Meet one remarkable woman who overcame her adversity …
and you can overcome yours, too, by discovering who you are!

Life In BlackshearLife was simple in the 1950s in the small town of Blackshear, Georgia where I grew up. I had dreams of being a movie star but my parents had other ideas.

My father was the only Yankee in our little “southern” town and my mother was physically challenged with two prosthetic legs. They taught me to be realistic and courageous and pushed me to graduate from college.

Although I was curious about the world around me, I was not a risk taker. I knew the sensible thing for a girl like me was to get my degree, get married and teach school. I graduated from Georgia Southern and married my college sweetheart.

We moved to the big city of Atlanta where I began my teaching career in the Atlanta public school system, a career that ultimately spanned 22 years. I continued pursuing my interest in drama by directing and acting in plays in my church and community.

By 1983, around the age of 40, my husband and I divorced. I continued teaching but also decided to register in massage therapy school and then signed up for storytelling classes. It wasn’t long before I discovered that storytelling was my new love.

In the late 1980s I experienced two nearly simultaneous events that changed my path in ways I could not have imagined.

I won the Christa McAuliffe fellowship in August, 1987 and lost my eyesight in September of the same year. The fellowship and the publicity provided me with so many opportunities to speak about my personal story of adversity and my passion for storytelling.

For the next fifteen years I spoke on the topics of Embracing Change and Using Storytelling as a Teaching Tool in ten states. I had no time to even acknowledge my loss of sight, let alone to grieve.

My mother’s example of dealing with physical challenges taught me the “forge ahead” spirit. I spent the bare minimum length of time in rehabilitation and made the necessary adjustments to accommodate my traveling and speaking schedule.

I currently reside in Atlanta where I continue to find new purpose for my life and discover how much more I have to learn–and teach. Motivating and encouraging people to see their own potential continues to be my passion. My four grandchildren’s love and laughter are my inspiration.

HEAR Fiona talk about her experience during a live interview! (Click)

"You can't depend on your vision when your imagination is out of focus." --Mark Twain

“Fiona captivates her audiences by knocking their blinders off” Jim Cashin, Director of Georgia Radio Reading Service (GARRS)

Fiona Spoke Here:

  • American Council of the Blind
  • American Library Association
  • Asso. of Teacher Educators
  • Atlanta's Paralympics
  • Bregman Conference
  • Callaway Gardens
  • Chic-fil-A
  • Galloway School
  • GAEL Conference
  • Georgia Dept of Family & Children's Services
  • Georgia Dept of Juvenile Justice
  • Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Helen Keller Foundation
  • Lake Lanier Villages
  • National Conference on Storytelling
  • National Council of the Teachers of English
  • N. Carolina Brain Injury Assn.
  • Project Lift
  • Riverside Academy
  • Salvation Army Auxiliary
  • SPADD Conference
  • St. Jude's Children's Hospital
  • Tommy Nobis Center
  • Youth Villages Author Series
  • Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus
  • >