Dec. 9, 2019

Deaf-Blind Adventures with Bill Barkeley

Deaf-Blind Adventures with Bill Barkeley

Bill Barkeley is both deaf and blind, but that hasn't slowed him down. In fact, you could say that Bill lives an adventurous lifestyle. He has summited Mount Kilimanjaro, finished the Boston Marathon two times and hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago... just to name a few.

Bill has a rare disease called Usher Syndrome.

As a deaf-blind adventurer, he lives a full life and helps others overcome their obstacles in life. He is the co-founder of No Barriers, which embraces an ethos of finding purpose to get around obstacles in life, especially oneself.

 

EPISODE SUMMARY

- Bill was profoundly deaf from the age of 5.

- At the age of 28, Bill was married, working at Fortune 500 company, and had just had his first baby and living in San Francisco.

- Several car accidents made Bill go to the eye doctor - thinking he needed glasses.

- Eventually a specialist diagnosed him with a rare disease called Usher Syndrome - type II - the leading cause of deaf-blindness.

- You can imagine this felt ‘like a death sentence’ to hear that you were going blind.

- Bill surrendered on his first adventure - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa - he let go and found himself - letting go of what he thought the world was expecting of him.

- Bill’s adventures have deep meaning and purpose - but also fun and difficult.

- Bill talks about his wife and the role of the spouse and caregiver.

- Coping skills - accept yourself and surround yourself with the ‘rope team.’

- No Barriers USA - Bill’s non-profit helps folks get over the largest obstacle, 90 percent of the time it’s them.

 

QUOTABLES

- “It just felt like a death sentence, even though I wasn't dying. It was really about the realization that life was not going to be necessarily on my terms.”

- “If you go out to life it's great, but life isn't going to come to you.”

- “So the minute I let go of what I thought the world was expecting me to do that climb. Is the time, I said, you know, I'm going to do this. I can do it. I made it this far. And it's not about them. It's about me and about finding a new direction and new focus on my life.”

- “Kilimanjaro... One of the insights that we've been talking about is finding yourself. But it's also about that time when you make the decision to live, you know that life is worth having and that you really can't imagine it not being there. “

- “You can call me a lot of things: A father, a son, a husband, a community member, a board member, you can call me some not so nice names. You can call me some good names. You can call me deaf. You can call me blind. They're just ways people describe me. But it doesn't have to define me. I define myself every day by what I do or where I go.” 

- “Impact is powerful. We get great gifts by taking on challenges and adversity and mountains in our lives. We get the reward of knowing that we can make ourselves and other people on the human journey better, more satisfied, happier and fulfilled. So that's why I do adventures.”

- “You know, it's important to just realize life doesn't come to you. We are tasked with the purpose of making the life.”

- “So the coping piece of it is really comes around a number of different things. One is accepting yourself, realizing that you have your constraints and challenges. That's one piece. Another piece is surrounding yourself with what I call the rope team. I mean, people that really care about you. People that will listen to you. People that want to help in some way or capacity... have an emotional connection to you. And that you matter to them or you matter to life or things around you. That really means getting over yourself and saying, you know, I need help.” 

- “To me, coping is realizing that it isn't going to come from just inside you. It's going to come from the world around you. And it's how you use the tools and resources and other people in the world around you that is going to define your ability to cope.”

 

Learn more about Bill Barkeley:

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