14 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

Lisa Berman is a college friend with whom I have been very fortunate to reconnect a “few” years since our UNH days. Along with her friendship has come a dedicated support of 2020 Vision Quest through our School programs and our Peak Potential Dinner Auction which she attends and to which she donates some of her incredible work. This year’s donation is a particularly amazing piece sure to capture the attention of our event guests! When I asked Lisa to share with me the story of her inspiration it was too good not to share with our community as this week’s inspiring Guest Blog. Thank you, Lisa!

The Promise of a New Day

By Lisa Berman

Sunrise on the shoreIn 2011, I set an intention to visit the beach every Saturday to photograph the sunrise. Of course it was winter with the sun rising around 7AM. Easy enough! I remember being burdened with work and family responsibilities. It was a challenging time for our family. It was a difficult time for me. As a mental health clinician and life coach, I knew changes were needed that would build in time for self-care, quiet time, me time, and moments of reflection. Saturday morning before the family was awake and the obligations of the day began seemed a perfect time for my new endeavor.

Every Saturday I bundled up and made my way to the beach. I braved the cold–some mornings were brutal! Some mornings the sky was heavy with clouds, and a sunrise seemed impossible. I was steadfast in my commitment to go to the water’s edge hoping that the sun would be there in all of its fullness at the distant horizon, before it rose to be hidden by the cloud cover. Sometimes I was greeted by rain and a barren beach. Other times the sun greeted the new day with pink, orange, and red against a gray sky, or the glimmer of red that shone through a heavy cloud cover. For me this confirmed that even in our darkest moments there is hope and the promise of a new day. Of course there were plenty of days where the sunrise was magnificent.

I was dedicated to the intention of a year of photographing sunrises and found peace and contentment in this time of solitude. It was a moment of reflection and an opportunity for gratitude.

Sunrise on the shoreThen summer was upon us and this early riser had to rise even earlier. Not an easy task! The beauty was I no longer needed to bundle up in layer upon layer of winter clothing, boots, and hand warmers. And when I arrived home to a still peaceful home, I could putter in the garden. The summer sun is bold and bright; it warms the day and warms the soul. It seemed that many a summer day there was no cloud cover to make for interesting skies. The beauty of these mornings was the sun’s reflection on the water and sand at low tide.

Before I even realized, a year had passed. I had followed the sun as it moved north along the coast and then back to where it began at the start of my journey. I had successfully navigated the seasons and all they had to offer. I came to recognize that it was the cloud cover and the bitter cold that made for some of the most impressive sunrises. As in life it is the darkness, the challenges that make the good time so much sweeter. As I reflected on the year I realized that in my efforts to reclaim my sense of peace and hope this intention set in motion a sunrise of a different sort. Life was less challenging. There was a new sense of hope and contentment. My desire and drive to continue my trips to the beach grew stronger.

Three and half years later I still venture to the beach on a weekly basis. I marvel at the changes in the shoreline. The sand and the rocks move and the landscape is different every day. The tide changes. Some days there is very little beach to roam on and other days the beach is vast with lots to explore. I am in awe at the way the colors play against one another. The pinks, oranges, and reds of the sunrise contrast with the blues, greens, and white of the water. I am still amazed by the beauty of a sunrise and grateful for its promise of the new day.

Please check out Saturday’s Sunrise on Facebook or www.saturdaysunrise.com


9 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

Autumn is fascinated by the butterfly that has landed near her.First and foremost, Autumn did NOT eat any butterflies. She did, however, accompany me to the Butterfly Place. They absolutely welcome service animals and in fact were as warm and kind with Autumn as they had been with Ostend and Quinn in their visits to this wonderful opportunity just a few short miles from our home.

They did once have a potential service animal run amok in their facility and even eat a couple of butterflies. It’s sad that I have to say “potential” service animal but a proliferation of fraudulent approaches coupled with inappropriate behavior is a significant concern at present.

