20 Signs You’re Successful Even If You’re Not Feelin’ It

This is not the typical blog topic you would find on my website. It isn’t centered around losing vision or living with blindness. Nope. Not this time.

With 2019 being such a challenging year, I found myself gravitating towards personal growth and reflection — struggling to understand if I was doing anything right. Am I doing too much or not enough? Am I headed in the right direction or completely lost? It’s been messy and I’ve questioned many of my decisions and undertakings. I suspect I’m not alone here. Perhaps some of us have had that day, week, or month in the last year where we felt we simply have nothing good going for us. It’s easy to fall down into the proverbial rabbit hole – wishing we had the confidence and courage to DO more or hoping for the patience and perseverance to BE more — keeping us from seeing our successes. 

This lack of clarity can make it easy to believe that we are failing horribly, even when all the evidence in our life points to other conclusions. If we are too busy in life battling the bullshit, managing the minutia, or dealing with drama, we may never take the time to realize our own success. We could already be successful and yet we’re just not feelin’ it.

If you haven’t taken notice of your own successes heading into 2020, then this is the blog for you! Here are 20 signs you’re successful even if you’re not feelin’ it!

1. You are not afraid to ask for help anymore.

I doubt many people have ever succeeded in isolation. Sometimes it takes a team effort to accomplish tasks and there is nothing wrong with that. Asking for help does not mean you are weak, it is a sign of strength and shows that you have grown as a person.

2. You say “yes” to new opportunities.

New opportunities don’t come around every day, but when they do – you say “yes:!”.  Maybe you have no idea what you’re getting into, yet you go for it. Successful people take those leaps because they know one good opportunity can lead to bigger and better ones.

3. You have raised your standards.

You don’t tolerate bad behavior from other people. You hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t spend time with the “Debbie Downers”, “Angry Andys”, Nasty Nellies”, or F’d up Freddys” in your life anymore. Successful people have no tolerance for them.

4. You let go of things that don’t serve you.

No, this is not narcissistic even though it might seem like it. Self-love and self-respect is a success. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t work for you, serve your purpose, or drags you down. 

5. You don’t seek praise.

If you aren’t hanging around waiting to get the proverbial pat on the back at work or at home, you are more successful than you might even know. Being able to do your part without constant praise or a thousand “At-a-boys” is an internal success. If you choose to wait around for others to tell you have great you are, you may be waiting a long time. 

6. You have learned that failure is a part of personal growth.

Failure can be the point needed to succeed. You need to hit the bottom before you can reach the top. Being able to crawl back from failure and try and try again, is a sign you are successful. 

7. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you.

If you have figured out the people who “have your back” and recognized the ones who don’t, then you can add this to your list of successes. This is a painful realization, but once you learn to see the signs of betrayal and smell the bullshit, you can stay away from those people. They do not deserve a place in your tribe.

8. You don’t complain much.

Because you know there really is nothing to complain about. Unless you have gone through a debilitating diagnosis, unimaginable loss, or a traumatic experience, most of what we all go through on a day-to-day basis is just the small stuff. Successful people don’t sweat the small stuff and strive to live in a space of gratitude.

9. You can celebrate others’ successes.

Just because other people succeed, that doesn’t make you a failure. Applaud the people who rise to the top. The more positive energy you give to other people’s victories, the more positive energy you will create for yourself. Jealousy has no place in success.

10. You are driven.

Anybody without an engine and a willingness to get through the hard times and the difficulties will struggle to succeed. If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves    and getting down and dirty, you are better off than you think.

11. You have things you look forward to.

If you don’t have some cool things going on or planned out in your life, in which you are eagerly anticipating, then that little pep in your step may soon fade. Successful people create activities, goals, and plans that they are excited about. They let this excitement fuel their spirit.

12. You wish to help others.

Giving is a gift you give yourself. If you are able to provide people with guidance, compassion, and act as a pillar of support when they need it, success is in your corner.

13. You offer mutual respect.

Success tends to come from your own experiences in life, including going through stresses and difficulties. If you understand the value of treating others with respect, you already have a grasp on a bit of success.

14. You love deeply and open yourself up to be loved by others.

Love is risky and sometimes scary for people. It’s the one thing we all strive for, but it’s also intimately tied to the one thing we fear the most – rejection. If you open your heart enough to love and be loved, without fear, you have a heart full of passionate success.

15. You refuse to be a victim.

You know that life doesn’t always happen to you. Many times, you are the co-creator of your life experiences and outcomes. Successful people know this and refuse to be kept down by life’s bad days or play the “victim card”. No. They rise up and carry on.

16. You don’t care what other people think of you.

Successful people know they can’t please everyone. You know that the standards with which society judges people can be unrealistic. So you just keep true to yourself and love the person you are.

17. You learn from negative experiences.

Life can be full of regrets and dismay – and some choose to hang onto them in a negative way. Successful people convert what happened (or didn’t happen) into learning opportunities. No negative experience is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.

