Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible

In 2010-2011, my husband and I faced a huge decision about the future of our family.     As I turned 35, I became aware that my biological clock was ticking and I had very little time to decide if I was to have children.  Because we were both blind, the decision of having children was something we put off due to the sheer logistics of the endeavor.  The concerns that had to be faced included health concerns, financial, and practical issues.  Yet, despite the many factors that made this undertaking seem impossible, my husband and I could not let go of the yearning for something more and the desire to go for the dream I had dreamed since I was a little girl.  We decided to face our fears and we stepped off the cliff of life and entered this crazy phase of life we call “parenthood.” The rewards of parenting have far outweighed the challenges, and it all began with us deciding to act even though we were afraid.

Sometimes in life you have to be willing to “do it afraid!” Here are some steps to help you take stock, consider your options, and move forward even if you’re scared:

1. Consider Health Issues when Making a Decision

As a cancer survivor with multiple disabilities, I was not the average girl starting a family.  I had undergone extensive treatments that included multiple rounds of radiation and powerful chemotherapy.  What was the impact on my fertility?  How did this impact a future child? Should we fear birth defects, and would I even be able to have a baby? I began to search for the answers to these questions by asking my current and former doctors about the risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

  • Always put your health first
  • Research online, get opinions of doctors, and listen to your heart

2. Consider Practical Issues and the “real world”

After receiving the news that there was no reason I couldn’t have a child and that no obvious risks for birth defects existed, we next began to explore the practical concerns

Some of the initial concerns included how to handle a variety of tasks without vision.  Changing diapers, feeding the baby, getting the baby to appointments, traveling with 2 blind parents and a baby.  How could we possibly do these things?  We slowly found answers to these questions and formulated a plan.  There were a variety of resources out there such as a blind parents Facebook group and web sites that described how blind parents handled many tasks.

  • Make a plan before you take action
  • Consult with others with your limitations who have gone before you
  • Consult with professionals who can offer suggestions about adaptive ways of facing the problem

3. What to do When the Rest of the World Thinks You’re Crazy

Now here’s where things got interesting…we next began to discuss our decision to have a baby with family and friends. I know our family and friends meant well, but you have to remember that most people don’t understand how we do the simplest of tasks.  Cooking, cleaning, working and just putting on makeup; this all looks impossible to the average outsider.

Thus, as we began to share our hopes and desires to have a baby with those around us, we had a variety of responses that contained elements of fear and caution mixed in with a little happiness along the way. Part of me wanted  to hear, “We will be there for you to help in any way we can,” or “Let us know how we can help.”  Yet, the reality was those on the outside had more questions and concerns than we did.

4. Remember God is the Only one you can Trust

This led me back to the rock, the firm foundation in my life.  Christ my Savior, my hope of glory.  He had brought me through before when things were impossible, and he would have to do it again.    Yet, I had no idea what kinds of struggles were ahead.  We were in unchartered territory and having a baby meant we were responsible for this life and its safety and well-being.

  • Realize that your friends and family will always fall short
  • Learn to put your faith in God to help you through whatever you may face
  • have confidence in your ability to handle each challenge with God’s help.

5. Take a leap of Faith and Believe in Yourself

I once overheard a family friend jokingly say to my pregnant friend about her pregnancy, “You guys are smart people, we knew you guys would figure things out eventually!”  While this statement is funny, it illustrates the simplicity of childbirth.  After all, isn’t it a simple A+B=C transaction?  As I analyzed the many complicated angles of becoming blind parents, I eventually realized that I was making things too complicated.  After all, people had been having babies for thousands of years.

In the end, I realized deciding to become a parent was that simple.  With a little cooperation from my husband, we decided to take the plunge and to start trying to become pregnant.  I didn’t have all the answers, and I didn’t even know if I would be able to get pregnant due to my medical history.  I must admit, I truly didn’t believe it could be that simple.  Everything else I had accomplished in life took hard work.  I was used to failure, I was used to trying again and again, so you can imagine how amazed I was when I learned I was pregnant.  Not only that, I had been in this condition for 13 weeks before I realized our attempt was successful!

