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Christie Smith | Blind Beauty Issue 34

Blind Beauty Issue 34 Featured Image Description is in the body of the post.

Christie Smith | Blind Beauty Issue 34

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is the cause of Christie’s declining eyesight. “Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye problems that affect the retina.~American Academy of Ophthalmology

Freedom From Other’s Perceptions

“I “came out” on Instagram and openly shared my story for the world to see and join me in navigating the murky waters of RP. This was such a tremendous step for me because I never let people in on my secret shame and feelings of inadequacy due to my visual impairment and also because I worried so much about what people would think. Never again will I underestimate the greatness inside of me because of the limited thinking inside of others.” ~Christie Smith

Regardless of the reasons behind our sight loss coming terms with it can be a difficult process. Even though intellectually we know we did not cause our eye conditions many of us experience feelings of shame. In addition to adjusting to our fear of blindness and grief from loss, how we are perceived wreaks havoc on our psyche.

While I am thrilled people are opening up about sight loss we still have a long way to go. Since many don’t understand the spectrum of blindness, too many individuals living with sight loss are harassed. When seen using smartphones or reading a book people say we’re faking because we use a white cane. Imagine how it must feel to lose your sight then become a target for bullying because of incorrect assumptions?

It’s no wonder so many of us feel we need to hide our disability. We’d rather people think there is any number of things going on with us rather than sight loss. Just something to think about.

Blind Beauty Issue 34 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Christie’s cover photo is a stunning black and white image. Always smiling, in this photo, Christie’s hair is swept up from the right leaving the left side curly. She is also wearing large hoop earrings.

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Projection & The ‘Other’ Side | Abby’s Reflections 21

Projection & The ‘Other’ Side | Abby’s Reflections 21

“It’s always easier to assess a person’s situation when you are on the outside looking in. Imagining ourselves in another’s position in some cases can not only be impractical but also harmful.”

Perceptions And Reality Can Be Two Different Things

Many people feel sorry for blind people because they envision that we live dull, colorless lives. We hear things like “it would be so scary,” “I couldn’t go on if I lost my sight,” or “life would be so hard.” The reality is life can be challenging for everyone with and without sight.

I understand how easy it is to use projection as a method of trying to understand a particular aspect of disability, we all do it. However, unless we are willing to listen, learn, and believe people with disabilities (PWDs) this method yields negative results. To play the comparison game by assuming our lives are better than another’s simply because they have a disability is abhorrent. We have to change the thinking that disability means ‘broken’ when all it really means is ‘different.’

Let’s continue to strive for inclusivity in all areas of life. Hopefully, there will come a time when we fully embrace our differences without condescension. Until then, resist the urge to assume that disability automatically means a deficit.

As for living with blindness, it’s not what one might expect. There are so many ways to experience a beautiful and fulfilling life, having eyesight is only one.

Featured Image Description:

A gray, teal and white boldblindbeauty.com template uses the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image. Abby, sporting her signature explosive hairstyle is sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar). She is using her teal Abby logoed laptop with a headset/microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

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Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough

Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough Featured Image Description is in the body of the post.

Today’s Guest Post was originally published on BlindAlive February 05, 2017 by Mel Scott

Being Enough What Does It Mean?

What does it mean to “be enough?” How does it feel? How will we know when we have reached that blissful state of “enoughness?”

These questions have been churning in my brain consciously for years, and probably subconsciously all my life. Well, I have been pondering on it long enough. I have some ideas that might help sort it out.

To say, “I am enough” is a very different statement than, “I have enough.” We can quantify “having enough:” there is enough food, shelter, or whatever it is that is required. “Being enough” is a bit more elusive. It is a state of mind. To be willing to say, “I am enough” and truly believe it, even for an instant, allows for a feeling of inner spaciousness; a peaceful expansion of consciousness.

I could easily tell you at this point to do twenty affirmations every day saying, “I am enough,” and eventually you will feel better. This absolutely can be an effective practice. I use it myself but I want to introduce another idea.