18. You are assertive.

You understand that simply saying yes or no is not enough. Explaining your reasons in a clear manner is essential for others to understand that you are an individual with your own thoughts and boundaries. This does not mean being inflexible, but while being understanding, successful people still stand their ground. 

19. You practice patience.

Patience is a virtue that successful people practice on a daily basis. Without patience, it can be hard to ever make the type of impact or influence you want to have in the world. It also takes patience to learn new things as needed to keep up with your professional or personal path. Successful people know that obtaining new habits, new skills, or, umm, losing those pesky extra pounds, doesn’t happen overnight.

20. You are happy.

This may be the ultimate success. It doesn’t matter what the balance is in your bank account, how big your house is, or how many luxurious vacations you take. If you are happy, then you are succeeding in life. And, life is too short not to be happy.

Even if you don’t see yourself in many of these 20 things, don’t fret. It’s okay. Be happy that you see yourself in just a few of them. In time, the rest will come. Keep moving onward and upward — taking note of success when you create it.

Alrighty loves, let’s make 2020 our most successful year ever! ❤️ ~ GGB

I Ordered From White Cane Coffee And This Is What Happened

If you know me really well, you probably know I am a coffee lovahh! As far as I’m concerned, coffee is the nectar of the gods!

With today being National Coffee Day, I thought I would share my recent experience with White Cane Coffee.

I follow White Cane Coffee on social media and I have wanted to order coffee from them for some time now. I mean, let’s think about this. White canes, coffee love, and supporting the blind community. I am so here for it!!

Because life gets in the way, I finally placed an order with them last week and this is what happened.

For a small business, White Cane Coffee has a nice variety of coffee blends to choose from in both bags and K cups. I thought their website was simple and easy to use. I wanted to buy the Sample Box, and unfortunately, it was out of stock. (Must be a popular item!) So, I chose two blends for my order. I received my box of coffee within a few days which was awesome. I opened the box and inside were two boxes of K cups. Oops, that’s not what I ordered.

I ordered a 16 oz bag of French Roast and a box of Dragon’s Roast K cups. Receiving the order the way it was would not have been a big deal, except I had specifically ordered the French Roast bag to give to a V I friend and she does not have a Keurig coffee machine.

That evening I emailed the folks at White Cane Coffee and kindly told them of the mix up on my order. By the next morning, I had a response from White Cane Coffee, and this is what it said.


Please accept our sincerest apologies for the mix-up. We are sending you the 16 oz French Roast priority mail to you. I have included a 1 pot pack of Dark Roast also. Once again, we apologize for the error in shipping to you.


Bob Willma

White Cane Coffee


Now THAT, my friends, is excellent customer service!!! In the business world, it’s not always about how great a company’s product or service is — but how well the company handles mix ups or mistakes that will keep customers coming back! Bravo, White Cane Coffee! Thank you for making good on my order!

I brewed a few cups of the Dragon’s Roast this morning and it was really good. I hope they get the Sample Box back in stock soon. I would love to order and try more of the blends White Cane Coffee has to offer!

Like me, you can follow White Cane Coffee on Facebook and Twitter!

GGB Note:

I did not write this blog as a collaboration or in partnership with White Cane Coffee. I just love coffee and support their mission to make lives better for the blind and disabled.

Sight Versus Vision | Madisyn Taylor

Vision comes from within and shows us how to navigate the realms of thought, feeling, and emotion.

Sight is the ability to see the physical world while vision is the gift of seeing beyond it. Sight enables us to take the physical world in so we can participate in it with knowledge. It brings us pleasure through our eyes, which perceive the colors and shapes of all the myriad expressions of nature and human beings. It helps us feel in control, allowing us to see what is coming toward us, which way we are going, and exactly where we are standing at a given moment. We are able to read signs and books, navigate the interiors of buildings with ease, sense and perceive how a person is feeling by the expressions that cross her face.

As anyone who has lost their eyesight can tell you, though, there are things that are clearer when you cannot see the world through your eyes.

One of the reasons many meditation instructors advise sitting with the eyes closed is because we automatically become more in touch with our inner world when we are not distracted by the outer world. It is in this state that vision becomes our mode of seeing. Vision comes from within and shows us how to navigate the realms of thought, feeling, and emotion. It enables us to see things that aren’t yet manifested in the world of form, and it also connects us to that part of ourselves that exists separately from the world of form.

As we age, even those of us with perfect eyesight will generally lose some of our acuity, but this loss is usually replaced with inner vision. This is the time of life when we are meant to turn inside and take what are sometimes the very first steps of a journey that cannot be traced on a map. We call upon intuition and feel our way along a path that ultimately carries us beyond the realm we can see with our eyes and into the land of spirit.