Isn’t that the way life is sometimes?  We think things have to be hard or complicated when all we need to do is to step out.  I can’t even say I always even step out in faith. Yet, as I continue to keep moving forward, one step at a time.  I am able to fill in the blanks as I go.

  • Step out in faith, and do it afraid!
  • Don’t be surprised when God grants you the desires of your heart
  • Don’t be concerned that you don’t have all the answers, you can figure it out as you go!

In this blog entry, I presented 5 suggestions to help people with disabilities and others  learn how to pursue their dreams when these dreams seem impossible.  These steps  include consider and research health issues that may impact your dream, consider practical issues and limitations and how these impact the dream, and make a plan,  Finally, realize God is the only one you can trust and step out and take a leap of faith.

Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired

In January, 2017, Irish athlete Sinead Kane became the first legally blind woman to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

For persons who are newly blind and visually impaired, there is often an inner struggle and overwhelming sense of boredom as they come to a belief that their active lifestyle has grinded to a halt after the vision loss. With the thoughtful application of some simple principles and activities, however, it is possible for a newly blind person to once again realize the many benefits of an active lifestyle.

In this entry, we examine the role of fun and vitality in the rehabilitation of persons with vision loss including social and psychological benefits of fun and recreation, how to discover what is fun for each individual, and examples of recreation for persons who are blind and visually impaired.  Nancy Parkin Bashizi, director at Vision Rehabilitation Services (VRS) in Smyrna, Georgia, provides useful information about the impact of these types of activities on social and psychological well-being and presents a variety of adaptive activities and a list of resources for the blind and visually impaired.

Psychological and Social Benefits to Recreation

Physiologically, being active releases endorphins (otherwise known as the body’s happiness chemicals) and helps battle feelings of depression and isolation. Additionally, being physically active helps the body maintain its strength and fitness and contributes to overall health and well-being.

While participating in a rehabilitation program, the individual will learn new skills that allow him or her to live more independently. Taking these new skills and applying them to a social or leisure activity is both motivating and builds confidence in the ability to try new things and problem-solve. For example, gardening may be be done in pots and containers and using tactile strategies. Planting flowers and herbs that smell nice, or have bright colors allows the person to experience the joy of growing things in a new way.

Socially, connecting with others who are living an active lifestyle with vision loss can build a sense of community, lead to peer-to-peer learning, create mentoring opportunities and allow the person to learn new ways to practice the activities enjoyed before vision loss. It is always more fun to share a favorite activity with others; informal sharing of new skills is a great way to connect with others who are going through the same challenges.

Finding the Perfect Recreation for Persons with Vision Loss

According to Sharon Marttin, LCSW, fun activities are important to healthy living in adulthood.    Sharon explains that each of us should live authentically by trying new things to discover what we enjoy most rather than people pleasing or just “going along for the ride,” You can read her suggestions for steps to take to discover what you enjoy and how to promote good mental health in this process by visiting her blog at

It is important to actively pursue fun as an adult. Explore various types of fun to discover what you enjoy most; don’t participate in activities just because others enjoy the activity. Instead, make a decision to try new things and learn about yourself.

Resources for Activities for persons with vision loss

  • Persons with vision loss should contact their local vocational rehabilitation agency to obtain services through organizations such as Vision Rehabilitation Services. These organizations can help the person who is newly blind or visually impaired gain the necessary skills to participate in a variety of leisure activities.
  • No matter what the favorite pastime may have been BEFORE vision loss, chances are there is a way to adapt it to meet the new situation. Connecting with a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist or friend who is participating in that activity are two ways to explore adaptations and new strategies.
  • Many clients at VRS continue to weight train, practice yoga or martial arts, swim or hike, with their vision loss. The individual with vision loss should ask a professional Orientation & Mobility Specialist to assist in learning strategies for participating in these activities in a new way.
  • Explore and / or join an organization that specializes in adapting sports for the visually impaired such as Georgia Blind Sports Association, to learn new sports and connect with others who like to try new things. This organization offers tandem biking, GoalBall, kayaking and beep baseball.
  • Check out resources such as Hadley Institute for the blind and visually impaired at for online or correspondence classes in leisure activities such as container gardening, birdsong tutor or learning a new language.

