Adventures in Babysitting


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.




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 


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:


    • 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


    • 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?

    • 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

    • 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

    • 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

    • 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.


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Nature meditations



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.


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”


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]


  • 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


    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



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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:


  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]


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.


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.


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.  


 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.


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

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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.


…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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One heck of a hot day

As taken from the Longwood University Alumni & Friends website:


“Oh my god, Oh my god, oh my god,” were the only words that were coming out of my mouth. As soon as I came out of the doors, my hand flew up to my face in disbelief, dropping my cane and sinking to the floor. This is not something that happens in real life, they must be shooting a movie.

Like a surreal bad dream, I couldn’t move, even if I tried I’d be too unsteady to even walk without the use of my cane. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and wait for this to pass over. We should have known something was up when out the window we kept hearing the wailing of fire engines and the racing lights, but actually seeing the buildings up in flames in combination with all the other stimulation would be enough to make anyone’s head spin. And it was my dorm, my part of the campus.


The day began like any other regular Tuesday in the middle of the ‘crunch’ week at Longwood College, the week before review week for final exams.

Content 1April 24th, 2001, when all the assigned papers and projects are due for the classes. I was so behind in studying, and writing papers; I had hit a writing block, so I decided to go to Lancer gym, to work out the frustrations. Upon walking across campus back ‘home’ (to my dorm room in South Ruffner) I was a big sweaty mess, having just worked out on top of the 3 week long heat spell that had been going on in Farmville, VA. It had been so dry, not raining in many weeks and was hot, even in the evenings.
Friends were going to a bible study, in Frazer Hall, and saw me approaching. Even though I had many assignments due, and gave excuses, (“I need a shower”, “no Bible with me”) they relented until I consented. You only go to college once, right? It was our last Bible study session until school let out, and all of the girls in the small group had become really close.
The Bible study session was pretty much a reflective session on the year, where we all shared important scriptures that stood out to us. We took an extremely long time praying, and kept on hearing the sirens of firetrucks passing by Frazer, not even thinking to look what was happening outside, but just continuing to praying about the firetrucks and who they were helping.

Finally exiting Frazer, ten minutes later, we saw my dorm building, South Ruffner, and the three neighboring buildings on FIRE! I don’t mean just a little fire, literally everything was up in flames. The fire had spread incredibly quickly and it was so hot outside that everything seemed to be ablaze.
Looking like a scene in a Terminator movie, it was incredible to see; I couldn’t believe this was the building where I live – my things were inside! As soon as we exited Frazer, out of the sliding glass doors, we saw everyone. All of the people standing on the steps, just watching the oldest buildings on campus as they were burning.

The over 150 year old ‘heart’ of our school was up in flames.

Danielle Karst ’05

Content 2I know it’s selfish, but the part that was the worst for me was that it was MY part of the school, my home, where I lived for so many months. The part of campus with which I was so familiar, I lived in South Ruffner, the freshmen female dorm building. The Great Fire destroyed West and Main Ruffner, as well as Grainger Hall, plus the fire on the top floor of South Ruffner, the dorm where I resided. However, the students living in the Colonnades (which included the original dorm buildings Hull and Tabb) were not allowed back into the building (duh, because they were on FIRE) and since I was living in South Ruffner and it was on fire, I was one of the students who could not get back in.

Here I was, a mess having just worked out, having a panic attack, and I was carried away by a friend – the students had to keep moving back, away from the fire.

Danielle Karst ’05

It was 12:30AM when I returned to campus in a friend’s room on campus. I was a big sweaty mess who smelled like smoke, I had to take a shower. The fire was still blazing, I don’t even know when it was finally extinguished, and where was my cane? A whole classroom building had burned to the floor, some students (like me) weren’t allowed back into their rooms; the administrators had no choice but to cancel the end of the year finals. We were left with the grades we had at at our interim review, and sent us all home. It’s a good thing, because I performed a lot better during the first half of the semester.

I don’t know how long I’ll live, but I will NEVER forget that day.


– See more at:

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Just like the determined little turtle, I must go on.  This little guy may have pulled his head into his shell as my dog passed him and wanted to get at him while crossing this bridge (I had to Keep his leash so short and hold on to Chazz the dog so hard while he wanted to lunge at that turtle) but that turtle inspired me to actually open the Word document on my computer and get to typing my story.

[Which will be the first part of this book that I’m writing] 



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