“Mind the gap” is a warning phrase issued to rail passengers in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere) to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. There were many factors as to why this phrase was selected but among them was the need to communicate a concise message quickly and effectively.
The technology we have available to us today allows us to communicate very quickly! We carry our phones with us everywhere we go and we text, post comments, email, or call each other whenever we want. I do love that capability!
Yet I fear this same technology is actually helping to make us more ineffective. The technology itself is not to blame. We are choosing to interact face-to-face less often. We’re even choosing to talk to each other less often while using our phones to type our messages instead. Our electronic messages are becoming shorter and shorter. Their meaning becoming less and less clear.
Important pieces of what we are truly trying to convey are falling into the gap. Because of this we are misunderstood, we become frustrated with ourselves and others, and we begin to make up stories in our head to try to fill in the gaps of what we think is missing.
We may even take things a step further by not communicating at all with those closest to us. We take advantage of our closest relationships as if they should be able to read our minds and know what we are thinking or what we want. We get upset when they don’t guess correctly and we begin to make up stories in our head about how little they must care about us.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s as if we are beginning to forget how to sit still, look at someone, and talk to one another. Is it time to stop looking at our electronic screens for a second and “mind the gap”?
In The Journey Training, we talk about the importance of being present with other people. It’s not that hard! We simply need to sit down with someone, look at them, and talk. Use simple questions or statements like: How can I help you today? What do you need from me? How can I love and support you? You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive if you’ll only ask the questions.
Life is about relationships and we should constantly strive to create a win-win situation whenever we can. Remembering that we can choose to slow down a bit, sit down and talk, will do just that. Choose to stop allowing things to fall into the gap!
Have you ever actually walked in someone else’s shoes? What would you do if you could see what others see? How do you compare what you see to something you’ve never seen? In this blog, we’ll explore how two very different people “see” typical daily activities.
If you know Alison, you know she’ll say she “sees” through gifts from God and her intuition. As someone who is legally blind, the question she is asked most often is what exactly does she see? She’s had different responses over the years, but to be completely honest, practically speaking, it’s hard to describe when she doesn’t know what YOU see.
Alison recently read an article that compared the everyday sights through the eyes of perfect eyesight and the eyes of a legally blind person. She decided to ask her friend Christina to do their own comparison.
Brief history: Alison’s eyesight difficulties have been lifelong, with the beginning of notable impact not being until middle school, due to the distractions of a weakened left side from a prenatal stroke.
Christina actually had better than perfect eyesight before a car accident caused some liquefaction of the gelatinous mass inside her right eye. She now has close to 20/20.
We will use 20/20 as our definition for perfect sight and 20/200 as our definition to describe legally blind eyesight. We use sight instead of vision, as one can have poor eyesight, but perfect vision.
Alison: If I go to grocery stores I don’t know, I get a headache. If they move items around on me, I feel overwhelmed. I like to shop where I know exactly where to find everything. If that means that I go a little farther or spend a little more, I do. I don’t have the luxury that some of my friends do of going to multiple grocery stores to accommodate coupons or different product needs.
Christina: I frequently go to two or three grocery stores in one day. I comparison shop all the time and get irritated when I don’t have the ability to branch out even further. I load up my daughter and go, go, go – until we get it all done.
Crowds of People
Alison: I often feel overwhelmed. It’s too visually overstimulating, and I can’t focus. I fear getting lost. When I was in Tokyo, thankfully, I had a very tall friend to be my focal point. When I’m walking with a group of people, I have to stay super focused on the people in front of me. I often just have to trust that the people behind me will keep up.
Christina: I hate crowds. I have a huge anxiety problem with feeling out of control in a crowded setting. I often use visual cues to distract me from the butterflies in my stomach; for example, I’ll count the number of bald guys in my immediate vicinity or people wearing orange shirts. I tend to be the person at the back of the group, constantly counting to make sure no one is left behind. I’ve been the “mom” of my friend group for many years. If I can see everyone, it gives me a sense of security.
Alison: I’ve confused or hurt a lot of feelings over the years. People wave, honk or even smile. I don’t acknowledge them. They think I’m ignoring them. If I’m walking and deep in thought, my face may even confirm my ignoring them. I don’t usually see them beyond about 10-20 feet. If I know them well enough to know their figure, they stand a better chance of being recognized. Some people have a distinctive walk or posture. That helps.
I’ve hugged, yes hugged the wrong person. I once thanked a nice elderly man for dinner, calling him Grandpa. In college, I once hugged a stranger, thinking he was a friend of mine.
Turning that situation around, I once was in a crowd of people when a whirling figure ran up and hugged me. I didn’t know his identity until the hug.
