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Monthly Beauty | Tekesha Saffold

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Meet The Faces of Bold Blind Beautiful & Accomplished Women

Representation Matters! Bold Blind Beauty believes that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” Today’s Cover Model, Tekesha Saffold, is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Palm Beach and she also serves as a Consumer Advocate and Consultant of the Palm Beaches. 

Following is personal and empowering insight from Tekesha.

“I am as strong as cloth with determination and dignity; I can laugh at the future to come because I am optimistic. I speak with wisdom because of my challenges, I have survived thus far, and positive affirmations of myself is always on my tongue. Because I have faith in my creator, I believe that all things are possible and I am a living testimony of blessings.”

~Tekesha Saffold

Tekesha’s Social Media Platforms:

Image Description:

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover – Tekesha is a statuesque beauty formally dressed in an off the shoulder light-colored gown with a crystal-embellished waistline. She is smiling while holding a bouquet of flowers in the crook of her right arm while her left hand is on her hip. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 3 lines of white text to the right of Tekesha’s photo that says “Tekesha Saffold Bold and Beautiful .” In the bottom right corner is a yellow circle with an illustration of Abby looking at a reflection of herself in a standing mirror. She has on a teal dress and a white hat with a black band. In her right hand is her white cane. And of course, she’s sporting her signature explosive hairstyle (peeping from under her hat in the back), and “Monthly Beauties” is in yellow text under the circle.

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Representation Matters | Meet The Faces…

Beyond Sight Magazine cover is described in the body of the post.

Of Bold Blind Beautiful Accomplished Women

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers

Bold Blind Beauty

Representation Matters! And I couldn’t think of a better way to relaunch our Monthly Beauties feature than to share a post from Shaini S. Shaini has been previously featured as a Blind Beauty here on Bold Blind Beauty. Going forward the guests on Monthly Beauties will be presented as a cover with a personal quote or short story and their social media platforms.

I hope you enjoy her message as much as I do. Without further ado I’d like to introduce you to Monthly Beauties: “Meet The Faces of Bold Blind Beautiful Accomplished Women.” ~Steph

Blind Is Beautiful

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I was asked to work on a makeup look that represented the blind community and myself! So as most of you know I recently lost more vision due to a hole in my right eye causing me to lose sight in that eye. So I decided to do a complete Smokey eye on my right eye to represent the loss of sight and marked an X over that eye. On the left eye, I did a halo eye to represent the tunnel vision that I have in that eye due to my Retinitis Pigmentosa. 

The phrase BLIND IS BEAUTIFUL is used, as society has this label on our community that we aren’t able to take care of ourselves, and that we aren’t able to look presentable due to our lack of vision! I’ve had my fair share of ridiculous things said to me, which made me realize that it’s due to the lack of awareness, representation and/or misrepresentation of the blind community in the makeup, fashion, entertainment, and several other industries! 

On several occasions, I’ve been told well you’re pretty for a blind girl?! Like WTH is that supposed to mean? I’ve also been accused of lying about my blindness because of the way I dress and do my makeup up! I always have to remember not to react to these messages and comments but to respond back with information to educate them of what the real blind community is like and how we all come in different races, shapes and different degrees of vision loss!

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I know the past 2-3 years there has been a huge improvement of representation in media, and hope that it will just continue to get better and help raise awareness about the reality of how we live our lives like sighted people but just with a few adaptations and guiding tools! I had so much fun playing with makeup after so many months and this was my first time since the sight loss in the right eye, so I had some roadblocks but found ways to make it work! Thank god for memory and being able to feel my way to know where to apply my makeup! Nothing is impossible, we just have to make a few adjustments and find our way of getting things done.

🙏I hope you’re all well and staying safe ♥️! A big thank you to @seeaneed for helping me out 🙌#BlindIsBeautiful #potd #motd #VisuallyImpaired #Thriver 

Thank you Shaini for allowing Bold Blind Beauty to share your important message!

