Thursday, April 20, 2017

Resilience Plan ... Incorporating your Strengths

Love helping my client's identify their strengths and then incorporating into their resilience plan. Take the VIA Survey Signature Strength Test: (http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey). What are your top five strengths? How do you incorporate them into your life each day? Come back and share!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Be true to yourself

Be true to yourself


A visit to the ophthalmologist confirmed that I’d lost more vision, which wasn’t much of a surprise.  I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition. I still had good acuity at this time but my vision had narrowed like seeing through a paper towel roll.  Walking into a stop sign was certainly one of those dramatic times that brought to my attention the disparity between what I saw and reality.  If I’d been waiting for a sign that I needed a cane, well, I’d just walked into one. 
It was time to stop, literally, and face the truth:  I wasn’t safe without some kind of additional support.  I knew that it was time … perhaps past time.  My world and therefore my children’s world would get smaller if I didn’t seek additional training.  I wanted my children to know the world was full of possibilities and what a meaningful life could look like.  I couldn’t do that if I was afraid of getting hurt when I left the house. 
My desire to be out in the world  nudged me to make that call to the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  The  next day a friendly Orientation and Mobility Instructor greeted us and quickly showed me some simple techniques to help around our home and office.  He then took me to an open room, unfolded a cane and handed it to me.  I’d been afraid of this moment.  But as I grasped the black plastic handle and felt the weight of the long white pole in my hand, I decided it was time to embrace this opportunity.  The people I met that day at the Center were positive, motivated and capable.  They have given me a glimpse of my future that now didn’t scare me.  The O & M Instructor covered a few basics that day and we scheduled our first official training for later in the week.  Using the cane was like sending a messenger ahead to report back on obstacles, he said.  It wasn’t long before the rhythm felt routine.  As I made wide arcs down the street, I held my head high and began to feel confident in enjoying walking again.  “You know, he said, just having the cane out will help others be more aware of you.”  I knew he was right.  Yet, many times as I left training, I tucked my cane safely back into my purse and carefully walked back to the bus stop.  If I was feeling brace, I would carry it folded in my hand, ready to unfold it as needed.  Of course, I couldn’t know I needed it until too late.  I knew Bob had a point.  I reflected on occasions when having a cane would have helped people understand my behavior.  Perhaps flirting with the wrong man at the video store would have been less embarrassing.  Maybe there would be some benefits to having people know I was visually impaired.
              I continued to master my skills in a beautiful historic neighborhood in SLC with uneven sidewalks.  We met near the University of Utah where I had to locate a specific pizza place several streets away.  We went to the Crossroads Plaza Mall downtown, where I’d been shopping with the kids for years. 
              The crown jewel of our training was to train in my own neighborhood, and walk the places where I would regularly visit.  My nerves about running into someone I knew were a good indicator that I hadn’t quite adjusted to my identity as a visually impaired person.  Something about joining these two identities – Becky: neighbor, mother of two and Becky: visually impaired woman – was still unnerving.  Doing cane training at my local grocery store brough these two world together quickly. 
              As Bob and I worked our way through the grocery store, we approached my neighbor Sue.  It was bound to happen.
              “Uh … hi,”  I began awkwardly, pointing at Bob.  “This is my teacher … teaching me to use this cane.”  I pointed unnecessarily at the cane.
              “Oh, that’s nice,”  she said.  “Good to see you.”  And she went on her way, seemingly unfazed by the same encounter that was causing me to blush. 
              A few weeks later I requested some additional training at the Crossroads Mall.  I’d been back to the mall since my initial training and still had a few questions about navigating its unique layout.  This time the scheduling put me with a different O & M instructor, Susan.
              After our session, I gathered the courage to confess that I sometimes felt uncomfortable using the cane.  I didn’t like drawing attention to myself.  I didn’t like people looking at me.  I still wasn’t sure where I fit into this spectrum, with some vision left and people looking at me. 
              Susan simply asked some straightforward questions.
              “Is the cane helping keep you safe?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
              “Yes.”  Without a doubt, I said.
              “Do you feel more confident about going out?  Do you feel more independent with the cane?”  She continued.
              “Yes, Absolutely.” Was my response.
              “You just told me you walked into a woman sitting alone in the middle of a soccer field.  Would that have happened if you’d had a cane?”
              I felt my face flush remember that experience.  “No.”
              Susan looked at me with her hands on her hips.  “Well, I think  you need to be true to yourself.  Use this tool that will help you live an independent life.”
              I knew she was right.  That day I let go of that worry.  It’s a heavy weight, wondering what people are thinking about you, but I hadn’t realized how heavy until I let it go. 
              I’d been so concerned about how I felt using the cane that I hadn’t acknowledged how much it served me, how much I needed it.  This wonderful tool allowed me to be safe and independent – what a gift!  Being honest that I needed the cane and that letting go of this worry  was accompanied by a beautiful feeling of self-acceptance.  I am visually impaired. 
              As I felt this acceptance and was true to myself I could embrace the cane fully.  I was ready to answer someone’s questions with confidence and feel at peace with  myself.      
Almost 25 years later, my cane is still a reminder to be true to myself. 


