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Daring to Own Your Story

Daring to Own Your Story 2017 Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“If I can climb that mountain what else can I do in my life?” ~Becky Andrews

Daring To Own Your Story is a challenging annual women’s retreat created by my friend Becky Andrews. Recently Becky shared her passion to take more blind women on this empowering adventure in her Holman Prize video submission. Take a listen to her 90-second video as she talks about her annual retreat.

Every year, the Holman Prize awards three blind or legally blind individuals from around the world up to $25000 to carry out a dream project.¹

Becky, seated and talking directly to the camera opens the video. She has dark shoulder length hair with bangs and is wearing a chambray shirt with a navy and yellow fruit print pull-over sweater. Interspersed throughout the video are images of Becky and her guide dog Georgie. Some of the other photos include women on an obstacle course, rock climbing, and hiking.

Daring To Own Your Story Featured Image Description:

This outdoor photo is a group shot of attendees at the 2017 Daring To Own Your Story Retreat. Eight women, (some with white canes) are standing, two are kneeling. Also included in the shot are two guide dogs.

¹(2016) Who is James Holman? • Holman Prize 2018. Retrieved from Holman Prize 2018 website: http://holman.lighthouse-sf.org/who-is-james-holmanAccessed March 11, 2018.

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Forget Presumptions | Choose Care & Compassion

5 Things Blind People image description is in the body of the post.

Forget Presumptions | Choose Care & Compassion

Instead of erring on the side of caution or presumption, let’s err on the side of kindness and respect. We can do this by expressing our thoughts and words carefully and compassionately.

~Bold Blind Beauty

Too many times we presume to know another person’s story based on little to no information. My friend and blogger extraordinaire, Maria Johnson, speaks to this topic from the perspective of one who is blind.

5 Things Blind People Shouldn’t Have To Justify To Anyone

by Maria Johnson | Girl Gone Blind

I have learned that when I feel the need to justify myself, some part of me is almost always of the opinion that others must be right and I must be wrong. Defending, explaining, and justifying my choices as a blind person is something I do more than I’d like to. Because some of you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes… I wish you wouldn’t question why I walk the way I do. Here are 5 things blind people shouldn’t have to justify to anyone.

1) When we don’t want to use our white cane.

Perhaps we find ourselves in a place that is familiar and safe, and we don’t want to use our cane, so we don’t. Maybe we find ourselfs in a situation where we are feeling a bit self-conscious about using our cane, so we don’t. We can, and we will, let the people we’re with know that we feel more comfortable using them as a sighted guide. Our decision doesn’t have to win anyone’s approval. After all, it’s our white cane, not yours, and we will use it at our own discretion.

2) What words we use to describe our vision loss. 

If we are asked about our vision, it is our choice on how we respond. I have heard people say things like, bad eyesight, don’t see very well, vision disability, visually impaired, vision impairment, partially sighted, low vision. We may even use the “B word”…BLIND or legally blind. Some folks don’t like the “B word”, and prefer not to use it. Others may be okay with it, and use it more freely. Obviously…I don’t mind it! Identify your vision loss the way YOU want to and not how anyone else thinks it should be.

3) Why we need blind friendships.

Our sighted family and friends are never going to truly understand our down days or daily difficulties. How could they? They’re not blind and we would never want them to be. Creating blind friendships through social media, in person, or over the phone, can build a wonderful support network for us. We like to know we’re not alone and that someone else can relate to our troubles and triumphs.

4) Why we may need a helping hand. 

When we ask for help, it’s because…we…want…help! It’s not because we want to annoy you. We may want assistance with something that’s very simple for you, yet difficult for us to do. If we don’t need help, we will gladly tackle the task….. but, giving someone a hand should never be too much to ask. And just in case you’re wondering…yes, yes we can hear the fake friendliness in your voice when you feel forced to oblige.

5) Why we want all the details.

We want to hear what we can’t see. Why do you think they created “audio description” for movies and TV shows? Because Us blind kids want to know what’s going on. That’s why! Giving us the details about what surrounding us or in front of us is more than just small talk. You’re fueling our visual imagination and enabling us to feel included. Paint the picture and fill in the blanks….and don’t even think of leaving out the juicy details!  Inquiring blind minds want to know!

Will the people in your life always support your choices and desires?  No, they won’t.  But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating a happy life. A life that happens to include vision loss. Your friends and family can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So, make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own decisions. You shouldn’t have to justify your who, what, where, when, and whys to anyone.  ~ Well, THAT’S what I think!

Aside from the misconceptions blind people face daily, the barrier of access to information is huge (see point 5). This blog post was originally published on November 6, 2016, on wwwgirlgoneblind.comMaria Johnson, the owner of Girl Gone Blind, is a mom, group fitness instructor, blogger, podcaster, and a radio contributor. 

Forget Presumptions Featured Image Description

Close-up image of Maria’s outstretched hand with fingers splayed. The image is blurred to place the focus on her hand. She is standing outside wearing a black long-sleeve top and foliage is in the background.

Connecting With Maria:

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Choice On “How Do You Love YourSELF?”

Choice on "How Do You Love Yourself" image description is in the body of the post.

‘Choice’ A.K.A.’ Selective’ Is My Form Of Self-Love

The choice to record a video for Katherin’s “How Do You Love Yourself?” campaign caused me a brief panic attack. I grew up in an age where listening to my recorded voice was cringe-worthy. So imagine how it must feel to see and hear myself? Yikes! But I did it!

When you have a minute check the video out at KE Garland’s How Do You Love YourSELF link.    

Image Description: 

Panoramic watercolor cityscape in shades of blue and green. Reflections of the black buildings in the background are seen in the river. In the foreground is a black silhouette of a fashionable woman. She is holding her wide-brimmed hat as her dress blows in the wind.  Six red heart balloons (three on each side of her) appear to be floating in the air around her.

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Beauty Pageant Takes Step Towards Inclusion

Inclusion at a beauty pageant description is in the body of the post.

Beauty Pageant Takes Step Towards Inclusion

I live for the day when we will no longer need titles like those on today’s post as inclusion should be the norm. Until then, breaking down barriers requires awareness.

Ashley Nemeth, friend and featured Woman On The Move was recently asked to be a judge for a beauty pageant. I was thrilled when I saw the article about Ashley because she is an advocate working tirelessly to break down barriers. For the first time pageant, organizers of the Mrs. Canada Globe 2018 asked a blind person to be a judge.

In her own words, Ashley talks about her experience as Blind Judge for Beauty Pageant. Way to go Ashley!!

Featured Photo Description: 

Lined up on stage are ten women, five are wearing evening gowns, pageant sashes, and crowns. Two of the five are holding red paper-wrapped floral bouquets. Ashley and Rick (her guide dog) are fourth from the left standing next to the two women holding bouquets.