by Sue Lichtenfels
Life is a garden where we can grow and blossom as individual beings. In life’s garden success isn’t measured by the beauty of the landscape or the abundance of the harvest, but rather by personal accomplishments, achieved milestones, and dreams realized. Individual successes may include landing a lucrative job, running a marathon, marrying and beginning a family, graduating from college, and winning a Nobel Prize. As demonstrated on TheReImage.net, people with vision loss are no different in their desire to be successful. We too want to win gold medals, be great parents, and make a difference in the world.
What determines if we will be successful? Just as a plant has ideal growing conditions, so too do individuals. The seeds to success are the positive internal attributes we possess grafted with external influencing factors. Chief among these influencing factors for people with vision loss is the council. How well we nurture and make the most of our seeds determines our life’s success.
When we possess the following internal seeds, we may be more likely to sprout success. Being hard-working, perseverant, goal-oriented and reliable gives us a sturdy stem to stand tall with self-confidence through life’s challenges. If we bloom with open-mindedness, positive attitude, and good decision making, our petals spread with vibrant color that brightens our future. When we achieve the seed of independence, we are grounded by strong foundational roots that enable us to weather any storm. For people with vision loss, independence is the must-have seed to possess. Without the ability to function independently, our chances of success shrivel and die.
Sunlight, water, and fertile soil, these are external elements that are vital to the successful cultivation of a garden. Similarly, how well we flourish towards life’s successes can also be impacted by many external factors including our access to financial resources, who we know, our quality of education, where we live, having positive role models, and of course, having a little luck. The greatest fertilizer for success is opportunity. It is when we have the opportunity to compete for the same jobs, the opportunity to exercise our civil rights, the opportunity to access the same information as others, and the opportunity to get the specialized training we need that we can truly blossom in life’s garden.
Like a greenhouse, we, the peers of the American Council of the Blind provide an ideal climate where independence and opportunity thrive. By sharing our independent living experiences as mentors, on our discussion calls, in our newsletters, during our chapter meetings, and on TheReImage.net, we germinate the seed of independence in those who may be new to vision loss or less confident in their abilities. Through our listservs, vision loss resources, and 24/7 online platforms, we offer additional nutrients. When we hold community events and provide awareness training, we pluck the weeds of misperception that encroach on our lives. We cultivate opportunities by advocating with legislators and educating change makers. We offer a warm, sunny environment where people with vision loss can gain hands-on, practical skills as volunteers that enable them to transplant more efficiently into the working world. During our national and affiliate conferences, we sow independence and opportunity through exhibit halls, presentations, accessible activities, and peer fellowship.
Together we till society’s soil of inaccessibility and inequality so people with vision loss can blossom.
We who have lived with vision loss through many seasons recognize the importance of independence and opportunity in our pursuit of success. While Jack had magic beans, we have magic seeds. Let us continue to sow these seeds of success in all that we do as peers and within the council so that all people with vision loss can reach for the sky.