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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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Why Good Health Is Critical For Diabetics

Why Good Health Is Critical For Diabetics

“Going blind had always been one of my worst fears as I knew it was a possibility with having type one. I want you to know that you can have diabetes and not end up like me but you have to maintain your blood sugars.” ~Nicole

Nicole is wearing her shield to protect the eye after the vitrectomy. Second pic is of her wearing the shield and paper glasses after she had one of many follow-ups with the surgeon and was dilated.
Nicole wore a protective shield after her vitrectomy.

I recently featured Nicole on www.boldblindbeauty.com in recognition of National American Diabetes Association Alert Day to bring awareness to the issue of Type 2 Diabetes. Nicole, who has Type 1 Diabetes found out first hand just how devastating this disease can be on the body. Among other issues that she deals with on a daily basis over the past couple of years, she’s been fighting to save her eyesight.

Thankfully Nicole got a reprieve in the form of good news as her left eye is now stabilized. While this is an excellent report, her battle continues. If you or anyone you know has diabetes it is critical that you take good care of your body to hopefully avoid significant diabetes health-related issues.

#typeone #diabetes #diabetic #t1d #omnipod #dexcom #retinopathy #eyedisease

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Style & The White Cane Can Coexist

Style & The White Cane Can Co-Exist

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers

Bold Blind Beauty

Style & The White Cane Can Coexist

Beauty, Blindness & The White Cane

Stephanae & white cane Image Description is in the body of the post.
Stephanae & White Cane

“But you don’t look blind” Many of us blind/VI ladies hear this quite often, especially if we are stylish and walk confidently with our white canes or guide dogs. But here’s the thing, if someone told you they had cancer to say “you don’t look like you have cancer” would be considered rude. The same holds true for blindness and many other disabilities. Fact is there are many fashionable and attractive women who happen to be blind. The thing that sets us apart is we refuse to let our lack of eyesight prevent us from living life on our terms.

I think it’s important for all of us to remember things aren’t always as they might appear.

“Everybody, including people with disabilities, makes assumptions. Problems arise when we are not open to learning our assumption was wrong.” 

Libby Thaw, The Checkered Eye Project

Featured Image Description: 

I am posed standing in this photo (a collage of three images) with my white cane. My outfit is a black tee, black leggings, black crisscross heels, gray long hooded vest.

Additional Image:

Another tri-collage where I’m standing with my white cane against my counter in the living room. This time I’m wearing all white (jeans, cami, open shirt) with beige block-heeled lace-up sandals. A silver cuff bracelet, statement necklace, and earrings complete the look.

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The Color of Reciprocality

Connecting at the Junction

Standing in a three-quarter pose with left hand on left hip and right arm leaning against my counter.This morning when I was walking Mollie (my furkid), a small group of people walked by on their way to their daily destination. I knew who they were by the sounds they made so I turned towards them, smiled and waved “good morning,” to which the one young lady waved in return.

After our brief interchange I began thinking about communication and how our disabilities can play a pivotal role in how we connect with one another. It also occurred to me that I probably never would have given this aspect of communication another thought had I not lost my vision however I am grateful for this bit of enlightenment.

If you’re introverted you understand how uncomfortable social situations can be when you meet new people. I can tell you from first-hand experience there have been times I literally would have preferred the floor to open and swallow me whole as opposed to putting myself out there – it’s a downright scary predicament.

Body language and eye contact speaks so loudly but when you can’t see it becomes a whisper at best, and mute in the worst case scenario. The same could also be said of audibly communicating without sign language or speaking directly to a person who is deaf, blind, nonverbal or a combination of these three.

 Lost in the translation

I’ve always been fascinated with the complexity of communication and how people understand one another. When we all speak the same language and share common characteristics, for example culture, the odds of our understanding what we are communicating greatly increases.

However when we encounter a person who doesn’t speak our language what do we typically do in an attempt to get our point across? Out of habit I do this even when I’m talking with my friends and that is, pantomiming or gesturing wildly. But what about the person in this same situation who has no arms? Just something to think about.

Frontal standing pose looking as if I'm getting ready to sit on my counter stool.

Communication in the digital age has significantly increased the likelihood of being misunderstood not only because of the oodles of acronyms on all social platforms, but even the way we look, speak or write can have a major impact on what we are trying to convey. Just turn on the TV or look on the web and there are many instances of someone saying something that was intended to mean something else entirely.

The Method of Delivery

Intention is at the heart of communication. What is the objective you hope to achieve?

I began this post by talking about the group of what I think are young people (this is just a guess because I can’t see them) who happen to be deaf/mute. Though I do not know sign language, the universal gesture of hello, a simple wave of the hand along with a friendly smile, is my way of saying “hi, how are you, have a great day.” When I get a reciprocal response I’m assured that my message was received and understood.

When I’m getting ready to go to an event or just a simple outing I take great care in how I’m going to present myself. I do this for two reasons: 1) I need to feel good about how I look and 2) I want to project an “I care” attitude to others.

Why should I care what other people think of how I look? Because how I dress is partly a reflection of how I feel about people.

Being unkempt would certainly be an indication that I don’t care about myself but it also says that I don’t have much respect for those around me. When I used to take public transportation and would see regulars getting on the bus to go to work looking a hot mess, I got irritated.

Though there is a segment of the population who really don’t care how they portray themselves, for the rest of us, people do notice. Now I’m not suggesting that you break out the Sunday’s Best, rather I am proposing putting a little thought into the message you want to transmit through your appearance.

Standing frontal view leaning against counter.

In the pictures included with today’s post I’m communicating my *Ahem* vitality (admittedly I am not a colorful person but I have my moments) by wearing a vivid orange top with white capris and orange slingbacks. I topped the look with my white Nike ball cap and a few accessories then I was good to hang out with one of my gal pals on a recent Saturday afternoon.

The sheer, lined, crepe top is almost halter-like with braided straps and button keyhole closure at the back of the neck. Since the top is flowy I opted to wear it untucked over the rhinestone-embellished (at the outer hem) capris.

The toe of my slingbacks is orange, accented by thin purple straps. I also wore a black and silver pendent necklace, silver cuff bracelet and silver drop earrings.

Bright colors and whites  immediately lift my spirits and make me feel more energetic. If you want to get noticed or lighten your mood, just add a pop of color, be it a top, bottoms, dress, shoes, or accessories.

So what are you communicating today? You can respond by leaving a comment or emailing me directly at boldblindbeauty@gmail.com.

Have a fabulous weekend!!

“I nod to a passing stranger, and the stranger nods back, and two human beings go off, feeling a little less anonymous.” ~Robert Brault,