Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

About

While in my early teens, I experienced my first “spell”.  This was later diagnosed as epilepsy.  At twenty-seven, I underwent surgery to remove scar tissue from my brain in hopes of ending the seizure disorder.  This was successful in curing epilepsy; however,  there was a complication near the end of surgery – a stroke.  This stroke allowed me to experience the frustrating struggles and unexpected joys of learning, once again, how to walk the same week my youngest daughter was also beginning to learn this skill.

The end result was a much deeper understanding of the gifts that we hold within our lives.  I still have weakness in the left half of my body.  I have lost half of my sight.  My left peripheral has disappeared completely resulting in hemianopia.  Having a condition known as prosopagnosia, I no longer recognize faces I see each day.  Even my own face and the faces within my family are now strangers. Even with this, I would not give back a single day of the experiences that I was able to endure.  From these, I learned so much about myself.  I also have a much deeper understanding for the value simple pleasures in life can give each of us.

This blog will shed light on living with prosopagnosia (aka face blindness), stroke survival at a young age and overall hope we can find through daily living.  Remember, it is not about a disability, rather it’s about our ability!

Feel free to write me at: findingstrength (at) rocketmail (dot) com

Click the links below to see my interview on NBC with Dr. Nancy Snyderman and 9News to see the Australian news network segment:

TODAY Show Interview

Australia 9News Interview

University of Iowa:

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Comments on: "About" (69)

  1. Marcella said:

    Tara, your Face Blind blog made me cry. God has a purpose for you here to help others. You have incredible courage and I am proud to know you.

  2. stephyrenee said:

    Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog. Reading through your blog posts has been truly life changing and has helped me see more clearly what life has given me. You are such an inspirational person! Thank you so much and I wish you the best in life 🙂

    • Stephyrenee,

      I am pleased that you stopped by! I am very grateful for your kind words. I hope that you have taken as much away from mine as I did from yours!

      Stop back again soon.

      Tara

  3. Trang Tran said:

    I just recently watched your video on FB USS Higgins Page. Now I’m reading your blog and found a millions reasons to be happy in life. Thank you for your kind words.

    • It is wonderful to have a name on here from the USS Higgins! I am so happy you found your way to my blog. I hope that you carry a little bit of extra hope and happiness away with you after stopping by and reading a bit.

      I would guess you have a family member aboard the ship? Thank you very much for the sacrifices of service your family is offering to our great country.

      It was such a joy seeing your comment on here today. Thanks for taking time to leave a note!

      Tara

  4. Trang Tran said:

    Yes, my name is Trang. I’m IS1 Dorris’ girlfriend. I don’t know a lot of people on the ship so I don’t think we met before. I like your blog a lot and hope you find happiness everyday.

  5. I really like your website / blog, and after reading your ‘about me’ reminded me of a similar stage of my head injury. How ever I did not g through skin tissue removal, I too didn’t recognise family faces. It was like a scene from ‘The X’Files’, I didn’t recognise my parents, brother but fortunately I remembered my fiance (but don’t her parents)…
    How ever this all passed after a while! (as it’s now been 14 years since the experience), I can’t remember if it lasted weeks of months.
    But keep up the Website… providing help for others is what it’s all about!

    • Stephen,

      I am so glad that everything has passed for you. It is a tough road, but I really enjoy writing my blog. It is a nice, helpful outlet.

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by and look over my posts! I really appreciate that you also took the time to leave your comment! I hope life post-head injury continues to get better each and every day for you!

      Tara

  6. A boy form China said:

    God blesses you! You will find strength to stand again!
    And I am very happy to know you~

  7. Dianne - life as i see it said:

    what an inspiration you are. thank you for sharing your story, you sure have brough a few tears to my eyes. i watched your vidios’. you especially inspire me as i have had medical issues with my eye sight, i’m getting better and better as the months go by.. i am very thankful for my recovery. thank you for taking the time to stop at my blog and leaving me such a wonderful comment. i wish you well, and i also am very happy to know you. i will be following ..again thank you 😉

    • Medical issues with your eye sight would be extremely difficult when you have such a talent with photography. The photos on your site are amazing.