Any service animal acting inappropriately may be and should be requested through the handler to depart. As a handler, it is our responsibility to ensure our dogs are properly prepared for any and all environments to which we are bringing them. It is our job to maintain control over our service animal as we work with them to benefit from their training to provide us with their service. This is something well taught at Guiding Eyes and likely all Dog Guide schools. While the occasional failure may occur, it is more common with the fraudulent situations and leads to questions about how best to manage the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Anyone being expected to grant access to a Service Dog has the right to inquire:

  1. Do you have a disability?
  2. What service is the dog trained to perform for you?

Those two questions and the right to request that inappropriate behavior cease immediately or that the dog be removed from the premises are the means to protect business owners. Truthfully, many are intimidated by the entire process. Wanting to not restrict appropriate access or fear of litigation causes a paralysis of action and may allow those abusing the system with fraudulent service animals or misbehaving service animals to cause significant problems. As much as I have been frustrated by illegal service denial in the past, I am similarly disheartened by the animal users who perform an equal injustice.

Autumn poses behind a large wooden butterfly with her head peeking out

This is why I will always strive to ensure Autumn and I are prepared for all of the situations we encounter. I want to open lines of communication in every way possible and I want to savor experiences like the marvels of the Butterfly Place for both Autumn and me… as well as the many others sharing the experience with us. I hope many others give their personal responsibility an equal due diligence and get to savor the experiences as well!


2 Aug 14

Quinn smiling

The Mighty Quinn: Definitely exemplary of unconditional love.

By Randy Pierce

It was one of the most touching tributes I could imagine when Eileen Doyon contacted me through our mutual friend, Kathy Dunn. She understood I had shared a bond of incredible depth and meaning though she’d never met Quinn or me, except through the stories shared by Kathy. Yet she appealed to me to write a short story that would deliver the essence of our bond for her newest book , Pet Tales: Unconditional Love, in a series that delivers a process of healing and messages of inspiration along the way.

Quinn adorns the cover of this book and his tale is as well told as I have ever managed within the pages. I encourage you to get a copy and read Quinn’s and many other tales and tell us what you think. In the meantime, I want to allow Eileen to bring her wonderful concept to you directly as a guest blog post.

Unforgettable Faces and Stories

By Eileen Doyon

Eileen Doyon surrounded by the keepsakes that inspired the creation of her books.

Eileen Doyon surrounded by images and memories that helped to inspire the creation of her books.

It has been quite a journey publishing Dedications: Dads & Daughters, and Keepsakes, Treasures From the Heart in April 2013. Most people will deal with loss at some point in their lifetime. The loss of my mom and my brother early in my life has been extremely difficult. In 2011, I lost my dad to lung cancer and was with him ‘til the end. Since then I had been trying to figure out how to deal with death due to it being so much a part of my life. The year that followed my dad’s death was depressing, complicated, and dark. Receiving two treasures, my dad’s dog tags, and my grandmother’s chandelier, meant so much to me, my attitude, and my outlook on my own life. With these keepsakes, I felt their presence and their love all around me. I knew that others in my situation had to feel the same way. If so, I wanted to help. So that became my mission…. to help others talk about their loved ones who have passed and to tell their stories of their own personal keepsakes. Our military is very precious to me. We owe so much to our veterans that have served and protected our country. So that became my theme of my second book, Dedications: Dads & Daughters, daughters telling stories of their dads’ service to our country.

People were so excited, emotional, happy, and sad all in one, but it was all good. We laughed and cried talking about memories and stories of loved ones. Sometimes, those feelings are buried deep down due to the crazy hectic lives we all live, and sometimes it just hurts too much to think or talk about. Everyone’s comments were so supportive and positive. It really became a healing to all and made people feel good.

"Pet Tales: Unconditional Love" is available now!

“Pet Tales: Unconditional Love” is available now!

