Some people call it anxiety. Some people call it the inability to let go of the past. I call it NOT FUN.

Not relaxing. Not being whisked off to a blissful state of mind. Not enjoying that re-energizing couple of hours before waking and ready to tackle the day.

Since my car accident happened with the result being a brain injury, I haven’t been dreaming too much, At first when I was in the hospital, it was like a couple hours of nothingness, I’d wake up with energy- just not super excited energy. And a few years ago I started wearing a Fitbit- which tracks your sleep cycles- and the part that calculates the REM (OR DREAM) cycle of sleep reported me very low
[like 3% of my time asleep is spent in dreams while the average person is dreaming for 20% if the time]
on an average of other women my age…
MEANING I DON’T DREAM MUCH AT ALL- even now 22 years later

I have a hard time staying asleep and stopping my mind from going down the

what happens down that rabbit hole? I think I just get into the land of



Past regrets…

What if? This isn’t the way it should be-

..This is nothing new, it is what I have been struggling with for most my life, and so I can just leave it all in God’s hands, not fret about what I cannot change, do what I can and know that God is always there to guide me to know the difference

..And then since its OCTOBER

and suppossed to be SPOOKY

I’ve been watching shows on the TRAVEL CHANNEL about Spooky Haunted Towns, and Ghost Adventures, and have been trying to get myself into the correct headspace for the season

Ghost Nation
Learn more about paranormal investigators and ghost-hunting pioneers Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango from Travel Channel’s ‘Ghost Nation’.

YAY-SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS! save the date…definitely excited for the debut of the new show GHOST NATION with the trio of Ghost Hunters that got me addicted into this paranormal fun-ness…

…watching spooky tv programs
keeps me away from thinking of
and then all the mistakes that I’ve made in my past- and so then the spooky tv programs haunt me and I have to stay up longer—


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One thing that I need to learn is to but one foot in front of the other. Take a second, breathe and break down tasks into smaller more manageable ones. Maybe in my super planner I can write down my accomplishments so i can keep track of the bigger picture. I have had a difficult past few days- getting very overwhelmed with everything.

OVERWELMED. With what? Well, my computer ‘misplaced’ a bunch of educational documents and my work feom college. (I did listen to my brother and back the files up on a harddrive so it must be there- I think its just hiding from me)

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“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34-5

Even Jesus makes a point to live in the present moment, or mindfulness. We can only control what we do in the right now, and don’t have the power to change the future- so why worry about it? Jesus couldn’t change all that God had predestined to happen and I believe that he was trying to show us that and the frivolous state of mind that we find ourselves going mad with worry and concern. Jesus knew that he could not keep himself from perishing om the cross, yet he didn’t worry about it, he just prayed and left it in God’s hands. I think most of us could benefit from this example- I know that I could.

Happy Easter everyone! Let’s remember that this holiday is more than just about chocolate bunnies!

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

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Like Christmas! Everywhere you go…

Today was the first day that the little boy that I babysit before school and (sometimes) after school let me play Christmas music- and he was evwn singing along some!

Makes me so happy to share some of my WINTER JOY with others! And even happier that the WEATHER OUTSIDE IS colder, not frightful. Makes it truly FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS! I was just telling my friend yesterday that even though we’re so close, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me! I was sitting in the basement with the lights on the Christmas tree on, fully decorated (I even had the small Christmas tree snowing with instrumental Christmas music playing in the background)

But it was so warm and sunny outside, today definitely feels better with the 10-15° drop.

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A lot of people like to wait until after Thanksgiving or until DECEMBER (the shock!) to get in the holiday mood.  But in the beginning of November? Is that really allowed?  I must admit, that my husband and I did go to the mall 3 weeks ago and got a mini Christmas tree.  It’s not just any old tree, it is a SNOWING Christmas tree!  (We bought it early BECAUSE the store always sells out of the shipments in like a week, so they ordered to arrive in the beginning of October.  To be fair, Matt and I deliberated about buying the tree for a week before deciding it was a worthwhile purchase.  It is going to decorate the house for 1/6 of the year- EVERY year anyway).


