Here I write a blog about change and yet I have been seemingly avoiding writing in the most critical time of my numerous changes. Ironic. I know. You see first it started with finals, taking my last exams proving I was worth a college degree. A B.S. in Mechanical Engineering even. That still boggles my mind and my gratitude is immense towards G-d for carrying me through such a challenging major. Then came farewells, see you laters and good byes to my classmates, peers, colleagues, friends and crushes. It is a devastating way to leave and yet there is much grace and beauty to knowing the strength in those strong bonds and the fact that I so often like to say; if we are meant to see that person again, we will. The wonder of technology these days makes this statement more real than ever. So maybe it’ll just be a sweet text or like on facebook but you’ll know they are still there. Doing what they’re doing and as my high school coach always preached they will, “keep on keepin on”. Those first weeks I was still in shock and very much enjoying the break from university stress. I immediately discovered this openness in my heart to love and be loved be those I am surrounded by. I found an ability to see the good. I was no longer blinded by the weight of stress, school and a degree waiting to be achieved. Its like all of a sudden my mind was cleared and I am allowed to see things for how they really are and to truly set and work towards an even healthier lifestyle that I had been wanting. Amazing isn’t it. However those weeks I felt too much. I was beyond elated by the love and light in the world and simultaneously distraught and sad that those relationships had suffered so much. Time had not waited for me to be done with school. Lives marched on. But I am grateful for what I had and what I have. I still feel like the richest woman in the world and my whole life, today, clearly packs into 48 different sized boxes. (I know it sounds like a lot…but it isn’t). The beginning weeks of being a university grad I nearly fell asleep in tears every night because of the overwhelmingness of everything. Of goodbyes and farewells and of “I don’t know when I will see this person again” or worse “or if I will see this person again” (G-d forbid, but I am just being real blunt about the reality I face. Amidst these intense emotions I found myself with tickets abroad heading on a trip that sounded amazing. I didn’t go. For the first time, I had found that for whatever reason their was not a clearly defined purpose to this trip. My friends and family supported me but all I heard was hesitation in their backing. I suppose I was listening for that. As I was not ready for this trip. My heart was not all in, as it should be. I’ve realized that is ok, and I am glad I listened to my heart as a compass. It often leads where I wish to go. Since then I haven’t done anything too crazy or out of the ordinary but being able to spend more time eating lunches with my dad, coffee dates with friends, random tea parties, macaron baking, museum trips and little hikes have been more than enough. Even just sitting in my room and making phone calls trying to set up things for my move have felt like a blessing. Enjoying sabbath dinners and walks with friends or conversations with my mom have felt worthwhile. I have even been battling a throat and nose phenom and yet it feels ok. I feel content and happy. I feel like as my world and my life was packed into boxes today it was “alles ok” or “hacol beseder”. My brother graduated high school and we celebrated as a family and just simply sitting in the living room all together and being all there was and is more than enough. It seems this time and this season is filled with new changes and much uncertainty but I am beginning to realize that it is part of taking a leap of faith and asking for G-d to provide each of the members of my family with the guidance, wisdom, discernment, decisions and preparations for the changes ahead. I am grateful for the 48 boxes of my life but I realize that those crates are simply things and stuff. They are not me nor do they define me. I look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman learning it is more than ok to just be me and do what works for me. To not worry about what others think or care if someone likes my posts or not. I am beginning to feel the comfort of the skin I have been blessed with and am learning that I see my soul in my smile more and more. I am grateful and happy because as Matthew McConaughey said, “Life’s not fair. It never was, isn’t now and won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitled trap of feeling like you’re a victim. You are not,”.
And there I was. Simply standing in the middle of my half packed apartment opening, with a slight bit of anxiety, the blackboard app on my phone to find out my final grade on the only class I was still waiting on. As I opened the app and scrolled to the bottom I was happy to see a C grade on the final. After turning in 20+ hours of work and close to 50 pages for this final, I just wanted to know I did enough to pass. Then I checked what my total grade was and its like I couldn’t believe it! I began to laugh and cry simultaneously. It meant I got a good grade. It meant I passed! It meant I am graduating. Dispite all odds and all my doubts, I will be graduating. I can try to explain this feeling that still fills me up when I say that I am going to be graduating from college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering! That G-d carried me and has carried me from the beginning! There was music playing in the background and I couldn’t help but be amazed in the moment.
