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Sword, Lightsaber Or Broomstick?

So indeed, there are days I choose to use my white cane like a sword. I use it to cut away at the misconceptions people have about my capabilities. I cut through the limitations as if they are coiled thick vines, which others place on my dreams.

~Catherine Harrison, Women On The Move

Fantasy To Reality

There are days I wish my white cane was a sharp sword, able to cut through the complexities of life coiled around my ankles like thick vines.

Or perhaps if it were a lightsaber that glowed in the dark and could vaporize the enemies of my greatness like fear, self-doubt, impatience and my horrible spelling.

Or better still if I could ride my cane like a magic broomstick and use its power to turn my competitors into toads.

But it’s not any of those things.

My white cane is one of the tools I use to navigate life in pursuit of my dreams.

It not only identifies my handicap but it gives me the freedom to travel alone.

Embracing Tool Crushed Fear

I will admit, I was not too happy about having to use it at first. I didn’t like how people stared at me; I didn’t like “looking blind.” It was humiliating having to re-learn how to safely cross the street using a cane. But after I ran into enough walls, stepped out in front of a car and repeatedly fell down steps I got over my pride and embraced the tool designed to help me.

Now, it takes lots of training and practice to travel by myself without getting lost or run over, and I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes. But the experience I gained through the years has taught me to pay close attention to the cues my white cane gives.

My cane is designed to go out in front of me to find the obstacles, curbs or steps I am not able to see. It is long enough to give me two steps to either stop or change direction.

The metal tip makes a noise as it strikes the ground allowing me to hear the difference between a smooth sidewalk or street pavement, carpet or tile flooring. It’s painted with white reflective material for travel at night and comes in several styles for different purposes.

My cane, however, has one drawback…it only works when I follow, letting it go ahead of my steps. It doesn’t work if I drag it along behind me, then wonder why I ran into a wall or fell down a step. I have to unfold it, put it out in front of me, trust what I hear, respond to the obstacles it finds and never take a step forward without it.

Acceptance Is My Superpower

So indeed, there are days I choose to use my white cane like a sword. I use it to cut away at the misconceptions people have about my capabilities. I cut through the limitations as if they are coiled thick vines, which others place on my dreams.

There are also days I choose to use it as a lightsaber. It is a glowing symbol of my independence, my ability to rise strong and defeat my inner enemies.

And better still are the times I use my cane like a magic broomstick. I learned early on in my training just how much power it has when you swing it in a wide arc…people WILL get out of your way! It makes me feel a little like Moses parting the Red Sea when I can clear a path through a crowded airport.

I am fearlessly equipped to walk (in high heels) with my cane in front because I learned to use the tool that will get me where I want to go.

👠Don’t let fear alter your steps.

👠Excuses will kill dreams.

👠Choose your tool and use it!

About Catherine:

Catherine was diagnosed in 1995 with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), only weeks after returning from serving for two years on the mission field in Nigeria, Africa. She has been a national public speaker and article writer for several magazines, sharing her story of learning to walk with strength and faith behind a white cane.

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Baylor University and had a wonderful career as an operating room nurse. She is a former ballerina and studied dance at Julliard’s School of American Ballet in New York. She is currently a professional commercial print and fitness model with DMG modeling agency in Dallas, Tx. She is the proud mother of 3 grown sons and wife of Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Craig Harrison. Catherine serves on several non-profit boards and regularly volunteers in her local community.

Her mission is not only to successfully work as a model, who happens to have a visual impairment but also to empower women of all ages to step into their strength, regardless of their circumstances, with poise and courage.  

You can find Catherine on:

Image Descriptions:

  • Photo credit Julia Wagner at Feather and Root Photography.
  • Featured image shows Catherine walking with her white cane wearing a white long-sleeved keyhole dress.
  • In this headshot with short blonde hair and mesmerizing green eyes, Catherine is wearing a blue halter dress. The neckline on the sleeveless top is cut to partially expose Catherine’s shoulders. 
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Men In Motion | Juan Alcazar

On the first Monday of every month in 2020, you will meet some amazing blind & visually impaired male influencers. For January’s “Men In Motion” Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to introduce you to Filmmaker Juan Alcazar.

