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Image & The Mystery Silhouette | Abby’s Reflections 35
“Our image, or what we project to the outside world, is our essence and influences how others perceive us. Image is so much more than how we appear and it should come from a place of authenticity. It encompasses how we walk, talk, dress, and behave.”
Today I did a Facebook Live video about imageor rather the default avatars on social media profiles. One can gather quite a bit of information from what is on or absent from a person’s profile. Depending on how you use social media, you will more than likely occasionally receive or send connection requests from/to strangers.
When using social media in a professional way one of the first things you’ll want to do is replace the default avatar with a photo. Personally, I prefer to use a headshot however the choice is up to the individual. Unfortunately, often, the default mystery silhouette or avatar is used instead of a photograph. While there could be legitimate reasons why someone would opt to keep the avatar I’d feel uncomfortable accepting these requests.
I think many people assume that image isn’t important in the digital age when nothing could be further from the truth. While we can connect with others in a meaningful way when we disregard the importance of our profiles we are selling ourselves short.
“No one is you and that’s your power!” ~Dave Grohl
Abby’s Reflections 35 Featured Image Description:
A gray, teal and white boldblindbeauty.com template uses the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image. Abby, sporting her signature explosive hairstyle is sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar). She is using her teal Abby logoed laptop with a headset/microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.
From the moment I met Melody Goodspeed I fell in love with her energy and enthusiasm. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance via email. During our initial exchange, I could literally hear the excitement in her emails. When we spoke by phone I was not disappointed.
Melody is such an accomplished person with huge expectations for herself and I absolutely love this about her. A real sweetheart and fellow lover of all things sparkly, I am so happy to call her my friend. And now I present to you, Melody:
The Uninvited Guest
There I was minding my own business and enjoying my 20’s. I mean I was living pay check to pay check, but what 20 something isn’t?
In February 2003, I met a very nice guy and we started dating, I was finally getting into the groove of my new job as a special education teacher and making new friends. Then a few months later piercing headaches brought me to my knees. Multiple doctor visits and emergency room visits, with no diagnosis. Finally, the pain was just too much to bear and the MRI was ordered.
A blood clot, uninvited, was in a major vein in my brain. I was told if it ruptured there would be little to nothing they could do to stop the bleeding. Surgery was too risky and there I was, left alone in the worst fear I have ever felt. A few weeks went by and the treatment of blood thinners was showing improvement to the blood clot, but not to the pain.
What caused the uninvited guest you ask? I have a blood disorder that is mainly found in 70 to 80-year-old men. Basically, I make too many red blood cells. My body, trying to protect itself, reacted to the invader as if it were a tumor and increased fluid around my brain resulting in massive headaches.
A few more weeks and I wake up with pin-hole vision and a race to emergency surgery to get the increased fluid off my optic nerves…
The end result, a hopeful Melody, in pain, and totally blind…I felt like the person I was, died and hope no longer existed.
Detour To A Different Life
Fast forward a few years and finally, I decided no way! No way am I going to let this darkness take me down! Against all odds, I was determined to have the life I want. Is it different? A huge “YES!, however, that does not make it any less beautiful. I had to learn that Melody did not die, her life just went in a different direction.
I have met the most amazing people, experience love on every level and have made it a priority to give to others that may be experiencing life changes and navigate to a new freedom. I work a full-time job, married with 2 kids, have my own business on the side, as an independent consultant for Touchstone Crystal, and recently became a certified Co-Active Coach.
Your LIFE is what YOU want it to be. We all have struggles, we all face life changes, but it is the strength we find in ourselves that crushes all the doubts and fears you may be experiencing. Run with your life and find what gives you joy in the darkest of places!
When I feel anxiety or doubt flirting with me, I mentally stare it down and say, “Watch Me!” You cannot have my joy! It is all mine…and then I flip my hair and give it the hand! Then I crush it!! Happiness is a choice, living for others is a choice, and believing in yourself, even when it seems hopeless is a choice.
Flip your hair, strut your stuff and say, “Watch Me!”
In this photo, Melody is working a Touchstone Crystal party. She truly sparkles as she smiles brightly for the camera dressed in a camo print cold-should top. Melody’s shoulder-length light brown hair frames her face and she is sporting a Touchstone statement necklace.
Melody, hubby, and son are at his birthday party at an ice-skating rink. Melody loves to skate!
Photo of Melody, her son, and baby daughter together at Easter. In the picture, the baby is surrounded by colorful plastic eggs while her brother and mom are smiling on either side of her.
Another family photo of Melody and the children sitting on a couch with the baby on her brother’s lap. The baby is a miniature fashionista in a black & white outfit with a headband adorned with a red flower. Melody is wearing a black sweater with a red flower that matches her daughter’s headband. Big brother is wearing a red shirt.