I feel this joy that is bringing me to such a beautiful laughter and tears which I had not yet experienced before. I can’t believe it. Its unexpected the way I am reacting as I just wanted to graduate. Its been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember. Maybe its the “dropping out of school” I had to do my first semester. Or the fact that I was in an accident and lost all my math. It could be all the days sitting in my apartment where I felt like a failure. I was lost and felt there was no way out. As if I would not pass the test or class. And time and time again, G-d carried me, lifted me up and helped me to do my best. And it has been good enough. More than good enough!
I am elated and grateful! Everything I have worked for the past 5 years and here I am. I am going to graduate college! Dreams can and do come true! Especially with G-d on my side. Or rather I am on His! This is an experience I feel I am embracing and hope to not long forget. Its a good, true and beautiful feeling that is real. It is the sum of an a college roller coaster. The closing of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. It is letting go and allowing myself to move forward. I am thankful!
This afternoon as the strange cloud coverage lowered itself into the sky, I finally said to myself, “its good enough” and turned in my last final. After I had just turned in my hardest final, ever, a 20+ hour take home exam (it was crazy hard). As I submitted my exam I put away my study sheets and casually walked out the testing center. Outside the air had cooled down a bit. I felt free. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Of course there is still the uncertainty as to whether or not I actually passed, G-d willing I did/do though. I calmly walked to a building on main campus and picked up my cap and gown! Getting to see these academic faculty who have cheered me on along the way throughout my journey was rather special and joyful. Much laughter and gratitude towards G-d and all He has blessed me with.
Then I ran a few errands, as I finally had time to. As I took my time back to my apartment I ran into a friend who quickly waved hello expecting me to run off and have something else in need of getting done. However, I did not and was able to actually stop and have a nice conversation with this friend that I really have no made time to talk to this semester which is a shame. He had even mentioned the fact that I usually am so busy that I am running off to do something. It was a bit bittersweet. Not because of what he said. Rather, I have been told this by many friends who just understand how I am while in school. Its sad though. Its a shame because I feel as though the people that have been exposed to that side of me do not get to see the fact that I care about them and that I do appreciate even there small “hellos” amidst my hectic schedule. The reality is that my schedule always has time for those who are really important and maybe at a time these friends were or maybe they were just study buddies. As I write my thoughts away, I feel reminded to not worry about what others think and I have been working strongly towards this. I just hope that all who cross my path understand they have impacted me even in the slightest way. The conversation wrapped up and we headed on our separate paths. It was especially nice to stop. To smell the roses, in a sense. To be able to make time and care for people the way they deserve to be treated. To make new fun and beautiful memories.
Afterwards I went for a run. As my emotions felt jumbled I realized there were no words to describe the feeling. However, I will try! I couldn’t help but smile and yet periodically thoughts would cross my mind that made me almost in happy, amazed, inspired tears. It blows my mind. There have been numerous times the past 5 years that I wanted so badly to quit. I wanted to give up. I desired to rip up tests or assignments which I didn’t understand. So many instances I wished I could change majors or just stop going to school. Here’s a fun fact about me. I hate school. Ok maybe that is a really strong word. However, I DO NOT like school. I really do LOVE learning. I just feel like I learn more from experiences like traveling and working in industry. For whatever reason, maybe it was just me being stubborn but I would never get to the point of actually leaving the idea of pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree. Even after the accident, amist forgetting ALL of my math. Instead I hopped on the struggle bus and took the path less known. I had to put more hours in and its almost as if I gained strength through the intensity of the challenge of engineering. And here we are today. Done. (hopefully). It seems very real and yet beyond incredible. Basically my run just kept getting better as I couldn’t help but think of how G-d has literally carried me and guided me along the way. He has blessed me with enough wisdom, discernment and understanding to get to today. It blows my mind!! Literally. So as I finished my quick loop outside, I went straight to the gym and continued my run on the treadmill. Where I finished with a sprint that I was holding at 6:53 pace!!! Say what? Thank G-d!!!!