Are We Being Realistic In Our Expectations?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation and the person said to me, “I am sad because I am not enough.” Usually, I might have said something like, “Of course you are, look at all the people you have helped and influenced over your lifetime.” There are a lot of dismissive remarks I could have made. This time, however, what shot out of my mouth was, “You are right! You are not enough and you never will be, so get over it!” I felt kind of shocked when it spilled out of me, but I realized the truth of the statement immediately.

How can any of us ever be “enough” when the To Do List is infinite? How can we be enough when we feel “less than” due to blindness, deafness, or a thousand other physical conditions, or when the size of our pants aren’t the size we have decided is the perfect one? How can we ever be enough when we measure ourselves by a superhero we have conjured up in our own minds? How can we be enough when the mark moves up as soon as we reach it?

We can’t! There is no way! Therefore, to be sad about not being enough means you will be sad about it the rest of your life. That does not work for me.

A Proposed Solution

The way I see it is I can either drop the thought, “I am not enough” and even drop the thought “I am enough.” They really are not useful because a measurement is inherent in both statements. I propose we drop them both. Can you imagine that? You never have to be enough again and you never will feel sad again because you are not enough. “Being enough” is no longer a measurement that applies to us.

How does that feel?

For me, a whole world of guilt-free possibilities just opened up. So much inner space can be created if we get over “being enough.” Let it go and observe how you feel. Take it in and you might breathe easier.

BlindAlive would love to hear your reactions to this post. You can comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their informative chat list.

Featured Image Description:

In the photo are 6 flat stones atop one another decreasing in size to convey balance. The stones are sitting on a rocky beach in the foreground. In the background is the ocean and the pastel colored sky is on the horizon. The color palette is a calm, soothing one in softly muted grays, blues, pinks, and whites.

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STEM Career Expo: Adventure Of A Lifetime

STEM Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.” ~Katherine Johnson

Photo of the braille bound agenda, information on Bold Blind Beauty, and resources. The cover is a translucent textured plastic. Braille copies were provided by Miamia Accessible Media Project.
Braille bound materials provided by Miami Accessible Media Project

So I got to hang out at the STEM Career Expo held at Carnegie Mellon University yesterday where I spoke about How Losing My Sight Expanded My Vision during a breakout session. The room was full of amazing young ladies who are blind and visually impaired and eager to make their mark. It was an honor for me to talk with these students and assure them that with desire they can achieve anything.

The agenda was simple:

  • During introductions, we shared our passions and what brought us to the STEM event
  • We talked about eating elephants. You know elephants like:
    • an elephant called deceit
    • the elephant of self-doubt
    • an elephant called the naysayers
    • the elephant of blindness
  • A day at the office is like an episode on Survivor
    • a little guidance on navigating office politics
  • Then lastly I shared a few resources

I have a recording of the breakout session which I’ll share once the video is edited down to a couple of minutes.

A Resounding Success

While I was initially concerned about how the STEM event would turn out, my worries were unnecessary. When I couldn’t get into my Spanx I was sure it was a bad omen. Had I got them on I probably would have ended up in the ER because I couldn’t breathe. See how things work out?

At any rate, I met this handsome robot named Baxter built by the brilliant CMU technology students. Baxter was designed to assist blind and visually impaired people with navigation in an indoor setting. As a fan of Lost in Space, I was so blown away by a life-size robot I can’t remember his capabilities. Isn’t he the cutest though?

In this photo I am posing with the robot named Baxter. He sits on a gray base with wheels, has a black stand (body) and red arms. There is also a small screen where his face would be.
Me and my beau Baxter.

 

6 foot vertical banner of Abigale and Bold Blind Beauty contact information
6 foot vertical banner of Abigale

STEM Featured Image Description:

My Vision Rehabilitation Teacher (Stephanie Van) and I are standing on either side of an easel holding a poster board of the Bold Blind Beauty breakout session. We are outside of the conference room where the session was held. Stephanie has short blond hair and is wearing eyeglasses, a pink floral flowy tunic top, and black pants. I’m wearing a navy flyaway jacket trimmed in a gold print with navy and gold print pants with a cream top and cream shoes. Both Stephanie and I are posing with our white canes.