Who hasn’t hugged a random stranger by accident? I once called out an (unfortunately off color) inside joke to someone who resembled a friend of mine. Turned a bunch of different shades of red on that one. My excuse is straight up obliviousness. I’ve gotten so much better about paying attention in the past few years, though.
Alison: You KNOW when I recognize you. There’s a definite change in my voice and my face. I go from a polite hello to an excited HELLO! The hugging arms come out! I have the nickname Alison Loud for a reason more than a typo.
Christina: Oh my goodness, I have a tendency to avoid people that I don’t want to see. Once on a trip back to my hometown to visit my parents, I saw my middle school bully/frenemy and hid behind my husband until we were out of Walmart. I have no idea if she saw me or not, but I avoided a confrontation I didn’t want to have. Though for the life of me, I can’t remember if it was her face or voice that cued me into her presence.
Alison: Mountains majesty! I love them! I love them from a distance, and I love hiking them. I love anything mountainous! From a distance, I see majestic beauty but not to the depth and detail you do. While hiking, I make people nervous. As someone with very little depth perception, I can’t see how deep the cliffs go, as I look over them. I go on what I feel, leading to some falls….but not as many as I used to have! Thank you exercise and a strong core!
Christina: I love mountains too, and as it so happens, I’ll be moving closer to them in the near future. Alison is already planning her visit.
Alison: Yes, yes I am!
Alison: Having a condition of the retina, my eyes are sensitive to light and glare. I love fireworks. I love the atmosphere. Contrast is really key to my eyesight, so the bright colors in the dark sky are BEAUTIFUL!
Christina: As a child I could not stand fireworks, they were so loud and in my face. I frequently would watch from inside a nearby building. Now, my family launches their own fireworks on the Fourth of July and I truly enjoy them. I prefer to watch though. Once, I accidently knocked one over and it launched at my aunt who had just had surgery!
Alison: If I want to see what’s going on in football, I need to be close to a big screen TV, If I REALLY want to see football, I should watch it entirely in instant replays. The slow speed helps tremendously. In college, not knowing anything more about football than touchdowns and marching bands, being in marching band myself, I became highly dependent on my friends. They are my commentators. They are my eyes. They give me the play by play. I cheer with everyone else and then ask why. I always knew when we were doing poorly with one friend – he stopped talking.
WAIT- I did marching band?! Yes! Four years in high school and two years in college. I depended on the people immediately next to me. I couldn’t see the drum major. Lining up the form was, well, special. But hey! Only once in six years did I march on the wrong side of the field!
Christina: See, a big difference between Alison and me is that I just don’t enjoy watching sports. I will occasionally get caught up in a game that is playing at a restaurant or something, but most of the time I find my attention drawn elsewhere. I once spent an entire Super Bowl party making paper crafts.
Alison: I used to watch the Super Bowl solely for the commercials. I once ran down the hall of my freshman dorm and asked, “Who won? The red team or the white team?”
Alison: What do kickball and 4 Square have in common? They were my favorite sports to play as a child. What else do they have in common? Yep, a giant playground ball. I actually played tennis for a long time because my parents were big tennis players. I don’t know how many bad line calls I made. Countless. I’m sure I ticked off a lot of people. A small, brightly colored ball flying through the bright sky…no contrast there!
Christina: I had undiagnosed childhood asthma, so I was the last kid picked for most everything we played. When I got an inhaler in seventh grade, my basketball game really improved! I played softball for a long time, which was a really good game for me in that it was intervals of activity followed by rest. In high school I became a competitive cheerleader, so my asthma got strained with all the shouting initially. By the time I was a senior, my symptoms had become much more manageable, and I was able to complete my routines with no problem. I can’t imagine trying to do basket tosses with Alison’s eyesight! I’d never catch anybody! And when you’re the only thing between someone and a ten-foot fall to the ground, you need to be able to see where they’re going.
Alison: In all of my time playing basketball, I had one moment of glory. Someone passed me the ball, I dribbled it all the way down the court and launched it toward the basket. It didn’t go in, but for a couple of moments, my parents were on their feet!
Alison: No, I don’t have a driver’s license. Through a series of unfortunate events, we didn’t fully understand until middle school that I didn’t see well enough to drive. I thought I would be the only 8th Grader with a parking spot!
I am persistent, though. I spent a lot of years pressing a lot of people for the chance to drive their cars. A few people caved…and those parking lots will never be the same.
As much as I want to drive, there are plenty of practical reasons this is a bad idea.
1. Driving isn’t a textbook procedure. Even if they did everything they could to get me behind a wheel, the other drivers aren’t so predictable. Dangers like being cut off are even worse because I wouldn’t know they were happening.
2. I can’t see what the signs say or see the colors in a stoplight unless it’s overcast or right when we are going under them.
