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Juggling Perfection and Efficiency

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Thinking of a career change. Does anyone know the going rate for jugglers? I’ve got tons of balls in the air and just may qualify.

Not too long ago I laughingly shared the above post on Facebook. At that time I was gonna look into prospects of becoming a juggler, because, you know, balls in the air. Then l had to admit that I was dropping more balls than I was catching because I had too much going on.

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency image is a selfie of me (Steph), in my bald glory, wearing a white open back top and my grandson is peeping over my left shoulder.

There’s a thin line between perfection and efficiency both of which I struggle with constantly. I know perfection is highly overrated yet I still become paralyzed when I feel I haven’t given my best. As a life-long abilities crusader (fancy title for advocate), I understand how important it is to be selective. Focusing my time and efforts where they will do the most good is an essential skill. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, desiring to do too many things makes me less effective because I become overwhelmed.

I love the following quote because it reminds me:

  1. my efforts are fruitless when I’m overwhelmed
  2. it helps me to refocus on my ‘why’

“If I stop to kick every barking dog, I am not going to get where I’m going.”

~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

While advocacy is around the clock, work, a friend reminded me that we should plan our work around our lives. Advocating for Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation is why I do what I do. However, to be effective, I have to reassess, narrow my focus, and let some things go. Afterall there are over 7 billion people on the planet and none of us have to go it alone. There are many great causes in the world and plenty of opportunities for everyone who so chooses to make a difference.

The Internal Struggle

I cannot be the only person in the world who thinks there is way too much of everything around us. A simple example that comes to mind is light bulbs.

Not too long ago I was looking for some bulbs on Amazon—simple right? Wrong! A quick search returned over 50,000 results. Of course, there are options to narrow the search and even options within the options like:

  • brand
  • color temperature
  • usage
  • wattage
  • size
  • shape
  • brightness
  • features

Geez, all I wanted was some bulbs to illuminate my home and it ended up becoming a research project. I learned far more about light bulbs than I ever expected or desired, not to mention the time wasted. At one point I got so frustrated I had to take a nap and resume my search later.

Anxiety over buying light bulbs sounds silly, I know. But, when I multiply this one choice by all the others, made within one day I can easily feel paralyzed. The simplest tasks become complicated burdens and losing focus because of overstimulation rules the day. As a result, clouds of guilt, shame, and a sense of unworthiness smother me and I feel like a failure.

Placing way too much value on my work and not enough on myself is destructive and I have to change. I love what I do here on Bold Blind Beauty and I love the connections I’ve made. This community means the world to me and I’d be lost without you so I’m evolving by taking a stand.

Taking A Stand To Create Meaningful Change

When clarity begins to fade due to trying to maintain a frenzied pace something has to give. Because I’m adaptable and very low maintenance it’s easy for me to declutter. Self-compassion however, is a more challenging process that requires an overhaul. Here are some of the steps I’m taking to reclaim my clarity and overall sense of wellness:

  • Self-compassion: Being kind to myself is the only antidote to self-hatred and unworthiness. Craving acceptance is what led me to believe that my work was the only measure of my worthiness. A recent reassessment of my life revealed the cause of this toxic thinking. Practicing self-compassion and mindfulness are the keys to restoration.
  • Flexibility: Embracing flexibility has been one of the best gifts I’ve given me. Changing direction at any given point is a welcome escape from being so rigid and it feeds my creativity.
  • Adaptation: Life is constantly evolving and so are we. Recognizing I am not the same person today as I was yesterday means doing things a little differently. Being low maintenance along with the ability to adapt breeds contentment and balance.
  • Simplicity: Like my light bulb example in the “Internal Struggle,” I do not need lots of anything. Cutting the cable a few years back was so liberating. Limiting time spent in other areas like, say, social media can also be freeing. With the exception of Instagram, I don’t have any other social media on my phone. I don’t want to be connected 24/7.
  • My Voice: Remembering my values while remaining true to who I am and what I stand for sets me apart.

The Way Forward

I’ve begun the process of shifting my workload to restore my sanity. Some of this involves asking for help from others and some of it means letting go. While focusing on self-compassion will be my primary goal, for Bold Blind Beauty there will be a renewed emphasis on:

Kindness, compassion, and a deep desire for social justice are central to who I am; these are my values. Bold Blind Beauty was born out of a personal need for empowerment that I wanted to share with others.

I began this post in a lighthearted way to help anyone who is feeling overwhelmed. When you add the need for perfection into the mix it can do a number on your psyche. Please know that if you do feel this way from time to time you are not alone. Sometimes the best course of action is to drop some balls to improve our juggling skills. Here’s to ball dropping perfection! 🥂

Juggling Perfection and Efficiency Featured Image:

A woman in business attire is juggling a house, alarm clock, cell phone, sippy cup, and laptop.

Additional Image:

Selfie of me, in my bald glory, wearing a white open back top and my grandson is peeping over my left shoulder.

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Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity featured image description is in the body of the post.

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity

“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion, and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them.”

~Ruben Chavez

Birth of an Advocate

When I was growing up I remember feeling so small, powerless and insignificant. From an early age, kindness, compassion, and more importantly, the need to do the right thing was always important to me. As a child, I wanted nothing more than to make the world a better place. Accomplishing this goal would be a challenge without a roadmap to follow.

One thing I was really good at though was making poor life choices. Bad decisions like turning down a scholarship to marrying quite young and more, became my MO. Depression, poor self-esteem and emptiness derailed me more times than I care to acknowledge. Thankfully, my negativity was balanced by my tenacity and the desire to challenge myself to become more.

