Thursday, December 31, 2015

Keep Going .. the Victories will come

At the beginning of 2015 Steve and I were driving home from St. George chatting about our hopes, dreams, plans for the new year.  I was beginning training for the Boston Marathon and Steve was anticipating some changes in his career.  I love the start of a new year!  One of my goals in 2015 was to write.  I had felt compelled to write my story.  So, after spending time trying to put it on paper; my daughter introduced me to Amy who has spent the last year helping me write my story.  We have spent time each week talking and reviewing different aspects of my life.  We've talked about victories, struggles, difficult times, funny experiences, times of persistence, grit, and lots of celebrations of life.    I didn't expect it to be such an amazing journey.  I have cheered on the younger Becky.  One day between clients, Amy sent me a draft of some writing.  As I read it, I started to cry.  I have gained a greater appreciation of writing and sharing our story ... even if it is simply for ourselves.  I've struggled with feeling like -- who do I think I am for wanting to write it down to owning and celebrating my story.  As we finish the year 2015, I had hoped it would be finished.  I've learned its a lot longer process than I realized.  I've learned patience.  It's coming.  Yesterday in the mail, a check for $20 came with an article I had written published in the Dialogue.  As the title says ... Keep Going -- the Victories will come.  This story is about my Boston Marathon experience.  I know as we keep going in this writing process .. the victory of completing the book will come!!  Stay tuned and  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!   


I've copied the article down below if you'd like to read.

Keep Going – The Victories will come.  By Becky Andrews, Bountiful, Utah
April 20, 2015.  It was a dream come true.  I was at the Boston Marathon with nearly 30,000 other runners.  There were 40 blind/visually impaired runners,  including 25 from our Team with a Vision.
Excitement was in the air.  It was raining and chilly, and I’d been up for hours,  yet my heart was warm with anticipation and gratitude for this moment.  As a visually impaired runner, I could have one guide on the course with me.  Brenda would begin the course and Suzette would run the second half. I felt tears coming to my eyes as Brenda and I approached the starting line and the announcer saying:  Welcome to the Boston Marathon…”
  I stayed near Brenda as we began to run.  It was so crowded with all the runners that we ran sighted guide.  We began to get in a stride and I reflected further on this amazing experience.   
            So much work had led to this moment including,  three marathons I’d already run to qualify for Boston.   There had been injuries along the way including a broken foot, a broken toe and an IT Band injury.  My guides and I had completed weeks of preparation and juggled work and family schedules to meet the commitments of long runs. 
             I loved hearing the sound of the runners’ feet hitting the pavement – that collective sound of individual training and preparation.  People were cheering from the sidelines – “You got this,” they called, “Thank you for coming to Boston, You can do this!”  It was inspiring to hear so many people cheering for others – most of whom they did not know.    
When I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa almost 32 years ago, it felt like many doors were closing in my life.   I felt overwhelmed and frightened, but learned to take each challenge as it came.  I thought about my journey of vision loss and how much it had been like a marathon.  Take it a step at a time.  Prepare as much as you can.  There will be times of hitting a ‘wall’ and feeling overwhelmed.  Be open-minded.  Listen to your heart.  Have faith.  Find the people around that will you support you and cheer you on.  Keep going.  The victories will come.   
As we continued to run, the rain changed from a drizzle to a downpour back to a drizzle with some wind.  We were making good time as the miles clicked by.  We navigated through the runners to reach our pace.  Brenda guided me as we ran, “To you right, diagonal to the left”  she’d say as we weaved through other runners and enjoyed the journey. We soon realized navigating through the puddles was impossible. 
Music played from speakers along the course.  At one point in the run we heard the song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.  When I had been training with my third guide dog, Georgie, the year prior, this son had been playing in the van each morning as we waited to go on our route.  I couldn’t help but smile to think of my Georgie and I felt such gratitude for all three of my guide dogs:  Pantera, Cricket, and Georgie who have helped me navigate safely for the past 18 years.  Literally, being able to walk safely again helped me believe that I could run again, too.
  The crowd of runners had thinned as Suzette and I began to run, so we were able to use the tether.  Suzette was not only running as my eyes but also supporting me as I began to feel some physical fatigue of the marathon journey.  She offered some Gatorade, water, or other energy food.  As we ran, Suzette described what was around us – beautiful homes, signs from spectators, and other landmarks along the journey.   
At mile 15, Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” was playing. Just two nights before my family and I had  enjoyed a baseball game at Fenway Park and had sung this song with the crowd.  As we continued to run, I sang the words in my head, as I’m sure many other runners were doing, too.  As we reched the point in the song, “So Good, So Good, So Good, “ we all sang out together.  This was so good.  I reflected on how hard times such as running a marathon bring such blessings and great experiences as well.  I found myself again thinking about the journey of losing my vision from Retinitis Pigmentosa.  The lessons, experiences, blessings, friendships have far outweighed the loss.      
Near mile 24 on the crest of a hill we had stopped to walk for a minute when, we heard our support team calling our names.  They lifted my spirits and reminded me that I could get to that finish line.  As we rounded the corner to run on Boylston Street to the finish line, the joy of the moment surpassed the exhaustion and physical pain I was feeling.  I had run the Boston Marathon.   I was wet and cold but my heart was warm and grateful for those who had shared it with me.






