Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the challenges that life throws in your way?
Lois Strachan is an author, disability advocate, workshop facilitator and inspirational speaker who uses her personal story to help people see their lives and their challenges in a different way to encourage them to succeed. Lois is passionate about de-mystifying blindness to facilitate the inclusion of blind and visually impaired people into the workplace and communities in a meaningful way.
Since losing her sight at the age of 21 years Lois has achieved a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and Classical Civilisations and an Honours degree in Classical Civilisations from the University of KwaZulu Natal, a diploma in practitioner Coaching Skills, a Certificate in Human Resource Management from UNISA, and is a Distinguished Toastmaster.
In 2014 she published a series of illustrated children’s books, “The Adventures of Missy Mouse” that enable sighted children to understand that a blind or low vision person is simply a “normal” person who does things in a different way. That same year she was awarded a Tributes Excellence Award for women with disabilities who excel in their fields, in the category of literature and education. In 2015 she was also appointed as a Casual Day Goodwill Ambassador, advancing the aims of South Africa’s foremost fundraising event for people living with a disability.
In December 2016 she published “A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way” which de-mystifies how she lives a normal life and accomplishes simple, everyday tasks without sight.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
When I first became blind I realized I had a choice –to go home and give up and be angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for the rest of my life; or I could take back control of my life and actively choose to move forward as a blind person in a sighted world.
It’s not always been easy but I believe my journey has been facilitated by my positive attitude, the incredibly strong support group I have around me, and my ability to see the funny side when things go wrong. Every one of these attributes has enabled me to keep moving forward with my life and achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself.
Please tell us more about your book A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an “Ordinary” Life in an Extraordinary Way and how it came about.
A Different Way of seeing is my personal journey of how I accomplish simple – and not-so-simple – tasks without sight. It covers the types of tasks that are typical to most people – anything from selecting clothing, shopping, cooking, and reading, to using technology. The book also describes how I experience travel and sightseeing, and tells the stories of my first two guide dogs.
It’s by no means a dry, factual DIY guide of living as a blind person – interwoven into the text are numerous personal anecdotes of some of the most memorable incidents that have happened to me since losing my sight. As an inspirational speaker I’ve often been told that people want to know more about how I do the things I talk about in my presentations. The book was written as a way to answer some of those questions and to inspire others not to give up when facing their own challenges. As I’ve received feedback from readers I realized the book could also be a tool to help those going through the experience of sight loss and their families.
Where can we obtain a copy of your book?
The book can be obtained from Amazon.com in Kindle format, and can also be purchased through my website on www.loisstrachan.com
What is your advice for budding authors?
Be patient – it takes longer than you think!
Get input from others – it’s amazing how much we miss because we are too close to the story.
Know who you’re writing for – in other words, identify the type of people who you want to read your book.
What are you passionate about?
As an inspirational speaker and author I’m passionate about two main things:
- Helping people to see their own lives, and their challenges, in a different way.
- De-mystifying the abilities of those who are blind and low vision to facilitate increased integration into society and the workplace.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by the most incredible mentors and role-models for most of my life. The first of these were my mother and my grandmother, both of whom lived with considerable physical challenges that taught me much of what I needed to know when facing life without sight.
What is your personal motto?
When facing an obstacle, remember that every step you take will open new possibilities and new opportunities for you.
What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?
Remember you are the only person who can stop you achieving your dreams – you are the one who determines your actions, your responses and your approach to whatever opportunities and challenges life throws at you along the way.
What are your top 3 business tips?
- Play to your strengths and see how you can delegate those areas that you’re less effective.
- Keep your eye on the bigger picture – so often we are so busy “doing” that we lose track of the ultimate goal we’re working towards.
- We all need to reach out for help at some stage – don’t be embarrassed to do.
What would you say is the secret to your success?
My stubbornness – no really, sometimes my refusal to give in has been what has made the difference in my life.
Your favourite quote:
“It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters.” ~Stoic Philosopher Epictetus.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient – and keep your sense of humour no matter what!
One general piece of advice you would like to share:
You don’t need to figure the whole journey out before you start – as long as you keep your eye on your eventual goal and take it one step at a time, the rest of the journey will work itself out.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
Pass on my details to anyone needing input on how to make their workplace or their organisation more accommodating to visually impaired employees or customers, or if anyone would like an assessment of how their websites accommodate the needs of the visually impaired.