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WOTM 36 Featuring Carla Ernst

Living Boldly with Blindness

Selfie of Carla on a bus decked out in a colorful top, shades, bling, bag and of course her white cane.Many believe that blindness is a fate worse than death. As a recently blinded woman, it wasn’t until I lost my sight that I realized that blindness is just a different way of perceiving the world around me, and certainly not a death sentence. My “dark” circumstances have caused me to open my sightless eyes and see blindness in a different way. I’ve learned that blindness is not the end of life, but rather, the beginning of a new chapter and different way to live a happy, productive and fulfilling life. And I would argue, even better.

I’m the same person I was a year ago. I live in the same world, do the same things and go to the same places I did before I lost my vision, and then some. I work, write, hike, swim, kayak, race sailboats, perform music, go to parties, dine out and perhaps the most fun, shop ‘til I drop. (Yes, blind girls can do all the girly things sighted women like to do!) I still love to wear nice clothes, put on my makeup and drape myself in plenty of bling—and all on my own.

Although I can no longer see what I look like or how people look at me, I’m still a woman, just one who cannot see with her eyes. I like to dress with the same appreciation of fashion and style I had before. Not just so I can look good to others, but more so to maintain my overall sense of confidence and pride as a fully-whole woman, but who happens to be blind. In fact, before I lost my vision, I would always take one last look at myself in my full-length mirror by my front door. Even though I no longer can see myself with my eyes, I still “look” at myself in the mirror but now with my hands. I touch all my clothes for one last assurance that I have on what I intended to put on, and in the right places, before I boldly venture out into the world with my trusty and fashionable white cane in hand.

Just like sighted people, blind people are diverse and unique individuals with different passions and interests, skills and talents. I have wonderful friends and spend as much time as I can with them enjoying a rich and fulfilling life. So as Stephanae McCoy recommends we all do, I walk boldly with confidence, transcend barriers and work to change the way we perceive one another, and I would add, sighted or not. The challenge remains to help society become more understanding of and comfortable with blindness.

It may take me a little longer than sighted people to do things, but I continue to still strive to look beautiful, so I just say “I can” and I do. That’s what it’s like to live every day, boldly with blindness.

You can connect with Carla on her following social media sites: