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Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness

Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness

The Challenge Course beckons. In the foreground is benches around the fire pit
The Challenge Course Beckons

My heart is overflowing! I was the first recipient of The Max Peterson Scholarship to attend an amazing women’s retreat. In previous years financial hardship prevented me from attending the”Dare To Own Your StoryTM” retreat. This year I couldn’t say no when Becky Andrews asked me if I’d accept the scholarship. The annual retreat connects and empowers blind visually impaired women and for me, it opened the floodgates of emotion.

The Max Peterson Scholarship is designed for women who have a financial need and who are making a difference. While the Scholarship covered a significant portion of the retreat’s costs I would still have to come up with the money for my flights. Without knowing how I’d do this I took a leap of faith and said YES!

In case you’re wondering, Becky Andrews, is the mastermind behind the “Dare To Own Your StoryTM retreat. I’ve known Becky for a few years and even featured her here on Bold Blind Beauty a few times. So meeting her face-to-face for the first time at this year’s retreat was sublime. She has a heart of gold and is as beautiful and authentic in person as she is online.

Being Found Worthy & Acceptable

Recently an incident happened that significantly hurt me, it made me question my worthiness and my character. I even went so far as to question whether Bold Blind Beauty and CAPTIVATING! were of any value.

Without going into the murky details, my past contributes heavily to my chronic anxiety and depression. Self-doubt and its companion self-hatred always lurked around every corner causing a paralysis I can barely articulate. What’s so ironic is I can see the value in others but have never really seen it in me until the retreat.

Trust has never come easy for me and those close to me know my motto: “trust no one.” There are very few people who are deserving of my trust and the common bond we share are our values. The leaders of the retreat, staff at the National Ability Center and my VIP sisters helped me see this.

Everyone is imperfect, it’s a universal condition called being human. Lord knows I’ve fallen short in many areas but at the same time, I’ve excelled as well. Practicing meditation and mindfulness at the retreat helped me to find my courage and my identity. 19 words sum up who I am and 19 more are my ‘why.’

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.

Knowing that Becky thought me worthy enough to receive the scholarship in honor of her dad brings me to my knees. The work she does is life-changing and this I can attest to as I feel like a renewed person.

Lessons Learned At The Retreat

For Becky to recognize my work on Bold Blind Beauty and CAPTIVATING! Magazine means so very much to me. Losing eyesight can be a lonely and frightening life-altering event. The reason I blog is oftentimes family, friends, and the general public don’t understand sight loss.

I created Bold Blind Beauty to help women living with blindness/sight loss to feel less lonely, empowered and beautiful. Embracing our situation by choosing to courageously continue living our best lives while uplifting others is powerful.

If Bold Blind Beauty weren’t enough, last year I partnered with an image consultant and together we launch CAPTIVATING! This accessible online magazine showcases people who are living and thriving with disabilities. Like our tagline, we both truly believe “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless.”

So What Exactly Did I Learn At The Retreat?

  • I’m worthy of self-compassion
  • The keys to true connection are vulnerability, authenticity, and shared values
  • Taking the risk to trust can lead to extraordinary outcomes
  • Empathy connects us and is required to respect individual life’s journeys
  • Facing fears unlocks doors to greater opportunities
  • Being grounded in kindness and compassion makes connecting with others easier
  • Meditation and mindfulness are excellent tools for achieving balance
  • Contentment can be found in wholeheartedness
  • Cheering and elevating others is empowering for all
  • The most precious gifts we can bestow on others are the gifts of experiences

Final Thoughts About The Retreat

The lifechanging “Dare To Own Your StoryTM” retreat was held at the National Ability Center (NAC) based in Park City, Utah. Inclusion, adaptation, and empowerment are at the heart of the NAC as their motto “I CAN” focuses on abilities.

Before the retreat, my life was largely dictated by my fears and blindness increased these fears. In my wildest dreams, never could I have imagined I’d achieve the remarkable feats I accomplished. Knowing I wholeheartedly trusted Becky; her associate, Lisa, and the staff at the NAC makes this experience even more memorable.

