Posts Tagged ‘Singing’

Adjusting to Vision Loss – A Creative Approach with Victoria Clare

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Victoria Clare with sculpture
Living a creative life for Victoria Clare is more than a way to express herself. It serves as a way to help her own adjustment to vision loss

Hear her story from denial and rebellion to acceptance and putting her in a position to support others.

Victoria Clare is a Sculptor, Musician, Entrepreneur… and she’s working on becoming a Scratch DJ! For real though!




Show the transcript


What’s up Reid My Mind Radio Family? I missed you all for real!

Happy 2020 to you all!

A bit of a slow start, but you know, you can’t hold a brother back!

So much of what’s going on in the world today makes it more challenging to find that hope and optimism.
Audio: There’s no need to fear…”

Reid My Mind Radio is here!

Let’s get this poppin

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

“Creativity is one of the most powerful, healing, it’s one of the most connective things that you could ever do to get to know who you really are.”

Getting to know who you really are is a big part of our early lives especially from our teenage years and on through college. For Victoria Clare, an artist specializing in sculpture, vision loss added to the process.


I just passed my driving test. I never had a lesson at night ever. Not any reason to that its was just my lessons were never booked for that time. When I passed my driving test I jumped in my car very elated wanted to go tell my boyfriend at the time that I passed my test.
Pulled out of my mom and Dad’s driveway and all of a sudden it became very very apparent to me that I really shouldn’t be driving. I just could not see enough to be driving.


On that ride to her boyfriend’s house, she clipped another vehicle and lost her driver’s side mirror. Fortunately, no one was hurt. It was enough to prompt her to see an Ophthalmologist


That’s when I found out I was going to go Blind.

The diagnosis was Retinitis Pigmentosa.

My particular Retinitis Pigmentosa is one of the recessive types so therefore we have no people in the family that have had it. So I’m literally the start of the chain if you will.
So finding that out as well kind of made me feel like wow what a responsibility. For me to get married and have children later in life would be a big choice for meat some point in my life which I was very aware of. However, I went back to college.


College in the UK refers to where many students go for two years after completing compulsory schooling at 16 in order to prepare for
exams to get into university. You can also take
vocational courses
at college.
While studying graphic design with plans to move on to University to continue in this field, Victoria just happened to come across a book about sculpture.


I knew when it was time for me to go to University that graphic design wasn’t for me. Sculpture was going to be my future
It was an amazing course. It only had 28 places in the whole of Europe. I was lucky enough to get one of those places.
I didn’t really consider that perhaps, hold on a second I may not be able to do this, I just carried on.


For some that may sound like optimism, positive thinking. But others who have been down this road would probably advise differently.

[TR in conversation with VC:]
Did you have contact with anyone else who was experiencing Vision Loss, anyone whose Blind?


No. No I had no contact with anyone like that.


Blind mentors can often help provide guidance, resources, and lend an understanding ear when dealing with all the additional loss that more than often accompanies the vision loss.


I had a lot of people kind of walk out of my life or just feel very awkward around me and didn’t know how to handle it.
My boyfriend I was with at the time, we got engaged, and he kind of was really struggling with the sight loss diagnosis and he actually saw it as too much for him so the relationship broke down.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

His loss! Hmm. We don’t like him.



Victoria soon learned that carrying on would require skills that she didn’t have. Living independently in a new town, navigating both in and outdoors.


I didn’t realize how simple everyday things would become so difficult for me. I had a hard time at Uny for a very short time, I mean literally I wasn’t there for very long before I decided that I can’t do this. It’s too hard. I left.

My lecturers said to me that I was welcome to come back at any time. Which was really really gracious of them considering it was such a prestigious course.

I had a conversation with my parents, they were incredibly supportive. They came and collected me.


Back at home Victoria says she isolated herself from the world.


And I started drinking. Initially it was about trying to numb the pain. I just felt like my whole world had shattered into a thousand pieces. I didn’t know how I was going to go forward. I didn’t see a future for myself .
And then something happened.


To put it simply, Victoria was introduced to possibility. It came in the form of a rehabilitation specialist.
A really lovely lady. She had a work cut out, to be really fair, with me. I was really super rebellious so I didn’t want help from anybody. You know, don’t treat me like a Blind person bla, bla, bla you know a typical kid.

