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Mary Morgan Corbitt

Inspirational Speaker

Mary Morgan Corbitt: Heartfelt Speaker
Mary Morgan Corbitt: Heartfelt Speaker

Welcome back to Part 2 of my interview with Mary Morgan-Corbitt. Today,  she’ll talk about her speaking opportunities.

Mary, just to recap from last week, can you share an anecdote from your life that taught you something about coping with vision loss? 

Well, there have been many that have surfaced over the past few years. It seems that I am reminded of them just at the right time. My parents modeled having a strong faith through challenging times, and looking at things positively. This is not to invalidate the challenge, but to live in such a way, that the challenge doesn’t define you – and to look for what develops out of that challenge. I am so grateful modeled this for our family.

Entering the world of vision loss can feel very isolating. You are approaching something so foreign and frankly, very scary. So, I read a lot and I continue to make connections with others as I navigate myself. A dear friend of mine sent me the scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:7 that reads, “For I walk by faith, not by sight…” and this has truly become a scripture I hold in my heart.

How did you become involved as a speaker and what is your overall goal in speaking? 

 As I was learning more about vision loss, my own and that of others, I realized how many misconceptions are out there related to vision loss.

Many people believe, and I was one of them, that you either have vision or you don’t. There’s darkness or you can see fine. But in reality, many people who live with vision loss fall into a grey area.I felt there was this need for education. Helping others to understand what vision loss is, what it isn’t, what it can do, and what it can’t. 

Many have some functional vision, which allows them to maneuver familiar settings, but may need a cane or physical assist in crowds. Or perhaps they can see directly in front of them, but nothing in the periphery or above or below them. 

I am very involved in our local chapter of The Foundation for Fighting Blindness. We hold an annual Vision Walk, which raises funds to support research in finding a cure for retinal diseases. I was asked to represent our Vision Walk event by participating in a couple of radio interviews. For me, the topic of vision loss is very personal, and I found a level of excitement as I shared my own story through promoting powerful and necessary events like the Vision Walk – which connects people – and that is really what helps anyone during challenges- connecting with others.

I am finding my own voice in the public speaking world. My overall goal is to just communicate with others about navigating challenges and to provide encouragement. I just strive to continue to be open – open to God’s presence and to the doors of opportunity he presents.

I was also a speaker for Dinner in the Dark so I’m always curious as to how others become involved with this event. How did you hear about them?

I served of Co-Chair of the Vision Walk this year and was asked to speak briefly at that event. It led to a few more opportunities to be a voice for our local community. I am very grateful for that. I when I was asked to be the closing speaker at the recent Dining in the Dark event I was so honored and eagerly accepted. Of course, that didn’t go without some major nervousness regarding it all! There were other speakers as well. We have local sports celebrities present that serve as emcees and who present and honor local doctors, business owners, those who are making a difference in our community.

I was asked to share my story and why our family supported The Foundation Fighting Blindness. My focus was to have people hear that, yes, being diagnosed with anything that alters your life dramatically is overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to define you.

What was your overall impression of this event? 

This was our 2nd time attending the St. Louis Dining in the Dark. It is quite an amazing experience! First of all, you meet so many wonderful people. Many who have family members affected with a retinal disease – and there are always a handful of people who are directly affected, so connecting with each other is always fabulous! The presentations are inspiring and filled with hope that research is moving forward and the future truly looks bright for so many affected with blinding diseases.

The most enjoyable part however, is the actual dinner. Everyone is given a light darkening mask to wear throughout the entire dinner. You must rely on your other senses to navigate eating.

It is such an interesting experience for many! My husband said it was a bit claustrophobic for him, and really difficult to leave the darkening shades on the entire time. You can’t find your drink, or utensils and basically, everyone ends up just using their hands. So here we all are, dressed up for the evening, and eating with our hands! But it is so interesting to hear how the conversations at the tables shift. Suddenly, no one is as timid as they once were. With visual cues now gone, you have to rely on your other senses, which makes for very interesting and humorous conversations!  It does take a while to adjust to your surroundings. But the key point is for those attendees who are supporting the organization, to get a sense of why we are raising funds for research.  The dining experience in the dark really gives people a true sense of what could happen for many, and that supporting research is essential.

Events like Dining in the Dark and Vision Walk that are supported by The Foundation Fighting Blindness provide so much! They provide – Hope, Community, Education!

1: HOPE – When you have HOPE, you continue to move forward!

