify, we should be mindful to do so takes courage and filter out our assumptions.

Makeup can be such a wonderful ego boost and it is so much fun to experiment with different types of cosmetics. For us blind and vision impaired ladies though it can be a bit of a challenge it’s definitely doable especially if we’re organized.

Visual clutter is a term I heard recently and it something that can be very distracting for people with low vision. Minimalistic is word that I’ve always liked for its simplicity.

How do we get rid of visual clutter with cosmetics? Paring down to just the essentials is really only the beginning. Organizing and labeling your makeup will help you in being able to readily locate any of your cosmetics. Investing in an organizer that works for you is worthwhile.

The 2-piece acrylic holder that I got from Amazon works best for me because it’s see-through and I like that I can put everything in one place. Also, it’s the perfect size that lends to ease in keeping it neat and tidy.

There are a total of 4 drawers (2 side by side at the top and 2 longer ones directly underneath). The inset piece that I sit on top of the drawers can actually be used as a stand alone. The unit measures 9.4 inches wide by 5.1 inches deep by 7.5 inches tall.

Since I know exactly where each of my cosmetics and tools are I don’t feel the need to label the drawers on the organizer but if I change my mind at a later date I can do so at that time.

“Whether I’m wearing lots of makeup or no makeup, I’m always the same person inside.” ~Lady Gaga

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WOTM 11 Featuring Fatmatta Wurie

Fatmatta Wurie of Maono Ya Chini featured image description is in the body of the post.

WOTM Featuring Fatmatta Wurie

“I want to change the face of Information Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired community. And once I do that, it is nothing to change the views and ideas of society.” ~Fatmatta Wurie

Maono Ya Chini

Maono Ya Chini is a blog created by Fatmatta Wurie, a young woman, who was one of the first bloggers I interacted with when I began blogging. Sharing a mutual understanding of sight loss, brought Fatmatta and me together. A college student majoring in Information Technology (IT), when she received her diagnosis she was embarking on young adulthood. 

When I first saw the words Maono Ya Chini, which means low vision in Swahili, I really liked their exotic sound. At the same time, I admired Fatmatta’s personal story and her approach to handling sight loss. “Seeing life through different eyes,” the tagline of Maono Ya Chini, seems to be the path Fatmatta has chosen to pursue her dreams.

Like many others who lose sight, Fatmatta went from grief to acceptance and finally the desire to help others. Her diagnosis of hereditary macular dystrophy caused her to make significant adjustments in her life.

Diseases of the eye affecting the macula, impact central vision which interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Activities like identifying faces, grocery shopping, reading newspapers, menus, ATMs, currency, and watching TV, are just a few. Safety concerns like falling risks, disorientation, medication-related errors, crossing the street, cooking, and bathing are real issues. Issues seldom considered until one has to face the prospect of living with vision loss. Add to it coping with the emotional impact of losing sight and independence it is a truly life-altering experience.

After researching her diagnosis and following up with a retina specialist Fatmatta found that she had Stargardt disease. Imagine receiving this type of news as a 19-years-old, at the beginning of your professional career.

“Being an Information Technology student, I am immediately drawn to being innovative, inventive, imaginative and creative.” ~Fatmatta Wurie

It’s impressive that is it’s only been three years since her diagnosis and Fatmatta yet is an advocate. She’s volunteering and connected with other people experiencing vision loss to build a community of like-minded go-getters.

On her blog, Fatmatta shares lots of low vision and disability awareness resource information. She also documents personal thoughts from her journaling and re-blogs articles of interest. Due to the demanding nature of being a full-time college student and blogging she manages her time well.

Fatmatta you are an inspiration and I am hopeful that you will indeed change the world!! Your youthful zeal and enthusiasm are contagious. Keep up the good work my friend.