Soon after meeting, the rehab specialist realized Victoria wasn’t going to use a white cane.


I just was not going to use one. I wanted to learn every trick in the trade so I could get away without using one.
She started to teach me other things like echo location, which is still really useful to me. trailing, just small things like that, that was getting me by.


Sometimes it’s the smallest suggestions that have the greatest results.
She was the one that suggested that maybe I should try some sculpture just for therapeutic reasons.
I went out in my Dad’s shed, I got a big old’ block of wood, stole some of his chisels, used his mallet and started creating. It was amazing. I turned my world around because it made me realize alright, I’ve been diagnosed with this sight loss but nobody’s taken away the skills that I’ve always had. They’re still there.


Remember the skills that she began sharpening in University?


The background and the love was the figurative work so I created a kind of table top size maybe like two feet tall female figure. I called it “Her Spirit”. that was put into a local gallery and sold. I then kind of returned and created another figurative female figure which was also sold. My work has changed a lot over the years but most certainly it was more figurative work back then.
[TR in conversation with VC:]

Did it represent something in your life at that time or what was that all about?


I would say for me it was more to do with the fact that the course that I had to leave in Uny was a figurative sculpture course. So of course I was kind of making that connection of wanting to keep the figurative sculpture part of me going even though if I had to walk away from the University

[TR in conversation with VC:]

How much of an influence is blindness. The subject of blindness not necessarily your adaptations if there are some but how much does that play into sculpting specifically.


Now a huge part because I get inspired by it. For example only two years ago that I put on the first sculpture exhibition that was completely in a pitch black gallery. everybody had to use their other senses to discover what the pieces actually were.


This particular exhibition enabled Victoria to express herself in three different ways.


It was to share my personal acceptance of my journey with sight loss. It was to also kind of share sight loss with the general public so that they would have an experience and an understanding of what it feels like. And three it was a very strong message to visual arts because they really , really need to up their game when it comes to accessible art in galleries. Most certainly for visually impaired people . When you walk into a gallery how do we navigate and involve ourselves in our environment? By feeling. To be told that you can’t touch a piece of sculpture a piece of art you’re immediately excluded from enjoying it.


The exhibit, a first of its kind received national media coverage and all of the pieces were sold.
the result opened new opportunities for Victoria including serving as a retina UK Ambassador


Raising money to create research and pioneer research for Retinal Dystrophies. public speaking started to grow from there really. I get to speak at conferences and various events. I’m speaking at the World 2020 Vision, that’s in Dublin and also chairing a panel.


The latter is a chance to meet others impacted by vision loss.


There’s a connection there. It’s something very special.


A big part of her personal journey is creative expression. Something Victoria believes can be of help to others adjusting to their own vision loss.


I would recommend anything that will lift somebody’s mood that will connect them to who they are and make them feel that they are enough and give them self-confidence and self-worth. From sculpture to painting, from dance to music and anything in between. I would just say creativity is one of the most powerful, healing, it’s one of the most connective things that you could ever do to get to know who you really are.


Her own creative expression goes beyond sculpture.
There’s music which began around the same time as vision loss. Specifically, she began learning guitar from a friend.


Probably one of the things that helped me as I rewind going back to those dark days because I would sit when I was alone and if I was feeling down would just play my guitar. Just compose. I did find that a little comfort at the time.


About 13 years ago now, she discovered piano.


I used to be working in a school and this piano was sitting in the hall never being used and I’d be the only person working up a tinkle you know. Slowly but surely I started thinking you know what this is great, I love it and I ended up buying that piano off of the school and it’s sitting in my spare room now. (Laughs)


And you’re recording your music?


I Literally just come out of the studio.
“Know you Matter”, Victoria Clare


Singing and performing in bands since she was 23 years old, “Know You Matter” is Victoria’s most recent production. It’s a message to all those that have self-doubt and serves as a personal affirmation to remind her that she matters. She hopes it will resonate with others.

Know You Matter is available on ITunes, Apple Music, Spotify and just about wherever you listen to music.

Next up creatively…

[TR in conversation with VC:]

And you’re rapping too?


Laughs! Working on it. I want to get into a bit of scratching, you know Tom. Laughs…


She’s serious! She’s a Hip Hop fan.