      How nice of you to stop by and check out my blog. Thank you very much for leaving you kind words! I look forward to chatting again soon through our blogs.

      Tara

  8. Kathleen said:

    Tara, I appreciate you and this blog, and your sharing. You are more spectacular than you know. A few years ago, I ran across a girl with similiar medical conditions. She whined, treated people badly, acted like society was picking on her, and as a friend said, “Overall, acts likes a selfish brat.” And maybe there is a medical reason why, but you know what, it makes it so hard on everyone around.In short, thank you for your blog, honest writing, and educating the rest of us non-afflicted ones about your condition and struggles. You are an inspiration, for sure. (And I like your blog….its great). Kathy

    • Laugh and the world will laugh with you. Weep and you will weep alone.” I have never felt the need, nor desire, to be angry with the world. I have always found too much love and happiness from smiling, laughing and embracing all the gifts this world quietly gives.

      Thank you Kathleen for stopping by and saying hello. It was so nice to have you write these kinds words!

      Tara

  9. Tara, thanks so much for the kind comment you left on my blog. I am so moved by your experience, your strength and courage and the insights you’ve gained. Through the course of my recovery from illness I have also learned so much about myself, and appreciate and experience every day the simple pleasures in life, but I am not where I can say I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy to find such good support and wisdom here on your blog. You are an inspiration. Bless you for sharing your story to help others. Susan

    • I really appreciate you stopping by. Recovery is a process that is ongoing in many cases. It often is not only physical recovery people need but also mental and spiritual. I hope your journey continues in a positive manner. I am glad you have found the appreciation I thrive on daily. It is true, “we don’t know what we have until it is gone”.

      This blog has been a great experience for me to continue healing. I always enjoy hearing from people that stop by. It makes my journey even better. Thank you for your kind words.

      Tara

  10. So glad I stopped by your blog Tara. It’s a wonderful thing you are doing with your blog, and hopefully, it will encourage and strengthen everyone who reads it. You have faced the biggest challenge of your life but not only that, you face and overcome the most difficult of challenges every single day. You are a strong lady and I have much admiration for your positiveness – it’s the only way to be!
    Glad to know you, I will be following your blog, I love it.

    • Barb, thank you so much for taking time to write your kind comment. It is great to have you here!

      I enjoyed visiting your site. My girls loved your shoe post. You brought smiles to our family. Thank you for that! I hope to hear from you again soon.

      Tara

  11. mairzeebp said:

    Reading your blog has inspired me to dance in the rain. Thank you for that, I needed it.

    • That is so kind of you! I am still not at my “Ten Thousand Hits” like you have recently achieved. (Great post by the way.) Every time I see someone stop by though it warms my heart. Thanks for taking the time to write such a kind comment. Enjoy your dance. 🙂

      Tara

  12. Tara,
    I came across your blog today. I just started my own blog about my husband’s stroke in January of this year. There aren’t many blogs out there written by people sharing about life after a stroke, but it’s inspiring to find someone like you who is living proof that you can live a full life after a stroke. To us, it still seems a little bit like our old life is over and we wonder if our “new” life will ever be as good. But we have our faith and hope firmly in the Lord and His ability to renew all things. Thanks for sharing your life!

  13. Jen,

    I am so happy you found my blog. A wrote a post about the Evolution of Normal. I think that would best define the path I have taken and the road you may be headed for. You may never get back the “old life”. I hope you find one that is much richer, happier and meaningful. Not getting back something is not necessarily a bad thing I have learned. You will find new patterns and routines. Your definition of normal and happy will evolve. I hope you enjoy what it becomes.

    Also, do not rush this evolution. I had my stroke eight years ago and still get excited about things I am getting better at and stronger with. I am truly happy with what my family has evolved into. I looking forward to reading your blog this weekend.

    I wish you and your husband only the best. Please, keep us updated on your journey.

