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,”.
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.
Today has been a good day. I feel blessed with the opportunity to go to class and to actually enjoy what I am learning. I am grateful to be able to work on homework and to be trying to gain more and more technical knowledge. As much as I get frustrated and it drives me nuts, I am excited and grateful for the challenge. I am thankful for meetings like I had today with my career adviser and to feel more confident in what I am pursuing and working towards. Having dinner with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while, was nice and fun and I expected less. It was great. I am learning and growing and changing. I am grateful for free time to plan fun trips, to paint and to read and even watch some Netflix. I feel grateful for time and energy to run and do yoga and get different things done each day. This semester is hard, but so far, 3 weeks in and I am enjoying it and feeling thankful. Excited to see what’s next!
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!
This morning I had to get my blood drawn, a little after the break of dawn. It was early, I was tired and I got lost trying to find the lab. Thankfully, I found it, just in time. Then came the fun part (just kidding) when they had to take my blood. Now, normally I get them to use a butterfly needle, however, this time, the woman told me that they would not be able to do that, or it would mess up the test. WHAT? (was definitely my first thought). However when she stuck the needle in me, I barely felt it. It was like a little pinch and I could feel it in my vein yet it didn’t seem like a big deal. I have had a lot of blood tests since the accident, especially while I was still in the hospital. AND you know what I remember, just how excruciating that pain was and how thick the needle was. Once out of the hospital, the first year I felt like I was getting blood tests every two weeks or every month to keep an eye on things. I hated getting my blood drawn. I think I was also scared of getting my blood drawn and of the pain of the sharp needle.
You know what I learned today? I learned that I am not scared of needles or of getting blood drawn. It felt fine, although slightly uncomfortable, and I would have rather not have been there. I was and it was quick and easy. It is no longer a big deal, just a simple step on my road of recovery.
In addition, when I walked outside after my blood test, the clouds were separating and I could see the light blue sky. The trees were still dripping, from being soaked in rain and the sound of tires rubbing against the water drenched streets. It was a beautiful and peaceful moment. Even if just for a bit. I felt whole. I felt like I was no scared of blood tests anymore. That felt like a big step for me. It felt good and nice to not be reacting to my circumstances. Even if it was just for a second or two. To me that felt like closure from a fear. Or rather, overcoming a fear. To me that feels like healing and trust, that it’ll be ok to get my blood drawn when I have to. Trust in G-d, that the results will help guide my doctors and myself to learn what is going on with my health. Trust in the practitioner, enough to let her/him poke me with a needle. To me, this feels like a step forward, even after yesterdays exhaustion rant and feeling like I was five steps backwards. I guess everything in its own time.
Here’s thanks to G-d, for the beauty in overcoming a fear of mine and in the simplicity when the clouds part and the sky shines through. To me, it helped me to start my last day of classes prior to finals, in just such a beautiful way!
Originally, today I wanted to write about another beautiful element of my day, which I think would have to be friends and good conversations. Being content and happy and grateful for both. Not to take away from that beautiful element of my life, I also want to face the other reality in my life: tired. I am exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually. I’ve gone into valleys such as this before. I don’t want to though. I want to change. I want to not be tired. I want to find that joy that I know is within me and within reach. And, sometimes I do. I am tired of ending up in the doctors office only to learn that I need to get more bloodwork. That most likely my body just needs to readjust and reset itself. Or that some pains I have, I will probably always have. I’m tired of weak hands. I’m tired of strange tingling in my legs when I sit for too long. I am tired of having to work hard to try to understand enough to get through my classes. I’m tired of “faking it till I make it”. I want so badly to be done with school. To feel “normal” whatever normal is and to not have these weird pains. What have I learned. My circumstances are no different than others. Other people have weird pains just as much as I do. Other people are “faking it till they make it too”. There are some people that work even harder than me to understand. I guess I’ve always felt like life is unfair. AND guess what? It IS!
If anything, I should have known this, long ago. My dad has always preached that life isn’t fair. He also taught my siblings and myself that just because life isn’t fair, means you just have to work hard. And from what I’ve learned he is right. My dad is right that you have to work hard. Sometimes harder than you even think possible. I don’t regret or take any of this for granted. However, I’m just tired. I want a break. I’m tired of the uphill climb. I just want to be healthy and well. I want to be able to move forward and to be leading a healthy life.
I realize I should be grateful for the health that I do have. I know it could be much worse. I also should be grateful to be able to work hard because it has been G-d blessing me to get through living each day with a TBI (traumatic brain injury).
I realize I sometimes use my brain injury as an excuse. But, it is! I don’t fully understand it, even with as much as do. Especially at the end of the semester my brain has so much information and emotions from the good and bad throughout the semester that it’s like I struggle to think about more engineering work and I just want to take my finals and be done. Then break, when its a true vacation gives good opportunity for rest, enjoyment and ability to savor and be in the moment.
So I guess it all goes back to me being in denial. In this case, regarding stress. It all goes back to freshmen year, fall semester and I was really stressed! Yet, I didn’t want anyone to know. So instead with my friend B asked if I was stressed. I exclaimed that I wasn’t. He continued, ” who are you trying to convince” and I said “no one” and this went on back and forth for quite some time. Since then, B and I go back and forth on how I was so stressed that I denied it because I didn’t want to accept or allow myself to be. So I guess I’m just stressed. I’ve worked hard all semester for this. To be done with all my homework and just waiting to take finals. For that I am grateful. I’m grateful I’m even in this spot, as a senior in college. I still remember the day, my doctor told me to “drop out” of college because my brain wouldn’t be able to handle it just yet and that I would be overloaded with doctors appointments. I now realize that I am blessed and maybe being tired is ok. Maybe it’s ok that I’m stressed and ready to be done with the semester. Maybe I am normal with abnormal pain periodically. Maybe I am blessed and beautiful to be able to be in university, to be a senior and to be studying mechanical engineering. Life isn’t always rosey not am looking through rose-colored glasses. Life is ok. And it’s going to be ok. And if I choose to hope, it’ll be more than ok one day. And hopefully that day I will no longer feel this “fog” of tiredness.
Today as I write, I find myself being distracted away from my in-comprehensive homework. I strongly dislike school. Its funny, because I used to love school. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being with friends nearby and the freedom that comes with being a university student. However I don’t like school. I love learning. I hate tests, homework and labs are not always the most exciting thing in the world. I like projects and presentations. Everything else gets in the way for me. I have found the some of the times I learned the most was when I was away from school. Like at my first internship and then my internship this last summer and when I went to the UK, Germany, Czech Republic and Israel. Or when I drove with my dad across the united states. And when I went to a political conference and met senators, governors and congress representatives from various states. I learn when I am in uncomfortable situations where I have to step outside my boundaries and reach out to build connections and friendships with those I am around. I have learned by serving the homeless. I’ve learned by reading and writing and painting. I’ve learned in sickness and in health. I’ve learned and continue to learn more about what I believe and stand for and what is important for me. I’ve learned when I am able to run and when I am walking. I learn by doing, thinking and saying. I learn with movement yet I have also learned by being able to stand still. I learn through pain, strength and joy. I am continuing to learn who I am. I am a learner and I hope for my life to be filled with life long learning.
I am grateful to be able to grow, learn and change.