In sum, there are many psychological and social benefits to being active for a person who is blind or visually impaired, including an elevated mood resulting from being active and a sense of community and independence that comes from participating in recreational events with others who are blind or visually impaired.   Each individual should take the time to discover which activities they are best suited to based on his or her interests and abilities.   Rehabilitation services through organizations such as VRS can help the person who is blind or visually impaired obtain the skills and resources needed to participate in adapted recreation, leisure, and sports activities so the person can promote a strong sense of fun and vitality in life.

For more information, contact Nancy Parkin Bashizi at Vision Rehabilitation Services, 3830 South Cobb Drive, Suite 125, Smyrna, GA 30080, phone 770-4327280

Also, please visit Sharon Marttin’s blog at

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

The following blog was written by guest blogger and friend Kimberleigh S Daniels. I asked her to write about the role of spirituality in facing problems. As I read, I found similarities to techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Ms. Daniels uses a combination of Christian counseling techniques that include prayer, Bible reading, speaking her faith out loud and reciting scriptures to overcome her problems. This is similar to the guidance and support I provide during a counseling session. Ms. Daniels does a fabulous job of being her “own therapist” and illustrating how one can use his or her own spirituality to overcome the challenges of life. 

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

I have experienced my share of problems, some brought on by my own poor choices and others brought on by various factors that I had no control over. Some have lasted for but a brief time and others have long ago worn out their welcome. I have made it through the darkest seasons of my life because the truth I know is greater than what I feel.

Dealing with My Problems without Faith

Sometimes in my problem, I begin to feel alone. I feel like no one cares, no one understands, and I have to do this on my own, whatever “this” is at that moment. When those thoughts start, I sink fast. I feel panicked because there’s no one to reach out to for help.

The Power of Words

I have to speak truth to the feelings that are taking over me. In these moments I have to remind myself that my feelings are not my reality, and I have to speak TRUTH…out loud!

  • The LORD is going through this with me; He will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:6)
  • Nothing can separate me from Jesus. (Romans 8:35-38)
  • He is with me ALWAYS. (Matt. 28:20)
  • I will not be afraid because You are with me God. I will not be dismayed because You are my God. You will strengthen and help me. You will uphold me. (Isaiah 41:10)

Feelings Can Take My Peace and Joy

When I more than feel my feelings, and I allow them to lead, it is easy to take on a victim mentality. All the things I hear from the media or misguided ministers begin to control my thoughts: If God is good, why is he letting me experience this? If He is all-powerful, then He would just end this. If He is my daddy, why doesn’t He just wipe out these bullies I keep having to deal with? If He is pleased with me, then why doesn’t He fill my coffers like that guy said He would? You get the idea. The longer I let them run rampant, the darker they get. And again … I have to take these wrong thoughts captive and speak TRUTH.

When My Plans Don’t Work Out

I know that this hasn’t surprised Him, and He has a plan.

Most of my problems have caught me off guard. I hadn’t planned on a lingering sickness. I thought they would be in my life longer. I had no idea that today would be my last day with income. Unplanned things leave my best-laid plans in chaos. No i’s dotted or t’s crossed…I can’t even read the print!!!! These events often leave me feeling confused, dazed, like I’m in a fog. Things that should remedy the problem don’t … and there I go again … panic!

Again, I have to speak what is my reality:

  • You have plans for my life, and they are good. (Jer. 29:11)
  • I know that even in this You are working for my benefit. (Romans 8:28)
  • Lord, I have made plans for my life, but You establish my steps…including this one. ( Proverbs 16:9)
  • As You have planned for my life, so shall it be. (Isaiah 14:24)
  • You saw me and all my days before my mother was even aware of my existence. You had already written all of my days…including this one and all that it brings. It did not surprise you, and it is not too big for You! (Psalm 139:16)

I know that He is good.

