From What If to Pixie Dust

It’s been said the “what ifs” will kill you. What if in college I had made that goal to win the soccer game? What if she had just looked to her left once more before stepping off the curb? What if just 10 more people had voted? The idea behind not asking “what if?” seems to be a path to staying in your present reality, while avoiding looking to, or for, more desirable things that perhaps came close to occurring but never did. Two of my friends who work in behavioral health proclaim there’s nothing healthy found in fantasy, and managing reality, be it past or present, is the way to go. They prefer to focus on what did happen, what is happening, and what will happen given one’s current course. That’s how they manage life.

Good for them.

There was a time, not too incredibly long ago, I had contemplated leaving Vision Therapy. The doctor I was working for had announced the office would be closing, my zest for patient care was becoming difficult to maintain, and the prospects for finding employment locally in Developmental Optometry were slim to none. Given my kids’ current status in school, moving away and starting over was not really an option, so although my heart was torn, it seemed like the universe was softly whispering in my ear and it was time to move on. I spent a few nights working on my resume and even brought myself to look for new opportunities. I went through divorce in 2010 and this felt eerily similar. One night I even confided my thoughts of leaving Vision Therapy to my dear friend, Robin Vreeland, who reminded me things could always be worse and I should find the peace and grace in whichever decision is made. She also reminded me there was a lot to be proud of, and if walking away was the answer, doing so should not feel shameful; rather, it should be done with loving memories of the lives shared and touched. Although it was tough to consider, in my heart I knew she was right. I have known many Vision Therapists who decided to move on, be it for personal reasons or professional opportunities, and it was seemingly time for me to face the music. On a whim I reached out to my long time friend, Dr. Heather McBryar, in search of advice. One thing led to another, and before I knew it she extended a creative offer whereby I could spend time each month in her Chattanooga VT room, and also spend time in Austin with my kids. Granted, it is a bit unusual and my commute most weeks is a bit more complicated than most, but it would allow me to maintain the two most important things in life; my continued journey in the land of Vision Therapy, and a strong relationship with my own kids.

Fast forward nine months…

I don’t know what magic inherently takes over when one has a change in scenery, but for me, it has made all the difference. I am enjoying my work, my patients, my co-workers and look forward to learning any new idea I can get my head wrapped around. My most recent teacher has become fellow Vision Therapist, Patti Andrich COVT, who has graciously and quite unselfishly spent a lot of time with me in the last few weeks discussing reflex integration activities for those patients for whom the standard protocols may not have an impact. There are kids with whom I’ve developed a wonderful bond, and for whom Vision Therapy has been and will continue to be life changing.  There’s also a fresh set of ideas to relish in as my new environment comes stocked with highly intelligent doctors and therapists who are as eager to hear my ideas as I am to hear theirs. Vision Therapy feels fun and exciting again, which is something I haven’t felt for a while.

And in all fairness, because some of you know who my previous employer was in Austin, this is in no way a reflection on her or her office; rather, it is something inside me that has been missing which I’ve recently been able to find, plug in, and embrace.

So back to that “what if” idea.  What if I would have walked away? What if I had put Vision Therapy in my rear view mirror? What if I had never decided to seek the advice of a friend in Tennessee? What if the patients I’ve met in the last six months would have landed someone else’s office?  I don’t know the answers, and most probably, I never will. What I do know is somewhere between Austin and Chattanooga lives some magic, and every time I travel home to see my kids or travel to Chattanooga to see my patients for their weekly visit, the magic washes over me like pixie dust. It’s something I haven’t felt for a long, long time, and I’m savoring every minute of it.

Maybe living in the present is the way to go after all.



  • Thanks as always for sharing your journey with us, Robert. The patients and colleagues you continue to touch are enriched by their interactions with you, and we hope you’ll continue in the field for many years to come!


    • Robert Nurisio COVT

      Thank you for the very kind words, Dr. Press. Sharing through this blog has truly been a pleasure, one I suspect you can appreciate more than others. I’m very much looking forward to what the future VT world has in store. Thanks again!


  • GWilliamsFamilyEye

    Congratulations on the correct “what if”. We are glad that you are still involved and inspiring us and stimulating our thinking and feeling..
    Gary J. Williams


  • Thank you for sharing your story. I”m just starting out here in northern Alberta….a small office that will probably service a large area. I”m so excited about all that I”m learning and enjoying learning along with the doctor I work with.


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