After years of therapy, for the very first time, I felt safe; was able to meditate, and practice mindfulness. The 3 greatest gifts I’ve received from the entire experience are:

  1. my connections with my Bold Blind & Beautiful VIP sisters,
  2. facing and overcoming my fears on the challenge course, and outdoor adventures
  3. and finally self-compassion.

The value of these gifts is immeasurable. I’ll be eternally grateful to Becky and the Max Peterson Scholarship for allowing me this remarkable experience.

A Plea To Help Others

Were it not for Becky’s kindness I would not have been able to write this post. Because she valued me and believes in the work I do I’ve seen a side of me I didn’t know existed.

The price of confidence and empowerment are immeasurable and I’d love for other B&VI women to receive these precious gifts. You can help by donating to the Max Peterson Scholarship at the Oasis Center For Hope. If you have any questions or need additional information you can contact Becky at Resilient Solutions, Inc.

Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness Featured Image:

Becky and I are standing arm in arm in the bike shed at the NAC. Ready to hit the trails, we are wearing helmets and casual clothing before our bike ride.

Additional Images:

  • Challenge Course Beacons. The course contains a rock wall, pirate ropes, and all sorts of fun mid-air tasks.
  • 3 photo gallery (clockwise from bottom right):
    • After hitting the bike trails my VIP sisters and NAC staff all posed
    • Our crew of VIP sisters and NAC staff on the bike trail. Recumbent, tandem, side-by-side, and stand up bikes were provided.
    • 5 of us are on the zipline platform (I’m in the middle).
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Flexible Yet Strong & Empowered

Flexible Yet Strong & Empowered

I am flexible yet strong in times of change.

Daily Word, July 22, 2019

‘Complicated’ is the word that used to come to mind when I would think of my relationship with my mom. Yet at 81 years of age, she has blown me away with how much insight she has into my character. Here’s a beautiful gift she gave me today from the Daily Word, July 22, 2019:

There is a natural order to life that I can trust. Life has taught me that while change is inevitable, I need not worry. As I remain present to changes in my life and in the world, I strive to remain open to the flow of good. Flexibility is my strength. Like a willow tree in a windstorm, I remain grounded.

When I feel concern for myself or a loved one, I take a moment to be silent. Letting go of limiting patterns or worries about the future, I release resistance and open to divine inspiration. I realign myself so I can approach every life situation with a sense of grace and ease. From a centered state of mind, I affirm: I am flexible yet strong in times of change.

Resilience

The piece I’ve just shared is titled ‘Resilience.’ What ‘s so interesting about these words is their connection to recent events and my mom’s eerie sixth sense. Since there is a lot to unpack both literally and metaphorically I will write several posts on these experiences. Today, however, I want to share a brief overview of the most current “Daring To Own Your Story” Women’s Retreat.

For far too long, I’ve seen the value in other people that I felt was lacking in myself. Embracing doubt, fear, anxiety, and a sense of worthlessness has long been my M.O. yet on July 11 something remarkable happened. This day would take me to the National Ability Center where I’d find strength in my vulnerability.

Becky Andrews of Resilient Solutions Inc. challenged me and nine other blind and visually impaired women to own our stories. Through our shared connection of sight loss, in four days we developed a sisterhood many people long to acquire. At the retreat, we participated in a number of group activities like archery, hiking, biking, and the challenge course.

So much has happened in my life over the past few weeks it’s been hard to obtain clarity. The death of one friend, cancer diagnosis of another, then traveling out of state three times in one month has been taxing. I’ve been afraid of falling behind here at Bold Blind Beauty and CAPTIVATING! Even so, life continues in spite of these events and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. Receiving my mom’s message on resiliency was the icing on the cake.

Flexible Yet Strong & Empowered Featured Image Description:

  • In this photo, I am 45 feet above the ground crossing a log suspended in mid-air. One of the course staff members guided me across by walking backward as I held her left hand.

Additional Photos:

  • A gallery of three images showing me in stages of climbing the rock wall.
  • Another gallery of three photos showing a group of us at the summit of our hike. A group photo of everyone who biked and a photo of Becky and me posing in the bike shed.