Since I lost my vision, paperwork I would have filed has accumulated in a box. Not paid bills or medical documents or anything important, those were put away by my husband. I’m talking about receipts for large purchases, owner’s manuals, all the printed material we keep for reference or proof of purchase. Initially we assumed my sight would return and I would take care of the contents of the storage bin then. As time moved on, and my optic nerves did not, the carton filled. Luckily we never needed anything dropped in there, which perhaps speaks to their significance, but isn’t that what a file cabinet holds? Papers we may need one day?
As the home office where this temporary organizational system resided filled with painting supplies and furniture from other rooms as we began to refresh our upstairs decor, the box continued to receive items to be filed. And then, it was the office’s turn to be made over. As I emptied everything out of that room, I knew it was time. The brown monster needed to be gone through, sorted, and properly filed in the file cabinet. It was daunting to me and I put it off for days. Finally, with no excuses left and heavy irritation at myself for being so . . . well, daunted . . . I carried the container downstairs to where my Merlin Electronic Magnifier is. The machine allows me to magnify as well as change background and font colors of anything I place under its camera. I took the first piece out and began the process of looking at every single sheet. I divided the documents into shred, file and trash piles until I reached the bottom of the box, where just cardboard and a few paper clips remained.
I have always loved organizing things and found this project fun. I remembered who I was before, when a corporate career called on this skill every day. But see, that was the cause of the hesitation and overwhelmed feeling that kept me from tackling this task. The old me, the fully sighted me, would have whipped through that accumulation of paper in no time, sitting on the floor or at the desk. The 20/20 me would have looked forward to it. Instead, the visually impaired me had to drag the box downstairs to the Merlin and position the paper in exactly the right spot under the camera, play with the color and magnification size, read small sections of the page at a time since I have to make the text size quite large in order to see it. No “woe is me” here, just the facts: everything takes me longer now and requires a new level of creativity. But what I was taught again in doing this job is this: we can’t stop being who we are because it’s hard. Because it’s different than it used to be. Obviously I’m still learning this lesson when it comes to the non-daily activities of life, but I can honestly say I never worry about doing something after I’ve done it, only before. We build things up in our mind, filling it with pieces of fear and doubt until it’s as crammed full as the box in my office was. But once you do the thing you’re apprehensive about, you, like me, may be reminded who you are . . . and discover what’s inside. And what you’re made of.
“Your future can seem insurmountable.
Until you stop and recognize
that you’ve already done the impossible.“
—- Sister Rain
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Love it. Appreciate it.
If it weren’t for the small stuff,
the big stuff would not be possible.”
—- Sister Rain
Would you rather be acknowledged for your “usual competence” or your “unusual competence”? The former, of course, right? It’s great when your abilities have a good reputation. The latter is just plain insulting.
Exploring this a little further, though, with some sort of competence (hopefully), would you rather be underestimated or over?
One of the most difficult of many, many things to wrap my head around on September 11th was the fact that the Towers had people in them. Of course I know there were people in those buildings. I just could not conceive of the amount of people on each floor, in each company, lobby and cafeteria. I would look at the skyscrapers with their beautiful blue backdrop and have to work hard to picture what the inside looked like before that morning, before things would never look the same again. Although I’d been to the top of the World Trade Center, I’ve never been in an office in a high-rise.
Since that day, whenever I see footage of the twin structures or similar architecture reaching for the sky, I purposely think about what’s going on inside, recalling movies and TV shows set in such a place to give myself a reference. I guess it’s my way of making sure I never forget, that I understand.
Try it some time, with any building, it doesn’t have to be a tall city slicker. A house, a school, a local hospital, a corporation in your area. Because once you get past imagining what the layout and decor are, you can’t help but think about the people. Who are they? How are they related or connected? Do you know them or someone just like them, maybe even yourself?
We may not all be built the same but we’re not that different,no matter where we work, live or play. And maybe that’s how we all can understand.
“Words can hurt. But they can also heal.
Let’s all play doctor more often
and be sure to practice on ourselves.“
—- Sister Rain
While at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio, my husband, nephew and I entered a theater to experience their A Game For Life exhibit. With holographic images and 360-degree sound, we learned how great the odds are to make the Hall of Fame, direct from football legends themselves. It quickly became apparent that the high-tech production was geared more towards younger visitors. Since my vision loss didn’t allow me to see the images, I focused on the words:
As I listened, I found myself getting goose pimples and I just as quickly realized that they were talking to this 50-something woman as much as the young man sitting between his uncle and me. Since my sight left the stadium I have had to rely on all these qualities more so than any other point in my life. Two other words, Negative and Limitations, were also discussed, the message being that neither will lead you to victory in anything you are trying to accomplish. Amen and Hail Mary to that!
Although the latest technology was the method of delivery, these are old lessons. I’ve never had to climb a rope or think about integrals or derivatives since I graduated from school, and they are not skills I need to be taught again. This playbook, seemingly meant for children, can be put to good use for a lifetime. As a matter of fact, although there may not be cheering fans, TV cameras or a huge salary involved, our success depends on it, especially when adversity wants to tackle us and not let us back up.
No need to win one for The Gipper, that’s already been done. Win for yourself, every day, at every age.
“A hoodie keeps daddy’s head warm
and is a fun place for Piper to perch.
Sometimes you’ve got to use what you have
in new and creative ways.”
—- Sister Rain
It has been awhile since I’ve toured a manufacturing facility. During my corporate career I’d spent a considerable amount of time on a production floor, my marketing positions requiring trips out into “the plant”. I was a tour guide at one company, showing visitors the process of making ceramic tile.
This week I was a touree at an organization founded in 1883, currently employing 500 people. The latest equipment is utilized in fabrication there, yet I was fascinated by the manual, labor-intensive process of making their product. Workers were running high-tech machines but there was an equal amount of artists performing their craft. That’s right, in 2019, in a town of 6,000 in Pennsylvania, art is being created in a manufacturing operation.
One hundred and eighty-eight years is a long time. This is what America once was from sea to shining sea. Due to my vision loss, I don’t see detail, but from the guided narration coming through my headset and the outline of human versus robot, it was easy to recognize this was no mechanical assembly line, devoid of skilled experts and, dare I say, heart. I was filled with a sense of pride I did not expect. And hope. I know all about profit and loss, overhead and competition. And I am not ignotant to the struggle of a United States manufacturer. I have lost a job I loved because our doors had to close forever. But all I’ve thought about since I walked the yellow-lined tour route marked on that cement floor isq: America remains. It exists. And was is a privilege to witness.
“The people we remember for doing great things
are those who feel obligated
to share their ideas and inventions.
Could success be as easily explained as that?”
—- Sister Rain