Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Whether you have a college student in your family or know of a military member, hopefully you have had an opportunity to put a smile on their face by sending a care package. It is that time of year where we wish our students well and send them off on their own. Whether it is their first time away from home or their fourth, a box of love always delivers happiness.

Over the years, as a military family, we have sent many care packages. I am hoping some of you have also sent and received these boxes of love. I am always looking for new ideas of what to put in my flat rate boxes.

Here are a few ideas of themed care packages:

Feel Better Soon
Lipton Soup Secret Chicken Noodle Soup
Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea
Cough drops with honey
A box of Kleenex

Movie Night (One of my favorites)
A few new/favorite DVD’s
Boxes of movie size candy

I Love You a Latte
Tins of cappuccino mixes
Instant coffee
Non-dairy creamer
A new coffee mug
Sugar packets

Stress Reliever
Squishy tension ball
Pack this all with a lot of bubble wrap for them to pop

Boxed Up Bathroom
Toilet paper (the softer the better)
Shampoo & conditioner

You’ve Been Framed
Calendar made specifically to include photos of family and friends
Various size, random photographs offering fun memories
Tape to hang these pictures
A digital picture frame filled with pictures

Kidding Around
Crayons and a coloring book
Pez candy and dispenser
Nerf balls
Silly string

Something’s Fishy
Let’s Go Fishin’ game with batteries
Swedish fish candy
Gold Fish crackers
Gummy worms

Care Package flat rate box

These are my ideas. Now I want to read yours. What are some care packages you have heard about, seen, or received?

We had a great trip to Las Vegas, Nevada last month. I met a lot of amazing people while we were there. I was able to work a lot, but –of course- we also found time to play. We spent a few nights at the Downtown Grand. From there, we could easily get to University of Nevada – Las Vegas. I spent time meeting with sociology students at the college. After I spoke about the neurological conditions I had experienced, my visit led to conversations about medical care in America, how one identifies with one’s self, and various educational and family topics.

The next day offered an opportunity to visit the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas: Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. If you are interested in architecture, I highly recommend you look at the design of their building. It is quite fascinating both inside and outside. I was honored to have been invited in to their center to speak with doctors and staff. It is always rewarding to relay first-hand experiences with the people who work hard to advance the knowledge of how our brains work. While I think it is important for them to hear a patient’s perspective, I also find it fascinating when they share with me the new programs which are paving the way to healthier brains.

I met countless citizens of the downtown community in Las Vegas. The Window was a nice place to speak and meet people. I answered questions from curious minds. Downtown Podcast invited me into a venue I had never before had a chance to experience during my journey. Here, a group of volunteers come together once a week and videotape a podcast to share information with their growing community. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to meet this circle of passionate, civic-minded adults.

We did take time off from meetings and talking to people. We ate an over-abundant amount of delicious pizza at the award-winning Pizza Rock. This restaurant has four different wood fired pizza ovens which all cook at different temperatures. It was interesting to see pizzas cooked this way. Then we took a short walk to the Mob Museum. We spent hours and hours in there and could have spent longer.


Following my presentation at The Window.

Following my presentation at The Window.

Las Vegas provided me with the chance to meet special people who offer a lot of hope for our future. Each time I visit a new community, I learn something unique about what they have to offer. This trip reminded me of a great part of the city waiting to be seen, heard, and experienced beyond the strip. Most people are not fortunate enough to see this area during their visit to Las Vegas.

Pocket Watch



The city’s tourism slogan is “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”. Are you like me and wonder what does happen? Stop back in two weeks, and I will tell you what really did happen in Vegas. Right now I am full of hopeful anticipation. I will be traveling to Las Vegas next week to speak at two venues.

On Wednesday, September 10th at 7PM, a brand new theater located within part of the newly renovated and exciting Downtown Project has invited me to present. I will be at The Window attempting to inspire with lessons of overcoming adversity. We all face challenges. Everyone needs to remember they are strong enough to face these difficulties. We all have it within us to become stronger after the storm has passed.

On Thursday, September 11th, I have been invited to speak at the world-renowned Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. I will speak to patients and doctors about my first-hand experiences with acquired and traumatic brain injuries. They will hear what it is like to be a patient and live as a survivor.



I am planning on sharing a few stories about what happened in Vegas but pictures… we’ll see.







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