So, in this hectic life, I decided to create a series of books titled Unforgettable Faces and Stories. We all need to stop and think about people in our lives, both past and present, and stories of those unforgettable magic moments. Those moments consists of happy memories whether with our pets, traveling the roads, or particular topics of life… our theme is… YOUR story told by YOU! We provide a creative outlet to enable people to tell their own story, share their own pictures of special moments in their lives, and hopefully to use this storytelling as a healing process as it was for me.  The third book in the Unforgettable Faces and Stories series, Best Friends: Forever and Ever published in November 2013 is comprised of heartwarming stories of friendship that everyone can relate to. Our books also present a way to give back to the community with a percentage of profit of each book going to a specific charity related to that book’s theme. The next book in our series, Pet Tales: Unconditional Love is now newly available through our website. No matter what type of animal, pets provide many of us with companionship, unconditional love, security, healing and in some cases they are trained to assist us to enable our lives to be more functional. This book is filled with stories of these very special relationships.

I am so excited and honored that Randy Pierce submitted a story about “The Mighty Quinn” for this latest release!

Randy’s story is inspirational in itself.  How he shares Quinn’s story with us is unforgettable!  Look for Quinn’s story and many others in Pet Tales: Unconditional Love available through our website now.





26 Jul 14

By Randy Pierce

I had gone totally blind and a sudden new challenge–damage to my cerebellum from possible mitochondrial disease–had forced me into a wheelchair for a year already, when my beloved Dog Guide, Ostend, unexpectedly collapsed and died from an undetected cancerous tumor on his heart. It would have been oh so easy to accept that present reality and mire myself in the muck of misery. In many ways, it was tempting. I’m fairly certain if I had done so, I would still be in that wheelchair or worse. So many of the rewarding experiences I have in my life, so much of the good I believe I accomplish often, might have been forever lost.

Tracy Pierce looking fierce in her triathalon goals and always inspiring her husband Randy!

Tracy Pierce looking fierce in her triathalon goals and always inspiring her husband Randy!

Instead, I chose to believe that more might be possible and began exploring how I might make it so. I called every and any doctor willing to discuss my worsening condition who were the best experts in the various challenges I was facing, and I wrote or visited with many. I found experimental procedures and vetted them with friends to build a priority approach. I pleaded with friends for ride schedules to make it all work. There’s a long list of attempts which fortunately led to some incredible successes as well as the setbacks. Success is not a guarantee, but without trying, failure was effectively assured. That’s true well beyond my personal experience there. It’s true for any of us willing to conceive of a goal and reach for it.

Now I’m striving to achieve  so many goals physically and beyond. I want to set myself up for success in all the ways possible and I’m willing to explore any and all reasonable avenues. A great friend and running coach is certainly helping the marathon goals, a great board and staff is helping 2020 Vision Quest, and my own willingness to explore other avenues has helped set me ahead in seeking other goals. Each of us can and, I think, should always consider what we can do to start making those positive steps of healthy choices in our diet, exercise, social interactions, work, and virtually every avenue of our life. We own the choices that will continue to impact our lives and it’s oh so easy to slip into status quo. Be open and curious, and I think the possibilities ahead for you are nearly limitless.

 All that said, I recently began trying ASEA at the encouragement of a friend. It particularly captured their attention due to the mitochondrial implications which are believed to be at root of my physical challenge and which is a target support of ASEA. I suggest any of you curious take a moment to visit the website, watch one or several of the videos, and feel free to ask me any questions about what is involved.

I’m not an expert but I did read enough to feel comfortable in the choice and I have absolutely noticed improvements in my physical recovery and overall health since this began. Each week I track a simple questionnaire, and despite often intense work such as the Double Century and my marathon training, I’m simply feeling better and better. That’s my personal experience that I can share and you can choose whether there’s a potential benefit for you worth the exploration.

