Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Excerpt from our forthcoming book

I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.  After a presentation I have been asked if I have written a book.  At first, I laughed and then the thought has intrigued me.  I began to think this would be an amazing experience to write and share my journey.  I am so very grateful for my incredible family who have been cheering me on and believe in me.   I am very grateful for Amy Hackworth who is an amazing editor/writer in this journey.   I have looked forward to our weekly discussions and amazed at what I am learning about myself.   It has been such a gift to reflect on my childhood, the victories and the challenges in my life and all who have helped me along the way.  Each time we get off the phone, I find myself reflecting on all those who have touched my life.  Here is a short excerpt:    

Our first tandem was a green bike that we thought might be a helpful way for me to get around the neighborhood with our kids, Natalie and Kendall. We were within biking distance of a market, the community pool and plenty of friends and neighbors, so it was a great solution for a while. We’d take the tandem and another bike, and the kids would take turns riding solo or tandem. The bike offered some exciting independence that summer; I loved the freedom of making a plan with the kids and being able to go where we wanted on our own.
When I shared my transportation triumph with my ophthalmologist, he was surprised, maybe even incredulous. “Do you realize how much you’re not seeing?” he asked. And then the blow,  “You cannot be on the front of that bike.” It was sobering news. Of course I was disappointed about what I thought was a new found independence.  I crossed biking off the list of family transportation options.
Though I didn’t ride with kids again, my days with the tandem bike were just beginning. I could still pedal from behind, and Steve and I discovered the joy of riding together. It opened a new chapter of activity in our life and a renewed sense of freedom and vitality for me.
              When I’d ridden with our kids, I’d been constantly vigilant about traffic and obstacles, but when Steve took the lead, he also took that worry from my mind. As we rode more and more miles together, I enjoyed the rhythm and momentum of riding, the unity of my body in motion with Steve’s, and an incredible sense of vitality. Having walked into countless walls, doors, chairs, benches, tables, sofas, a stop sign, and plenty of people, I’d learned to move somewhat cautiously. But I was completely at ease biking with Steve. In place of caution, I felt freedom. In place of discretion, acceleration. As I felt the wind on my face and arms, I rejoiced in the fact that I was not just moving, but moving fast. The effort was its own reward.
I had trusted Steve’s guidance for the past twenty years and I’d already decided I would follow him anywhere. Sitting behind him on a tandem bike helped me appreciate his role in my life in yet another way.
              We rode our first race a few years later, as part of a team in the Bike MS 150-mile ride in Logan, Utah. Part of the course took us near my parents’ home, and they watched from the sidelines. As we approached my mom and dad, Steve told me they were there, and that my mother was crying tears of joy. I’ll always remember how they clapped and cheered as we rode past. 
              After the Bike MS, we decided that biking was definitely our thing. We started shopping for new bikes and just before the following year’s Bike MS, we upgraded our used tandem to something better suited to our new hobby. Steve insisted we get a Burley Softride, which was designed to minimize impact for the rear rider. Since I couldn’t see to brace myself for the small but inevitable bumps of road biking, the Softride provided a welcome cushion. Our new bike had more and better gears, more comfortable seats, and clip in pedals. It was a beautiful bright red and we were thrilled with our purchase.
The new bike was basically the same as our old one, just smoother and more comfortable, with the exception of the clip in pedals, which were brand new to us. The pedals clipped to special shoes, which leveraged our effort pushing down on the pedals and pulling up as well. The clips were secure until released with a simple rotation of the foot. It was a little unnerving to clip my shoes into the pedals for the first time, but I knew I’d get used to them. I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t have much of an opportunity.
