degrees of motivation…

Dear Robert,

Thank you so much for your recent blog, and all your blogs, really.  Myself and my coworkers are always excited to read your thoughts and have learned so much from your sharing!  It’s nice to stay connected to you with your writing, and other people, through your interviews.  It’s also great to see that many of your challenges are just like ours.  At lunch the other day, we were talking about what you “get” from Vision Therapy and blogging.  Whatever it is, your passion and dedication are a welcome source of inspiration for us all.

Wishing you all the best and continued success!


Wow, Rachel!  Thanks for the great email!

It’s always an interesting challenge to explain why I do this, why I choose to “put myself out there”. Some of it is a desire to help others. Since I started in VT, I’ve had MANY great people help me along the way. They were (and still are) selfless and gracious in their sharing and provided me a great model to work within. In their honor, I work to pay it forward. Some of it is to share what I’ve learned, both good and bad. I’ve written before that putting your opinions out there on the internet provides a forum for all sorts of responses, and while I take the positive appreciatively and the negative lightly, all opinions offer an opportunity to learn. On the lighter side, I’ve always leaned towards sharing my opinions, just ask my mother!  Or as a friend recently joked, the fishing net that sits between my brain and mouth that’s supposed to catch the things that shouldn’t come out, has a few too many openings in it. 😉

In all seriousness though, here are some of the reasons for why I do what I do:

A Real Job – After leaving the world of Emergency Medicine (I was a paramedic for almost 8 years), I decided that never again would I have a “real job”, and it’s starting to look like that may happen for me.  Yes, I have parameters to work within, but let’s face it, I sit on the floor and play games with kids most of the day. We talk about their day, I can use my innate silliness as a weapon to disarm their defenses, I look forward to seeing them and they look forward to seeing me – most of them, anyway 😉 – all day long. I take my work very seriously, but I don’t really take myself seriously at all, so there has never been a day where this felt like a job.

Because Shift Happens – When I started in VT, the landscape of my life looked much different.  I was 24, single, and my only sense of direction was to solve tomorrow’s problems tomorrow.  Now, some 15 years later, I’ve two amazing children of my own, have been through marriage and divorce, and have come to understand how to be strong.  It sounds cheesy, I know, but 15 years ago my well of self-confidence was quite dry. I still struggle with it at times, but my sense of self direction these days includes how to better myself and how to lift up those around me. Both of which require a decent amount of inner strength. Understand that I’m not one to pat myself on the back – EVER – but I am quite proud of the paradigm shift that has been my life since starting in VT.  This blog is just an outcropping of that process.

Dialing 911 Sucks In the last 15 years, I’ve learned what it really means to help someone, and that help is not always monetary or even tangible. Sometimes help involves allowing the person the space for rebuilding, and sometimes you need to give them the bricks and mortar.  Either way, most parents would agree that if there were a proverbial 911 for helping struggling children, they would have dialed long ago.  There is a curious parallel between EMS and VT, and that is when people are in crisis, as most of our patients are when they reach us, they couldn’t care less about our words. They just know they need help. Right now.

My Ears Are Clean – We all want to explain ourselves, sometimes even over-explain. It can be a tough concept to grasp, but sometimes there is great power in just listening. Listening to your spouse, to your friends, and certainly to your patients. Not just hearing them, but really listening to them.  Sometimes people just need to “let it out”. I used to try to talk my through a patient who was having a bad day, whereas now, my approach has shifted 180 degrees.  I listen first, and for as long as I can. I cannot over-emphasize or over-state how much this change in thinking has helped me.

I Dislike Popcorn – A lot!  When I was in high-school, I went to the movies and ate an entire bucket of popcorn by myself. Gross, right? I’ll spare you the details of my resulting stomach ache, but along with the physical discomfort came an apathy for sitting idle.  I’ve always had trouble sitting still – physically or cognitively – so if it’s a choice between watching a movie or blogging, the blog wins. Every time.

There Are No Strangers – My 12 year old daughter enjoys teasing me because I will talk to anyone. She *hates* going shopping with me because I will strike up a random conversation with people in line, people shopping in the same section of the store as me, or sometimes even with the homeless people holding a cardboard sign.  People are people, and we all have a story.  I make no judgments and I enjoy discovering what makes people “tick”.  In my opinion, this is a trait that has really helped me as a Vision Therapist because, alas, communication is key to our success.  Practicing on “strangers” is low risk and high reward…you can only get better!

It’s Your Cape Or Mine – Every kid needs a superhero. Superman, Batman, you name it. How awesome is it to look across the table at someone who 8 months ago was struggling to keep their academic head above water, and now is ready to swim across the ocean. Whether they articulate it or not, you have become their superhero.  How cool is that?  I’ve not ordered a cape yet, but if I ever do, I’ll be sure to post pictures!

Peas and Carrots – Developmental Optometry is a fantastic community of people who want to help. They’ve helped me, they’ll help you, they want to help people we’ve not met yet. That mentality fits me, and I fit it.

I Am Sam – If you’ve never seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  The flick tells the story of an adult who is cognitively limited, and demonstrates and illustrates his trials and tribulations as he tries to survive in a rather unforgiving world.  My younger brother is cognitively limited, and growing up in this environment, the movie hits home and shares a perspective that for me is just innate. Like my brother, there are people in the world who need help. I know this, and I choose to step forward.

Friends, Romans and Countrymen – Some of the best friends I could ever hope for I’ve met because of Vision Therapy. Vision Therapists, Developmental Optometrists, former patients, current patients, parents of patients and others I’ve met along the way comprise a group of some of my closest friends.  It’s a wonderful family to be a part of.






Posted on October 22, 2014, in From My Perspective... and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Jenni Roeber, COVT

    Robert, I’m going to start looking for that cape for you….I know it’s out there! Please pass along greetings to all our colleagues at COVD….I miss you all – Tom Headline, when will I ever see you again in Mickey Mouse ears? Enjoy, friends. Jenni


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