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Regina Mitchell | The Gift Of Intuitive Cooking

Regina posing for the camera while standing in her kitchen. Her long dark hair is held in place with a headband and cascades over both her shoulders. She's wearing a red and white paisley print dress accented with large hoop earrings.

Regina Mitchell | The Gift Of Intuitive Cooking

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Editor’s Note

Breathtaking is the word that comes to mind when I think of today’s Woman On The Move Regina Mitchell. Regina is breathtaking not only physically but also in her beautiful demeanor. Hearing her sight loss story for the first time and the grueling monthly treatments she endures to retain her residual sight is heartwrenching. Yet, in spite of her sight loss, her treatments, and daily reminders that her eyes lie to her she persists with grace.

Last year, Regina was featured in a segment on CNN and it was through sharing that piece that I saw how others were helped by her words. I’m so honored to call today’s featured guest my friend.

Below Regina’s YouTube video is the transcript for those who prefer to read. Enjoy! ~Steph

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover

The header and Beyond Sight Magazine photos are identical and show Regina posing for the camera while standing in her kitchen. Her long dark hair is held in place with a headband and cascades over both her shoulders. She's wearing a red and white paisley print dress accented with large hoop earrings. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight January 2022 | Women On The Move | Regina Mitchell.”

YouTube Video

Introduction

Hello, my name is Regina Mitchell. And I want to thank Stephanae McCoy of Bold Blind Beauty for having me this month as a Woman On The Move for 2022 Thank you. I am a wife, a mother, a mentor. I’m a writer, I love to run, and I love listening to music, as well as quiet time. I just adore my husband, we’ve been married for 36 years. And I’m also a classically trained chef who happens to be blind but I wasn’t always blind.

Regina’s Sight Loss Story

My story began in 2012 as just a very simple trip to Arizona out of town for the weekend, arriving back with some eye pain going to the emergency room. And the doctors refer me to an ophthalmologist, the ophthalmologist saying “Oh, it’ll be okay within three months.” And we just held on to that fact that I’ll be okay. The weeks went by the months went by and now we’re into our six month. By the seventh month, we were finally referred to a uveitis specialist at UCLA and there I was diagnosed with bilateral Panuveitis.

What does my world look like through my eyes? Well, one foot in front of me stands my husband often and at times, I don’t even know he’s there. I don’t see his face. I don’t have peripheral vision. I don’t see stairs. I don’t have depth perception.

My continued treatment, I have chemotherapy monthly and also have eye drops. The chemotherapy is very hard on my body. It is very wearing. However, I’ve been given the strength every time to continue doing what I love doing. And that is being a chef.

Returning To The Kitchen

Making meatballs: In this photo, Regina is in her kitchen making meatballs and placing them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Her hair is in a ponytail and she's wearing a buttoned top opened at the neck.
Making Meatballs

I have returned to the kitchen after many years of being out of the kitchen. And so now what I do is I teach Livestream classes to blind and low vision students, as well as to many sighted students as well. So it’s, I now have a whole different skill set that I used, that I never had before as a fully sighted chef, because as a fully sighted chef, my eyes were the boss. I saw everything. And I depended on my eyes for everything but now, I can’t do that.

I have to depend on my other sensories to lead the way for me, and to make good decisions for me. How am I coping with things now since vision loss? Oh, it’s not pretty but I’m managing. I like to say that living with these eyes is sort of like living with someone in your house that is a deceiver and they won’t ever tell you the truth about anything. You can’t depend on them for anything, no matter what they tell you. That’s kind of how my eyes are.

My eyes are telling me crazy stuff all day long. My eyes will tell me that when I cooked pasta one day, and I thought I dropped some pasta on the floor here and I picked it up what I thought was pasta. No, it was a scorpion. So I got stung on my thumb.

Another time I was in another area of the room and I thought it was a rubber band and I picked that up. No, it was another scorpion. If I go down the stairs, my eyes will tell me that if they’re really you can keep going. But if I keep going I’ll fall. I can’t trust my eyes, if I’m reading a document, my eyes will tell me that their blocks where really they’re letters. I think you get the picture, I can’t trust my eyes, they’re very deceptive.

A New World Of Culinary Experience

At one point when my eyes were a receiver of lots of information is no more, as I said, I have to depend on my other sensories. And this is what I love so much about the new world that I find myself in. And that is, I get to teach individuals how to cook and in that cooking experience, culinary experience, I get to teach them blindness skills, as well as honing in on their intuitive skills.

So I get to take an ingredient if you will and tell them everything about it. Where it was in my sighted world, I never had to do that because everyone can see. But in this world, my eyes are of no value to me. So I get to hold that ingredient, and feel it and smell it and taste it and touch it. I get to convey that to my community. And they get to receive that information from me, and then you get to share life experiences together.

How To Become A Community Leader

Regina is posing for the camera in her kitchen with her long hair down. She has on a chunky knit sweater over another top accented with round statement earrings and her expression is thoughtful.

I am a blind chef and I’m also a community leader. How do you get to do that? And what are some of the ways that we can be involved in our communities? Well, one of the ways I found is to treat people the way you want to be treated. Looking out for those that are in need. Doing things without wanting something in return. Being nice being kind being patient. And soon enough, you will find yourself as a leader in your community. It doesn’t take a lot of time, all you have to do is show up and be present and you will find yourself in that place.

Now as far as being a blind chef, how did all this happen? Well, I went to culinary school, I graduated and then I traveled abroad. You don’t have to go through that length. You don’t have to go that that route. Simply, if there’s a place that you frequent a lot, it could be a cafe, as quaint as a pastry shop, or hustling bustling restaurant, talk to the manager and let them know your desire and put yourself [indecipherable] that you can work. And see if you like it. You may love it or you may not but just give it a try.

Another thing another great piece of advice that I wish someone would have given me in 2012 and 2013 and 14 is to be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let up a little bit. You don’t have to be like this overachiever in blindness skills. Take your time.

So thank you. Thank you so much for letting me share my story with you. And I hope that you will contact me should you want to. My email address is friendinthekitchen@gmail.com, my Instagram is @ReginaDMitchell. Facebook is @ReginaMitchell. So thank you again. Blessings to you and a Happy New Year!

Connecting With Regina

Image Descriptions

  • The header and Beyond Sight Magazine photos are identical and show Regina posing for the camera while standing in her kitchen. Her long dark hair is held in place with a headband and cascades over both her shoulders. She’s wearing a red and white paisley print dress accented with large hoop earrings. Text on the cover reads “Beyond Sight January 2022 | Women On The Move | Regina Mitchell.”
  • Thumbnail & video description: In the thumbnail, Regina is at work in the kitchen. Her long dark hair is pulled back in a ponytail, her sleeves are rolled up and she’s wearing an apron and gloves. In the background, various ingredients and cooking utensils can be seen. In the video. Regina is talking to us from her kitchen wearing a coral v-neck top with large hoop earrings and her hair is in a ponytail over her right shoulder.
  • Making meatballs: In this photo, Regina is in her kitchen making meatballs and placing them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Her hair is in a ponytail and she’s wearing a buttoned top opened at the neck.
  • Regina is posing for the camera in her kitchen with her long hair down. She has on a chunky knit sweater over another top accented with round statement earrings and her expression is thoughtful.

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