puppy chart used for vision therapy

Who can help you get to the next level?

“Look at the puppy and call out the numbers using your peripheral vision.”

I’m sitting in the optometrist’s office and she’s going over the instructions for the first set of vision therapy exercises. My eyes throb and I want to take a nap. I can’t do any of these exercises. I feel like a fool for even being here. What on earth made me think this was a good idea?

After they opened my skull and took out most of the tumor, leaving the fragments for a year’s worth of chemo and a lifetime’s allowance of radiation, my eyes were off. Watching TV or looking at screens was like riding a rollercoaster. Nausea and vomiting were instant consequences of trying to do either. Reading was weird too. The letters started off okay on the left side and then jumbled together as I went across the page.

You can tell me I have high level brain cancer but you’re not going to stop me reading. What’s life without reading? I forced myself to read anyway, made myself get used to it. My brain figured out workarounds over time and life went back to the new normal.

Yada, yada, yada, four years later I’m doing fine. The cancer retreated and my eyes settled down. I can read and watch TV no problem but I’m fed up of the migraines and the fatigue. Maybe I’ll get my contacts checked. It’s been years, and I’m starting to believe I’ll be around long enough to take care of minor things like being able to see properly.

Well, how about that!

The contacts are amazing. They say I need vision therapy. I’m excited to find out that’s an option. I know I’ve done what I know how to do, time to let the pros try.

I find a way to pay for it, and there I am, forcing myself to stay in the chair while I stare at a little puppy picture and imagine I can see all the numbers surrounding it in my peripheral vision.

At first, working with a professional organizer can feel like that

The clutter has bothered you forever. You’ve never known quite how to manage what seems easy to everyone else.

If your parents kept everything, you never saw it done right.

If they kept everything neat as a pin but didn’t teach you the skills in a way that made sense to you, you never figured out how it was done.

After you reach a crisis point, you vow to get help. You’re so excited to do something different, so sick of compensating with the strategies you’ve picked up or cobbled together thus far. There must be a better way but damned if you can figure it out.

You hire someone, and then when you get started it’s all too much. Your brain can’t handle it, it’s exhausting. Discouraged? That doesn’t begin to cover it. You figure organizing’s not for you after all. You’re condemned to live like this forever.

READ MORE >>> Decluttering motivation

But wait now

Four weeks later, after short daily practice session of twenty minutes a day (funny that), I can see half the numbers. Another four weeks and I’ll nail this.

It’s the same when you get organized. Slow and steady wins the race and breaking it down into bite-sized pieces works. Make sure your organizer is on board with that and then jump in. Vision therapy’s a process and so is getting organized. Both have spectacular results ahead!

by Lucy Kelly


  1. Humble admiration doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings for you after reading this post. You are a true inspiration and a warrior – that is NOT an overstatement. I love how you tie it in to the profession and your passion for helping people matches the determination you have in your own life. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Lucy, You had me at puppy and your story completely moved me. You’re very brave. I know you have the biggest heart and your sensitivity shows itself every time you write.
    I’m so sorry that you had to go through this unsettling experience. Im sure it was very scary.
    The only comparison I see clearly with getting organized is just taking one step at a time and holding on. You never gave up, did you?
    I admire the you of you and I look forward to learning lots more and getting to know you even better.

  3. I hate that you went through all of that, and can only imagine how scary it must have been. But I’m awash in admiration for how you’ve powered through everything since, and am even MORE impressed with how you find the most stellar analogies to help explain the organizing process. I know you’re going to see all the numbers! Happy puppy! And thanks for sharing the concept of vision therapy. I’ve never heard of this!

    (And I empathize; I used to get horrible migraines from my teen years until I quit working in television and became a professional organizer. But yes, I remember how you could only get a few Imitrex.)

    1. Thank you, Julie, that’s high praise from a wonderful blogger like yourself. I’m glad switching to organizing helped get rid of your migraines. Yet another benefit of this wonderful profession we get to practice.

  4. Sorry to hear that you are dealing with these issues. I had several issues with vision in the last several years. Recently, I got blue light blocker lenses which I don’t care for, but they actually helped my vision not degrade any more. I hope it continues to keep my vision stable. I, too, am a reader and want to continue that for a long time. Best of luck to you.

    1. I hope they keep your vision stable too, Sabrina. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with these pesky vision issues too but I’m glad you’ve found something helpful, even if those blue lenses aren’t your favorites.

  5. How amazing that you continue to find ways for the world and you to work together better. And vision therapy! Amazing! I love how it’s given you that added level of compassion for what your clients experience around getting organized. For those of us that were born organized, or figured out how to be, it’s easy to forget how challenging it is to learn a new skill. It can feel awkward, even impossible. But as you said, with some support and regular practice, things can shift in a positive direction.

    Here’s to you and hoping that your vision therapy continues to bring wonderful results.

  6. Wow, I’m so sorry to see that you have been through this difficult trial. I know that in the midst of the storm, it is hard to have the energy to put up the fight, and also extremely tough to know what is worth the effort and what isn’t. Headaches and nausea make everything hard. I’ve had migraines on and off, but not as bad as I know many have. My heart goes out to all who are coping and dealing with relatively hidden challenges. Your post is a great encouragement!

      1. This is such an important area of research, we need more options than that. Although I’m glad to hear something does work, even if there is inadequate access. The last thing we want to do when migraine strikes is to decide whether it’s pill-worthy!


%d bloggers like this: