Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Who Are You?

So, please, tell me about yourself. Don’t think about it. Don’t formulate a long, trying-to-impress, response. What is your reaction to that answer which immediately pops into your head?


I was asked this question several years ago by a participant in one of my presentations. But then he also added, “How has this answer changed since your brain injury?” It made me think about it for the first time. How do I define myself? What was I like compared to the years before I had my stroke?


We evolve. It is logical. We will always evolve. That is life. But who are you today? What is it –what passion, what occupation, what hobby – what is it that defines who you are?



Is the answer to this questioning what you what it to be? If not, how can you grow into the person you foresee in your future? Defining who we are will certainly evolve over time. Sometimes we will lose the titles we have once bestowed upon ourselves. Press forward, work toward fulfilling your dreams. You have the power to create the person you dream of telling others about.



“I may not have gone where I intended to go,

but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”   

-Douglas Adams

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”  – Dalai Lama




“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”    -Thomas Szasz, “Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin, 1973

“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”    – Shannon L. Alder


“The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.”    -Leland Val Van de Wall


“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”    -Jean de La Fontaine



“The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes with purpose.”    -Richard Grant

“I sometimes walk into walls.
I will never recognize who someone is.
Occasionally I still fall down
which only serves to remind me…
… that I am blessed.”

– Tara Fall, author, educator… and seizure, brain surgery, and stroke survivor




Thanksgiving is celebrated the fourth Thursday of every November in the United States of America. It is generally marked with a celebration of turkey dinners shared with family and friends. Some gather together to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning and even more people shout for their favorite football teams on television during the afternoon. It is, most importantly, a day for people to gather together and remember what they are thankful for.

Even Facebook users join in the November traditions of giving thanks by sharing posts of thankfulness. Did any of your friends do a daily post for MOG –or Month of Gratitude? The idea behind this is to get people to think, for thirty days straight, about what they should be grateful for in their lives. Each day they share a post giving thanks. I love the creativity and how specific people get in identifying even the smallest gifts which are often overlooked. I love watching friends give recognition to the little things in their lives.

Why don’t we make a conscious effort to continue our expressions of gratitude beyond one month? If we spend time every day recognizing the good surrounding us, it becomes a habit to readily notice positive things and give less notice to the negative experiences we have. What is the saying…? We should all readily have an “attitude of gratitude”.

One of my favorite things I did in the past was reaching out to some of the people who made an impact on my life. With the internet, it is easy to look up addresses for people that have somehow touched us in a positive manner. I contacted people I met only weeks before, and I also contacted people who had been a positive role model when I was younger. You should have heard the joy in the receiver’s voice. It was contagious. I was shy and nervous. Would they remember me? Would they think it was a silly prank call? Even when expressing gratitude, we all still have a fear of rejection I guess. I sent letters also. These letters opened up wonderful friendships that were able to grow from a student and teacher relationships into friendships as two grown adults.



Thanks you morguefile.com for the use of this photo

As the months progress, I challenge you to think of a few people who touched your life whether it was in a passing encounter or a lingering presence in your life’s journey. Reach out to these people. In the midst of their holiday cards, let them find your hand written note sharing gratitude. I’m asking you, challenging you, to contact someone who has touched your life. Say thank you. Expressing gratitude and impacting lives should not be restricted only to the thirty days in November.

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