1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes

Everybody’s Got A Story, #1000Speak

“It’s the human condition that keeps us apart. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”
–Amanda Marshall

Sunday, June 21st is the first day of summer (longest day of the year), Father’s Day, and National Aboriginal Day here in Canada.

Iceland’s Midnight Sun

It’s funny how much has happened, in the last six months, since I wrote about the opposite to this day:

Solstice and the Big Red Dog

“See my eyes, don’t see what I see. Touch my tongue, don’t know what tastes good to me.”

Amanda Marshall sings, in this particular song, about our unique, human stories.

“Dig deep. Deeper than the image that you see. Lift the veil and let your true self breathe. Show the world the beauty underneath.”

I know there is a connection between these individual stories and the compassion we could all stand to give and receive.

Then there are those hard things in life that make compassion so vital, yet each time I hear about just such things I have to look harder and harder to find enough of it, but I keep on looking still.

I saw a moving and beautiful play this week:

The Diary of Anne Frank

I know the story of Anne Frank and her diary. I just recently had a chance to focus on the stories of the other people trapped with her, because they too had separate stories of their own.

Anne was a typical teenager, despite the chaos going on all around her. She did not get along with her mother, was jealous of her sister’s supposed perfection, and referred to the man she had to share a room with in the Annex as an idiot and a dolt.

This was only her side of the story.

Anne’s mother loved her two children, worried sick about them, and only wanted them to be safe.

Margot may have been more reserved and quiet than her rambunctious younger sister, but she had dreams of becoming a nurse and helping children after the war.

The man Anne was referring to had a life outside the Annex. He had a woman who loved him and whom he loved, a child, and had no family to lean on during all that time in hiding.

Anne loved her father above all others. She even had a special nickname for him and everything. She sometimes felt he sided with her mother against her, but she rarely, if ever said one bad thing about him. He was her hero.

Otto Frank was left to face the future, post war, without any one of his family left alive. He had to face the fact that his two daughters and his wife were never coming back to him and he had to figure out a way to go on without them.

He, with the help of friend Miep Gies, decided that his little girl’s story needed to be told.

I am here to make sure her story goes on being heard, but that the others affected and ultimately lost have their stories known too.

Then there’s some history of my own country and hopefully a better future. I must admit that I don’t know much about Aboriginal stories. These are people living in my own country and I know very little about their history, their heritage, and their stories.

I learned some in school, yes, but not nearly enough. I feel separate and cut off, I will say.

I am doing some research, for an upcoming Canada Day post, and I don’t like what I hear.

The facts about the residential schools must be told. It’s not just one story though, but a multitude of stories. I think it’s about time Canada heard these stories.

And then there’s the terrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina that took place.

A twenty-one-year-old walked into an historic African-American church, sat down to join a prayer group in session, and eventually opened fire, killing nine innocent people.

I know a lot of people will be writing about this for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

I know very little about it, even though it has been all over the news for days now:

An Emotional John Stewart Drops The Comedy To Talk Charleston

I honestly feel numb. My brother and I both agreed on that lack of emotion.

This doesn’t mean I feel any less horrible. I just don’t know what is left to say.

I could rant about my feelings on gun control and a pervasive gun culture. I could speak about a country that is filled with stories, including those of the poor victims and their families and yes, even the shooter.

Well, I still don’t know where to start, so I will focus on the big picture.

“That ain’t the picture. It’s just a part. Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”

Yes, thank you Amanda.

It’s funny how life works sometimes.

I was planning this #1000Speak post about everybody’s stories, when a friend brought my attention to a TED video.

Now, I love these and I’d actually listened to this particular speaker before, but I thank my friend still. I admire her and her spirit and for thinking of me.

Both her and the Nigerian writer below:

Chimamanda Adichie: the danger of a single story,

they are both strong and intelligent women, full of passion and compassion. Both their stories make them who they are.

“Patronizing, well-meaning pity.”

The above TED speaker sums it up nicely, exactly what happens when we jump to conclusions about people, without first looking at who they truly are, in all their glory and depth. Is the story we’ve been told about something really the right story?

I too have a story:

**It’s made up of the wonderful family I have and the happy childhood I experienced.

**It’s made up of the challenging and character-building experiences living with blindness all my life instills in me.

**It’s made up of the additional medical issues I’ve had and the barriers that were put in my path as a result.

“single story.
A balance of stories.”

I know we all have our perceptions and our realities. We all make our minds up, when we hear someone’s story.

People meet me, see that I am blind, and right away they may think they can paint a picture of what my story must look like.

Chimamanda says it best: stereotypes are not untrue, but incomplete….