About the author:

Madisym Taylor is an amazing and insightful writer. I follow her words of wisdom via emails from DailyOM. Learn more about Madisyn here.

If you like this, you might want to follow DailyOM on Facebook!

Original article was published on DailyOM – September 2019.

Supporting A Loved One With Vision Loss – At Home, With Better Communication, And Riding Out The Emotional Rollercoaster | An Audio Recording

I spoke at the Foundation Fighting Blindness conference last year and thought I would share the audio recording here on the blog. Now, it’s cataloged on my website – which makes it easier for you to listen, learn, and share it with anyone else you feel needs to hear me tell IT – Tell it like it is.

Below is the audio recording of the session I presented at the FFB VISIONS 2018 Conference. (The play button is an orange circle at the top left side of the embedded audio from Soundcloud.)


While House Hunting Blind – These Were Some Things I Kept In Mind

I recently moved from my home of 26 years.

When I was on the hunt for a new place, I wasn’t willing to just move into any random house, townhouse, condo, or apartment. No way, and I had my reasons. 

If you read my blog titled “Seeing My Way Through Some Big Life Changes” you would know that I am in the process of a divorce. Divorce is not for sissys and it has not been an easy road to navigate. During one of the meetings we had, there was a moment, one of many, I will remember for a long time.

 In this meeting, the conversation was going in a direction I was not expecting, I was asked, “If you move out of the house, what are some things you might want or; uhh, require?”. Requirements? Of course, I knew she was alluding to my disability. I was not prepared for this question. Not even a little bit.

I immediately felt my anxiety rise up from the depths. Which would appear first? My tears or my voice. I didn’t know.

My thoughts ran wild.

Wait wait Wait. WHAT? He stays? I move? Oh god… this wasn’t what we had previously discussed. What is happening?

I suspected this was now the direction the conversation was headed in. I could barely speak and this was not the time to pretend that everything was fine and stay quiet. Speaking up and being assertive when I needed to be were things I had not been comfortable doing for many years. For some of you, that may be hard to believe, but you don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors – even with your closest friends.

The thoughts continued. 

Don’t panic. Breathe. Stay calm. If there was ever a time to gather all your courage, it’s NOW! So, keep it together and speak up. Do it! Your future is at stake.

There is a quote that says, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”, and that’s exactly what I did.  

These were some of the things I said that day. Depending on your own life experiences, you might relate to one, none, or all of then.

1. I want to stay in my community.

I have lived in my community for 28 years. 22 of them with full vision and 6 of them legally blind. I am familiar with many of the businesses and shops as well as the people who work at them. I have worked at the same gym, in the middle of town, for 16 years. And most importantly,  the friendships I have formed here are priceless, irreplaceable, and make up an incredible support team for me. I can not and will not leave my terrific team!

2. I want to remain somewhat “convenient” for my friends.

The part of town I have lived in for decades is close to the places I am familiar with. Most of my friends live in this area too. If I can stay in this part of town, it would still be convenient for any of my friends to pick me up and/or drop me off for work and play. I don’t want to be too far “out of the way”, adding more miles and time for those who regularly drive me. 

3. I want to live in a house, not a condo or apartment complex.

A house is more times than not, simple and easy for friends, family, paratransit buses, and rideshare drivers to find. The corn maze-like layouts of some complexes can be ridiculous. Constantly giving directions to drivers on how to find me — in hopes that they do find me — would leave me feeling anxious (and quite frankly, would become a real pain in the ass!). Remember, I can’t look for my rides, they have to look for me. So, yeah. Let’s keep the Hide ‘n Seek game simple for all involved.

4. I want to reside in a neighborhood I feel safe in.

I suspect most people would feel that way, blind or sighted, when looking for a home. Every town has that one sketchy area, so don’t judge me for saying it. I can’t see who comes to my door or whos walking down the street. So, yes, a nice quiet, and safe neighborhood is preferable.

5. I want a house that would be manageable for me as a blind person – with or without my kids living with me.

I thought a single-story house with a simple layout would be the best choice. Many of you understand that some stairs leading to/from a second-floor can be visually tricky. Appliances and any special features should be accessible or could easily be made accessible for me. (Hello Bump Dots!) A house that has poor lighting or gets little to no sunlight is dreary and does nothing to help me utilize the cloudy peripheral vision I still have. Usually, a house has a front and backyard and I’d prefer it to be simple and easy to maintain.

6. I’m not so sure I want this one, but maybe I need it.

Perhaps I need to look for a new beginning. A new space to fill as I want to — physically and emotionally. I could bring in the thoughts and things that would serve me best. A place to settle in and figure out a new normal. Maybe. Just maybe.

So, where ate things at now?

Well, I decided I would move out of the house. It was the best choice for everyone. The hunt for a new place that would include the things I wanted was overwhelming. When I say overwhelming, I mean, it would take a whole nutha blog to discuss and describe that stressful process. Let’s just say that being fully sighted and having a car with the ability to drive is a huge plus when house hunting!