              On our first ride on the new red Burley, we were about three miles into one of our usual routes when Steve suggested we practice some hills, since the course in Logan was hilly. We rounded a corner to climb a hill but didn’t have quite enough speed to keep our balance. The bike tipped to the left. Our feet were securely clipped into our pedals and we were too inexperienced to get them out quickly enough. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as I put out my left arm to brace myself against the asphalt. We went down hard.
              Steve and I asked the question at the same time. “How are you?” We unclipped our shoes, untangled ourselves from the bike, and stood up. Steve had landed on his hip, which was sore, but ok. My wrist hurt, but not enough to head home. “Let’s keep going,” I said. We biked another ten miles, but instead of subsiding, the pain increased with every mile. I went to bed that night planning to see how my wrist felt the next morning, but in the middle of the night searing pain woke me up. The pain in my arm throbbed, sharp and jagged, with an intensity that took my breath away. I woke Steve up. “I don’t think this can wait until morning, dear.”
              At the ER we learned I had broken my left arm in two places. I’d need a cast from my wrist to my elbow. At our request, the doctor did his best to angle the cast so my arm could heal properly while still allowing me to hold Pantera’s harness. My arm felt better as soon as it was set and casted, and by the next evening, I was thinking about Bike MS. I didn’t really need my arm to ride. Maybe the race was still a possibility.
              I started convincing Steve right away. This was a setback, I reasoned, but not a deal breaker. We could still ride the race. I wasn’t in pain, and it wasn’t like I needed my arms to steer.
              Steve shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t want you to get hurt again.”
              I knew he felt a sense of responsibility for the fall that broke my arm. That’s the thing about a tandem bike: you share the load for better and for worse.
              “I don’t want to do anything crazy,” I assured him. “If I thought it was dangerous, I wouldn’t suggest it. I really want to do this race with you.” I watched Steve consider the options. Here he was again, faced with a dilemma between the desire to support me in fully experiencing every aspect of life and the desire to protect me from harm.
              I sensed his reluctance. “Let’s just try it on Saturday,” I suggested. “Just a tiny ride. We’ll see how it goes.”
              We had volunteered to attend an event at Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake. We’d offered to take our tandem bike to give rides to those with visual impairments to help them experience the freedom and fun I’d been enjoying. I talked Steve into taking me on a quick loop on the bike. Though I was just a little nervous, Steve was a lot nervous, but he agreed. We rode a quick and smooth quarter of a mile and my hope for the Bike MS flourished.
              He spent the afternoon giving rides on the bike, and we both loved hearing the positive responses. People who had never been on a bike before rode for the first time, and others hadn’t ridden in years. It was such a thrill to hear the joy and exhilaration in their voices when they returned from the ride.
              On the way home, I proposed some contraption to prop up my cast on the handlebar, and it took just a little more earnest convincing on my part for Steve to agree. “I just don’t want you to get hurt again,” he repeated. I gave him a kiss and assured him that I wouldn’t.
              “We can do this,” I said. “I know we can.”
By the time Steve had rigged up a foam pad on the handlebar to support my cast, he was a little more game. I wriggled into my bike shoes and clipped my right foot in for a quick spin around the block. I settled my left arm on the foam pad and took a deep breath. I was feeling great; this really looked like it was going to work.
Steve clipped in, too, and looked back at me. “Are you sure about this, Beck?”
I couldn’t keep from smiling. “I’m sure.”
 “Just don’t break your other arm,” Steve joked.
I laughed, too. “What are the odds?”
With that, we pedaled out of the driveway and rode comfortably around the block. “This is totally working,” I called to Steve. “My arm feels great!” Setback overcome! A little broken arm wasn’t going to stop me!
I was basking in our success when we turned back into the driveway. I hadn’t accounted for the weight of my casted left arm as we turned, and I felt our balance shift. I certainly didn’t want to fall, so I leaned to the right. A little too far. Once again, time seemed to slow as we fell to the cement, our feet firmly clipped into our pedals.  As we got up, Steve said, "Are you ok? Well, at least you didn't break your other arm."  I paused and he asked ... or did you? 

