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Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67

Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67

“Poetry has always been connected to music. Blindness is not a reason for silence. My loss of vision has inspired me to keep singing out in a darkened world.”

~Rev. Rebecca L. Holland
Rebecca Holland in a bookstore image description is in the body of the post.
Rebecca Holland in a Bookstore

My name is Rebecca. I am a preacher, writer, and a musician. I also have low vision.

Growing up, I grew used to hearing people tell me, “You don’t look blind.” I struggled during my school years because many students, and even some teachers, accused me of feigning my poor vision.

During my college years as a music education major, one important professor informed me, “I’m sorry. I don’t teach students with disabilities.”

In graduate school, one of my supervisors told me, “I feel sorry for any congregation that you serve because they will have a blind pastor.”

After five years of effective ministry, I am still frequently told, “You don’t look like a preacher.”

This statement always dumbfounds me because I do not know what a preacher is supposed to look like. I have known preachers, both men and women, who are all ages, shapes, sizes, and skin colors.

In the same way, I have met people who are blind or disabled who are more varied in appearance than you can possibly imagine.

Just as there is no “right way,” to live life with a disability, there is no one “right way,” to pursue your dream.

Destination Love and Acceptance

At last, after my very long journey, I am beginning to start to feel love and acceptance for myself. I now view my sight loss as an important part of my identity.

I have been blessed to meet so many wonderfully supportive people along the way. For every negative voice, there were even more positive voices in my life that resounded just as loudly.

I want to be a positive voice who inspires other people the way others have inspired me. That is why I was decided to publish my chapbook, Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse. This small book of poems is my love letter to my beloved church. It is also my statement to the world that people with disabilities can do anything that people without disabilities can do- we just do it a little differently.

Poetry has always been connected to music. Blindness is not a reason for silence. My loss of vision has inspired me to keep singing out in a darkened world.

About the Author:

Rev. Rebecca L. Holland holds a Bachelor of English Education and a Master of Divinity. She is especially passionate about working to make the church more inclusive for people who have been traditionally marginalized, especially people with disabilities. She blogs about faith, diverse books, and disability awareness at BeckieWrites.com

Rebecca Holland | Blind Beauty #67 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty is black & white. Rebecca sits on a plaid picnic blanket in a sunny park in front of a 1959 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. She is wearing a blue dress and smiling. She has long dark hair and wears glasses.

Blocks of text superimposed on Rebecca’s photo are: “Bold–She Keeps Pressing Onward, Blind–She Has Deeper Insight, Beautiful–She Sees To The Heart Of Others.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” “Makeup Trends for Fall 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Complexion.”

Rebecca Holland And The Bookstore Image:

Rebecca stands on a stool in a bookstore in front of a large shelf full of books. She smiles as she takes a volume front the shelf. She wears a striped dress and denim jacket.

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Kaitlyn Corsiglia | Blind Beauty 50

Blind Beauty 50 Kaitlyn Corsiglia image description is in the body of the post

Kaitlyn Corsiglia | Blind Beauty 50

“I have found that through my visual complications I appreciate what I can still see. I have a passion for sharing that though you may face struggles you’ll find strength through them.” 

~Kaitlyn Corsiglia

Legal Blindness & Low Vision Awareness

Image 1 description is in the body of the post.
Image 1

Pars Planitis is a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the front of the eye. In my case, I’ve had the disease since I was 6 and because of this, I have cataracts and glaucoma. In November 2017, I had my 6th eye surgery on my right eye to help correct some secondary issues brought about from years of Pars Planitis flare-ups.

For as long as I can remember I have had low vision in my right eye. What this means is I can see light, color, and the outline of figures—scientifically speaking it’s a measurement of 20/400. Since the surgery, I’m at a visual field of 20/200.

Visual impairment and low vision look different on everyone. Not every person who has low vision sees the same thing. This post is to help people understand that when someone is legally blind or has low vision, this doesn’t mean they can’t see anything at all.

I think it is equally important for people to become knowledgeable about different diseases so we can find cures. Right now Pars Planitis is still incurable and highly understudied. Both of my eyes have the disease so I will never stop fighting for a cure.

