This week on AFB Inform & Connect, Becky Andrews. Becky has shoulder length sandy brown hair and is wearing a light brown sweater over a blue shirt.

Inform & Connect, the American Foundation for the Blind’s ongoing series created to foster togetherness and camaraderie within the blindness community through informal storytelling and learning about relevant and interesting topics. This week's guest is Becky Andrews, owner and clinical director of Resilient Solutions, Inc.

Becky is an entrepreneur, licensed mental health counselor, runner, and a fierce advocate for blind women. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 18, and took on the challenge of learning to live life to its fullest. She is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and has conducted numerous trainings to schools, corporations, and community meetings.


Melody Goodspeed:Inform & Connect, is the American Foundation for the Blind’s ongoing series created to foster togetherness and camaraderie within the blindness community through informal storytelling and learning about relevant, interesting topics. Today's guest is Becky Andrews, owner and clinical director of Resilient Solutions, Inc. And so, without further ado, I want to introduce Becky. Hi, Becky. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Becky Andrews: Hi, thanks for inviting me. So fun.

Melody Goodspeed: I know. It is going to be so much fun. So, you guys, Becky and I have had a lot of conversations lately, and we really wanted to be able to make this session today really talking about the stress of the world today and what we're going through. But before we get into that, Becky, can you share with us a little bit about you?

Becky Andrews: Certainly. So, on a personal note, I have retinitis pigmentosa, was diagnosed when I was 18, so I've gone through that journey of losing my eyesight. And like Melody said, I love to hike, bike, run. I think the outdoors is definitely my therapy when I'm not indoors, with being a therapist, and married for 36 years, have two kids that are both on the East coast. So, anxious to be able to fly, go back and visit them again. Happy to be here.

Melody Goodspeed: Thank you so much. So, not only does she bike, you guys, she was in the middle of COVID and had to pull away because she was going to be tandem biking with her husband across the United States, so she's being very [inaudible 00:01:34] that. But we were talking earlier about mindsets and you're talking about coping versus thriving, and you just shared a really beautiful story with me. Can you start with that, Becky?

Becky Andrews: Yeah, I'd be happy to. So, one of those moments that really made an impact on me and that concept of coping versus thriving, I was speaking at a conference in Chicago in 1997, which seems like a while ago, and they had asked me to talk on coping with vision loss. So, I had my notes ready and geared up for that, and I just had gotten started and a lady in the back of the room said, "I don't want to cope. I want to thrive with vision loss." And it really had a profound effect on me, and it made me think of Maya Angelo's quote, that some of you might be familiar with, "My mission in my life is not merely to survive but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." And I took that to heart and really wanted to learn, study what that looked like, to thrive with blindness, with all the things that we navigate in life. And it took me to that next space of really studying resilience and what that looks like for us.

Melody Goodspeed: So, what, to you, Becky, what is... We talked about it, but for us, we... I love how you said that, of coping and thriving, and I think this message applies to everyone that's with us today, or not. How that mindset that you talked about, what was that shift? What did it look like for you, from coping to thriving?

Becky Andrews: Yeah. I think it can actually be a shift, that mind shift, even of asking ourselves, "What does today look like thriving?" When you think of coping, we're getting by, we're making it through the day, and there are certainly times where coping is what we're doing. That's part of being resilient, too, is honoring that space that we're in at the moment and letting ourselves get by, get through the day, find the tools we need to. And then, I think when we can open it up and say, "What would today look like if I was thriving? What could I bring into my life today that would be that thriving, that joy?" When I think of thriving, it adds some energy to the experience. Like that quote, we're adding compassion, humor, joy to our day when we're thriving.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes. And I think that a lot of us, myself included, we're really struggling, with a past conversation you had that you've identified that I'm a connector, and you just feel so lost when you're not able to do the things that you did to connect and you have to stop and honor that shift and cope and let those feelings run. But then, I think a lot of us are struggling with thinking we're not doing enough, because there are so many huge things going on in this world right now. Right?

Becky Andrews: Right.

Melody Goodspeed: And as you were saying, we talked about how people were getting pulled in 90 different directions and we're growing, and it can be uncomfortable. Can we talk a little bit about the uncomfortableness of growing and stretching?

Becky Andrews: Good point. Growing's not... It's not easy even if we feel like we want to be in a growth mindset. So, I have my tether here, and I think it's a good analogy of that stretch, of that pole, and being open to that, listening, listening to what we need, that cultivation of resilience, of growth mindset, is that first key, is really tuning into what we need and where we're at. I think right now we have to recognize that we're experiencing collective grief, ambiguous losses, anticipatory grief, a lot of shifts, a lot of learning, a lot of growth, a lot of things that are both challenging and some things that that can be seen as that growth space. So, when we think of cultivating resilience, that first key practice is to honor ourselves, give ourselves permission to feel, to really recognize what we need before we move forward. You mentioned our bike ride, that we were, that was a bucket list item for my husband, or it became a bucket list for me. I embraced it after I'm like, "What?"