Today, my kids and I (plus 2 cats) live in a nice little house, and we call it home. Did I get all the things I talked about above? No. However, I think hitting 5 out of 6 with a backyard POOL, isn’t too bad. And with time, we will adjust to living in our new pad.

Blind Reflections | Chrissy Terry

A family photo of the Terry family. Chrissy is the woman on the left, along with her husband and 3 kids.

Will Seeking Compassion And Providing Education About My Sight Loss Ever End? | A Blind Reflection By Chrissy Terry

“This is my long Facebook post from 2 years ago (2017). Every single word is still very true today. We are still seeking compassion and still trying to educate others. If you haven’t read it, please do. If you have, thank you! It is a great reminder about what my family goes through still.” ~ Chrissy Terry 

My Blind Girl Life | July 17, 2017

So, I share many moments from my life to try to give those around me a little perspective into the daily struggles and accomplishments of a blind person. Before I became blind, I knew one person that was blind, so I know most people don’t have a reference for this knowledge, nor do they understand there is a spectrum for sight loss. No matter where my family and I go, we can’t just shop, eat, or go to the beach without running into uneducated people. I say this not to be rude, but it takes a toll on you when people are constantly making comments to you or your family about your disability. For instance, the stereotype of if my eyes are not “weird”, I’m not wearing sunglasses (I do a lot, even inside when my eyes hurt, but not always), and if I’m using technology then I don’t “look” blind to them. So, what does blind look like? Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles? These are the references for most people. However, this is very, very inaccurate for 85% of the blind population.

Here is the definition of blindness from the American Foundation for the blind (AFB):
Blindness: A wide array of conditions ranging from a limited ability to see objects with special aids to the absence of light perception. Most people who are blind have some light perception.”

After just over 21 months of sight loss, I’m still getting used to it. When this type of loss occurs in your life, you don’t automatically know how to deal with it or know what is available to help you deal with it, if you have never experienced it before. However, you adjust what you can and use what you have. I’m still learning what is useful to me and what’s not.

In my family, we joke about my blindness because that’s how we get through it. I say we, because what people outside the four walls of my house don’t know is how it affects my family and the stresses we go through on a daily basis. We have faith, we are strong, we are optimistic, we overcome, but we are human.
No matter how strong we are, it often becomes difficult to hear people repeatedly say that they “forget I’m blind because I get around so well” or “I see you around, you must be better.” Well, thank you because I do try my best. However, we can’t forget, it’s a daily reminder for me and my family. No, I won’t get better, I choose daily to be the best I can each day. Every time someone screams at me because I have a dog and they’re afraid (you just scared me by screaming in my face and he’s in harness, he’s my guide dog, my eyes), every time someone tells me I shouldn’t take a dog into some place (kind of need him to get around and not trip or run into things), every time we go anywhere knowing we can never truly have a “normal” anything because things are different, it’s a reminder.

I don’t expect people to fully understand because most people have never been a young mother (yes, I consider myself young!) dealing with sight loss. For most, their dealings with sight loss occur in the older generation that have already raised children and grandchildren. Those people that have had the chance to see their children accomplish major life events, graduations, weddings, and such. As hard as it may be on those caregivers of the older, it is so much more difficult for a young child to understand why their parent can no longer see. Or for a mother to try to understand why her child can no longer see. Don’t get me wrong, sight loss at any age is a very life-changing, emotional loss that should never be downplayed by anyone.

My hope is that people will be compassionate, but many times that is just not the case. What people don’t see is that someone is usually with me giving me clues to what is going on and who is around me, or I’m using what I have (peripheral’s, hearing, smell, shadows, movement) to figure it out. I also use the assistive technology available to me to do things that supposedly “blind people can’t do” and I love the advances that are making things more accessible for me. There have been many caring people that have helped us and I am truly thankful for them, friends and total strangers.

I love the new relationships and deeper friendships that this loss has allowed. I love that I am able to share my faith with people daily because of my disability. I have always been independent and will continue to seek ways to do what I’ve always done and love doing, just in a different way. I love educating people about sight loss, guide dogs, accessibility, and overcoming, because that’s what I am, I am an educator and always will be!

About Chrissy
Chrissy Terry was clinically diagnosed with Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) by Dr. Nancy Newman, a leading expert on LHON, at Emory University. Chrissy lives in Hampton, South Carolina with her husband Brock, her two sons, and has a daughter away at college. On many days you can find Chrissy woodworking. Creating, cutting, and painting decorative art pieces has become a passion of hers. She is an avid runner with her guide dog by her side, and of course, she loves spending time with her family.

