[Ohio-talk] inspirational article

Deborah Kendrick dkkendrick at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 2 02:45:49 UTC 2015

Nice article.  But you cut off all attribution.  Where was it published?
Publication name and date would be much appreciated.  
Thanks for sharing!

-----Original Message-----
From: Ohio-talk [mailto:ohio-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Cathy via
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 8:14 PM
To: Ohio-talk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Ohio-talk] inspirational article

I read this article and the NFB is mentioned so thought I would pass it
along for others to enjoy.

Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone

By Marcus Schmidt
Have you ever tried to break boards with your bare hands? I have heard
several times that some people can, but always thought they must be really
tough or somehow be able to focus all their energy into a point. However
they did it, I never envisioned myself doing it, until recently. My
perspective changed at a youth leadership academy for the blind last May,
where I was a counselor. A few adults demonstrated a technique to the youth,
and it was not long until I heard of some youth even busting through 3 or 4
boards at a time. The National Federation of the Blind believes that pushing
people out of their comfort zone is a very important part of training blind
individuals to be more independent and successful, as it builds their
confidence to try other things, thus enabling them to break through
attitudinal barriers and grow personally.
As I sat there, unwilling to risk hurting my hands, I thought about what
message I might be sending to the youth, for whom I was supposed to be a
role model. Not wanting to show any fear of trying something new, but rather
wanting to demonstrate a, can do attitude, I stepped out of my comfort zone
by stepping forward to try breaking some boards. I reviewed the technique in
person, took a step back, and took a good swing at the two boards being held
in front of me. To my amazement, both broke completely through, and that
without hurting my hand. The youth around me thought it was great, but I
fell into introspection for a while. I wondered how many other things I had
never tried in my life, simply because I believed what others told me was
impossible for a blind person. I am so grateful to people who have pushed me
to try new things, like my parents and my wife.
Shortly before that weekend with the blind youth, my wife Kim really pushed
me out of my comfort zone, inciting me to do something I had always been
afraid of. It was the last day of our two week vacation in Peru. We had
visited several museums, fascinating ruins (like Machu Picchu) and had even
spent half a week in the jungle. Now, we were ready to unwind a little,
before returning home. We thought that spending some time relaxing on the
beach would accomplish that, but found the water to be rather chilly, the
surf unusually strong and the plentiful jellyfish to be rather large, a foot
or so in diameter. As we bummed around a nearby outdoor mall, Kim marveled
at a number of people paragliding, sailing on the updrafts on the steep
coast, suspended from large parachutes. Though it sounded like fun, it was
definitely something I had always said I would never do, as it seemed
foolish to put my life in the hands of something as uncertain as the wind.
Nevertheless, as we were packing up our room on the last day of our trip,
Kim announced: quote, I know what you are doing today. quote. I figured that
it probably was something I really like, since she knows me quite well by
now. But, when I learned that it was paragliding she was planning out, I
thought she must have lost her mind. She tried to arrest my concerns by
explaining that I would be accompanied by an experienced instructor; but, I
did not gain much comfort from knowing that at least I would not be dying
alone. Then my risk management logic kicked into gear in a somewhat unusual
way. I figured, if the instructor is assuming this risk day in and day out,
and has managed to survive it for several years, then I could possibly risk
paragliding for 15 minutes. So, off we went to the coastal cliff.
When we got there and paid for my paragliding session, no one seemed too
concerned about my blindness, since I would be flying in tandem with a
sighted instructor anyway. I felt excited but not that nervous; however,
when they hooked the harness around me and then ordered me to run towards
the cliff, I was glad I could not see the 150 foot drop off in front of me.
When my feet all of a sudden lost touch with the ground, I did feel rather
uneasy for the first 10 seconds of being airborne. But, as we started
gaining altitude and I felt the cool ocean breeze rush by my face, my fear
gave way to bliss. Though it did feel rather odd to hear the foaming ocean
so far beneath me, I was enjoying the freedom of a bird too much to really
care. As the instructor was taking us through gentle swoops and loops, he
remarked, quote, If I could only give you my eyes right now. quote. I
replied, quote, But why? There is so much for me to enjoy with all my other
senses. quote. So, he closed his eyes, and liked it so much that he kept
them shut for a while. Of course, he did open his eyes again to bring us in
for a safe landing. As we parted, I thanked him for a wonderful time, and he
thanked me for opening his understanding to what it is like to be blind.
As each of us stepped out of our comfort zone that day, each of our lives
was enriched. Once again, my understanding of what blind people can and
cannot do was altered, thus boosting my confidence to try something else
that is traditionally held to be impossible for someone who is blind.

Cathy F

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