Monday, January 6, 2020

Ten Tips for Advocacy & Self Love to Carry With You Over the Next Ten Years

“Ten Tips for Advocacy and Self Love To Carry With You Over the Next Ten Years”
Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday surrounded by your family and friends! I know I did! As we approach the end and beginning of a decade, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve grown over the last ten years. And man, have I CHANGED. In 2009-2010 I was in my sophomore year of high school. I was experiencing a lot of challenges with my condition, not just visually, but in every aspect. I was working really hard to navigate my peer relationships, do well in school, balance my life... plus manage my ever fluctuating SOD (septo-optic dysplasia). I’ve written before about the challenges I faced during my teenage years and how that time often felt like it was never going to end...

 BUT IT DID!!! There were still hard moments over the years but since then I have accomplished a lot! I successfully graduated both high school and college within the normal time frame. I have traveled to and spent time living in twelve different states (some more than once), one foreign country, and one tropical island. I worked on over fifty productions both on and off the stage. I got my first white cane and pair of glasses. I danced on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. I climbed three different literal mountains and more figurative mountains than i can name. I got my first professional teaching job. I learned to be independent AND interdependent. I fell in love. And the list keeps going! 

But this is life. It isn’t all sunshine and happiness all of the time. And I would be lying if I said that for all the joy, succsss, and adventure this decade brought me- it’s kind of come full circle. I started the decade in a rough spot and I’m ending it that way too.

But I’m hopeful that just like the past ten years, the next ten will bring so many wonderful opportunities. And as i reflect on the past decade and prepare for the new, I have Ten Tips to share with you to hopefully inspire you to live your best life, advocate for your success, and love yourself a little more in the years ahead! (They are a little long so bare with me!)

