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Friday, March 13, 2015

Invest in a Sure Thing...YOU

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, people are very focused on the concept of "luck." When most people think about a stroke of good luck coming their way, they often hope it comes in the form of money. Well, I have the perfect investment tip for you - one that will yield a current pay-off and will guarantee future returns.  

Invest in YOURSELF. It will be the most profitable investment you ever make.

Your personal and professional satisfaction will always be directly linked to your quality of life. Investing in your own growth will guarantee your success, productivity and ultimately, your happiness. Take a moment today to think about the areas you can invest in. Enroll in a class, start a new hobby, read up on an interesting topic, make that appointment you've been putting off, schedule that trip you've been thinking about, take a risk, make a decision.

At Vision Dynamics, we often talk to customers who are hesitant to spend money on equipment for themselves. It's amazing how many people I meet who don't believe they are their own best investment. Like all things in life, we need to weigh the cost and benefits. When it comes to low vision, being able to read, write, look at pictures etc., are benefits that have no price tag.

The effort you put into consistently investing in yourself plays a large role in determining the quality of your life now and in the future. At the end of the day, to be able to say we are happy means we are pretty lucky after all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's ANT Season (No, not those kind of ANTs)

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "We become what we think about all day long." And I can tell you from personal experience, that no truer words have been spoken. As many of you know, I have been legally blind since childhood. As founder of Vision Dynamics and a public speaker, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many people with low vision, spanning decades in age. I've noticed a commonality amongst the ones who are reluctant to take proactive steps toward adjusting to their condition - and that is mindset. They have invested so much time, thought and effort into believing they are powerless, that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Have you ever heard of ANTs? Not the annoying little bugs. This ANTs  is an acronym that stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts. Just like the insects, these ANTs have the ability to show up unannounced and can become a real nuisance if they aren't addressed and begin to invade your personal space. As humans, we have the natural ability to let these thoughts invade us all day long. If we are not aware of our thinking, we may even find that the ANTs are multiplying around us. How many times a day do you find yourself thinking things like "I never do this right," "I always make mistakes," "I am so stupid," "Why am I bothering?", "I can’t,"  etc etc.

The more we continually say these things to ourselves throughout the day the more we believe them. The more we believe them the more stuck and unhappy we become. After awhile, the ANTs have taken up residency and become so ingrained that we just stop exterminating. It took me hitting rock bottom before I took an honest look at my life - why I was unhappy, why I felt stuck, why I felt I was not moving forward. Stopping to evaluate and take an honest look at my mind's process gave me the tools to understand that it was my own negative thinking that was keeping me trapped in a downward spiral. Day by day, I questioned each thought as it invaded my mind - "Is it true or just a belief I concocted?" "Does this thought support me and is it helping me move towards my goals?"  If the answers were no, then I simply exterminated the thought. This was a big chunk for me to swallow at first, it meant I had to stop blaming, complaining, rationalizing, justifying my behaviors and take responsibility for my own life and my thinking. But I fumigated slowly and consciously until the ANTs were reduced to a minimum.

Our brains believe what we tell it. The only thing we have complete 100% control over is what we think. So start today and retrain your brain to conjure Automatic Positive Thoughts. Start now. Because a day at time, anything is possible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where Has All the Gratitude Gone?

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, November has become the month for gratitude. Sharing a great meal with family and friends is an ideal way to find some perspective and be thankful for all that we have been blessed with in life. In my line of work, I come across a great many people who, understandably, have trouble finding that perspective during the other 11 months of the year. For many, the reality of declining vision tends to cast a dark shadow on our thoughts. It is just so easy to get caught up in the sadness and self-pity of knowing things aren’t as they once were. Or to get preoccupied with the fear of the future, wondering whether your eyes will stabilize or continue to decline and how you will adjust to these changes.

I believe for all people, and especially for those suffering vision loss, it can be extremely challenging to focus on what’s good in life. My wish for everyone this season is to be able to take the spirit of Thanksgiving gratitude and carry it with you year round. When your mind is invaded with negativity, focus on all you have been blessed with. Set attainable goals. Pursue new hobbies. Touch base with a loved one.  Do something for yourself. Or better yet, do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. And, most importantly, remind yourself that self-pity is a choice – a choice that always results in pain and suffering. When you are feeling particularly down, make a conscious effort to redirect your thoughts and activities to something rewarding and productive that will remind you of all you have been blessed with. Keep an eye out for opportunities to be of service for others, which will not only skyrocket your feelings of gratitude but it will fill you with inner happiness. A simple change in attitude can make you feel like it’s Thanksgiving all year round.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blind with Clear Vision

Before my "official" diagnosis as a child, I knew my vision was poor. I knew I wasn't seeing like the other kids at school, but never considered myself to be any worse off than they were. Then the day came that I was given the devastating news that I was being declared "legally blind" from juvenile macular degeneration. The words "legally blind"  changed everything in my mind. This "official" documentation felt like I was being handed a prison sentence for life. Everything I "wouldn't be able" to do was being presented to me. Driving was the one that ate at me the most, because every kid looks forward to that major milestone that signifies adulthood, freedom and overall awesomeness. Suddenly I was being told that I actually was worse off than my classmates, that I would never soar to the same heights they could. What would become of me? That's the day fear overtook my mind and clouded my vision in corners that my actual eyesight couldn't reach.

Over 35 years later, I can proudly declare that I have legal blindness...BUT I also have clear vision. Many of you have heard me say, "We don’t see with our eyes,  we see with our brains." Where does clear vision come from? Our thinking and visualizing. Fear is a form of blindness, it darkens the bright spots in our minds which prevents us from taking action to help ourselves. If you can’t see yourself overcoming whatever obstacle is currently blocking you in your life, then you have a "blind spot." This blind spot is not caused by your eyes. There are easy ways to identify your own blind spots. Do you find yourself thinking "I can't," "I'll never be able to," "I'm bad at this," etc? Those are just statements of justification hidden in these darkened blind spots.

I happen to know many fully sighted people who I consider blind, they stay stuck in the problem and focus on its magnitude rather than a solution. Learn to brighten the mental blind spots and your sight may actually prevail over someone who has perfect eyesight. By asking the right questions and seeing yourself overcoming obstacles that life throws at you – you will be able to move towards a solution. Once your vision is clear, the possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Are You Too Afraid to Ask?

Are you afraid to ask for what you want? I know I used to be. For years I struggled with speaking up and asking for help. I was overcome with fear of what others would think of me. Would they think I am incapable? Inept? Stupid? Needy? I convinced myself that the response would automatically be "No." Asking seems to be a challenge that holds so many people back. Intimidation, embarrassment and fear of rejection keeps people from asking for the information, assistance, support or time needed be successful in life.  It took me a long time but I have learned that asking is the most powerful and neglected secret to success and happiness.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being involved with one of the best professional and personal experiences of my life. I was chosen to be an assistant at Jack Canfield's week-long "Breakthrough to Success" seminar.  Jack is a renowned speaker the mind behind the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series. How did this come about? Simply because I learned to ask. It took me many years (and many missed opportunities) to learn that asking is worth the risk. A response of "no" puts you in no worse position than you started. I took a shot and asked to be involved in this program and the risk was worth the reward!  While at the seminar, I also offered to be Jack's "roadie" and take care of his guitar, as we are both musicians. I took it back to my room each night to play it and tune it and felt good knowing I helped Jack out during this very busy week.

Once I swallowed my fear and learned how to ask, doors started opening for me. I have found that being afraid to ask for what you want or need is much worse than getting an answer of "No." We are all here on this Earth to serve and help each other as best possible. The answer you give or get may not always be a "Yes," but human nature dictates that most people are willing to help whenever possible. The reality is that we all tend to feel our best after knowing we have helped another. So start asking for what you need with a positive expectation, believe that you deserve the help. And when someone asks you for help, understand that they may be feeling intimidated and vulnerable and be empathetic in your response.

We are all here for one another. So stop being a "go-getter" and start becoming a "go-giver."