As this day continued on I prepared for a fun Senior Late Night Breakfast which the University puts on at the end of the semester. Wow. It was a bit emotional and even know is bringing tears a bit to my eyes. These faculty who I have come to know well, each said in a few words how inspired and amazed they are with me. I just turn it all to G-d for it is Him in control of everything! The vice president (who I would be honored to call him a friend) stopped me in the midst of all the excited seniors. Simply, he said something like “you’ve done something harder than anyone else here”. Wow. I can still see it clearly in mind. It felt as though time stopped. I was in the moment and it was comforting. I owe it all to G-d for He is my strength, my rock, my healer and my redeemer!!!
It is nice to hear such encouragement and support during this transitional time. I know engineering is hard. I know having a traumatic brain injury is frustrating. I know I have been working against the odds. I am aware of what people say. However, I believe everyone is given what they can achieve. This doesn’t mean that any different degree is less hard or that people are working less hard. In fact I know had I followed through and switched majors I would have probably struggled more than I did in engineering. This is because I feel as though I am meant to be an engineer! B”H!
One day I hope to be married and having tons of kiddos running around. However for now this is the time I am meant to be an engineer and to G-d willing help make cars safer. To go from a car wreck 2 a car engineer feels like my calling. At least for the time being. It does not mean that I cannot have my other dreams at the same time as my purpose. G-d willing all these desires will one day mesh nicely. However, I am beyond grateful for this life that I have been blessed with. I feel overwhelmed and amazed with G-d and His plans for my life. Maybe, just maybe I am living the life I once dreamed of. And, maybe, just maybe I will change the world. With engineering. With cars. With who G-d has blessed me to become! to Him be the glory!
When G-d says He has a plan for you, it really does not matter if you understand or can see it. It will be filled with hope and a future beyond your wildest dreams. (Based off Bible Verse Jeremiah 29:11)
This week has been filled with so many ups and downs – it has been quite a roller coaster to say the least.
However it has been wonderful! I am so grateful to have friends, to have jewish friends, to not feel alone and to go on fun adventures (sometimes, late into the night). I have just been happy and joyful in what I have and what I have been able to do. I am thankful for the laughter and rediculousness of these friend gatherings. Whether for PURIM the other day and giggling like little girls with two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time! To feel inspired the following day by having insightful and challenging discussions with two friends who I have been growing with, even if we are all on different pages going in the same direction. Its beautiful and wonderful and my soul feels such joy in this! Then the ridiculousness of going to support a friend in a show at Disneyland. Forgetting the tickets, traffic and all! haha Then late night breakfast shananigans and being too tired to care. To have friends who pay for our adventures and do it out of pure kindness (at least from what I can see). I just feel beyond blessed by these experiences. To let go of the stress and concerns related to school, even if you can’t do that all the time. To go on adventures and have fun and connect with others, is beautiful and wonderful and oh how I have missed it!!!
Here’s to more joy, celebration and good things G-d willing 🙂
Hope your weeks have been as inspired and love-filled as mine. I have been continually finding new meanings and sights of love. Today I want to share such a powerful experience with you that truly touched my heart. I ran a 5k this morning that included “challenged” athletes such as those in wheelchairs, armcycles, amputees, etc…
I am really thankful to first off, be able to share that I won the female category…yes me! TBI, ripped soleius, broken face….all those days and years of pain and here I was able to run, and thank G-d even run fast! Back to the main story here. When the race had started, I quickly caught up to some of the challenged athletes as they start a bit ahead of everyone else, so that no one gets hurt. I tried to cheer everyone I passed along the way.
Then I looked up and saw something amazing! There was a petite but rather strong young woman pushing an older man in his wheelchair. She pushed him the whole race through. When I watched her stride to the finish I felt impressed, amazed and overcome. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t tell if they were related, she was a care giver, therapist or friend. Maybe that made it even more out-of-the ordinary. I recall thinking she must be one strong lady!
Later another woman was finishing and we were cheering her on and my mom commented, “when you can’t run with your legs anymore, you run with your heart”. I am tearing up as I write this. It was just such an emotionally beautiful day. Seems I can’t help but tear up as I cross the finish line and when I watch athletes of all ages, abilities and walks of life “compete” in the “race” or competition, I often find myself emotional. I find myself caught up in the glory of the moment. The fact that time stands still. That racers will high five and cheer complete strangers for the sake of sportsmanship. The running community is unique and a clique of its own. Today, though, I was reminded of the reason I choose to run when I am healthy enough and able. It is for those who can’t. That is literally what that woman was doing today for that gentleman in the wheelchair. I am grateful to have been able to witness such compassion, strength, courage, humility and love! Oh, how powerful it was! It is!