Melody Goodspeed: You want to do what?

Becky Andrews: But then when it was canceled, we had a good cry before we could move forward and say, "Okay, what did we learn? How can we grow?" We had a good cry of, "This is disappointing. This is what we were so excited to do." And so, I think honoring that space, sometimes it's hard. We don't want to go there. We don't want to go to the feelings space of it, but that's what helps us grow. That's what helps us really be tuned into who we are and what we need.

Melody Goodspeed: Yeah. I love how you said that because we talked the other night and I did share this with a friend of mine in a conversation yesterday. It's like, you're talking about a client and saying, "Hey, I want to be also resilient. I'm so resilient that I don't have time to deal with my feelings." And you're like, "Well, they're going to be hanging out. Might show up in a panic attack or a migraine," so it's really important that we do that. And I think also, too, I love how you are giving us all on this call the space for validation, because I think deep down all of us, you're like we're not either doing enough or we're not enough, and I think that we're trying to cope with the extremes that have happened in this life at a very quick time, in so many different ways, that we can feel a little bit lost and alone.

Becky Andrews: Right. We're doing the best we can, and that looks different on different days. One day that might be deep cleaning the storage room. Another day it might be, "Gosh, where did the day go? I'm feeling numb and kind of lost." So, I think that space of just honoring. You think, "We're going to look back..." We often look back with some compassion to ourselves and you think, "We can do that now. We can look back to our March, April, May self, and go, 'Wow, that was hard when that happened and what I had to go through and what I'm experiencing now.'" And self-compassion is such an important piece of that resilience, of cultivating that is to just give ourselves that same love, support, understanding that we'd give to a friend.

Melody Goodspeed: No, I agree, and we don't do that. I know I don't. Trying to coach yourself, I mean, it's so much different. But yeah, it's good. So, what kind of advice would you give somebody, give us, because I want to know, too, just when you're in that transition of coping, of giving yourself permission, but not only doing that but then being able to thrive?

Becky Andrews: Yeah. I think there's such power in small steps. Sometimes we feel like, "If I don't run a marathon, then running's not going to help me." But getting outside that door and walking to the end of the street, it's helpful to us. Of course I love running analogies, but all sorts of different ways that just taking a small step to say, "Okay, I'm coping right now. What would it look like if I thrived for 15 minutes? What would that look like for me to step outside for a few minutes or write down my feelings or maybe set a goal for today that's manageable?" And take a minute and write down your wins, your victories. So often we we're focused on, "I got to do better at that," but shift that, look at your wins, your victories, what's going right, can really help us shift.

Melody Goodspeed: Yeah, it does. I think even those small wins, like I even do that on days and it's just hard. It's like, "Okay, I have a small win today. I cleaned out my closet or I figured out something that..." Just even the smallest... But I have really been finding, like once you told me that last night or the night when we were talking about writing down your wins and really owning them, it's really made a difference to write them down and see them. What have I accomplished so far? I think we are getting lost in this. I know at AFB we're creating a life with no limits for people that are blind and vision impaired, and I look back and I think of all that we've accomplished with moving things virtually and quickly and how we've all united together and the partnerships that we're building. I think we have mindsets of what is normal and what is not normal. Right? I think all of us carry that, too.

Melody Goodspeed: So, when that connection doesn't look the same as it did, it feels uncomfortable, right? Like wearing masks, like we were talking about that, too. Wearing a mask and you've got that connection. But being able to shift that mindset to say, "I can deal with this for now, and maybe there's some creativity here." You were talking about setting your mind in your Costco visit, to your curiosity mindset. Can you talk about what happens when you change over to curiosity mindset?

Becky Andrews: Yes, they say we get to either be a scientist or a judge on our feelings, on different situations, and you think when we're a judge, when we're a judge to ourselves, it's that harsh critic. When we're a scientist, we're curious, we're wondering what that's about. It's the what, the how’s, versus the why, gets rid of that judgment. And so, I think, as our numbers were increasing here, as far as cases reported, that I found myself being a little bit like, "Y'all need to wear a mask," and I found myself in Costco needing to just take a step back. And Costco... You've got...

Melody Goodspeed: Costco is stressful anyways.

Becky Andrews: Yeah.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes.

Becky Andrews: That's right. But I found myself just going in that compassion place. I wonder what their experience is like, that creates this being a hard situation. What are they going through? That common humanity piece.

Melody Goodspeed: And I think that [crosstalk].

Becky Andrews: [crosstalk] recognizing that this is difficult for all of us in different ways, and it helps us when we can feel like we're in this together.