  • You do not want me to be anxious, so I give ALL of these things I am worried about to you. ( 1 Peter 5:7)
  • You are good and what You do is good. (Psalm 119:58)
  • Lord, I thank you for your goodness. (Psalm 107:1)
  • You are good to all; you have compassion on all that you have made and that includes me. (Psalm 145:9)
  • How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for me! (Psalm 31:9)

I know that He will deliver me.

The other lie that is easy for me to buy into is that this problem will never end.

  • You will deliver me from this distress. (Psalm 107:6)
  • You said I can call on you in the day of my trouble and you will deliver me. I give you glory for my deliverance! (Psalm 50:15)
  • You are my rock, my fortress, and my DELIVERER!! (2 Sam. 22:2)
  • Lord, deliver me from all of my fears. (Psalm 34:4)
  • You know how to rescue me from this trial. (2 Peter 2:9)
  • I will not fear for you have redeemed me. You have called me by name, and I am yours! Even in this you are walking with me. I am precious in your eyes, honored, and you love me. (Isaiah 43:1-5)

Our feelings are good. They were given to us by God to discern and to be able to experience the joy He has created for us. But in times of trouble or distress, they often get out of control and try to be dictators rather than informers. Faith helps to keep them in their right place. God encourages us to feel them, burying them only leads to greater trouble later. But His Word equips us with TRUTH for when they get out of their lane.

The Outcome

Problems and troubles lead to overwhelming feelings of fear and inadequacy. Faith plus speaking the Word and reading the Bible leads to thoughts of peace and strength. The individual is ready to overcome problems!

To read more by Kimberleigh S Daniels, please visit

3 Steps for Overcoming Adversity

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it,” Helen Keller

What is the meaning of our suffering?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  What is the difference in the person who encounters disability or illness and accomplishes great things versus the one who becomes angry and despondent after adversity?

In this entry, I examine the importance of finding meaning in our challenges, the role of psychological resilience in dealing with our problems, and using suffering to learn and grow.

Finding Meaning —

Existential therapy can be viewed as a process in which the individual focuses on finding meaning in life.  Victor Frankl, the founder of this form of therapy, believed that people have problems when they lack meaning for their present situation.  Using this therapy, I guide the individual in making choices to find this meaning.  Additionally, I encourage autonomy and positive choices.  I empower the client to make choices to reach the goal that the individual feels leads to purpose and meaning in his or her life.

For example, what if Bob has lost his job and now is questioning his career?  I would assist Bob in exploring the big picture, such as what can he do to be happier and more successful in his career?  So, what if Bob decides that he wasn’t meant to be a teacher and this really didn’t fulfill his purpose?  He had always wanted to be a nurse, but his mother had pushed him to enter the teaching field.  The discovered meaning ofhis job loss was to lead him to his life purpose of becoming a nurse.

* Anxiety results from a lack of control and personal responsibility for life’s choices.

* Person is the author of his or her own life.

* Goal — Individual makes positive choices to reach goals and create meaning

Resilience —

Next, we consider the topic of resilience.  According to, this is defined as:

1.  the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like.

Resilience is characterized by the personal traits that allow the individual to overcome life’s hardships and to bounce back after going through problems.  What are these traits?  According to Hara Estroff Marano of Psychology Today, these individuals possess a strong personal identity and positive attitude and a flexible psyche that allows them to be optimistic and to plan for emotional hardships.  They find meaning in adversity but don’t let their problems define their lives.  People who practice resilience surround themselves with other positive people and gain strength from these individuals.

They also implement coping strategies and know when to seek help from others, including professional interventions.

Characteristics of the resilient overcoming Self:

* Positive attitude with a positive outlook on the future

* Positive choices lead to the pursuit of personal goals.

 World view of the resilient individual:

* Life not defined by problems

* Problems are viewed as temporary

* Believe things will get better

* Believe problems have meaning or serve a greater purpose

Relationships with others for improved resilience:

* Surrounded by positive, supportive friends

* Implement coping skills that include advice of professionals

* Look to trusted mentors for direction

Sue lost her leg in an automobile accident.  Everyone notices that she is always smiling and has a wonderful outlook on life.  Sue loves swimming as an athlete with a disability.  She gains strength and encouragement through her activities with other teammates with disabilities.  Sue experiences pain in her muscles related to her accident, but she has learned to cope with this effectively by using pain management techniques taught to her by her therapist.