Bonus Announcement:

On July 28 I expect to receive 50 Advance copies of “Pet Tales” – A collection of short stories in which Quinn’s story is prominently featured. We will be making them available as much as possible through any of our live appearances. Eventually you will have the means to order your own directly but we are happy to share and celebrate this release even earlier for those with whom we can meet in person. The success of this release will have considerable influence in our approach to a full book of our own. We are excited and think you will be as well when you get to read this wonderful story!


19 Jul 14

By Randy Pierce

Interesting that I’m writing about procrastination as I submit this blog post rather late to my ever cheerful content manager who might not edit out that apologetic flattery!

Have you ever had so much to do that the maelstrom of responsibility creates a paralysis of sorts preventing any progress? I find this particularly true for my creative outlets such as blog writing. This is the infamous writer’s block for which therapy is often simply sitting and making yourself write. Effectively that’s what I’m going to say in the entirety of this post, so cliff note readers please enjoy the free time I am now providing!

I like to consider myself generally strong at building task lists and diving into them immediately. I love to finish projects ahead of schedule and have the bonus time after the completion without the stress or worry of a deadline still hanging over my head.

Thus, it’s when there is sufficient work that I don’t reasonably see the free time at the end that I have my most challenging battles with procrastination. However, I remind myself of the humor of letting procrastination begin with the very concept of procrastination–and I simply put a time schedule and project onto the list and begin work.

My final tactic is to motivate myself with a short allotment of break time for immediately after the completion of any particular project or section. I then have something to which I can use as a tempting reward for just a bit more work. It’s a shorter time as there’s so much more to do, but I find that giving myself this time increases my energy for the next task as well as the final stages of the current. While it tends to work best on things with lower creativity as mentioned, this very blog demonstrates that it still allows us a more personal look into my approaches and real struggles as well.

Thanks for this more playful weekly blog post and I’ll hopefully have a little more dramatic a post next round!


28 Jun 14

Hampton Beach Sunrise

It began as we  celebrated my Mom’s 85th Birthday and discussed some  untypical things she might like to experience. When she mentioned a trip to the ocean Tracy was quick to suggest that June 22, 2014 would be a fine morning to experience a sunrise at Hampton Beach here in New Hampshire. Mom hadn’t seen the beach in 14 years while Autumn perhaps had never experienced it. No matter that this would be the earliest sunrise of the year, we packed into the car and drove east before 4 am.

Even the car ride was powerful as Mom and Tracy took turns describing the dark outline of trees and horizon even as the sky began to lighten and cast an other worldly feeling to the ride. These simple sunrise moments happen every day yet all too often we are sleeping through them or necessarily tending a morning’s pace which doesn’t allow us to bring the beauty into focus.

Reaching the beach we were treated to the artistry of the prior day’s annual Sand Castle competition. I’m told it’s difficult to believe these creations are entirely sand as they are so finely detailed, using variations of color and texture to create their elaborate patterns. Certainly some were more captivating than others but they all created an additional wonder into a morning dedicated to the magic of experience.

A Whimsical woman's head made from sand

Soon it was time to appreciate the full rising of the sun and 50 degrees and breezy made that appreciation a little more chilly than ideal. Still the sky’s vibrant colors continually morphed as the light horizon clouds captures the sun well before it reached our horizon. Vivid pinks, oranges and reds were strewn across the sky brighter and brighter in anticipation of the moment the sun’s first direct rays would reach us. Buildings on a promontory point decorated the view across the small bay and then suddenly everything was bright and seemingly in an instant the full sun was in the sky and climbing it’s way upwards.The sudden nature of that transition stuck with me this morning. Change is so often sudden.

All of this might be enough for a typical blog post but one more experience was in the works. With Autumn in harness we strolled properly past the “No Dogs Allowed” sign and made our way to the sand and the surf. For me there’s such a powerful blend of senses. The cool breeze on my face, the salty sea smell in my nose, the shifting sand beneath my feet and the beautifully soothing sound of the tide’s endless progress back and forth upon the land. As gulls gave their occasional cry Autumn was captivated and took a few suggestions to change her angle away from the birds and towards Tracy, Mom and the water. Suddenly her entire being was captivated by the mystery she was facing. She wanted to walk steadily towards the water and as each subsequent wave surged further forward she would hastily retreat. It was a dance I shared with her as she strolled forward and then leaped backwards again and again. Giving her the freedom to explore and appreciating her wonder as well as the sound of my Mom’s laughter ringing out in response.