Dela 1


I like a lot of Hip Hop, Dance music, but then I like a lot of singer song writer stuff.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

Since you said Hip Hop, who did you like?


I absolutely love Dela Soul. Yeah they were definitely my favorite.

The more I think about her art, it makes sense. She takes an existing piece of wood and crafts that into a whole new thing. That’s Hip Hop.

This past Christmas Santa brought her a DJ controller or the modern day DJ turntables so who knows what she’ll create.

I know what you’re thinking, does this woman ever get bored? Well, she has the answer for boredom.


Board sports! (Laughs…)
[TR in conversation with VC:]

Yeh, I guess which is really another form of expression I would say.


When I was 23 a big life change happened for me because I decided to go backpacking with my best friends around the world. Probably the best thing I ever did. I was being faced with beautiful beaches and all the surf community and I was sitting there watching all these guys and girls just riding those waves and I just longed to do it but in my head the voice was saying you’ll never get to do that you’re going Blind you can’t do that.


If this were a movie, we’d queue up the dramatic music, the camera would pan out to the others easily riding the waves, maybe one falling off the board. The scene would move to Victoria slowly looking at a surf board next her and then back out toward the ocean. Seated on the san, she’d confidently straighten her back, stand, grab that board and sprint toward the water. Her friends would cheer her on as she paddled out to catch a wave…
But this ain’t no movie!
She privately held on to that desire like so many of us do.


It wasn’t until 2014 that I was actually doing my first solo exhibition. it was a really big14 piece collection exhibition. It was quite stressful at that time trying to do everything for it.

That’s when her husband had an idea.


Let me teach you how to surf . And that was it, I was hooked.


Once upon a time, she was adamant about not using the white cane. Today, Victoria puts that long white cane to good use.




that’s her way to expel that board energy when she can’t hit the waves.

And of course, where does Victoria go from here.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

You have a line of skateboards?


Yep, I’ve got the…

[TR in conversation with VC:]

Geez, you make me tired. (Laughs)
I got to up my life! I’m not doing enough.


they’re called Blinded Soul and they’re bespoke solid deck skateboard.
When we started surfing we also taught my nephew to surf and then I took that one step further, I made him a surf board. I did the same for skateboards. I was just so amazed how smooth a ride they are. They’re built like in a retro style. They’re not built for tricks, but they’re definitely built for long distance really, cruising.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

The other day when I was reading your blog I was like man I think I want to do this. (Laughs…). Like, I want to try skateboarding Now it’s been years. I skateboarded as a kid.

Audio: from “It’s A thin Line between Love & Hate”
“Here I am laying in the hospital, bandaged from feet to head


Ok, all jokes aside, I’m going to give that a try.
My personal creativity and expression for a few years now has been less about sports and physical activity today compared to my past.

For anyone experiencing vision loss, finding a creative outlet is worth exploring. It’s hard because the reality is for most these endeavors just don’t help pay the rent.
But that’s not a reason to not pursue a passion or interest. there’s levels to this stuff. find your level and enjoy. The benefits are real.
Victoria’s pursuit of her own interest in music proved fruitful in ways she probably never expected.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

You mentioned your husband. Did your husband know about your vision loss initially?


Yes, yes. We met through a band that I was in. I was the singer he was the drummer. he had the same kind of silly sense of humor I guess that I’ve got. We’d just have good fun. He would drive me home after rehearsals and stuff. probably only took a couple of months for me to realize that a. how much I liked him and b, I had to tell him.
I sat in the car with him one night, we were just outside the flat where I was living at the time. And I had to take a very very deep breath and I told him. He just hugged me. And I said to him if this changes things you know it’s ok. And he was like no way. I just couldn’t imagine it changing anything between us.
He’s a very, very positive person. Very optimistic. He supports me in everything I do.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

And what’s this fine gentlemen’s name?


Ah, this fine gentlemen’s name is Adam.


you just never know where the pursuit of your interests may lead.
Victoria talks about all of her endeavors over at her blog Beyond Vision.


I want to reach as many people as I can. I want to support as many people as I can but along the way I want to share my vulnerability as much as my successes. I think it’s all very well to sit an talking about all the wonderful things that you get to do with your life but I think it’s more important to share also the vulnerable side of you too because it makes you more relatable. I really do get quite honest with my blogs. They really do tell a story within themselves. They’re raw, they’re authentic.