Monday, December 21, 2015

A great day

I didn't have clients scheduled today until 1 PM so it was a perfect day to catch an Uber downtown to City Creek and pick up a few last minute Christmas gifts.  I walked outside my door as the Uber driver notified he was there.  He greeted me warmly and Georgie and I got in the back seat.  I enjoy hearing the Uber driver's stories of what led them to driving.  This driver was retired and just wanted to earn some extra money and help people.  I told him the Uber is almost like being able to drive again.  We returned a few calls on our way to City Creek.  I was a little nervous not sure if it was going to be a crazy busy day -- hopeful that we were going first thing and we might miss the crowd.   asked him to drop me off between Blue Lemon and Deseret Book -- an easy drop off spot and a place we are familiar with as our starting point.   Georgie and I walked to our first stop - Gap.  We had a shirt on hold.  We know the layout of City Creek well, now.   I told Georgie inside when we were near the Gap entrance -- then find the counter where we asked for some assistance.  We don't do a lot of browsing as much as focus on what we are looking for.  We love when we get a sales associate that is super helpful and willing to be our eyes around the store!  In Nordstrom I wanted to find Steve a sweater/shirt.  I walked into Nordstrom -- to the men's department (find the counter, Georgie) and we asked for some assistance.  It turns out the sales associate's father had recently lost his vision, and we had such a wonderful conversation.  We chatted all about guide dogs, different helps available and she told me I had given her so much hope.  Not sure about that ... but it was fun.  We called an Uber to go back to the office for afternoon/evening clients. As Georgie and I entered the Resilient Solutions, Inc. the waiting area was busy.  Each time I walk into the waiting area and people are waiting, I find myself so grateful.  I envisioned this ten years ago.  Two of my colleagues today gave me sweet gifts for Christmas -- I am so grateful to work with such an incredible group of people that are such great friends.  It was a busy day at the office -- many of my colleagues were fitting in clients before the holiday week began.  Resilient Solutions occupies a downstairs and upstairs office suite. Each office was full both upstairs and downstairs.

Throughout the day I managed my own clients and also questions/discussions with my colleagues and office management.  I have found some nice techniques that have helped me do it all as a therapist, office manager who is blind.  I love it.  At one point in the day, one of my colleagues had their insurance paperwork.  She began to hand it to me to ask some questions.  "I need your help with question #4 she said."  A brief moment of hesitation and then I asked .. and can you help me know what question 4 says.  She laughed and said oh yeah, I forget you are blind.  She read me the question and we discussed the way to best answer that question.

I reflected on one of my own sessions that day with a client.  This adolescent client was having a particularly tough day with the challenges of anxiety.  I explained the concept of self-compassion .. giving ourselves the same love, empathy and support that we would do a dear friend.  I then asked her to write a letter to herself.  Dear ________ -- I left the room as I had many times with this assignment.  This assignment is one that often the client questions .. you want me to do what?  Afterwards, the wisdom/kindness inside comes as they write.  When I returned I invited her to read her letter.  Something about saying it outloud can be helpful -- for us to hear our words.  As she read her letter, it wasn't kind or compassionate to herself.  It was what she was telling herself -- come on -- I can't believe you -- what's your problem, etc.  We talked a little more about Self-Compassion and what it looked like and how it felt when someone else gave us that and how it gives us space to move forward in a gentle, encouraging way.  I again  invited her to write a letter to herself.  I left the room to give her time to write.  As I returned she had written her letter and was enthusiastic to share.  It was encouraging, understanding, supportive for her journey and struggles.  I then asked her a question -- Which letter gives you more space and encouragement to go to school tomorrow?  Which letter gives you less anxiety?  Without hesitation, the second letter -- the one of compassion.  She tore up the first letter and took the second letter home to remember.  

I find myself so grateful to be in a space of experiencing others' growth, empowerment, and healing.

I left my office grateful for life and the opportunities that are mine each day.  While I was waiting for Steve to pick me up and was one of the last one's downstairs, I sprayed some Cranberry Febreze in the office.  Loved the fresh scent.  I smiled as I recalled one of the most embarrassing moments in the office for me.  I was spraying some Febreze without my cane and guide dog was in my office lying down.  I get pretty comfortable in familiar surroundings.  I didn't think anyone was in the waiting area .. spraying away the Febreze when suddenly, I got really close to a woman waiting for her therapist.  Yikes!!  I apologized, explained my situation and was so grateful she didn't get sprayed with Febreze!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Retreat for Women who are blind/visually impaired or diagnosed with an eye condition.

**I am so excited about this upcoming event we have planned!  If you know a woman that is blind or visually impaired that might like to join us, please share!!    

Daring to Own Your Story
A retreat for women
(who are blind or visually impaired)

Why attend a retreat specifically for visually impaired women? At times when facing vision loss, many women may feel isolated because they often don't know anyone who shares their unique challenges. This retreat is an opportunity to connect and share stories with other women experiencing vision loss.  You will also leave with empowering tools and new insight through the Brene Brown, www.brenebrown.com -- www.thedaringway.com,  experiential activities. This retreat is an experience to truly own and celebrate who you are and your story. 

Becky Andrews, LCMHC and Nicole Wall, LCMHC will lead you on an amazing journey of connection, learning, growth, adventure and laughter. 

Becky Andrews, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and owner and clinical Director of Resilient Solutions, Inc (blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa).

Nicole Wall, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Certified Daring Way Facilitator. Facilitates the Daring Way Course by Brene Brown. 


Retreat size is limited to 10.  Early registration by March 1st,  $195.          .
If there is still availability after March 1,  $295

When?  Thursday June 9 5 PM – Sunday 11 AM June 12, 2016, We will also hold a getting acquainted call with everyone prior to the retreat! 

Where?  Country Inn & Suites, Bountiful, Utah.  We will also be holding part of our retreat at Becky’s home and office in Bountiful and an afternoon/evening in Salt Lake City, Utah and an optional hike early Saturday morning.  All transportation while you are at the retreat will be provided.  Transportation from the airport to the hotel is available by requesting through the hotel prior to your stay ($15 charge).  Bountiful is 15 miles from SLC Airport. 


A special thank you to Joy Thomas and Jenelle Landgraf at Doublevisionblog.com for their collaboration.  We look forward to sharing this experience together and grateful for their support.  You can visit their blog at www.doublevisionblog.com and watch this amazing video that will give you further insight on our retreat: http://doublevisionblog.com/2015/10/01/1447/

Retreat Details:   

Retreat Includes: Retreat Thursday 5 PM – Sunday 10 AM.
Meals included:  Thursday Dinner/ Friday & Saturday Lunch and Saturday dinner.  Breakfast will be included at the hotel each morning. Friday evening after activities in Salt Lake City, we will eat at City Creek together – Attendees will purchase their own meal for this evening.  Additional optional activities include:  temple square garden tour, Sephora make-up session, and a hike to Ensign Peak. 

