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Seeing Differently A Message Of Hope For 2020

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2020 A Year Of Vision

Happy New Year Everyone!!

2020 A Year Of Vision Image description is in the body of the post.
2020 A Year of Vision

Built on the premise that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers,” Bold Blind Beauty was created to empower blind and visually impaired women. In recognition of the year 2020, we are excited to unveil our “2020 A Year Of Vision” Campaign. The focus of the campaign will be on changing perceptions about the disability community and promoting inclusiveness.  

Changing perceptions begins with building awareness and promoting respect for people with disabilities. We plan to achieve the goal of changing the way we perceive one another by sharing our stories and having mutual respect for humanity. In 2020 we are thrilled to present as part of the “2020 A Year of Vision” Campaign: 

Compassionate & Broader Perspectives Promote Acceptance

It seems we must label and categorise to ‘impose order’ over our world, to allocate meaning, to think of things in a prescribed way.

~Robyn Haynes | Big Dreams For A Tiny garden

I won’t pretend to know how or when segregation began as this is outside of my area of expertise. However, as my friend Robyn observes in her post “Star Of Bethlehem” I agree that taxonomies are human-imposed.

As humans we are and simultaneously are not, the same. Think about it, when we strip away our exteriors what are we left with? Sure, many factors go into our becoming the individuals we are and the beauty of being human lies in our complexities. Unfortunately, all humanity isn’t equally valued.

As a nearly 60-year-old minority who lives with an acquired disability, I have some experience in what being different means. Something I’ve noticed; when others who are not minorities become disabled, it becomes apparent how being different impacts their lives. Side note: as a minority group, the disability community does NOT discriminateanyone can become a member. I’ve also noticed that when we experience a national or international tragedy we can come together in shared grief.

Since no one can possibly know what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes it’s our responsibility to be empathetic. Is this difficult? Absolutely it is! Just thinking of all the areas of contention we have with fellow humans is dizzying. And truth be told, some people while we may have to let them go for whatever reason, they are still valuable humans. In “When the corpse is not ours…” my friend and author Jacqueline (A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales) challenges our view of humanity.

“No other “group” has the power to erase and redefine another person’s identity to suit their own bias – to control which areas of society in which others may engage in relative safety.”

~Jambo Robyn | Jambo Robyn Stories about ordinary things

Learning To Respect Differences

Appreciating differences and accepting people where they are is at the heart of humanity. If you subscribe to the idea that humanity is imperfect, respecting differences can begin with embracing our own flaws. So how then can we learn to see differently? Here are a few tips to practice:

  • Gratitude without comparison: Comparing ourselves with one another is pointless and detrimental to our wellbeing. So many of us are overly concerned with being who others think we should be and in the process, we lose ourselves. Being grateful for who you are, begins with knowing yourself. No one can define who you are except you. Self-compassion enables you to wholly embrace yourself and gratitude diminishes the need for comparison. What are your vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and values?
  • Let go of perfectionism: We’re complex creatures none of whom are perfect. Do not give power to your inner critic. Doing the best we can with what we have is enough.
  • Positivity as a choice: In our increasingly divisive culture it can be challenging to avoid negativity however we always have a choice. We do not have to engage in negative behavior or commentary.
  • Kindness: Being open to the idea that others’ lives may differ greatly from your own is okay. We cannot and should not expect everyone to live as we do. Respecting other people’s right to live and choose how to do so is humanitarianism. Live and let live and above all be kind.

In 2020 let’s do better and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be! I leave you with a song I’ve declared as my anthem:

We Are Here To love | Lenny Kravitz

What are your thoughts on how we can transform our culture and respect one another?

Image Descriptions:

  • The header image contains multicolored fireworks on a white background.
  • 2020 A Year Of Vision: A simple black outline drawing of an eye on a white background. The iris of the eye is a teal-colored female symbol and the pupil inside the iris is a smaller gray male symbol. The eye is centered above the black tagline “2020 A Year of Vision.”
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Viewing Life Through 2019’s Rearview Mirror

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“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

~LR Knost

As 2019 winds down, reflecting on my ordinary, mundane, and routine life sandwiched between amazing and awful moments I’m grateful. I think the above quote about life resonates so deeply with me is because of its simplicity. Even so, a small part of me can’t help but feel that when life isn’t amazing or awful then something must be wrong. However, when I really think about it ordinary is the sweet spot.

