Moving Forward: Investing In My Success Through Improved O&M

A Message from Penny Forward Founder and CEO, Chris Peterson

I’m coming to you today with something a bit different than our usual finance talk. It’s a story, my story from the past week, that I think speaks volumes about how we’re more than just our bank accounts. It’s about growing, learning, and pushing past those invisible boundaries we sometimes don’t even realize we’ve set for ourselves.

So, let’s dive into this adventure, shall we? Picture this: me, your introverted finance nerd, stepping way out of my comfort zone and into the heart of San Rafael, California, for something that had nothing (and everything) to do with money. I enrolled in the Orientation and Mobility Immersion (OMI) program at Guide Dogs for the Blind. This program is for any blind person who’s looking to up their orientation and mobility game, guide dog or not.

Now, why am I, a personal finance educator, writing about mobility training? Because, my friends, growing our skill set is akin to investing in the stock market – it’s all about increasing our value over time. And what’s a better investment than in ourselves, right?

The Journey Begins

The adventure started with me landing in San Francisco, greeted by the friendliest volunteer, Jason, who whisked me away to the Guide Dogs campus. That first day? A whirlwind of orientations, health checks, delicious food, and the daunting task of unpacking in a private room that was to be my home for the week.

My instructor was Josh Lopez, an orientation and mobility specialist from the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind. We hit it off instantly, and I knew I was in for a fantastic ride.

Our first lesson had me choosing my weapon – a long white cane. Who knew there were so many types? Josh did, and together we picked out a two-piece telescoping cane with a ceramic tip that was almost infinitely adjustable and felt just right. We took it for a spin around the building, and by lunch, I felt like I could conquer the world. Or at least the dining room.

Reality Checks and Revelations

My afternoon confidence took a hit, though, the moment we stepped outside. San Rafael’s streets became my humble pie, serving up a reality check with every step. Josh had to correct me every few feet, and my self-esteem nosedived. But after a bit of soul-searching (and maybe a bit of sulking), I remembered why I was here. Learning’s about being open, right? So I brushed off the dirt from my ego and geared up for the next day.

Lessons, Laughs, and Lightbulb Moments

Each day was packed with lessons that went beyond just mobility. We tackled everything from using environmental sounds to walk a straight line, analyzing intersections like pros, and even playing around with the Oko app, which turned traffic lights into a game of Simon Says. We ventured into different terrains – government buildings, residential areas, and even navigated the perplexing world of roundabouts (my nemesis, until Josh showed me the ropes).

Halfway through, we even got reflective jackets and beacon lights, turning us into walking Christmas trees that will stick out like a sore thumb to inattentive motorists driving in the dark while looking at their phones. And let’s not forget the puppy center visit – a much-needed dose of furry therapy amidst the intense training.

Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

By the end of the week, my toolkit was brimming with new O&M skills, my heart full of new friendships, and my mind buzzing with ideas on how to share this journey with you all. It wasn’t just about learning to navigate the physical world; it was a profound reminder of the power of perseverance, the importance of humility, and the endless potential for growth.

So, whether it’s acing your budget, nailing a new recipe, or mastering the art of mobility with a guide dog or white cane, every step forward is a step toward becoming a better version of ourselves. And isn’t that what life’s all about?

I’m back home now, with my fancy new cane on its way, reflecting on a week that was challenging, exhilarating, and downright transformative. I’m more determined than ever to keep pushing boundaries – both mine and those around me.

To my Penny Forward family, let this be a nudge for you too. Let’s keep learning, growing, and investing in ourselves. Our potential is limitless, and together, we’re unstoppable.

Chris Peterson, AFC®
Founder and CEO, Penny Forward

One response to “Moving Forward: Investing In My Success Through Improved O&M”

  1. Jeff Thrutchley Avatar
    Jeff Thrutchley

    Chris –
    Great article. Thanks for the transparency. Hope all is well.
    I miss your weekly insights and our occasional banter.

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