Best books you’ll ever read

How do you find a book?
hear about it?
movie previews?
magazine articles trying to entrance you?
in a BOOK CLUB!

Yes! Stack Of Books

So exciting!  I am thrilled that my friend from high school just started this

Miles Apart Book Club

bookmilesaparton Facebook,

She lives in Utah, other friends from high school are into it and we are all reading the book then discussing online!  I know they have book clubs like this on Goodreads; but it’s a little different because the group is all people that we know from growing up together!  It’s almost like a high school reunion place we can visit online to actually talk about smart nowwhatpeople stuff with like topics! and not what we were all caught up in in high school- like makeup, clothes, boys,
My So Called Life,
why other people think this way or that, what the HOT people in magazines are wearing,
Jordan Catalano,  boys, what person sitting next to you is wearing, why they smell like that, the football game,  boys, the list goes on…
But in this club, now its like we’re all grown up and we can forget all the junky stuff from high school.

The author of the book that we’re reading this month, Rachel Dawn is a member of this club, so its fun that we can interact with her too!

This week I just began reading another book for a new book group to meet at my church on Wednesday mornings!

halellujahanyway

This book is called Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott

I am just so excited to spend time and fellowship with people

 who will be meetimessiahumcng in this new book group  at Messiah United Methodist church

 

 

 

 

 

 

and get to share thoughts…

 

 

bookshead

 

 

 

 

 

And maybe I’ll even reach my personal academic goal of reading for this year…

AWESOME– I’ve read 10 already- and its only the beginning of September…the goal is set at 18!

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20 years later

Wow.
Just let that sink in.
20 years.
20 years since my life has changed so drastically.
20 years, but does it even feel like 20 years ago?

It does feel different.  Different from what; it seems like this is just something that happened to me.  Something that happened long ago.  Like I grew into it. or grew from it, since I technically am older now than I was when I first got into that car accident.  

It feels different, but I am still me.  The car accident that left me with a  TBI is just something that happened to me.  Move on, right?

I have.

  • Struggling through high school…hey I made it though, right? only 1 year late

  • Going to LONGWOOD college, only 3 years post accident, 3 hours away from everyone I knew- my support system- living on my OWN (which was a big deal for me, concentrating so hard on rehabilitation)

  • I graduated! With a degree in Therapeutic Recreation, my hospital stay and rehab turned out to be a good thing, in the sense that it gave me a purpose

  • Working at Fairfax Nursing Center for 9 years 2005-14

  • meeting a great man, Matt Karst 12/06, and married 09/20/08

  • Buying a townhouse in Burke Center in 2012

  • writing since 2014

  • Involved at Messiah United Methodist Church; organizing the Prayer Shawl Ministry, various Bible studies, Vacation Bible school, helping with a weeekly middle school/high school Girls’ group, co-leading a Sunday school class

  • Longwood Alumni blogger

  • babysitter & caregiver

  • Fairfax Inova Trauma Support Network volunteer

  • Creating traumatic brain injury awareness 

 

I am here for a purpose.  A purpose to bring awareness to the silent epidemic of a hidden illness.  Hidden to the unknowing eye, but we still feel the effects.  Everyday, we know that there is something different than before, or something that people without a brain injury don’t experience the symptoms.  The symptoms do not always need to be a physical injury or something that you can see, but the symptoms are still lasting.  My physical disabilities have gotten much better, though my balance is not perfect, nor is my voice, fine motor control, anxiety and levels of exhaustion.

Remember how far you have come

karst-danielle-after-tbi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are, the way we think, act, and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember:
• A person with a brain injury is a person first
• No two brain injuries are exactly the same
• The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person
• The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity”
The Brain Injury Association of America website

eh

 

 

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Adventures in Babysitting

babysit

For the majority of the past month, (and actually for the majority of the summer) has been focused around kids.   In June, I was organizing the recreation for the preschoolers in the Vacation Bible School held at my church.  a half an hour of 15 four through six year olds, five minute break, and another 15 preschoolers come through.  Having a therapeutic recreation degree from Longwood University, and being equipped with a list of activity ideas  to relate to the Bible theme of the day.  After these days, I go to my job of babysitting the two boys across the street.  We play with legos, and dinosaurs,

 

 

put together puzzles and work on board games.

 

My niece and nephew is also so cute; I spent part of my mother-in-law’s birthday party crawling along the floor with my one year old nephew.

 

ELENA!

 

My dog Chazz and I are able to walk to our good friend’s house frequently- and today we met Erin and Elena in the playground in our neighborhood and played in their backyard.  For lunch we went to Chik- fil-A 

chickfila

Kids are really excited to see you, and super fun to play with, but the good thing is that at the end of the day you can give them back.  

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What am I doing?

balls-of-yarnWe had arranged a meeting to learn to crochet, but ended up talking the whole time.  She has a daughter who is attending Longwood University in the fall, and we discussed my memories from the time I was a student.  I told her I majored in therapeutic recreation, she asked if I am a therapist currently; I had to tell her that I had worked in the field doing activities for residents in a nursing home for nearly a decade and am writing.

Am I doing the right thing now?  I ask myself all the time; I wish someone could just give me a nod of approval or shake their head.  My goal is to give myself 5 years from the time I quit working a traditional job to finish a book, (although now I’m thinking that writing a book takes a lot more time) I am currently:

  • WRITING

    • On my personal blog
    • my memoir
    • I have recently found out about the magic of journaling, and am very excited to search pinterest on topics to record my thoughts, short topics to include in my memoir writing, organizing blog post or just a log of what to have for dinners that week
  • READING

    snoopy-reading

    • It is my goal to complete reading 18 books this year and so far I’m on track!
    • I go to my local library with my 4 year old niece and with the little boys that I babysit,
    • After all you need to improve your vocabulary by reading to help with your writing, right?
  • CARE GIVING

    • Babysitting my neighbors’ kids,
    • I prepare therapeutic recreational activities for them to do, we go to the movies, the library, do arts and crafts, and I help them with handwriting and numbers,
    • filling in for a care giver of someone who has early onset dementia,
    • my dog gets so much more attention now, and also provides fitness by taking him on long walks
  • VOLUNTEERING

    • I am very active in my church,  helping with the Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and coordinating the Prayer Shawl Ministry
    • I am with the Trauma Survivors Network, visiting with patients in the Intensive Care Unit
  • SOCIALIZING

    • I have a group that I weekly meet up with at a coffee shop, to knit or crochet (they are all my age, and not dorky, REALLY) and we get together to do other things like see movies
    • I meet up with my friends and neighbors
    • About once or twice a week, I go up to Starbucks to work on my writing with my friend, and we usually go out to lunch afterwards
  • CREATING AWARENESS OF TBIs

    • What is a traumatic brain injury?  Through my blog I speak of my troubles and give tips on how I handle the problems that arise
    • I have gone to a high school and spoken about the resources that I used to help me learn with a disability and what happened in my car accident.

 

As you can see, I’m not just sitting here day after day watching TV and soap operas [although I do love me some Days Of Our Lives, but it’s not on an every day must see basis].

SO WHAT AM I DOING?  AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING, IS THIS JUST THE LIFE OF A WRITER?  I wish you would tell me, because I have no idea.

question  

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Nature meditations

walkhuff

 

I find it incredibly fulfilling and peaceful to take a walk around my neighborhood with my dog.  Breathing in the fresh of the air is its own type of meditation; the mindfulness as nature surrounds you is so refreshing. When you can totally be in the moment and enjoying the beautiful flowers

surrounding you while you listen to the singing of the birds and the hum of the cicadas (or crickets).  Even in my backyard, while I water the plants, I see a chipmunk scurrying across the patio, and the same robin hanging out on my fence. This robin!  Makes me so angry!  Each year, my heart breaks when the same robin (creatures of habit) comes to build her nest on the bottom part of my deck.  Two sets of baby robins grew up and flew away sucessfully, but then the third batch of robins were eaten by a big lot of ugly crows a few years ago.  I had to put a coffee can in the space where the nest always appeared, so they moved on to create another nest on the next post of my deck.IMG_20170710_081135576 When that batch disappeared because of those ugly crows, a nut can had to go over that potential egg spot.  This breaks my heart.  Again, the coffee can fell during a storm and I let the new nest be built.  I witnessed the miracle of the baby birds emerging from their shells, and saw the black crows gathering in the courtyard outside my house celebrating their new feast of baby birds.

I was #heartbroken
when I found out
about the baby birds.

