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Cultivating Resilience Practice 3: Strengths

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Practice Three:  Utilizing YOUR Strengths in your resilience.  Being authentically you.  

Checking in as we share practice three of cultivating your resilience. I hope you are giving yourself permission to feel (practice one.) Then, practice two to offer ourselves self-compassion and nurturing through our challenges. We could spend so much time sharing further about these two practices. However, for the sake of space, we will go on. (If you want, join me for our course — to learn more!  Details below.)   

We will introduce our third practice today. This practice is about being authentic to you and your strengths. It is about utilizing the strengths that YOU possess in your resilient plan. We all have strengths that can help us navigate the challenging times. Strength focus affirms our potential and it resonates with our authentic self. Sometimes when we are in the midst of that difficult time we may not recognize these strengths. They are there and unique to us. Take a pause and reflect on your Character Strengths. 

The 24 character strengths are: 

Appreciation of Beauty, Spirituality, Gratitude, Hope, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-regulation, Citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Creativity, Curiosity, Open-mindedness, Love of Learning, Perspective, and Humor. 

You may recognize your top strengths from this list and how they have helped you in a time of challenge. There is an excellent, free test: the VIA Character Strengths to understand what your strengths are:  www.viacharacter.org. After taking this test, your Signature Strengths (your top five) will be identified. Dr. Ryan Niemiec explains in his book: The Strengths-Based Workbook for Stress Relief, “Character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that define who you are and help you reach positive outcomes. They make up what is best in you — when you are at your best, your character strengths are right there helping you along the way. When you are suffering – overcome by stress, facing difficult emotions, or lost in an argument – your character strengths can be unleashed.”  

So, let’s take a short break while you go take the free character strength test: www.viacharacter.org (The website has amazing resources and information at a later time you can peruse if you like.) 

Welcome back :)! 

Now, to explain further. Your top five strengths are your signature strengths. These are the strengths that are the most energizing and easiest for you to use. They are the ones we can rely on to help us cultivate our resilience. Dr. Niemiec indicates these are most likely to involve the three E’s  Essential, Energizing, and Effortless.   

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is
not enough, we must do.” 

~Goethe

We can know our strengths, we can understand our strengths and then the real benefits come when we put our strengths to use and utilize them in our resilience plan.  

So, this week choose one of our signature strengths and use it in a new novel way, no matter how small each day.  

Some examples may be – someone shared that one of their Signature Strengths is the appreciation of beauty. So, working from home at this time, she created her workspace as a place of beauty. This increased her resilience at this time and was effortless, energizing, and essential for her. Another example may be if someone’s top strength is the love of learning. This again will fuel them during a challenging time to increase their learning. A client chose to take an online course during this time of increased time of isolation to connect with others and also give himself an opportunity to use that strength of learning. Another client used her top strengths as affirmations for her. “I am grateful. I am a leader. I am kind. I am love. I am fair.” Our signature strengths resonate with us and are grounding even in challenging times.  

There is so much we can do with our strengths. They are within us. They are our guiding force to utilize in challenging times. Remember they are what is energizing, essential, and effortless for us.  

  • Strength spotting. Take a moment to pause and think of your strengths and spot them in you. Notice how you are using them and acknowledge specifically in journaling or sharing with someone you trust. 
  • Strength priming. In preparing for a challenging time – reflect on one of your strengths you can bring into that moment. For example, preparing for that presentation. If gratitude is one of your top strengths, you may find it helpful to prime with the character strength of gratitude and acknowledge to yourself for a moment the sense of gratitude for being there able to deliver this presentation.  
  • Tend to the end. Each evening take note of what went well in the day. Be specific as you reflect on the good things that came about in the day. Then, ask yourself what part you played in that good thing happening and what strength you utilized in this process.  
  • A meditation to help. Pause. Take in a deep breath. I am (fill in with a signature strength). Breathe out visualizing how this character strength will help you in this day.

Cultivate Your Resilience Telehealth Course Info:

Cultivate your resilience, telehealth course, 6 sessions – every other week, beginning Tuesday, June 9th at 6 PM MST, $25 for full course; Group facilitated by Becky Andrews, LCMHC.  Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to join us. Group limited to 10.  

Summary

As always, our first concern at Bold Blind Beauty during this global pandemic is the safety of all. Leave us a comment with your strengths and how you utilized them this week.  

About The Author:

Image is described in the body of the post.
Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Small Business Owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc, and founder of the Daring to Own Your Story ™ Retreats. She is also the author of Look up, move forward – her memoir of Losing her eyesight and finding her vision.  