Melody Goodspeed: I agree. And with that, I'm going to tag line on what you're saying, we're in this together, is that we really are, and I am trying to see that silver lining where I feel like the blind can link with us in the blind community, that we are almost on a level playing field, because there's so many restrictions, right? There's so many restrictions on what we can do going out. And I think it can give a taste of opening up that door of compassion, and when we see life through that lens, it does help us thrive. And I believe when you were having that mindset going through Costco of what that person's going through, that's thriving. That's like saying... I mean, when you get to that spot, I feel like you're having your heart open.

Becky Andrews: Yeah. I think that thriving is that, as Brene Brown refers to, is that whole heart, opening our hearts to connection, which is challenging right now in some ways, and also inspiring, you think about all the ways that we're getting creative on connecting. We didn't just decide, "Okay. Nope, no connection. Can't go outside right now." You started seeing this movement, this resilient movement, of, "Let's do a family Zoom call. Let's connect in this way. I've left something on your porch, can you open the door so we can have a distance conversation?" Just all these incredible ways of being resilient, of being open to changing that mindset of growing, that growth mindset of, "Okay, February's routine doesn't work right now. What does it look like now?"

Melody Goodspeed: Yeah, it's so true. And to mimic Brene Brown, is also, too, is having those people in your arena, like finding those people in your arena to keep you in that space of resilience, because we are all stepping up, and I see it in a lot of these people that are here today. We're all stepping up somehow and even if you realize it or not. Thank you so much for validating that for us. You've talked about Brene Brown. You guys, she was telling me about a plaque that she's got right now. Could you tell us about your plaque? I just want them to know about it because it's really cool.

Becky Andrews: Yes. This is a really special plaque that's in our office, and on our third retreat, the women that came presented this plaque to us, and it means a lot. It's like four strips of wood, that rustic look, and it says, "Rising strong. Vulnerability is not weakness, it is our most Accurate measure of courage," by Brene Brown. And Nicole, that created it, put the Braille in little nails, so it's pretty special, creates a lot of conversation, too. If someone new comes into our office and they feel... It's courageous to walk into a therapy office, I think. It creates this awareness, the support, like we honor you and your journey.

Melody Goodspeed: That is so awesome. I love it. And with that, before we start the Q&A session, which I'm sure you're going to get a lot, because this has been really great for me. It's totally put a smile on my face. If you could just give us one tip, whether it's on mindset or if it's giving yourself permission or whatever you feel is going on, what would that be to be able to give ourselves to thrive?

Becky Andrews: Right. Yeah. Oh, so many things come to mind. I think that it's really important how we start and end our days. That's a piece that's really, we can do that intentional, and if you can start your day with an awareness of gratitude, that can help us get started in that positive space. At the end of the day, to ask yourself what went well, and just take a pause and acknowledge what went well about the day, are two game changers. There's so much I could say, but I think those would be two of my just short snippets.

Melody Goodspeed: Well, we are going to give people the opportunity to further this out. So, if people would like to reach you, how could they do that, Becky?

Becky Andrews: My email is Becky.LPC, that's for licensed professional counselor, So, feel free to either email me or, let's see, on Instagram, I'm Becky Andrews or Facebook, Becky Andrews Resilient Vision.

Melody Goodspeed: I love it. I love it so much. We're going to move into the Q&A session, and while Jerry gets that in with questions that are coming through, I want to thank you guys just for being here. And Becky and... Well, how many of us are in this group that are doing a virtual 5K to celebrate the ADA? I think it's 36.

Becky Andrews: Oh, we're up to 44.

Melody Goodspeed: 44. Yes. Can people still join us if they want to be in the Daring Sisters?

Becky Andrews: Yes. Their shirt might be a little late, but they can still join the run and we'll get you a shirt.

Melody Goodspeed: Great. Yes. Yes. And then, also, too, she does your virtual... You had to switch them to virtual, but your retreats for women that are blind and vision impaired.

Becky Andrews: Yes. And I'm so excited. I think Sheila's on the call. Sheila and I are doing two virtual retreats this fall. This'll be the eighth and ninth, and we call them Daring to Own Your Story, because I think that's... Again, favorite quote from Brene Brown that says, "When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending." So, we're going to have two different virtual retreats, one that's each week for six weeks, and the other one will be intensive, which is pretty fun. We'll start Thursday night and finish Sunday morning with some good long breaks in there. This will be like 10, 12 hours the whole time, but really get that time together that way, too.

Melody Goodspeed: Awesome. Well, great. We will definitely get more information to people if they want to learn more. I'm definitely signing up for one. Jerry, do we have any questions for Becky?

Jerry Jayjohn: I don't have any questions yet.

Melody Goodspeed: Okay. Well, do you want to talk about, while we're getting some questions, do you want to talk a little bit about... You do other things than that with your therapy. Can you tell us a little about other things that you do? I know that you were doing an entrepreneur... I can't even talk. Women entrepreneur and making lemon out of lemonade, which is why you were at Costco, which I thought was genius.