Though the pain in my right arm wasn’t searing yet, I recognized the throbbing from the week before.  I grimaced. “I don’t think we need to wait until tomorrow to see if it’s broken.”


Georgie is getting on a plane again, tomorrow.  I believe this is flight #26 for this girl!  She loves an adventure!  She thrives navigating around crowds.  It will be hot and humid in Baltimore and DC.  She will need her booties on the hot pavement.  I cannot find two of her booties, ugh!  We are hoping tonight when we do our final packing that they will be tucked away in one of the suitcases!

As I reflect on the opportunity to present at the Foundation Fighting Blindness on Friday on Finding your personal resilience - I am reminded of the quote:  We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations - Charles R. Swindoll

What opportunities have come to you out of what seemed like an impossible situation?

Monday, June 22, 2015


Kendall had a table tennis tournament in Cedar City - Summer Games on Saturday.  It was a great opportunity to go to St. George (45 minutes away) and stay in our home for a few days and enjoy Kendall's company and cheer him on.  It was hot up to 108 degrees so we were able to go on an early morning bike ride and enjoyed the movie:  Cokeville Miracle.   We enjoyed a summer evening walk with Kendall around the neighborhood.  On Saturday we drove to Cedar City for the tournament.  We dropped Kendall off and we explored for a while.  Our timing of stopping back in for the tournament was perfect -- Kendall was just starting to play a game.  He won a bronze medal.  Yay, Kendall!  That evening we went to In-n-Out Burger for dinner.  We sat outside and it was after 9 PM when we left.  We enjoyed hearing about all the details of Kendall's day.

The next morning we packed up to leave.  Just as we were getting in the car I realized I didn't have my purse and wallet.  Yikes!  I realized the last time I had it was at In-n-Out Burger.  I was pretty sure I had left it outside near the table.  Generally, I don't carry as much cash as I had in my wallet or all three of my credit cards as well as a couple checks written out to me.  Ugh!  On the way, I checked my bank accts on my phone and same balance.  That was a good sign.  Steve ran into In-n-Out Burger and whew ... the same lady that had helped us the night before was there and had picked up my purse and wallet and brought them in.  So so grateful!!!

Throughout the drive home, we would comment on how grateful we were that my purse and wallet were there with everything intact.  Whew.  This is my very favorite purse and wallet.

I reflected on my Positive Psychology Course on Gratitude that I was just completing.  One of the assignments is to take a moment each day and simply appreciate all the little things that you may not be actively appreciating yet if they were gone and came back you would appreciate them so much.  Appreciate them before that happens.  What a reminder.  This week, with an injured foot, I have been reminded of the joy of simply walking without pain.      

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another favorite quote

I posted this quote on our facebook page and blog at Resilient Solutions, Inc.  It has been getting a lot of 'likes' and comments.  So grateful for the joy of such meaningful work.  

"Give yourself time to be sad, frustrated, and angry. Give yourself time to heal, accept, and to grow. Time doesn’t erase anything, but it can provide you with enough space to be able to breathe again. And then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it. And day by day people offer you pieces of their hearts to help remake your own. Allow yourself to be where you are at, to feel what you are feeling, and to experience everything that means. And during this process, look and listen for that glimmer of hope. It is there, I promise. And it is waiting for you to see it. Because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive. Facing it. That is how you get through."
- Jessica Jensen

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We got this

Well, just after Alanna and I created a facebook page - "We got this" to help us in our journey to the next marathon and also connect with others working towards a goal; an injury occurred!  How could that happen - I had it all planned out, yeah right!  One thing I love about a marathon training is the awesome schedule for an 18 week time period that you follow and cross off each day.  I love the process of building up to this goal.  

As I have spent the last couple days not able to put any weight on my right foot and hobbling along with Georgie by my side, I am reminded that life is a marathon.  Sometimes it doesn't go as planned.  Good news is it seems to be inflammation and not a stress fracture as originally thought.  Marathon is in question at this point, perhaps - perhaps not.  We will take it a day at a time and the goal now is to get my foot healthy.

GREAT NEWS!!  Biking should be a good option in a few weeks and is a great cross train exercise for a marathon :).  

If you are on facebook and would like to join our "We got this" page, please do!  Just let me know and I'll send you an invite.  I have been so inspired by others sharing their goals - whether it is writing, reading, walking, cycling, finding a greater self-confidence -- inspired by what people are sharing!  Join us as we cheer each other on.  I have thought about one of the quotes at Lifeline Adolescent Treatment Center when I worked there -- A setback paves the way for a comeback!!

I've had a little setback this week, however, WE GOT THIS!

Georgie has been amazing the last couple days to recognize I needed to go slow and adjust her pace for my injury.  Oh, how I love this girl! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Porch of Resilience

