Dreaming

Trevor the Otter

Never give up on something you really want. It’s difficult to wait, but worse to regret. – Unknown

Peace out
Trevor the Otter

 

This is exactly the reason that I must get my book written- and written like now.

otter

The book that I am now planning on writing will share my in depth personal journey; and then it will focus on other traumatic brain injuries, as each injury is very individualized; none are the same.

Trevor the Otter says so.

Here’s too fulfilling dreams!
You can it! 

 

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Outdoor Beauty

What a beautiful day to be alive! 

I am very thankful for being alive after all I have been through!
Read my story right here

I am now much more admirable of the breathtaking aspects of nature of which many people take as commonplace, or wouldn’t give any thought or appreciation.
Walking Chazz is my favoririte timre of day

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I love it, because that’s the time of day I actually wonderfulwalk outdoors and admire God’s beauty.
Just walking through the neighborhood

I am so grateful for the opportunity to walk this great neighborhood, admire nature in all it’s beauty
and

just
breathe

Life is full of beauty if we stop and
SMELL THE FLOWERS

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#staytrue

As Icabod Crane reminds me:

It is seeing images as this to remind me to get myself BACK ON TASK,  and to do a lot less talking, AND A LITTLE MORE ACTION.

WHAT IF I THINK I’M STUCK?

Haven’t I been saying that a lot lately?

I have a good friend, who is a life coach, and is about to have a book that she wrote published.  She’s trying to help people (LIKE ME) find their purpose, and I need to find mine, after something life altering happened to me [ie…a car accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury].  Although it’s not like I need to RE-PURPOSE, because I was so young and still in high school, I didn’t ever figure out what I was doing.  The nursing home was a good place to start for me, although I was not aware that it would be so physically challenging.  Maybe I’ll revisit that option after I try something different.

Well it sounds just exactly she’s talking about me!  When she asked me if I could do anything I desired, without fear, what would it be?  It took me a while, but I remembered what else I’m passionate about: dog rescue.  Money automatically gets taken out of my bank account monthly to be donated to the ASPCA.

She suggested I think about volunteering at an animal shelter.  I contacted a woman whose mother was a resident at my nursing home a few years ago, who I knew was a prominent figure in the dog rescue and always ends up fostering dogs.  She told me that an orgainization to go to to help is the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.  (Which I was already thinking about since my good friend goes there and volunteers with the bunnies)

bunnybread

Last night I looked on the website, which said they are currently not looking for any volunteers, but referred to a facebook page where they will post the positions that are available to volunteer.  The only  thing that makes me nervous is that this is not based on what I continued my education, my major at Longwood University was Therapeutic Recreation.  But there are different types of animal therapy, that are very beneficial for all sorts of populations.  Children and people of all ages benefit from animal therapy. 

My friend also has suggested that I try volunteering at Fairfax hospital, where I was in the Intensive Care Unit after my car accident 20 years ago. You can volunteer to talk to patients in a trauma unit, and there is also a group of people who speak with different groups of people wanting to learn about the traumatic events that happened, and the injury resulting in order to better work with patients like us.  That seems gratifying to me. 

I need to get involved with something I am passionate about.  I already have a part time job, writing for Longwood University, and I am working on spreading traumatic brain injury awareness through my personal blog, and working on a memoir- or a “memoir” in quotations; there is always seems to be something that becomes a more urgent matter in the nearsight view.  It’s like memoir, ya, someday… Until then I’m keeping myself busy with church obligations, babysitting for my neighbors and caregiving.  Plus I like to stay  in shape by walking Chazz.

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 Chazz the dog.  My own sort of pet therapy, who is a true member of my family.

#3 Surround Yourself with people you love and respect.

 

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PRODUCTIVITY

productivity

[proh-duhk-tiv-i-tee, prod-uhk‐]
noun
1.

the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services

EVERYONE LIKES TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO GIVE, RIGHT? SOMETHING TO OFFER, A REASON TO PROVE EXISTENCE? 

I am working with a group of women on a Bible study, Your Sacred Yes, by Susie Larson  and am faced by a yoursacredyesquestion today.  BTW, I love this book and study thus far, it helps you to self examine motives for wasting your time or questioning s true purpose.  The question that intrigued me today is asking if we feel like we have a purpose;  I NOW feel like I was put on this earth for a purpose, to give others hints on succeeding even with an injury that makes everything difficult.  I have overcome, and I can use my experiences to help others succeed as well.

