Accessibility

Building With Broken Pieces Is Like Living With a Visual Impairment

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together as a metaphor for embracing our imperfections.

Empowering families

My son and I recently participated in a seven-week program called Families of Harambee, designed to encourage positive relationships among African American adults and their children by incorporating Kwanza principles to empower families to work together.

Building things from broken pieces

One of the activities was building an object with uncooked spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. For this exercise, I let my son take the lead.

As you can imagine, several of the noodles broke in half as we attempted to build our object. My son, at times, became frustrated with the broken noodles and wanted to throw them away. I, however, enjoyed the broken pieces. As we continued to build our object, the broken pieces were the most instrumental in making our object stay together—such is true for my life.

Living with Stargardts disease

“Broken crayons still color” is one of my favorite life quotes. I feel like it is metaphoric for my experience living with Stargardts. 

Transparent moment: there are times that I feel less equipped to complete certain tasks because of my visual impairment. Metaphorically speaking, I feel “broken” because I “don't have it all together.” I do not drive, and I often need assistance to complete most tasks throughout the day. My most obvious thought, I don’t see what others see.

Finding ways to reframe visual disabilities

Now I often counter that thought with, “Christine, if you saw what other people saw, you would do what other people do. You do not, and that is what makes you special.”

I have shared in previous articles that for the greater part of my life, I tried really hard to hide it and literally embraced the invisible in the term “invisible disability.” I did this all in an effort to live a “normal life.”

Not living to my full potential

At times this left me frustrated and not able to live up to my full potential because I was not accessing all of the useful accommodations that were available to me.

As soon as I fully embraced that I am a person with a visual impairment, I became more confident in how I showed up in certain spaces. Not to mention, I was able to empower others to live their truth, embrace their broken pieces and utilize their supports.

Advocating

In my opinion, the broken parts of people are often the parts that inspire people because perfection looks unattainable. My pastor recently said, “use your failures to free someone.” As soon as I heard that statement, I smiled ear to ear. Being vulnerable about your failures, insecurities, and broken pieces are not only freeing for others but also for yourself. After all, the first step in transforming is acknowledging.

A disclaimer

Disclaimer: uncovering your broken places is not easy and often requires lots of self-talk, lots of starting over, accountability partners, and (for me) mirrors. I literally have a mirror in almost every room in my home. For me, it is important for me to be able to look at myself, flaws and all, to remember that there is beauty in my brokenness… at least that’s the way eye see it.

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