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From Despair To Captivating A Podcast

Image is described within the post.

The naysayers said you couldn’t succeed. What they didn’t know was their definition of success was not your definition. Creating your path by believing in possibilities has brought you to where you are today and will continue to guide and sustain you.

From “Dear Stephanae”

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? For most of my life, I knew I was different and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t “normal.” Then I read The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney and to my surprise was thrilled to find I’m different, not abnormal.

If you’ve been following Bold Blind Beauty for a while I’ve remained on message partly because of my introversion. The other reason why I’m consistent is because of the path I’ve been forging for myself.

A few months ago I was honored with a scholarship to attend a life-changing Daring To Own Your StoryTM retreat. The retreat, for blind and visually impaired women, opened the door to reveal a side of me I didn’t know existed. One of the tasks we were asked to complete on the retreat was writing a self-compassionate letter to ourselves. Needless to say, the introvert in me seized up and I was unable to finish my letter. Thankfully, I made a promise to myself to finish it at the right time. That time was yesterday and the opening paragraph to this post is from my letter.

Creating The Path

The thing with creating your own path is there is no blueprint or navigation system to direct you—only your gut. Outsiders won’t understand and will try to convince you that you’re delusional. Your inner self-critic incessantly keeps you second-guessing yourself and you’ll feel so lonely and afraid.

It cannot be a coincidence that this quote from my childhood has remained my favorite:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead

where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s no coincidence that the people I’ve connected with on my journey would be instrumental in keeping me on my path. Today, Thomas Reid of Reid My Mind, sent me the link to the podcast we recently recorded and it warmed my heart.

In the interview, Because We Are Captivating, Tom and I talk about the path I’ve created and he did such a great job pulling it together. The timing is perfect as I’m preparing for two speaking gigs next week and am solely focused on the upcoming events.

I’ve included the direct link to the podcast below.

When you have a moment check out Tom at Reid My Mind who is sharing his talent as host and producer of the show. Thank you, Tom, for featuring me a third time on your podcast—it was a blast!

Image Description:

A stunning black and white abstract illustration of the head and left shoulder of a woman. She has both hands on her shoulder and her head is slightly tilted downward. What makes the image so magical is the trees blended into her face and background.

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When Passion Is Palpable One Must Pursue It

“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

~Neil Gaiman

Advocacy can occur on many levels from creating a massive movement to a simple blog but it all begins with a passion for positive social change. When I was asked to participate in an upcoming event to bring awareness to the abilities of people with disabilities I couldn’t say no. 

Disability InSIGHTS is a seminar designed to increase awareness of the abilities of people living with disabilities. I will be one of 7 speakers who will share stories of triumphs, obstacles, and breaking down barriers. More on this in a moment.

Typically when we hear stories of people who are on the front lines of social justice the conversation revolves around passion. There is something that ignites the fire within us to create positive change. While it’s true passion has a defining role in our advocacy efforts we seldom talk about another major player—fear.

Working Through Fear

Fear is universal and yet many times when we talk about success fear isn’t a major topic of conversation. I’ve lived a life of fear and a life of overcoming. Losing my eyesight was one of my greatest fears that I never thought I’d be able to accept. However, it was my fear of blindness that in part prompted me to create Bold Blind Beauty. 

Fear was the reason why I declined an all-expense-paid trip to Kansas earlier this year. Even though the opportunity to empower blind & visually impaired youth was seductive I just couldn’t let go of my fear.

The thought of traveling out of state on what would be my first solo flight after my sight loss terrified me. Questions swirled around in my head like:

  • would I know where to go once I was dropped off curbside at the airport?
  • what if the assistance I requested ahead of time wasn’t available?
  • would I have a panic attack because everything I see is indistinguishable?
  • what if I had to use the restroom, would I get lost?
  • would the flight attendants show me to my seat?
  • since my trip connected through another airport what would that be like?
  • what would I do if I encountered problems because people doubted my disability?
  • how would I handle the prospect of being stranded?

With all these questions and more, you’d think I’d be satisfied with declining the trip but I wasn’t. Truth be told I was still unsettled yet I couldn’t articulate why. Thankfully, I was given another chance, this time I said YES! and I went to Kansas.

The Cumulative Effect

The Kansas trip was only the beginning of all the wonderful things to come this year as a result of my work at Bold Blind Beauty. While I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve questioned myself as to whether this is a fruitful effort. Then last year I partnered with advocate extraordinaire, Chelsea Nguyen, and together we founded CAPTIVATING! Magazine, a free, accessible online lifestyle magazine. CAPTIVATING! provides monthly content about culture and style for people of all abilities proving that inclusion is limitless.

As a result of my partnership with Chelsea, and my work with Bold Blind Beauty I’ve enjoyed these amazing experiences:

Next, in the lineup of this year’s events are:

My trips to Kansas and Utah were sublime. CAPTIVATING!’s award from the Texas Rehabilitation Association was a delightful and totally unexpected surprise. Then filming the behind the scenes story of Bold Blind Beauty last week was extraordinary. 

