Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Last week I posted about making sure you open doors when opportunity knocks.  The motivation for the post came because I recently answered a knock at my door I was nearly too intimidated to answer.  I was provided an invitation to travel and speak to a college class.  While this idea excited me and offered a chance to provide education on various topics I am passionate about, it also filled me with doubt and fear.  I was traveling eighteen hundred miles (about 2,896 kilometers) to present to a group of students who had life experiences I could never guess and who knew nothing of the challenges I faced.  Could we connect?  Could I offer them the chance to gain as much as I would from this opportunity?

I heard a knock at the door and nearly let the opportunity pass by.  While my message is important and I know nearly everyone can take something away from what I share, I did not know whether it was a message worthy of this type of journey.  Then words of wisdom were shared with me, “You would not have been asked if they did not think you were good enough to provide their class with an enriching message.”

I took a breath and answered the door.

Here is the introduction the Life Design class saw on their Facebook page last week regarding my visit:

Tuesday’s guest to class is a very special woman, Tara Fall. Tara suffers from a condition known as prosopagnosia, or “face-blindness.” While her story is certainly about overcoming adversity, it is also an empowering tale of the lessons learned along the way. If you’d like a sneak peak, please watch: http://flashmedia.uiowa.edu/clas/indepart/dlgould/tara.m4v

When this post is scheduled to be published, I will be on my way to their class.  If you are a student of the class, thank you for offering me the opportunity to speak to you.  If you are a visitor to this blog, I encourage you to answer the knock on your own door.  When the opportunity knocks, take hold of it.  Do not let fear stand in your way.  Carpe articulum… Seize the moment!

I wrote this piece a few days before you are reading it.  It is time for me now to board a flight and explore the opportunities waiting for me.  If my goal is achieved I will, in the words of the class’s professor, “make the audience laugh, make them cry, but most importantly make them walk away thinking”.  I am truly grateful and excited I’ve opened this door.   I will post some of the discussion points soon.  Carpe articulum.

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Comments on: "Opening the Door For Opportunities" (14)

  1. I’m sure that you were fabulous. Looking forward to hearing about it. 🙂

  2. You have something unique to offer. Most likely no one in the class has ever heard about prosopagnsia. Having worked with children with physical disabilities all my career, I know how challenging these things are but also how much each one had to offer. Best wishes.

    • I think they learned a lot about epilepsy and prosopagnosia. Hopefully, they also learned lessons about adversity and the challenges and rewards that can be gained from what they overcome.

      I always like to point out it is never about someone’s disability. It is always about a person’s ability. Thanks for stopping by. It was great to hear from you!


  3. Paige Johnsen said:

    Hey Tara!
    I just wanted to tell you once more how much I enjoyed hearing your story. Being a “Peer Mentor” has allowed me to hear many stories in Dave’s class–I can confidently say that I took more away from yours than any other. You are a fabulous speaker and you are so kind and open-minded. Thank you so much for making the journey to Iowa City and allowing me to be a part of getting your message out there. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to have coffee with you afterwards, too. Rarely do you meet someone that you can just sit and talk with free of awkwardness–it felt as though I had known you for years. Conversation came so easily. So much so I didn’t even have an opportunity to ask you all of the questions that I had intended to. I was hoping you could answer them now.

    Have you ever sat down and compared your life to that of another “face blindness” patient? If so, did you gain understanding from their perceptions?

    How often do you travel and tell your story?

    Do you ever see yourself moving back to Iowa some day?

    Have you ever considered turning your blog into a book?

    In class you described how your worst nightmare sounded–how did your best dream sound?

    Again, thank you so much for coming! I know we were all wishing the class were longer. And thank you for staying for coffee! It was an afternoon that I will never forget and a story that will stay with me forever.

    2012 Life Design

    • Paige,

      These are exactly the type of questions I was looking for when I asked everyone to give me extra questions! Thank you for taking the time to ask them.

      The Life Design students are fortunate to have you there for guidance. I bet you make an amazing RA, too. You are a very kind, thoughtful person. It was truly a gift to me that you took extra time to stay and chat. Thank you for doing that. I will let you know when your questions get answered with the depth they deserve.

      Thank you for everything Paige. You were one of the moments that put this trip above what I could have ever expected or hoped for.


  4. How cool! I hope the presentation went well, can’t wait to hear about it!

    • Kelsae,

      I am going to wait until next week’s post to tell all the details. I will share this though: The experience was more gratifying than I could have ever hoped for. I wouldn’t have predicted how deeply this adventure would touch my life.


  5. Tara, this is so cool! I’m very happy for you and I’m very exicted to hear all about it!

  6. Hanna Wright said:


    I came up to thank you after the presentation, but I wanted to post another “thank you.” Reading this post after having already seen you in class, I truly believe you accomplished everything you had set out to — and more. Although many of us in the class will never know what it is like to go through what you have been through, I think that you tell your story in such a way that is easily relate-able, because – as you said – it centers on the idea of “adversity.” As college students, many of us have encountered situations that seem like obstacles to the future (and sometimes even to the present moment.) You’re post mentioned David Gould’s quote of “making us walk away thinking..” and you’re story did just that.
    About a year ago, while dealing with my own life obstacles, I had a friend tell me “you can’t live your life just ‘getting through the day.'” This quote sank in for me, and since then, I have tried to live by the quote, “live the day” — a carpe articulum of my own. Although I do my best, there are good and bad days. Your story, however, reminded me of why that quote is important.
    I want to thank you for reminding me to plow through the tough times and learn from them. Reminding me of the doors I have out there that are waiting to be opened. Reminding me that adverse situations give you strength and can create more doors. You lead by example: by plowing through your own terrain, by opening the doors in front of you, and by showing off your strength to others.
    I wish you the best with everything that comes your way, and thank you for opening the door that led you to come talk to us.


    • Hanna,

      I’ve tried to think of the proper, equally powerful, response to your kind words. I remember meeting you. Thank you for taking the time to come up and speak with me. Thank you, also, for taking the time to write this beautiful message. I understand the true purpose of sharing my life lessons when I know people are gaining from it. I never understood the true extent of this until I spoke to your class.

      It was my great fortune to have Life Design knock at my door with this invitation. I hope to be back in Iowa City again soon. I could never have asked for a greater professor or group of students to speak with. Thank you, Hanna, for allowing me the opportunity to chat with you about the lessons I have learned from adversity.


  7. You are a brave woman, Tara. And you strengthen us all with the example of your bravery.

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