Encouraged to write her own story in the form of a book, first reluctant, Victoria eventually had an idea to help make the task more attainable.


What if I started thinking like the book is an extended blog?
So I got in touch with an editor, Molly Somerfield Smith, lovely lady she’s actually a ghost writer. When I first wrote to her I was kind of talking in a way that I wanted her to write it but she was the person that said to me you’ve got to write this yourself. This is your story this can’t come from me, this has got to come from you.
here I am a year later and she’s now got the version that I put together and she’s editing.

[TR in conversation with VC:]

First of all, I see that you’re doing audio blogs. So it’s not enough that you’re doing all the other stuff now you gotta come on into audio? Come on Victoria let some other people keep the audio… (laughs…)


You know what tom, it’s purely for selfish reasons.


For the record, I actually welcome and promote more of our voices in the space.
By now you probably can tell Victoria is all about productivity. She’s voice recording what she would have once written for the blog.

To check out her work and more…


I’ve got my professional website which is for the sculpture and that is www. And then I got my advocacy website, Where there’s all sorts of crazy stuff going on and it’s also got a lot of resources , support and that kind of stuff. And that’s where the blogs are as well.

Victoria’s working on moving her sculpture website to a more accessible platform.
You can also find her on Insta Gram at VictoriaClareSculpture. That’s Victoria Clare (spelled out)
Don’t forget to go on over to ITunes or wherever you get your music and get her latest single Know You Matter.

Audio: Break of Dawn, DeLa Soul

Shout out to Victoria Clare for sharing her journey. And shout out to Steph McCoy for making the connect!

I’m always hopeful that somehow this podcast finds those who are in the place where many of us once were.
That’s losing their sight, receiving a diagnosis they never expected, maybe fighting against the idea of using a white cane.

It’s easy to focus on what is being lost but as we heard today, the pursuit of those things that bring joy can really help you find what you’re seeking. It’s just right around the corner.

Audio: Lyrics… “Break of Dawn”

If you like what you heard today, subscribe wherever you get podcasts. Why not tell one or two people about what’s taking place here.
Let’s get this information into the ear holes of those who need it the most. In fact, you know we’re about that access here so it’s available for finger tips and eyes too in the form of transcripts available on

That’s R to the E I D like my last name!

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Outro


Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – Connie Chiu – For the Love

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Connie dressed in white whith her hair slicked back looking upwards. The background is a bright white.

Photographed by,Ellis Parrinder

Connie Chiu, known as the first Fashion model with Albinism, has much more to offer than a pretty photo… a great attitude.
Ask her why she does it…. She does it for the love!

I had to ask myself what do I love to do… so I did it! I call it Connie’s Jam, check it out in this episode.

What do you just love to do? Are you doing it? Holla Back!



Show the transcript

What’s up RMMRadio family…

I have back to back episodes that touch on the topic of Fashion.

Although the last episode was really about entrepreneurship and goals…
Today’s episode is fashion related, but I think it’s more about attitude and doing the things we love to do.

I love working with audio,
talking to people with interesting stories and something to say.
Put those together and that’s a partial recipe for this podcast.

Dinner is served, come and get it!
[Audio: Dinner bell ringing, man announcing “Come and get it!”]
[Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Theme]

My Name Is Connie Chiu and I am partially sighted. I have albinism. The condition affects my eyesight, it effects my skin. Those two are the main things. I like to
look at it as a cocktail of conditions or a Smorgasbord of conditions to just make it sound a little bit more delicious

Delicious as in pleasing, agreeable or gratifying-
I get the sense this is an important theme for Connie.

Born in Hong Kong, at 7 years old Connie and her family moved to Sweden.

my parents thought you know she’s quite she’s got light skin she’s got white hair surely she would blend in better in Sweden with Swedish people. But I was just a little bit whiter than Swedish people and my hair was just so very very white. My features were still Chinese. So yes I did stand out in Sweden and yes I did stand out in Hong Kong as well. I’ve been to America and yes I stood out in America. So really I need to go somewhere with a lot of white Chinese people for me not to stand out.

TR in conversation with CC:
[Laughing] I don’t know where that it…!