I’m eagerly anticipating the Disability InSIGHTS Seminar where I can share my tips on the path to social entrepreneurship. This event is being held in recognition of International Blindness Awareness Month and National Employment Disability Awareness Month. It will take place on October, 18 from 11 am – 3 pm at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA. 

Seeing The Beauty In People

I believe everyone has value. I also believe our perceptions of people can get in the way of our ability to appreciate their value. For far too long we’ve looked at people who are ‘different’ from ourselves and immediately leap to conclusions without knowing their story, without knowing them. When we add disabilities (visible and invisible) to this equation we become ‘experts’ in determining their worth and it isn’t fair nor is it right. 

We all have moments of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear. I nearly let my fear keep me from life-changing events where I’ve learned so many valuable lessons. None of this means I won’t ever feel uncomfortable or downright scared. However, when I ask myself why inclusion, accessibility, and representation are so important my passion will continue to help me push through my fear.

Courage is contagious and when we share our vulnerabilities it empowers others. How about you? Can you think of a time that fear nearly prevented you from meaningful achievement? 

Disability InSIGHTS Information:

Featured Image Description:

A closeup view of a blank wooden arrow sign against a bright blue sky dotted with a few puffy white clouds.

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Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! same image as the featured image

Worldwide Search for Models Disabilities! YOU could be on the cover of CAPTIVATING!

Today, CAPTIVATING!, a project of Bold Blind Beauty, has launched a worldwide search for models with all types of disabilities. This global social media campaign is being managed by our newest Staff Writer, Rebecca Holland, of Beckie Writes. Continue reading to find out more, especially if you or someone you know has a disability and is interested in being featured on our March edition of CAPTIVATING!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! same image as the featured image
Our social media campaign is being managed by Rebecca Holland. Find out more on Instagram! 

Do you have a disability? CAPTIVATING! Magazine is looking for cover models for our March issue! Enter for your chance to be featured on our cover.

CAPTIVATING! is a magazine that is breaking down barriers and helping the world to see that all people―especially people with disabilities―are beautiful. We are looking for people of all ages from all over the world with all types of ability levels.

Not all disabilities look the same and we support people with all disabilities, including hidden disabilities. If you consider yourself to be a member of the disabled community, then we invite you to submit your image!

We want to see YOU on our cover! 

Our campaign is focused on Instagram because it has one of the highest engagement rates and is a great platform for aspiring influencers. We would love to see you participate in our Instagram campaign!

It’s easy to submit a picture! Just do the following easy steps: 

  1. LIKE this blog post on Instagram. You can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtwG0wjHpCT/
  2. FOLLOW @beckiewrites (campaign manager) and @captivatingmagazine on Instagram
  3. POST a picture to Instagram and TAG@captivatingmagazine and @beckiewrites 
    ―bonus points if you’re wearing red and black (our colors) in your picture!
  4. COMMENT on this post and let us know that you’ve submitted your photo! Bonus points if you tag two friends who might be interested in being on our cover as well!
  5. BONUS: Don’t forget to use our hashtag #WeRCaptivating anytime you’re talking about us on social media!

Not An Instagram User? Not A Problem!

If you don’t have Instagram but would still like to participate, you can e-mail your photo submissions to CAPTIVATING! at: editor@captivatingmagazine.com.

That’s it! I hope to see you featured on the front of our March issue! The cover model candidates winners will be selected and announced Friday, March 1, 2019.

More great news!

Even if you are not selected for our March cover, we may choose to feature you in one of our future issues. We will also be selecting photos to share throughout our campaign on our Facebook and Instagram feeds! Even if you’re not selected for the cover, you may still get a shoutout!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! Featured Image Description:

White text on a red background reads, “CaptivatingMagazine.com | Models with Disabilities Wanted.” Beckie smiles while wearing a red coat and leaning against a bookshelf. She has long dark hair and glasses.

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Stars Are Always Present

"Baily's Beads, On the right side of the moon, orbs of glowing sunlight shimmer off the edge of the moon's black disk. Called Baily's Beads, these final areas of the sun's light appear as glimmering pearls on a wire, made intensely bright by the absence of light surrounding them." ~Eclipse SoundscapesYesterday, for the first time in almost 40 years parts of the US experienced a total solar eclipse. So as millions of excited people gathered within the path of totality it made me think about perceptions; from the way, we perceive ourselves to how we are perceived by others.

Just as the moon eclipses the light of the sun casting shadows and even total darkness on certain parts of the earth, eyesight or lack of eyesight can eclipse the wholeness of an individual depending on our perspective.

Collage of icons representing a range of disabilities, pregnancy, mother & child, arm in cast. Often blind people have insight and clarity enabling us to see to the heart, mind, and soul of a person because we aren’t distracted by light-given sight. On the other hand, when we see a person use a white cane, guide dog, or other mobility devices, this can sometimes color our viewpoint which in turn can block us from truly seeing the whole person versus their disability.

Even during the day stars are always present, we just can’t see them because of the sun’s glare. People are sort of like this in that while we may use different tools to survive or just to live our lives, with or without our tools we are always here, we are whole.

What was your perception of the eclipse?