  1. Every part of you is something to celebrate. It can be tempting sometimes to try and “hide” your vision impairment. But why?? Everyone has something going on in their life or something about them that makes them unique or special. And yours just happens to be your vision! Embrace it! Once you accept yourself and celebrate all the elements that make you who you are, it will be hard for others not to follow suit!
  2. You are your own worst enemy-not sighted people. It’s easy to feel like because sighted people don’t always understand you that they are against you. This is SO NOT TRUE. Most sighted people just don’t get it initially. But once you explain you’re vision, there is so much opportunity to create a dynamic relationship! Thinking that because they may not understand means they can’t or don’t want to understand you will only do you a disservice. You could miss out on incredible connections, friendships, and opportunities. Don’t let your own insecurities and anxieties about how they may view you get in your way. Which brings me to my next point....
  3. Stop worrying so much! Life is way too short to let anxiety and insecurity rule your daily life. You are so capable and deserve to have every possible experience life has to offer. The only one holding you back from taking those chances and leaps of faith is you! I know it can be scary and anxiety inducing thinking about all of the potential “no”s you will hear or the ones you’ve already heard. But don’t let those rule your world. Find every opportunity to take that “No”and turn it into a “YES”!
  4. It’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes though, despite our best efforts, there are some things we just cannot do. And it’s okay to feel that. It’s okay to be sad about that. Sometimes things happen that are genuinely really awful. The only way to truly move forward is to let yourself feel those sad and bad feelings. Eventually you will grow through it. Eventually you will be able to use that as fuel to persevere. But in the meantime, if you are having trouble moving on.... have a good cry. Eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Call your best friend and vent about it. Allow yourself that time to process so that you can come back stronger than ever.
  5. It’s okay to let go. Sometimes things in our life no longer serve us anymore, or no longer fit in with our plan. Whether it’s moving on from a place, or saying goodbye to a friendship; sometimes holding on to tightly can only do more damage. It’s okay to let go of the things that don’t support you anymore. People grow, circumstances change. And there is nothing wrong with that. Allow yourself the freedom to move forward and maybe leave some things behind.
  6. Asking for help isn’t a bad thing. You are strong. You are capable. You can do anything. But we don’t always feel that way. And in those moments it’s more than acceptable to ask for help and lean on someone else for a minute. Surround yourself with people who lift you up when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. And remember that you can do the same for them. That’s what support is all about; being there for each other to help each other through!
  7. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. It’s easy to feel sometimes like you are stuck. When things go wrong, or if you’re feeling down, it can be easy to live in the discouragement. But I firmly believe that if you trust in yourself and the support of those around you, you will find yourself standing taller than ever before. Life knocks us down. And it can be devastating. But the more we fall, each time we end up standing a little taller,  with our head held a little higher. Each time we fall is a chance to learn and grow. It may take us sometime to get ourselves up. It may take us some time to heal. During my hard moments this is the mantra i use to help myself remember how strong I am. And i push myself to get up and keep going. I hope that you can use this phrase to get you through any of the moments where you feel like you can’t stand up anymore- you’ve fallen down seven times. But you will stand up eight!
  8. Create your own way. This phrase has been on my mind so much, especially for the past few months. A friend of mine, Tara Llewelyn, who has had an incredibly successful career as a Broadway dresser is my current inspiration and motivation to live this phrase out. Throughout her time living in New York, Tara has definitely had her share of struggles. But despite any doubts or discouragements, she has risen up and used those moments as fuel to get creative and make something happen for herself. Tara is also a performer, which can be a challenging path. She has had many successful auditions and performed in many pieces in the city. But like every performer, there have been periods where she was said “no” to. And those are the moments in which Tara has truly thrived. She wrote and starred in her own one woman cabaret, “Seams and Songs” which she has revamped and reprised multiple times in venues throughout NYC and Connecticut. Most recently, she wrote, produced, starred in, and is currently working on post production edits of the pilot for her new television series, “Under The Influence”. She is also an avid blogger and always up for an adventure. Watching this friend of mine take life into her own hands has been  amazing and has inspired me to do the same. I’ve been writing more, singing more, and doing my best to use the talents I have to make opportunities! And so moving forward I hope that in moments where you feel stuck or unsure that you too will take life into your own hands and “create your own way”!
  9. You really do only live once. Piggy backing off of that last one, when creating your own way don’t forget to take chances and try the things you’ve always wanted to. Over the past ten years, i have lost too many people. My community back hone lost two little angels who hadn’t even gotten to really experience life yet. I lost my dear teachers (Pam Diana, Ms. Helen, Louise Neistat, John Ayres). I lost a dear friend, LeRoy Walton. I lost three of my loving uncles. I lost my great grandfather. I lost my grandfather. I lost my sweet aunt. As I think back on all of the loss, I am reminded of how precious life is. It really is just too short, and though this phrase has become something rather comical, there is some serious truth to it. You really do only live once. So why waste it? Why waste the time you have waiting for something to happen? Go out there and do it! If there is something you’ve wanted to do but just haven’t gotten around to it or are nervous about it- get up, get out, and go do it! I had been saying for years that i wanted to try sky diving. It had always been in the back of my mind. But I kept telling myself it’s nice to think about but there’s no way I’ll actually do that. Then in 2018, my grandfather passed away. And shortly after that my dad and i were listening to “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. I’ve heard this song before, but this time it was different. I thought about all of the things my grandfather did and didn’t get to do. I wondered if he would have things he wished he had done. And in that moment I decided that I wasn’t going to waste a minute. So you know what I did? Later that year, I went skydiving. So go do it. Go skydiving. Go Rocky Mountain climbing. Love deeper. Speak sweeter. Give forgiveness you’ve been denying. Life is too short not to and you only live once.
  10. Stay Ambitious! The catch phrase of my blog and my mantra for the next decade. I hope that you all never lose your ambition. We all have goals and dreams and the key to achieving them is through pure determination and ambition! Hold on to those dreams and goals. Don’t let bumps in the road scare you from following it still. I urge you all to live ambitiously. Take chances. Say yes. Fail. Try again. Today again, again. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself feel. Let things go. Fall down seven times. Stand up eight. Create your own way. Live ambitiously because you only have one life to do so! Use your ambition to turn the things you wish you did into the things you DID! Adventure is out there.... no go and get it!

Thanks for reading, friends! I wish you all so much love and happiness in the new year that I hope stays with you throughout the decade! Cheers to ten new years to chase your dreams, achieve those goals, and create the best and most exciting life for yourself! Your vision may not be 20/20, but that doesn’t mean 2020 can’t be the year to find your vision for life!

Stay Ambitious,
Frankie Ann