Stereotypes about blindness are deeply ingrained in people’s consciousness. I have felt pity and longed for more, for compassion, understanding, and connection in pity’s place.

I don’t know enough about all those who lived and died in war, those I share Canada with, the victims and perpetrators of gun violence, or what life’s really like on the African continent.

I say I have become numb to tragedy and senseless violence, but I realize that is not at all what I want for myself, or for any of us.

“Stories matter. Many stories matter.”

I want to be passionate and compassionate. I listen to passionate speakers like this and I want to be passionate about things like literature, writing, and social issues.

I want to tell my story and to tell the stories of many other people. That is why I love this blog and I love writing. I can tell stories, not one single story, but every story I can possibly tell.

Adichie says about stories: they can empower and humanize. Break or repair that broken dignity.

I am glad to take part in

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Check them out on:



and there you can use #1000Speak to share the compassion.

Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Spotlight Sunday

Bold Blind Beauty

Today’s Spotlight Sunday, Part Two: I am featuring Stephanae McCoy and her wonderful site Bold Blind Beauty.

I came across this helpful resource through social media and I immediately knew I had to get in touch with her, and I am very glad I did.

We spoke for a long time, one April afternoon over Skype, and I learned about her own life and how it inspired her to start a website to offer style, fashion, and makeup tips and trends, in a way that women who are visually impaired and blind can understand.

Stephanae has a quote on her site which took hold of my attention right away. I felt like we might have a similar outlook on life when I read it.

“Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.”

That is precisely what she is doing with her website. This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote spoke to me and made me want to check her out and I hope you will too. First, here is our conversation.


When did you begin to lose your sight and how did you handle the change?

My vision loss began back in 2005. While looking in the mirror, I took out my right contact lens and since I still had in the left lens my reflection appeared as if half of my face was missing. Oddly enough I wasn’t afraid but I didn’t know what to think as I took out my left lens. Having high myopia (extreme nearsightedness), everything appeared normal once again except for when I closed my right eye. If you’ve ever looked in a fun-house mirror that’s how the vision in my left eye appeared as everything was distorted and it was such an eerie feeling.

The next day I called my doctor thinking that my new blood pressure medication was causing the issue and I was told to contact an ophthalmologist immediately. I was given an emergency appointment and my diagnosis (macular hole) was one of which I’ve never heard. The doctor explained how the nearsighted eye functions and why the macular hole developed. He went on to say that he was sorry he couldn’t do anything to restore my vision but he would refer me to a retina specialist.

Initially, handling my vision loss was not a major ordeal because I was under the care of a wonderful retina specialist who told me that all the statistics of vision restoration were in my favor. After my first failed surgery though I began to feel a little nervous; however, the second surgery was successful and I didn’t have any more issues until I developed an epiretinal membrane in my right eye. This was the point when life became more challenging for me as it affected the way I did my job, I began using adapted equipment to continue working, I was beginning to find it more difficult to read and while I was still able to drive, when the obstructions became too much for me to bare I voluntarily gave up driving.

As my vision continued to decline, I went for second and third opinions while simultaneously scouring the internet in search of a cure. In addition to the macular holes in both eyes I now had cataracts, a torn retina, glaucoma and way too many uncomfortable eye procedures in a vain attempt to keep my remaining vision. In view of all I was going through I reached my breaking point and felt I could not handle anymore, I was depressed, felt extremely isolated, lonely and very angry.

What was the hardest thing you found to deal with about vision loss?

The most difficult thing about losing my vision apart from not being able to see was the lack of general awareness, loss of information, and the negativity associated with blindness. It’s not an easy thing to go through however with the help of my blind and vision impaired friends I was able to see that I could still live a very fulfilling life with this disability.

Describe your own style before and after your loss of vision? How did lack of sight effect it?

I would describe my style as polished professional. After I graduated high school I went to business school and took a personal development course for women that taught me everything from poise to etiquette, style and elegance. I learned how to walk, sit, stand, speak, mannerisms, apply makeup and dress for success. Since I always knew I wanted to be a professional I learned early on how to dress the part to obtain my goal.

The loss of sight hasn’t greatly affected my style as I’m still the same person and I love being polished. Being able to mix and match colors has become a little challenging because I can no longer differentiate between shades of color. It’s easier to deal with colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. On occasion I do have to seek the opinions of family and/or friends on how a certain outfit appears on me since my mirrored reflection isn’t clear.

I find that shopping online for clothing and accessories is so much easier than going to brick and mortar stores mainly due to accessibility. Plus I enjoy taking all the time I need and being able to have shipments delivered so that I can then try them on in the comfort of my home. The added benefit with so much online competition is many retailers also offer free shipping.

