Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Testing Gravity

“You may get skinned knees and elbows, but it’s worth it if you score a spectacular goal.”   Mia Hamm

 July 07, 2014


In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton watched an apple fall from a tree and began developing his Universal Law of Gravitation. In the past 327 years, this theory for gravity has been tested time and time again. It’s been proven true with every experiment. I once saw on a stroke survivor t-shirt, “I didn’t fall, I was just testing the existence of gravity”. I now declare to test it when falling on my knees, my hands, my elbows and, most recently, my face. Generally, I fall once every six month or so.


July 06, 2014

July 06, 2014


Early this month I traveled to my hometown. Presentations had been scheduled for the first Monday I was there. The day before this speech, my parents had graciously offered to invite extended family over for a meal. Being two thousand miles away, our visits are rare but treasured.

The morning of our family get-together, I went out for a walk with my husband and Mom. During this walk, I tested gravity again. As I fell, I stopped myself with the hand holding my phone, my chin, and my front, right tooth. I broke that tooth. My speech was slurred. I had a presentation in eighteen hours. My chin was cut deep enough we thought I might require stitches. My wrist and knees were bleeding. I had family coming over in two hours.

Thankfully, there’s a wonderful emergency room in a nearby small town. They saw me right away and fixed me with concern, compassion, and medical skill. An amazing dentist in our town rushed to his office on this Sunday morning and bonded my tooth. Thank you Wolken Dental for making it appear as if nothing ever happened. My visiting family forgave me, and even helped me laugh about my dramatic entrance a few hours late.

When I started book talks and presentations over the next week, the participants not only heard about the challenges life delivers as a young stroke patient, but also saw these challenges first-hand from the battle wounds I wore on my face, wrists, and knees. The speech offered a great demonstration of my ongoing attempt to help people understand when you fall, you brush off your knees, wipe your hands, and carry on.

People have said I am too positive. I have heard I am unreasonably optimistic. Yes. Yes to both of these statements. I am hopeful. I am positive. I am happy and optimistic. You see, for example with this fall, I am acutely aware what a gift I have walking again. I know exactly how far I have come and am reminded what is still missing. I prefer to celebrate what I have recovered since my stroke. I would never fall down, never break a tooth, and never crack open my chin or scrape up my knees if I was bound to a wheelchair. I am walking. I get out of bed every morning and walk independently. If falling down every six months is the price I have to pay for walking, well, I consider that a mighty small price for the opportunity to experience the other abilities I celebrate and embrace every other day of the year.

Next day at Oelwein library ready to present.

Next day at Oelwein library ready to present.

Book talk and presentation in Guttenberg July 8, 2014

Book talk and presentation in Guttenberg July 8, 2014



I fell down. I brushed off my knees, wiped my hands, and carried on.



You have been waiting, and it is finally here….BrainStorming: Functional Lessons from a Dysfunctional Brain is now available on Kindle!


BrainStorming book Cover

I have great hope you will feel like this when you finish reading my book…..

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


Mr. Onuoha explained my reasons for writing this book perfectly….

“There are two motives for writing a book: one, that you may save what you know, the other, that you may share what you know with the public.”    Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

Surgery & Stroke Recovery

Surgery & Stroke Recovery


Standing again with help

Standing again with help


I hope lessons from my past will offer hope and understanding in your future. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on BrainStorming: Functional Lessons from a Dysfunctional Brain.

Conquering Mountains

Masquerade mask

One weekend when we were on an adventure visiting a new city, we wandered into a gift shop. One of the items for sale was a masquerade mask. I put it up to my face and felt an immediate, exciting moment of freedom. When we left the store –half in jest to tease my children and half because of the freeing feeling, I put the mask up to my face while we walked around.

Though no one else could have fully understood my actions unless I took time to explain myself in depth, I completely understood why I felt the joy. You see, in this picture you probably focus on the gold eyes framing the upper portion of the face. Yet, I am already concentrating on the shape of the face and style of hair. Due to habit, it might be easier for me to quickly identify a person behind a mask. The partially hidden face might make it harder for you to distinguish the person. So, don’t you see? We are suddenly on a level playing field! If everyone were to wear a mask such as this, you would be forced to rely on only clues having to do with the body and not the complete face. With face blindness, this is exactly how I have adjusted to seeing people. Faces hold no significance to me when we see each other in a room. I look at your face but I am really focusing on your broader details. I remember your hair cut and color and the shape of your body. I know your mannerisms. This is how I identify you.

When you see someone in a mask which covers most facial features, you are suddenly at a disadvantage, too. You are now only allowed to view the characteristics I usually rely on to identify people. In a room of masquerade masks, everyone can suddenly become the stranger I see in you. I can be free… I will not be the only one asking subtle questions attempting to identify how we know each other. I don’t need to be nervous that I am the only one in the room clueless of who I might know and who I don’t. We can all enjoy the company of getting to know strangers we quickly realize are truly our friends. Seeing a face disguised by a masquerade mask can give you a quick glimpse into my everyday world.



“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.”    Jim Morrison


“The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.” Cesare Pavese


Paper faces on parade . . .
Hide your face,
so the world will
never find you!”
“Masquerade – Phantom of the Opera”



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