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WOTM 20 Featuring Maribel Steel

8 Threads to Weave into the Garment of Change

01-Eight-Threads

Reposted with permission from the author, Maribel Steel, today’s featured Bold Blind and Beautiful woman.

When I began to lose my eyesight, it was natural to fear losing so many other aspects of my life that I treasured. Becoming an artist and failing to see colour was one of them. But the hardest hurdle to overcome was knowing how to weave positive threads into the garment with the label of disabled.

Did you know that the dictionary defines disabled as: to make unable, weaken, destroy the capability of, to cripple, to have a lack of competent power or strength in either physical or mental abilities, to be disqualified and to make legally incapable: to be deprived of  the right to engage and, lucky last, to be rendered unfit.

Hmm, a pretty disturbing label to be given to anyone. No wonder, as an adolescent, it didn’t appeal as an image I wanted to acquire: but it seemed that Miss Puberty had other plans…

No one had warned me about the sneaky tactics of Miss Puberty, the way she could change the life of a perfectly normal teenager when she brought an exclusive offer to our household. There she stood on the doorstep, bearing the garment of change, insisting I wear the new label of disabled.

“Sign on the dotted line,” she said, holding out an invisible pen. Miss Puberty worked with such authority, there was no option but to agree to the hidden terms and conditions of a membership I didn’t want but had to accept.

“Welcome and congratulations,” she said. “As you now have Retinitis Pigmentosa, whether you like it or not, you can spend the rest of your life freely indulging in any of the labels we proudly stock in our Blind-Bat Boutique. Please take your time to browse and choose carefully from our huge range of richly textured stigmas.”

I didn’t want a new image, or one of their ugly designer garments exclusive to Mademoiselle Black: Itza Shame: X-clude: Inferior Design: Kybosh: De Prive De Paris. I wanted to yell at Miss Puberty, “Take your unfashionable garment elsewhere and drape your labels over someone else’s life. I think you have the wrong house.” She thrust the package into my hands. “Too late. Like it or not, it’s your designer image now, you have to wear it.”

Fashion the garment

02-Choose-red-clothOver many years of trying to cut the cloth to suit my image, with the label of disabled firmly secured to the fabric of my life, it has taken 8 qualities to thread the garment I can now wear with pride. If you find yourself having to wear a particular label you consider quite unfashionable, let me introduce you to 8 colourful qualities essential to transform your dreary cloak of despair with chic threads of elegance.

1. Attitude is the key to accepting change in your life.

Cultivate a positive attitude and be aware of the choices you are making. Often it is fear and self-pride holding back your progress. When you take control of your attitude in a positive way, you begin to infuse your life with possibility.

Thread the colour RED into your new garment: it is the shade of glowing embers that will keep your fire alight.

2. Gather your support team

Don’t be afraid to gather around you a support team of loved ones, friends and colleagues and let them know how best they can assist you. In all truth, they really want to know how to co-operate in creating a balance in letting you take charge of your own life. Asking for help when you could honestly benefit from their genuine support is not a sign of personal weakness but can boost the morale of the entire team. With balance and flexibility, you reach your goals with team work.

Thread the colour ORANGE into your new garment: it is the shade of joyful co-operation.

04-Pink-Chaos3. Courage to commit and courage to be creative

Once you have accepted a different way of doing things, and have a circle of supportive friends who understand your unique needs, you can begin to commit to certain tasks you want to achieve. You can set creative patterns into the fabric of your life. You have renewed confidence, you muster a sense of inner strength that enables you to find creative solutions to the task at hand. With courage, you dare to persist when things go wrong. With a bold heart,  you insist on finding solutions.

Thread the colour YELLOW into your new garment: it is the shade of radiant sunlight, teaming with confidence, hope and good cheer.

4. Tenacity, persistence and effort

With any outcome you want to achieve, it requires a certain amount of focused effort. You may want to train to learn new skills, or adapt to a new way of doing familiar tasks. Effort, persistence, and tenacity can work together in shaping your reality by not giving up.

Thread the colour GREEN into your new garment: be as tenacious as Mother Nature in her attention to detail, in her cycles of consistent renewal.

