Car Accident 1967 10 years old, Fracture skull, right frontal lobe damage, severe brain bruise, brain stem involvement, coma 3 weeks. Fractured left femur, traction 6-7 weeks, Spica full body cast 5-6 months. Taught myself how to walk, talk, read, write, speak in complete sentences. 2 EEG’s, battery cognitive psycho social testing. Results shared with my parents.
Found out the day of graduation with my master’s degree from my mom, that I was not expected to succeed beyond high school academically. Took me 10 years to obtain my undergraduate degree with 4 different majors, 2 universities and 1 college. Took me 3 1/2 years to obtain my master’s degree with 2 programs and 2 different graduate schools.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Security Disability
Had a long history of getting and being fired from nonprofessional and professional jobs. Difficulties in undergraduate and graduate schools. Client of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation 2 times. After 2nd evaluation I was told that I was unemployable. Applied for SSDI 3 times. 3rd application approved. Felt like someone all dressed up with nowhere to go, despite my academic and vocational determination.
Sharing My Experience in How I Created my New Normal
Reached a Point in my Life – Definition of Insanity
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired — Spiritual Awakenings
- I realized that I have been giving my power away by trying to fit my square peg into a round hole as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability.
- I realized that I had been fighting against myself by not accepting that I had deficits and limitations. Deficits and limitations that I could not have in my life.
- I realized that I had been giving other people the calculator to determine my worth and value as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability.
- I began to embrace my power through the power of choice.
- I began to realize that I could look at my life, as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability in a different way.
- In the process, with the help and guidance of a loving God, I could “re-frame” living with a brain injury and an invisible disability as a “re-birth” or as a “clean slate”.
- By embracing my “re-birth” I began looking at my life through the “eyes” of “Why Not Me?” instead of through the “eyes” of “Why Me?”
- As a “re-birthing” of sorts, I began to look at my experience of living with a brain injury and an invisible disability through the eyes of “What Is” instead of “What isn’t”.
A Different Lens
By looking at my life through the “lens” of “Why Not Me?” and “What is”, I gained hope. I began to realize that I no longer had to be limited by my deficits and limitations because of my brain injury and invisible disability.
Limited by what no longer worked for me. Instead, I could learn how to use my passion (what makes me feel deeply and vitally alive) in ways that would work for me.
Work to Create in my Life with a loving God’s help and guidance.
“Regardless of your lot in life, you can build something beautiful on it.” Zig Ziglar
“’Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
In the process of learning to use my gifts, talents and abilities (in ways that would work for me, I could build something beautiful on my lot in life. I could learn how to develop my own genius.,
“When one door of happiness closes, another open, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller
“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
Concepts that have Helped me in my Ongoing Brain Injury Recovery Process
Importance of grieving what I could not change. I am not my brain injury. I am not my deficits or limitations. I am not a label, a stereotype or a stigmatization. I am not meant to stay in someone’s intended box for me.
Learning Styles, Railroads, Baking Cakes, Tapestries, Elephants, Light Bulbs, Strike Outs, Purpose is Process, Bruce Lee’s philosophy, Circumstances
Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare and The Parable of the Cracked Pot
Embracing my Power
The above realizations helped me to embrace my power as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability.
Not a Diagnosis or a Prognosis – What other people want or need me to believe that I can and cannot accomplish with my life.
Not a Label, a Stereotype or a Societal Stigmatization — what other people want me to believe about myself because of my brain injury.
Importance of looking at my reality through the eyes of “Why not me?” instead of “Why Me?” The importance of focusing on “What Is?” instead of “What isn’t?”.
Importance of an Ongoing Brain injury Recovery Process
A marathon and not a sprint. Developing my mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions in my ongoing brain injury recovery process. Throughout Second Chance to Live – articles, video presentations, eBooks I speak to each one of these areas.
To Achieve My Hopes and Dreams
During the past 54 years since my traumatic brain injury, I have needed to include my mind, body, soul, spirit and emotions in my ongoing brain injury recovery process.
How my mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions were impacted by my brain injury and invisible disability. As a result, I have sought to develop my mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions to improve my well-being and quality of living as an individual living with the impact of a brain injury.