To reserve your room, call the hotel, 801.292.8100 and indicate Resilient Solutions rate.  The rate is $99/room and will be available Wed, June 8 – Monday, June 13.  Website:  http://hotels.countryinns.com/ut/bountiful/hotels_bountiful_ut_utwestb.html

You can have your own room or choose to share with another woman attending the retreat.  

Airfare, travel expenses, and hotel are the responsibility of the attendees. 

We are so excited to share in this experience.  If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com.

We are grateful for Resilient Solutions, Inc for lending their office space.  www.resilientsolutionsinc.com

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please send check payable to Oasis Center for Hope, $195 before March 1st to RSI, Attn:  Becky 1355 N. Main, Ste.1, Bountiful, Utah 84010 and this form.  If you would prefer to pay by Credit Card, email the following information to Becky and she will call to get credit card information.

Name _______________________________  Phone ________________

Email _________________________ Preferred way to receive information: 

Print/Digital/Braille ______________________­­­­­­­­­__




Saturday, December 12, 2015

A friend who believed in me

I am having so much fun creating a 'memory book' of the journey of building Resilient Solutions, Inc.. Meet my friend, Kris Plummer, LCSW. She played such an important role in my profession and is a friend I treasure and SO grateful we are back working together! Twelve years ago after some wonderful experiences that had built my professional career, I was excited to start my private practice. I was interviewing with various agencies and private practices to find a good fit. After having a great conversation on the phone with a clinical director of a private practice office, I went in to finalize details. As I entered with my guide dog, he did an abrupt change to his tone when he realized I was blind with a guide dog. He went from being eager to hire me to not returning my calls. I was feeling a bit discouraged. One night Steve said let's look through (of all places!) the phonebook to find someone you can talk to. We pulled it out and we were looking at the agencies in our area. Kris' picture and name seemed to jump out from the page. I bravely called her the next day and she was SO nice and helpful. I explained my situation and she was simply encouraging and indicated she didn't see why that would make a difference at all. She helped me know who to contact in her office. She was warm, gentle, and genuine. I loved her the first time I met her. She truly helped me believe that I could be a therapist in private practice. As I opened Resilient Solutions, Inc ten years ago we definitely stayed in touch and both worked together at LDS Family Services. When I reflect back to that early time when I so wanted to be a therapist in private practice, her name always comes to mind .. she was so kind, supportive, encouraging and believed in me. We became friends and I love her. I am so grateful that for the past year we are now back working together at Resilient Solutions, Inc! She is such a wonderful friend who has supported me along the journey and is also an incredible therapist that I feel so grateful she is on our RSI team. Thank you Kris for your friendship, your mentoring, your love, and believing in me.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reflections

Yesterday in the office amongst the pain, difficult life transitions, and loss our clients were experiencing; a message of patience was shared by many ...
Note to Self ...
Maybe the best thing you could do right now is just sit with it awhile.
Maybe the bravest thing you could do right now is just decide this will not defeat you.
Maybe the most productive thing you could do right now is just fold your hands in solitude.
Maybe the most sensible thing you could do right now is just laugh... laugh in the face of it all.
Maybe the most powerful thing you could do right now is just close your eyes and envision a positive outcome.
Maybe the most loving thing you could do right now is just give yourself room to breathe.
Maybe the best thing to do right now looks like nothing at all,
But it's not.
Because when you're gathering hope, it's patient.
Because when you're gathering strength, its quiet.
When you're gathering resilience, it's unnoticeable.
In the face of challenge and uncertainty,
Sometimes the best thing you can do right now is just hold on. --Rachel Macy Stafford, www.handsfreemamma.com

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Life Update

Congratulations Kendall!  Two time tournament winner this weekend in Arizona.  Steve and Kendall are having a nice time in Arizona with family.  Kendall was able to spend some time with a great friend, Ethan as well.  
These two girls -- Georgie and Cricket helped me get outside for a walk.  
Loved my time in Washington, DC recently with Natalie.  So grateful for the opportunities that life brings.  
Sweet Steve covered my mirror in gratitude notes.  I feel loved :).  
Cute Georgie LOVES her toys from West Paw.  They are so durable and fun.
A nice Thanksgiving dinner with Steve, Kendall, my parents, my grandma and Brad and Lori.

Life is good :).

Saturday, December 5, 2015

You can just call me Becky

Steve and I were recently at an event.  As we sat down at our table, the woman next to me leaned over and said ... how should I refer to you?  Do you like the term disabled?  For a second, I was not sure what she was talking about! (Then I recognized she saw my guide dog, Georgie.  I also recognized that she meant well and I wanted to CONNECT.)   So after a moment, I then said -- Oh, my name is Becky and yes, I am blind.  Turning to my left I said and this is my husband Steve.  She then shared her name and the conversation began to  flow. We had a lovely evening laughing and getting to know each other.  We  had so much fun sharing some of our different adventures with each other. It truly was an evening of connection.
Photo by Rick Egan/SL Tribune

I've reflected on that conversation and others throughout the years.  This week I had a phone conversation with a reporter and one of her questions was ... What would you like someone to know about interacting with a person who is blind.  In my mind for a moment I reflected on various lists that I have seen on the dos and don'ts of interacting with a person who is blind.  They have many valid points and can be helpful.  However, after a moment's hesitation and recalling this recent experience of connection -- I proceeded with --  "This may seem simple -  Just treat a person who is blind like anyone else.  Get to know me. Connect like you would with anyone else.   I have many attributes, interests and probably some things we have in common.  At times I may need some assistance and at times you do.  If you wonder, just ask me.  Be yourself, relax and just speak in your normal tone."  -- We'll see how that was interpreted and how it comes out in print.

