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What Makes A Hero?

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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 B3 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. “B3” is in large teal text and a teal-colored circle with Nasreen’s name 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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Blind Beauty 81 | Catherine Harrison

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“I am not the victim, the enemy or even the hero…I am the author of my dreams. I am not afraid to fall because I know how to rise with strength and dressed on point”.

~Catherine Harrison

While I’ve shared with you my frustrations on the pitfalls of social media, there is an equal amount of positives. One of those positives comes in the form of today’s featured Blind Beauty, Catherine Harrison.

I was introduced to Catherine by Vicky, a good friend of mine who lives in the UK. Vicky felt that Catherine would be an excellent feature on Bold Blind Beauty because of her line of work. Catherine is a Commercial Print Model by trade whose outer beauty is incomparable to her inner beauty. And believe me when I say this woman is gorgeous!

The Author Of Her Dreams

“Sassy blind southern gal encouraging bold strength while swinging a cane & in high heels”

Catherine harrison

During our first telephone conversation, I learned that Catherine was a Registered Nurse prior to her sight loss. When her eyesight worsened to the degree she could no longer be effective in nursing she chose a different career path. What struck me most about Catherine, aside from her humanity, is how warm, funny, and down to earth she is. I guess the saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is true because as a proud Texan Catherine’s personality is stellar! The above quote from her Instagram profile should have been a clue as to who she is. And make no mistake, Catherine “KNOWS” who she is and she shares her inspirational wisdom with others. A very well-rounded individual, following are some of Catherine’s hobbies/skills that include:

  • Weight training/working out,
  • Waterskiing
  • Snow skiing
  • Public speaking
  • Writing
  • Ballet
  • Western horseback riding
  • Handgun shooting
  • Social media marketing
  • Event planning and fundraising

Catherine also spends a great deal of time giving back to the community in numerous capacities. From serving on numerous boards and committees to major fundraising activities, Catherine is the epitome of a warrior of change.

Stay tuned to learn more about Catherine when she will be featured in Women On The Move in January 2020!

Connecting With Catherine:

Image Descriptions:

  • Photo credit Julia Wagner at Feather and Root Photography.
  • Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. With short blonde hair and mesmerizing green eyes, Catherine is on the cover wearing a stunning red keyhole top. The neckline on the sleeveless top is cut to partially expose Catherine’s shoulders. Blocks of text superimposed on Catherine’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 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”
  • A gallery of 5 photos from a professional shoot:
    • Catherine is rockin’ her white cane in a chic blue halter dress.
    • Another white cane photo, this one in black & white. Catherine is in her red keyhole top, white leggings, and white heeled sandals.
    • Catherine in the blue halter dress and wedge sandals is posed against a wooden column.
    • In this white cane photo, Catherine is wearing a white long-sleeved keyhole dress.
    • The last photo is a close-up headshot of the third photo.
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Blind Beauty 80 | Eliana Mason

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“Disability does not mean inability” 

Introduction:

Since my relationship with sports is practically non-existent, I’m sadly out of the loop when it comes to any sports-related activities. However, I greatly admire women—and particularly women with disabilities—who are kicking @$$! I’m especially thrilled each time I have the opportunity to present one of these women on Bold Blind Beauty.

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Eliana Mason, a young woman I’ve only recently met. When I saw her flip a 400-pound tire, I thought “I’ve got to meet this lady.” Like many women featured here, Eliana’s passion to change how people with disabilities are viewed is palpable. She’s a phenomenal woman who already is and will continue to accomplish amazing things in her life.

Blind Beauty 80 | Eliana Mason

Lima 2019 Throwing Photo is described in the body of the post.
Lima 2019 Throwing Photo

When I was growing up people always used the word “inspiration” to describe my accomplishments. This word frustrates me because you shouldn’t find it inspiring that someone with a visual impairment graduated high school, has friends, has a job, or plays sports. This should be the norm.

If you treat individuals with disabilities differently and as if they are incapable, then that is how they are going to view themselves and act. It is important we empower individuals with disabilities by not seeing them as ‘other’ or treating them differently but simply acknowledging that everyone faces personal struggles and overcomes them in their own ways. We all have challenges in our lives, just being visually impaired means everyone you meet knows what your challenges and struggles are.

We need both sighted, blind and visually impaired individuals alike to work together to change how blindness is understood and viewed. Don’t tell me I am your inspiration for doing something that is the norm. It is okay to tell someone they are inspiring, but it should be for something that is worth that acknowledgment.

I am an athlete and play on the Paralympic National Women’s Goalball Team representing Team USA. I found my identity and confidence through sports and wouldn’t be who I am today without adaptive sports.

Most people have never heard of the Paralympics, they are parallel to the Olympic Games, except they are for athletes with any type of physical disability. Goalball is a sport geared specifically to blind athletes and it has allowed me to excel as an athlete, to train, and compete at an elite level without my vision being a limitation. I am currently training full-time to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next year in the hopes of bringing home a gold medal.

Being an athlete empowers me and makes me feel strong and beautiful. Strength is beauty to me and working hard to reach a goal is what pushes me every day to be better than I was yesterday. When I am a Paralympic gold medalist, then you can tell me I am an inspiration, after I’ve accomplished something that is inspiring and extraordinary. Until then, recognize that I am no different than you, and that I am capable and able to accomplish anything I set my mind to, just like you. 

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. The event was of the Team USA Red Carpet 2016. Eliana is on the cover standing on the red carpet wearing a red dress and gold sandals. Pretty Eliana who has honey blonde hair just below her shoulders. She is wearing a bronze medal around her neck and behind her is a dark gray backdrop with the Team USA logo and logos of company sponsors. Blocks of text superimposed on Eliana’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 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”
  • Lima 2019 Throwing Photo is an action shot of Eliana preparing to throw the ball.
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Blind Beauty 79 | Elaine Huitt

Blind Beauty 79 | Elaine Huitt image is described in the body of the post

You don’t need full ‘vision’ to have a ‘vision’ to ‘see’ your way through life.

~Elaine Huitt

When I interviewed Elaine Huitt for her Women On The Move piece I was moved by her entire story. However, the above personal quote that she shared at the end of the interview was a particularly powerful statement.

As a society, we are so consumed with how things are presented, many times we miss more meaningful messages. Pretty packaging, bells, and whistles can be a distraction for what really lies beneath. Conversely, packaging without the glitter and glam might appear ordinary until you unpack what’s wrapped inside.

Elaine, like many of us who live with disabilities, overcompensated and worked extremely hard to keep up in school and on the job. She did whatever she had to do to be successful which meant developing creative workarounds.

Viewing people with disabilities as broken is a “we vs. them” mentality that comes from a place of superiority. Not only is this thinking unkind and divisive it sometimes and makes inaccurate assumptions. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses yet when we talk about people with disabilities all we can see is their difference.

Maybe one of the reasons our planet is so diverse is we all bring something unique to our world. Together we are like a beautifully designed masterpiece that was meant to be as it is.

Despite everything working against her, Elaine was able to move up the ranks and become a huge success. In her current role, she helps youth understand that lack of physical sight has little to no impact on their inner vision. So many more just like her are waiting to make their mark, the question is, will we give them a chance?

Image Descriptions:

Featured image – A headshot of Elaine wearing a crisp white shirt paired with a silver statement necklace. She has wavy dark hair, with on-point makeup that includes pink lip color.