Becky Andrews: Yes. It's so fun. I belong to a group here in Bountiful Women, women entrepreneurs, and we're talking about the 10 traits of cultivate resilience. I framed them so it starts out like a lemon. You think that phrase that we hear so often, turning lemons into lemonade or lemon merengue or lemon bars, whatever lemon... lemon cookies, something that tastes good. So, that's been a really fun group to connect with and share in.

Melody Goodspeed: That is awesome. I love it. Do we have any, Jerry?

Jerry Jayjohn: No one has said anything.

Melody Goodspeed: Okay. Is anybody having problems with the chat box? Because sometimes... Okay.

Jerry Jayjohn: I don't think so.

Melody Goodspeed: Well, I have more questions. Okay. So, can you tell us about how you started your practice?

Becky Andrews: Sure. So, the term resilient really resonated with me in grad school. I love that vision of being stretched and transformed and learning and growing, and so I knew that I wanted that in the name. So, you know how you do with the name, play around with it, resilient, what goes with that? Came up with Resilient Solutions. Started that, literally had furniture delivered in the morning, clients came that night, went with that build it and they'll come, cross your fingers. Right?

Melody Goodspeed: Right.

Becky Andrews: And it was just me and another therapist at that time. And we've just grown over the years now. Our office has 18 therapists and a yoga instructor, which is really fun to incorporate that. I'm a EMDR therapy provider, so a lot of that is connecting with our bodies, understanding what that process of trauma is. So, a natural segue to have someone connect with yoga.

Melody Goodspeed: That is awesome. And I love also, too, you about how you reach out to your community in this time. You've definitely done a lot of things where... but you've told me stories, which is completely amazing.

Becky Andrews: Thank you.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes. Jerry, do-

Jerry Jayjohn: I do have one from Marsha. Becky, can you share about the books you wrote and where to find it?

Melody Goodspeed: Oh, yes.

Becky Andrews: Oh, Thank you. So, I wrote just... I don't know if any of you are writers or have that nudge. I just felt like, yeah, we all have a story, and I wanted to put my head down on paper. So, had that opportunity. It's hard to believe it's been four years ago, and it's called Look Up, Move Forward: My Journey of Finding My Vision While Losing My Eyesight. The name of Look Up, Move Forward, just a quick story, came to be, I was walking with my guide, Cricket, at the time, and I was also on the phone. And I know it's like driving and being on your cell phone, not ideal circumstances to be talking while walking with your guide.

Becky Andrews: But I was listening to a friend that was sharing her heart, going through some difficult times. And Cricket took that on as a time to be a little distracted, "Oh, good, she's not paying attention, I'll kind of sniff." And so, I lifted my phone up, and I said, "Cricket, Cricket, hop up, move forward." And my friend said, "What did you say?" That's just what I needed to hear." And what she heard was, "You need to look up, move forward," and felt like that was the wisdom that she needed for what she was going through, and I recognize that that's what we continue to do. We look up, we take that pause, we see what we need, and then we move forward. And I think sometimes that can be a quick pause to remind your guide dog to get back and focus, and sometimes that can be that pause of coping, of getting by, before you feel like you can move forward. So, I've come to just really love that phrase and that term.

Melody Goodspeed: Oh, that is... Yes. Where can we find your book? I know it's on Audible because I just got it.

Becky Andrews: It's on Apple, it's on Google, Amazon, through our website, Resilient Solutions Inc, it's available.

Melody Goodspeed: Nice. And do you have another one coming out?

Becky Andrews: I've almost finished the Cultivating Resilience Workbook. Yeah. End of the month, I think.

Melody Goodspeed: Nice. Oh, well, I know you're going to. And would that also be out and available for us?

Becky Andrews: Yeah, it should be available by first of September.

Melody Goodspeed: Awesome. Well, we'll keep everyone posted on that. Jerry, if we don't have any more questions or comments...

Jerry Jayjohn: I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew where the chat box was, but I have not gotten any more questions. No.

Melody Goodspeed: Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed this today, Becky. We are better, creating a life for no limits, when we work together, and I think we've hit that here in so many directions. So, thank you so much for being here with us today, it's meant a great deal. And let's just all remember to move forward with resilience and coping and our mindsets, and thank you so much for everyone for being here and thank you Becky so much.

Becky Andrews: Thank you.

Melody Goodspeed: We really appreciate it. Well, we really, really hope that you guys have a great and rest of your week and afternoon. And again, we will have this posted for you. If you want to reach out to Becky, have any questions later, I'd be more than happy to get them. Or they can email you directly. But thank you guys so much. Take care.

Becky Andrews: Bye.

Melody Goodspeed: Bye.