[Laughing] I don’t know iether.

TR in conversation with CC:
Children are children so I’m going to assume when you went to Sweden, you said around when you were 7 years old, you obviously stood out in class so I am going to assume that some kids bullied.

Actually I was quite lucky you won’t believe it I was quite tall as a child. When I was about nine ten people thought I was twelve. So I think they were they
were all quite small, I thought all my classmates were so small you know boys girls doesn’t matter. I was like a head taller than what they were. I think that helped
I don’t know why but it kind of was a quite positive response. They sort of gave me gifts. They sort of gave me drawings. They gave me little presents here and there. They were just nice to me.

In Sweden they celebrate Italian Saint called Santa Lucia. Ideally you should be blonde to be Santa Lucia. In our class we had like a little vote. Then you dress up as Santa Lucia. It’s kind of a whole thing and you sing songs and you have a little parade. They voted me because of my white hair I guess. That was something positive.

It’s very hard for me to say why I wasn’t bullied in school but…

TR in conversation with CC:
I think I know, I think I know…
Oh, OK you tell me.

TR in conversation with CC:
Because you said you were so tall… I think you were bullying them? Were you bullying them Connie? Were you beating up these kids?

{Sarcastically} Yes. The secret part of my life that I never told anybody… [laughs…]

TR in conversation with CC:
I figured it out! Now, here’s the story!

Ok, Connie was not a bully. In fact, she says that as a child she was more like the quiet nerd, a real day dreamer.
Today, Connie is known as the first fashion model with Albinism.

The Thing is albinism is just one part of me.

I always loved beautiful images. I started actually behind a camera. I did an art foundation course and I was taking pictures of people and I had different ideas how I wanted my images and I try to make people pose in a way that I want. But then I kind of understood that well actually I knew exactly what I wanted so I started to take photographs of myself. It sounds crazy and I’m probably a bit crazy anyway so I just sent a black and white photo to a French designer with my phone number on the back. I did it because I admired his work, he’s a bit crazy to.

A few months later I ended up doing his Couture show in Paris. Even though I kind of liked modeling I knew nothing about it. I kind of didn’t know about the super models and so on. Of course they were all there doing the catwalk as well.

It’s just the passion of it drove me to modeling and you know it just in a way such an honor to be part of a beautiful image. iether it’s the catwalk or magazines or T.V. commercials … and it’s just great to work with talented people.

TR in conversation with CC:
The Catwalk, does that… the lights I am assuming that there’s a lot of lights and people taking pictures, how does that impact you?


Well I wore my lenses, my light protective lenses and they were absolutely fine with it. Jean-Paul Gaultier and his team. Sometimes that’s all you need it’s not like big adjustments.

Accommodations that enable participation from a person with vision loss or other disability for that matter are often quite easy. The challenge is less about how to adapt but rather attitude.

despite Connie’s optimistic view on life, she still has to deal with situations where those she works with are less interested in accommodating her needs. Even when it’s something simple, like light protective lenses.

during a commercial shoot , producers ignored her request to reduce the room lighting.

I did point out to him that my eyesight is light sensitive. We’ll probably need to sort of work around the lighting so they were aware of that. So when I got there I saw that the light was too strong. I stood in the light, I stood on the set, it was too strong. I told them it was too strong. They turned the light down
a little and I said well actually it’s still a bit too strong.

In the studio a whole wall was just Windows really so there was day light on top of the studio lights you know.

So I said the them , Well actually if you could cover up the windows behind the camera that would take a bit of the light away and that would really help me. The team who did the interview all they said was actually we want as much light as possible. At that point I thought OK that’s the way it is.

She even told them she had her light protective lenses and
it would only take a moment to retrieve and put them in.

They kind of didn’t react to that whatsoever. They just said oh let’s just let’s just get started with the interview. they wanted to do quite a lot in about ninety minutes. They wanted to ask a lot of questions. They wanted me to wear different outfits. They wanted to take a lot of photographs. So I think those were the priorities.

It wasn’t just about the discomfort of the bright light; Connie was aware that her uneasiness would be reflected in the final image.

Ironically, this was a commercial where she was talking about her condition; Albinism which includes the extreme sensitivity to light.

I also thought to myself well actually I could walk out but I’m actually not doing this just for myself.

