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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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Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67

Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67

“Poetry has always been connected to music. Blindness is not a reason for silence. My loss of vision has inspired me to keep singing out in a darkened world.”

~Rev. Rebecca L. Holland
Rebecca Holland in a bookstore image description is in the body of the post.
Rebecca Holland in a Bookstore

My name is Rebecca. I am a preacher, writer, and a musician. I also have low vision.

Growing up, I grew used to hearing people tell me, “You don’t look blind.” I struggled during my school years because many students, and even some teachers, accused me of feigning my poor vision.

During my college years as a music education major, one important professor informed me, “I’m sorry. I don’t teach students with disabilities.”

In graduate school, one of my supervisors told me, “I feel sorry for any congregation that you serve because they will have a blind pastor.”

After five years of effective ministry, I am still frequently told, “You don’t look like a preacher.”

This statement always dumbfounds me because I do not know what a preacher is supposed to look like. I have known preachers, both men and women, who are all ages, shapes, sizes, and skin colors.

In the same way, I have met people who are blind or disabled who are more varied in appearance than you can possibly imagine.

Just as there is no “right way,” to live life with a disability, there is no one “right way,” to pursue your dream.

Destination Love and Acceptance

At last, after my very long journey, I am beginning to start to feel love and acceptance for myself. I now view my sight loss as an important part of my identity.

I have been blessed to meet so many wonderfully supportive people along the way. For every negative voice, there were even more positive voices in my life that resounded just as loudly.

I want to be a positive voice who inspires other people the way others have inspired me. That is why I was decided to publish my chapbook, Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse. This small book of poems is my love letter to my beloved church. It is also my statement to the world that people with disabilities can do anything that people without disabilities can do- we just do it a little differently.

Poetry has always been connected to music. Blindness is not a reason for silence. My loss of vision has inspired me to keep singing out in a darkened world.

About the Author:

Rev. Rebecca L. Holland holds a Bachelor of English Education and a Master of Divinity. She is especially passionate about working to make the church more inclusive for people who have been traditionally marginalized, especially people with disabilities. She blogs about faith, diverse books, and disability awareness at BeckieWrites.com

Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty is black & white. Rebecca sits on a plaid picnic blanket in a sunny park in front of a 1959 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. She is wearing a blue dress and smiling. She has long dark hair and wears glasses.

Blocks of text superimposed on Rebecca’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 Fall 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Complexion.”

Rebecca Holland And The Bookstore Image:

Rebecca stands on a stool in a bookstore in front of a large shelf full of books. She smiles as she takes a volume front the shelf. She wears a striped dress and denim jacket.

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Bodacious Beauty, Acceptance & Self-Esteem

Bodacious Beauty

Bodacious Beauty, Acceptance & Self-Esteem

Loving yourself while working to become the best version of yourself for YOU is key!

A Recent Outing

Image 1
Image 1

I love the humorous banter between my son and I. Here is a recent exchange between him and me on a shopping excursion for exercise apparel. 

Me: Do you know what body shape I am?

Son: (Laughing) Round?

Me: (Exasperated tone) No! I’m a triangle.

Son: (Still laughing) Don’t you mean you’re a cone shape? Like a traffic cone?

Me: **crickets** (Then I begin laughing hysterically)

An Authentic Hot Mess

I’m a hot mess and I know it! According to my medical chart, I’m obese, a fact of which I’ve lived in denial for a few years now.

Do you know how hard it is to take pictures from the right angle to hide present a more pleasing view? No longer a spring chicken it’s almost impossible to suck in an overabundance of a stomach that used to be a waistline.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed the willpower I used to have has given way to “oh, what the heck?” It’s a plan that works very effectively. I eat what I want when I want and it feels so GOOD. That is until I have to look presentable and find to my dismay my clothes don’t fit—surprise.

What I’ve learned is there’s only so much one can consume before it becomes a serious problem. The “head in the sand” approach is no longer working and I have to, I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, exercise and eat right.

My son thought it was hilarious that I was wearing skinny jeans that showed every bump and bulge. His thinking was skinny jeans are for skinny people. But my thinking is skinny jeans are for anyone as long as the fit is right. Obviously, with my increasing poundage mine have not been fitting right for some time, another case of denial. But, and this is huge, I’m going to use that gym membership I secured last year. And, I’m gonna make better choices when it comes to eating (at least I hope so). I just may resort to the “Oh what the heck?” philosophy.

Getting To The Point

The point I’m trying to make is while my image is important to me I try to balance it with humor. We only come this way once and I want to make the most of it by not being too hard on myself. The understanding I will never be pleasing to everyone is freeing and magnificently beneficial to my psyche.

Accepting yourself while working to become the best version of you for YOU is key! What was life-changing for me was realizing that being my best for myself was what mattered most.

Here’s a little perspective: there are over 7 billion people on earth, all are unique and all won’t like everyone.

Bodacious Beauty Featured Image Description:

This shot is a pose of me with ‘black’ #WhiteCane, taken from the perspective of me looking down at my feet. My cane is to the left of my right foot. I’m wearing white skinny jeans paired with tan ballet flats with a little poofy floret type thing on top.

Image 1:

Mirror selfie of me wearing a black polo shirt with an embroidered design of Abby, text, and braille.

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Acceptance Of Sight Loss | Abby’s Reflections 26

Acceptance #26: After the trauma, and accompanying period of adjustment to losing my sight, it seemed like there was a built-in coping mechanism where my brain forgot previous vision. It became a mixed blessing that allowed me to continue moving onward with my life. Complete image description is in the body of the post.

Acceptance Of Sight Loss | Abby’s Reflections 26

“After the trauma, and accompanying period of adjustment to losing my sight, it seemed like there was a built-in coping mechanism where my brain forgot previous vision. It became a mixed blessing that allowed me to continue moving on with my life.”

Acceptance of any loss in our lives is a process. Losing eyesight and how you respond to it is different for everyone. For me and my friends, our lives have not only gone on after sight loss but we are living abundantly.

While the process of losing eyesight is not easy, it boils down to choosing how you want to live. By placing more focus on what you have instead of what you’ve lost you can handle most anything.

Many of us come to appreciate our sight loss as an opportunity to become a beacon of hope to those new to the experience. As we continually adjust to living without sight we gain new skills while leaning on our other senses.

Another huge piece to the puzzle is for people to remember we are not our eyesight or lack thereof. The word “blind” has no special power over us and we are not subhuman. Our eyes simply do not function.

Abby’s Reflections Description: 

A gray, teal, and white boldblindbeauty.com template utilizing the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image of Abby sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.