It made me think of the need we each have to connect and reflected back to my Psychosocial Impacts of a Disability Course in Grad School (found that class fascinating!).  The challenge with a label is it doesn't create connection - it distances us from each other.  

Connection doesn't exist without giving and receiving .  We need to give and we need to need. - Brene Brown. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Resilient Solutions, Inc beginning.

As we get ready to celebrate our ten-year anniversary at Resilient Solutions, Inc, I've been asked a lot lately ... how did you get started? Was this always your dream?  So, although this blog is called Georgie's vision :), it seemed a nice place to share our vision of Resilient Solutions, Inc..

Steve's response as we were talking about RSI's ten-year anniversary is telling of the support that I have enjoyed.  I asked him ... something like looking back what were your thoughts about opening up this business? His response was surprising to me even though I knew he'd been such a great support.  He said, I knew you'd be successful and my biggest concern was having enough space as you grew. Grew?  Ten years ago I wasn't really thinking about growing! I was just hoping to have enough clients to pay the rent :).  It made me think of a quote I love from Rising Strong by Brene Brown:  We can't be brave in the big world without at least one small safe space to work through our fears and falls. -- Brene Brown.  Thanks, Steve, for being that safe place where I can be brave.

Steve has been there every step of the way.  We married 31 1/2 years ago when I had just completed my freshman year of college.  By the time I graduated with my bachelor's degree in Business - Information Systems, three years later we were blessed with two children!  Steve has supported me through a lot of school, life transitions and is an amazing business partner.  He is a gifted commercial realtor, business coach, and has an extensive background in banking.  So grateful we are a team.

As I turned the calendar page over at the office to December:  Live like someone left the gate open was the quote for the month. One of my favorites!

I reflected back to all the tenacity and persistence that it had taken me to now feel like this quote resonated with me.  It wasn't an easy track. There were times of feeling defeated.  After my interview with a department head of a master's program that I was super excited about was one of those times.  I walked in confidently with my cane and he immediately started to question my abilities to be a successful therapist who was blind.  I wasn't accepted into that master's program.  As I reflect back I probably didn't have great answers or the confidence. He challenged me and looking back I can appreciate that he helped me to desire it even more!  There were many moments of persistence - getting back up and finding another way.  New doors opened up and I loved my master's programs that I did complete.  By the time I was an intern I was ready and able to educate sites that my guide dog would lie quietly in the corner and yes I could manage a difficult client load.  On and on ... I recognize now, each of those challenges came with an opportunity to grow and to check in on -- is this really your passion?   Passion is a relentless devotion for a desired outcome.  This was my desired outcome.  Steve knew that and didn't doubt that I would put in the time and sacrifice to make my passion come true.  He believed in me during times when I wasn't sure.  Why not?  Go for it.  You got this.  Beck, we will find a way. 

I loved my work at various sites: Moran Eye Center, Cancer Wellness House, Sharing Place, Caring Connections, Lifeline, and LDS Family Services.  As I started to think of creating my own private practice I was in a space ready to simplify my commute and the timing felt perfect with our family.   During this time, I met some amazing mentors and colleagues.  I also experienced doubters and even an employer that told me that I really should just be grateful, as a person who was blind, to have a job. Seriously!?  I am so grateful I followed my heart and listened to those who believed in me.  The doubters also pushed me to gain confidence from within and believe in myself.

A picture of us on our tandem bike is fitting.  This is often a place where besides pedaling hard, I gain clarity, and we do a  lot of talking.  We started tandem cycling over 20 years ago.  Besides being so much fun and great exercise; it is also a place where we have processed lots of our dreams including creating Resilient Solutions, Inc.
Like climbing a mountain, starting and maintaining a small business is a LOT of work, a LOT of sacrifice, and a LOT of fun and meaningful.  
Still to this day, I walk into the office so grateful that this is my home away from home.  I love being there.  I love my amazing colleagues.  I love that Steve believed in me and saw Resilient Solutions' vision.   I am grateful he knew how to create and manage a business even when my dream was simply to have a space to do what I love.  I love that it is something we do together.    
I recall brainstorming on names ... loved the word Resilient and its empowering meaning.  What was fitting to go with Resilient?  After coming up with various names we came upon Resilient Solutions, Inc.  RSI for short.  I love when someone will say -- love the name of your business.  It causes me to reflect back sitting across the kitchen table with Steve brainstorming about just the right name that could accompany what we hoped would be a place for people to come to heal.

So, as I begin to share our story of building a business, #1 Define what you are passionate about and have someone on your team that believes in you.  When you are following your passion -- you lose track of the hours you are.working.  You focus on the yes and the many doors that are openYou are willing to sacrifice for that desired outcome.  When we are living our passion, we find increased strength and courage.  My passion and dream for Resilient Solutions, Inc to be a place where people could come heal gave me the courage to excitedly market.  I now love to share this message and one of my favorite parts in the day is answering calls and helping someone find a therapist in our office that can help them in their journey.  I love when someone tells me RSI is a space that feels so comfortable and inviting.

Whether it is a busy day where every office is occupied with clients in session or a quiet Saturday morning when Steve and I are hauling in water, candy and the other supplies needed; I feel such gratitude to truly be living my passion and having an amazing partner by my side.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kindness