I don’t want people to fink this is how people
with Albinism usually look. This is only how people with albinism look when they are suffering from bright light.

Somehow I don’t think they realize that actually I felt like they took a bit of my dignity away. Because they didn’t listen to me.

It’s understandable how Connie would feel that way. But remember she’s an optimist. She’s all about making things sound delicious!

The situation is not ideal but there are things I can control. I can’t control the light obviously, but I could control the things I said, the way I felt, how I answered the questions.

These negative experience aren’t enough to dissuade Connie from trying. She does things for the right reason.

For me if I love something and I’ve really want to do I just do it I don’t even think about how difficult it actually is.

Connie’s currently pursuing another one of her love’s … singing!
It took her a while to build up her confidence while
pursuing her modeling career but she’s recently released an E P.


It’s Called my Huckleberry songs. In Moon River there’s a phrase my Huckleberry friend – it sort of means very good friends. My Huckleberry Songs are sort
of my friends in a way. Songs that I really like. For Moon river I’ve written my own guitar arrangement. It’s very simple but it’s kind of the way I see the song as well because I like to do something slightly different.

I perform mostly right now in the U.K. I love it performing live because that’s kind of what jazz is about to be in the moment. And things are never quite the same even though you’re sort of singing the same melody.

I think that’s another sort of common thing with my singing and modeling is daydreaming. [Sighs, as if discovering something new!]

It’s just to be able to use your imagination and you can be somewhere else. I think that that’s really what it is to be somewhere else. And I think people can feel it. it has happened when people say like you just took me somewhere else when you sang that song. I just went with you to a different place.
I tend to go to lovely places, so do come with me! [Laughs!]


If you want to travel to lovely places with Connie; you can purchase her E P from iTunes and Amazon or on CD direct from Connie…
She’s on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube…


Connie see o double n ie. My surname Chiu.
If you just search Connie and Albino on Google, it will all come up. (…my information)

I’m Thomas Reid for Gatewave Radio…

[Audio: extracted from Connie’s opening statement… Just to make it sound a little bit more delicious!]

Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Bumper – “Alright guys, I think we’re ready to lay this first track down” – Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live skit … “More Cowbell”]

Connie Chiu’s identity isn’t wrapped in Albinism or being visually impaired. That was a very clear point she made when talking about modeling.

She’s comfortable in her skin.

While she wasn’t bullied as a child and I still haven’t found the proof that she bullied the rest of the kids,
her method of dealing with those who are antagonistic is commendable.

If you are new to being the different person in the room, for whatever reason, Connie has something to offer.

I’m quite used to it now and I think the way I am as a person I don’t walk around and think about what I look like. It sounds very strange to a lot of people because “you look so different” but to me I’m just me. And it’s not until someone approach me and asked me about my hair and where you’re from When you get those questions you know that that’s oh yes oh yes by the way you know of course compared to most people I do look different. Of
course you will have a lot of people who would like to belittle you for whatever reason they can find. For me it’s quite obvious it’s like white hair and
I’m Chinese but it could also be that I’m not that tall really. So I think if someone wants to belittle you they will find a way after a while I think you learn to read people quite well and you start to understand where people are coming from. What’s behind all the things their saying. What’s behind their behavior. For me that’s quite important to me to understand for me to respond to them. So I think when some people try to belittle me or they try to make me feel different then I just embrace it. It’s like yes I’m different so what? Have you got anything else to add? I think it’s quite important of course that you have to be quite happy with who you are and being comfortable with who you are and I think it’s is that in itself it’s a learning process; ongoing process.


And then there’s something that I’m pretty sure impacts the majority… Pursuing our interests… for the right reason.

How many of us have dreamed of dancing, acting, writing or any activity, but we don’t pursue it. We have jobs, families , responsibilities…

It’s hard to justify pursuing our dreams.

When asking Connie why she decided to model, make an E P, perform on stage…

I know it sounds crazy but I did it just because I love it.

The older we get man we complicate things.

I’ll share my own experience…
I’ve always loved music.
I hear music in everyday situations… beats and melodies.
My family will tell you, I make up songs at the drop of a dime for no reason.
Yes, they’re silly… but their fun!