Juan is the talented creator of the YouTube Channel JC5 Productions and is also a valued member of our CAPTIVATING! team. From 1 minute short films to dramatic shorts, collabs, vision impairment, and disability awareness, Juan has a varied collection of video content.

Always remind yourself why you do what you do.

In September of 2018, I made a comment on an Instagram post of Juan’s that led me to view his video “A Second Chance.” The storyline in this poignant video tugged my heartstrings because the subject matter is universally relevant to all of us at some point in our lives. Questioning, doubting, and underestimating our value can leave us feeling like what we do doesn’t matter. I think Juan beautifully captured the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness experienced when we make comparisons. Many creatives, who also happen to be sensitive, are especially vulnerable because we feel so deeply.

It took Juan some time to find his “why” as he didn’t want to be known as “the blind filmmaker.” While he doesn’t let his sight loss define who he is, he realized he had a bigger purpose for creating videos. Today, we share his powerful story in “Accepting My Blindness” (transcription is below the video).

Accepting My Blindness | Juan Alcazar

Accepting My Blindness Video Transcription

When I was really little my parents would see me staring at the TV from a really close distance. At first, they thought I was just fascinated by looking at the pixels but little did they know that I couldn’t see well and I would eventually need glasses. 

So I did end up getting glasses and yeah they helped out a lot during my grade school, middle school, and high school years. But I still had problems. I still had to sit in the front row and I still had trouble seeing what the teacher wrote on the blackboard or the overhead.

It wasn’t until college when I finally was able to wear contact lenses. It was great, but it lasted for about just nine or so years and that’s because my vision was still getting worse and worse and then they told me “You know what they don’t make contacts that go to your prescription. Your prescription is too high now.” So I eventually went back to wearing glasses.

So fast forward to present day now where I’m making this short film mix sit-down video. This YouTube video where I’m here to tell you hey, uhh, I’m legally blind and I know I’ve mentioned my vision problems in a few videos before but I’ve never really wanted to say that I was legally blind.

Being born with nearsightedness and living with it every day. It’s a real interesting experience actually. Everything is just completely out of focus and only comes into focus when you put something really really close to your eye, but it’s not just nearsightedness. I have problems with my peripheral vision. I drop something and I take maybe 20, 30 seconds to find it and also when I look straight forwards that’s also a problem because I tend to see things a little bit darker than usual and this can be really really problematic when I’m walking around at night. 

And here’s the thing I was in denial. I didn’t want to admit that I was legally blind and the reason for that is I could still see quite a bit. I mean I still have trouble seeing with glasses but compared to what other people have. They have more severe vision problems.

I just didn’t feel like I was blind enough to even say that I was legally blind. And here’s another confession. I did not want to be known as the legally blind filmmaker on YouTube and that’s because for some reason I kept thinking that if I focus on that it’s going to take away the attention from my creative stuff to my vision and I didn’t want that to happen.

But after watching a few YouTubers with disabilities it really made me just stop and think why I’m feeling this way about my own disability and why am I so insecure about it? They’ve helped me accept my blindness. They’ve helped me accept it and that it’s a part of me. That is part of who I am. That it’s part of my daily life but at the same time they’ve also taught me that this doesn’t completely define me who I am as a person. 

In many ways, this has all left me pretty empowered and just confident and motivated to do what I want to do. When I stop and think about it I’m like, “Dude, you’re doing something that you shouldn’t be doing technically. You’re a filmmaker. You’re making movies but yet you’re visually impaired. You’re doing something that heavily relies on your eyes.”

And it’s almost like I’m telling my disability, “Hey, you may be slowing me down but you know what I’m not gonna let you stop me from doing what I want to do.” In a way that’s pretty cool.

What matters to me the most as a filmmaker is trying yo get my stories out there. Trying to get my content out there. Sure it may take me a little longer to set up my camera and edit. It may be more challenging but then again hey life is full of challenges and this is my challenge and I’m willing to accept it and you know what? I’m okay with that.

Hey JC5ers what’s going on? So yeah I wanted to make this video for a while in this format because you’re going to see a few more short films kind of, well…short films mixed in with sit-down videos in this format and I wanted to talk about my vision, my eyesight and that’s going to become a little more prominent on my channel. It’s not going to completely dominate my content but I just want to talk more about it.