Connecting With Shaini:

Image Descriptions:

Header & 2 additional photos: The Beyond Sight Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition numbers are in the upper right corner in black ink. Shaini’s headshot photo is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. Shaini describes this photo in her piece and the same image is used in the other two photos with one being a profile and the other with her eyes closed. “Beyond Sight” is in large black text and a teal-colored circle with Shaini’s name is in yellow text.

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Traveling With Vision Loss & My Guide Dog Named Jewel

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover is described in the body of the post.

Editor’s Note:

Last year at the Daring To Own Your StoryTM women’s retreat I met some of the most amazing women. Through our shared experience of sight loss/blindness, the connections we made with one another were even more special. “Courage is contagious.” Courage is also unselfishly giving to enhance the lives of others. In my circle of friends, I’m surrounded by many courageous and resilient people one of whom is Marsha Bukala.

I met Marsha, and her beautiful guide dog Jewel at last year’s retreat in Park City, Utah. While Marsha credits Jewel with regaining her independence after losing her sight, make no mistake, this woman is a courageous activist. A wealth of knowledge, Marsha is constantly working on special community projects to make life better for those living with sight loss. Marsha is one of those rare gems who gives unconditionally and with Jewel by her side she is unstoppable!

Constantly on the go, Marsha enjoys many activities around leisure, volunteerism, and travel with her faithful companion Jewel. In today’s post, Marsha shares helpful travel advice for people with disabilities flying with and without guide dogs. To learn more about Marsha and Jewel’s story check out: “Guide dog leads to friendship.”

Preparing For Travel

Two years ago I went to Guide Dogs for the Blind to train with my first guide dog. Jewel and I have traveled to many places in the US since returning home on March 24, 2018. Here are some tips and tricks I have learned when traveling with her.  

  • Book Non-Stop: First, when traveling by air I try to book a nonstop flight if possible. The connection flight I took last year was a fiasco requiring an overnight stay to catch an early flight the next morning. It all worked out in the end but this reminds one to always make sure you have extra food for your guide dog.
  • Airline Accessibility Line: After booking a flight, I typically call the airline accessibility line to reserve my window seat. I have found the airlines to be quite accommodating to give us a seat with a little extra legroom if available.  
  • TSA Cares: Next, I call TSA Cares with my flight information. Guide Dogs for the Blind Travel Agency recommended this service when I flew to training and I have used the service ever since. Here is more info on this service: www.tsa.gov/videos/tsa-cares-traveling-guide-dog-0
  • Precheck: Also, I would recommend either Global Entry or TSA Precheck depending on your travel schedule. I have Global Entry which also includes TSA Precheck which speeds up getting through security. This is especially convenient at large international airports.
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Facilities & Luggage

Marsha & Jewel Image is described in the body of the post.
Marsha & Jewel

Finding relief areas for our guide dogs is another area where I try to get as much information as I can before a trip. Some airports only have relief areas outside and they are typically by baggage claim areas. Other airports have indoor relief areas past the security checkpoints, however, Jewel refuses to them because of the smell of disinfectant. Here is an app I have used to locate relief areas in the airport: Working Like Dogs – Where to Go.

Depending on the length of my trip I either pack one suitcase for both of us or two individual bags. If Jewel’s items are in a separate bag it can be checked for free per the ADA regulations. However, Jewel’s bag cannot contain any of my personal items only her food, bed, toys, etc. I have found you have to go inside the airport to the counter for this fee to be waived. Some airlines are better trained in knowing this regulation and it can take a while to get them to check your bags. So I would recommend you allow for a little extra time. I typically pay for my other checked bag in advance online if that is available. This makes it easier than having to take out my state ID and a credit card.  

Also, if I am staying with family or friends on a longer trip I ship Jewel’s food to their home. That way, I only need to pack a couple of cups of food in my carry-on bag.    

