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Joy and Jenelle laughing and holding hands at Aliso Creek Beach in Orange County, CA.

Loyal, lovely readers, our apologies for the scarce posts in recent months.  We’ve received emails from some readers checking in on us, and we appreciate your encouragement.  You, our courageous tribe, are why we will continue to write amidst bustling schedules.  And we thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to stop by Doublevision blog.

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Joy and Jenelle’s young children smiling in front of a fountain.

We are actually writing this post together IN PERSON, as Jenelle is visiting Joy in sunny SoCal for a couple weeks. Our kids are getting lots of cousin time building sand castles and soaking in Vitamin D while we catch up and enjoy our time together.

Today we’d like to loop back to a topic that everyone LOVES to talk about (insert sarcastic undertone here). We’ve written posts on it and spoke on a podcast about it and its relationship to blindness. While it’s not something that most people deal with daily, it does have a way of sneaking up when you’re feast expecting it. Shame.

We were reminded of shame triggering situations today, as we walked back to Joy’s house after yoga class. As we neared the busy, 4-lane street that we needed to cross to get back into Joy’s neighborhood, we realized that while we were inside working on our Warrior 2 poses, construction workers were repaving the road with hot, noxious tar. The two lanes on our side of the street were completely blocked off with cones and ropes.  We weren’t sure if it was safe to walk on, and we paced up and down the street, both using our canes, trying to figure out where to cross.  After a few minutes, a man who had apparently just crossed the street walked by, so we asked him whether it was dry enough to cross. “Well, I didn’t sink in, so I think it’s okay,” he said.  We walked back down to the intersection we had used on the way there and waited for the light to turn. We had 10 seconds to cross and knew we had to move quickly. While we could see the orange cones that we needed to navigate around, there was also an “invisible” long plastic rope in the middle of the street that we soon felt pressing across our knees.  We giggled as we awkwardly stepped over the plastic rope, and a piece of Jenelle’s backpack clung to the rope.  By this point the walk signal’s 10 seconds were up and we were in the middle of the intersection, untangling the unruly backpack before making a dash for the curb.  We were frantic but also laughing because it was such a ridiculous situation. We imagined the odd sight the approaching cars had in front of them, 2 ladies faltering oddly across the street with long sticks, untangling themselves from plastic roping and running wildly to the curb. In the past, this might have been a shame-triggering event. But instead of spiraling into shame or feeling overly self-conscious about how awkward we looked, we just laughed. We left a silly message about the incident with our “daring sisters” (a group of women we met last summer. Read more ahead!) and moved on with our day, not giving it a second thought.

We’ve learned that life with vision loss, even after coming to a place of acceptance, will always have its awkward situations and occasional falls, but our strength comes from how we choose to rise after a fall (literal or figurative!)

As we’ve shared our stories of denial, shame, and the daily challenges of vision loss, we’ve learned that we are not alone.  We spent many years not talking about any of it, not even to each other.  Now that we have a community of people to continually learn from and share with, we know the value this brings.

In the fall of 2015, we met an inspiring woman named Becky Andrews and began brainstorming a retreat that would bring women facing vision loss together.  This retreat became a reality in the summer of 2016, as we shared with readers last June . This summer, Becky’s non-profit Oasis Center for Hope, will host 2 retreats, the “Daring to Own Your Story” retreat we attended last year and a new one, “Rising Strong in Your Story”, which we are both attending this June. Becky’s dream, and our hope, is that every woman facing vision loss will have the opportunity to experience the therapeutic power of vulnerability with a small group of women who can relate.

Recently, Oasis Center for Hope launched a scholarship campaign for women who cannot afford to attend these life-changing retreats.  We wholeheartedly support these fundraising efforts, and encourage our loyal readers to contribute to this worthy organization.  We also want to continue to encourage women facing sight loss to participate in these empowering retreats.

So there you have it: after a long hiatus from posting, we come back asking for money! (We prefer to think of it as an invitation!) We invite you to be a part of helping women with vision loss live active, authentic lives. Please click here to donate now.

“It’s been two years of practicing being brave and putting myself out there, and vulnerability is still uncomfortable and falling still hurts.  It always will.  But I’m learning that the process of struggling and navigating hurt has as much to offer us as the process of being brave.and showing up.” – Brene Brown, Rising Strong

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5 thoughts on “Rising Strong: A Joint Effort

    • Thanks Ann! You bring up so many great points and insights, especially about the origins of shame– it’s so deep-rooted, which makes it difficult to break culturally. Thanks for sharing and reading, Ann!

  1. Thank you for that great insight regarding shame. I’m so glad you bring up that topic, because it is so interwoven with the experience of having low vision , which means inevitably being awkward, clumsy or embarrassed. It has taken me a lot of years to be able to not only accept my physical struggles just moving through the environment, in a very matter-of-fact way, but to hold onto my sense of worth and competence as I do so. I think that means remembering that we are more than our visual impairment. It does not define me. And I also think about the origins of shame and the archaic ideas that weakness and vulnerability mean worthlessness to society, as it used to be.
    These ideas of helped me to feel OK about myself even when I trip, spill things, miss handshakes and all the other awkward moments that happen daily.

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