The moment was magical and I thought again upon the notion: “Pursuit of Happiness” which somewhere along the way had been taught to me perhaps a bit wiser: “Pursuit *as* Happiness.” It’s the journey and not the destination. It wasn’t the beach, the castles, the sunrise or the ocean which made this day so spectacularly poignant in my mind. It was each of them in their measure as the experience was met and appreciated. It was in the reactions of my family from the youngest, Autumn, through Tracy and to my Mom. Each had aspects which resonated for them and often were shared to bring me into their experience. It was always, however, the individual moments in a string of our own chosen moments. I guess that’s it for me, life is a string of our own chosen moments whenever we are willing and able to just make those choices.


21 Jun 14

By Brent Bell

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and Brent ride tandem.

Randy and I are planning on riding a double century (over 200 miles) Friday, June 27th, 2014.

The “century” or 100-mile bike ride, is the cycling equivalent of the marathon. It’s a ride many serious cyclists have on their bicycling bucket list. When you go beyond the marathon in running, you find a small group of ultra endurance runs of 50 or even 100 miles. In the cycling world when you go beyond the century, you have the Randonneurs: cyclists who will ride distances from 100k up to 1200k in a specific time limit.

Randy and I are working our way into this long distance cycling culture by trying out a few of the New England Randonneur events (100k & 200k), but for our 300k we are going to complete a ride special in my life. We are riding from Nashua to Lebanon on early Friday morning on the 27th (2am start) and hoping to return to Randy’s home around 7pm. The time limit for a Randonneur 300k is 20 hours.

This ride is special to me because in the 1970s I completed a Lebanon to Litchfield (Nashua border town) to Lebanon ride. I thought of this ride as a way to see a good friend who spent her weekends in Litchfield, but the ride became a “Brent against the world” event. No one thought I could ride such a distance.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

Randy and Brent with the Randonneurs.

The ride had a tremendous positive effect on realizing my potential. As I entered high school a shy and nervous boy, I often drew upon my knowledge of how I succeeded on the ride as a boost in my confidence. I credit the ride with all my success in geometry my freshman year, as I learned to be tenacious from a long bicycle ride.  The ride helped to propel me forward when times were tough.

Now that I am turning 50, I have been thinking about repeating this ride, wanting to visit the person who suffered his way home from Litchfield 37 years ago. I am happy to have my dear friend Randy to help me.

Why share this  with 2020 Vision Quest? The core message of 2020 is about human potential. Potential is realized by moving through challenges. Randy shares a positive and inspirational message, but I know he wants everyone to experience the human potential inside of each of us. As my mom so wisely challenged me, can you find the inspiration to walk across the reality between where you find yourself today and where you dream of being tomorrow (just to clarify, we will be biking through the reality).

Randy and I spoke a lot about biking on a tandem as we have spent time together over the years. We have been dreaming of longer and longer bike rides, and this is a test to help us see our potential.

On June 27th, think of us. We will be laughing, smiling, suffering, enduring, and living a full life.  I hope we learn about human potential, which could be a lesson in failure, patience, or success. All I am sure about is we will not want to sit on a bike seat for a long time. Wish us well and consider following along as we share updates through the 2020 vision Quest Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets during our epic quest.

Our route on June 27.

Our route on June 27.


14 Jun 14

By Randy Pierce and Erin DesMarais

Randy with Quinn at Peak Potential 2013

Randy and the Mighty Quinn at Peak Potential 2013.

Randy here. I’d like to announce our Fifth Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction!

