[Ohio-talk] inspirational article

barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 14:43:38 UTC 2015

I edited it for the Braille Monitor. I don’t know that is where she got it. This was some years ago.

Barbara Pierce 
President Emerita
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
Barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you zwant; blindness is not what holds you back.

> On Mar 1, 2015, at 9:45 PM, Deborah Kendrick via Ohio-talk <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Cathy, 
> Nice article.  But you cut off all attribution.  Where was it published?
> Publication name and date would be much appreciated.  
> Thanks for sharing!
> Deborah
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ohio-talk [mailto:ohio-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Cathy via
> Ohio-talk
> 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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