This time last year I was riding high on the first publication of CAPTIVATING! a free, accessible online lifestyle magazine. Then as 2018 neared its end, I went into a deep depression that I thought I couldn’t rebound from. Yet I did, and what’s even better is I’m ending 2019 more enlightened. In my very first post of 2019, I ended it by saying “I’ll continue to hopefully come out on the other side more enlightened.” When I made this statement there wasn’t a map for me to follow to enlightenment but believing in possibilities created the pathway. Here’s a look back, through blog posts, on the timeline of how I arrived here:

  1. 2019 New Year Fresh Outlook
  2. Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss
  3. Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose
  4. Max Peterson Scholarship Gives Joy, Love, and Wholeheartedness
  5. My Path From Poverty To Possibilities

The Amazing, The Awful & The Ordinary

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Ariella

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t have imagined I’d have amazing opportunities to travel. Interacting with people in person was so meaningful and enhanced the virtual relationships we previously developed. Likewise, meeting new people and developing new relationships helped me to grow personally and professionally. Oh, and the most AMAZING thing happened last week when my granddaughter, Ariella, was born.

While traveling, meeting new people, and a newborn fall into the amazing category at the other end of the spectrum is the awful. Devastating news in the form of a broken relationship, a friend’s cancer diagnosis, and another friend’s death were painful. Each of these situations profoundly affected me causing a great deal of introspection, and today I’m still processing my feelings.

Learning to appreciate the ordinary has been a little tough but at the same time rewarding. It’s been tough because I made some difficult but necessary changes in my life and I’m finding this is constant. The rewards, on the other hand, have been less stress, more meaningful relationships, and a greater sense of self.

Enlightenment

In summary, I’ve found life and the journey to my self-discovery a continual, exhausting, effort that requires focus, truth, and vulnerability. Many of us struggle daily with doubts about our worthiness and we try to find the answers outside of ourselves. The thing is, self-compassion which can only come from the inside allows us to embrace our worthiness. When you know who you are, no one else can define you. Owning your worthiness places you in a position where what others think about you is no longer important.

From my heart to yours I wish you the happiest of holidays!

And if perchance, this time of year is a struggle for you please know you aren’t alone.💔 You must know, You Matter!

If you need encouragement, I leave you with a teaser to the song my friend Vicky wrote.💖 You can check out the lyrics here: Know You Matter and be on the lookout for the single to drop in January 2020.

Correction:

In the original version of this post, I included what I thought was the teaser of Know You Matter. This audio clip is the correct file.

Image Descriptions

  • Featured image: Photo of a car’s rearview mirror reflecting the long road behind the vehicle. White transparent “2019” is overlaying the reflection.
  • Photo of Ariella sleeping in her bassinet. She has a little pink knit cap on her head that perfectly matches her rosy cheeks and she is wearing a long sleeve tee
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Know You Matter

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“You’re not the shape of your body. You’re not your status. You’re not your position in life. You’re not the car you drive no matter how fancy it is. You’re not your house or square footage.”

~Oprah Winfrey

Do you know who you are?

What defines you? When asked “so tell me about yourself,” what do you say?

Writing a self-compassionate letter to myself has been one of the best-wholehearted exercises I’ve experienced to date. Telling my story from a perspective of ’empathy and self-compassion’ allowed me to see myself differently. While on the “Dare To Own Your StoryTM” retreat this summer, all attendees were prompted to write this letter to ourselves. Since I couldn’t finish mine at the time I promised myself I would finish it later and I did.

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.” This is only a small part of who I am!

Knowing who you are, empowers you to accept yourself wholeheartedly. When you know who you are you can stand confidently in the knowledge that you matter. Recently my good friend Vicky, and I were talking about this topic and she wrote a song. The lyrics that she’s given me permission to share with you speak to my soul.

Friendships; real, authentic, friendships should never be taken for granted. Being able to be authentic, while sharing mutual respect, admiration, interests, and values is worth more than gold. Treasure yourself, treasure your friends, and enjoy Vicky’s beautiful lyrics. Just wait till you hear the music with the lyrics (still a work in progress).

Know You Matter

By Victoria Claire

Don’t deny yourself,
You’re just as good as anyone else,
You’re a shining star,
Never forget who you are,

Don’t reduce yourself,
Not for anyone else,
Feel your value from within,
Let it radiate through your skin,

And know you matter, you matter to me,
Know you matter, you matter to me,
Stand up, be tall, reach for your inner belief,
Let your strength shine through as you mean so much to me

Don’t reduce yourself,
Not for anyone else,
Know you are enough,
Feed your soul with love,

And know you matter, you matter to me,
Know you matter, you matter to me,
You’ve been through so much, yet you rise above your grief,
When your spirit shines, it gives so much hope to me. 

And know you matter, you matter to me,
Know you matter, you matter to me,
Just know you matter, you matter to me,
Oh how you matter, you matter to me.

Update: Since the publication of this article Victoria has recorded Know You Matter, the teaser is below. The song is expected to be released in January.

