What I cherish and celebrate in others at times is a challenge for me to appreciate in myself. I strive to focus on the look of inner strength.

Clear sky, sun rising, dancing between limestone boulders, embracing the cool northern Italian morning air; possibly the most picturesque start to any mountain runner’s dream.

Today’s run began with feelings which no photograph could capture yet, in one of the most picturesque landscapes of the world, I realised I was being photographed without sunglasses hiding my right eye and instantly all quickly went downhill in the Dolomites. At lightning speed, I spiralled into repugnant thoughts of my facial appearance. Considering that which I value in others,  such menial traits have no worth, however, psychological scars have played havoc with my confidence and dissolved any relationship with my reflection in the mirror or any photographic recording device.

For better or worse, my visual impairment makes it physically challenging to actually see in the mirror as the upward movement of my left eye is limited so much that vision above the horizon requires exaggerated vertical movement of my head. Hence, should our paths cross on this adventure, take no offence when it appears my left eye is fixated on the ground rather than looking you in the eye.

In the trauma hospital, Neurorehabilitation and medical hospitals contact with mirrors went seemingly unnoticed. In fact my memory is such that I could not ascertain if my room had such furnishings. Mirrors were certainly few and far between in Eating Disorder Treatment centres, however since being in more normalised settings, it has become apparent that therapy seemed to miss the mark on mourning the loss of my vision along with the aesthetic change.  

What I cherish and celebrate in others at times is a challenge for me to appreciate of myself. If someone is an inspiration, authentic, an active listener; if they have a heart the size of the mountains I crave, or a gift to naturally changes people’s lives, I feel a connection to who I want to be. Not one of these characteristics reflects the shape of an individual’s a face, their size, BMI, athletic ranking or awards .

Too often, my adjustment to life outside of a clinical setting finds comparison stealing my joy. Thoughts of life pre-accident; autonomy, numbers, speeds and sizes can trigger episodes of anxiety, self-depreciation, and restricting, because somewhere, at times beyond my mental reach, there is still the August 2014 Me that wants back.

This time chasing summits is about conquering these mountains of my mind, to be mindful and at ease with everything about me today; celebrate being alive. Wasting energy thinking about past cycling races in France, the lost privilege of driving wherever and whenever I want,  holding up others who might be behind me on the trail, wondering what others might think of my pace, face or my  changed muscle tone. All feel like such self-absorbed thoughts that I am ashamed to admit haunt me at times. I am not what appears in a photograph because pictures cannot depict strength, resiliency and a desire to inspire.

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  1. Shannon says:

    BRE this is the most beautiful, raw, inspiring, courageous, amazing compilation recording your journey of the beautiful world and your beautiful soul. You are accomplishing the most incredible things. You are a fantastic writer and photographer. I am honored to be included on your journey and grateful to have been and will continue to be a part of it. XXOO Shannon