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What Makes A Hero?

Image is described in the body of the post

What Does Hero Mean to You?

“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”

~Maya Angelou

Some days I can’t help but feel that I’m the luckiest person on the planet. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by heroes. I’m not talking about fictional heroes or those endowed with superhuman qualities although this could be dependent upon how these traits are being used. No, the types of heroes I’m referring to are those who practice humanitarianism as a way of life.

Those who give of themselves without the expectation of monetary gain or notoriety to me are extraordinary people. With these types of individuals, there is no ‘catch’ or deception because these folks see the world differently than the vast majority. Qualities like truth, integrity, compassion, empathy and the like are dominant characteristics in these people.

Last year, when my friend Carla Ernst died I felt a part of me died with her because Carla was one of my all-time heroes. She was an extraordinary person who believed in the mission of Bold Blind Beauty. On days when I doubted myself (there were many), she lifted me up and motivated me to continue pushing forward.

While Carla’s death knocked me off-kilter and I struggled mightily to honor her memory there were days grief threatened to devour me. Yet, it was at one of my lowest points another hero came into play. Her name is Nasreen Bhutta a woman I am honored to call my friend.

A Heroic Act Out of the Blue

I’ve known Nasreen for nearly two years and while we’ve periodically maintained contact she called me completely out of the blue. This act may not seem like much until I tell you she called me when she was on an extended stay in India.

I can’t remember exactly how our conversation went but I do remember what she said next: “Steph I like what you’re doing and I want to help.” Since I wasn’t prepared for this I was momentarily speechless. I mean, Nasreen was so emphatic and she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. My response—I cried. Without shame, I cried because here she was halfway around the world and she was compelled to reach out to me. By the way, I should probably mention that while Nasreen has been featured here before this will be her first time on the cover of B3 Magazine.

A lot has happened since Nasreen’s call last summer and I almost feel like I’m in a dreamlike state. This woman, who gives wholeheartedly and unconditionally, has become my right-hand person here at Bold Blind Beauty. Thank you, my friend!

Up until this past January Nasreen and I hadn’t even met in person. Yet the universe presented an opportunity for us to meet. Nasreen traveled from Toronto, Canada and I from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to meet up in New Jersey for a conference. What was true serendipity though was for the two of us to connect with some other amazing heroes.

It was in New Jersey where we met Melody Goodspeed (another friend who I’ve only previously known online). With Melody, an innocent conversation led to her excitedly becoming our new voice of Abby. Then there were others:

  • Cheryl Minnett
  • Tish Gelineau
  • Michael Moran
  • David DeNotaris
  • Tanner Gers
  • John McInerney
  • Jeff Wissel

The above is only a partial list of individuals who I consider heroes because of their commitment to improving the lives of others.

Who Is The Hero In Your Life?

If you pay close attention, there are an abundance of heroes all around us. And let’s not forget the most important hero—you!

It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.”

~Byron Katie

Everyone isn’t going to like us and likewise, we aren’t going to like everyone. However to like/love anyone it has to begin internally and it’s no one else’s responsibility to do this for us but ourselves. My favorite speaker, author, researcher, Brené Brown says it this way: “Practicing selflove means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves.” Maybe real heroes understand that in order to love others they must have a healthy dose of self-love. So the next time you are in need of a hero…

Lyrics

There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

It’s a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And that emptiness you felt
Will disappear

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you, oh, oh

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away, hey yeah
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time you’ll find the way

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
Mmm, that a hero lies in you

Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Mariah Carey / Walter AfanasieffHero lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Featured Image Description:

The Beyond Sight Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition number, are in the upper right corner in black ink. Nasreen’s photo is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. In this photo, Nasreen, a pretty brunette with shoulder-length wavy hair is wearing a black pantsuit. She’s standing in the lobby of our hotel with a black shoulder bag on her left shoulder. “Beyond Sight” is in large black text and a teal-colored circle with Nasreen’s name is in yellow text and “Monthly Beauties” in white text. There are four 4-lines of black text on the image that reads “A Real-Life Hero Fierce, Fiery & Passionate For People.”

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Second Chance After Despair & Devastation

Grabbing Second Chances With Both Hands Feature image is described in the body of the post.

Second Chance After Despair & Devastation

“When Life Gives You A Second Chance, Grab It with Both Hands”

The lovely Nasreen Bhutta, my friend and CEO of Project Starfish America, was recently featured on Bold Blind Beauty. In today’s Women On The Move article, she shares a deeply personal account of love, loss, and second chances. Enjoy!

#1 Nasreen on a porch. Image is described in the body of the post.
#1 Nasreen On A Porch

I never thought I would be a recipient of a second chance even though it’s often said that life gives them out every now and then! Despair and devastation were my constant companions after going through an unexpected divorce and developing a progressive degenerative eye disease. Because of my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), I was literally staring blindness in the face. The added stress of becoming a single parent increased my struggles. My thought of the day (really every day) had become, “Why me?”

Trust, loyalty, honesty, affection, and love―all the building blocks of a healthy relationship―seemed broken and forever meaningless. Men lost their charm and were no longer relevant in my life. I was heartbroken, and the awareness I had of my involuntary singlehood permeated my soul.