              The greatest act of courage is to be and own all that you are – without apology, without excuses and without masks to cover the truth of who you really are. – Debbie Ford 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Happy Anniversary, Georgie Girl

Three years ago today Georgina and I graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Georgina aka Georgie Girl and Gigi has taught me so much.  I am so very grateful for this sweet, playful, intelligent, joyful, loving, so smart, silly dog.

Some of my reflections on this day:

Leaving for class came at a time for our family where there was a lot going on in both our personal and professional lives.  Leaving for two weeks was difficult although necessary.

One of the sweet memories prior to leaving was my dear friend and colleague at the time, Melanie asked everyone at Resilient Solutions, Inc to write notes on 'why they love Becky'.  Arriving at the office to these notes and having her read them to me meant the world to me.  I treasure them to this day.  They all started with Becky is ...

Last week in our Rising Strong TM course we wrote an 'I am' poem about ourselves.  I have written one for Georgie.

I am
I am Georgina.  I am Georgie Girl.  I am Gigi. 

I am a happy guide dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind.  I am intelligent.  I am playful.  I am a doer.  I am sweet.  I am caring.  I am sensitive.  I am forgiving.  I am loving.  I am stubborn at times.  I am kind.  I am a frequent flyer.  I am an adventurer.  I am enduring.  I am a snuggler.  I am so playful.   I am an early riser and early to bed.  I am serving.  I am loving.  I am silly.  I am a hiker.  I am a cheerleader.  I am a light for one who cannot see.  I am a smiler and a tail wagger.

I am Georgina.  I am Georgie Girl.  I am Gigi.

Georgie you are my beautiful partner that adds laughter to my heart, gives me determination, blesses me with confidence, and makes me proud each day.  You are my beautiful guide dog that allows me to pick up the harness and GO.

I love, love sharing my life with you Georgie Girl.  Can't wait for many more years of adventures with you.  Whether it is a simple day of travelling to the office or a day of adventure of new places to discover you take it all in and give me your best.  I love when Steve drops us off at the airport and looks you in the eyes and tells you  Take good care of Becky.  You listen to him so intently while wagging your whole body.  And then, you do just that time and time again.

Happy Anniversary Georgina.  Hey there Georgie Girl, thanks for swinging down the streets so
fancy free with your tail happily wagging.

As I am each day, I am so very grateful for Guide Dogs for the Blind, - the incredible support we receive as a team, Georgie's puppy raisers and all the incredible raisers for each of my guides and all the guide dog teams,  It is such a remarkable community that creates and supports a guide dog team.

So grateful.  So blessed.  Selecting a guide dog almost 20 years ago was one of the best decisions in this journey that I have made.  Love you Pantera, Cricket and Georgie.  Thank you.
Thank you to Rick Egan of SL Tribune for this picture
You can watch the full clip here at:
I love living an active life

Monday, March 27, 2017

Face down moments

Preparing for a presentation where we will be talking about those 'face down' moments of our story. In those moments we learn and we grow. I am looking forward to this presentation. I am now grateful for those face down moments and the "opportunities to grow."

What has been a facedown moment for you that you reflect upon as a time of growth?  or learning?  