What made you decide to start BoldBlindBeauty? What were you hoping to accomplish with the site? How did you want to help women who are visually impaired and blind with their personal style?

Two years ago I was approached by the President of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind to do a makeup presentation for the women of the organization at our annual convention. Part of my preparation for any public speaking engagement is researching my topic and when I was looking for material on the subject of makeup for blind/vision impaired women I found very little information.
I titled my talk Bold Blind Beautiful because as blind and vision impaired women we have to be bold just to go out and conquer the day. I intentionally chose the word beautiful as a descriptor because it was my small contribution to alleviating the negative connotation associated with vision loss. The segment went over so well and there was so much interest in it I thought hmmmm why not do something on a grander scale and see what happens? This was the birth of Bold Blind Beauty.

What has been the response you’ve had from people since starting the site?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had many women and a few men contact me via the site from all over the U.S., Canada, UK and other parts of the world supporting me and letting me know that it’s about time. The fashion industry does not cater to those of us with disabilities in general let alone people who are blind or vision impaired. I believe the reason is that people think because we can’t see that equates to our not caring about our appearance when nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, it takes a little more time and effort by providing descriptions but this information is essential for us to enjoy all that the industry provides to our sighted counterparts.

What advice or tips do you have for visually impaired and blind women about personal style, fashion, and makeup, as someone who was sighted before and now has become visually impaired?

The first piece of advice I would give is to get to do a self-evaluation and what I mean by this is style is individualistic and knowing yourself is the first step. Style like art, is a form of self-expression and communication which encompasses the whole person. It begins on the inside with our personality, lifestyle, values, likes, dislikes, mannerisms and it permeates all areas of our life.
Since the loss or lack of vision curtails the way we receive information it can be challenging but not impossible for us to develop our sense of style. Loss or lack of sight doesn’t mean we are non-persons who are unconcerned with how we present ourselves or live our lives. As long as we have the capacity to learn and are open to different methods on how we can partake in the world of fashion, we too can acquire the skills to be self-sufficient in this arena.

The key is honing our confidence and this piece of advice applies to everyone not just blind/vision impaired people. When we are able to assertively communicate our confidence how we are perceived becomes less important.

The last piece of advice I want to give is to have fun experimenting with your style, break the rules, this is how trendsetters are born.

What do you hope to do with your site going forward?

I want to inspire blind and vision impaired women and collaborate with them so that together we can develop unconventional approaches of defining our individual style, effectively using cosmetics, shopping for the latest trends. I envision the collective creativity of this demographic becoming mainstream in the fashion industry so that we can have a future as fashion designers, editors, stylists, photographers and models. Ultimately it is my hope that in so doing we can dismantle the myth that simply because we cannot physically see does not mean we lack vision.


I want to thank Stephanae for agreeing to talk to me about these things. She is greatly appreciated by us women who need a little extra help to find our personal style. I am so glad I came across her site, which can be found


And I know she will continue to offer a valuable service for visually impaired women everywhere.

Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing


I never would have imagined I would be known for being Fierce, but I’ll take it. I am honoured and thrilled to be featured on a lovely lady’s blog today. Check it out here

Bold Blind Beauty: Fierce Fridays

I will be returning the favour in an upcoming post here, where I will speak to her on her much-needed site where she focuses on style for the visually impaired. I will be finding out what made her decide to start a website about the need to bring attention to the visually impaired who deserve to enjoy fashion just as much as any sighted person does, and to dispel the myths surrounding the belief that if you can’t see you won’t care about how you present yourself to the world.

I am looking forward to speaking to her very soon about all of this and sharing it here.


I also wanted to update some of the things I have on the go and hope to bring here in the following weeks and months:

I will be taking the plunge, taking THE WALK. I will be completing the CN Tower’s Edge Walk experience and will live to write about it.

I am writing a few essays, which I hope to submit to sites such as:

Full Grown People

I am still waiting to hear back from a site which publishes stories of female friendship,

Friend Stories

as they have already contacted me once, about a month ago now, to say my essay would be a welcome addition to the site.

This summer I will be writing two short stories, a romance and a sad tale, which I plan to submit to:

The Alice Munro Short Story Competition

and an author anthology, raising money for charity. I am looking forward to having my schoolwork out of the way so I can focus on these projects and this blog.

Within the next few weeks I also hope to have up a Spotlight interview with hair stylist and owner at an amazing salon:

To be found herehttps://www.facebook.com/GLOW.HAIR.STUDIO

All that and much more so stay tuned.


P.S. I wanted to give a shout-out, if she sees this, to my amazing sister who stayed late with me last night, working on improving and adding to the features and the look of this place. Thanks for your help KH.