3. Some of my best of friendships began with a car ride. Except Christina. That began with The Journey Training.
Christina:Alison kept offering to drive when we first met. I didn’t realize what was so funny about that, other than I knew she had flown into Tulsa, and thus wouldn’t have a car. I had no idea about her visual impairment! I personally hate driving; it’s a chore and an obligation. Whenever I have the option to defer to someone else (usually my husband) I take it! I will always take my turn as the driver if the other’s in my group need me to. I just prefer to be the passenger and fall into my oblivious natural patterns. Unfortunately, it means car conversations often make me lose track of directions, and occasionally I distract the driver that way as well.
Coffee Shop or Restaurant
Alison: If I’m at a familiar restaurant, I typically know exactly what I want. If I’m at a new place that is candlelit, I have been known to use the flashlight on my phone. If I’m at such a restaurant, I’m typically with someone who can help me read the menu. If a place has a menu board, I always ask for a handheld menu. It’s just what I do.
Christina: I avoid going to new restaurants, because of a food allergy. Once I find a place that I like, with a menu that I find favorable, I keep going back. I also tend to order the same things at these restaurants, more out of habit than anything else. I make a joke with my husband of not liking the things I order out of my usual, “That’s what I get for trying something new”. I always look over each option and consider trying something new, but I just stick to the same old choice, because I know it’s good and it won’t make me sick.
What began as a comparison of literal views of everyday life – revealed a lot of different perspectives and things they have in common. Christina may not have an eyesight problem, but still has to make special considerations when she goes out to eat. Alison may not have had asthma, but can relate to the feeling of being picked last. In fact, Christina and Alison’s friendship started because of how Christina saw herself and how Alison in turn saw her (differently!).
Everyone has a story. Every time you come in contact with a person, you’re coming in contact with a different perspective, a different way of SEEING the world. Alison flew from Georgia to Tulsa to attend The Journey Training in order to meet a Coach who inspired her. Christina followed the advice of her mother in law who had found her own freedom in the Journey Training. Not only did they wind up sitting next to each other and gaining a new best friend, they experienced all new elements to their stories. The Journey Training gave them new perspectives, not only to see from someone else’s shoes, but also to more freely walk in their own!
Are you ready for a new perspective on your life? Join us for the next Journey Training.
Have you ever seen a big puddle, but stepped in it before you could stop yourself? Or worse – dog poop? As someone who is legally blind, people are always warning me of these kinds of things. Sometimes I process the warning and avoid it in time. Sometimes I step in it anyway.
Several months ago, I REALLY stepped in it. No one was there to warn me not to, but the signs were all there. I made a political post on Facebook. I wasn’t aligning with one side or the other. I was merely posting a question. I knew who’d I hear from and what side they would take. There were also some surprise contributors. Despite my genuine intentions, it got out of control quickly, with more arguing than I would have ever wanted. It led to one friend completely backing out of the post, out of respect to me, but unwilling to continue engaging in the debate. I was frazzled and no one’s mind was changed by all of the back and forth comments.
One of the “takeaways” from The Journey Training is that it goes beyond the training weekends. You are equipped with tools for living what you’ve learned. One of the tools I received was the PAUSE button. Basically, STOP, THINK IT THROUGH, THEN ACT. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember what I had learned!
I should’ve paused to think it through before I commented. I should’ve paused to think about the consequences. If I had hit the PAUSE button, my intuition would have predicted the ramifications of my post.
After the fallout from that post, I took time for reflection and received some wonderful feedback to help me learn from what happened. I didn’t just remember what I had learned or remind myself to pause, I created action steps that define what PAUSING means for me.
ACTION STEP #1 – I was challenged to NOT be the first to comment on any posts or statuses. Not only does it keep me from saying the first thing I think, but it also gives others the chance to share and shine.
ACTION STEP #2 – Facebook fasts. Just like food, sometimes we need a break from social media to cleanse ourselves and change a habit. Fasting removes the overwhelming “input” out there. Plus, I can’t impulsively comment on something I’m not seeing!
Maybe you can relate to this experience. If you can, I hope you find some value in these steps and possibly put them into action yourself.
The other great lesson I learned from this experience was the importance of surrounding myself with wise counsel. The Book of Proverbs in the Bible is filled with wisdom! For instance, Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.” Surround yourself with people that will be honest with you and care about making you better. Ask for and accept their feedback!
The Journey Training is a group of people that help sharpen one another. They offer unique perspectives that help with all of the trials and triumphs we face in life. Best of all, they do it without judgement! If you’re looking for some tools to stop “stepping in it”, or you’re looking for some iron to sharpen you, consider enrolling in the next class!