You can follow her at:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: Multicolored, multi-fonts, word cloud image from http://www.viacharacter.org consists of all the character strengths identified in this post.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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Being Deaf-Blind During COVID-19

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Editor’s Note:

Here at Bold Blind Beauty our mission to “Improve humanity by changing the way we perceive one another” begins with empathy. Our values rest on the four pillars of P.I.E.R. (Passion, Inclusion, Equity, and Respect). We are passionate about breaking barriers, embracing inclusion, seeing people as individuals, with huge doses of respect. The awesomeness of our world is knowing each of us is unique and our journey through life differs from person to person.

Today, we are pleased to share with you an article written by Casandra Xavier. Casandra will share her perspective on living through the COVID-19 pandemic as a person who is DeafBlind. ~Steph

Being Deaf-Blind During COVID-19

By: Casandra Xavier April 17, 2020

There are going to be challenges for the DeafBlind when it comes to touching objects and people during this pandemic which will feed into additional isolation. Most DeafBlind people experience variations of deafness and blindness. For those who rely completely on touch of persons or things, it would be highly recommended that they keep their hands cleaned and protected at all times as well as their faces. If that is not possible, they would have to avoid people at all costs. When it comes to handling objects; it’s going to be another process of making sure they are able to avoid cross-contamination. I do not believe we would be able to take the new limits of isolation very well. It’s bad enough that we are already isolated within our own DeafBlindness even in large crowds. Some folks are already used to being completely alone while others would have no choice but to adjust. 

In my experience as a 30yr old Deaf-Blind woman living in Boston, MA, I would not be severely impacted by the new limits of not being able to touch people or objects. I have some vision and hearing remaining and I am used to being forced to navigate around barriers in life. I’ve been fortunate with the ability to find ways around complications as best as possible. If I cannot touch someone for the use of ASL (American Sign Language), I would be able to use “close vision signing” in good lighting. If I cannot touch an object, I would protect my hands with disposable gloves. The coronavirus only forces me to tap into my creative ways for avoiding problems in the long-run. I use various sources of assistive technology for distanced communication. When I want to track my stops on the buses before the outbreak, I would use my braille display with a stop tracking app. The app tracks all stops and routes in real-time as we move. I am able to keep the braille on hand and follow as everything moves. Technology for distanced communication is certainly going to replace touching people and objects for the remainder of this virus and beyond. 

If a DeafBlind person caught COVID 19 and needed to seek medical attention, there is a high chance that there would be a massive communication barrier. All medical staff would have their faces covered by masks and most DeafBlind people read lips if hearing voices are difficult. If someone still has hearing and uses amplification devices, it would be best for medical staff to speak louder and clearly if an interpreter is not going to be available. Medical treatment would be critically slower for all parties.  

As far as programs to assist the DeafBlind, there is a nationwide equipment distribution program known as “ICC” which stands for “ICanConnect” for the DeafBlind. ICC is covered by the FCC which allows anyone living with blindness and deafness to receive distanced communication electronics such as phones and computers and such to communicate with anyone they wish.  

If a deafblind individual needed to visit the hospital for any reason and communication is severely limited, there may be a few workarounds. There are a few apps that are accessible to those who use braille devices. The first app is called, “Ava” and it is a transcription app that translates spoken English into a written format which can be used with a braille display. Ava can be used on both iOS and Android devices. The second app is called, “BuzzCards” from Sorenson VRS for iOS and Android. BuzzCards is basically a communication app that can be used to request or communicate. I use all of the above for different situations. 

I am an assistive technology trainer for the blind and visually impaired in Boston and this pandemic has side-swiped my ability to teach anyone face to face. I currently have to train my students remotely and that is a longer process for both me and my students. I communicate with a variation of methods. I use American Sign Language as well as voice. I read braille and blindness-related technologies. I use a Bluetooth hearing aid that is able to connect to my iPhone for streaming media if needed. I used to be able to use SSPs (Support Service Providers) and ASL interpreters for organized events but I cannot do that anymore because of COVID-19. I now have to strategize around the complete lack of help, completing outdoor tasks take much longer. If I cannot find what I am looking for, I end up going home without it. I leave because I am afraid of someone coming near and possibly spreading the Coronavirus to me without knowing. 

My main concern for the DeafBlind people who end up needing medical attention would be the ability to communicate properly with the medical staff. I fear that the medical staff would not know the best practices for helping DeafBlind. Their faces are covered in masks and they are not able to touch the patient or their electronics to relay any communication back and forth.

It’s hard enough helping someone who is either deaf or blind. If you are Deaf, there may not be an interpreter available or the CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services may not work properly. If it is a blind person who ends up in the hospital, most staff are strangely uncomfortable with the thought of helping a blind person. The biggest challenge is helping someone who has a combination of blindness and deafness. Honestly, I hope I would not have to visit the hospital because of COVID 19 or during the pandemic. I sincerely hope no DeafBlind person would have to be in the medical facility during this disaster at all.