I asked a friend what she thought, and this friend says that the holidays elicit a happiness among people, and that the holidays to her, are more about getting together with family and creating memories.  Plus it puts everyone in a good mood- so you can’t go wrong there, right???

I can whip out my Christmas books and watch my Hallmark Christmas movies (on the Hallmark Channel, the kickoff to the Holiday season Spectacular just happened with the Countdown to Christmas on Friday October 26- to give us all a full 2 months before December 26, the day after Christmas.  Maybe I’ll just leave the snowing Christmas tree in my basement for a couple more weeks.


This time of year is what I’m thankful for, the holidays season [yes, I still am celebrating Thanksgiving] but on this high of 71 degrees day in Northern VA, I am thankful for Pumpkin Spice Lattes and the beginning.

Let me know what you think:


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Check out @TODAYshow’s Tweet:

Remembering Princess Diana who passed away on this date 21 years ago.

This happened 6days before my car accident 21 years ago, and when I came out of my coma- I thought I was in 8th grade, but I remembered that Princess Diana died in a car accident.

It’s amazing how the brain works.

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How to be happy: 4 tips from positive psychology researchers

Yale’s most popular class teaches happiness: 6 lessons you can practice now


When Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos set out to teach a new course on how to be happy, the reaction was stunning.

“Psychology and the Good Life,” which began this semester, is the most popular class in the history of Yale College, with more than 1,200 students enrolled, the Yale Daily News reported. One classroom wasn’t enough, so the lectures are now being simulcast around campus.

And now, the class will be available to anyone with an internet connection — for free. Online-education provider Coursera has teamed up with the Ivy League university to offer the entire course, including graded assignments, online starting in March. You can register here.

Meet Yale professor who teaches a course on happiness – TODAY

No one is more surprised by the course’s popularity than Santos, who started the class to help students navigate stress, depression and other mental health challenges. But it’s not just young people who are looking for answers. The course hit a nerve well beyond Yale, with media clamoring to interview Santos about her lessons.

“Adults really are thinking about the things they can do to live a better life and become a bit happier,” Santos told TODAY.

“There’s a good answer for how to do this in the science of psychology. We know a lot about the kinds of things that really make us happy and stuff that doesn’t.”

Here are six of her happiness lessons:

1. Spend time and energy in the right way

We tend to strive for certain things we think will make us happy — a job with a big salary or perfect grades — when in practice, we don’t enjoy them as much as we think, Santos said.

We also spend hours on Facebook or Twitter, even though research suggests being on social media is associated with depression and anxiety, she added.

Overscheduled, distracted and glued to our screens, we’re missing out on things that do make us happy: real-life, face-to-face social connections with people you can see blush, smile and wink; and “time affluence” — just having free time, with nothing on the calendar to get in the way of your leisure.

2. Take time to express gratitude

Pausing for 10 minutes a day to think about five things you’re grateful forcan increase your appreciation of what matters and improve your well-being, Santos said.

“The big key is that when you do it, it can’t just be rote. It can’t just be, ‘My house, my spouse, my kids’ every day,” she noted. “You have to take time to feel it… it’s a moment to really reflect on, ‘What would my life be like without this thing?’”

Usually, the gifts in your life come from someone you’re thankful for, so really think about people who helped you.

What’s the secret to happiness? Author Dan Buettner reveals the answer – TODAY

3. Do something nice for somebody else and talk with others

People who engage in random acts of kindness boost their well-being. That includes small gestures and bigger ones, like donating money to charity.

One of Santos’ favorite studies found people who spent money on others reported greater happiness, with such generosity bestowing a “warm glow” on the givers.

Another favorite study discovered that a simple act of connecting with a stranger — talking to somebody on a train or a plane, for example — can boost your mood. We underestimate other people’s interest in connecting, but such simple exchanges can be happy for everyone involved, researchers said.