At the end of February, I went in to speak at a friend’s high school, about my traumatic brain injury, and the skills that helped me graduate high school.  The skills that I needed to learn to get through college, and how you need to assertively tell the staff how they can help you.  Once you have gotten into the special education program in high school, you are faced with a clean slate as a student going into college and you need to tell the staff at the school what you need, and a lot of the students who have grown up in a SPED setting, are not aware of how to advocate for themselves.  I am hoping to bring awareness on how to better adapt from high school to campus life in the future.

This Bible study has helped me to further reflect on God’s purpose for me, and if my daily actions keep his purpose first.  I believe that I am to record [by writing] all of my struggles as an example of how to Functionally succeed.  God definitely has a plan for me, and I am so *thankful* that He has helped me to recover and am so excited to discover what He plans to use me to help with next.

sun

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Surprise breakfast dates

Today is a day to be very thankful for good friends!  Aren’t friends the only thing to be thankful about? 

This morning when I was doing a morning devotional at 8AM [my Lenten sacrifice was daytime TV to give me more time to engage in reading God’s word; just not having the sound of the TV in the background just makes me feel more productive, maybe I’ll actually reach my goal of reading 18 books this year!]  I got a phone call from my good friend Lisa, asking if I was up and if I’d likewp-1489097228302.jpg to go to breakfast, and I never like to miss out on a social excursion.  Besides, breakfast is the most fabulous meal of the day! We go to First Watch with her two little guys that I babysit,
since we were up in that area, we stop by our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s where I run into my former neighbor from when we were living in Fairfax.  We got to catch up, share some good hugs and inquire about loved ones; I was very sad to learn that his wife has a very health condition.  The boys got their stickers and lollipops for behaving in the store.
Next stop, on the way to Starbucks with my good friend Melissa to work on our respective writing projects, where we bump into my yoga teacher, Amy!  Any good yoga teacher exudes a calming zen-like aura, that seems to linger the rest of the day.  Such a small world, I love knowing people and bumping into old friends- I’ve already had a full day, and it was only 1030 in the morning!  When I return home, I need to get dinner ready and enjoy with my FABULOUS husband, and then get to catch up on gossip at another coffeehouse with my crocheting friends!  

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The cards that life has dealt us…

#MONDAY MOTIVATION

The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.

 

Sometimes inspiring quotes are found on Twitter. 

I went to Centerville High School to talk to high school kids about myself, my accident story and recovery, the specific accommodations, helpful resources and strategies for learning that I  used after the accident that left me with a severe traumatic brain injury.  I went from being in General Education classes in high school to the Special Education classes I needed to take after my accident; adjusting was difficult.  The special education wing in my high school was located downstairs, where all the freshmen and sophomore classes were held, while all my friends were seniors and my new class, with who I was graduating were juniors and all were located upstairs.

I learned some study tips in high school, but I feel like learning coping mechanisms and strategies that work with my disability occurred mostly when I had started attending school at Longwood.  I was away from the sheltering of my parents and the high school that already knew me and my problems.  I shared with the high school students at CVHS the reason I personally selected Longwood University out of all the colleges that there are to attend.  I was looking for a school that would be able to work with strategies for my newly acquired learning disability and found Longwood University to have the most resourceful disability program in the state.

At Longwood, I found that writing what I needed to remember down was the most useful tool; using an actual planner to write EVERYTHING down, specifically due dates, flashcards and post-its for studying and repetition in all important information.  I shared some other tactics that had helped me, certain accommodations that were made and I spoke of the creative minds in Academic Support Center at Longwood who are willing to try different types of accommodations.  As a student, advocating for yourself is key; explaining what you need.  I shared with the high school-ers all the resources that were provided and what personally worked for me.  Just describing and sharing personal stories of Longwood to prospective students is a way of giving back to my Alma mater.   Giving back to Longwood is not all about donating monetarily after graduation, but possibly sharing your experiences and helping prospective students learn more about Longwood.

 

I am not afraid to admit that I was scared going to college away from home.  Although it was very hard, I ended up graduating high school, going on to spend 5 years and graduating college.  Longwood provided the most comfortable transition that I can imagine any school having.  Talking to the high school-ers with learning disabilities about the resources that the academic support center has available is a way to let the current high schoolers know of the resources that Longwood provides.  The staff at the Academic Support Center  is very welcoming and willing to work with any difficulties you may have- no matter what problems you may be having.  I went on to use many of the coping strategies at Longwood to help me in the world after school, working in the activity department at a nursing home for 9 years.  Who we are is what we do with what we have.  We must play with the cards that life has dealt us.

