As we head in to the New Year, I would like to dell out some encouragement to help our readers welcome a strong and hopeful 2014.
Blind Architect, Chris Cowney, gave this incredible TED talk on designing cities with the blind in mind, and how this not only benefits the blind but also offers major advantages for the cities themselves.
My favorite take-aways from this talk are:

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Orchard - The New Artists Discussion
I’ve always been hesitant to call myself an artist, or even more specifically, a writer. Since I don’t earn a living writing and am not famous, two of our culture’s main measurements for success, I’ve never thought my art really matters.
But watching some artist interviews during “The New Artists” series at The Orchard the past few weeks has helped me realize that my art does matter.  It not only matters in my life, but it matters in the lives of others, no matter if it’s just a handful of readers or tens of thousands. Continue reading

If you do nothing else to add some inspiration to your day, watch this video.  Dr. Bill is a blind optometrist who spends his days helping blind children.  He had me both laughing and crying as he shared his story, and I think his spirit and message of rising above life’s challenges is one that we all resonate with as humans.

In conjunction with my last post, I wanted to share a brief snippet from one of my new favorite books, “One Thousand Gifts”.  While this author is not visually impaired and the content of the book has nothing to do with RP, I think you will find it inspirational nonetheless.  Using some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time, Ann Voskamp speaks truth about noticing and giving thanks for ordinary aspects of life– even the aspects that are difficult and painful.  This book has challenged and deepened my faith as a Christian.  I found myself smiling to myself at many parts, laughing and even flat-out weeping in the middle of one chapter.

It’s one of those books that really stays with you and helps you glimpse life anew. Interestingly enough, I noticed that she uses quite a bit of vision metaphors and in ways I hadn’t seen used before.

Even if you don’t have time to read the book (or listen to it– it has won awards for the audiobook version!), I think the clip alone will inspire you to slow down and be thankful today!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhOUaszMGvQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

(note: During the month of October, you may notice me posting more often than Jenelle.  This is because she lives in this amazing tourist town with one of the best Oktoberfests outside of Germany (hence, she hosts friends and family in her home most of the month!)  She’ll be picking up my slack, however, in December when my pastor/musician husband will probably be working crazy hours!)

My sister sent me this video clip recently, and I found this story very inspiring.  Rare disorders such as RP and Ushers don’t get a lot of media coverage, so it was really great to see this story on the Today show thanks to reporter Peter Alexander and his sister Rebecca, who has Ushers syndrom.  Ushers is similar to RP in that it is a degenerative disease affecting peripheral and night vision, but it also affects hearing.

When I watched the video, I instantly wanted to be friends with Rebecca – her energy and passion for life made me smile.  I particularly liked the emphasis she placed on not letting Ushers define her, which is probably one of my biggest fears about RP.  I am afraid that when people find out that I have RP, that is all they are going to think of when they are with me.  I don’t want to be put in a box or labeled.  That is why I often wait to share that I have RP until I know and trust the person I am telling.  As Rebecca points out in this story, we’re often so quick to judge and yet never really know what people are walking around with.

I also appreciate her “seize the day” attitude in which she focuses on the present and doesn’t fear the future.  She’s not letting Ushers stop her from anything she wants to accomplish, noting that it might just take her longer or she may need more support along the way.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking of all that I want to do in life before I lose more vision when I should be focusing on what I want to do in life regardless of my vision.