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Living Life Boldly & Transforming Perceptions

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“When we are out here living our lives, we are bold. We are embracing our blindness. We are blind and we’re beautiful.”

Last year was tough. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer, another very good friend died unexpectedly, and I had to deal with some significantly unresolved fears. Yet among these struggles, there were always glimmers of light; standing up for my friend, continuing the work my other friend believed in so deeply, and coming to terms with myself.

One of the best gifts I received last year was a connection with Tony Koros at Grotto Network and the opportunity to share part of my story. Here is the video he created along with the transcript (below). Thank you, Tony, for spending my birthday with me and working with me to film this footage. And thank you Grotto Network for making this possible!💛

Blind Blogger Transforms Perceptions of Beauty

Video Transcript

Grotto Network

Meet Stephanae McCoy: Blind Beauty Blogger

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Stephanae: Beauty is seldom associated with blindness. Beauty is seldom associated with disabilities, or people with disabilities. I wanted to change that.

I was looking in the mirror and I took out my right contact lens. I’m looking up in the mirror and all of a sudden, because I still had my left contact lens in, my face was gone. There was just no face. I’m like, “Whoa.” My whole feeling about the process of going blind was: If I’m going to lose my sight, I’m going to do it my way.

We can do anything that we want to do, provided we’re given the tools to do it or we learn a different way of doing it.

Stephanae created a blog called “Bold Blind Beauty.” The blog celebrates blind and visually impaired people, and shares Stephanae’s tips on makeup, style, and beauty.

(Applying makeup in a mirror)

Most of the time I’m not even in a mirror when I’m doing this, but old habits die hard. Even when you can’t see, when you can no longer see, you still want to use a mirror sometimes. At least I do.

For me, becoming embarrassed by other people standing around watching me is huge. When I’m in an unfamiliar area, sometimes, even though I’ve been using a cane now for years and I feel like I’ve built up my confidence and I feel like I’ve got this thing down, I sometimes get so overwhelmingly afraid that I panic.

We need to change the way we look at people with disabilities. The way we’re doing it now, we’re looking at the tools that they use to become independent, but we’re seeing them as a crutch, as opposed to a tool of independence.

I created Bold Blind Beauty so that we could change the perception of how we view people, period. I just would like to see us be a more inclusive world for everyone and accept people as we really are, stripping away the outside and getting to the heart of who we are as people.

But when we are out there and we are living our lives, we are bold. We are embracing our blindness. We are blind and we’re beautiful. We’re beautiful because we’re out here doing that, living our lives.

Following Grotto Network:

Image Description:

A selfie of me taken in the doorway to my condo, sporting my stubbly bald head. I’m wearing a black v-neck tee that says “Warrior Life” in white text.

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The Accidental Adventurer Who Faced F.E.A.R.

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My life has been adventurous but not because I intended it to be that way. Unfortunately, for the greater part of my life, fear has been in the driver’s seat.

“Last year was both challenging and rewarding. Challenging because I faced some of my worst fears; my best friend’s cancer diagnosis, traveling blind, and the death of a very good friend. While my anxiety was nerve-wracking, coming out on the other side of these fears was a gift like none other.” ~Grappling With Fear To F.E.A.R.

Recently I was a guest blogger on Victoria Claire Beyond Vision where I shared my insights on fear. In Grappling With Fear To F.E.A.R., I hope that if you’re willing to face your fear(s) you will achieve your destinations, wherever or whatever they may be.

To check out the blog post simply click on the hyperlinks in this post or visit victoriaclaire-beyondvision.com.

Image Description:

An in-flight photo taken from a plane flying over an extremely long bridge.

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You Matter To Me

Featured image shows Victoria sitting on a large rock on the beach as the sun sets behind her

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

~Victoria Claire | Know You Matter
Landscape shot across marshlands with a large boat winch on the left and Victoria walking towards the camera on the bottom right of the picture. The sun sets in the background.
Landscape shot

For the last few days, I’ve been attempting to publish a blog post about my recent experience at a 3-day conference. “To Impress Or Not To Impress” is the title I chose because of the internal struggle I felt. Truth be told, for the past week and a half, I haven’t felt like I’m enough. What it boiled down to was trying to seek validation from others was a very uncomfortable feeling for me. Then this morning, I listened to “Know You Matter” a new single released today by my good friend Victoria Claire.

So many of us are looking outside of ourselves to find what can only be found on the inside—value. Knowing your value, who you really are, empowers you to accept yourself wholeheartedly. When you know who you are you can stand confidently in the knowledge that you matter. Self-compassion, accepting yourself as you are is a key component to loving others.

The Creative Process

2019 was a year of revelation for me in coming to terms with who I am. Serendipitous is the only word I can use to explain my ongoing journey to self-discovery. And I’m so thankful that part of this journey enabled me to be part of Vicky’s creative process. Following is an excerpt written by Vicky, from the upcoming edition of CAPTIVATING! about this process:

The creative process of going into a recording studio is one of building from the base up, from a band perspective the first track to be laid down is always the rhythm section, drums, then bass, after this comes the melody section, keys, guitar, strings, etc. the last part is always the vocals, this means the lead vocal and any harmonies. Once all elements have been recorded it’s over to the editing room to edit and mix, this can be a lengthy process for the producer but probably the most important part. Once this has been done the track then has to be mastered.

~Victoria Claire

Vicky is an extremely multi-talented person who sings, composes, sculpts, speaks, advocates, surfs, and skateboards just to name a few. As an artist, she thinks deeply and feels even more deeply. In “Know You Matter,” you are gifted a rare glimpse into my friend Victoria.

Finding Know You Matter:

Here is the link to iTunes for the song: https://apple.co/35Ftjhg. The song is also available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Music, Tidal, Youtube and more. 

Connecting With Victoria Claire:

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured image shows Victoria sitting on a large rock on the beach as the sun sets behind her 
  • Landscape shot across marshlands with a large boat winch on the left and Victoria walking towards the camera on the bottom right of the picture. The sun sets in the background. 
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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!!

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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.”