Here’s a picture of Melody holding her daughter and being goofy at the Smithsonian National Zoo. They are standing next to a dinosaur and it looks as if they are about to be eaten.
Photo of Melody’s wrist and hand. She is wearing some of her sparkly Touchstone Crystal bracelets and a ring.
Creating Change Through Creativity & Collaboration
Recently, someone asked me why I created Bold Blind Beauty; my answer was twofold—devastation and rebirth.
A Life In Ruins
It was June 2009 and earlier in the year, I had my third and last vitrectomy to hopefully restore the sight in my good eye. I was excited because the successful outcome of this surgery could allow me to regain my driving privileges. Unfortunately, during the recovery phase, my retina specialist found bleeding at the back of the eye. The treatment plan called for Avastinan injection in the eye to stop the bleeding.
A couple of weeks later, my brother, son, and I went to Cleveland Clinic. The drive to Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institutewas about two hours but with renewed hope, worth the trip. Afterall, during my last visit two years earlier, they saved the sight in my bad eye by repairing my detached retina. The news I received during this trip wasn’t good.
When the doctors told me “we’re sorry there is no more we can do for you” I think I was in a semi-catatonic state. There was no reaction, no tears, no outburst—nothing. On the drive home, my mind could not grasp what I what the doctor’s told me.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I was as scared as I’ve ever been. I mean, I had big plans before all of this eye stuff happened. I received a promotion at work, bought a house, got married. My husband and I were refurbishing our home to sell it then build our own. Now I’m legally blind, do I even have a future?
My problem-solving skills improved significantly during and after my new ‘legally blind status.’ There wasn’t a roadmap to follow for life after sight loss and I never felt more lonely. I had to make some tough decisions on how I was going to move forward the most significant was self-reliance. This meant a change in course by leaving my marriage, home, and beginning anew.
Even with so much support from my employer, co-workers and those closest to me, the strain of trying to find my groove got to me. Looking like I could see, yet couldn’t, was exhausting. While I may have looked like I was adapting I was struggling. Every time I used my white cane I felt like a beacon.
For a minute it seemed like my life was in ashes with the chaos that ensued. However, eventually, with the help of family and friends, I would connect with a low vision specialist and others who became my lifeline.
Newfound Strength With My Tribe
Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? I sure have, most of my life actually. So it shouldn’t have been odd for me to be among the ‘too sighted to be blind but too blind to be sighted camp.’ Yet, my local blind community embraced me—I was home.
When I was asked to do a makeup presentation at our Pennsylvania Council of the Blind(PCB) annual convention I found my purpose. Beauty is not reserved for ONLY those who can SEE, beauty, REAL beauty knows no limits. Bold Blind Beauty—Real Beauty Transcends Barriers seeks to empower blind women while connecting sighted and non-sighted communities.
Collaborating with creatives like Jennifer Barrille, Laura Sottile, Jessica Marano, Kathy Keck and others is presenting a unique opportunity for Bold Blind Beauty. Our fashion icon Abby is stylish, she uses a white cane, and she’s changing the way we look at blindness. Working to make Abby and all of our offerings accessible is our goal.
Currently, the design on the new mugs includes tactile slogans in braille on one side and Abby with text slogans on the other side of the handle. Literally, you can “Have Abigale at your fingertips to enjoy your favorite hot beverage; coffee, tea, or whatever it may be!”
Creating Change… Featured Image Description:
To the left of the mug’s handle is the phrase “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE” in braille. The mug’s design includes fashion icon, Abby (in trio format) who are to the right of the handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.”
Abby is walking with her white canein one hand and handbag in the other. The image is black with black heels and a stylish black dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped in waist to just above the knee. Her signature hairstyle is explosive.
Marieke (mah REE kah) Davis has a two-fold overriding philosophy that guides her life:
Art should be inclusive, not exclusive, and
Art should have an educational purpose that facilitates human understanding.
In today’s Blind Beauty Issue 43 you will meet Artist, Marieke Davis. Marieke’s passion for changing perceptions shines brightly through her extraordinary artwork.
Sight Stealing Diagnosis
Diagnosed with a massive brain tumor (pilocytic astrocytoma) at age ten, Marieke underwent three surgeries and 15 months of chemotherapy in the course of ten years. Although she has been intervention-free since her last surgery in 2011, she is permanently visually impaired with hemianopsia (half her field of vision in both eyes), and so uses a white cane to compensate for her lack of right-side vision.
Her love for creating art and for telling a good story took on a therapeutic objective after her diagnosis, but soon became intertwined with her pursuit of narrative art—art that tells a story. This pursuit was further developed when she enrolled atArizona State University, (ASU) where she first tried her hand at Pop Art and discovered that the small frames used in comics and graphic series accommodated her visual impairment very well. She graduated from ASU last year, summa cum laude, with her Art major and minors in English Literature, Women’s & Gender Studies, and Creative Writing.
In the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, Marieke experimented with various artistic techniques and mediums—emulating classic art masterpieces, such as depicting herself in the manner of Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele” and imitating Alphonse Mucha’s Art Deco style in her “Women of the Apocalypse” series, dabbling in intermedia, as shown in her objet d’art piece, “Sight of Hand,” in which she ironically decorated her first white cane with plastic “googly eyes” and attached a decorated plaster hand at the end of the cane to illustrate to the fully sighted that the feel of a white cane enhances sight for the visually impaired/blind, and creating unique jewelry—while almost setting her bangs on fire in the process!
Finding Artistic Expression
Ultimately, her artistic exploration led to her most comfortable means of artistic expression in graphic literature and comics. It was while she was teaching herself how to create the Prologue and first chapter for her series, Ember Black, that her ASU Disability Resources liaison revealed to her that her daughter is also a visual artist; however since she is completely blind, she has never been able to see her work. That got Marieke determined to provide an audio companion to her graphic series, in an effort to extend her visual art to the visually impaired. The audio version—complete with voice actors, sound effects, and music—along with the printed graphic version earned her the Audience Choice Award in the First Annual ASU Herberger IDEA Showcase, and she is currently working on Chapter 2 of Ember Black, thanks to a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Concurrently, Marieke publishes “Life is Blurry,” an autobiographic, online comic strip created from the perspective of a “visually impaired visual artist”—such as she is—with the purpose of educating the able-bodied world through the most effective means she knows: humor. The strip was inspired by Alison Bechdel’s graphic autobiography, “Fun Home,” and was developed in her Women’s Studies course, “Chronicling Women’s Lives.” Excerpts from the strip earned Marieke a 2017 Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts VSA Emerging Young Artist award, and her entry is currently on a national tour. Eventually, Marieke would like to compile her comics into a complete graphic autobiography, but in the short-term, she hopes to have “Life is Blurry” become a nationally syndicated comic strip. Just as people of color strive for artistic representation, people with disabilities want to be represented in the arts, particularly in popular culture.
Past & Future Panel Presentations
Last year, Marieke presented a discussion panel, “Creating Ember Black,” at the Phoenix ComiCon, and this year she presented a panel, “The Philosophy of Rick & Morty,” and a lecture, “Introducing ‘Life is Blurry’ and Other Comics Created By and About Disabled Artists” at the Phoenix Comic Fest. She hopes to premiere Chapter 2 of Ember Black next year at the Phoenix Fan Fusion after her grant project is completed in March 2019.
See Marieke’s artistic and literary work on her website, mariekedavis.com, “Life is Blurry” and Ember Black, Vol. I on her Facebook page, Life is Blurry by Marieke Davis, and Ember Black by Marieke Davis.
Blind Beauty Issue 43 Featured Image Description:
The image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Marieke is on the cover looking stunning in her black wrap dress. She has long brown hair cascading over her left shoulder and her bangs frame her pretty face.
Blocks of text superimposed on the photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”
Image #1: In this photo, Marieke is standing outdoors with her white cane in one hand while she rests her other hand on a wall. She is wearing a dark paisley print dress with a scoop neckline.
Image #2: Marieke is standing next to two of her pieces displayed on easels holding her white cane in front of her. Her red dress is sleeveless with a square neckline.
Image #3 Life is Blurry comic strip: Two panels, Reality vs. Stereotype, shows how society views blind people. On both panels, a woman is standing at a corner crosswalk with her white cane. In the left panel, she is polished. The right panel shows the same woman as beggar dressed in tattered clothing, with dark glasses, holding a can. Her speech bubble says “Change? Spare some change for a blind beggar?”
Image #4 Life is Blurry comic strip: This strip has four panels with two cosplayers talking with one another. The conversation:
Dracula cosplayer: “Wow! So, you’re blind? Are you supposed to be Daredevil?”
Maria: “I’m the Silk Spectre. Y’know… from Watchmen? I’m also not totally blind.”
Dracula cosplayer: “Still, shouldn’t you be Daredevil? You’d probably relate to that character better.”
Maria: “I like Daredevil, but he’s not exactly realistic… lots of people don’t get that.”
Maria: Blind and visually impaired people aren’t super-human. And we don’t need to be super-human to be super. I mean, I’m good at hearing cars, but that’s about it—“