If you related to this, you cam also read Chrissy’s first Blind Reflection here – I Watched My Children’s Faces Fade As I Lost My Sight | A Blind Reflection by Chrissy Terry 

8 Reasons Why You Should Consider Attending A Conference In Person

There are so many ways to learn new skills, obtain knowledge, and network with others these days. For example, you can read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos, or hop on webinars or conference calls just to name a few. You never have to leave the comfort of your sofa, desk chair, or bar stool ( it’s ok, I won’t judge). So why would you bother with the time, travel, and logistics of going to a live event or conference in a land far far away? 

Hmmm. If that’s how you think, then you might be missing out on one of the best experiences of your life. Live events, conferences, or symposiums provide unique learning, networking, and community building opportunities that you just can’t find anywhere else. 

I have been to many conferences and huge events (pre and post vision loss), related to health and fitness, rare diseases, assistive technology, and LHON — and there are reasons why I make the effort to attend events in person. I just returned from my 6th LHON conference and let me tell you, I wouldn’t trade my involvement and experience with it for anything! Wait. Wait. I could sure use a personal chef and a chauffeur. Hmm. Nahh. Never mind. I’ve got some decent “wine in a box” and “ready to go” salads in the fridge and precious kids who drive. I’m good. I’ll keep the conference experiences! 

Here are 8 reasons why you should consider attending a conference/event in person.

1. Meet Experts And Mentors In Person

While not all conferences offer the opportunity to meet your idols, your chances are greatly improved when you’re sharing the same space. 

Sometimes it’s about taking a selfie with someone who’s influenced or mentored you, sharing an idea with someone you admire, or making a connection for your next collaboration.

I remember meeting several of my biggest fitness industry idols at a live event, and I thought I would die standing next to people like Charlene Johnson and Shaun T!! Just. effing. die! I obviously survived the thrill of it all, and the photos are somewhere on an old phone, on my computer, or in that Apple cloud place.

Those moments and photos could never have happened on an online fitness webinar. Nope. Never happen.

2. Sharpen Your Skills.

Sometimes you have to take a break from your dull job or routine to sharpen your skills. A dull axe won’t cut a tree nearly as effectively as a sharp one.

Whether it’s a fitness event or an LHON conference, I usually return with new skills and knowledge that make me more confident, current, and compelled to do more of what I’m passionate about.

3. Build Your Network.

Social media keeps me connected to my peers who are near and far. However, there’s no substitution for meeting someone in person.

Great conferences have opportunities for attendees to meet and mingle, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones. By networking over coffee, lunch, or cocktails, you may make a connection with the perfect partner or prospect for your next idea or project. You may also find yourself sitting next to a new mentor or future BBFF (Blind Best Friend Forever).

If you don’t go, someone else will be sitting in your seat with who could have been your newest mentor or BBFF! Are you going to let that happen?

4. The Exhibit Hall Experience. 

Whether there’s an exhibit hall or just a few tables near the coffee and muffins, companies often have the latest and greatest whatever on display. At some of the assistive tech exhibits I have been to, walking around and checking out the hottest tools and tech is an all-day (or multi-day) affair. Learning about new devices, services, apps, and software that make daily life easier, improve accessibility, or give greater independence for blind people is not only educational, but fascinating too!

While undoubtedly these products can be found at their websites, it’s great to get a hands-on demonstration or be able to ask a company representative questions that are specific to your needs. Sometimes you can get special conference pricing on a product or service you have your eye on. No pun intended.

5. Step Out Of  Your Comfort Zone.

I suspect you won’t have a panic attack while reading a blog post in the comfort of your own home or office. You probably won’t break into a sweat listening to a podcast (unless you’re on a run), and more than likely, you don’t have to make small talk while that YouTube video loads on your laptop. Why? Because inside your comfort zone, there is no anxiety or angst. There is also no personal growth or magical unicorns handing out chocolate. 

While there are those of us who are born extroverts, for many others, live events can be a challenge. But stepping out of our comfort zone is just the type of action we need to take to change old ways of thinking. This type of thinking that has, at times, put us in a funk and feel like a failure and no one needs that. 

You can always invite a friend or two to go with you so you are not completely on your own. Did I hear someone say, “Road trip Bitches!”???

6. The Tales And Tidbits.

The thing about the internet is we believe that everything is at our fingertips. And maybe it is. But it’s an overwhelming amount of information that can be spread across many websites and may be difficult to navigate and comprehend.

I recall listening to several world renown Neuro-Ophthalmologist presenting a session called “LHON 101”  in a simple easy to understand format. What a delight! I’m sure lots of that information was already on the internet, but a good presentation will help cut through the minutia to deliver the best content and tidbits for the attendees to take with them. No internet needed.

Oh, and, there are always, I mean always, one, or two, or ten, hilarious tales to tell upon your return home! Trust me on that one!

7. The Energy In The Room.

There’s nothing like being in a room full of like-minded people. Other people who are willing and able to take time away from work and home to build relationships and learn new things.