It wasn’t just those YouTubers who I watched with disabilities that helped inspire me it was you guys as well, uh. I’m grateful that you guys are watching me and I’m hoping that I continue to entertain you guys and educate you guys here and there as well. 

So anyway if you happen to like this video then give it a thumbs up if you found it hey a little bit inspirational for you then feel free to share it if you want. I will see you guys next week or next time hopefully you next week cuz I missed last week’s upload anyway I’ll talk to you later. See ya

Here are a few of our favorite JC5 Production videos:

If you are a fan of creative and authentic storytelling you will want to add JC5 Productions to your playlist.

Connecting With Juan:

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured image is a closeup of Juan with a big smile on his face. He has a knit gray beanie on his head and is wearing a green crew neck sweater. In the blurred background is a redbrick fireplace next to a doorframe.
  • In the second head & shoulders photo, Juan appears more serious with his right hand wrapped around the handle of his white cane. Wearing a casual, open, button-down gray shirt he has a navy blue tee underneath. Juan, sporting his bald head looks distinguished against a stark white backdrop.
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Seeing Differently A Message Of Hope For 2020

Fireworks image is described in the body of the post

2020 A Year Of Vision

Happy New Year Everyone!!

2020 A Year Of Vision Image description is in the body of the post.
2020 A Year of Vision

Built on the premise that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers,” Bold Blind Beauty was created to empower blind and visually impaired women. In recognition of the year 2020, we are excited to unveil our “2020 A Year Of Vision” Campaign. The focus of the campaign will be on changing perceptions about the disability community and promoting inclusiveness.  

Changing perceptions begins with building awareness and promoting respect for people with disabilities. We plan to achieve the goal of changing the way we perceive one another by sharing our stories and having mutual respect for humanity. In 2020 we are thrilled to present as part of the “2020 A Year of Vision” Campaign: 

Compassionate & Broader Perspectives Promote Acceptance

It seems we must label and categorise to ‘impose order’ over our world, to allocate meaning, to think of things in a prescribed way.

~Robyn Haynes | Big Dreams For A Tiny garden

I won’t pretend to know how or when segregation began as this is outside of my area of expertise. However, as my friend Robyn observes in her post “Star Of Bethlehem” I agree that taxonomies are human-imposed.

As humans we are and simultaneously are not, the same. Think about it, when we strip away our exteriors what are we left with? Sure, many factors go into our becoming the individuals we are and the beauty of being human lies in our complexities. Unfortunately, all humanity isn’t equally valued.

As a nearly 60-year-old minority who lives with an acquired disability, I have some experience in what being different means. Something I’ve noticed; when others who are not minorities become disabled, it becomes apparent how being different impacts their lives. Side note: as a minority group, the disability community does NOT discriminateanyone can become a member. I’ve also noticed that when we experience a national or international tragedy we can come together in shared grief.

Since no one can possibly know what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes it’s our responsibility to be empathetic. Is this difficult? Absolutely it is! Just thinking of all the areas of contention we have with fellow humans is dizzying. And truth be told, some people while we may have to let them go for whatever reason, they are still valuable humans. In “When the corpse is not ours…” my friend and author Jacqueline (A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales) challenges our view of humanity.

“No other “group” has the power to erase and redefine another person’s identity to suit their own bias – to control which areas of society in which others may engage in relative safety.”

~Jambo Robyn | Jambo Robyn Stories about ordinary things

Learning To Respect Differences

Appreciating differences and accepting people where they are is at the heart of humanity. If you subscribe to the idea that humanity is imperfect, respecting differences can begin with embracing our own flaws. So how then can we learn to see differently? Here are a few tips to practice:

  • Gratitude without comparison: Comparing ourselves with one another is pointless and detrimental to our wellbeing. So many of us are overly concerned with being who others think we should be and in the process, we lose ourselves. Being grateful for who you are, begins with knowing yourself. No one can define who you are except you. Self-compassion enables you to wholly embrace yourself and gratitude diminishes the need for comparison. What are your vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and values?
  • Let go of perfectionism: We’re complex creatures none of whom are perfect. Do not give power to your inner critic. Doing the best we can with what we have is enough.
  • Positivity as a choice: In our increasingly divisive culture it can be challenging to avoid negativity however we always have a choice. We do not have to engage in negative behavior or commentary.
  • Kindness: Being open to the idea that others’ lives may differ greatly from your own is okay. We cannot and should not expect everyone to live as we do. Respecting other people’s right to live and choose how to do so is humanitarianism. Live and let live and above all be kind.