I won’t let a brain injury hold me down; we all must work with the cards that life’s dealt us- even if they don’t make sense at the moment, it’s all in God’s plan.

love

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Living in a dream…

The living room in our house is where most of the action happens; entertaining friensofads, gathering with family members to relax and watching TV. Just imagine kicking off your shoes after a long day of work  and laying back obatkpillown the comfortable (Deso Emory) sand colored ultra modern couch contrasting with the grey-blue
throw pillows to give the room a light and breezy coastal look.  After the long day, you could wrap yourself up in a (two tone throwblanketbrushed blue wool) comfy attractive blanket and take a much deserved nap.  On either side of the couch are uber cool (Naomi Round) modernendtable  end tables to match the round (48′) coffee table in front of the couch. Directly across the room is a TV mounted on tcoffeetablehe wall with a long cabinet underneath for storing magazines.  My favorite chair to sit in has got to swivelbe the (Duvall sedaris) swivel chair in the far corner, it’s so comfortable and so relaxing to gently rock
.  Illuminating light pours from the Aubrey floor lamp,aubreylamp which looks oh so elegant and can be moved around the room according to your moods and needs.

My living room would have my own photography framed on the walls for my friends to gaze at while gathering for book club meetings and the side tables hold mugs of tea or coffee.

 

This article is describing my dream living room.  The images of the furniture for this article are taken from Arhaus, where you can get inspired for your own living room.

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The Art of Resigning

wp-1457972851409.jpgAfter graduating Longwood University with a Therapeutic Recreation degree, quitting my work at Fairfax Nursing Center nearly destroyed me.

I went from trying so hard to complete my high school education, while dealing with the complications of a new disability, a traumatic brain injury from a car accident in high school.  back-to-school

On top of this, I had to deal with the social difficulties that accompanied making friends with the classmates in the year with who I was now graduating. After struggling to complete high school, both academically and socially, I wanted to use my outgoing personality and communication skills to help others in similar predicaments.  I knew that the whole rehabilitation experience while in the hospitals and afterward had sparked an interest to the therapy field,  particularly activities which had helped me to enjoy life, not just concentrating on my recovery at the hospitals and rehabilitation centers.  Longwood University has a very good therapeutic recreation program that provides a variety of classes dealing with all different fields preparing a person for any type of field they would choose.

 After graduating Longwood with my therapeutic recreation degree, I went straight into a job position working at a nursing home in Fairfax, VA.  My activities assistant job was working on the Special Care Unit of the nursing home and was extremely stressful; the difficult co-workers only contributed to this stress.  Though keeping everyone interested and as happy as they could be in a nursing home was extremely difficult, I loved working with the residents, socializing with the family members and looked forward to continuing this hard work each day.  This went on for 9 years, and managers had changed, and everything was handled differently.  I was working part-time, and because of this, my opinions about the activity department didn’t have much weight in what went on in the nursing home.

As my hours were further reduced, I needed to find interests outside of work and hobbies to occupy my time.  My therapeutic recreation degree that I earned from Longwood University helped me to discover other sources  to enrich my quality of life.  One of these interests yoga-mat-purple-1aincluded yoga, partially for stress management with the benefit of physical exercise.  While enjoying crocheting and producing beautiful shawls for the comfort of others, I took an active leadership position img_20170119_232708169.jpgin a Prayer Shawl Ministry.  I also became involved with the girls’ in a youth group trying to get through high school, wanting to help others through their struggles.

I recently had the privilege of guest speaking at Centreville high school in Northern Virginia, in the Special Education classes and sharing the strategies that helped me through high school and into college.  I explained about the wonderful disability program Longwood University provided me through the Academic Resource Center; many teachers explained to the students that Longwood provides the best disability program in the state.  My employment from home has allowed me to engage in speaking events telling my story, and the strategies that got me through high school and resources found at Longwood University.

The decision for me to stop working at the nursing home was very tough for me considering how much I loved working with the residents, but I thought I needed a little bit of a break.  A break to do what?  A break to really concentrate on writing a novel about my life which I had planned on doing ever since I was a freshman at Longwood.  I can still remember appointments that I would make with the on-campus psychologist at Longwood and talking about the amount of homework, how sleep deprived I was AND I still need to write my memoir!  In a way, it turned out to be a very positive thing that I had some time to get real life experience before delving into writing.

laptop

My education at Longwood University has allowed me to achieve all of my dreams so far and I am looking forward to the future and the possibilities that it holds. 

