“Unblinded: One Man’s Courageous Journey through Darkness to Sight” takes readers on a journey that includes a true miracle and a medical marvel. At the age of 36, New Yorker Kevin Coughlin lost his sight due to Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare genetic condition, one that he did not know he had.
This is the beginning of a unique and amazing story. One where after 20 years of being blind his sight returned due to spontaneous regeneration of the optic nerve. We know you are wondering if he had a new cutting edge treatment so he could see again. He did not. This was a totally spontaneous healing event. The story before the miracle and after will keep you reading long into the night and fill you with inspiration in ways that you can’t even imagine. It is the story of overcoming obstacles and finding your way through life’s journey.
We were thrilled when we had the opportunity to talk with Kevin, and his co-author Traci Medford-Rosow about this book, and what’s next.
After reading your book one of my takeaways was the reminder of just how important it is to live in the moment. Can you tell our readers how you came to that realization during your years of being blind? Also when you got your sight back was it harder to stay in the moment?
My desire to live in the moment is rooted in years of entitlement during which I took everything for granted. I lacked gratitude and humility. Today, I’m only able to continue to live in the moment, if I focus and constantly remind myself to feel gratitude for even the smallest of blessings.
Now that I’m seeing the world with a fresh set of eyes, it is even easier to live in the moment, as I continually experience gratitude as I see sights that used to be dark to me.
You developed a meditation practice while you were blind to deal with the anger you were having. What methods did you turn to in order to get your practice started, or did you develop one of your own?
The development of my meditation practice evolved over many years. Initially, I was inspired my dear friend Les whose commitment to meditation/yoga was awe inspiring. My first attempts involved merely searching for any semblance of quiet in the noise filled world of New York City. What has morphed into my daily spiritual practice has been influenced by three powerful spiritual leaders. Wayne Dyer taught me the importance of affirming my intentions. Basically, verbally stating what I want to manifest in my life. From Deepak Chopra I came to understand the powerful mind/body connection. In summary, a happy and healthy body equals a tranquil mind. Finally, from Jack Kornfield, I learned that judgment has no place in meditation. He has a great quote that : “it is helpful to understand that the mind has a mind of its own, and it is only natural when meditating, for it to wander to random thoughts such as –what do I want to have for dinner.“ He further taught me that each meditation, regardless of duration, or level of distraction, is unique and perfect.
You really did experience a miracle when you got your sight back. What was that like? Also, what was it like to relive those years you were blind while writing Unblinded?
The miracle of regaining my sight was extraordinary! There are not words large enough to hold the joy I experienced at that moment. Each time that I realize that I am suddenly seeing something again, for example the Empire State Building out my window; I’m blown away by the enormity of it!
At the time of the onset of my blindness and for more than three years following, I was an active alcoholic. Due to that fact, I did not truly experience much of the pain and loss. Whenever I could sense a difficult feeling coming on, I reached for the bottle of vodka to protect myself from the pain. Consequently, when I was sharing my story with Traci, because I was now sober, I truly experienced all of the pain—all of the unfathomable loss. There were several times when we had to take a break so I could have a good cry. Frequently the tears would be sprinkled with joy, as I was for the first time acknowledging and giving myself credit for what I had overcome.
Traci you are the co-author of Unblinded, and I want to ask you a few questions. First what part of Kevin’s story touched you the most during the writing process?
The part of Kevin’s story that touched me the most was how he decided—and succeeded—in quitting drinking after he became blind. I always thought that if I had suddenly lost my sight, I would have started drinking, not stopped.
On a personal level Traci while working on Unblinded did you learn anything new about yourself that you can share with us?
While helping Kevin to write his story, the most profound thing I learned about myself was that I was happiest when I was focused on someone other than myself. This led directly to my efforts to help the homeless men and women of New York City during the pandemic which in turn led to the writing of my third book—UNSHELTERED LOVE. As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Kevin and Traci are all about giving back so 50% of author proceeds are being donated to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. “Unblinded: One Man’s Courageous Journey through Darkness to Sight” is available on Amazon.
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