#lookupmoveforward #resilientjourney #rpjourney. This is the quote I share Chapter 19 of my book, Look up, move forward.
When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.
When life is bitter, say thank you and grow. -- Shauna Niequest

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating our Love Story Beginning. RP Journey

Thirty-three years ago, March 21, Steve and I were engaged. When we can, we return to the capital and celebrate this day! I'll be in Portland on the 21st so we enjoyed a beautiful spring evening at the State Capitol today.
From my book, Look up, move forward:
He (Steve) took me to Salt Lake, a little over an hour away, and on the drive he told me the story of his parents' engagement nearly forty years earlier. 
Wade and Kathryn met at a dance at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where Kathryn lived for just a few months to study. Wade was a Captain in World War II, a bomber pilot who flew out the morning after they met. They wrote letters for nine months and fell in love.
After his service, Wade flew to Salt Lake and asked Kathryn where couples got engaged in town. She told him the Capital was the place to go, and he took her to the beautiful classical-style domes and pillared building that sits on a hill overlooking the city. That night in 1945 was the "once upon a time" of the Andrews family.
As Steve and I pulled up to the Capitol building just after dark, the city lights twinkled below us. He wanted to start out life together the same way his parents had begun theirs, and his admiration and respect for them made me love him even more. We climbed the stone steps and he led me to the third pillar.
He lifted me onto the huge stone base and took my hand. "Will you marry me?"
There was only one thing for me to say, "I'd love to."
#RPJourney #BlindMemoir #lookupmoveforward #Ourlovestory

Sunday, March 12, 2017

For Women who are Blind - Retreat.

Feeling so grateful to those who have supported our scholarship to help women attend our Rising Strong TM Retreat in June and future retreats.  If you know someone who might like to join one of our retreats, they can visit oasiscenterforhope.com/retreats/ -- or email me at:  oasiscenterforhope@gmail.com

One of my favorites from the curriculum we will be implementing in this retreat is: "When we deny our stories, they define us; when we own our stories, we get to write the ending." Brene Brown.
Check out Oasis Center for Hope on GiveGab. Donate to their cause, or help them through volunteering. To empower, support, and educate individuals, families and communities who are experiencing a loss. Oasis Center for Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
GIVEGAB.COM

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Look up, move forward book review

This morning a lady stopped by the office to let me know she had read my book and loved it! Made my day!! Such a fun surprise and how wonderful that it was between sessions so we could visit. She reminded me again how much it means to take the time to compliment - to thank - to say that kind word. In this instance she had read my book and wanted me to know how much she enjoyed it. She had also run the Boston Marathon so we had a fun time chatting about that as well! I kep...
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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Learning from guide dog - Georgie Girl

Last night I was sitting at the computer for another night .. way too late trying to get work done after a day of work. Suddenly, I feel this nudge at me. A sweet soft Georgie girl's nose is pushing at my leg. I get up and fill her water dish and back to my computer. Again, she nudges at me and begins to dance around. After a moment I recognize she is trying to get me to go into the family room with her. I go in there and she gets her jolly ball and initiates a game of play. I let go of my 'to do' list for a moment and just played. This dog is remarkable. She has a full-time job keeping me safe as a guide dog and also reminding me the importance of play, rest and relaxation. #lookupmoveforward #amazingintuitiveguidedog#georgiegirl #GDB #RPJourney 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

#RPAwareness

Many days I don't really give Retinitis Pigmentosa a lot of thought .. its just part of who I am.  It has provided humor, growth, compassion and understanding.  I have an amazing partner that supports me every day.  I often reflet as I text Steve, 'ready' when I'm finished with work and his response .. be there in ten.  Not once has he complained about dropping whatever he's doing to give me a ride home. Just be there in ten with lots of emojis :).  

Realizing it was RP Awareness Month, I've been reflecting on some of the days when the significance of Retinitis Pigmentosa was very present in my life. 

Sometimes we work so hard to move forward that in the midst of a change we don't perhaps give ourselves the love and compassion.   Today 24 years later, I'm giving that young wife and mom, who had to make a major life change some love and compassion.  Today is a busy day -- saying good bye to our beautiful daughter, Natalie before 9 clients doing what I love (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor at the practice I built 11 years ago)  at Resilient Solutions, Inc.  My guide dog Georgie will spend most of the day sleeping peacefully with a nice walk mid-day.  I feel joy and gratitude.  This journey isn't easy yet the people I have met, the lessons I have learned, the strength that has come, the creativity, flexibility, patience I have learned have blessed my life.  