Ever since gaining access to a digital audio workstation;
that’s the type of software I use to record and edit this podcast;
I started recording some of these silly songs…
but honestly, not enough.
I tend to feel as though it’s a waste of time.
But it’s no more a waste of time than watching sports on TV… yeah I said it!

When the inspiration strikes, I should record..

Like during the production of this podcast, while researching Connie’s music, I came across this one song Surfing in Rio…
It was this one particular part…

Add that with Connie spelling out her name, like a rapper

Well, I had to do it! And I thought we should send a message to those commercial producers who wouldn’t listen to Connie…
Put some respect on that name!
[Audio: An original production by T.Reid using a sample of Surfing in Rio and added some Hip Hop drum beat and scratches as Connie spelling out her name (C o double n ie…) along with some quotes of hers yes, I’m different…
I call it Connie’s Jam! ]

What’s that thing you just love to do?
Are you doing it!

Seriously, holla back!
let me know what you’re doing – I’d love to mention it here in a follow up episode…
that could be a source of encouragement for someone else.

If you’re not, consider what Connie said and do it for the love cause it’s simple…

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Reid My Mind Radio: Manhattan Dreams from Moscow

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Picture of Nafset Chenib on platform during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi Russia

Nafset Chenib dreams of attending school in New York City. Listen to more about her dream, challenges and experience  growing up in russia…but you especially, have to hear her voice!

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*Nafset’s Go Fund Me]*Closing Ceremony 2014 Paralympics Sochi, Russia>



[Opening Music- Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

You’re listening to Nafset Chenib, a 28 year old soprano born in Southern Russia.

NC: Now I live in Moscow. I have studied hear for five years  and then I decided to stay here cause I love this city and from my point of view it’s much easier to live in the big city when you are blind rather than a small town.

At 6 years old Nafset began attending a Russian boarding school for blind children.

Unfortunately we had no choice . We didn’t have any opportunity for a inclusive education. So I was forced to be there at the boarding school – it was quite far from my house.

While she says she received a good education, Nafset believes not all of the components that make up the educational plan are fulfilled. Meaning both academic and social including daily living skills.

There are a lot of teachers that don’t know Braille in those special schools. From my experience I wasn’t taught to use the cane.

There was even some lacking in the general attitude regarding the capabilities of blind children. Nafset recalls how the school’s director responded
when she and her class mates wanted to learn the English language like children outside of boarding schools.

He told us “Are you gonna travel or what are you supposed to do with your English?”
You know it was quite offensive.

Ironically Nafset would come to not only learn English, but several foreign languages.

I’m not Russian. I’m Sarcasian so I can speak this Sarcasian language it’s called Adyghe language. I speak Russian. I speak Italian. Now I try to study German, mainly because of music.

Go ahead and add her ability to sing in Hebrew, Czechoslovakian and Spanish.

While the boarding school may have not imagined  blind Russian students having a need for learning English, they did have a music school that would introduce Nafset to her passion.

I finished my musical school as a pianist. But I had supplementary discipline. It was vocal, opera singing. I started to participate in different festivals to sing in different choirs. I participated in the festival when there was the great opera singer  Montserrat Caballé.

Among other notable experiences, add the time she sang for Pope John Paul the second!

I was able to visit  Covent Garden Opera. They performed  Semele by Handel and I was so impressed  that I decided to go in for music more seriously.

Taking her dream seriously, Nafset  had to fill one of the components that wasn’t addressed in the school for the blind. She decided to find an orientation and mobility trainer to learn how to use the white cane in order to better travel independently.

Now able to make her own life decisions,  Nafset chose to pursue her college education in an inclusive environment, even though there is a special musical college for the blind.

After college I decided to pursue my education in Moscow. I studied at Victor Popov Academy  of Choral Arts. It was wonderful time. I sing solo; students choir. I was able to collaborate with very interesting orchestras, outstanding conductors.

In some respects,  a vocation as a singer seems like a natural fit for a talented person who is blind.

Conductors, they don’t trust you. I hear the question “How are you gonna sing if you don’t see the conductor?”
[Trailing sarcastic laugh!]

The misperceptions about blindness aren’t very logical and are more about the beholder’s limitations rather than the person who is blind.

