In gratitude

Today we spent the day assembling furniture, organizing our additional office space, shopping, cleaning and getting Suite 6 of Resilient Solutions, Inc ready! After fourteen years, it is time once again to expand. I found myself reflecting on my conversation as an applicant for the MSW Program 15 years ago. He had indicated that he was concerned about my abilities to succeed in this profession. How did I think I could do that without vision – eye contact, etc. I was not accepted into the program. I was determined and sought out another master’s program/path that led me to become a Licensed Clinical Mental Health counselor and achieve my dream.

Now, 15 years later what I want to say to him is:

Dear (Director of SW Program),

As we are expanding our office, I have been reflecting on the day when you questioned my capabilities as a therapist. I want to say thank you. Your questioning my abilities led me to a stronger resolve and determination that I could do this work. I knew that you would not deter me from this dream. I recognized on that day that your lack of education of what a woman who is blind can do in this profession is unfounded. It was a strong resolve and determination that said on the bus ride home — I don’t need to believe him. (I still hoped that I would be accepted into the program yet wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t.)

However, that disappointment galvanized my determination to FIND A WAY to achieve my dreams. I pursued another pathway that led me to a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and then to a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

For the past 14 years my private practice at Resilient Solutions, Inc has grown from me and another therapist to 16 therapists. Throughout the years, at times your voice has crept in my mind — yet there is a stronger voice that says – You CAN do this!

Thank you for helping me to build that stronger voice that says — YOU CAN DO THIS!! It will take a lot of work – you can do it. Believe in your dreams. A setback paves the way for a comeback (Evander Holyfield) is a quote I love. And another one that resonates: As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better. – Steve Maraboli

Thank you for helping me learn this lesson again. I recognize I am a passionate, grateful therapist because it didn’t come easy. I lean in and listen because you are correct I don’t make eye contact.

I walk inside the doors of our office grateful for the opportunity and privilege to work with clients and to see the power of healing in their lives.

I am full and not taking new clients at this time. My clients don’t seem to be concerned that I am blind. The conversation generally goes something like this — I am blind and that is my guide dog in the corner of the room. Now, tell me what brings you here today.

In gratitude,

Becky Andrews, LCMHC

Resilient Solutions, Inc.

Coast2Coast Prep

I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately on our upcoming bike ride across the country. Yes, you read that right – Steve and I are cycling across the country starting in San Diego, CA and finishing in St. Augustine, FL.

Tandem cycling represents so much to me. Over 20 years ago, as I lost more eyesight – had to quit driving – felt like I had to stop doing many of the activities I loved (had not yet learned I just needed to do them in different ways), we started to talk about riding a tandem bike! We bought one and for the first summer after not being able to drive, it seemed like an alternative for my young kids to get a little rest as they rode on the back to swim lessons and other activities.

After my ophthalmologist, indicated my eyesight (or lack thereof) was not safe for me to ride in the front, Steve and I began to ride together for recreation.

As I share in my book: Look up, move forward: “It (tandem cycling) opened up a new chapter of activity in our life and a renewed sense of freedom and vitality for me.”

I feel very blessed that my husband – my best friend loves to tandem bike. Anytime that our schedules allow, he is also eager to get on the bike and go for a ride. This is such a blessing and I am so excited to cycle across America with him! We will laugh – a lot, we will have some hard times, we will have moments that we will cherish, we will have difficult times where one of us may be struggling, we will have stress/concerns from home – family – friends that have us wondering if we need to get back, and yet we will continue on a pedal at a time to St. Augustine, Florida.

So, how are we preparing? We are both still busy – VERY busy in our careers so why now? Why this year? Today we are both healthy and able to do this ride. We don’t know what tomorrow brings so we will cease this opportunity and prepare to leave our careers for a brief time and make this memory. We will return home with new experiences and insight and ready to take on that next chapter of our careers and life!

So, what are we doing so far to prepare? We have joined a group – Bubbas Pampered Pedalers 🙂 that will do all the organizing/logistics of this ride. There will be 40 cyclists. We will arrive in San Diego (working out the logistics of all those details now — will probably rent a car and drive to San Diego with our tandem.) My guide dog, Georgie, will stay with a dear friend.

We have an amazing coach, Diane, helping us prepare our bodies for this ride.

Steve is preparing a lot of the details for the bike and business aspects of being gone. I am looking at what needs to be done at Resilient Solutions, Inc our business to be able to leave for that long. Step 1 – making sure our office is fully stocked for 6 weeks. LOTS TO DO – for sure! However, a step at time we are going to be SO ready for this!!

I leave you with a picture of me the summer of 2000. We had just started to ride our bike – our shiny new red Burley Duet when we fell. I broke an arm. Ten days later I fell again and overcompensated and broke the other arm. That summer was spent in casts and surgery followed in December.

The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall. — Vince Lombardi

We rose again and have been riding ever since. On the back of the tandem I find much clarity, creativity, joy, and peace. I love the breeze as I ride in synch with my captain that I love so much. This also became the space where … if I can be active in this way … how else can I find a way to be active with vision loss. SO MANY OPTIONS as we find a way.

We all take falls and get back up. Share one of yours!

Soft Skills Presentation

Saturday I was invited to share with a group about Soft Skills. To be honest, I needed to do some reading up to understand the term Soft Skills.

Here’s a little excerpt from my sharing. I love the opportunities that I have been given. I love learning and connecting with others. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share all that I have learned as a business owner at Resilient Solutions, Inc.

So what are Hard Skills and Soft Skills and how do they pertain to us as we seek to get that job/career? And also then grow and thrive in our career?

Hard Skills are: those technical/specific skills.  In our business( the schooling/training/license that goes with LCSW / the training that goes with learning computer program Therapy Notes, etc ; the training to be a yoga instructor and the training our billing specialist has on insurances, etc). Hard Skills are usually specific, quantifiable of what is required for the job.

Now what are soft skills – let’s look at the importance of them that will motivate us to take note on these skills!

A study conducted by Harvard University noted that 80% of achievements in career are determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills.

Studies by Stanford Research Institute and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation among Fortune 500 CEOs established that 75% of long term job success resulted from soft skills and only 25% from technical skills/hard skills

If hard skill is an engine than soft skill is a lubricant on which the hard skill engine runs!

A person’s soft skill is an important part of their individual contribution to the success of an organization. Soft Skills enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.

In order to succeed at work, you must get along well with all the people with whom you interact, including managers, co-workers, clients, vendors, customers, and anyone else you communicate with while on the job. These are the types of skills all employers value.

Soft skills are the interpersonal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. These are related to how you work with and relate to others—in other words, people skills.

Employers want employees who are able to interact effectively with others. These skills are also very hard to teach, so employers want to know that job candidates already have the soft skills to be successful. Just as we are increasing our hard skills in preparation for that job — we need to be practicing our soft skills as they are so important.

Lets talk about some specific Soft Skills

You can be practicing and developing these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Showing the interviewer that you have the skills the company is seeking will help you get hired. As I interviewed five different people in the past few weeks — I noted which ones responded back and thanked me for the opportunity to interview. For me, this is an indicator on soft skills that are important to our team.

Following is a “top ten” list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University from executive listings:
Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful.
Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has
personal values, does what’s right.
Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humor, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills.
Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

A Pedal at a time

We have started officially ‘training’ for our Coast 2 Coast Bike Ride. Right now, it includes an hour of time on the bike, some core exercises, some running and walking.

We spent a few days in St. George and were able to get on the tandem and ride 12 miles on Thursday, 25 miles on Friday and 57 miles on Saturday as part of the Tour of St. George. It felt so great! As we cycled out in the country we talked a lot about our upcoming adventure of experiencing our beautiful country in such a new way!

Coming up on four months to prepare. Lots to do to prepare ourselves physically – leave our home – our businesses.

WE GOT THIS!! Making a dream happen!!

Connection.

Recently I received an email that meant so much. They were reading my book: Look up, move forward. We both have the same eye condition: Retinitis Pigmentosa. She said: “Reading your book … it feels like your words – and your feelings are mine. I can so relate to what you are sharing. I am inviting my family to read your book so they can understand.” Pam from VT

She quoted this excerpt from my book that had helped her:

“Those few moments on the porch mark the foundation of many lessons I draw upon. Most importantly, I learned that I could find strength when it seemed lost. I learned that my reserved were there when I needed them, and that I could choose courage and joy, even when it was difficult. I, of course, could get caught in the story of the challenges of my eye condition, but equally possible, and dramatically more desirable, was working through my emotions until I arrived at a place of determination.”

Thank you Pam! The power of connection to know we are not alone in our journey helps us so much.

The chapter begins with a favorite quote:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. — Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Cycling Across America

No time like the present to make those dreams happen! After some contemplation – exploring options we did it! We are joining a team cycling across the country! We start in San Diego, CA in the spring and will finish in St. Augustine, FL. We can’t wait to share details of our training and adventure. And oh, so much preparation to do to be ready to leave for this adventure!

Yet as in all aspects of life … one step at a time, one task at a time, one mile at a time.  

So excited to share in this journey and experience the country on the bike with my best friend!!  With love,  Becky

Here’s a clip that shows us cycling .. I love living an active life! 

https://www.youtube.com/watcQ$Edp%zE()sbdCKM#g08t7mIh?v=DGrnJlxVRGY

Our Moments of Shift

I’ve been reflecting on some key moments of shift for me. You know that time when someone said you couldn’t do it and you said .. wait a minute, I think I can!! When we stop and make that shift for ourselves it becomes empowering.

I write about a couple of these moments in my book: Look up, move forward. I share an experience where I was challenged if  I could be a social worker. The Department head had questioned my abilities due to my eyesight. “By the time I got on the bus, though, my confidence had rebounded enough to reimagine the interview. In the new version, when I fumbled for the chair, I asked for assistance without apology. My answers to his questions were concise and decide. I cowered less, and asserted more, assuring him that I was ready for the coursework, that I understood the rigors of graduate school, and that i knew I could be an effective counselor.”

“But being rejected galvanized my desire to become a counselor. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I couldn’t give up but the path of least resistance had been blocked.”

Years later, I can appreciate this moment of shift.  I recognized that I didn’t need to believe his negative assertion about me and my capabilities.  As clients come into my office and I briefly share with them, I am blind – that’s my guide dog in the corner and we move forward with what brought them to counseling, I think how little this matters that I don’t see their face.

As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better. — Steve Maraboli

Alumna of the Year, USU

Steve and I married after my freshman year … he supported me through a Bachelor’s Degree and our two kids future Aggies joined the family, a Master’s Degree, and learning to navigate student life as a blind woman.

What an amazing day to celebrate so much! So grateful! Go Aggies! Thanks for your amazing support in giving me the tools to take on my dreams!

Halftime at the football game. Drenched with gratitude.

#Aggiesalltheway

A few weeks ago I received a surprise call that I had been selected as the Alumna of the Year from Utah State University. What? I think you might have the wrong number may have been my first response.

Since that time, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my memories at Utah State University. At every stage in my life, there are memories connected to USU – Go AGGIES!

As a little girl, at the end of the day there were days we would go pick up my dad from his office. I would tip toe through the shrubs that separated the sidewalk and his window of the USU Merrill Library and reach high to knock on his window so he knew we were there. He greeted me with a big smile and then a few minutes later would come around the corner out the door. USU represented a happy place :). My mom completed her bachelor and master’s degrees while I was growing up from Utah State. I watched her tenacity and her love of learning as she navigated juggling college / working with a busy family. USU represented a place to learn – to grow – to expand – many opportunities.

And of course – so many great memories of sitting on a bench or the Quad with some Aggie Ice Cream! Lots of fun times cheering on the Aggies in football and basketball, too.

Family picture near the time we moved to Logan.

The summer before my freshman year I met a fun Aggie guy — Steve Andrews. We became good friends and enjoyed meeting between classes in the college of business. He was just a good friend I would tell my mom. In time I recognized that I was falling in love with this good friend :).

To be continued …

Dog Day. 22 Years Ago

There are those days etched in your memory … September 17, 1997 was one of those days for me. I was a young mom – 32 years old and at the campus of Boring, Oregon to receive my first guide dog. This is how I share this experience in my book: Look Up, Move Forward: “I’d been eagerly awaiting Dog Day, and I finally met my guide on Wednesday, September 17. We’d been asked to wait in our rooms for our dogs to be delivered to us, but after several minutes, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I opened my door  out in the hall to find that several of my classmates had also given up on waiting patiently. We shared our nervous anticipation and excitement and it wasn’t long before I was presented with my 63 pound yellow lab, Pantera. She was almost two years old and full of life. We went back into my room to get to know each other better. … I told Pantera how happy I was to meet her and how much I was looking forward to our adventures together. If a bouncing dog indicates a happy dog, Pantera was full of joy. She wagged and wagged her tail as I stroked her yellow fur and gave her a bone. I called Steve and the kids so they could ‘meet’ her too and share in my excitement about being matched with this energetic new partner who would help me navigate life safely and independently.”  This dog was going to change my life in amazing ways and we both seemed to sense that excitement and anticipation on that day.

Photo description below:  Andrews family with Pantera in Park City – after purchasing our Olympic berets in 2002.  Pantera served as my guide dog for 9 years and was a key part of our family.

Today 22 years later with my third guide dog, Georgie, by my side … I’ll reflect on the special three dog days I have had — Pantera, Cricket and Georgie – my beautiful guide dogs who have opened up so much possibility in my life.

What is a life changing day etched in your mind?

Look up, move forward!