Final Commentary

Understanding that each of our life’s experiences can be vastly different from another brings us closer to empathy. Remaining open and curious to the idea that every person is unique helps us to be more compassionate with others. This means letting go of our preconceived ideas and respecting differences.

During this unprecedented time, have you considered the challenges people with disabilities might encounter?

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The image is a slip of paper stuck on a corkboard that says “Care = Empathy.” 

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Cultivating Resilience Practice 2: Self-Compassion

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Practice Two:  Self Compassion 

As we start week two of cultivating our resilience, let’s check in from last week. How was the experience of giving yourself permission to feel? Letting ourselves feel is an act of strength, courage, and authenticity.  Noticing, Naming, and Accepting our Feelings is Practice One.  

Now, take a pause. With these feelings, how are you talking to yourself? Is what you are saying to yourself helpful or hurtful? If you are beating up on yourself, this is hurtful and takes our pain/challenges to suffering. Notice your thoughts. If it is helpful and compassionate to yourself, you are practicing self-compassion our second practice in cultivating our resilience.  

What is self-compassion? 

It is bearing witness to your own pain and suffering and responding with love and kindness as you would to a friend.

~Kristen Neff

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. 

~Jack Kornfield

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. 

~John O Donahue

Self-compassion could be offering a compassionate phrase to yourself when you are hurting. It can be a soothing touch and acknowledging your pain. Combining these two might look like: recognizing the hurt then acknowledging it with a touch, perhaps your hand to your heart, and a phrase: Oh that hurts – may I feel comfort at this time. 

This week take some time to notice how you are talking to yourself. Practice giving yourself permission to feel and then respond with encouraging words. What’s a compassionate phrase you might use when you find yourself in a difficult situation?  Some examples: 

  • May I feel safe May I accept myself
  • May I feel at ease May I find peace 
  • May I believe in myself May I feel love
  • May I be kind to myself May I feel enough 

A soothing touch might be your hand on your heart, on your shoulder, the butterfly gesture (hands crisscrossed across your heart and tapping on your shoulders), hands clasped together, or the yoga child post can be a calming meditative pose. See what feels right to you.  

Wisdom On Self-Compassion

We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages; that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival. 

~Joan Halifax

“Some people worry that self-compassion will close them off from other people by making them selfish and self-centered. The reverse is actually the case – the more open-hearted we are with ourselves, the closer we feel toward the rest of life. Self-compassion is the foundation for kindness toward others. When we’re more accepting of our own, we become more accepting of others.  Full acceptance of courses, moment to moment makes it easier to adapt and change in the direction we’d like to go.“  

Christopher Germer, Self Compassion, and Mindfulness

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it. 

~Mother Theresa

Self-Nourishment

Nurturing Ourselves in five areas: social, spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental. What nourishes you in each of these areas? Take note and intentionally practice nurturing. For me, a nurturing practice is tandem cycling both physically and emotionally. It fills me physically to be moving my body and connecting with my husband in this way emotionally is nourishing.   This week as you cultivate resilience:

  • Practice one: Continue to give yourself permission to feel
  • Practice two:  Practice self compassion and self-care

Resources for more study on this topic:

Image is described in the body of the post.
Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Small Business Owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc, and founder of the Daring to Own Your Story ™ Retreats. She is also the author of Look up, move forward – her memoir of Losing her eyesight and finding her vision.  

You can follow her at:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: Two hands are shaped like a heart are framing a golden sunset.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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CoVid-19 TOTD #2

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Editor’s Note:

In today’s CoVid-19 TOTD (tip of the day) our newest contributor, Cheryl Minnette, recently featured as a Woman On The Move in Beyond Sight Magazine shares important handwashing tips. Thank you, Cheryl! ~Steph

CoVid-19 TOTD #2

Here at Bold Blind Beauty, our goal is for you to enjoy life, but be well while doing it. During #CoVid-19 we want to assist you with that, So here is our CoVid-19 Tip of the day. 

Everyone is talking about handwashing, but are they saying this? 

  • Wash hands with soap and water AND create a good lather. 
  • Be sure to clean under your nails and up around your wrists. 
  • Wash hands for a minimum of 30 seconds. 

If Soap and water not readily available, then… 

  • Use hand sanitizer on hands, wrists, and under nails. 
  • Hand sanitizer can be used three times (maximum five times), when soap and water is not available. 

In order to stay safe, we must know and understand the process.

Image Description:

5 natural soap bars with ingredients (tea tree oil, oatmeal, aloe, eucalyptus, coffee) on white background.