03-Blue-lace5. Independence and freedom

Having woven the thread of acceptance, co-operation, commitment. courage and tenacity of spirit into the fabric of your life, you also can take brave steps toward reclaiming your independence. Again, this will require training, gathering of new skills but  you can make choices that best suit your lifestyle. You may want to have a guide dog as your seeing eyes or prefer to use a white cane in getting around. Maybe it is time to gain skills in new technologies that can enhance your independence – it is totally your choice. This is an empowering place to be. It is a time to express your talents, and appreciate just how far you have come. Enjoy the sense of freedom as you stride out to conquer those daily challenges.

Oh, and if by chance you find yourself falling into an embarrassing moment, as you will surely do, take along your sense of humour – it will get you out of any sticky situation!

Thread the colour BLUE into your new garment: it is the colour of sky that will keep you boldly stepping onward over the horizon to meet your victories.

6. Organise the chaos

In order to live confidently in a visual world when you are not equipped with sight, you will need a high level of organisation. Not only do you need to be more mindful of just about everything you do and where you last put things, your support team needs a friendly pep-talk to understand how important it is for you to move through their sighted world. It is full of unpredictable obstacles. Much mental effort is required in remembering every inch of your dwelling place – bringing order into the world of chaos is a matter of your survival and happiness.

Thread the colour PURPLE into your new garment: it is the shade where two textures (of red and blue) combine to form one predictable strand.

05-Sensory-Colour7. Trusting your intuition

Intuition is your inner voice, a direct perception of truth independent of any reasoning. Most people find trusting intuition extremely difficult, especially when eyes and brain dominate our sense of reason. As a person with very little sight however, I have learned to reflect and listen to the wise internal voice. It requires patience, stillness and letting go of reason and rationality. Sometimes it is a call to rest and place our own judgements to one side.

Thread the colour WHITE into your new garment: clarity of thought will become clear as you trust the pure guidance of your inner vision.

8. It’s a multi-sensory garment

You can touch your new garment of change, smell it, feel it, it has been skilfully woven by your life’s experiences thus far. It is your own designer garment fashioned from the threads of experience and skilled craftsmanship. Many threads are sewn into the fabric of your being, acceptance, co-operation, courage, tenacity, freedom, humour, patience, intuition,and trust.

© 2014 Maribel Steel

Maribel Steel is an author, writer, mentor and inspirational speaker living in Melbourne.

She has been legally blind with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) since her teens. She mainly writes nonfiction, expanding on her philosophy that there is an ART in being blind. She has self-published a book of short stories, My Mother’s Harvest, and has over thirty guest posts featured on blogs around the world. She is a peer advisor for VisionAware for The American Foundation for the Blind. For more information, you can visit her author website at:

www.maribelsteel.com

 

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WOTM 19 Featuring Chelsea Stark

I use a Nikon to take my pictures. I use the live view to compose the pictures since I cannot see through the viewfinder. ~Chelsea Stark

The last couple of weeks have been so incredibly illuminating to me and it began two Fridays ago when I was on a conference call with other blind and vision impaired people. Though I wasn’t able to verbalize my thoughts (due to technical difficulties) I enjoyed listening to the perspectives of the other speakers.

Chelsea Stark
Chelsea Stark

Attending meetings, conference calls, and connecting with people from all over the world, I continue to be in awe of how those of us who are blind or vision impaired speak a universal language of change. Regardless of culture, values, status, or similar terminology that would set us apart, we are unified in desiring to be perceived and accepted based on who we are and not by our physical limitations.

The young woman I am pleased to feature today takes some of the most breathtaking photographs. Even with or in spite of my limited vision I really appreciate beauty in all forms and when I saw the photos Chelsea provided for this post I was so overcome with emotion I cannot put it into words.

Chelsea Stark, who was born with optic nerve damage, has tunnel vision and can only see approximately two feet in front of her. According to www.healthgrades.com “a number of diseases, disorders and conditions originating most often in the eye and the nervous system can lead to optic nerve damage.” When a person has any kind of optic nerve damage say, from, Glaucoma (one of my eye diseases) it can cause vision loss, distortion or blindness. Glaucoma for example, left untreated affects peripheral vision which can lead to tunnel vision.

Moutain, Golden Trees and Stream Waterfall  The subjects Chelsea likes most to photograph are animals, flowers and sometimes scenery. As an Apple guru, once she has taken her pictures she uses the accessibility tools on her Mac such as speech, screen enlargement and oversized mouse pointer to make any necessary adjustments.