When you sit in a conference room, you discover that you’re not alone. You’re not alone in wanting to pick up every nugget of knowledge and good vibe you can. You are there for it. They are there for it. That energy is lacking if you are sitting at home alone, with your pet iguana “Mr. Iggy” in your lap, listening and learning online. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not the same energy and vibe. 

And, last but not least…

8. The Fun Factor!

If you’re not having fun, why do it? Right? Conferences are fun! Live events are fun! Maybe it’s what you make of it with like-minded people in attendance. (The introverts reading this may be rolling their eyes or going to their happy places right now.)

I’m not a networking pro. I struggle with finding the right way to break into a conversation with people I don’t know (and can’t see). But I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten better by attending conferences and involving myself in the fun, fellowship, and frivolity. By sitting at a lunch or dinner table with people I don’t (yet) know, I’ve made some amazing connections. I’ve made even more amazing friendships just from chatting during breaks throughout the day. That only happens when you are there – live and in person! 

Some thoughts to wrap this up…

Traveling to conferences is not for everyone. Physical or mental limitations may not allow travel and attendance. I totally understand that. But, if you get the right opportunity, and you can figure a way to travel safely to the destination, you should consider attending one.

Conferences can be expensive and time-consuming. From the cost of the conference registration and plane flights to the meals and unexpected bar tabs you may or may not remember signing for – it can all add up. And that doesn’t even include the time away from work, home, and family. However, conferences and events combine a unique blend of networking, learning, and fun, creating a golden opportunity to invest in yourself.  Start saying yes to the opportunities and no to the regrets. We can go find those chocolate wielding magical unicorns later. x

*These are just a handful of reasons based on my experience only.

When Your Son Goes Blind | Camille Dolan

Featured image is a photo of Tanner Dolan enjoying Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys.

Every day, he continued to say it wasn’t a big deal that he had lost his sight, because “a lot of people have it worse than I do.”

There is nothing in the parenting manual that tells you what to do, well, ever. For me, each day was trial and error, hoping to figure it out as I went along (sorry about that, kids!).

Somehow, all three of mine survived their childhood, I survived their awkward adolescent years and I thought all the scary things had passed.

Of course, I was wrong.

When my younger son was a sophomore in high school seven years ago, he was doing well. He had good grades and participated in football, wrestling, track and cross-country.

He also had perfect vision, which is why I instantly became alarmed when he came home after a day of cross-country practice and told me the vision was blurry in his right eye. Another runner had come up on his right side, and Tanner didn’t see him.

I don’t know if I didn’t believe him or if I was trying to figure out why his vision was blurry, but I looked in his eye, searching for the eyelash or twig that was causing his complaint.

  1. If your kid tells you there’s something wrong with his eye, believe him.

Something wasn’t right, but I guess I didn’t want to admit that yet. I told him to take a shower; maybe that would help. I didn’t really believe that, but I was stalling for time and trying to calm my nerves.

By the time he was out of the shower, I figured I better take him to the hospital. He wasn’t in pain and didn’t feel dizzy, and the shower had not helped his vision.

  1. Trust your gut. If you think you should take your child to the hospital, do it.

The days and months that followed were a jumble of tests, doctors’ offices and constant worry. I also brushed up on my ophthalmology “skills” and would randomly ask my son if he could see or read something. I would helpfully point in the direction of the thing I wanted him to see.

He told me to stop asking him.

  1. Any complicated diagnosis is not going to be solved by one doctor. You will have to wait, just like everybody else. The second part to this is stay away from Dr. Google. He will only provide you with more anxiety.

When I took my son to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, we learned that he had Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a rare, non-life-threatening retinal degeneration that causes varying degrees of blindness. By this time, a few months after his cross-country practice, my son was legally blind.

LHON mostly affects males and there is no cure, but because of the various mutations of the disease, some people regain some eyesight.

Every day, I asked Tanner how he was doing. And every day, he continued to say it wasn’t a big deal that he had lost his sight, because “a lot of people have it worse than I do.” His main concern was if he would be able to participate in sports again. He just wanted to wrestle with his team.

  1. Take your cues from your child. If he doesn’t think his illness is a big deal, neither should you. But if you must cry, don’t cry in front of your child.

His coach told him he would need a doctor’s note to wrestle, which we understood. The doctor told us he would not sign a release, because he was concerned that my son would get hurt.

“Then let him,” I begged the doctor. The risk of my son getting hurt was less than his sadness at not being able to play his favorite sport. Unfortunately, the doctor wouldn’t budge. We found another doctor who agreed to sign a release to allow him to participate in sports again.

Through it all, my son kept his sense of humor: “Does this mean I can get a dog?”

My friends and co-workers were very supportive and concerned. As I walked down the halls at work, people would stop me to ask about my son. No, his eyesight hasn’t gotten better. No, there’s nothing we can do about it. Yes, he’s doing fine. We’re all doing fine. There were always tears. Usually mine. It started to weigh on me so I began to avoid interactions with people.