At the outset, I had everything against me. I was the product of a broken home, poor, black, female and I had an unhealthy portion of self-hatred. My childhood wasn’t the best and I learned early on that life wasn’t fair and to always be on guard. From my point of view, serious changes were needed but I couldn’t make change happen–I was just a kid. Even so, being a kid I knew injustices when I saw them.

Defining Success

Knowing my personal values were key components for me in becoming an advocate. Long before I worked for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms I defined my success. For me, success was always more than a cushy job, fancy title, or social status. Being able to adapt no matter the circumstances, to me, is a success.

When my three sons were small it was tough being a single parent. It was even tougher working full-time when one son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Looking back now it almost seems like the struggles with my son Devon was a bad dream. Today, Devon is such a joy and he is also a great source of strength to me.

My Three Greatest Accomplishments

  • Raising three sons to adulthood with very few support systems and even less in the way of material things. Adapting by going without became our protocol and we did alright.
  • Advocating for Devon by working with daycare centers and school districts was another full-time job. This meant learning everything I possibly could about special education and spending hours on end communicating with school officials. To this day I still have the 3-inch binder filled with IEPs, transcripts, etc. This doesn’t include the back and forth email communications and phone calls almost on a daily basis.
  • My third greatest accomplishment was advocating for my disabled mother who was denied disability benefits. Her last denial spurred me to begin a massive letter writing campaign to my legislators. The outcome? My mother received disability benefits in a matter of a couple of months.

My greatest achievements have nothing to do with employment, wealth or material things. These successes have everything to do with creating positive change by challenging a system.

Challenging systems or societal norms with a laser-focus to make life a little better for others is who I am. Ultimately it’s my ability to focus, a systematic approach, combined with a thirst for learning; that propelled me into advocacy.

Coming To Terms With Who I Am

As a die-hard introvert, my most comfortable place of residence aside from being at home is inside my head. While sometimes being inside my head can be a scary place to be it’s also where the magic happens. Ideas and dreams of a world where people of all abilities embrace one another despite our differences are my passion. Having respect for other’s opinions and being open to the idea that every person has a unique walk in life has expanded my world.

For so many years I tried to figure out who I am and what my purpose is only to find I’d been living it all along. Sure I made many mistakes and I think the greatest was not listening to my gut because I wanted to fit in. Today, I’m no longer concerned with conformity and I’ve found contentment.

Terms others placed on me like a buzzkill, intense, and quirky, used to bother me but no more. I am all of these things and more and it’s okay. While I’m not sentimental I find gratitude in the smallest of things.

It’s no accident I’m an advocate, after all, I’ve tried to pattern my life after my favorite childhood quote. This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson remains my favorite today:

Do not go where the path may leadgo instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Never in a million years would I have imagined I’d lose my sight. Learning to navigate the world with a white cane and adjust to blindness is an ongoing process. However, my life is so much more enriched largely due to advocacy and empowering others.

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity Featured Image Description:

I’m wearing white jeans with a gray Steeler tee with our black and gold team colors. I’m standing in grass with a tree behind me wearing tan flats and of course my color coordinated gold #WhiteCane slimline cane.

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Visual Impairment Leads To Advocacy Campaign

Visual Impairment Featured image description is in the body of the post.

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 60

Visual Impairment Leads To Advocacy Campaign

Amy at BBC image description is in the body of the post.
#1 Amy at BBC

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

#2 London Underground

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

Selfie description is in the body of the post.
#3 Selfie

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.

Additional Images:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Connecting With Amy:

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Poppi & Liz Wheeler | Blind Beauty 52

Blind Beauty 52 Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

Poppi & Liz Wheeler | Blind Beauty 52

“A guide dog has given me confidence to get out and about. When I’m feeling scared or overwhelmed Poppi is there to make me laugh or sometimes just sit with me and put her head in my lap. She is more than my eyes. She is my guardian angel and my very best friend. I’m so grateful to have her by my side.” 

~Liz Wheeler
Image 1 description is in the body of the post
Image 1

All I could muster on visiting Poppi’s Instagram account was a long, drawn-out awe. Poppi is a yellow labrador who has the sweetest facial expressions. Knowing she’s given her mum the gift of independence is especially heartwarming.

Poppi’s account is pawsitively positive. She looks out for her mum, Liz, and ensures her safety whenever they are out and about. In addition to caring for her mum, Poppi tackles social issues in a solution-focused, educational and awareness-building way.

You see, Liz only has 5% of her remaining eyesight left which means her eyesight is severely impaired. As I’ve talked about many times, blindness is not a simple matter of seeing versus not seeing. Blindness is on a wide spectrum that takes into account many factors. The important thing to remember is that each of us is doing the best we can with what we have.

Poppi and Liz are advocates working to change perceptions on what it means to live with blindness. By doing so they are making this a smoother transition for those newly affected by sight loss.

Blind Beauty 52 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Poppi and Liz are on the cover laying in the grass with Liz’s right arm draped around Poppi. Liz is wearing a navy blue sweater with jeans and Poppi is in her harness looking very serious.

Blocks of text superimposed on Liz & Poppi’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

Image 1:

Liz is looking absolutely stunning while she poses with her bedazzled black “white cane.” She is wearing black heels, pants, leather jacket, and a white blouse accented with a long cream frilly scarf.

You can connect with Poppi on the following social media platforms: