If you missed last week’s blog post, you can catch up HERE. This story is about a shopping trip to a super center, which actually began a change in my overall perspective.

I was glad to have help in reaching the clothes drying racks because my point of reference (‘next to the vacuum cleaners’) covers a greater area than I originally thought. The selection of vacuum cleaners spans three aisles.

When I reach the clothing racks, I notice a new dilemma. The racks are stocked in boxes. Where are the prices?  I stand motionless for a second trying to decide what to do. Take any box?

“Do you want a wooden or metal one? Personally, I would take the metal one. It’s just a few bucks more.” He taps a box.  “It has to be better quality. I got a wooden one and it’s flimsy as all get-out.”

“Oh yes, I’ll take the metal one.” I lift the slim box off the shelf and awkwardly drop it into the cart in front of him. “Thank you so much.”

“No problem,” the empathetic shopper says, “You got it now?”

“Think so.”

“If you decide you would rather have the wooden one, you can always bring it back.”

Take it back? Not on my life!

“Here, let me help you,” he kindly offers. “I’ll take you to the cashier.”

I begin my typical protests, wanting to assert my independence. I can manage on my own, thank you, yadda yadda. But the rest of the shoppers seem in full buying mode, and I recall the thump I experienced earlier. There is a clear advantage to having a personal guide help me find the register.

We arrive and I thank him again.

Unfortunately, the cavalier cashier has no such empathy for my plight. He rings me up with indifference. When I ask for the closest exit, he points. Why doesn’t he notice I have a white cane? I want to wave it in front of the check-out to make the point he should not point. If my cane accidentally hits him, well, that’s his own fault. I smile because I would never do or say such a thing. The door must be far away because I cannot see it. But I nod, pretending I do.

I find it easiest to leave the cart behind instead of trying to manage it along with my purse, a big brown box and still sweep with my cane.  Other shoppers flow around me. The magic is either the big box or my cane. Not sure which. If I knew, I would adapt this strategic plan to get through the intimidating Costco, Sam’s Club-sized Walmart every time I enter the store.

Eventually, I reach a set of double doors leading out. A surge of excitement courses through me as I pass through them. Outside, I pause for my eyes to adapt to the brighter sunlight.


aerial view of large shopping centerI don’t walk far when I hear a quick be-beep. I turn to the sound, and strain to find the source. Yes, a red vehicle. I stare. What if it’s not our car? This scenario has played itself out many times where I walk in the direction of the beep only to discover a complete stranger locking—or unlocking—another car. Oftentimes, the car is not even red, or it’s the right color but nothing like our Hyundai.

Today, the driver’s door opens and my brother steps out and waves. “Amy, over here!”

Mike helps me put the box in the back seat. I sweep my way to the passenger’s door, relieved to have finished my mission relatively unscathed.

When I ‘buckle up for safety,’ as Mike always directs me to do, he asks, “Where is the cushion?”

“Cushion?” I draw a blank.

“You were going to buy a cushion for the porch swing, remember? Do you want to turn around and pick it up now?”

“No!”  With my “brave” completed, my courage is spent. I sit, my hands gripping the underside of my two legs as if holding them in place. “Summer is just starting. We’ll save that for another day.” Or perhaps another season.

Mike puts the car in reverse and I sigh with relief. “We have enough gas to drive home, don’t we?”

“Just filled the tank.”

We leave in the shadow of the super center, the one that resembles Costco on top of a Costco on top of a Sam’s Cub on top of a Walmart.

I marvel at what a difference my determination makes. I will still enter at my own risk but I choose to go on days my low vision is low key.

On this shopping trip, I have become “the low vision motivator with high expectations,” a moniker that has stuck with me and one I share at my speaking events. We must learn to motivate ourselves when we face challenging tasks. Undergoing stress—and overcoming it, whatever the cause, takes a definite mindset. But learning to become our own cheerleaders places us one step closer to experiencing success. In time, the very activity that fills us with fear and worry can become our strength, one step forward at a time.

I still have to psyche myself up to go shopping, but I’ve learned a can-do attitude and a white cane are an unbeatable combination.

What activities do you find stressful and how do you approach them when they need to be done? Do you have a certain way or style of motivating yourself?

You have just read, “Completing the Shopping Expedition” by Amy L. Bovaird. © June 11, 2019. All rights reserved.

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