  1. If you know someone who is going through something like this, ask them if they want to talk about it. Don’t give them advice – unless they ask. But maybe you could offer to bring them some lasagna.

We don’t know how or why, but my son began regaining some vision. A person with LHON generally has some useful vision, but with certain mutations, the mitochondria in the optic nerve begin working, somehow bringing partial vision back again. He is now able to read things up close but his eyesight is not correctable by glasses because his optic nerve is affected.

I’m still not sure exactly what it looks like through my son’s eyes, but he said this to me: “I may have lost my sight, but I still have my vision.”

About The Author:

Camille Dolan ’98 is a UCF Forum columnist and the communications coordinator for the University of Central Florida’s College of Health Professions and Sciences.

This article with the featured image of Camille’s son, Tanner, was originally published on www.ucf.edu on February 13, 2019.

Seeing My Way Through Some Big Life Changes – And Vision Loss Ain’t One Of Them

An unexpected diagnosis. Irreconcilable differences. Relocating. A career move. Aging parents. A new home. You might consider these to be big life changes, right?  Oh honey, that would be a Yes! They happen to people every day in this thing we call life. Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, poured out, changed and rearranged to direct us to unchartered waters. Waters we need to swim through – despite our reluctance, uncertainty, and fear. I’ve been way off the grid lately, due to a big change going on in my life. Going through a major life change is really no big deal, said no. one. ever. It’s a big damn deal.

So, how can we best cope with big changes? Keep reading. I found an article with some good advice on that very question.

How To Cope With Major Life Changes | By Shana Aborn

When was the last time you had to deal with a big change? For many of us, disruption to familiar routine sparks anything from mild anxiety to extreme terror. Maybe something’s been pushed on us, like being fired or getting sick. Just as likely, we’ve made a risky but necessary choice, like relocating to a new town or getting a divorce.

Shift happens, like it or not—that’s part of the human experience. Then why do we resist so much? It’s partly a natural fear of the unfamiliar. “People think of change as something dangerous,” says Auriela McCarthy, author of “The Power of the Possible” (Beaufort Books). “But it helps to remember all the ways your life has been altered in the past and realize that not only did you not keel over and die, things often turned out for the better.”

Fighting what’s happening just leads to frustration and keeps you from growing to your full potential. “When you try to put your life in a box and keep it the same all the time, you’re making something dead out of it,” says Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., coauthor of Saying Yes to Change (Hay House). Welcoming new things can even be good for your health. “People who greet what life offers with curiosity have stronger immune systems and live longer,” Borysenko adds.

So how do you push past the reluctance and fear? The first step is realizing that even though you can’t control what pops up in your life, you can alter how you react. “When change happens, say ok. Learn and grow from it,” says Borysenko. Taking a live-in-the-moment attitude will help keep you from sinking into what-ifs and should-haves. Another attitude booster: Think about people you respect and love who have faced difficulties head-on and come out stronger for it. Reflecting on their success will open you to the idea that new possibilities lie ahead for you, too.

Ok. Let’s put this article on pause for a moment.

I’m going to butt in right here and spill the tea on why I’ve been a bit MIA on my social media pages and website over the last few weeks.

I’m going through a divorce.

Yes, a divorce. This is where my time and effort is going right now, as it should be. Which leaves me with little to no mental energy for posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or staying focused and engaged in the blogosphere. There is no way to balance it all at the moment. It’s a big life change and a difficult change at that. I do have faith that my family will navigate through these rough waters just as we did after my sudden vision loss 5 1/2 years ago. 

With that said, let’s get back to the article for what I thought was some good advice about this.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that you already have the inner resources to make the most out of anything that comes your way. Bring out your natural resiliency by taking a look at how you can deal with some of life’s major changes – including divorce.

Major Life Change: Getting A Divorce

Why it’s scary: Even if you initiated the split, or totally agreed to it, the reality can sometimes feel like you’ve lost a limb. Habits and daily routines once dictated or influenced by another adult are now up for grabs. “After my first marriage ended, I felt like I was suddenly living in a vacuum,” says McCarthy, who was inspired to write her book when she realized how much her resistance to new things had tainted not only her marriage but also other relationships.

How to deal: Refuse to let fear or anger dominate you. “If you’re caught up in being a victim, you can’t gain any kind of wisdom or take responsibility for creating your best life, because part of you is still locked in the past,” says Borysenko. “Once you realize you have no choice but to change, many interesting things can start to happen.” Now’s the right time to lean on your support group—even if you have to invent one first. “I made a list of all the people I could call and get together with,” says McCarthy. “I felt stronger and safer knowing I had lots of people I could turn to.

Instant sanity-saver: Exploit your new freedom. Try things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t or didn’t get around to while you were married. Sign up for a painting class, join a hiking club, take up a sport, make plans to travel, or audition for a community theater production.