How I Understand my Mind, Body, Spirit, Soul and Emotions
Mind – Growing in wisdom and understanding of how to relate to ourselves, other people and the world around us.
Body – Using the principles of neuroplasticity to improve my hand-eye coordination, balance, body awareness, coordination, focus, and agility. Create new neural pathways and brain reorganization through repetitive mirrored movements using both the dominant and non-dominant sides of my body. Through engaging both sides of my body, I engage both the right my right and left side of my brain (right and left hemispheres).
Spirit – My connection to God. My connection to myself. Making peace with God so that I can learn to trust Him and His guidance. Making peace with my past is so that my past does not spoil my present.
Soul – Growing in knowledge and wisdom of how to accomplish what I discovered through my process of acceptance. Learning to use my gifts and talents, as I tap into my ability to live my purpose through my being.
Emotions – Learning how to talk, trust and feel with safe people. The power of identification. Coming out of the shadows of isolation and breaking free from feelings of alienation.
Over time and through staying committed to the process I have been able to build on my lot in life. I have been able to paint on the canvas of my life.
Build and Paint with my Mind, Body, Spirit, Soul and Emotions.
Pursing My Gift, Talents and Abilities
Still had a desire to find a way to use my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that would work for me. I wrote poems, an autobiography and a book (not published) before a friend encouraged me to start a blog. On February 6, 2007I created Second Chance to Live.
Since that time, I have written 1928 articles, 430 video presentations, 12 eBooks and 36 Posters to share what I discovered through my process and journey living with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability from a body, soul, spirit, mind and emotions approach.
What Gets Me into Trouble
In my experience, I get into trouble when I begin to compare myself to other people. Consequently, I have learned that I need to stay focused on running my own race and staying in my own lane. Using what works for me, that may not work for anyone else.
My Encouragement to You
Give yourself permission to look at your life in a different way as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability.
In a way that is separate from a diagnosis, a prognosis, a label, stereotype or stigmatization. In a way that will empower your process and journey.
With your mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions begin to paint on the canvas of your life in a way that will work for you. With your mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions begin to build on your lot in life in a way that will work for you.
And don’t compare your lot or what you are building on your lot with anyone else. Develop your genius and Run your Own Race. Stay in your Lane.
What Helped and Helps Me and Continue to Help Me Create my New Normal
Because of my traumatic brain injury is an invisible disability, once my external wounds healed, the impact of my traumatic brain injury was never again factored into the difficulties that I encountered for many years.
As a result, I was blamed and shamed for not getting it “right”. In the process, I turned the shame and blame inward and became depressed. As a result, I bought into the notion that I did not just make mistakes.
I bought into the notion that I was a mistake, because I could not seem to get it “right”. That I would no longer have difficulties, if I just… When after repeated attempts failed, I realized that something needed to change.
With this realization, I began to grieve what I could not change…the impact of my traumatic brain injury and invisible disability. As I grieved, I grew in awareness and acceptance. As a result, I was able to get into action.
By getting into action, I discovered the power of choice. The power of choice gave me the ability to do something different to get different results. As a result, I was able to find ways to use my creative abilities.
Use my creative abilities through my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that would work for me. In ways that would give me the ability to create hope.
To Make Changes
Through my grieving process, I discovered that I needed and had to feel feelings and make changes. Feelings that were uncomfortable and changes that were hard to make. But I had no choice. To not feel these feelings and make these changes meant that I would remain in denial. And staying in denial never worked for me. I needed to grow in awareness and acceptance to be able to get into action to create hope in my life.
My Awareness Helped me to Understand
My awareness helped me to understand that for anyone to come out of their denial would mean that they would have to feel feelings and make changes. Both of which they may not be willing or able to feel or make. Consequently, I need to remember that I am not responsible for how people chose to treat me.
I cannot make anyone’s decision to feel feelings or make changes. With this awareness, I realized that I need to let people believe what they want or need to believe. I need to stop trying to convince them to believe… Consequently, I need to remember that I am powerless over what people chose to believe.
With this awareness, I realized that I was really the only one who needed to accept my reality. Accept my reality to get on with my life. To create a good life for myself and to be of service through my gifts, talents and abilities.
Second Chance to Live – Empowering the Individual, not the Brain Injury Resources for Empowering Re-birthing
To read more about my process and journey click on this link.