The Law of Use —

Finally, we examine the Law of Use.  “Just as we develop our physical muscles by overcoming opposition, -such as lifting weights-  we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity,” –Stephen Covey– Now consider the role of experience in our personal growth.  We can maintain that challenge and adversity leads to growth and strength as we learn specific skills to handle these events.  This is the law of use; a principle that represents the phenomenon of increase that occurs as we put stress on a skill or muscle, or the decrease that occurs if we neglect a part of our body or a practiced skill.  Whether we experience job loss, physical illness or disability, every experience brings with it a unique set of interpersonal skills and new dimensions of character development.  As we grow and age, we develop wisdom about life and learn strategies to handle more and more problems.  The psychologically healthy person views life’s challenges as a learning opportunity and works to master these challenges with grace and ease.

* Develop new coping mechanisms

* Greater character and emotional strength

Experience of adversity, hardship, disability or illness leads to growth and new interpersonal skills

Albert has been in the army since finishing high school.  He attended basic training where he learned amazing inner control and emotional fortitude.  Although things were difficult in the beginning, Albert felt much more prepared and able to handle the many responsibilities of his position when he was sent to Afghanistan a few years later.  Albert received medals for his skill and decision making on the battlefield when he returned home from his last deployment.

In sum, the existential therapist works with the client to promote autonomy and personal growth  by encouraging the individual to find meaning in his or her life.  Resilience can be described as a flexible, optimistic and well-prepared outlook on life with a hope that problems are temporary and are destined to get better.  Resilient individuals surround themselves with other positive influences and know when to seek help from professionals or other mentors. The final approach follows the law of use; this means the victorious individual uses his or her abilities and tools to improve during adversity, by growing, learning and becoming stronger by constantly moving towards their highest potential.

10 Fears About Asking for Help

10 fears about asking for help
Having a disability or illness or a chronic illness probably means you  need to ask for help more than you would like.  We live in a society where independence is encouraged and personal accomplishments are praised.  However, having a disability such as blindness or  an illness that limits your ability to stand  means you need to ask for help from time to time.  When I start feeling defeated about this need, I find it helpful to remind myself that I did all of these things when I didn’t have limitations or I remind myself that I truly want to be independent and am not lazy. Our fears often stem from a sense of guilt or own anger turned inwards.    This may manifest as 1 or more of the following fears about our  situation

  1. I am too much trouble
  2. They will resent me
  3. People will  think I’m lazy
  4. People won’t want to be my friend
  5. My request is an inconvenience
  6. I don’t deserve  help
  7. They will complain
  8. I should do it myself
  9. I will loose my independence
  10. I am less of a person if I need help

Contact Kimberly to schedule an appointment for counseling at her office in Acworth or Cartersville.  Call 678-936-6113

10 Things to Expect From Therapy

  1. Understanding
  2. Confidentiality
  3. A warm, caring environment
  4. A Nonjudgemental space to grow and share
  5. Someone on your side as you open up
  6. Clarity and honesty in identifying factors that contribute to your current situation
  7. Help in formulating a systematic plan to address your problems
  8. Accountability as you implement the plan
  9. Help identifying resources to help you complete your plan
  10. Encouragement and reinforcement as you work to make changes

Hearing Voices; Decision Making in a World of Clutter

As we decide whether to take a job or as we consider whether or not to eat that extra donut, decisions form the map of our lives.

In this entry, I explore the importance of three factors in our daily decision making– self, others, and spiritual influences

Let’s consider the impact of self-determination and personal empowerment when making decisions.  Though personal factors such as illness or disability influence our abilities, each individual has the power to decide whether circumstances will impact a course of action. Using internal considerations in the decision making process can be defined as an internal locus of control.

