Coming Full Circle
I traveled the world and ended up right back where I started from.
In the Beginning
To give you a better idea of who I am today, let me tell who I was. I grew up in a small town in northwest Pennsylvania in the United States. If I had any qualities that stood out, it was my shyness. And perhaps my love for writing. In my senior year of high school, I gave up study hall and lunch break to create a story from the lyrics of a love song. Kind of strange, huh? That’s what my friends thought.
Getting My Feet Wet in Brazil
“Oi, all you Brazil nuts, are you ready for the mission field?” In my junior year of college I studied Portuguese (our teacher told us to think: gutter Spanish in our class because all the hard sounds were softened), A month of singing off-key at the street corner, door-knocking and visits–foods like guava paste on cheese and tiny strong, cups of sugar-laden tinto. I fell in love with travel that summer. The starfish and sand dollar I found at Copa Cabana beach persuaded me I could cross the ocean and live on just enough local currency to forge a new career path.
It wasn’t until I pursued my dream of living overseas that I slowly shed my timidity and started to come into my own, as they say.
In the twenty plus years I taught abroad, courage arrived.
I learned new languages and encountered fascinating people. Traveling solo allowed me to follow my passions. I climbed mountains, explored the pyramids, went paragliding, trekked through the Sinai, snorkeled in the Red Sea and learned the proper way to put on a kimono. More daringly, I hitchhiked in Central America during a civil war and led a church group to a small Kenyan village.
Teaching in My Hometown
When I returned home, I reverted back to the personality I had thrown off decades earlier. I would have continued living quietly if my eyesight hadn’t rapidly deteriorated.
With Retinitis Pigmentosa,(RP) my vision loss progressed to the degree people stared–and not in a good way! I couldn’t have my students’ parents thinking I was drunk because I tripped, knocked over and ran into unseen obstacles. Reserved to the max, these mishaps nearly did me in.
Choosing How to Respond
Cue to the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services. They recommended I use a white cane to retain my independence. It took several months to accept orientation and mobility training, especially since I navigated with black sleep shades to simulate darkness. Strangely enough, my sense of adventure kicked in.
With counseling and mobility training, courage returned. I had no path to follow so I forged a new bold path for myself–literally with my cane and mentally, with my mindset.
My experience led to authoring two humorous books on mobility. I became a speaker, educator and advocate for the vision impaired.
A New Journey
I never planned to take this path, certainly not in my own home town. It’s all new even though it’s filled with memories of the old me. My lack of vision limits me … and yet, it is that very thing that pushes me forward.
From time to time I choose to examine my own fears, perceptions and courage. I can also impact yours, my wonderful reader. Together we can grow to understand the blessings of imperfection, of challenge and ultimately, courage for each of us — vision impaired and sighted — to forge new bold paths!
What personality traits do you see in yourself? How have they changed over the years? If so, can you pinpoint a few of the factors that have impacted who you are today and how you view life? Leave a comment below.
You have just read, “Forging a New Bold Path” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 2, 2017.