2: COMMUNITY –There is strength in numbers! The more people you meet that are facing similar challenges, the stronger you become. You find encouragement, support– you keep hope alive through supporting one another!

3: EDUCATION – We are in an awesome position to do GREAT things! Education is KEY and it can begin by sharing your story! Share your story!! It helps connect us to one another!

gf you have an opportunity to experience a dinner such as this, please do so!  It is truly unique in that it forces you to utilize your other senses. Being out of your comfort zone is…yes, uncomfortable. But, so many amazing things can haame for it or ppen when we step out of our comfort zones. One of my favorite quotes is this:

‘A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for’.

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How intriguing does the Dinner in the Dark event sound to you? Would you be game to attend a meal or would that put you too much out of your comfort zone?  

You have just read “Friday Friends: Mary Morgan-Corbett Inspirational Speaker. Please take a few minutes to respond with a comment. Thank you!

Friday Friends: Mary Corbitt Part 2
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9 thoughts on “Friday Friends: Mary Corbitt Part 2

  • March 4, 2016 at 10:10 pm
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    Hi Amy,

    Dining in the Dark sounds like a great event. I never attended one, but it levels the playing when everyone puts those sleep shades on though–even if just for one meal. I love the Scripture verse Mary shared, one of my favorites: “For I walk by faith, not by sight…” (2 Corinthians 5:7). That’s where the Light shines the brightest.

    Take Care,

    Matt

  • March 4, 2016 at 11:07 pm
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    I would be game to attend such a dinner. It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of others, but because (without my glasses) I have been legally blind since my early childhood, all I have to do is take my glasses off. But then again, I can always put them back on. To paraphrase Robert Frost, that’s what makes all the difference.

  • March 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm
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    I really like that quote about what a ship is made for.
    🙂
    I would be safe in my house all my life, but what kind of life would that be really? I will keep it in mind every time I am afraid to try something new with less and less sight.

  • March 6, 2016 at 3:25 pm
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    Hi Kerry,
    I like it, too. I’m glad you commented on it because I want to write it down to encourage me when I have bad days.
    I liked your quote the other day that Stephanae McCoy shared on Women on the Move and I agree. We ATE more than the blind label we sometimes carry in the titles.
    Amy

  • March 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm
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    Hi Matt,
    I wish you were close enough to attend our Dinner in the Dark event. But it’s on April 30th and you’ll probably still be studying.
    But think about it!!! You might win my ticket give-away and save $50! It would be so fun if you could come!
    Amy

  • March 6, 2016 at 3:42 pm
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    Hi Alana,
    From my experience in taking off my glasses, it has a momentary impact. I used to think, “Wow, I can see so much better with my glasses,” and put them back on. Then I wouldn’t think about it for awhile. The great thing about the Dinner in the Dark is that you experience that Loss in context. You have to DO something for at least 30-45 minutes. I think it’s such a rich experience that it changes you in some ways. Maybe try to find one in your area. I would love to hear your thoughts after. And you are an open person. I love that about you. You were the first one to tell me about falling classes!
    Amy

  • March 10, 2016 at 3:25 pm
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    It’s an odd thing how something like eating without sight is so natural for me now, but even the thought of trying it to someone with full vision is frightening. I guess there can be problems, but adaptation takes time, not something possible in one dinner. Hope people realize they can get an idea, as scary as it is, but that they would need a chance to learn and things would improve with the process.
    🙂
    I have never before attended one of these events, but if I were the visually impaired speaker there I would certainly explain that.
    Good luck with the event.

  • March 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm
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    Hi Kerry,
    Thank you for being such a loyal reader!
    I do hope you’ll get the opportunity to both attend and speak at Dinner in the Dark. It creates such a good dialogue, helps me to be patient with others and helps them to understand our challenges more through this simple medium. I attended it for the first time last year and it did stand out as one of the best vision events I’d attended.It was a kind of milestone for me in my vision loss. I even wrote an article about it for a magazine. I think that’s an area you’d be so good at. BTW, have you ever heard of Dialogue Magazine (through Blindskills). It’s an excellent magazines produced in four mediums: audio, regular, Large Print and Braille. Here’s a little about the magazine:
    About Blindskills
    Writer’s Guidelines
    Take care,
    Amy

  • March 18, 2016 at 8:25 am
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    Ah I used to get that magazine in braille in the mail all the time.
    🙂
    Forgot about it. I’d actually started writing something I thought about submitting to that one, but this was back when I really wasn’t sharing my writing yet, before my blog and everything so I didn’t get very far.
    Thankks for the refresher and I will check it out.

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