Appreciation Through Challenge

Image 2 description is in the body of the post
Image 2

I want to continue to see and cherish this beautiful world! My eyesight used to be 20/20 in my good eye or left eye and since the Pars Planitis flare a year ago my vision is reduced to 20/40. This may not seem like a big difference but given what I am working with the change is a challenge. I have double vision as well as the presence of floaters since my last flare. Additionally, my sight is not correctable by prescriptions.

Battling Pars Planitis and recovering from surgery this past year has motivated me to find an illustrator for my children’s novel. I’m set to release the book, “The Sunflower Field,” come Spring 2019!

I have found that through my visual complications I appreciate what I can still see. I have a passion for sharing that though you may face struggles you’ll find strength through them. Also, I want everyone to be aware that just because someone is visually impaired does not mean they aren’t capable of working on a computer or being successful! At 23 years of age, despite many health hurdles, I’m still a full-time student at Purdue University Northwest pursuing a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship.

Blind Beauty 50 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Kaitlyn is on the cover standing in front of a brown wooden privacy fence smiling and holding a yellow flower. She is wearing a short-sleeve multi-colored striped dress with a crew neckline. Her dark hair is swept to the left of her pretty face and her eyeglasses are the perfect accessory.

Blocks of text superimposed on Kaitlyn’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”

Additional Images:

  1. Here’s a close-up photo of Kaitlyn with her left eye practically swollen shut.
  2. In this photo, Kaitlyn gives the thumbs up as she reclines in her hospital bed in the recovery room after her surgery. There is an eye patch on her right eye and she is surrounded by various medical instruments and monitoring equipment.
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Tell A Friend Tuesday!

Lost In Two Worlds

Blindness Symbols: For traffic safety - the white cane; For low vision recognition - the Checkered EyeMy friend and fellow “Woman on the Move,” Libby Thaw of The Checkered Eye Project, began a Facebook campaign earlier this year to increase awareness on low vision. I’ve featured Libby several times on Bold Blind Beauty and today I thought I’d share the ‘Tellafriend Tuesday,’ campaign here.

One of the joys I receive from this blog is the sense of community among our members. In addition to sharing style tips with women who are blind or sight impaired, I wanted to create a space where we can talk openly about blindness/sight loss to bring together sighted and non-sighted communities to share our experiences and learn from one another.

On a number of occasions we’ve talked about the vast range of sight loss, how blind people appear, and the dichotomy of living in the sighted and non-sighted world. For many people with low vision one of our major pain points is not being fully sighted yet not being fully blind. Case in point, check out the photos in this post of a few of my lovely friends who, if you were not aware, have sight loss.

Terri Rupp
Terri Rupp

Joy & Jenelle
Joy & Jenelle

Adapting to losing a major sense like eyesight is extremely difficult physically and compounded emotionally by the frustration of a hidden disability that others do not, or cannot understand. Think of it this way: if someone who appears healthy is diagnosed with cancer no one would say to that person “you don’t look like you have cancer.” The same holds true for people with low vision who may or may not require mobility aids.

Holly & baby Aoife Bonner
Holly & Aoife Bonner

Suzanne Gibson
Suzanne Gibson

Looking or not looking blind does not alter the fact that a person with significant sight loss may function well due to adaptability to their environment. What this means in part is once we’ve gotten the lay of the land we may not need to rely on our mobility devices if we use such devices to navigate. However if an unannounced change should occur within that environment it could cause a serious mishap.

Kimberly White
Kimberly White

Amy Bovaird Book signing
Amy Bovaird

Libby created the Checkered Eye to aid people with sight loss self identify their disability in face-to-face interactions and to help sighted people recognize that when a person is wearing the symbol it means that individual has sight loss. The black and white checkered eye—an image of a simple eye the center of which, the iris, is black and white checkers bears the text “LOW VISION”—is a wearable symbol to indicate its user has a sight impairment.

Jill Khoury Poet
Jill Khoury

Libby Thaw
Libby Thaw

What Can You Do To Help?

Since Tellafriend Tuesday is movement to increase understanding on sight loss Libby is asking us to share the message on social media.

You can help Libby tell the whole world there’s a “blindness spectrum” by sharing this blog post or downloading and sharing the “Blindness Symbols” image in this post.

