Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

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.

mask

 

“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

 

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

 

 

 

Life Design September 2012.  Thanks Ciesco for taking this picture.

Life Design September 2012. Thanks Ciesco for taking this picture.

 

I have become frustrated often trying to figure out how to get invitations to speak at schools and community organizations. Yet, I cannot blame groups I reach out to. Until they have heard me speak and understand the message I deliver, I can only imagine their mistrust when someone writes and says, “Hey, I have a whole lot of brain damage. Want me to come and speak to your group about the amazing lessons I can teach?” Okay, I do say it much more eloquently than that. I admit, regardless of how wrong I would be, I, too, would doubt a person with significant brain damage could deliver a coherent message applicable to a group I was responsible for leading. Therefore, how do I get more invites? What do I do to reach more people? How do I share the wisdom I have gained from life?

Probably the most frustrating –yet telling- thing for me is the response I receive once I have spoken to any organization. Every speech I have finished has ended with the leader inviting me back and promising to tell other people about my eagerness to educate groups on neurological conditions. Teachers, leaders, and community organizers all felt I impacted the lives of those who heard my message.

I have been told I need a platform -to narrow down- to a specific lesson I teach. In other words, I need to focus on only one cause. This will draw in a prime group of supporters. It will be easier for people to grasp the message I can share. While I understand the theory behind this statement, I also find it frustrating. All of my experiences link together. If it had not been for developing epilepsy while in middle school, I would not have had brain surgery. No brain surgery would have meant no stroke. If I had not had a stroke, I would not be the person I am today.

Maybe I am the “jack of all trades and master of none.” Yet, the number of people I have touched, and the countless others I will, makes me fear narrowing down my focus to a singular topic would leave out those who need to hear this message. I am concerned this would limit the variety of audiences who could learn from my experiences and realize they are not alone. It is a big world out there with a lot of different people and needs. The world is far too big for me to find a single platform.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photograph.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photograph.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

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