 Even though this is so depressing, I realize that this is the circle of life.  Survival of the fittest, or whatever.  Even though I may not agree with all of the ways of the world, I still have a desire to help all the people and animals of the world.  To help anyone or -thing to survive, and live a life of leisure to the fullest.  

Concepts such as perceived freedom, intrinsic motivation, perceived competence, and positive affect are critical to determining whether an experience is leisure or not leisure. … The second requirement of leisure as state of mind, intrinsic motivation, means that the person is moved from within to participate.

 

I believe that all populations have the right to a life of leisure, whether the people are young, or old, able bodied or surviving with challenges.  Everyone deserves to have a happy leisure life, no matter how that leisure life presents itself.  One could be an older person who merely appreciates nature, or a young child who has activities and games to keep constantly moving.  Even young children appreciate nature and the change of the seasons, noted from the boys that I babysit.

Even in my babysitting job, I believe provides a few hours of leisure, personally for me, and for the boys.  I enjoy hanging out with them, given that I don’t have any children of my own.  I don’t even have to stay around them all day, I get to hang out and play with them for a few hours, and then I get to give them back to the parents and enjoy a “kid free” evening with my husband.   Our one dependent and third person in our family is our dog Chazz.

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Chazz returns us to the state of calmness and  peace.  An appreciation of nature and allows us to pause and reflect upon the current state of the world around us.  I enjoy our walks with Chazz and am very THANKFUL for them each and every day.  

 

 

 

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The mouse ran up the clock

What am I doing with all my time?  Yes, the time that I’m supposed to be “working”

hickorydickorydock

The ADD that I’ve acquired from my traumatic brain injury makes it very difficult to focus.  I’m wasting time away getting distracted with texts, laundry or PLANNERS -my guilty pleasure.  I just love all of the fun effective ways to make a planner functional AND pretty.  A notebook that you are proud to carry around in your purse telling of appointments or just to take notes- a planner can contain whatever you want it to; how you want it.  That’s why I’m trying  like using a good ol’ (fashionably orange) blank notebook like the one I bought on Amazon.orangej

 

Instead of getting to work writing in it or working on completing my book (that is taking FOREVER)

 

It’s been nearly a month since I have bought it, and it now contains some quotes that I’d like to remember, a meal dinner planner for the month, some prayer requests, and some other topics to include in the book on which I am currently working.

Can there be such a thing as having too many journals? 

 

  • I have a journal for all of my appointments, and TO-DOs [compact enough to stick in a purse and carry around with me]

    orangej

  • Another for doodles, and things I’d like to remember [the orange one]

    \

  • a big one, that stays at my workplace at home, that’s kind of like an end of the day reflection of what happened during the day; also containing a box for gratitude for the day

    I can’t lie, the cover did have something incredible weight when deciding to purchase it
    Just look at ‘Life is beautiful’ in french

     

  • a “work” notebook, for containing TBI notes, the notes taken in support group meetings or containing information about my volunteer work at Fairfax hospital

    IMG_20170713_203452742

    This notebook just has blank pages in it, some subject dividers, and seems like it would really be good for a project noteboook- although thus far I’ve used it as a food planner, it’s so compact and easy to fit into a purse when going to the store- easy to write down recipes at when at the grocery store-there it is all contained nicely.  Maybe I need to find another journal for more studious subjects…  The good thing is that this journal has removable pages, so they are easily transferred

    AM i REALLY CONCERNING MYSELF TOO HARD WITH THIS?

    [PLEASE COMMENT, I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW!]

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Rubber bands

I am so excited that I can still function well cognitively after a brain injury.  I can function so well that I can dissect the Bschelorette and I can go to the library with booksthe young boys across the street the same day.  Then take my dog Chazz out on a long walk and appreciate nature.

I watch the Bachelorette, and analyze it all week; Or it seems like I find an excuse to re watch it again almost each night on my DVR.  This season of the Bachelorette is turning out to be the best:

bachelorette

  1.  it is a historic turning point in the bachelor franchise: the one whom everyone’s heart is set after is BLACK.  [The bachelor and bachelorette has always had the main star to be the same type of stereotypical Caucasian person.

  2. 31 YEARS OLD (more appropriate age to get married)

  3. a LAWYER [more of a stable occupation]

file8001271603253

I am thankful for even after my traumatic brain injury I am able to appreciate different things in life.  My mind is flexible like a rubber band; able to appreciate all thingIMG_20170601_123902560-1s in life and not take for granted even the small things that most people would.  

Something as simple as birds singing a song, freshly cut grass, or the flowers in my own neighborhood.

 

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Up in the air

Coming off a dream trip in Florida, with my husband in my family’s cute vacation home, the day we returned turned into a nightmare.

IMG_20170517_164817718_HDR

Starting out super great, we found a little restaurant in a beautiful area that we haven’t been before with a great view.  

The next day was MY BIRTHDAY! (May 18) 36- the best year so far! IMG_20170518_101856579

celebrated with my gift of a FREE starbucks drink- and the hubby got me a new cup!!

My husband and I went down to Lido Beach in Sarasota Florida and took the day to rIMG_20170518_122520222elax.

Beautiful sky and beautiful weather.

We went to my favorite restaurant by Lido beach in St. Armands Circle, Cha cha coconutswp-1464892184360.jpg, a very tropical restaurant serving up food with a “Floribbean” flare.  

We indulged in Conch fritters, with a cute little drink Limin’ da coconut in a monkey head shaped coconut that also doubles as a coin bank.

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There was so much great seafood that we had to indulge in, and we were so in the mood for seafood, being at the beach.  We got some oysters at the Siesta KeysIMG_20170523_133317319_HDR Oyster Bar that were done perfectly, the Oysters Rockefeller.  Never giving oysters a real chance, I went into the experience with an open mind, and they actually taste pretty good.

All was great and gorgeous down there, until the last day when storm clouds rolled in.  The beach wasn’t such a welcoming spot with red “DANGER” flags warning all inexperienced swimmers away from the water.  

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 And that was only the first foreshadowing event before the return flight.

That afternoon, and the next morning were bright and sunny.  “Turn back,” I told him, “let’s go back to the beach…”  but we were already over the Siesta bridge and close to our temporary ‘home’.  Everything was bright and sunny, until after we arrived at the airport.

The heavens opened up.  At the Sarasota airport, it was just rain; heavy rain.  That delayed us; we didn’t leave Sarasota to get to a big Atlanta airport for 6 1/2 hours after we were initially supposed to leave.  On the first airplane I felt we were hijacking onto, we got put on the standby list, after calling us up to see if they had enough room for us they then assigned our seats.  It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable to “squeeze us on the flight”; we literally got the last row in the back of the plane, with no windows so my sense of claustrophobia took control.  I was so dehydrated, I drank 2 separate liter bottles of water waterand a half before being ushered onto our connecting flight from Atlanta getting us back to DC.  Without time to run to the restroom-like I could go anyway- (sarcasm) we had no time even if I did have to go!  I held it until our 11/2 hr flight was over- but by  then I was pretty positive I would toss my cookies anyway from all the turbulence.

LOST 

Matt said it, and he put into words exactly what I’ve been feeling, he said ‘It only took me a week away to remember how much I appreciate our home’.  That is SO what you have to do all the time though (or should do, anyway)- you need to think about what you have, and appreciate it.  Sure, you can go off to sunny Florida or another different place for a week, but then you come back and return to what is your “normal”.  Burke, Virginia is much more my style than the tropical summer all the time Florida; I am so thankful for my NORMAL.  

 Plus, if you think there are some crazy drivers in N. VA- you need to check out all the drivers in Florida.  Much crazier.

 

On the bright side, it was VERY  nice to see the tropical side and get the mood for summer

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heros

hero

 

Do you know of any heros?  Please comment on the heros that have touched your life…

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#UNSTICKYOURSTUCK

WHY MELISSA IS MY HERO

She actually did it!  She actually wrote a book- she didn’t just talk about it!  Accomplishing her dreams…setting plausible goals…and deadlines…THAT IS WHAT I HAVE STARTED DOING- my new goal for the end of May is to have the rest of ‘my’ account completed.

UNSTICK

…And now I better get to finish reading it!  It’s a great book, especially for me, who is a little without direction…

But at least I know what to do, after I finish writing/ babysitting/ caregiving- I am a great caregiver and I plan to return to that once I am done with my other responsibilities.  Although as my friend reminds me, I do have many other responsibilities other than working in a traditional day to day job (which is extremely stressful).  I am very active at my church,

I am a writer, I am a TBI advocate, I am a wife, I am a babysitter and caregiver, a mother to a precious fur baby, CHAZZ!

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