In 2020 let’s do better and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be! I leave you with a song I’ve declared as my anthem:

We Are Here To love | Lenny Kravitz

What are your thoughts on how we can transform our culture and respect one another?

Image Descriptions:

  • The header image contains multicolored fireworks on a white background.
  • 2020 A Year Of Vision: A simple black outline drawing of an eye on a white background. The iris of the eye is a teal-colored female symbol and the pupil inside the iris is a smaller gray male symbol. The eye is centered above the black tagline “2020 A Year of Vision.”
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Viewing Life Through 2019's Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror described in the body of the post

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

~LR Knost

As 2019 winds down, reflecting on my ordinary, mundane, and routine life sandwiched between amazing and awful moments I’m grateful. I think the above quote about life resonates so deeply with me is because of its simplicity. Even so, a small part of me can’t help but feel that when life isn’t amazing or awful then something must be wrong. However, when I really think about it ordinary is the sweet spot.

This time last year I was riding high on the first publication of CAPTIVATING! a free, accessible online lifestyle magazine. Then as 2018 neared its end, I went into a deep depression that I thought I couldn’t rebound from. Yet I did, and what’s even better is I’m ending 2019 more enlightened. In my very first post of 2019, I ended it by saying “I’ll continue to hopefully come out on the other side more enlightened.” When I made this statement there wasn’t a map for me to follow to enlightenment but believing in possibilities created the pathway. Here’s a look back, through blog posts, on the timeline of how I arrived here:

  1. 2019 New Year Fresh Outlook
  2. Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss
  3. Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose
  4. Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness
  5. My Path From Poverty To Possibilities

The Amazing, The Awful & The Ordinary

Photo of Ariella is described in the body of the post
Ariella

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t have imagined I’d have amazing opportunities to travel. Interacting with people in person was so meaningful and enhanced the virtual relationships we previously developed. Likewise, meeting new people and developing new relationships helped me to grow personally and professionally. Oh, and the most AMAZING thing happened last week when my granddaughter, Ariella, was born.

While traveling, meeting new people, and a newborn fall into the amazing category at the other end of the spectrum is the awful. Devastating news in the form of a broken relationship, a friend’s cancer diagnosis, and another friend’s death were painful. Each of these situations profoundly affected me causing a great deal of introspection, and today I’m still processing my feelings.

Learning to appreciate the ordinary has been a little tough but at the same time rewarding. It’s been tough because I made some difficult but necessary changes in my life and I’m finding this is constant. The rewards, on the other hand, have been less stress, more meaningful relationships, and a greater sense of self.

Enlightenment

In summary, I’ve found life and the journey to my self-discovery a continual, exhausting, effort that requires focus, truth, and vulnerability. Many of us struggle daily with doubts about our worthiness and we try to find the answers outside of ourselves. The thing is, self-compassion which can only come from the inside allows us to embrace our worthiness. When you know who you are, no one else can define you. Owning your worthiness places you in a position where what others think about you is no longer important.

From my heart to yours I wish you the happiest of holidays!

And if perchance, this time of year is a struggle for you please know you aren’t alone.💔 You must know, You Matter!

If you need encouragement, I leave you with a teaser to the song my friend Vicky wrote.💖 You can check out the lyrics here: Know You Matter and be on the lookout for the single to drop in January 2020.

Correction:

In the original version of this post, I included what I thought was the teaser of Know You Matter. This audio clip is the correct file.

Image Descriptions

  • Featured image: Photo of a car’s rearview mirror reflecting the long road behind the vehicle. White transparent “2019” is overlaying the reflection.
  • Photo of Ariella sleeping in her bassinet. She has a little pink knit cap on her head that perfectly matches her rosy cheeks and she is wearing a long sleeve tee