Know You Matter Teaser

Connecting With Victoria Claire:

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Photo of a chalkboard with the words “YOU MATTER” written in all caps and white chalk. The “O” in ‘you’ is a bright red heart.

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Positive Change Begins With Action Through Advocacy

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“We rise by lifting others.”

~Robert Ingersoll

I’ve blogged (another form of advocacy) for nearly 5 years and I’ve been an Abilities Crusader (advocate) for most of my life. While my advocacy journey has been lengthy, my purpose wasn’t fully clear to me until 2016 during a flubbed speech. Thankfully, my persistence to help people understand the value of people with disabilities enabled me to learn more about me. 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.

The Ripple Effect of Advocacy In Action

I love the work I do however there are times when it’s lonely and I feel like I’m not doing enough to create real change. Being an introvert, I’m comfortable working in a distraction-free atmosphere but one drawback is relying too heavily on my internal processes. Recently I learned a valuable lesson on how I sometimes get it wrong and can unintentionally hurt people. Being independent is great, but in advocacy, there’s no room for ego.

In preparation for two speaking gigs this month I requested some custom materials from a good friend of mine. Since the cost of producing the materials is rather high I offered to pay—a huge MISTAKE! When I received the quote I nearly passed out and had to eat some rather tasteless crow. Long story short, an email prompted me to make a phone call that resulted in me being told: “Don’t rob me of my blessing.” Then I was told how much my work means and how our collaboration is benefitting many people. I don’t mind sharing that as he spoke I broke down and cried. To have someone believe in me like this was so incredibly touching, humbling, and unbelievably motivating.

Advocacy isn’t a solitary venture and what I love about advocacy is its simplicity—identify something that needs to be done, then do it! Many people are highly skilled at identifying problems however when we don’t take the next step to become the solution, well, nothing happens. Take Blind Beauty, for example, I noticed there weren’t any fashion magazines who featured blind women so I created one.

I’m only one person but when I share my message of empowerment with another this starts the ripple. Like a chain reaction, when the message is relayed to others it becomes a small movement.

The Necessity of Awareness

While broken crayons may still color, as humans who are we to determine who’s broken? Frequently when we talk about people living with disabilities it’s from a point of view that there is something wrong. When in fact having a disability is only one of many traits that make us different not broken.

Through the years the number of awareness days/months has increased which makes sense as our population continues to grow. What’s so exciting to me about the explosion of awareness events is being able to witness the beauty of our differences.

During the month of October, there are numerous awareness days among them are:

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I have two speaking gigs this month:

  • Disability InSIGHTS – October 18, Erie, PA
  • SPARK Saturday (Self-confidence, Peer support, Accessibility, Resources, & Knowledge) – October 19, Harrisburg, PA (Pennsylvania Council of the Blind Annual Conference)

Now that I’ve finally figured out how to get from Erie to Harrisburg I’m so fired up! The themes, “showcasing the accomplishments of others with disabilities” and “Peers Challenging Beliefs” are straight up my alley. Promoting awareness by breaking down barriers while creating meaningful connections is what advocacy is all about.

Advocacy is 24/7/365 and it begins the moment we ‘leave our homes.’ To be clear, leaving our homes could be as simple as sharing our stories online.

People will probably always leap to the wrong conclusions about us and that’s okay. It’s not our job to convert people who aren’t open to understanding that all of us are temporarily abled. Our job is to live our lives to the best of our ability and continue to build awareness.

Building Community Through Our Shared Experiences

I feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet because I belong to a wonderful community of people. My life is so enriched mainly through the people I’ve connected to within the disability community.

I’ve befriended some of the most amazing people who are driven to make the world a better place by breaking down barriers. Ironically, one of these people, Kristin Smedley, a mom, speaker, author, and one of my heroes I’ll meet in person. As a matter of fact, Kristin will also be speaking at the SPARK Saturday event in Harrisburg. Oddly enough, I recently won a Kindle version of Kristin’s book Thriving Blind. So I asked her if she would provide a blurb for me to share here on Bold Blind Beauty:

Blindness. A tough topic to discuss? Not anymore. In this groundbreaking book, readers will see blindness in a whole new light. In fact, the compelling and entertaining stories will not only change perceptions of blindness, they’ll make readers forget the people featured are actually blind. Thriving Blind will transform your idea of what is possible for people who encounter a devastating disability or life challenge and will catapult your motivation to set extraordinary expectations for your own life.

I’m both excited and scared silly to share a speaking engagement with Kristin. What will help me get through it? Two things: My why and the knowledge that I’m not alone.

Bold Blind Beauty’s mission is to improve humanity by changing the way we perceive one another. When we place the focus on abilities versus disabilities – anything is possible!

Image Description:

A black and white close up photo of a drop of water making gentle ripples in a body of water.