Finding the light switch in the dark

As a life coach and psychologist, Lisabeth Saunders Medlock knows exactly what to say to people who have experienced life-changing trauma.

Nearly four years ago, she began repeating those words to herself after a freak accident. Resistance bands she was using for exercise snapped, slingshotting into her eyes. In an instant, her vision was gone.

“I was a single mom with a 4-year-old daughter and a coaching and consulting business. There was no option to not figure out how to get back to work,” says Medlock, who earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina in clinical and community psychology in 1997.

While she was still in the hospital recovering, Medlock contacted the S.C. Commission for the Blind and began the process of acquiring technology that would enable her to use a computer again. Transportation was a major issue — she no longer could drive — and family, friends and church members rallied to help.

“I sold just about everything I had of value, and friends held a fundraiser that helped tide me over until I qualified for disability six months later,” Medlock says.

Soon after the accident, she began chronicling her journey of recovery in a blog she called the “Adventures of the Blind/Low Vision/Visually Impaired (BLOVI) Girl.” That became the basis for a book manuscript, “Finding the Light Switch in the Dark (My Journey to Enlightenment from Blinding),” which shaped her recent presentation at the TEDx Talks in Columbia.

“After working on the book for 12 months, I got bored with my own story,” Medlock says with a chuckle. “I decided not to publish it; the world doesn’t need my memoir. But it was cathartic for me to write it.”

She has since turned many of her earlier blog postings into articles that are regularly published on the Huffington Post website. Some of those piece are rooted in her current business, Life by Design Coaching, with titles such as, “10 Ways to Worry Less,” “Seven Things You Need to Know to Deal With Major Life Changes” and “Three Keys to Lifelong Happiness.”

Rather than rehashing Pollyannaish platitudes, Medlock shares her practical approach to life. It rings especially true given the personal obstacles she has overcome in the past few years.

“You have to remember that you’re still the same person when something traumatic happens to you. You get hit by a big boulder, and you have to use your problem-solving and ingenuity to find a new normal,” she said. “You can still create a life for yourself. You just have to find different ways to piece it together — it can be one of life’s adventures, really.”

Being a psychologist helped her cope with the sudden loss of eyesight. “So did being a business owner and a single parent,” she said. “I still have days when I get frustrated that I can’t drive or with how long it takes to do some things. But I never say, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ That dialogue is what drags people down.”

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South Carolina graduate Lisabeth Saunders Medlock operates a consulting business, Life by Design Coaching, despite losing her eyesight in an accident almost four years ago. She spoke about her experiences learning to live her life without sight at a recent TEDx Talks in Columbia.

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