Recently for a writing assignment I was asked to revisit a place that represented resilience for me. The porch in our former home quickly came to mind. Our kids were almost six and four when we moved into this home. As we were looking for a home, the time that I would soon need to turn in my driver's license was approaching. We needed a location that was walking distance for the kids to school, to our church, to a grocery store, and on the bus route ... and we hoped it would be in a quiet neighborhood! And, we had a limited budget! We drove around for many weekends searching for this 'ideal location' for our family. Finally, we found a neighborhood that fit perfectly! The lot where we would build our home was one house away from the bus stop, walking distance to the elementary school, junior high and even high school. A grocery store, dentist, even orthodontist, and bank were just a short walk away. Our church was also an easy walk. We were thrilled! We lived in this home until our kids were 18 and 17. As I reflect on this porch, it was a simple porch. I remember we couldn't afford at the time to do vinyl so we painted it. I had wished it could be a little bigger and wrap around the house. Again, we were on a tight budget and couldn't do too many extras. It wasn't centered with the door but again, that would be some extra money so we accepted it the way it was. As we moved in, those things didn't matter. We were thrilled to be in this home and quickly loved our neighborhood. We loved sitting on this porch. I recall many times enjoying summer evenings out there. We were thrilled when the Bountiful Temple was built and with just the right angle it could be seen from our porch in the evening. Some specific points of Resilience with this porch come to mind. A beautiful summer morning after turning in my driver's license the year before. I had walked out with Steve to say good bye as he left for work. He recognized my grief and gave me a hug and asked me if I would be okay. I reassured him I was fine. The kids were still sleeping. I was feeling the reality of vision loss and its impact on my life. In that moment I was grieving many losses and feeling like many doors were closing in my life. I was just learning about the new doors that could open up in my life. I sat on this porch and felt the heaviness in that moment of being a young mom losing her vision. I just wanted to hop in the car and take the kids to the park or somewhere fun. I shed a few tears. After a few moments the power of choice resonated strong. The choice to create joy and happiness for my children far exceeded the discouragement and losses I was feeling in that moment. The desire to enjoy the opportunities as a mother far exceeded the fear of getting on the bus with them to go on a new kind of adventure. On that day, the reality of blindness hit me and also the reality that I could choose how I responded to that reality also was clear. I chose joy. I chose happiness. I chose courage. I chose gratitude. As I returned to this porch a few weeks ago (from a distance - we don't know who lives there), I found myself celebrating this young mom who had been able to dig deep and find her personal resilience. Many acts of love and service were shared on that porch. I reflect with such love and gratitude for the women in my neighborhood who arranged a carpool for me when I could not drive. They helped me and my family out immensely as we made that transition and throughout the years. I always knew I could pick up the phone and ask for a ride or help in another way from a caring neighbor. It was on this porch on a beautiful summer morning that I surrendered to Retinitis Pigmentosa and allowed it to become my teacher in life.  "This is what I am faced with right now in my life's journey. While I'd like it to be different, I must allow myself to face the reality of what is happening -- when you surrender you release attachment to how you feel your life should be and invite yourself to be in the presence of your life exactly as it is, while naturally difficult to do, surrender is an act of courage" --Dr. Alan Wolfelt

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Week Recap

Funnest news of the week: Kendall placed second in a table tennis tournament. His enthusiasm and excitement was so fun to hear all about. Go Kendall!! Next - Summer League Tournament in Cedar City this weekend and Vegas in July. Cheering you on! He told me - Mom this is like my Boston. Around here when someone has a goal or a dream they are really wanting we refer to it as 'their Boston'. One of my dreams was to run the Boston Marathon, which I did in April. Amazing! Today the July issue of Women's Running came out. Steve went to several stores to find it because - Brenda, Suzette and I are in it sharing a little bit about our running journey. Specifically talking about our first marathon together - Top of Utah. So fun. In the picture, I am sitting with Georgie "reading the article."
I went into pick up Natalie's dress for her birthday.  One of our little traditions with her birthday on the 4th of July is to get her a red, white and blue outfit!  Well, I loved this dress and so bought one for me too.  Celebrating Natalie :).  We will take hers to her in a few weeks!  
The week was busy so we didn't get on the bike until Saturday.  What a beautiful day to ride 29 miles with Steve on our new tandem that we are loving.  Steve's summer goal is to ride 2000 miles.  A little girl told us what a cool bike - I thought not only is it a cool bike but thanks to this cool bike I can enjoy riding a bike.   

Half-way done in my positive psychology certification.  Today I have got to focus on finishing up details for my presentation in Baltimore on "Finding your Personal Resilience."  