4. Find some time to be mindful

Meditate for five or 10 minutes a day to increase well-being. You can go for any type of meditation you like — just schedule the time, sit down in a quiet spot, close your eyes and be in the present moment.

Santos likes to do a loving kindness meditation. She thinks about the people in her life she cares about and silently sends them wishes such as, “I want you to be happy, I want you to live well.” Such mantras help her feel a loving protection over her loved ones. You can also extend the wishes to all living beings.

Is this 5-letter word the secret to happiness? – TODAY

5. Get plenty of exercise and sleep

Exercise is not only good for your body, but your sense of well-being. It also decreases depression symptoms, Santos said.

Another simple thing you can do to feel better is to get as much sleep as you need, since sleep deprivation can diminish your mood, she added.

6. Practice these happiness behaviors every day

It’s like exercise: Just doing a couple of squats here and there won’t work. You have to keep working out to see results.

“Sometimes, you think you do these things once and you’re good and you’ll be happy forever, but that’s not the case,” Santos said.

“One of the major lessons that comes from this work is that changing your well-being is possible, but it takes a lot of work.”

Follow A. Pawlowski on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This article was updated Feb. 22 to include information about the free Coursera class.

I know that I always love all the helpful hints on how to be happier with and in life, and this is FABULOUS ADVICE to add into my journal!

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Ahhh! Wait, going on a trip? and we have to like, PACK?

Nevermind that I’ve known for it for like 2 months; everything’s always put off until the day/night before- THAT’S THE WAY WE DO IT…Running around like a “chicken with its head cut off” [what does that mean anyway??] 

I just googled it:

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Like a chicken with its head cut off’?

In a frenzied manner.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Like a chicken with its head cut off’?

Poultry may sometimes run around frenziedly for several minutes after decapitation.

The phrase was known in the USA by the late 19th century. It is recorded in print being used as a simile from the 1880s; for example, this piece about an escaped prisoner in The Atlanta Constitution, July 1882:

“Finding himself free from the heavy shackles, he bounced to his feet and commenced darting about like a chicken with its head cut off…”

[as taken from:]

In a frenzied manner, distractedly, crazily. For example, She ran around the station looking for her lost bag like a chicken with its head cut off. This graphic simile alludes to the fact that the body of a chicken whose head has been cut off sometimes totters about crazily before succumbing.


I just went to Walmart, grabbed all my travel toiletries, [Danielle, I think you’re making too big a deal about this, my husband tells me] I’m checking the Milwakee, Wisconsin weather report every second and laying out far too many different outfits to wear, talking on Facebook messanger to my one friend about how bad cheese soup tastes and how I’m so anxious right now and don’t know why, I look over to find I haven’t taken the anxiety medicine that I need to take each day for the hormone imbalance that has resulted from my brain injury.  

WE ALL GOT OUR OWN PROBLEMS, just as I told my father in law when he was discussing a cousin of ours drinking problem.

We all got our own.

Thankful for us each having our own problems, and not being afraid to realize that No, we are not perfect- and it’s all alright.

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I am currently in charge of the housework and Chazz (doggie) care,


and the occasional babysitting job, so there is really no excuse for me not to be more proficient in the kitchen.  My husband would call me when he’s on his way home, and ask me to get dinner started.  And it’s not like I don’t start to do anything, I would start to get the kitchen ready.  While cleaning off the counter or washing a pot, I may get distracted and wash off the strawberries, or the weather report may come on the television (and we ALL know how distracted I get around Doug Kammerer, a local news weatherman)


and find myself sitting in front of the TV for a few minutes, and my husband would walk right in the door.  Of course he would laugh and make a comment about the dinner that I was supposed to have started.  I would just tell him that I was cleaning the kitchen before getting started on dinner, which is true…

When my husband would get home, things would get a little better and I would stay on task, but still get distracted.  “Tonight I want to actually cook,” get the chicken out,  the skillet and the pot.   While getting the rice out of the pantry, my planner may catch my eye, and then I would get in front of my open laptop, that’s just right on the table overlooking the kitchen.  Then I would grab a book that my friend just gave me and I would think, I really should finish reading this book before I write my story in my memoir.  After all, she DID give me the book with the intention of giving me an example of how to write my story.  I would watch as my husband started to cook.  Then I will snap back into the dinner frame of thinking, and grab the butter for the rice.

