Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pausing to Reflect and Celebrate

This year marked the anniversary of two very cataclysmic events in my life. One being my very distinctive thrust into what I think of as “real womanhood.” I turned 31-years-old. Yes, I am officially in my 30’s. I can no longer benefit from the excuses that the world makes for the 30 and under crowd. I have entered an era that forces me to not only look like an adult, but act like one

The other anniversary that caused me to pause and render it a great deal of attention was my 20-year anniversary of being considered legally blind. Wow! I can’t believe it has really been twenty years. Although it was two decades ago, I remember the first day that I was informed that I had contracted the thievish Glaucoma just as well as I can vividly remember the events of yesterday. While most students were excited about the leap from elementary school to junior high, I was losing my eye sight at a speed that left the eye specialist baffled and hunting for clues on what to do to help me capture at least a fraction of the sight that I was born with. But to no avail, the doctors’ best efforts couldn’t save my sight. After a vicious seven year battle that included fourteen surgeries, I was declared totally blind at the tender age of seventeen. The doctor’s considered my sight loss to be permanent.

Without a doubt, I think it’s time for a celebration, or at least some 30-something, bold reflections. I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why is she celebrating being blind?” I’m not celebrating a twenty-year anniversary of blindness. Far as I’m concerned, my blindness was a tragedy. What I am celebrating is the fact that so far, I have made it through this rigorous, dangerous, and sometimes heinous journey in tact. I have my mind, my life, and my joy. No eye sight, but I have me, a whole, complete me.

But with all that being said, I find myself facing challenges that I never imagined when I was a child/teenager/20-something girl that was blind. Life as a fully grown, 30-something, blind adult can sometimes overwhelm me. When I was a blind kid, I could get a break here or there. There were at least a few somebodies that felt the need to extend their loving arm of compassion towards me. But now that I am a grown woman, the response is different. The help I use to get, I don’t get any more. So, the independence that I had to exercise as a teen and young adult now had to be kicked to the highest gear.

My major concern now that I am in my 30’s is my financial security. First of all, I am not married. Secondly, as I get older, my parents are also getting older. The reality of their eventual demise grows more near with each day. The burden of making sure that I am taken care of for the rest of my life is sitting on my shoulders and my shoulders alone. Hence, I am taking some extremely calculated steps to make sure that my future gets and stays bright.

I began my journey to create a bright future by taking steps to become physically healthy. I have made a commitment to lose excess pounds, exercise, and change my diet. Being blind is hard enough. I certainly don’t want a stroke or heart attack to be in my future. Weight related illnesses, such as Diabetes, hypertension, congested heart failure run deeply in my family. I have witnessed how serious illness can hinder a person’s ability to stay gainfully employed, thereby, causing them to lose control of their finances.

The second step I am taking is to further build my credentials. I shoved my laziness and pride aside and returned back to school to complete my masters. At this point, my bachelors degree hasn’t meant anything to anyone but me, my parents and the admissions department for my graduate school. So, rather than pout about not being able to get a “good job” with my bachelors degree, I went back to school to gain a masters degree.

In addition, I promised myself that I would take the steps to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit within me. Instead of waiting on an employer to give me an opportunity, I am working hard to create opportunities for myself. It is my responsibility and only my responsibility to make sure that I am the recipient of a desirable income. So, if that means that I have to start my own business to have the income that I need and deserve, then that’s what I have to do. The only place that waiting on someone else to give me an opportunity gets me is waiting in the welfare line.

I’ve also made a decision to be a wiser consumer. My daddy and mama may not live forever, but the Benjamins do. I have made a commitment to save for those rainy days that I seem to have pretty often, save for my future as a old woman that’s blind, make purchases that are smart and efficient, and give to others in their time of need. Having money is not the answer to all of my problems, but it will solve a lot of them now and I’m sure in the future.

Being blind and 30-something is pretty frightening. But when I factor in the new goals that I set for my life, I am certain that my future is pretty bright.

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