Save the Date: November 22, 2014

Or better still, purchase your ticket or table now.

This event has developed into an incredible experience and our signature event. It is our single largest fundraiser which enables us to undertake the incredible work we do as an organization. I believe we’ve made several decisions to improve the event and now we need all of you to continue your incredible support which has made Peak Potential and 2020 Vision Quest so successful.

Rather than me telling you all of the ways this event may be even better, let me introduce you to Erin DesMarais, a good friend and the new volunteer coordinator determined to continue and even advance the great work started by Rachel Morris, creator of Peak Potential. Erin no doubt will want to share some of the big news for our event!

We had a sold-out crowd last year!

We had a sold-out crowd last year!

Hi everyone! This is Erin, and I am honored that Randy and the 2020 Vision Quest team allowed me to take on the task of driving the planning efforts for Peak Potential this year. I have known Randy for almost a decade, and I have always been inspired by his positive attitude and refusal to let something as insignificant as lack of sight get in his way. To me, Peak Potential is a celebration of the pioneering spirit that Randy encourages in every single person he meets. I hope you will consider joining us this November to be part of this celebration.

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction

Beautiful art at Peak Potential 2013 silent auction.

The Peak Potential team has already begun to collect auction items that are the central feature of this event. Last year we had spirited live and silent auctions at the event, which we plan to continue as it generated some fantastic activity. We look forward to posting all the amazing items donated by local individuals and businesses on Facebook for you all to preview before the event. As always, if you or a connection of yours might be interested in donating to our auction, we would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at sarah@2020visionquest.org.

Tribute picture of Quinn

Our tribute picture of Quinn was one of our most popular auction items in 2013.

We hope to sell out dinner tickets once again this year, as well as bring in new partner sponsors, and host a fantastic party for you all. After listening to your feedback in the post-event surveys, we’ve decided to forego the live music this year in favor of providing more opportunities and more space for social interaction. We also look forward to generating even more funding for our charities: the NH Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. These organizations do so much for the vision-impaired community in the northeast, and without them Randy’s life may have been very different. In honor of Randy, the 2020 Vision Quest team, and everyone who has supported Peak Potential through the years, I am going to put my all towards making this year’s event a success.

Welcome, Awesome Autumn!

Welcome, Awesome Autumn!

As Randy mentioned, tickets are now on sale here. This brand new event website has all the event details and will showcase our partner sponsors and auction items as we get closer to November 22nd. Tables of 8 are just $500 until September 1 – get some friends together and make a night of it!

Bonus: this will be the Peak Potential debut of Autumn, Randy’s newest guide and my close, personal friend! OK, we’ve only spent one afternoon together, so “close, personal friend” might be an exaggeration, but I think she’s awesome.

I hope you will join us! You are welcome to contact me at erin@2020visionquest.org with any questions or comments.



7 Jun 14

By Randy Pierce

Goalball players

The Swedish goalball team at the 2004 Athens Paralympic games. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I was approached earlier this year by a group of blind athletes from Southern Maine who participate in a sport called “Goalball,” a sport designed specifically for blind athletes. I’d met several members of the Southern Maine Goalball Association (SMGA) at the New England Visually Impaired Ski Festival (NEVI). They told me how saddened they were at the loss of Quinn and what a positive inspiration he had been to them through his dedication and perseverance. He showed them a little belief and much hard work can bring any peak within reach. They inquired if I’d be comfortable with their holding a Goalball event in his honor and of course I was far more than accepting; I was inspired, moved, and appreciative.

The Mighty Quinn Memorial Goalball Challenge
Tuesday, June 10th 5 PM to 7 PM
South Portland Community Center Gymnasium
21 Nelson Road
South Portland, ME (Free parking in lot at front of facility)

The Maine Mystix vs. the Maine Squids

Admission: Free though donations for the SMGA welcomed and encouraged

“This game is in memory of the mighty Quinn who reminds us that we can climb any peak we want if we keep trying.”– Randy Blanchard, SGMA 

Organizing a blind team has many challenges and frustrations, yet this group is learning to persevere and develop skills necessary to ensure their ability to continue to pursue their goal (literally!) Here is an opportunity to watch a fun competition and honor the Mighty Quinn and his lessons, while perhaps demonstrating support such people and organizations deserve.