Not everyone who looks sighted is fully sighted. Not everyone with a guide dog or white cane is fully blind. A bit of understanding can go a long way in the lives of people who are already managing some real difficulties.

Please share on your Facebook timeline, Twitter and/or Instagram and see if you can get a friend to share too! THANKS!

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“Expect. Employ. Empower.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Makeup Mondays: About Face Early detection saves lives
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At 12.3% did you know that the number of unemployed American people with disabilities is almost double the amount of people without disabilities? At the beginning of October I mentioned that this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but I would be remiss if I did not recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Expect. Employ. Empower.” is the theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The purpose of this national awareness campaign is to provide enlightenment on disability employment issues and to honor the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. For more information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month you can visit the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website by clicking HERE.

Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Equal Opportunities istock.com

In last Wednesday’s Health Evolution post I provided some legitimate resources for obtaining reasonably priced prescriptions. This week I promised to follow-up with some additional information that could make life just a tad easier.

Rx Savings for AARP Members

  • Drug Savings Tool – This 3-step AARP Tool can help you get the most value for your prescriptions and learn more about the medications you take. The first step is to insert the medication you want to check in the “Start Here” box then click the “Find Drug” button. Next step is reviewing the drug’s price range & effectiveness and compare it to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
  • Free Rx Discount Card for AARP member and family helps you save up to 38% on FDA approved prescriptions not covered by insurance. Prescription discounts are for you/spouse children, grandchildren up to age 27 and your caregiver. As a Rx Discount Card holder you have access to AARPpharmacy.com to compare Rx costs across pharmacies.

Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Ableware Auto Drop Eye Drop Guide
Walgreens

Baby Boomer and Proud

As I typed “baby boomer” in my Google Chrome browser one of the first results was “Baby Boomers Suck” and like a child who is told “don’t touch that” I had to click it. Here I was thinking all along that my generation was the greatest thing since sliced toast, and to my surprise, other generations disagree – tsk, tsk. Oh well it’s of no consequence because according to CNN’s Baby Boomer Generation Fast Facts, we “are the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history.”

Being among the largest generation, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) there are a number of reasons why those of us who fall into this category should be concerned. Actually we could be concerned about many things but for today I’m only going to focus on one area, which is one of the reasons why I started this blog, and that is low vision.

Wellness Wednesdays: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Medicine Bottle Magnifier
Walgreens

A couple of years ago I did some fundraising for Foundation Fighting Blindness and at that time I came across some staggering statistics. Back in 2010 there were approximately 10 million people impacted by a range of blinding retinal eye diseases. Do to the sheer number of the baby boomer generation that number is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years, partly due to age-related eye issues i.e., cataracts, glaucoma, etc.

Take it from someone who was blind-sided (pun intended) with a quirky eye disease. It’s easy to take vision for granted but it’s vitally important to properly manage your eye health. Many of us over 50 have already experienced changes in our vision because of our age. So I wanted to share just a couple of things I found as my vision declined:

  • Auto Drop Eye Drop Guide – If you’ve ever taken eye drops and find that the drop ends up on your cheek, chin, or anywhere else aside from your eye, then this little gadget is for you. Basically it works like you might think in that you insert the medicine bottle in the device, place the device over your eye and voilà the drop goes directly into the eye. No muss, no fuss. I found this unit at Walgreens for $4.99.
  • My friend Lori, who is always on the lookout for items that could help me out, found a Medicine Bottle Magnifier at Walgreens that attaches directly to the bottle. To use just attach it to the bottle then extend magnifier to read dosage information, and collapse when finished for easy storage.

Thanks to today’s technology many blind and vision impaired people have access to handheld video magnifiers, accessibility software for our computers, special high-powered glasses and a vast amount of products to assist us with day-to-day living. It occurred to me a little while back that it could be helpful to accumulate and post some of these resources so that others can benefit from them. Over the next several weeks I will be updating the blog with additional materials to help in this regard.

I’d love to hear any tips that you might have. Please leave remarks in the comment box below or you can email me directly at boldblindbeauty@gmail.com.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ~Nora Ephron

*Image was obtained from Breast Cancer Info Blog. No copyright infringement is intended. If you believe that the use of this content is violating your copyrights, please contact me directly to be credited or have the item removed.