It was 5 days before Christmas. I decided to brave TJ Maxx HomeGoods for the last of my shopping. Two hours later, I’m in the rather long checkout line. Ten registers, one queue line, an aisle of impulse buys behind that, and the line was beginning to pour over into another new line. A few spots behind me, there was a man holding a rather large box. The ladies directly behind me offered to get him a buggy. What’s a buggy you ask? It’s that thing you push that many people call a cart. The man declined the buggy and continued to wait and hold his box. A few minutes later I looked back and he was gone. I don’t know his story or why he left, but I know that before I went through The Journey Training, I also often held onto too much stuff when I should’ve gotten a buggy.
I’ve always had a hard time accepting help. Just because I had a prenatal stroke which weakened my left side and also made me legally blind, I didn’t want to be perceived as weak. I was bullied enough as a child that I told myself stories that everyone thought I was weak. In my mind, I should carry the same bulky and heavy boxes anyone else does and be trusted with the same amount of fragile material…despite all of my falls. I had to accept that other people have to drive me, but I’m perfectly capable of carrying a week’s worth of groceries in and out of the car by myself.
When I attended my first Journey Training class, I began to see areas of my life that were weighing me down. The Threshold weekend showed me how much I needed to put in a buggy. The next weekend, Crossroads, helped me grab a buggy and actually use it. I felt lighter than ever before! The third class, Launch, showed me how important the buggy is to fulfilling my life’s purpose.
If you’re weighed down, maybe The Journey Training is your buggy! The next class is just around the corner! Grab a buggy and lighten your load!
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
“Letting go” seems to be a topic that we frequently hear but rarely grasp. At least that was the case for me, until I had no other options than to completely surrender my life. I was always the kid that had big dreams, big plans and big ideas. I refused to let anyone or anything stand in the way of them. I held on so tightly to the life that I “thought” I wanted, that I was unable to allow what God wanted to flow freely into my existence. In a very short period of a year and a half, every possible thing that I could imagine, went wrong. In that period of time I had 8 close friends pass away, I went through the worst break up of my life, I suffered from severe panic attacks, I had $2,800.00 dollars stolen from me, I had my family completely fall apart, I was abandoned and betrayed by the people closest to me, and I had extreme health complications where I genuinely did not know that I was going to survive. This all came to a head while I was working a six month contract at Disney World… the happiest place on earth right? HA!
For the first time in my life I was completely speechless and alone… or so I thought. There was a day in time while in Orlando when I was driving down the highway and I had a complete mental and emotional breakdown. As this was happening, on the regular, secular radio, a song began to play, entitled “It Is Well” by Bethel Music. I had never heard this song before in my life. In this moment in time, it was as if the hand of God reached down into my car and spoke this song to my soul. This moment and this song, forever changed my life. The bridge of the song says “Let go my soul and trust in him, the waves and wind still know his name.” That phrase “Let go my soul” stuck with me, and began to be a theme of my life. When I would get depressed or lonely, instead of sitting in my self-pity, I would journal, read books and pray for the first time in my life. I embraced the act of surrender. Sometimes your house has to fall apart in order for you to rebuild it with a better foundation. I came to the place in my life where I had no choice other than to let go.
Learning to let go and trust that even the waves and wind in your life know the name of God is a powerful, freeing experience. We so often get locked on what our expectations or plans are. In doing so, we are unable to allow a better, more beautiful life to flow freely to us. This theme has not only continued in my life but opened up opportunities and dreams that I never imagined. Learning to surrender has become a part of my purpose. Letting go and finding your purpose through surrender has become something that I am so passionate about that I even wrote an entire book on the same subject, with the same title as the Spoken Word below. For a young man who dealt with severe control issues, codependency, addiction and self-destructive tendencies, it is ironic and sentimental to see how quickly your life can take a new better direction, when you let go of your expectations of self and others and place your trust simply in the creator of the universe.
I wrote this spoken word originally in my personal journal. During that time I never expected to share it with anyone. Often times God’s “plans” are a little different than ours, right? My book “Let Go My Soul” should be released sometime in 2017. That is a completely unexpected dream that fell into my life, which never would have happened if not for the blessing of my trials.
I went through The Journey Training before that season of my life even took place. Although I still had a lot of growing to do between me and God; the growth, acceptance and awareness that I gained at The Journey Training pointed me in the right direction to handle this season of life and to learn what “taking care of myself first” actually looked like.
I hope you all gain something from knowing a little bit about my story. I pray that through this Spoken Word you are inspired, refreshed and find some freedom through the act of letting go. A great way to begin fighting for your freedom is through The Journey Training. In that training, lives are changed, connections are made, awareness is activated and purpose is redeemed, all through a simple choice to play hard and trust the process.
God bless and go be a light to the world!
I am a courageous and inspirational leader, and man after God’s own heart. My purpose is to inspire the hopeless to find purpose in their struggles, through my story.