Post Title: It Matters Where You Look.
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; … lift up my head.
–Psalm 3:3. NIV.
Some people say I have the luck o’ the Irish, but the Irish fairies do not tap me with their magic wand on the first day I meet with my new mobility trainer.
To be perfectly honest, when she calls to confirm our lesson, I pause, and nearly cancel. I am so tempted. Our neighborhood sidewalks resemble the uneven teeth of a candy junky who has never seen the likes of a dentist. Some slant up, others down, and the rest are in various stages of crumble and decay.
But I eek out a small “Yes, I’m still up for it.”
Am I really? I peek out a window and as the steady stream of water gushes out of our rain gutter, I wonder if I have made the right decision. It might be best to call and reschedule.
The distinct toot-toot of a horn in the side driveway tells me I have waffled on too long. I peer out the window but a foggy steam obscures my already limited view.
This is it, Amy. Get moving. A little rain never hurt anyone.
My trainer emerges from her vehicle covered in rain gear nearly touching her toes. Her fitted hoodie conforms tightly to her face.
In one hand, she carries a large Mary Poppins-like umbrella. Belatedly, I wonder how she feels about giving training in the monsoon-like rain that feels like steel shards against my jean-clad legs.
“I was surprised you chose to go ahead with our training,” she said in lieu of introductions. “Most would have canceled.”
Is that a hint of reprimand?
“I can tell you are serious about improving your mobility.” She did not sound particularly admiring.
Regardless, I can feel the angelic halo hovering over my head. I am serious. But the minute I move forward, I’m certain that halo slides off and falls into a puddle.
We decide to cross the street, turn down the first side street and head to Rice Avenue, which has a traffic light. At the cross walk, I will practice my listening skills and move with the perpendicular traffic as the “WALK” sign flashes.
The plan is to walk a few blocks west, stop at the church where I used to teach, where I can practice my indoor mobility on some steep steps.
My blue jeans cling to me. My leather boots make sucking sounds as I coordinate my cane to the forward movement of my left leg.
I have the distinct impression the mobility trainer is not impressed with me. She keeps up a steady stream of instruction that seems unnecessarily harsh on an already unforgiving day.
“Stand up straight! Use your eyes to see what is around you. Let your cane see the ground. That’s why you have it.”
I bristle at my mobility instructor, Ruth’s, words.
The holy halo has long since been swept upstream and I try to keep my cool and let my cane find the sidewalk, freeing me up to observe other cues in my environment.
“You’re doing it again. Why are you looking at the ground?”
“Hmmm.” I sigh, correcting my posture. It feels awkward and unnatural.
I’ve walked bent over for years without being aware of it. Before I ever picked up a red-and-white cane, I looked down so I wouldn’t fall in a hole or trip in some way. As an English language teacher traveling between buildings at our training base in San Antonio, I strode in a brisk, determined manner. Students misinterpreted.
“Never you look up, teacher!”
“Go, get ‘em!”
As Ruth continues to draw my attention to the posture I use with my cane, the more hopeless I feel.
I think about my past students. Nonnative speakers can sometimes “fossilize” in using wrong grammar patterns or pronunciation. They repeatedly make the same mistakes. If they want to become better communicators, they have to break those habits and form new ones. I have probably fossilized in moving wrongly. If I want better and safer mobility, I, too, must break old habits.
I motivate myself by imagining a change of environment. I’m not walking down an uneven sidewalk on a cold, sodden day. Instead, I glide down a smooth runway in a beauty pageant. I bestow my brightest smile to all my well-wishers.
“Much better! That’s right. What do you see now?” my instructor calls out.
“Houses. There’s a car coming up beside me on the road.”
We arrive at a church but no one answers the door.
We stand in the rain at the door, ringing a bell I have a feeling no one will answer.
The trainer leans in, cups her eyes and peers through a narrow side window. As the rain runs down her face in rivulets, she turns and asks me, “Did you call in advance to see if they would let us in?”
“Um, someone is usually here,” I said avoiding giving a direct answer. I had completely forgotten.
It doesn’t take us long to decide to head home.
En route, Ruth blows her nose and sluices the rain away from her face. “You know, posture affects your heart and all kinds of internal organs. We don’t want to risk that.”
Without giving any response, I continue to make my way down the isolated street. I replay the beauty pageant theme, smiling. This isn’t all that bad!
“You’re doing much better.”
Finally, we head home.
The lesson I learn today—it matters where I look. I’m going to let my cane see for my feet and find the obstacles in my path. Meanwhile, I’m going to focus on the world around me.
God flashes a smile at me.
I give him a perfect, queenly wave in return, retrieving my imaginary halo and placing it on my head like a crown. I’ll be a serious contender for this pageant I’ve entered into here on earth.
Already, I feel my spirits lifting.
How do you motivate yourself in a challenging situation? To what extent do you allow external influences to influence your attitude and outcome?
You have just read, “It Matters Where You Look” by Amy L. Bovaird. © August 20, 2019. All Right Reserved.
5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader
5 Stars “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”
Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.
This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.
Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!
Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation
4 Stars “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada
5 Stars “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah
5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole
5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series
Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.