When a relationship crumbles, it leaves behind a trail of sorrow, bitterness, and emptiness. I hated all of these feelings which were very hard for me to overcome! I was done with relationships especially after everything I went through.  Good-bye, forever!

My focus shifted from my needs to my daughter’s and giving her the best I could under the circumstances. I became a Super Mom. Pouring all of my energy into skate meets, swimming tournaments, Girl Guides, and other meaningful activities to keep her engaged. 

Long Buried Emotions Breathe New Life  

#2 CN Tower at night
#2 CN Tower at night

I never thought a second chance would ever come my way. But it did, many years later, in the form of someone special during a networking opportunity. This individual had an alluring voice, a boyish charm, and a gentle but firm demeanor. He believed in me, cared for me, and respected me. I will never forget the question he asked me that kindled a spark, “Would you like to be friends?” A simple question, but for me, a beacon of hope! “Wow, I can’t believe this…” I thought.

He was persistent with his encouragement and constantly challenged me in different ways. It was not only unnerving, but empowering and thrilling. “Wow, was this really me?”

As our friendship progressed, I found myself opening up more and more. I felt I was regaining the ability to care and trust again. There was something special about him that made it seamless and easy to bond. What I found amazing was my desire to invest my time and energy into this budding new relationship. When my emotions started getting the best of me, I found it to be the most extraordinary outcome. Emotions buried so deep, I thought they would never resurface again! “What’s happening to me?”

The Undeniable Impact Of Acceptance

#3 Nasreen On A Tandem Bike image is described in the body of the post.
#3 Nasreen On A Tandem Bike

Often, the feeling of being “understood” in relationships becomes the main foundation upon which two people form their bond. “We are on the same page, and we understand each other” are the words and emotions most desired. However, in my case, “understanding” and being “understood” wasn’t always the case. At times I just didn’t “understand” him at all. Sometimes I’d just roll my eyes and think “men are so crazy” as his actions, words, and behavior was so puzzling.  

“I accept you as you are” were the words that resonated deep in my soul, the first time I heard them spoken by him! “Acceptance” is a simple word, but it had a profound impact on me. My quirks and idiosyncrasies, my zest for life and overzealousness, and the main one, my disability, were all accepted! “Wow, could this really be?”

This pivotal moment made me realize that love is acceptance and is unconditional. Disability or not, the dawning of a new day had begun. I felt as though the warm sun had shone upon me and all my senses were awakened. I felt positive, and life has purpose once again!

No matter how late in life it happens, lucky are those who get a second chance. It is finally here for me, and I’m ready. If it comes for you, go for it! Don’t think! Just grab it with both hands and never look back. Let’s raise a cup of cheer for second chances. They are priceless!

Connecting With Nasreen:

Second Chance After Despair & Devastation Featured Image:

In this image Nasreen is standing on a patio deck on the shore of a lake in India. Her shoulder length brown hair is softly blowing in the wind. She is wearing a bright orange top with blue jeans and sunglasses. The lake can be seen in the background along with trees, a table and some chairs.

Additional Images:

  1. Nasreen is standing on a partially shaded porch. She is wearing sunglasses, a black skirt with a pretty black & white print top.
  2. As a Canadian resident, Nasreen shares this pretty night shot of the CN Tower illuminated in blue light.
  3. In Nasreen’s third photo she is riding shotgun on a tandem bike statue. This statue is complete with a statue passenger on the rear seat.
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Nasreen Bhutta | Blind Beauty Issue 44

Blind Beauty Issue 44 Nasreen Bhutta

Nasreen Bhutta | Blind Beauty Issue 44

“Dynamic professional, loving Woman and Mother! Life is like a roller coaster, embrace its thrill and enjoy every moment.” ~Nasreen Bhutta

Being The Change

If I had one word to describe Nasreen Bhutta, CEO of Project Starfish America, it would be fiery. Nasreen is one of those rare gems who is truly passionate about people. She is an open, intelligent, tenacious, energetic agent of change who also has Retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa, also known as RP, refers to a group of inherited diseases causing retinal degeneration.

The first time I met Nasreen was several months ago on a conference call with several attendees. Since the call was our first meeting, each attendee was asked to introduce themselves to the group. Like a true introvert even though I know it’s coming I always choke during these initial sessions. So instead of paying attention, I was rehearsing a silent dialogue of what I’d say. I felt I did alright until the last person spoke.

By now you’ve probably guessed the last person at bat was Nasreen. She not only introduced herself, she went around the virtual room making a comment on something each of us said. This may not seem like a big deal but it spoke volumes because it showed she was carefully listening to each of us.

When Nasreen spoke about her involvement with Project Starfish America I knew this woman was fully invested in the program. In a nutshell, the organization works to help people with disabilities to launch or re-launch their careers. Nasreen, who speaks passionately about the project, is committed to making a positive change in the lives of these individuals.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Nasreen is a living example of what this quote means.

Contact Information for Project Starfish America and Nasreen Bhutta:

Blind Beauty Issue 44 Featured Image Description:

The featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Pretty brunette and sunglass-clad Nasreen, is standing outside wearing a burgundy dress with a black sweater. In celebration of her daughter’s graduation, she is smiling broadly while holding a bouquet of red roses.

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