I am reminded of my mother’s statement when I awoke from my final surgery totally blind at age 16. I stated, “How am I going to do the things I was going to do before like go to college and have a family now that I’m blind?” My mom’s memorable reply was, “You can do all of the things you were going to do when you could see, you just have to learn to do things differently now.” My mom’s statement is a guiding principle in my life. I internalized this statement and embraced the importance of self-determination in overcoming life’s challenges. Today I am married with a family, am a licensed counselor and am working to help others overcome their challenges.

Internal considerations in decision making:

·         Individual empowered to make decision using self-esteem, self-confidence and reasoning

·         Individual feels confident due to past success

·         Individual may explore various courses of action

·         Person acts according to self determination

·         Final decisions based on past experience and belief in own potential–

Secondly, consider the roll of external circumstances and other people in our decision making. The negative statements of others can impact or confidence and cause us to doubt or own decision making ability. Listening to other’s opinions and limiting ourselves according to circumstance can be defined as an external locus of control.

What if my mom had made different statements at the point of my loss of sight? What if she said, “Yes, this is terrible! I am so sorry, don’t worry, your family will be here to take care of you and you won’t ever need to go to college or get a job,”?  Or if I had decided not to attend graduate school when I wasn’t accepted by my first graduate school choice. Listening to that voice would mean I displayed an external locus of control.

External factors in decision making:

·         Individual seeks the advice of others

·         Individual considers circumstances and barriers in decision making

·         Person internalizes limitations and opinion of others

·         Past success and failures lead to the individuals’ personal perception of abilities

·         Individual’s potential limited by external factors

·         Decision made from a perceived lack of control of past outcomes and current barriers

We each must find a guiding principle for meaning and inner strength. As A Christian makes decisions, He or she may pray and read the Bible. A Christian could seek opinions of like minded Christians and spiritual leaders. The Christian who believes in self empowerment, might follow the Biblical principle of “seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened,” Matthew 7:7-8.   This individual would feel confident that they made the right decision when they feel peace in a course of action. Psalm 119:165

Consider the roll of spiritual and religious elements in the decision making process. I am a Christian and look to the Bible and other Christian influences as I make decisions about life.

I look for the answers to my question, while firmly believing that God will lead me to the right answer. I can rest assured I made the right decision when I find peace in that course of action.

Spiritual and religious components in a decision making process:

·         Reads scripture and trusted material

·         Seeks spiritual guidance and consults spiritual mentors

·         Seek inner peace during decision making

References: Matthew 7:7, Psalm 119:165

Guiding Principles for an Overcomer

My name is Kimberly Duff and I am a licensed professional counselor and certified rehabilitation counselor. I am also a person who is totally blind, a person with a disability, a mother and a cancer survivor.

My life has been filled with many barriers and roadblocks, with situations that seemed impossible and circumstances that could have led to my defeat.

However, I stand here today as a survivor with a strong belief in myself and the potential of others. 

What are the guiding principles for my practice and the values I look to in my daily life? I was recently asked to identify the 3 most important values connected to my counseling vision. I identified principles of spirituality, fun and vitality. These 3 topics guide my counseling sessions and my decisions in my daily life. 

As I explore the topic of spirituality, it’s important that I clarify what this means. Spirituality does not mean crystals and chicken bones. My spirituality manifests as a belief in God and principles of Christian living. I think it important that we have faith and spiritual meaning and in order to function at our greatest potential. I want to help others find this meaning.

The second principle of my practice is fun. For me this means that I enjoy and have fun working with my clients. I think others should enjoy and find counseling fun also. However, the nature of counseling is sometimes uncomfortable as others talk about their problems and conflicts. In those times I find it best to offer a caring space mixed with a little humor to lighten the mood.

Finally, I am motivated by principles of vitality in my practice. This means my interactions are full of energy, receptivity and growth. The growth process of counseling should include learning to make decisions that will improve our life and overall health. For some this may mean a choice to exercise more and for others this may mean a decision to avoid an unhealthy relationship. To me this vitality always means a conscious effort to do better in a way that leads to self improvement.