The biggest race we are face is that of life each day and once upon a time, I recall reading the latest Runner’s World magazine which highlighted “the human race”. This is the competition we must wake to and rise to the starting line. Whether that be the start of high school, college, a job, marriage, parenthood, etc…it is the beginning to something bigger than yourself. It is a race that will lead you through twists and turns, hills and vallleys. The journey of this race is what it seems to be about. Compassion, love and the simplest of signs of kindness, will not go unnoticed. And, in my mind, will be what changes the world and makes each individuals race just as important.
Thank you to the young woman in pink today who inspired me and cared for the man she pushed through a full 5k, all while running. Thank you for showing me the power of compassion and love. I hope that I can take that sight and transpose it into my daily actions to be even the slightest bit more kind to those who I interact with.
Then when at GUMBO, we went in a circle and shared stories about GUMBO and what we like about it. It amazed me and still does, how almost everyone there had made a mention of “my route” or how I convinced them to come, or how they met me and what not. By the end of it, I felt like I was glowing, all because of how impacted everyone seemed to be because of me. If I ever feel like I don’t make a difference, tonight proved me wrong. I am not trying to be self-centered or selfish but it was just such a complement and almost testimony to who I am and how I do try to get people involved in goods things and how I try to share my good experiences and find people who are interested in something similar. It was beautiful and awesome and I feel like I am just being me, so if I have any impact on anyone, I say that must be G-d moving through me. I feel honored. Also tonight I reminisced upon so many fun and crazy experiences while serving GUMBO. I specifically shared about how I often am more joyful and grateful after homeless ministries because I have been able to serve others, but also because when I get back “home”. When I get back to my apartment, I realize I have an apartment, I have a bed, a warm shower, warm clothes and warm tea and warm food if I so wish. I feel like the richest girl in the world. It brings me back to reality of how not everyone has such things, which I might take for granted. I recall one time after GUMBO, thinking about how I call my apartment at school, “home”. Yet, at the same time, I call where my parents live and where I grew up, “home”. Or how I go to new places and stay there for a while and how that then becomes “home”. Its like our lives are filled with temporary homes and yet we refer home based on an address/location and building. Yet going out and meeting the homeless its like these people are who they are and their home is wherever they are. They have embraced temporary home to full degree. I took it one step further to say maybe this also has to do with treating your body like a temple, a place that welcomes and brings glory to G-d. Anyways it made me think of Carrie Underwood’s song “temporary home”.
Hey there friends,
I haven’t been feeling too inspired to write. However yesterday I was responding to an email from a woman who had reached out to me a couple months back asking me about my TBI and about how I got/used my accommodations at the university I attend. It still amazes and inspires me the fact that one of my key doctors sent her my way to ask what I did. It feels so purposeful to be able to help people by sharing bits and pieces of my story and my experiences. I was excited to know that this woman will be the next speaker at this Neuro conference, which I had spoken at in 2013. I hope to have more opportunities to share my experiences and story to help educate people on TBI. I know that this blog is part of that, I see it as a start. A door to allow me to share my daily/weekly/monthly experiences and although I don’t often talk of my affects of TBI, as I still have those. However, I try to share my life for what it is and not hide when I do have struggles or issues, which are not just me, but, those with TBI often also agree.
I still remember this one lunch, my freshmen year, with a junior who had also been in an accident and also had some brain injury (maybe a concussion or coma..I don’t recall the specifics). Anyways I remember he was sharing about this one experience while he was in the hospital and I was shocked! I had felt nearly the same way! It was amazing to share those stories with someone else who understood exactly what I meant. I only hope that one day I will be able to share my story and experiences further, to be able to explain to those who haven’t been in an accident or been through something traumatic. To better realize the importance of our brain, proper care, advocacy and being surrounded by loved ones.
I feel like this is part of my purpose and I look forward to seeing how G-d uses me as part of His plan!