I spent the weekend visiting Natalie in Washington, DC. Georgie and I flew out on Friday and returned home today. Perfect flight times for getting the most of the weekend time together. Nonstop flights both ways makes for such nice travel. We left Natalie's apartment at 5:30 AM!   I was greeted by a kind, friendly Uber Driver. She was awesome and so welcoming. We arrived at the airport in great time - not a lot of traffic at that time of morning. As I walked to the Delta counter to check in, I asked for  some sighted assistance. I love that as she called for help -- she said, no wheelchair needed -- sighted assistance only.   A nice gentleman came to walk out to the pet relief area with me and through security to our gate. Georgie was so cute. She knew exactly where we were going (nice pet relief area in the Reagan/DC Airport.) She trotted ahead of the man that was our sighted assistant - and knew just where to turn to go outside.  We arrived at our gate with plenty of  time to get settled and wait to board the plane. We found our seat and I pulled out Georgie's fleece to put on the floor in front of my seat. We both settled in for the 4 hr. 27 minute flight. After a while the plane felt a little chilly and I put on my coat. I reached down to check on Georgie, and she was curled up in a tight ball. I was re-listening to an awesome book - Rising Strong, Brene Brown.  A short time later I put my hand down again and felt Georgie.  She was shivering.  I was starting to take off my coat to put around here when suddenly I had two flight attendants and everyone in my row concerned about Georgie. She was cold and they all wanted to help! They were offering their blankets -- helping me block where the cold air was coming through.  It was coming out just where she was laying down. She snuggled back up with a blanket blocking the cold air and another one that a fellow passenger had put around her ... So sweet. I was so grateful for their warm kindness. Kindness Matters.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thank you

Take time to say thank you both in writing and in word to those around you. Notice the acts of service and acknowledge them. Remember how many people have created or made possible what you experience every day. This practice provides a reminder of the web of support that we live in and contribute daily and easily don’t notice. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life. --unknown.

In the positive psychology training that I completed, one of the assignments was to Write a letter of Gratitude to someone who has blessed your life -- then, if possible, schedule an appointment to deliver your note and share your gratitude in person. Pretty awesome experience. This will be one of the assignments I will be incorporating in my next Positively Resilient Course to begin in January. Try it. I would LOVE to hear your experience. I reflect as I began to lose more vision, sometimes very random concerns would come up ... how am I going to do 'this' or 'that'. One of the items that popped into my head was writing thank you notes. The above picture is some of my thank you notes. Some items of concern -- how would I pick them out if I could not see them, how would I write on them to send them out if I could not see what I was writing. If there's a will there's a way, right. Steve, of course, is super helpful and has become a pro at helping me find cards that I will like. Also, you can find someone helpful at the store. Online where they have a description of the cards is another option. So, then the next challenge -- how to write on them. After some trial and error .. writing on the card upside down, etc (you may have received one of them :); I learned to organize them in a way that I could place the front side up -- sometime a tiny notch in the corner can be helpful, etc. Then, I learned that if I put my hand in the right positioning to write across I can write without being able to read what I write. Envelopes can be a bit tricky and I find most helpful when I have an envelope grid. IF not, finding the center of the envelope for the to address and the left corner or a return label for the from.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pantera

Today is my first guide dog's birthday. (October 30, 1995 - March 22, 2008.) She lived a long, beautiful life doing what she loved -- serving and helping. She had grit, tenacity and emerged as a strong, driven guide dog. She was focused and loved to work. She helped me do a lot in my 30's with grit and tenacity and focus. She also gave me much confidence as a visually impaired wife, mother, and grad student. As I celebrate her life today, I am going to try to stay focused and get some much needed tasks accomplished :).
She was 'dog of honor' at Meg, her puppy raiser's wedding.
The picture above is the night before she died - sitting on the floor with Cricket. I love this picture because it really represents Pantera. She was classy up until the day she died. As I retired her, she stepped back and graciously let Cricket take over guide dog duties. It was like she shared her wisdom with her.

A few nights ago I led a support group for GDB:  Paws and Remember.  We ended with this quote that represents Pantera.  She gave me strength and courage.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
whle loving someone deeply gives you courage. -- Lao Tzu


Monday, October 26, 2015

Bring your love

I've been thinking about a client years ago from the Moran Eye Center. He was 92 years old and I had the wonderful opportunity to visit him in his home as well as call him each week. I learned a lot from him. He lived a very simple life. When I called he would pick up the phone on the first ring and let me know he had been waiting for my call. He would put the phone to his tape player so I could hear the music he was listening to and would share what he knew about the artist. Our visits were delightful and a reminder to appreciate life and the simple joys in the day. He was so appreciative with my calls and visits. I remember his 'end table' where he kept his magazines, his magnifier and his tape player was a cardboard box. I knew on the other hand, he was generous with his money helping and giving to others. One day when I called him letting him know I would be coming for a visit with my guide dog, Pantera, I asked him what I could bring for lunch. His response has stayed with me for many years. He said, Becky, just bring your love. I recall asking him what did he say. He repeated himself - Just bring your love. I don't need anything else. He taught me again on that day. I did bring him a sandwich as well and we ate it in his apartment. After we were finished, he walked down to the front of his apartment building with me while I waited for my cab. He brought with him a couple magazines. As we went outside he set his magazines on the ledge before he sat down on them. He planned to enjoy the sunshine for a while before going back inside. As I got in the cab, I waved to him. I didn't want to leave him. He had reminded me to Appreciate. to Give. to Slow Down. to be present. to Just bring love. This was my last visit before he died. I reflect on him often and grateful for him in my life and what he taught me.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bloom

I posted this on our work facebook page -- like us at Resilient Solutions, Inc. and we have had so many 'likes' and 'shares'. Love its message!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

LOL

I love to laugh. Most of the time I see the positive and joy in the situation. I love life.  That isn't to say there isn't challenges.  Life is not easy.  However, I have found seeing the joy, the positive, the humor in each day brings lightness and gratitude.  This doesn't always come right away.  Sometimes we need a little distance.

Today as Steve was dropping me off to work he commented on them removing the big tree in front of the office.  I said -- I didn't know there was a big tree in front of the office!  For some reason we both found this funny and had a good laugh.  We could have cried that I didn't see the landscape around the office ... humor felt right.  I took a picture of Georgie by the area where the tree had been dug up :).
Another funny story.  I arrived at the office yesterday.  I went inside the breakroom to gather some items for the day.  Georgie walked into the room with her bed.  She knows the routine.  On this particular morning I was earlier than usual and it was a time when I didn't have scheduled appointments. One of my colleagues uses the office but wasn't there so Georgie went into the room.  While I was upstairs my colleague went in with her client to the office and they started their session.  A few moments later they realized that Georgie was in the corner on her bed.  My colleague reassured her client that Georgie was great at keeping everything confidential :).  I needed to walk across the street so after a few moments I knocked on the door and requested I get my transportation :).  

