“So many times I want to quit!! But TODAY is the day to begin! This song has brought me through so much these last years. We all have it in us to succeed but often we have to dig deeper than we ever thought possible.”
I cannot say enough good things about the pretty lady I’m going to introduce you to today! I’ve been following Ginger Anderson’s health journey on Instagram and she’s one of the reasons I chose a healthier lifestyle.
Ginger is a wife, mom, knitter, all around powerhouse, oh, and did I mention she’s also legally blind? Earlier this year Ginger began her journey to a healthier lifestyle with a simple decision to just do it. She knew she was in a bad place and also knew she needed accountability. So the next logical step was to find a program to suit her needs. The journey hasn’t been a walk in the park and what I like about Ginger is her transparency about her challenges.
In Ginger’s Own Words
Y’all I am in tears right now!! I am legally blind and I see through a tunnel that is about the size of a quarter and in that tunnel my vision is very distorted and cloudy. I told myself that I couldn’t do the #shiftshop Shop program or #provinggrounds because of my vision and the chronic state of vertigo-like symptoms but you know what??
When @happyhealthyhumble shared Saturday morning before her speech about mindset, that little voice inside me said Ginger you CAN do this!! And I DID it!! It was hard, lost my balance quite a bit, and modified as needed. Tears of joy right now!!! Thank you Amy!!! And thank you @thechrisdowning.
The following video “Today Is Your Day” by Shania Twain is the song Ginger refers to in her first quote:
Blind Beauty 61 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Ginger Anderson is on the cover in black and white. Her hair is styled in a fabulous asymmetrical pixie cut.
Blocks of text superimposed on Ginger’s photo are: “Bold–She Keeps Pressing Onward, Blind–She Has Deeper Insight, Beautiful–She Sees To The Heart Of Others.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” “Makeup Trends for 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”
Selfie of Ginger with streaked brownish/blonde hair at a craft show. I neglected to mention that Ginger has one of the prettiest smiles and it can be seen in all of her photos. She’s wearing a black top and her makeup is flawless.
Six-panel collage of Ginger in various stages of exercise. She’s decked out in black shorts, black sports bra and gray tank with a white headband.
My vision changes every hour, sometimes I can read a street sign, recognize a friend, or read a newspaper headline. Some days I can’t see an inch past my nose.
~Dr. Amy Kavanagh Women On The Move 59
Visual Impairment Leads To Advocacy Campaign
It’s taken 27 years for me to accept my visual impairment. I was born with nystagmus, limited depth perception, and almost no peripheral vision. Alongside light sensitivity and myopia, it’s a mixed bag of sight issues that my doctors continue to puzzle out. My vision changes every hour, sometimes I can read a street sign, recognize a friend or read a newspaper headline. Some days I can’t see an inch past my nose.
In a typically British approach, my parents didn’t want to make a fuss about my disability. They encouraged me to be as normal as possible and it was the best solution when no other help was offered. To this day, my mum says how much she wishes the internet had been around when I was growing up. Although I knew I was different, I didn’t really feel the impact of my visual impairment until I went to university.
I’ve always loved history and I pursued my passion all the way to a PhD! I spent nearly a decade in higher education, and over the years had some of the happiest and lowest times in my life. Working towards my PhD was exhausting and being in denial about my visual impairment added to the strain. Eventually, the work took its toll on my mental and physical health. I’m immensely proud of my accomplishment, as acquiring my PhD was a huge achievement. However, in the end, I knew I needed a change.
Actively Seeking Help Opens The Floodgates
It was only through starting a new career at a disability charity that I realised how much help I denied myself. So I started to reach out for some support. First I turned to my twitter community, I had used the social media platform for a few years, mostly for academic networking, but I soon discovered an entire online family of visually impaired people. These new friends had so much advice and guidance. They had been there; they had struggled, they had denied the difficulties, and also finally they had asked for help. It was so refreshing and such a revelation to hear so many similar stories and read about so many people living confident lives after sight loss.
I was encouraged to contact Guide Dogs UK, but I was skeptical. Part of my problem was that I just didn’t identify as “blind.” Even though I was born with a visual impairment, I didn’t think of myself as disabled. Everyone always went on about sight loss, but I’d never had it in the first place! It was my normal, but I was fast realizing I didn’t just have to put on my stiff upper lip and accept it.
Contacting Guide Dogs UK changed my life. The support, skills, and encouragement they have given me, has been incredible. Just one year later I’ve gone from suffering in silence to being a visually impaired activist! I’m now a confident long cane user and I’m waiting for a guide dog. Instead of being in denial about my disability I now advocate for the rights and equal opportunities for visually impaired people.
