Oct 16

Finding Beauty in a Low Vision World

Today, we welcome author Amy Bovaird as our guest. Amy has a unique look on beauty and how we perceive it. Thank you for sharing your story, Amy!

I’m losing my vision.

Sometimes when I look around and attempt to figure out what I’m not seeing, it confuses me. Anything above my elbow and below my thigh is susceptible to danger. One minute I’m involved in whatever I’m doing; the next, I’m rubbing down a swollen bump the size of Texas on my forehead. The myriad of accidental possibilities is endless.

It sounds dramatic to say that I have an incurable hereditary and progressive vision disease that will blind me but that’s the truth. No ophthalmologist has ever been able to predict exactly when that will happen. I’ve had to learn to live with the uncertainty and constant adjustments to my decreasing field of vision. It’s now to the point where I notice significant changes. Short of a miracle, this is my future.

Many people would not find my life beautiful.

And yet, God fills it with incredible beauty.

First of all, there are some days when I can see a little bit better. I call these “my good vision days.” I can clearly see whole petals of flowers. I can see details of faces that I love. I can see the sun glinting off a window. I notice a friend from the way she moves down the street. I can see every stair in my house—and I don’t trip. I can see if my shirt is on the right side out. These are great days!

Plus, God enabled me to travel to thirty-three countries when I had more vision. I don’t know if I would have been so determined to travel the world and live in six different countries had I not known that THIS WAS IT. Now I reflect on the people I met, the experiences I had, the cultures I observed and they can never be taken from me. I can see them whenever I remember.

I also choose to find humor in the mishaps that occur. I can’t change them so it’s up to me to respond in a positive way. Otherwise, I’d be agonizing every day of my life. Finding humor in situations often puts everyone at ease. I once poured cream over my pancakes thinking it was maple syrup. Another time, I spit out what I thought was vanilla almond milk gone off. I had really poured chicken stock in my glass! I’ve talked to telephone poles that I thought were people and sat down in cars driven by strangers. My life is never dull!

Finally, I look for the blessings in my life. I have only one life. I don’t want to waste it feeling angry or bitter about what I can’t change. I want to focus on the good I can do with what I have. God provides me with strong friendships, so many people to encourage along the way. Knowing I make a difference in to other people brings beauty to my life. It gives it meaning.

I didn’t always respond this way to the challenges in my life. Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs, for sure. I recently lost a huge chunk of vision, and I share that period of my life in my newly-released memoir called Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. In it, I share my fears, the denial and preconceptions about “blindness” and accepting myself as I am, and struggling to cope with needing to use a long white cane. Readers see the lies I tell myself and the pride that takes over, at times. It’s honest and emotional but also faith-filled and entertaining.

In this excerpt, my one-hundred percent blind mobility trainer and I are trying out my cane for the first time around the neighborhood.


Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith by Amy Bovaird

Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith by Amy Bovaird

We walked in silence for a few blocks. It didn’t seem all that difficult. Except for a few cars, Bob and I had the street to ourselves. “This cane stuff isn’t so bad.”

I soon changed my tune. When I saw one of my neighbors, I intuitively longed to tuck my cane out of sight. Why oh why did he have to be outside? Oh no. I looked like I was cross-country skiing, except I had only one ski pole, and there wasn’t any snow.

Soon we would pass him. He was dragging a lawn bag full of leaves to the curb. What would he think when he saw me with this weird stick? Of course he’d recognize me. We lived kitty-corner from each other.

I imagined what I’d say when we came face-to-face. I would stop, hold my cane vertically as if I were going to cross the street, except I’d turn and face my neighbor. What would I do? Twirl my cane like a drum majorette’s baton? Or would I use it as a musician’s lead and conduct a silent symphony, of course, introducing Bob as the master conductor? Better yet, I’d use my cane as a teacher’s pointer and gesture dramatically at my neighbor. I would say, “As you can clearly see, I am now learning how to be blind.” That would give him something to talk about.

When we came to his house, I did none of these things, of course. I felt my face heat up. What could I do? I waved at him and smiled.

Somehow Bob knew someone else was outdoors. “Nice day to be out and about, wouldn’t you say?” Bob asked in his booming voice.

No response. My longtime neighbor stared as if he expected one of us to explain what was going on—it was the look of a school principal demanding to be set straight.

It wasn’t going to be me. I closed my eyes for real. No time like the present to try my skills.

We arrived back at the house, and I led the way up the stairs to my sofa for our debriefing.

“You moved at a good clip,” Bob said approvingly. Then his voice changed, and he almost seemed to be teasing me. “Especially toward the end.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, like when we passed the gentleman not far from your house. You speeded up as soon as we left.”

“You mean my neighbor? How did you know I speeded up?”

“Is that who it was? I wondered.” He laughed then, a nice gentle laugh, which warmed up the room. “I could tell because your voice sounded a little bit fainter.”

How amazing! Such a tiny detail and he noticed that.