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Fears come true

Today, I’m thankful for these words of wisdom coming from an idiotic, raunchy and rude cartoon show that my husband likes to watch
(while I sometimes sit and crochet next to him)

familyguy

In this particular episode, the character Joe Swanson says that

It’s only when your worst fears come true, you find out how strong you really are.

Joe says this to his father, who is having a hard time fg-joe_swansonfacing his fears of having someone he loves with a disability.  Instead of fearing what abilities have been lost throughout a tragic event in your life, a person can turn around and really appreciate what they do have.

 

There are ups and downs in every life.  But without the downs, the ups wouldn’t seem as important.  In high school, I started out up, as a cheerleader having fun and then there came the struggle

cheerleadingwith going through a car accident in 1997 resulting in a traumatic brain injury.  The injury caused me to relearn everything, from as simple as walking correctly, to brushing my teeth or drinking a glass of water.  I needed to learn new ways to do the same things I used to do, I still need to consciously remember to straighten my left arm, instead of clenching it to my side subconsciously.  Having overcome that period in my life has not only made me a stronger person, but it has enhanced all of the other events that people often take advantage of.  Advantages that a person would not think twice of, like finishing the reading of a book.  Many people with traumatic brain injuries do not have the attention span to stick with and complete reading an entire book.  Some people with brain injuries have a difficult time remembering the details of the past and therefore can’t enjoy movies.

So many ordinary things that people take advantage of every day.  Next time you accomplish something little…think about that   

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Unexpected paths…

…there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.
-Mark Nepo

An unexpected path…you could say that many experiences from my past may have shaped my path, both good experiences and not so good.  I am now more sympathetic to all people, even people in different walks of life, learning from my mistakes.

One mistake was believing I could still get along with the ones that I had known previously, known so well, and the ones who knew me when I was a carefree peppy cheerleader that bounced about the halls so confidently.  There was no way that I could compete with that image of myself, the former image of myself, immediately following the accident I became more quiet, thoughtful and slow to speak. I was taught in my rehab therapy to think before I spoke, and the conversation just rolled on without waiting for me.  I always feel a step behind everyone.

So I started my new life.

Oh well, that part of my life, class of ’99 is finished.  The former style of life had made me feel uncomfortable- the only way I could see myself going forward was to remove myself from the situation, to move forward with my new life.

In order to remedy this, I moved on to be with and socialize with the new class with whom I would be graduating.  The class of 2000, the embracement of my new class was an unexpected path but in a good way; I had so much fun with them!  Even at the reunion, I loved the 2010 reunion (graduating class- 2000), such a different experience than the one of the previous year.  I attended both reunions, the one with the original class that I started out with, 99 and the one I ended up with, 2000.  The ’99 reunion was nice, seeing the people that I really know, the ones with whom I was so close. Some important people who had shaped my childhood.  Yes, my childhood, until I turned 17.

Looking back on the period right before my accident seems almost like another lifetime, it’s as if I’m Icabod Crane on the TV show ‘Sleepy Hollow’, waking after 250 years into a life that’s totally different than the one with which I’m familiar- only not quite as dramatic.

slholpromo

Captain Frank Irving, Katrina, Icabod Crane, Abbie Mills

What could I have done in the situation of feeling uncomfortable around my own classmates?  I was used to being …  I don’t even know what I was used to being.  My friend that I had apparently gotten into a fight with, (though it was never explained to me why after my car accident) [she even visited me in the hospital in Charlottesville, she said that we could try to get our relationship back to the close state that we were previously] didn’t give me another chance to redeem myself, even as I had turned to another way.  Another way of what…?  Another way of life, another state of mind, another realization of what was important.

Everything returns to that state of mind.

Removing myself from the situation.  That is the proactive thing that I could do.  I’m sure it happens to many of us after we have a life-altering experience happen, we change.  It may be difficult for some friends to accept that, especially if the changes are physical.  Physically, I could no longer walk on my own, my balance required the help of two under-arm crutches, just like the crutches one would use for a sports injury.  It wasn’t only the physical change though, it was the mental change in me that accompanied it; yes, I looked different that everyone else, then I felt different.  I became uncomfortable, that feeling of discomfort led me to hanging out downstairs, on the level that all my LD classes were held and the level of the high school that all of the freshman and sophomores spent their break times.

 unexpected

 

Every mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.
Pearl S. Buck
sleepyhollow

 

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