Advocacy Born Through Acceptance
I’ve even started a campaign to encourage the public to offer help to disabled people. My #JustAskDontGrab message uses my experiences of positive help, and unwanted grabbing, pushing or pulling, to educate people about how to offer assistance politely and respectfully. Over the last few months it’s gone viral, and I’ve been on the radio, tv and in newspapers! It’s been a whirlwind, but such an empowering experience. Also, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of visually impaired people who’ve contacted me to say they’ve experienced the same journey. They’ve told me, my story of accepting my visual impairment and the cane has encouraged them to do the same.
I will keep sharing my story because it’s the message I needed growing up. I want young people struggling with their disability to know that they don’t just have to cope. They don’t have to manage alone, there is help out there, and that asking for support is the first step to being themselves, rather than hiding who they really are.
Since embracing my visual impairment as part of my identity I’ve been a happier and more confident person. Using a long white cane has given me freedom and I can travel independently and safely. Most of all, I finally feel like the real me. Of course, there are still difficult days, but I’ve stopped denying my real self and now I openly love my disability.
Visual Impairment Featured Image:
Profile photo of Amy walking through a park. She is using her long cane and wearing a summer dress.
Head and shoulder shot. Amy is sat in front of a wall with the BBC logo on. She is wearing big headphones over her bright pink hair. She is smiling and looking at the camera.
Amy is standing at a London underground station, with the classic red, blue and white sign behind her. It’s a sunny day, Amy is wearing sunglasses and holding her long cane across her body. She has a light turquoise 50s style print dress on.
A selfie, it’s a sunny day, trees and blue sky in the background. Amy is smiling looking at the camera in large round sunglasses. Her hair is blond with bright pink hair fading from the top. She is wearing a black t-shirt and badge, the badge shows a pair of sunglasses and reads, medical necessity not fashion accessory.
Coordinating Olive Pieces For A Smashing Fall Look
“When I try an outfit on and it doesn’t make me look good, I just throw it on the floor. Like, No, you don’t deserve to be hung up, sit there and think about what you’ve done.”🤣
Don’t you just love it when everything falls perfectly into place? It’s like the planets have aligned and all the signs confirm you’ve made the right choice. This recently happened to me as I began transitioning my summer wardrobe to fall.
Since I’m still adhering to my strict policy of limiting my clothing budget. Oh, who am I kidding here? The truth is when one has limited funds sometimes our choices must reflect our reality. Even though my cash flow may not be ideal, I decided a while back to downsize to make life easier. This made sense both from a financial and lifestyle standpoint. Let’s face it, having fewer things to choose from is so much easier on my defunct eyes.
So it was with finances and lifestyle in mind that I’ve only acquired a few new items of clothing for fall. What was really fabulous about these purchases is how they fit in nicely with my existing wardrobe.
What Did I Score?
Back in September I went on a little shopping adventure with a friend of mine and found some amazing deals. My little heart was furiously pounding as I shoved no less than 10 items (give or take) into my cart.
I was so excited at the prospect of new clothes my mind was racing with combination possibilities. However, once I got in the changing room only one, yes, you heard right, only. one. thing. fit! I was devastated. The saving grace here was:
Number 1 – Thanks to my limited eyesight, I couldn’t really see my extra poundage in the mirror. Perhaps this too was a sign that I need to lose weight?
Number 2 – I saved myself some money. See how the planets aligned?
In the end I walked away with an olive flyaway cardigan.
Then a few weeks ago one of my favorite shoe stores was having a $20 off purchase. And of course, being the self-respecting shoe lover I was honor-bound to buy these fabulous Fergalicious Wanderer Booties. Let me just stop here for one moment and tell you that these booties are so darn comfortable. This is not a plug for DSW as I am not being compensated for this post.
Putting It Together
As I mentioned earlier in this post transitioning the new pieces into my existing wardrobe was a piece of cake. I already owned an olive parka and coat. All I had to do was pull together a top and bottoms to make a complete outfit. The headwrap was an additional piece that requires a post of its own. The pieces:
A black top
An olive flyaway cardigan that hits around the hips.
Olive booties with 3-1/2 inch stacked block heel. These western style boots have an almond toe and tactile intricately woven detailing.
An olive double-breasted coat with a wide collar and big cream colored buttons.
A pair of shades and my gold “white cane” finished off my look.
Coordinating Olive Pieces Featured Image Description:
I’m standing in front of a wooden wall (railroad ties) surrounding an oak tree holding my cane in my right hand. In this photo, I’ve taken off my coat to show the cardigan and I’m holding my sunglasses in my left hand.