All in all, the training went better than I thought it would. I felt good about my effort, and best of all, I learned a few things—even if did hate this dumb cane.

“So how about our next mobility training? Your school will work well for the location.”

“The next one? Oh no…um, I’m so busy, Bob….”

~ ~ ~

Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith is available in both paperback and kindle versions on Amazon and Createspace.com.

Places to follow Amy:

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  1. amybovai

    Thank you so much for hosting me, Shelli!
    I really enjoy getting to know other writers!

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      Likewise, and thank you for sharing your story, Amy. It’s very inspiring!

  2. Tamala Baldwin

    ” I have only one life. I don’t want to waste it feeling angry or bitter about what I can’t change.” This was so beautiful…. what an inspiring woman. It almost made me cry… that she’s able to shift her perception and to focus on the good because no matter what she won’t be able to change what is happening. She is being glad and enjoying all the moments. It’s so wonderful.

    Thank you AMY for helping me to appreciate the gifts I have been given 🙂

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      I felt the same way, Tamala. Sometimes the bad things that happen to us help us to appreciate the good a little more.

    2. amybovai

      Thanks, Tamala! It’s a matter of perspective. God has given each of us difficulties we must cope with but He’s also given each of us so many blessings. It’s up to us to choose what to focus on. =)

  3. thischerishedlife

    You are a wonderful writer! Thank goodness you can find the gift of sharing your words and using your creativity in a way that doesn’t require good sight. Beautiful job!

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      I agree, Amy is a wonderful example of using the talents God has given you regardless of your circumstances.

    2. amybovai

      Thank you! I like how you identify yourself: “this cherished life.”! That says so much. We all have different gifts to share with others. Sharing my words is a lot better than trying to share my cooking, for example. One never knows how that will turn out! LOL.

      1. amybovai

        Thank you Shelli, One of my “wonderful” talents is tripping and lurching! It’s hared to be formal when one is sprawled all over the place. It breaks the ice pretty quickly. I don’t mind too much as long as nothing else gets broken!

  4. Safari Kay

    I’m reminded of a place I take my guests when we are on safari, it is run, operated and fully staff by the disabled. But don’t tell them they are disabled, for they produce some extraordinary work, and the gentle reminder to all of us, visibly posted…Kindness is a language which blind people see and deaf people hear….Thank you for sharing your courageous and inspiring story.

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      I would love to go on one of your safaris and visit that place some day, Kay. All of us have our obstacles. Amy’s story illustrates what can be done when we set our minds to overcome them.

      1. amybovai

        Shelli, It’s true that we all do have our obstacles. Compared to some of them, vision loss is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Going back to our safari topic, I would certainly hate to be an elephant! Hunted for their ivory and left to die on their own. Now THAT seem like ah hard lot in life! The only way it can overcome is to be especially vigilant in regard to their kits.

        1. amybovai

          It just dawned on me that one of the elephant’s gifts to the world is its great spirit and strength and even when it is being hunted, it is still majestic. It tells me that, just as with people, terrible obstacles abound and life still runs its course. But we see a slow-moving beauty when the elephant walks among the herd and lives as God intended it to live. Beautiful image!

    2. amybovai

      Safari Kay,
      Speaking of safaris, I have been fortunate to go on a couple of them in Kenya and see “the big five.” (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo). They’re called the Big Five because they are the five most difficult to hunt. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and had great eyesight to detect so many kinds of animals! He even pointed out a pregnant leopard climbing a tree to escape a predator! Now, the only “spot” I saw was the leopard itself, but that’s beside the point! Wonderful experience! =)

  5. matt harris

    Amy is a great example of someone who when given lemons can turn them into lemonade. Having read her book, “Mobility Matters,” I’ve learned to laugh more now at my own mishaps as a visually impaired person. I want to share an excerpt from a five-star review I gave about Amy’s book on Amazon.

    “When a lump begins to rise on Amy’s forehead, after having just bumped into a wall, she writes, “Builders wear hard hats. This builder wore a hard head.” And, as you read “Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith,” you will see why it was a good idea that God had blessed her with an extra thick skull! Amy tells her heartwarming story in a prose style that has an airiness to it like being on a magic carpet ride. After having read her book, though, I am convinced if she were to take a magic carpet ride, she would probably soon fall off. So grab a crash helmet and some shin guards! You will need them as you enter into Amy’s world.”

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      Thank you for sharing your review, Matt!

    2. amybovai

      I’m so glad that you are learning to laugh more at yourself, Matt! It makes things a lot easier to cope with and let’s face it, we need that levity in such a serious world, don’t we?! Thanks for that five-star review! ~Amy

      1. amybovai

        I so enjoyed being your guest, Shelli. If your readers want a signed copy of Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Fait, they can go to my website and click on the following link:http://amybovaird.com/mobility-matters/. The book is discounted and has FREE SHIPPING. Thanks! Don’t forget to check out my FB Author page for updates and specials.

        1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

          Amy, I can tell that your story really resonated with my readers. Thank you for sharing it with us!

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