May you have a weekend of joy and laughter.  My colleague sent me a text encouraging my weekend to have brave and playful in it.  It is so fun to be a part of a team of therapists!  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Shopping Experience

We have been enjoying Cricket the past week while her family is in Hawaii.  I love how Georgie likes to have something in her mouth for picture time :).  Even in their playfulness - feel such a deepn sense of gratitude for these two and their gift of love and service to me and my family.

Last night I had such an amazing time with three great friends:  Lisa, Monica and Lisa.  We met at Blue Lemon for dinner - fantastic food and beautiful night sitting outside.  Then, we had a shopping appointment with Alicia Richmond - Chic on a Shoestring.  It was so much fun!  We started at Macy's.  We all had a dressing room and Georgie was in the middle - so cute, wish I had of gotten a picture!  We laughed, danced, tried on clothes and Alicia helped us know what styles worked good for each of us.  We then put our clothes on hold -- went to Ann Taylor Loft and Nordstroms and then back to Macys.  She helped us all find some really cute outfits. Not being able to see, it was so amazing to have someone give such great feedback on what to wear and not, etc.    
Some take aways from the experience.  She suggested with my size I wear fitted clothes -- avoid loose fitting styles, skirts just above the knee, skinny jeans and bright colors, avoid beige were some of what I remember.  She encouraged us to not buy something unless we absolutely loved it and felt great in it.  It was such a fun evening with great friends!  I'll post the outfits as I wear them :).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Celebrating White Cane Day

Celebrating White Cane Day.  Some words that come to mind when describing the cane and what it means to me: authenticity, freedom, independence, adventures. My phone call to the blind center to begin cane training (orientation and mobility) came after I walked into a stop sign in 1996. Yep. I guess I needed to be smacked in the head to know it was time. I was walking along the side walk - took a little short cut across the grass and ... bam. Several stitches later it was a wake up call that it was time to seek out the help that could help me be safe and independent. I needed a cane for my own safety, independence  and also so others could be aware.

I learned to walk throughout Salt Lake City and began to regain my confidence.  Just what I needed as a young mom.  I felt empowered.  I learned to cross streets safely, navigate through crowds, assertively ask for help, and orient myself in new surroundings.  Amongst this new found freedom I also felt some awkwardness.  I will always remember a conversation with my O & M Instructor at the basement of what was then the Crossroads Mall.   I was trying to navigate the questions that were being asked to me by strangers and wondering if I really needed this cane. (Seriously, Becky - so many examples of your need for a cane!) She was patient with me.  She asked me:  Did I feel more confident and able to go out and be independent with the cane?  YES.  We talked about the time that I had walked into the lone woman sitting on the soccer field because I did not see her and how difficult that was to explain and apologize.  A cane would alleviate this type of situation.  My O & M instructor then said,  Well I think you need to be true to yourself and use this tool that will help you live an active, independent life.  Done.  She was right.  I didn't need any more run ins with people or objects to remind me of the need for the cane.  I needed to get out there and enjoy life. The white cane was going to be a very helpful tool for me to do that.

One of my favorite stories about the cane. I was working at the Moran Eye Center: I got on the elevator with my cane and navigated my way inside, turned around to push the button to the desired floor. A man on the elevator began to question my 'blindness' -- asking why I needed a cane if I could find the elevator button. To his surprise, my opthalmologist - retina specialist was on the elevator and found the conversation very amusing.   He knew my lack of vision and was thrilled I was finally using a cane!

The cane became an opportunity to grow - to do what was right and helpful to me and embrace my blindness and who I am.  I don't use it a lot as the majority of the time for the past 18 years I walk with my guide dog.  However, there are those times where it is amazing to have it in my purse to help navigate in a new situation or  a place where I don't have my guide dog.  I will always appreciate the white cane and the freedom, independence it has given me and so many others.  Happy White Cane Day.
Becky with white cane at the American Mother's Convention.  (Cricket, my second guide dog had retired and  I was soon leaving for training with Georgie.)
Becky with white cane at a stop while on a tandem bike ride.  I usually have it strapped on the bike.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Disability is one part of who I am

Resilient Solutions, Inc. is approaching its ten-year anniversary!  I am super excited to celebrate this milestone.  Ten years ago we were remodeling - pulling up flooring, creating a break room, adding cabinets, repainting -- working lots of late nights to make our dream happen. The furniture arrived in the morning and I saw clients that evening.  I am so grateful to be doing just what I love and fun to be thinking of a way to celebrate!

The theme of National Disability Employment Month is:  My disability is one part of who I am.  -- Love it.  We have set up some simple adaptations at the office to help with my disability - visual impairment.  Its just an attribute of who I am and is rarely a discussion with my clients after the first visit when I explain why there is a sweet dog usually sleeping in the corner. It's just part of who I am.  My colleagues and I laugh about some of the humor in blindness.

Before becoming blind myself, I didn't know a lot of people who were blind.  At the age of 18 as I was diagnosed I began to meet people who were blind.  I quickly learned they were engaged in various careers, multitude of different interests and activities and many leading active, busy lives.   Today I have many, many friends who are blind.  As the theme says -- Their disability is one part of who they are.

Over the years of my career I have had many experiences of employment and my disability.  Many wonderful experiences and others not so much.  I have learned a lot from both and each time the not so much experiences have occurred I have tried to learn how better to respond next time.  I believe each of these experiences have helped me become a better employer, advocate for myself and others and hopefully a kinder more understanding person.  I am grateful for the many opportunities that I have had to educate others and learn myself.  I reflect on the many wonderful conversations, presentations, and discussions I have had as people have wanted to learn more.

Then, there are those unique situations that fall into the following definition of stereotype - which if you've experienced it you know it feels very different.

In Brene Brown's new book:  Rising Strong, she identifies a stereotype as the following:  stories we make up based on our own lack of knowledge and experience, or stories handed down to us by people who had little exposure or understanding.  

As I read this quote by Brene Brown an experience that occurred several years ago came to mind.  We were in a meeting with all the other business owners in our complex.  As I recall there was eight men and me.  We were receiving an update on the maintenance of the building, etc.  Suddenly, the one speaking stopped and directed his question at me-- Did you have surgery on your eyes?  It was totally out of context and so I was surprised and searching for how to answer this personal and what felt totally inappropriate question at the time.  I had previous interesting encounters with him where he had questioned my blindness.  However, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe he had heard of some treatment he wanted to share.  I smiled and quickly said, "No there is not a surgery that treats Retinitis Pigmentosa at this time."  Hoping that he would move on.  Instead in the middle of this meeting with the other business owners of the building,  he began to press me further.  Noting that he had seen me 'skipping out to the mailbox'.  Surely I must not be blind.  I was put in a situation where I was explaining Retinitis Pigmentosa - my limited amount of vision and feeling very shamed in the way I was being treated.  Besides Steve speaking up and being my advocate no one in this meeting said a word during this dialogue.  As the conversation moved back to the agenda items I reflected on how I could handle that type of situation better next time and also giggled inside thinking a little bit about being called out for 'skipping to the mailbox.'

In the years to come, I continued to be friendly and say hi to him.  One time after I said hi -- he questioned me on how I knew he was coming.  After I received an award, he came up and said that he was shocked!  No matter how hard I tried,  I could not help him get past his own misunderstandings and story of what blindness/visual impairment looked like.  He was either questioning my blindness because I was skipping to the mailbox or feeling like I was amazing because I was recognized in my profession. At one conversation where he was further questioning me, I boldly told him to stop. Sigh ...

Incase, you are wondering the mailbox is an easy straight walk out from our office.  You can easy skip while trailing the curb.  Also, if someone is walking by me I am going to smile and say hi -- you don't need to recognize or see to be able to do so.

Years later I would have answered his question briefly and been much more assertive on saying, let's get back to the matters we are discussing as business owners.  I also recognize that he was one that no matter how much educating I did -- he was not open to learning or changing the crazy story he had made up in his mind of what 'blindness' looked like.

At times as I may tell one of my colleagues who knows this story that I am going out to get the mail .. they may say:  No Skipping :).  We laugh.   He can't take away my skip or smile.    


  

Monday, October 5, 2015

WE GOT THIS!!

What a wonderful extended weekend! Thursday morning started with this article in the newspaper: Blind Bountiful Woman thrives as an athlete ...  (I had to smile - I grew up cheering my amazing brothers on in their athletic endeavors - never thought of myself as an athlete.) I'll embrace it, right! Thank you to Rick Egan/photographer and videographer and Kristen Moulton/reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune.  It was a fun experience and wonderful to hear from people!

Then, staff meeting at Resilient Solutions, Inc. followed by seeing a few clients before Steve and I were on our way to St. George to meet Scott and Alanna and their family for the weekend.   Alanna and I had signed up to run the St. George Marathon.  A foot injury had gotten in the way of much of my training.  First, some time off to see if that would help it mend, then eventually the doctor put me in a boot for a four weeks.  During this time, I was cycling on the tandem when I could with Steve and going to the gym to my class (thank you Jenny!!).  The past few weeks I had experienced no pain in my foot and was back to adding miles to see if I could possibly run atleast part of the marathon with Alanna.  I was up to 7 miles on my long run and hoping that I could add some miles on marathon day and perhaps get up to 10 miles.

I had debated about whether to start the run with Alanna or meet her for the last ten miles and run. We decided we would look at the route and see which would be the easiest place to meet up.  It gets tricky with roads closed and marathon crowds. I thought I had a better chance of keeping up with her if I met her for the last portion when she was tired :), however, I also really loved the idea of starting with her - the crazy early bus ride to the start line and waiting.

Alanna and I have become great friends.  I love her so much.  If you want to see our story - this clip captures some of our story together:  KSL Clip - Becky & Alanna

Friday morning we met Alanna and her daughter Makayla  to go to the Expo.  It was fun to be with them and feel the excitement of the marathon.  It brought back so many fun memories of our time at the NYC Marathon together. I didn't want to buy any marathon gear as I felt like I wasn't going to be doing the whole  When we looked at the map, we learned that the first place to really get picked up if I started the run was at mile 16.  This could also be the option where Steve could take me to start with Alanna and run the rest of the way.  Sixteen felt a little daunting. Alanna was super supportive and encouraging to tell me to do what felt good to me.  I didn't want to hold her back - She had trained and was ready to run a great marathon.  We left and were going to meet them for dinner.  I wasn't sure what to do.  I went back and forth feeling torn and not believing I could do the whole marathon yet also feeling like 'go for it'!

 

