Springboard Milestone

With one week left here in Utah, my NAC internship is coming to a close. So much has happened this summer and I have grown leaps and bounds from all that I have experienced. As I begin packing to go home, I realize that I am at a sort of springboard milestone in my journey. I need to decide whether to jump head first into embracing independence or shy away from the endless opportunities in front of me.
It has been about two weeks since I returned my beloved Retha to Guide Dogs. I still feel very confident in my decision but the emotions are just now hitting me. It is profoundly strange not having her by my side 24/7 and I still catch myself making mental slips in thinking “oh it’s time to feed Retha” or “Retha probably has to go potty.” But just in the past few days, I am terribly lonely. I miss her presence and the comfort of being able to reach down and pet her whenever I wanted to. I miss listening to her sleepy breathing at night and the silly things she did that made me smile. In all honesty, I just don’t feel complete without a guide dog. I know she is where she’s supposed to be in every way and I can’t wait to hear where she’ll be going next. That is the important part that I try to focus on. Meanwhile, I only have a few steps left in my application for another guide and have been told that it shouldn’t be too long until I am partnered with a dog. I am praying constantly for God to bring that special dog into my life soon. Everything happens in God’s timing but I confess I am selfishly impatient.
Just a couple days ago I was feeling especially sad and lonely but God so purely and bluntly showed his face to me through one of the most profound “God moments” I’ve ever had. I began to cry and pray that God would bring me comfort and bring a new partner in my life. Right away, my room mate’s cat, Bob, jumped up on my lap, put his paws on my chest and rubbed his face against my cheek. It was such a precious moment and I really felt God’s presence with me. Bob has never been so boldly affectionate toward me which made the moment even more special. Immediately afterward, I accidentally hit the play button for the music on my phone. Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” started to play and was followed by Jason Castro’s version of “hallelujah.” Both of these songs have always given me strength and peace in difficult times. I firmly believe that God collaborated with Apple to organize that exact shuffle of songs!!!
Although I am stuck using a cane (which I despise for many reasons) I am trying my best to use this time as an opportunity to grow in confidence. I need to be comfortable using my cane for travel in situations where a guide dog is unavailable. And I also need to be ok with making mistakes and having to “look more blind” in travel. It is a humbling time to say the least but this needs to happen so I can be prepared for anything in the future. I can still connect with people if I’m caning it but it takes more effort than having the natural public attraction to the dog.
In addition to these personal changes, I am slowly getting ready to begin a new year at SPU with exciting commitments and opportunities. One of my goals as Arnett/Emerson Hall Senator is to incorporate tactile art into Arnett Hall,, our brand new residence hall. I am making slow progress on this project and have begun to network with tactile artists and educators. Even if we just get one piece up this year, I see that as a major accomplishment in creating opportunities for inclusion and awareness of our residents’ unique abilities and characteristics. I hope to also begin brainstorming for a new Environmental Stewardship club on campus. It is in the very beginning stages but I’m really excited to work with some incredible people and hopefully get some cool things going on campus.
On the subject of education, I have a pretty exciting opportunity ahead. I’ve decided to enroll in the Northwest School of Animal Massage’s Large Animal Massage Certification Course. The course is taught long distance and concludes with a five day practicum at their facility on Vashon Island in WA. There are no official deadlines for the distance learning piece so I would be able to complete assignments at my own pace. It will take some time to figure out disability services and accommodations I’ll need but I am super excited to start the process!! My hope is to have certification to perform maintenance massage by next summer. And then if that happens, I want to come back to the NAC next summer to work on our therapy horses. Eventually, I hope to be able to have equine massage as a supplemental form of income as I get through school.

With all of this change on the horizon, I know I need to be diligent about embracing all that comes my way and not running from challenges. I have to be engaged with whatever comes in life. I’m determined to live life to the fullest. I would please ask you for your prayers as I go through this time of change. Please be praying that God brings the perfect dog into my life and keeps His faithful hand over me through all of this. I am so beyond grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life who offer so much support and encouragement. I am one blessed lady!! Now its time to get excited and jump in to new adventures!!! Let the games begin!!


About Ali S

Please read more on my About page.
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