 Alright my lovelies, let’s stop reading the article. I’m going to wrap this blog up.

Well, now that you and all the other fabulous GGB followers know what’s going on with yours truly, please bear with me as I map out these new waters. I suspect I will sink a little and swim to the edge along the way – yet always looking forward no matter what other people think or say. (Note to self: Bring floaties, fuck offs, and assorted fine wines). 

I promise to be back interacting on social media and my blog more regularly real soon! Will I write about this experience? Hmmm, we shall see. Yes, pun intended.

❤️ Hugs! ~ Maria (GGB)

*Parts of this blog is from the article, How to Cope with Major Life Changes by Shana Aborn which was originally published in the January 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.

Using A White Cane Gives Me Confidence And Safety | Mary Hilard

“When you are not totally blind, and you are not fully sighted, you live in a world where sometimes you can see, if the lighting is right, and sometimes, not so much.” – Mary Hilard

The Diagnosis

“You are legally blind,” the doctor said to me, after making the diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa, RP. “Your sight will never get better and probably will get worse.” I was 18 at the time. Being a blind person was not in my life plan, but over the next few years, huge changes in my life plan would take place.

What To Do Next

The Ohio Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired, BSVI, sent a counselor to get me started in my new role as a legally blind person. He introduced me to the talking book program, which opened the world to me. He set up lessons in braille, which would prove to be an invaluable skill. He also arranged for me to have orientation and mobility training (O&M), with a white cane. But that’s where I dug in my heels. I went through the training, but I knew I was not going to use that thing. It was to me, the sign of defeat, the image of helplessness.

How Wrong I Was

As I look back with my 20/20 hind sight, I see how foolish I was in rejecting the white cane. Many times, I would have been saved from embarrassing stumbling and fumbling if I only had used the tool that would allow me to not only travel safely, but also identify myself as a person who doesn’t see well. You see, that’s exactly what I was trying to avoid, looking like someone who can’t see, while in truth, I would have given the impression of a self sufficient individual if I had used it.

Low Vision, High Confusion

When you are not totally blind, and you are not fully sighted, you live in a world where sometimes you can see, if the lighting is right, and sometimes, not so much. People in your world are just as confused as you are. They aren’t aware that you can’t see, and sometimes they make rude remarks like, “It’s right over there. What are you, blind?” The white cane makes a statement. It tells the people in your world that you don’t see as well as they do. Becoming comfortable with making that statement is the key to success in using a cane. For me, it took a very long time.

Choosing to Use a Dog

I understood the techniques of using a white cane, and eventually, I became more comfortable with it, especially when I was around a group of other people who were blind. As a life-long dog lover, however, I chose to train with my first dog guide at age 37. By this time, I had lost most of my vision. Four dog guides later, I’m still convinced that a dog is the best for me. I can walk faster and with much more confidence, and I love the companionship. However, there are times when I leave my dog at home and take the folding cane down from the closet. When I attend conventions or other functions where there are a lot of people and dogs, I prefer to give her the day off. When I go to a movie or concert, I know she’ll be much more comfortable at home than jammed under a seat on a slanted theater floor. Even when I use my dog on snow-filled streets, carrying the cane becomes a useful tool in probing the piles of snow on the corners, to determine how to get over them without falling on my head. When I go out for a special dinner with a friend, a folded white cane in my purse comes in handy when it’s time to use a public restroom. In other words, the dog is my preference most of the time, but not all of the time.

Choosing Your Cane

I prefer a thin white cane that I can keep folded up until I need it, but there are several varieties to choose from. You can buy one that telescopes or one that is a solid stick. Some people prefer this type, because they are sturdier. You can even buy them with extra support at the bottom. There are several organizations for the blind that sell a variety of white canes, but it is a must that you receive proper training in how to use a cane.

My Identity

I am a person who is blind, but my blindness is not always noticeable. Even when I am shopping with a sighted friend, and I don’t have my dog with me, I carry my white cane. That way, the sales associate will understand why I want to touch the product before I buy or why I ask what color it is.

Not Just a Sign

But I don’t use the white cane just to let people know I’m blind. When I don’t have my dog with me, or a sighted guide, it’s the only way I can get around independently. On a cruise ship, in a hotel, or in an unfamiliar setting, the cane is an extension of my hand. I can feel where my next step will take me. I have visited homes where a flight of steps going down is placed in the middle of the room, a dangerous situation for a visitor who is blind. Here’s where the white cane is a must for me. I never thought I’d say those words, “It’s a must for me,” considering that when I started my journey as a blind person, I wanted nothing to do with the white cane. Now, my appreciation for it is proof of my acceptance, finally, of my blindness.

This blog was originally posted on Vision Aware – October 15, 2014. 

To read more blogs written by this author, visit Vision Aware – Mary Hilard