The cards that life has dealt us…


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 last week to talk to a bunch of high school kids to tell them my story, and to talk about the specific accommodations and helpful resources and strategies for learning that I  used after the terrible acccident 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 was taking after my accident.
Adjusting was difficult.  The special education wing was located downstairs, where all the freshmen and sophomore classes were held, while all my friends were seniors and the new class with who I was graduating were juniors and all were located upstairs.


The coping mechanisms that helped me the most was to write everything down; using an actual planner and WRITING EVERYTHING DOWN- specifically due dates, flashcards and post-its for studying and repetition in all important information.

Although it was very hard I ended up graduating high school, going on to spend 5 years and graduating college, then working in the activity department at a nursing home for 9 years.  Who we are is what we do with what we have.

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.


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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.


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)


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.


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.



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


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People pleaser

Trevor the Otter

Success is not about impressing and pleasing everyone, but setting your own goals, and achieving them in your own time. – Auliq Ice

Peace out
Trevor the Otter


And always have been.  In high school, on the worst day of my social life, my counselor asked me if I wanted to call my Mom to take me home.  I said no; my reasoning being that then my mom would have to drive back to school 2 hours later to get my brother and my neighbor, even though we lived like 2 minutes by the school.  Even today, laying in bed I would start thinking about it and be unable to get back to sleep.  To read about the hardest day in my social life, Irony.


Mindfulness means being in the present time, in the present situation, and thinking of all the blessings that I do have now.   My husband would always remind me to think of all the great things that have happened in my life since that time in high school, and look how our lives turned out 20 years later.  When he’s sleeping, I write all of my thoughts in a journal, just to get it down on paper and no longer in my head.  One thing that really helps me through long nights of wondering what could have been is to remember a scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Mindfulness is concentrating on one thing, like your breathing, slows down your movements and calm your body, let all of your thoughts go. Concentrate on your breathing.  

I feel calmer already!


TSome softly playing relaxing melodies can also be helpful to get you in the mood to sleep, hor at least preventing anxious thoughts…try a few options and see what you like, and let me know! 

ON THIS THURSDAY, I am very thankful for all the RELAXATION TIPS I have learned to help me with my sleep!


otter Thanks little otter, for bestowing these great words of wisdom! 

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Today I went to go visit a friend that I have not seen in a long time (With another friend I have not seen in a long time!).  A lot has changed with my friend since we’ve last seen each other- all the sudden, she has a little baby daughter! Little Harper is adorable! (and so well behaved! didn’t cry a bit while we were there, Kristin even said it was an easy pregnancy)

peetslogomugI went out to coffee and to crochet with some friends and 1 announced that she’s pregnant again- she already has 2 young children!  She hopes to have a little girl.


And there’s been good news!

I met with a lady from the Brain Injury Associationbiaa to evaluate what services I needed [I had a BIAA support counsuler in 2005 when I just graduated from college and was looking for a job- but then I started working at the nursing home and kept forgetting to call her back] This time, I contacted brain injury services to see if I could get on the speakers’ board (TBI survivors on the board create awareness by talking to doctors and nurses at universities or college classes to help them learn more about traumatic brain injuries).  The speakers’ board is filled up for the year, but she saw that I’m a very busy person already, working for LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY, keeping up my personal blog and working on a memoir.  She said that there are other ways that I could get involved, like they have a ‘Lunch Bunch’ that is a few ladies with TBIs who get together once a month and go out for lunch; she also talked to her supervisor about me working as a peer mentor to help others that are having a hard time adjusting with their newly acquired TBIs.  This would probably be a better choice for me since public speaking is not one of my strengths, which was a surprise as well as a blessing. 


brain  A new clinical social worker has been hired to start working on the Trauma Survivor’s Network through Fairfax Hospital, the hospital that a TBI support group through which I have made many friends, and suggested that I help volunteer peer visiting with other trauma patients.

At Messiah United Methodist church, 


I found out in a meeting that one of the adult supervisors for the youth girls’ small group that meets Wednesday evenings  will be moving at the end of May, so that will leave me as the main adult who plans all of the activities for the meetings for June and the next school year.  This is somewhat good news and also bad news- Donna is a great lady who will be very much missed, but she will move into a happier, more fulfilling work environment.  

Punxsutawney Phil


The final object in my backpack of blessings is Punxsutawney Phil!  That famous groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, meaning 6 more weeks of winter!  


I would like to see at least 1 good snow this winter! 

A Washington Post article seems to argue with the whimsical little marmot

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Giving up

The otter strikes again…


Trevor the Otter

If you feel like giving up, give up on that feeling and give into the realization there are endless possibilities waiting to be discovered before you. – Tom Althouse

Peace out
Trevor the Otter

Give up? Me?-NEVER!  

When the urge to throw in the towel takes hold of you, just punch it back.  Take  a minute or two (OR 10) to mope, then take a deep breath, clear your mind and bring it back to the present; the here and now is all we can effect, not the past, nor the future (as my yoga teacher Amy read to us in class this past week)

It all comes down to mindfulness and being in the present.  We can’t control the movement of time, all it does is stress you out.  Dwelling on the personal catastrophes that already happened and all the anxiety with it is useless because the event has already happened, and no one has created a time machine.  Even if someone had created a time machine, going ‘Back to the Future’ back-to-the-future-delorean-transport is harder than you think to coordinate all that time travel, just ask the charachters on the show Timeless time

Sure in ‘Back to the Future 2″ they did go to the future that is yet to happen, [as I’m trying to rehash this, it’s all getting very confusing- even in my mind] but we all know in real life that does not happen, so it is simply pointless and only gets us whimsical, thinking up different scenarios of what “might have” been.  As my Dad used to say, ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda…shoulda ain’t never done NOTHING.’

Going through both situations, dwelling in the past or on the future take energy, and does not help the PRESENT situation at all!  Life is a gift, that’s why they call it the PRESENT.

The most important thing that anyone can do is just to remember to take a deep breath and realize that it’s all going to be okay.  One of the hardest things I think that a person needs to  realize is that they can’t take on everything in the world and have its weight on their shoulders.



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If we were all aware of that statement, life would be so much easier.  I went through college without appreciating all the fun that can be had in college.  I mean, it was fun, but I did spend a lot of weekends pent up in my single dorm room isolated and depressed. Feeling lonely, though there was absolutely no reason to be.  My friends were right down the hall, and be called on Instant Messaging anytime to go to the dining hall and break up the momotony of schoolwork.   I studied very much, which would make my parents happy and paid attention in all of my classes.  I had friends, very fun friends that I would go to different meetings like InterVarsity (a Christian club at Longwood) and I got really involved in my building’s Hall Council, advocating for Wellness through the Health center and in TRO (Therapeutic Recreation Organization) Fraternity.  Through TRO we helped with Special Olympics held at our school, Longwood University.

But it’s having boyfriends, and other meaningless relationships that are dwelt so much upon at the time that makes it hard to see what is right in front of you.  Good friendships, time better spent doing THE FUN activities that are supposed to be participated in when one is actually in college.  There is no magical time machine that allows to go backwards for a redo


But that’s kinda sounding like a country song.

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Out in the cold

There is no use in denying that


I have slept/ laid around not doing much for the majority of it; missed out on going to one of the age appropriate church meetings, [of course, IT IS called the MOMS group, So I already have THAT strike against me (having and desiring only a dog; my family is COMPLETE )

Today, when I went to take our baby, CHAZZ outside

 and I mistakenly FORGOT MY HOUSEKEYS, so I could not only not get inside our warm house, but I couldn’t even get the mail.  

And I was stuck with the short haired to naked doggie in the cold until my husband got home.  

HOWEVER, I AM THANKFUL that my husband did not have to stay at work late, we were only outside for a little over an hour, time-tower and it was not sub freezing temperatures in the middle of January. [Our poor little 4 legged non hairy doggie was only mildly shaking when I wasn’t petting him]

I AM THANKFUL that our time outside allowed me to catch up on my Google Play reading- esp. since I have made my goal this year to read 18 books!]



Another super THANKFUL thing that I have experienced today is also is being able to go to my CROCHETING COFFEE  with my girlfriends!  THANK YOU LADIES FOR LISTENING AND GOSSIPING WITH ME! 



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