One day, we were going to make a pizza on the pizza stone, one of our favorite date night things to do together and I chose to pat out the dough myself.  No, I do not need help; no, i do not need you to take over, it only takes me over an hour to get it straight because I never get the opportunity to try and actually do it!



On the days that I would actually start dinner before he got home, I always cook the chicken not to his specifications, on too high heat and making the chicken too brown for his taste. He stands right behind me, telling me how to do things better.  I do not need anybody standing behind me telling me how to cook it better;  If I am ever going to learn, I need to learn it for myself, sure it may mean a few things are overdone; it may take me a mistake or two to happen at first, or a little longer  but I can do it, it just may take me a little bit more time than a person [ahem, my husband].  Maybe if I had a little more practice at cooking, I could cook more and make the dinner better.  But then comes in my attention problem.

It has been 20 years since my car accident and resulting traumatic brain injury, but I still have severe attention problems, and will always have these problems.  Even 10 years after my car accident when I still lived at home with my parents, I would get halfway emptying the dishwasher, and then find my mom reloading it with dirty dishes.  “Hey, that was clean!” I would say, while she responded, “Well, its dirty now.”


8 years afterwards when I began working at Fairfax Nursing Center as an activities assistant, I would start recording the attendance, then get into a discussion with a coworker about a resident, or I would start organizing the music CDs that we listened to over the loud speakers that played down the halls.  I still get so distracted by whichever task I begin and attempt at completing.

My issues were much more evident when I returned to high school right after my car accident.  The extent of my learning disabilities was being evaluated by the learning aides at my high school.  The aides evaluated me intensely while helping me to learn compensatory tactics that I could use in completing my education, and later progressing on to college.  And of course, all the help I received from the Longwood University Academic Support Center helped me thrive, as you can read in this blog post.

Today, I am so incredibly THANKFUL for all the academic help that I have recieved in both high school and college.



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Decisions can change your life in the blink of an eye.  A friend on my cheerleading squad asked for a ride home and the next thing I knew, I was falling off the bed in a hospital.    September 6, 1997, was the day my life changed; I had gotten my license earlier that summer when a car ran into the driver’s side and flipped my Jeep over.  I was in a coma for over 2 months, but thankfully I came out with a TBI and fractured pelvis that healed while I was unconscious.

I had a loving family and friends who came to visit me every weekend in the Charlottesville children’s rehab hospital for 5 months.  Returning home to go to another rehab program for 5 months followed by a year of outpatient physical therapy.  My early days of therapy wake up and ready by 9 for physical therapy; speech and language pathology where I worked on breath control, enunciating, pronunciation, and comprehension;  occupational therapy where we would work on the senses, like smells, vision (I saw double, so this was eye traking); school that worked on writing and reading; aquatic therapy where I walked in the pool; psychological therapy where I would talk about my emotions.

 The accident had started at the beginning of the school year, so I returned to high school a year behind my friends which was a challenge both physically and mentally.  I felt like I was different from my peers, the class that I would have been graduating with, so I tried to distance myself.   I tried really hard and I went away to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.  Going away to school was the best thing that I could have done; I had a chance to meet all new friends who knew me for me, not just ‘the cheerleader who got in that accident.’ I found my purpose through my car accident; I thought back to the days I spent in rehab and all the fun that I had was in the activity free time, so I wanted to become a therapist who helped others in an inpatient situation have a little fun.  I graduated with a Therapeutic Recreation degree from Longwood, having worked in the activity department for 9 years and have taken time to begin writing my memoir and further spread TBI awareness.  Living through a tough experience can produce purpose in life and for that reason I really am thankful for my TBI.



Dad, me and Uncle Pat getting some fresh air; October 5, 1997



Longwood University! 2005





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