In this photo, I’m sitting on the wall in my coat with my right hand on my right knee. My head is angled like I’m looking at something in the distance and I have my cane in my left hand.
Another photo of me standing with my cane in my left hand and right hand is on my hip.
This last photo is another one where I’m standing wearing the coat. I’m trying to look all cool like with my left hand on my sunnies like I’m trying to see something interesting.
“Losing your vision is like using the Yellow Pages, you just have to let your fingers do the walking”
I once had 20/20 vision but began to lose it from too much pressure on my brain and optic nerves. The condition that occurred around 2007- 2008 was Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension which caused scarring on my optic nerves. During this time, I was working as a graphic designer and had no idea what to do.
A graphic designer’s main asset is vision and mine was failing. So, there were several years where I didn’t know how to cope with my newfound “disability.” It subsequently caused me to go into a great depression.
Eventually, I learned to use my hands and fingers to get by. I began to try crocheting and cooking again which I loved to do before my vision began to fail. What amazed me was how quickly my fingers knew what to do even though I had a hard time seeing the stitches.
My crocheting was BETTER than it was when I could see because my fingers were now able to keep perfect tension on the yarn! Now I create lovely crocheted blankets and beautiful fashion wraps with perfectly even stitching. Cooking was a bit more of a challenge but after burning myself a million times I got better. Now I move around my kitchen like I have perfect sight.
Setbacks, Surgeries & Seeing A Way Forward
In 2012 I had a series of failed surgeries that left me unable to do anything for the entire year. After 5 lumboperitoneal (LP) shunts that had to be revised or replaced I eventually got a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. The VP shunt didn’t fail but I was still terribly depressed.
To handle my depression, I began making YouTube videos showing what it’s like to see through the eyes of someone with 20/400 vision. At the same time, I started taking online classes at Colorado Technical University. I did so well in school they wrote an article about me for their website to inspire others to get an education. Both outlets helped me deal with what was happening in my head. These activities, made me feel I wasn’t doomed to spend the rest of my life in the dark feeling bad for myself.
I eventually graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Administration and went back to earn a Bachelor’s in Digital Marketing. My education helped me to grow my Instagram account and I landed a job as an account manager in Denver, CO with a merchandising company. Working made my depression much better as I had previously felt I may never be able to work again. I excelled in this position and managed to juggle about 1000 accounts during my 2 years in this fast-paced position.
Creativity Spawns A Positive Mindset
My YouTube channel is my source of fun because I love to be able to create and edit my own videos. The fact that I can edit my own videos despite my vision issues is a great source of personal pride. Not only does it make me feel better it helps to educate others on what it’s like to live seeing through my eyes. I haven’t been making as many videos as I’d like because life is so busy, but I have plans for my channel coming soon. You can check out my Through My Eyes series on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ksmith228
I also began writing music again and have completed several albums. One of my songs, Evangeline, has earned an honorable mention and stellar review from Music City SongStar. Creating and learning are my main passions and I wouldn’t have made it through the dark days without them.
I am currently taking time to focus on my creative endeavors and am the brand ambassador for 2 separate eyewear companies. Protecting your eyes from the sun is imperative and I wanted to make sure I represented companies that are attainable for all.
I represent Nora NYC which is a higher end sunglass brand that has very fashion-forward styles. I also represent Piranha Eyewear which is an affordable sunglass brand that offers classic and fashion-forward styles to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. You can find out more on these brands from my Instagram account @kelsonearth.
Blind Beauty 60 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Kel Smith is on the cover in black and white. The word that comes to mind when one looks at the dark-haired beauty is sultry. In her photos, she always manages to pull off a glamorous vibe like Hedy Lamar or Marlene Dietrich.
Blocks of text superimposed on Kel’s photo are: “Bold–She Keeps Pressing Onward, Blind–She Has Deeper Insight, Beautiful–She Sees To The Heart Of Others.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” “Makeup Trends for 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”
In this closeup of Kel’s face, her eyes are closed and her head is angled towards her shoulder. Her eyebrows are beautifully arched and she has flawless winged eyeliner paired with a light shade of lip color.
A collage of four different poses in which Kel is wearing a black & white striped v-neck top. She’s paired the top with a black & white houndstooth tam. Dark red lip color looks great against her red fingernails.
Kel looks so stylish as she stands in front of a red brick wall with one foot propped against it. She’s wearing a green fedora, chunky cream sweater, dark pants, and taupe suede boots. Aviator sunglasses complete her fabulous look.
Kel’s face is slightly tilted to the right and her straight brown shoulder-length hair frames her face. Her arched eyebrows open up her face to show off her beautiful green eyes. She’s wearing a gray top with her left shoulder slightly exposed.