Since my field of vision is so narrow and I don’t relate to wide vistas, I photograph close up intimate subjects ~Chelsea Stark

Chelsea says she gets her inspiration from her mentor and loving fiancé, Robert Park. She adds that the more pictures of his she sees the more inspired she becomes, and it is her hope that one day her pictures will be as good as his. I haven’t seen Robert’s pictures but the pictures that I’ve seen of Chelsea’s are stunning. Speaking of which you can see more of her photos on her blog and Pinterest (links are at the bottom of the post).

I mentioned that Chelsea is an Apple guru and in addition to her personal blog she runs both a blog and Facebook group called iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind And Visually Impaired. If that weren’t enough she also created another blog that highlights blind and vision impaired people from all around the world. As a matter of fact as I was going through this blog I found a friend of mine who Chelsea featured earlier in July.

Horse Pink Water Lily

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, sometimes things aren’t always as they appear and for us as a society to become more humane we must reserve judgment on our fellow humans. All of us have some “weakness” (visible or invisible) but these purported “weaknesses” just may be our “strength” and Chelsea’s beautiful photography is proof that she has an extraordinary gift that is not the result of weakness.

Chelsea, you my dear are the definition of a Bold Blind Beauty and I thank you for allowing me the honor of featuring you.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankl

Photography chelseastarkphotography.com/
Personal blog chelseastarkcom.blogspot.com
iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind And Visually Impaired Blog iphoneandipadappsfortheblind.blogspot.com
Facebook group iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind And Visually Impaired www.facebook.com/groups
The History of Apple iPhones thehistoryofappleiphones.blogspot.com
Blind All Around the World blindallaroundtheworld.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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Glamming it up in 5 Easy Steps

Bare Face, Concealer, Foundation
Bare Face, Concealer, Foundation

I began wearing makeup in my late teens and it wasn’t until my early twenties that I went to my first professional makeup consultation. At this visit, I picked up some tips on makeup application and cosmetics appropriate for my skin.

Fast forward 30+ years later I’m now legally blind, use a white cane, and I still wear makeup and dress stylishly. When I began losing my eyesight doing makeup was challenging, however, I found ways to adapt and want to share 5 easy steps.

Step 1 – In the first photo collage my face has been cleansed and I’m prepared to apply my concealer. The concealer helps to minimize the appearance of dark circles under my eyes. Since the skin under the eyes is very thin and fragile I gently pat on the concealer with my fingertips until it is evenly blended.

Step 2 – I use mineral foundation because I find it very easy to use a foundation brush to apply, the coverage is excellent, and it isn’t heavy. To apply I simply dip my brush into the minerals, tap off any excess, then in a circular motion I apply to all the areas of my face. The third picture in the first photo collage shows my face after the concealer and foundation application.

Step 3 – Since I still have limited vision and I’ve been wearing makeup all my adult life, I am able to use eyebrow stencils to enhance my sparse brows. After I’ve filled them in I use a brow brush to soften the look. The first picture in the second photo collage shows my completed eyebrows.

Step 4 – I have small eyes and liner makes a huge difference in my appearance as it opens the eyes. I use a dark blue kohl eyeliner pencil to outline the eyes along the lash line. This is one of those adjustments I had to make because I was no longer able to use liquid eyeliner but with patience and a lot of practice I learned how to line my eyelid. After I apply my eyeliner I use black mascara only on my upper lashes as I haven’t been able to master putting it on the lower lashes without looking like a raccoon.

Step 5 – The final step is applying lip color. In the final photo, I am wearing a bright red lipstick although in the summer I tend towards lighter shades of nude, corals and pinks.

One final recommendation is the KISS (Keep It So Simple) principle. Makeup, like art, is a form of self-expression and makeup application can be learned by anyone desiring to explore this art form.

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Mirror Image

Mirror Image featured image description is in the body of the post

Mirror Image

One of my favorite people, Kerry Kijewski, wrote this thought-provoking piece on makeup, fashion, and beauty. What I like most about this post is her honest assessment of how we grapple with our outward appearance and how this is translated to others.

It’s hard to not have a clear idea of what you look like. Every day, morning and night, I look into a mirror I see less and less of myself. I begin to forget what my own face looks like, staring back at me still. I know I am in there somewhere, but I feel a disconnect. This makes it easier and harder, all at once, to do the things that most women do to look their best. Continue Reading

Mirror Image Featured Image Description:

Black and white illustration of a mirror reflection of a woman with a blank face. All that can be seen in the reflection is her hair and neckline as her face has no facial features.