Jewel’s Travel Necessities

Now for my backpack that I carry on the aircraft with me. Here is a list of items I typically carry on each flight for Jewel:

  1. Empty water bottle to fill after security
  2. High-value Treats
  3. A few bags of her food measured out in 1/2 cup bags (this makes it easier for me to track how much food she’s had that day).
  4. Nylabone
  5. Half of a yoga mat cut into two pieces (I put this on the floor space at my seat)
  6. Mat to put on top of the yoga mats (this is for Jewel’s comfort and familiarity as I use it at the gym and other places we go)
  7. Collapsible bowl 
  8. Poop bags

I limit Jewel’s food and water intake either the night before a flight if it is the next morning or the morning of the flight. It also depends on the length of the flight how much I cut back on her food. In addition, I try to take her on a long walk either the day before or the morning of a flight. The pre-flight exercise makes her settle in her floor space on the aircraft a lot easier and she’s become such a good traveler. Initially, she would not settle down until after take-off and again during landing, she was unsettled. Now she sometimes does not even want to get up once we land! However, a piece of kibble will get her moving! 

Arriving At The Airport

Once I get to the airport the TSA Cares agent helps me get through security. Since I typically always travel by myself, I ask them to also help me get to my gate. Along the way, I’ll ask the agent where I can fill up my water bottle, or if there’s a family bathroom. In my experience, TSA Cares have been very helpful every time. You can ask them if they have a comment card to complete on the service they provided. If they do not carry the form they will sometimes come back with one for you to complete. I typically have them read the questions and fill them out for me.

Once at the gate I find a seat as close to the gate agent as possible. I do this for a couple of reasons.

  • First, if there are any gate changes announced I cannot always hear the announcement clearly and I cannot read the monitors. So I can just ask the agent.
  • Also, I like to ask the agent if there are any other animals that will be on the flight. This brings up another concern of mine I will mention in closing.  
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Jewel

Boarding The Flight

I do early boarding and ask the flight attendant to give me a quick safety briefing before the main boarding starts. This also gives me time to get Jewel’s space set up and remove her harness handle so she is only wearing the leather vest. Then I put the handle and my backpack in the overhead compartment. Once we land I’ll ask one of the passengers in my row if they would get it down for me. I always sit in a window seat as I feel this is the safest place for us to be. 

When flying into an unfamiliar airport, I’ll ask the passenger sitting next to me if they are going to baggage claim. If so, I ask if I can follow them to pick up my checked bag. In a familiar airport, especially Orlando, Jewel can get me to baggage claim no matter which terminal we are in. I find this so incredibly amazing how she can remember such things along with where our hotel room is or a house we are staying at after going on a walk!  

Air Carrier Access Act

It takes extensive preparations to make air travel a positive experience for myself, Jewel, passengers, airport/airline staff. With this in mind, I’m concerned with proposed changes by the U.S. DOT (department of transportation) to the Air Carrier Access Act. The changes are an attempt to curtail people from bringing fake service dogs and emotional support animals on aircraft. However, in my opinion, the recommendations will not solve this problem.   

The proposed changes will add an undue burden to people with disabilities versus those who are traveling with illegitimate pets! I encourage guide dog handlers, their family and friends to voice their opinions. Comments need to be submitted by April 6, 2020. Here is a link to the proposed changes: transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2020-02/Service%20Animals%20-%20NPRM.pdf. Also for those with Guide Dogs please check with your school on how they are responding to this change. Guide Dogs for the Blind sent all handlers a survey so we could incorporate our concerns in their response. They will be sharing it with us in the near future. Also, The Seeing Eye published their response on their website. www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/05/2020-01546/traveling-by-air-with-service-animals

I do hope for safe travels for all especially during this time of uncertainty with the virus outbreak.

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: The Beyond Sight Magazine cover has a gray/white marbled background. The date & edition numbers are in the upper right corner in black ink. Marsha’s photo is aligned on the right margin with the background appearing on the top, bottom and left margin. Marsha is smiling and sitting next to Jewel with her left arm wrapped around her. Jewel is a gorgeous yellow lab with dark-rimmed eyes and an expressive face that always looks like she’s smiling. Marsha, wearing a hot pink tee, has shoulder-length blonde hair and has on eyeglasses. Both are on the patio with greenery in the background.
  • Solo photo of Jewel with her signature smile, facing the camera laying in front of the greenery.
  • Another photo of Marsha and Jewel posed similar to the header image, in an open area of the patio. In this picture, Jewel looks like she has something on her mind.
  • Close-up of Jewel’s face with a serious expression.
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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 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.”