Celebrating Georgie:  Each day we walk over to the park for our little morning walk.  As they clean up the pavillion the night before, the trash can is often moved in a different location.  Georgie knows 'find the trash.'  The cleaning crew might not realize they are giving us some extra guide work practice to 'find the trash' as it is moved in various locations :).  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fashion Fun

Probably the most frequent question I get asked is NOT -- how did you create your business or organize your case notes as a person who is blind. Nope, the most common question I get is how do you select your clothes. So, to answer some of those questions - I am going to label it "Fashion Fun" til I think of a better name and share. I have always loved to shop and design fun outfits. This brings many great memories with my daughter, my mom, Steve and friends. And even many times alone. 1. How does one do that without being able to see self in the mirror? I start with visualizing my outfit. For example in the picture below, I started with a navy dress. Then, I remember that I have a necklace with navy and orange. So, I put on orange earrings to accessorize. Alex and Ani bracelets are so much fun as an accessory. I love the message that each one carries. Shoes - I have navy pumps and also Natalie told me that natural color is trendy :). I don't have any natural pumps and so Steve takes a picture and I sent it to Natalie for her vote of my natural color sandals or navy pumps. She tells me the navy pumps in this situation. I decide what to wear but Steve is awesome to be like the mirror :) and tell me if anything is not okay. If he isn't home, then I do my best :). Steve and I go through my clothes periodically and he serves as the eyes to make sure they are still in good condition. Funny story about this dress. I was debating whether to get this style in red and what I thought she said was black. As I stood there thinking and trying to decide she said - I think you would really use the navy dress a lot! I said, OH it's navy! Decision made. Although the red would be fun, too.
Steve and I had a fun evening -- Gala Event at Centerpoint Theatre.  
Georgie attended, of course, and was a fantastic girl!
What other questions do you have of "Fashion Fun" for a person who is blind?  Share your ideas or questions.

Happy Monday.  Georgie and I have a busy one at the office - two groups, several individual clients, a new student intern joining our team.  Promise Georgie, we will find time for a walk and dinner.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Happy Birthday Cricket. Reflections on my Second Guide Dog.

Happy Birthday, Cricket!! If you are new to reading my blog, Cricket was my second guide dog. She lovingly served as my guide for seven years.  As well as guiding me safely in all my adventures, each of my guides have taught me so much.  They have been just what I needed for that season in my life.  When I think of Cricket, the first word is LOVE.  She has an amazing capacity to love and share this love with others.  Family, friends, clients, co-workers all talk about her ability to love.  As she retired, we recognized that she wanted to be able to share this love and not be home all day to a quiet house.  We were very fortunate that we were able to place her with friends.  She is nearby for visits when I just long to give her a hug and get some Cricket love.   She is a part of an amazing family.  We are so grateful!  Last night, we stopped in to give Cricket her little birthday present.  We didn't get any pictures of the greeting but did get one as we waited for our Cricket love.
When I reflect on my sweet Cricket, I reflect on how she gracefully handled some challenging situations.  Cricket reminded me that we can educate and advocate with love and kindness.  

As a team, Cricket and I had some fun times throughout the country sharing our story.  

Cricket - 7th birthday

Happy Happy Tenth Birthday, Cricket.  Thank you for your love and your incredible service to me and my family.  Keep on sharing that love.  Love you Cricker Girl.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Extraordinary Work Each Day

Today after our run this morning I went to City Creek Shopping Center before work. I had a couple specific tasks. First, go to the Apple Store and get my new phone adjusted - the voiceover was not working correctly. Check - they were super helpful. I am loving my Iphone 6+. I was nervous it would feel too big - not at all. Next to Sephora which is just outside Apple and to the left to the next door. 'Georgie inside' and 'Georgie find the counter' as she weaves through the aisles - definitely not a straight path to the counter. As I walk to the counter with my guide dog, I ask the sales associate if she can help me find the make up brushes. She walks over to the make up brushes and I tell Georgie follow. I explain what I am looking for and she helps me find it. I then ask her for some help finding some eye cream. She calls for another sales associate to help and she goes back behind the counter. The other sales associate comes over and asks me a few questions and again I tell Georgie follow as we walk to where the eye cream is. As we get there, I ask her to describe what the bottle looks like and what color it is, etc. She helps me find the correct one and then I tell Georgie 'find the counter' to get back to the original sales associate and make our purchase. I needed some guidance on which buttons to push on the banking machine. I asked for assistance and it was at this point, she said ... Oh, you are blind and this is your guide dog. Yes :). This is an example of the extraordinary work of a guide dog each day.