I’m hopeful to attend and see some of you there as Autumn and I root on the players! I’m most hopeful everyone involved continue to celebrate the positive message and impact of one remarkable dog. Quinn was himself a fierce competitor and I know how very fitting a tribute this will be!


31 May 14

By Randy Pierce

A very common question in my world is, “When is Autumn going to hike?” The answer is far clearer after a tremendous experience with the mighty Mt. Agamenticus! We have been steadily developing our teamwork and understanding of each other in the conventional Dog Guide work. I’m well aware of some of the challenging parts of work for her as well as the strengths; conversely, I haven’t been entirely convinced of her awareness of my limitations and challenges. That all changed on Tuesday, May 20.

Randy and Autumn hike up a rocky trail.

Randy and Autumn start out on the rocky trail.

I arrived bristling with eager anticipation at the trailhead for Mt. Agamenticus with Laura Mountain and Autumn. We would be returning to hike with students from nearby Marshwood Middle School in the afternoon and it was time to understand what worked and what didn’t work for us as a team. Placing the harness on Autumn immediately begins the transformation to a higher focus; she’s still an energetic and occasionally distracted young pup with excellent confidence. As we started upon the Ring Trail we stepped up to our first rocky step challenge and she strode a bit more boldly than I might prefer. While I could manage it, I decided to stop her and rework her. I thought it would be worthwhile to emphasize her need to pay attention fully to the tricky aspects of my finding my step.

Autumn and Randy hike down the trail.

Autumn and Randy pick up the pace.

Her confidence extended to my ability to stride as well apparently. Stepping back and asking her go forward led to an excellent “approach, slow, and pause” for the footing while I tapped out my awareness of it with my foot. We resumed and I noticed a shift in her stride in the harness. Moments later she angled and paused beautifully for more challenging steps and also kept the confidence to work through it with me after my acknowledgement of her alert. This repeated many times as the challenges became more significant.

My smile grew and Laura and I began to talk about the intensity of her watching the trail, my steps and the best angle of approach. She made choice after choice that simply demonstrated she understood the challenge for me in getting my feet around a tricky trail. She was independent enough to ignore the route Laura sometimes took, and each time for the right seeming reasons. My smile burst forth and yet showcased only  the barest hint of the jubilation I felt inside. Autumn understood my needs on a trail, and far faster than I might have ever anticipated or even hoped. Cautiously adjusting her body to clear me of each obstacle, slowing and holding her balance to manage the angled descents, she was ever aware of when we could stride confidently and when we must step cautiously. It was as if she had reached an epiphany with my need for her and not just a system of rules we were trying to follow. It was simply beautiful!

Success for Randy and Autumn!

Success for Randy and Autumn!

Laura and I began to celebrate the experience together and she captured many photos and videos of the invigorating process. Laura’s sight and description helped ensure I fully understood the great work from Autumn. My confidence blossomed and Autumn’s enjoyment and confidence never wavered. We hiked up and down the mountain with and without students that day. Better still, Autumn has taken this confidence and new awareness to the rest of our work together. I certainly believe the many lessons learned over miles and years with Quinn helped me to understand my role better as well. I have high confidence that as we increase the hiking opportunities slowly yet steadily, Autumn will continue to learn and respond with the eager enthusiasm which was the hallmark of our first hike. It’s ironic to me that for all the presentations I provide with an emphasis on “Believing in Possibility,” I had somehow allowed a bit more doubt than is usual or appropriate. It’s a wonderful reminder to me that Autumn has many lessons to share with me in the miles and years ahead!


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