Each day at the office I hear beautiful self-compassion letters I've encouraged clients to write to themselves.  Here's mine for the day. 

Dear Beck, Sending some love and compassion to that mom both the young one of past years and the one today.  You keep finding a way.  You have learned creativity, compassion, and patience for the journey.  In the early years it wasn't only you trying to figure out how to get a ride -- you had two sweet children that needed to get to their activities.  You took it a day at a time with joy and gratitude.  You reached out of your comfort zone, became vulnerable, and learned amazing lessons.  It still can be hard at times, yet you do it with a smile on your face.  You got this!  Love,  Beck


February 28, 1993.   As a young mom, age 28 with a 1st grader and a 3rd grader it was time; I quit driving.   It had been something weighing on our minds.   I had restricted my driving to short, close places during the day time.  I was basically driving to the school I worked at just a few miles away and to the grocery store.  Steve was working in SLC and did not have a lot of flexibility to help with transportation during the day.  He did all he could and more, for sure. Incredible friends and neighbors stepped in and gave me rides and made that transition so much easier.  I will be forever grateful.  

As I share in my book, Look up, move forward:  For such a momentous day, Monday, February 28, was a little anti-climatic.  I didn't hand over my driver's license to a state official.  No one came and took the car away.  I just hung up my keys on their little hook in the kitchen and didn't ever use them again.  I was done driving.  Forever.  page 51.

Time again to live by my familiar mantra:  one day at a time.  Take it one day at a time in gratitude and joy.  By this time, I realized there must be a way to do this.  I had met many people who managed to live wonderful lives without driving.  We could do this.  

It wasn't an easy day to face that unknown future.  This was before uber/lyft, even cell phones to text someone asking for a ride.  It was one of those losses that you just had to keep moving forward and navigate.  

If you are reading this and facing this transition, please know you are not alone.  Also, give yourself permission to grieve and process the loss.  Surround yourself with supportive people as you navigate the adjustment.  Believe that you can do what you set your mind to do.  Know that destination you want to travel to is still there and attainable ... at times we just have to get more creative.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  CC Scott

With love,  Becky Andrews
   

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Retreat Scholarships

Our retreats last year were life changers.  It was amazing to experience with so many remarkable women who are blind.  We are hoping to expand our circle and make these retreats available to more women through scholarships.  If you'd like to learn more:  visit our website at:  oasiscenterforhope.com

More scholarship info is at:

https://www.givegab.com/nonprofits/oasis-center-for-hope/campaigns/rise-strong-in-your-story-scholarships

Thank you!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Love Story. Retinitis Pigmentosa. Look up, move forward



Thirty three years ago on Valentine's Day Steve and I talked about marriage.  A few excerpts from  my book:  Look up, move forward.  my journey of losing vision and finding resilience: On Valentine's Day I told Steve I didn't want to date other people.  He surprised me by responding,  "Does this mean I can't date anyone else?"  My heart sank and I looked at him in shock, hoping he was joking, but he held out.  "Well, I'll have to think about it,"  he said.  I wanted to hide.  He smiled slyly as he took my hand.  "Yeah, I think I can agree to that."  He admitted that he actually hadn't been dating anyone else for months.  He'd already cleared his schedule and had been patiently waiting for me to clear mine.  (Love his sense of humor)

     Steve scheduled a visit to the Merrill Library to request my dad's permission for my hand in marriage.  In this conversation, the two  men I admire and respect the most discussed how they would be there for me in the coming year.  My dad told Steve that he and my mom would always be there to support me, and us, in the journey ahead.  (Love his respect for my parents.)

     Steve had timed my tour so that after a moment near the temple, we could drive off into the sunset, and that's exactly what we did.  (Love his romantic side :).
  
     As Steve and I pulled up to the Capitol building just after dark, the city lights twinkled below us.  He wanted to start our life together the same way  his parents had begun theirs, and his admiration and respect for them made me love him even more.  We climbed the stone steps and he led me to the third pillar.   He lifted me onto the huge stone base and took my hand.  "Will you marry me?"  There was only one thing for me to say, "I'd love to."   (Love his love and respect for his family, tradition, and always putting me on a pedestal :).

      He calmly listened every time, and then informed me, again that he loved me and that we'd be there for each other, no matter what our future held.  "I'm the luckiest guy to be marrying you,"  he'd say.   (Love his friendship, support, and belief in me.)

     When my fears returned, I borrowed Steve's courage again and again until I gained my own.  

     As I prepared for our wedding, I didn't think much about details like my dress and flowers and decorations.  My biggest concern was how I would navigate the receiving line.  Not only would I be greeting my friends and family, but Steve's friends and family, too.  I wanted very much to do that with confidence and ease.  When I shared this worry with Steve, we came up with a plan.  We would tap my elbow when someone had their hand extended, and I would know to extend my hand, too.  Simple!  Though it was a minor problem we solved in a matter of moments, it was the first of many, many systems and workabouts that we have developed over the years.  (Love our teamwork and creativity.)

     That evening each time Steve tapped my elbow served as a sweet reminder that he was on my team, for always.  

     I love when someone tells me this book is a love story.   

 #LoveStory #Rpjourney #lookupmoveforward



Monday, February 6, 2017

Surrendering into Serenity

(blog post from May 2014)

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
Picture of the family - all Aggie gradutes now.  I have no idea why the photographer had Kendall 'not quite' sit on Pantera in this picture :). 
 In the spring after my diagnosis actually around this time,  we travelled to UCLA for a consult with a specialist in Retinitis Pigmentosa.  In the gift shop at the UCLA Medical Center was a magnet with the Serenity Prayer. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.  At the time, it didn't mean a lot.  I was engaged and even though I was sitting in a retina specialist's office, blindness seemed far into the future. The message of Surrender began to come much sooner than I anticipated.  After I turned in my driver's license as a young mom,  I felt a heaviness and a sense of being alone.  I recognized that although I had wonderful support, Retinitis Pigmentosa was mine.  I had the choice on how to respond. The last of all human freedoms, the power to choose one own's way given any set of circumstances.  Victor Frankle  To bounce back and have joy in my life, I would need to surrender to the changes/losses that were happening as my vision continued to decline.  I could learn new ways to complete my education.  I could learn new ways to travel independently.  I could learn new ways to manage my home.  I could learn new ways to enjoy the activities that I loved to do. Although the world was going dark for me physically, I could create so much light in my life.  

Now years later looking back; joy, relationships, experiences, lessons learned have come into my life from surrendering to my life which includes Retinitis Pigmentosa. And yes, there are still days when I miss hopping in that car.

Right now I am experiencing a different surrendering.  I love to run.  I have some amazing friends that through the use of a tether are my guides.  I have run a marathon, many half-marathons and 10Ks.  One of my dreams has been to run the Boston Marathon.  I missed the qualification by 12 minutes at our last marathon.  Last year while training for a Marathon to qualify, I broke my foot.  This year we are six weeks out from a marathon.  I am experiencing IT band issues.  Is it time to surrender into serenity?  Not ready to surrender on this one ... searching to make sure I'm doing all I can in the process while trying to be still and listen to what is best.  Surrendering.  Searching.  Serenity. I'm in the space of sadness on this one.  I'll be there for a bit and then will be ready to surrender if that is what is needed.  My head knows there are many new dreams I can create if this one isn't a possibility. 

What has been your experience with surrendering into serenity? 

(**This was a blog post from May 2014.  Thankfully, through lots of work my foot healed, I qualified for Boston and am still running!  Grateful that was not something at this time I have had to surrender ... just times as an injury comes.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Retreats for women who are blind/visually impaired

I am so thrilled to share our upcoming 2017 retreats for women who are blind and visually impaired.  I am so grateful to my colleagues:  Nicole Wall, a Certified Daring Way Facilitator as well as a LCMHC and Lisa Bradford, LCSW who will take us through this journey.

You can read all the details here:

Retreats for women who are blind/visually impaired

Last year our retreats filled up fast, so don't hesitate to email me with questions:  becky.lpc@gmail.com,