We met for dinner and by this time I was leaning towards meeting at mile 16 and running the last 10 miles with her.  Yet, that didn't quite feel right.   I didn't want to hold her back - have her not be able to finish if I wasn't able to.  She had trained and was ready to have a great run.  I tried to get her to agree to leave me if I couldn't finish ... not a chance!  
By the end of dinner,  I knew I needed to show up and run the marathon.  We were a team and although we would go slower than if she was going it alone ... we got this!  I felt her love and support and wanted to experience it with her.  Our sweet friend, Brenda had given us packages with yummy goodies to help along the journey.  We left dinner with the plan Steve would drive us to the bus in the morning. We would pick Alanna up at the hotel at 4:15 AM.  I tried to get myself in marathon thinking mode.  Okay, one step at a time.  You can do this.  Can I really?  I was going to show up and be brave.  I was not prepared in the typical way of training for a marathon.  All the marathons up to this point, I had followed a marked out course of how many miles to do each day/week. The following quote came to mind:  The miracle isn't that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.  -- John Bingham.  We had come across this quote when we were in Annapolis back in June when I originally had to quit training.  I would celebrate the courage to show up and enjoy the early early experience with a friend that I loved.  What would happen next, we would see.  The bus ride was probably 23 miles long - basically up the course we would come down except the part you wind down around the city.  We had fun chatting on the bus and I soon forgot that I wasn't really prepared for what I was about to do. It was chilly at the starting point and in between my potty stops (combination of drinking lots of fluids and nerves = several trips before we even started), we sat by the fire and talked further.  6:30 AM we began to inch our way to the start line.  It was still chilly and so I kept my outer layer on which covered my 'blind runner' vest.  As we started the run the runners were close together and many chances to trip over someone, I held on to Alanna's elbow.  After a couple miles, we started warming up and took off our outer layers and the run began to feel great!  We were running in stride -- hearing the footsteps of all the runners on the pavement.  LOVE that sound of runners in sync together.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  So many other runners encouraged us along - you guys are amazing, one of my favorites:  awesome teamwork, even you are scensational.  It does take a lot of teamwork and working together.  

A few miles further we began to run with a woman that started to talk to us.  It turns out her young grandson, age one, was blind.  She was such a loving grandma concerned and hoping he would have a good life.  We chatted for a few miles sharing our stories, ideas and encouraging her that indeed he could have a wonderful life.  We ran together until the next stop visiting.  As we got our next cup of gatorade, we hugged.  At the moment, I thought what if I hadn't of shown up.  She may not have run by the side of us and talked to us without my blind runner vest on.  After our conversation I was energized to run further.  

Along the way, so many other runners spoke to us.  The blind runner vest does bring out conversation in others.  One man told us he was running his first and last marathon to cross it off his bucket list.  Another woman was on her 37th run.  

Near mile 16 where Steve and Scott and family were, a woman had homemade cookies and candy.  That chocolate chip cookie tasted so good!  Having our family there gave us such an energy boost.  Steve asked me if I was going to continue on -- YES!  We got this, I said! We were still making decent time.  

Greeting Alanna's family at Mile 16.  Steve is taking picture. 
Trying to smile with a cookie in my mouth :).

The extras at the stops were amazing -- icy/hot and quick 10 second massages for our sore muscles, cold washcloths near mile 25 and kind people cheering us on all the way.  How can we not feel like "WE GOT THIS" with that kind of support.

Steve, Scott and their kids were near mile 26 and the boys ran with us to the finish line. Such an amazing day ... so glad I had the courage to show up and had amazing support of a woman I so love and admire -- thanks, Alanna.    



Monday, September 28, 2015

Family

Enjoying a slice of my grandma's 100th birthday cake with Kendall. Grateful to have spent some great quality time with Kendall this weekend with my grandma, my parents and aunt loye. So grateful for family.

Monday, September 21, 2015

You got this!

You may be expecting a running story with that title, right!  Another story on the goodness of people.  

Last night we attended the musical Oklahoma. Nicely done and Georgie did fantastic with the noisy sounds - thunder sounds and gun fire. During intermission, I was waiting in line in the women's restroom (of course right, ladies!) It was a long line and was staying tuned as we inched our way up the line. The woman in front of me asked if I had been to this restroom before and if I knew the layout. I said usually I went to the one upstairs. She proceeded to give me a brief layout of the restroom telling me where the larger stall was, etc. then as it became available she turned to me and said -- you got this!! I thanked her and loved the reminder that we encourage, cheer and help each other on in all sorts of places. Encouraging each of you in what you are doing ... You got this!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Love Series

I hope you enjoy this clip of footage of Georgie and I working, running and cycling.  I was grateful for the opportunity to share.

I love living an active life


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Portland Recap

Georgie and I flew to Portland Thursday to see our dear friend Debi and to enjoy the Guide Dogs for the Blind Reunion.  I just completed my term as the Chair of the Alumni Association (an amazing, growing experience) and was on the reunion committee.  Our theme was:  Paws around the World.  There were 100 dogs there and it was truly a wonderful weekend!  

Debi and I enjoyed time together on Thursday including amazing pedicures from MeSpa in Bridgeport.  You know when they cover your eyes and ask if they can tuck you in .. you are in for a relaxing treat!  

I had the opportunity to share at the Presidents Leadership Training and also do two sessions on Three Secrets to a Successful Trip with Lauren Ross - a field manager at GDB.  The Awards Banquet was amazing celebrating some incredible volunteers, graduates and staff.  At the end of the banquet, Theresa said they had one more person to thank and began to share some things ... I realized she was talking about me.  Very special moment.

I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing organization and have met so many incredible people and some amazing dogs.  Georgie was fantastic.

We just captured one picture through it all ... My dear friend Debi and I before the banquet began.  
If you want to hear more about our story of how we met you can watch the clip here:  Debi and Becky at the Fall Luncheon

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Patience

Last night Steve patiently went back to the office to pick up an item I had left.  This is a common occurrence as I try to remember all I need to take and not seeing it sometimes it just doesn't happen.  Steve is super patient and I am so grateful.   I reflect on when I was experiencing vision loss, someone told me you will learn a great deal of patience.  Indeed. Patience for my self.  Patience for those around.  And, I am so grateful for those who have such patience with me.

Yesterday, I walked over to Arctic Circle to get my colleague lunch (she had a crazy day without a break in her schedule and we needed a walk so it worked perfectly).  A kind gentleman came up to me after I had paid and was waiting for the food.  I had dropped a doggie bag out of my wallet.  He brought it over and asked if I might need that later.  We both laughed and I thanked him.

I am reflecting on the combination of Patience and a Sense of Humor.  I think they work well together.

Georgie and I are off to Portland.  She is excited and ready for an adventure.  It will be a nice journey and I am sure there will be times where we will practice patience as we make the journey both with ourselves and with others.  

This picture is Georgie's tag that reads:  See Beautiful.  We do. -- I think patient and sense of humor are part of seeing beautiful in ourselves and others.