    Warm Wishes,
    Tara

  14. You have visited my blog but I had not taken the time to visit yours until today. I was missing out. I’ll be back!

    Do you understand smiley faces in text? I do, but I know someone with face blindness that does not. We’re all a little different even within our similarities. I’m glad you are sharing your challenges and victories. Way to go!

    • It is so nice of you to stop by. I always enjoy reading your posts.

      I do understand smiley faces in text. Anything that can be put to words, I completely understand and remember. For example, big yellow face larger than surrounding letters with a smile in the center. Yet, I cannot remember details I cannot label with exact words. Example of this: The lady with the skin tone two shades lighter than mine and hair a little browner. You are right, everyone with prosopagnosia is a little different. That is part of what makes this condition so hard to understand and explain.

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave your kind comment. I will be over to your blog to say hi again soon!

      Tara

  15. Hi Tara,
    I’m so glad you found my blog. You are such an inspiration to many people. Overcoming setbacks with optimism is the only way to go I believe. I cant wait to read more and connect with you. Hope you have a great day!

    Arianna

  16. Tara, what an incredible individual you are – what an example of true optimism. Thank you so much for visiting my site. Blessings to you and your gorgeous and loving family.

  17. It is an amazing thing you are doing, writing about this. I have learned so much about prosopagnosia and epilepsy through reading your blog.

  18. What an incredible You. Wow, and you came by and visited me and liked what you read. Thank you so very much. I am following you now and looking to hear so much more from you. I am a cancer survivor and I know it was only because of God that I made it through. God has plans for you and already, one of those plans was to enrich me. Again, thank you. Please come by and visit again and say high. Maybe we can sit by the nishikigoi pond and have some nice cold lemonade. Bless you.

    • I had to look up nishikigoi pond. The images I saw were beautiful. I look forward to visiting and being mesmerized by the pond. Ice cold lemonade sounds quite tasty to help fend off this heat we’re experiencing lately. I am glad your path is bright for you. Thanks for stopping by and getting to know me a little better.

      Tara

  19. Tara, I had a stroke at 30 years old last year, you’re inspiring people.

  20. Today I received a message that you liked something on my blog…or not. I do not know how I ended up checking out your blog, but I am very happy that I did! Your experiences and reactions to them are inspiring and motivating and wonderful. You made my day. Thank You.

  21. One of my best friends has facial blindness. It is heartbreaking to know that he can only recognize his family and friends through their voice. I once sent him a picture of my work group and he sent back an amazing account of how he narrowed down the persons in the picture to me. But reading how he had to eliminate other persons to find me was just heartbreaking. I think this is one of the worst disabilities one can have–it isolates you from those you love the best. I have had my share of medical problems including cancer, inflammatory disease, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, Raynauds and several others, but I would take them above this condition. You are a strong person to rise above the effects of the stroke, and I greatly admire that.

    • I once read if you went into a room and everyone put their troubles into a basket, you would pick your own back up quickly realizing they weren’t so hard and leave feeling worse for everyone else. I think we get used to what conditions and trials we face. I, personally, do not think prosopagnosia is the worst of all obstacles. Yes, it is trying to go through the process like your friend and have to find clues to identify people, but there are many things that would be harder for me. You see, I don’t recognize my friends and husband but I can still tell who they are by their calm voices and my daughters by their squeals of delight when they are playing games with me. I recognize this beauty without hesitation.

      No, given the other troubles I could face, I would definitely say this is not so bad. You sound as if you have experienced your own lot of troubles. You must be a strong lady with impressive courage to have faced such battles.

      Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you took the time to leave your thoughtful words.

      Tara

  22. Thanks for visiting my blog and leave a like. I’ve been looking around on yours; but I’m not much of a reader. What touches me most is the enormous amount of hope and positivism. All my respect and all the best for you!

  23. I love your means of compensating. Hope, optimism, and humor certainly help to get through daily challenges. I can’t imagine what it’s like to NEVER recognize faces … especially your own children.