[Musical transition – Nafset  – A. Dvorak – Mesichku Na Nebi (Rusalka)]

In the 1980’s when asked by a reporter if Russia would participate in the first Paralympic games
A Russian governmental official famously responded:
“There Are No Invalids in the USSR!”

Outright denying the existence of people with disabilities in the country.

While progress is slowly being made, it’s not surprising that
many teachers  are still against creating an inclusive educational environment for children with disabilities.

There continues to be a real lack of resources including Braille materials, access to information such as scholarly databases and information in general

While Nafset recognizes the areas for improvement, she’s very clear about her love of her country and wants to be a part of the solution.

I see that we have a lot to adopt from the United States. I’m eager to do that.

The thing is you know dreamed to study at the Manhattan School of Music and then to go back and to share my acquired knowledge and skills

Going after your dreams isn’t easy!
Most artistic endeavors  require a great deal of practice and of course you   need to make a living.

I work at the Moscow Art Theater. I sing for one performance. I like my job. It’s like a miracle for me.

Singing for one of the shows at the theater as well as occasional concerts,
Nafset is still uncertain of her future employment opportunities
but she remains committed to her dream.

So what exactly is stopping Nafset from pursuing her dream?
…The cost!

In February, I had a successful audition at Manhattan School of Music in New York And I was accepted  and I have been granted scholarship it amounted to 15 thousand dollars, but the whole tuition fees  45 thousand dollars so I think I’m not able to pursue my education in USA.

I have not a bad education here in Russia but for me self-development is the main thing in my life. I want to develop myself.

Sometimes it’s helpful to think about our past successes to provide encouragement and remind us that we can prevail.

[Audio from 2014 Paralympics Closing Ceremony in Sochi, Russia]

In 2014 During the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Nafset was the soloist in the closing act.

It was just a great honor for me!

I was so glad to sing there …stadium included 40 thousand people. The show was televised as well.
Making her entrance , Nafset is on a platform which rises above the rest of the entertainers and participants on the field.

[Audio: Nafset begins to sing!]

The Olympic torch is extinguished as Nafset holds her final note!
[Audio: Nafset softly holding that final note]

It’s unforgettable experience for me!

Maybe I am an Idealist but it’s my dream.

You continue to follow your dream!

Maybe her entrance during the Sochi performance is symbolic of things to come. Nafset rising above all – perhaps all of the obstacles on her path toward fulfilling her dream. Her passion represented by the fire can only be extinguished by Nafset herself.

You have to respect anyone pursuing their dream. Especially those who can  still find time for gratitude when things don’t seem to be going as they wish.

I just want to say I’m very happy  to have the experience in United States. Today I can tell the people here in Russia about the things that we don’t have here but you have there in the United States. I’m very thankful to all the American companies who work out the software and different technical devices to improve our lives. I really feel very thankful.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Nafset or supporting her dream;
check out her go fund me That’s N lower case A F S E T

This is Thomas Reid, .

NC: “Unfortunately we have no choice”
Thomas usually concludes with some silly self-effacing close![]

for Gatewave Radio
Audio for Independent Living!

If you’re listening to this via the podcast or Sound Cloud and want to check out the YouTube video or link to Nafset’s Go Fund Me, go on over to Reid My where I have all the links.

A final thought as I was producing this story…

One of the things I always loved and miss about living and working  in New York City is the variety of people.
Among  most of my friends and family, I’m one of the only people who didn’t mind riding the subway. I loved people watching and the occasional spontaneous conversations  that either I would be a part of or have the chance to overhear or basically ease drop.

Interviewing different people  for me brings back a similar feeling. Especially speaking with those I’d otherwise never have a chance to randomly meet.
Like those in a different country from other cultures sharing their experience.

You just listened to  two people from very different back grounds in countries that were once  the greatest enemies.

I guess I’m old enough where I still am amazed and appreciate the technology involved in making this conversation possible.

The conversation itself took place on our iPhones via Face time Audio.
It was just a few years ago that the idea of a phone with a touch screen
was believed to be a poor reflection of the future of accessibility for those who are blind.

I’m still impressed that our Wi-Fi connection held up as packets of information were sent back and forth from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, USA  to Moscow in Russia.

Maybe it’s just my level of Geekiness that thinks that stuff is still pretty cool! And Nafset , reminds me to continue to be thankful!

Thanks for listening!{Or Reading!}