Unstoppable: How Lorraine Snider-Hanley Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Severe…

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Unstoppable: How Lorraine Snider-Hanley Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Severe Asthma, Atopic Eczema and Blindness

Self-doubt can lead to self-sabotage and separation from God. What I mean is that faith may move mountains, but it is our faith and reliance on God’s promise that… Through God, I can do all things that strengthens me. When we doubt ourselves, we are doubting that God has a purpose for us. When we doubt ourselves, we could also unwittingly sabotage ourselves to believe we can’t or won’t do something we need to do.

As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorraine Snider-Hanley.

As the first complete generation of Ukrainian-immigrant parents, Lorraine is no stranger to challenges. Starting life as a preemie, Lorraine faced obstacles that would shape her life, including atopic eczema, a miserable skin condition she would always have to contend with, and sever asthma. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She mastered early piano skills, helping her dodge teenagers’ critical comments about her erupted skin, and became a highly sought-after musician.

Every door she opened led to another opportunity or challenge. But her faith has never wavered. Overcoming obstacles that come with 81 months of pregnancy and raising 9 children, she built the largest piano studio in San Diego. After all the kids left home, she developed latent talents as a painter, and many of her works were commissioned. Most would have retired at 65 or 70, but this entrepreneur wasn’t ready. When she became totally blind, at 87, she finally retired! Daughter, Linda, encouraged her to record her legacy in a book. Linda became her eyes and hands to write, but Lorraine’s stories of faith and promise are universal and timeless. At 90, God has blessed this prayer warrior with longevity, clarity of mind, who has never lost her sense of humor.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Being born at 7–1/2 months gestation and weighing just under 4 pounds, my birth was the first miracle I ever received. My mother had suffered several infant mortalities, and a miscarriage just before me, so my chances were probably pretty grim. My frail size, weak lungs, and topical skin problems were things I contended with since my early childhood, that others may consider “limitations.” But I never let them stop me from enjoying simple things, like tap dancing, embroidery, or even playing the piano. But I never expected, at 87, that I would become blind. However, it has allowed me to see things in a way I never saw before. For instance, I can now sense people’s energy and can tell what emotion they’re feeling, when I would’ve previously relied on visual cues. It gave me a new understanding of things in a deeper and more spiritual sense, which helped me in writing, “Miracles on my Doorstep.” When people say blindness is a “disability,” I always say “this ability” made be an international best-selling author!

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

I battled glaucoma, after two cataract surgeries, for three years. Over those three years, bits and pieces of my vision began to get replaced by shadows and finally, darkness. It is pretty common to fight the reality of what is going on to your body naturally as it ages. In many ways, I could say I was also in denial. I really believed I would have a miraculous recovery, and my vision would be restored. But as I spent more days in darkness, I realized that my doctor, who had been taunting me with his own question of, “So, have you had your miracle yet?” had already given up hope, also held none out for me. This is when I began to have self-doubt about my own recovery. Believe me, there are plenty of days you can say, “I would’ve, I could’ve, or should’ve” that can make you second-guess your own faith, even momentarily. For instance, although I had become active in the local Blind Center, where I met many still partially-sighted people, I was already blind and hadn’t taken advantage of the resources they understood and accepted were available to them. In those moments of darkness, my mood had to shift from ‘poor me’ to ‘I can get up again.’ This happened especially when my children installed rails around the house. Even though I was blind, I wasn’t able to get my white cane until I could prove that I had passed the course, but even after I got it, I still resisted using it. Today, I use my cane and rails to navigate the house I still live in, to get outside, get sun, and exercise by walking around the patio. I enjoy a very active social life and although I have lost my sight, I have not lost my vision.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness?

Blindness is not the only disability or illness I’ve had to contend with. I was born a preemie with undeveloped lungs and have battled severe asthma my entire life. This became even more challenging with my blindness because the sense of fear and total dependence increases anxiety levels that contributes to asthma attacks. I’ve had to learn how to control my anxiety so it doesn’t increase my risk of being unable to breathe or find medicine when I have an attack. When I became totally blind, my daughter asked me how I wanted to be remembered and what I wanted my legacy to be. When she suggested I write a book, it seemed preposterous at the time. It was fascinating I could recall so many things in my life so vividly. The sense of purpose and accomplishment that I felt when this book became an international best-seller are an understatement. As we age, we hope that we remain relevant. The book also gave me the ability to communicate with my children, their children, and their future children. I’ve lived a life of faith that has become my legacy, through this book.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

Keep going. Don’t stop. You’re the only one that knows your limitations, including doctors. Others believe they are doing you a favor by encouraging you to “sit by the fire and read a book.” Although I have read a lot of audible books, “sitting by the fire” was not how I wanted to live out the rest of my life. Take each day as a gift. Give yourself the power of forgiveness when you can’t accomplish what you want to. And most of all, eliminate your “should’ves.”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My faith in God has given me the strength and purpose for a faith-driven life. He has also provided me with a remarkable family that I love dearly and depend on daily. The book, however, was something that my daughter, Linda, and I shared. I would not have been able to do this without her prodding me, pushing me, and demanding that I finish. You never know where your coaches are going to come from, so be open, humble, and grateful.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have used my music ministry all of my life to communicate the love of God through my interpretation. It is gratifying to see that many of my children used that same gift then, and still to this day. When I was blessed with another gift, later in my life, the skill of painting images of God’s love through what I could see into my hands onto the canvas. Many of those paintings were commissioned throughout San Diego and have brought a lot of people joy, especially the seascapes I’ve painted. But more importantly, I am surprised by the uncommon response to this book. Many have shared it is their first faith-based book they haven’t been able to put down because there are so many life lessons that have been covered.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

Here are 5 things that have helped and guided me to this point of my life.

Number 1

Self-doubt can lead to self-sabotage and separation from God. What I mean is that faith may move mountains, but it is our faith and reliance on God’s promise that… Through God, I can do all things that strengthens me. When we doubt ourselves, we are doubting that God has a purpose for us. When we doubt ourselves, we could also unwittingly sabotage ourselves to believe we can’t or won’t do something we need to do.

Number 2

Never waste a crisis. Life is full of surprises, including circumstances that appear to be out of our control. In those moments, we may consider it a crisis. We don’t live a trouble-free life, but there is a teachable moment in every crisis. For one, a crisis doesn’t last forever. It’s brief but can have long-lasting effects, like an accident that leaves you paralyzed. You’re not going through the accident, you’re living with the effects. It may be hard to remember this point, but there is a silver lining in every dark cloud. Just be willing to look for it.

Number 3

You can do more than you think you can. Although I have people that help me, I could fix my own meal. But their contribution is important to them, and you have to be willing to give them that space, and appreciate it for the gift that it is. However, there are things that I could probably use some help with, but choose to do by myself. Things such as personal hygiene, small chores, like making my bed, doing my laundry, or even dressing myself, is personally and deeply satisfying. Some may require a strategy or a system, but you can do it. You can do more than you think you can.

Number 4

Self-sufficiency has dignity. The unsighted want to maintain their dignity and independence. Stepping in and taking over robs them of this. It equally robs them of dignity when others treat the unsighted like they have a contagious disease or worse, avoid them by ghosting them. Find the balance in being helpful, asking if they need help even to walk across the street. Caregivers can tire of being helpful and are often forgotten that they need help too, even if it’s just a break. The longer a disability has existed, the more time the handicapped has had to adopt an alternate strategy. On the other hand, don’t wait for someone else to do what you can do for yourself, or you rob yourself of that dignity.

Number 5

Listen to that inner voice. Be still and know that I am God. Like the song, “You Raise Me Up,” sung by Josh Groban, which says, “Then, I am still and wait here in the silence, until You come, and sit awhile with me.” This means to be still, be silent, and wait for an answer. How do you hear that inner voice if it’s competing with the chatter inside your head? Or the wringing of your hands? Or the complaining? God will carry you through the deepest valley, or even take you to the mountaintop if you allow. You’ll still have dips, but hearing God’s voice, not yours, will always guide you through.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“I may be blind but I have not lost my vision.”

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I think I would love to have lunch with my pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah, or with Dr. John Hagee. I would be inspired by hearing about their battles they’ve gone through and would learn from them.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your mission.

Unstoppable: How Lorraine Snider-Hanley Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Severe… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.