    Ones appreciation of the simple things in life certainly come to light when you struggle the long road and rise to the daily challenges. What’s most important is that you can hug, love and laugh with your children.

    Take care and stay safe, Edie

  24. I can say, with complete honesty, I am thankful for all I have been through in my health and life. Like you said, everything experienced makes me take even more notice to the simple gifts that greet us throughout the days. My daughters have always been the greatest motivation for improvement and recovery. I am lucky to be able to experience the love and joy I share with these two who are growing much too fast!

    I am grateful you took the time to say hello Edie. Thanks for stopping by!

    Tara

  25. You are truly inspirational. I love your positive attitude towards life, and yes, it is important to look at life through ones many abilities rather than disability. Beautiful words and beautiful blog.

  26. Because I can! Epic!~
    You are my encourager!
    All I can say is wow.
    God bless you.

  27. thank you for taking the time to read my post. I will do the same.

  28. Tara, it was a real inspiration to hear your story. I am a person living with epilepsy and an eye . Thank you

  29. I am in awe of your strength and determination. I am a TBI survivor of almost 13 years. My problems seem so small when I see and read your story. I have struggles, of course, but your story and your zest for life makes me stop and realize how blessed I am. You make me think twice when I get in my pity, dumpy moods. A lot of the time, it is in my head….my worst enemy. Thank you for sharing your story. You are indeed a beautiful soul! Best of luck in your journey of life. 🙂

    • Nobody’s problems are small. Problems effect each of us in different ways. I am grateful you stopped by my blog and said hello. And, you know one good thing I’ve discovered about “dumpy moods”? There is always time afterwards to go to bed for the night, put the day behind us, and then wake to see the sunshine ushering in the next day with possibilities. 13 years has probably offered you a lot of lessons. I look forward to learning some of them soon.

      Thank you again for your very kind words! They mean a lot to me.

      Tara

      • I posted a brief synopsis about my tbi and how I feel with it. You are welcome to take a look at it or follow me if you’d like. I mean those kind words, we need more people like you. As I say in my post, ‘I will always keep trying.’

  30. Hello Ms. Tara! I am so happy you have dropped by and liked some of my posts.. Thankyou for your words, for being an inspiration. All the best to you and God loves you. 🙂

  31. I admire your own courage and determination and I think it’s wonderful that you are sharing your story to encourage all of us.

  32. laila said:

    Hello, my name is Laila.
    I am working on research for prosopagnosia and I need your help to answer some questions. May I have your email?

  33. Hi Tara,

    That was an amazing video. I love your honesty and your upbeat and positive attitude. I would love for you to be a part of my SPEAK OUT! project for Brain Injury Survivors and Caretakers.

    If being a Survivor Interviewee interests you, check out this link. (http://survivingtraumaticbraininjury.wordpress.com/category/survivors-speak-out-questionnaire/)

    If you would like to be a Guest Blogger on SPEAK OUT!, check out this link for an example. (http://survivingtraumaticbraininjury.wordpress.com/category/tbi-guest-blogger/) Then contact me at donnaodonnellfigurski.gmail.com

    I know you already found my blog because that is how I found you. (You have good taste. We both use the same WordPress Template.)

    All the best, Tara.

    survivingtraumaticbraininjury.wordpress.com

    donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com
    042914

    • You are very kind Donna. Thank you! Thank you also for the links. I will be looking into them. Thank you for help raise the awareness of brain injury!

      Tara

      • Tara, I hope you can do a Survivor Interview and/or post as a Guest Blogger. Your story is important.

        Donna O’Donnell Figurski
        survivingtraumaticbraininjury.wordpress.com
        donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com

  34. What an inspiring story, Tara! Thanks for stopping by my blog today so I could find yours! So happy I came across it.

  35. When I read your bio, I was struck about resilient and strong you are. Suffering a massive stroke was global aphasia at the age of 27 myself, you and I understand and appreciate first how life is precious, but also how feisty we are. Good for you!

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