Peace Found- for awhile

I ran at my favorite park a few days ago.   The lake is surrounded by farm fields with a view of the Blues moutains and there  is still snow on some.  The gravel service road is used by hikers, runners, bicyclists, and horses but is rarely crowded.  Most people prefer to walk on the paved trail next to Mill Creek.  

It was partially cloudy, cool, with a steady wind when I started my run. Ominous black covered the mountains and I saw sheets of rain falling on them.   A white tailed deer crossed  the road trail, leaped a fence and bounded off into the fields.  Her beauty, power, and gracefulness was inspiring.  I settled further into the rhythm of my run and felt the tension leave my shoulders.  My worries and concerns dropped away.

The wind started gusting at the halfway mark and I smelled the approaching rain: a crisp, fresh, damp scent.  I wondered just how run-crazed I am.  I noted people heading toward their cars rapidly.   They were evidently smarter than me.   I elected to run the last few miles anyway.  


The clouds opened up.   There was no sounds of human life; just falling no rain, tree leaves rustling and the rhythm of my feet striking the ground.  Long stalks of spring green grass waved with the wind.  Stillness.  Peace.  Connection with myself and nature.  In the moment fully. 

Goats grazed on the banks of Mill Creek.  They maaaa’d in complaint  about the wet.  Bells on their collars clanged; a forlorn sound.  It is strange how weather and nature can bring both a sense of peace and inner stillness while also bringing sadness simultaneously.  Like life-  joy can mix with sadness.  

I finish the run.  Cold, wet, but peaceful.   As I slipped on a dry shirt and pair of sweats, the sun came out.  Figures. 

Frogs

The Frog Prince tells the tale of a prince cursed into frog form becoming human again after the kiss of a princess.  I  won’t write about the gender stereotypes and roles the fairy tale transmits.  That’s been done many times.  I want to explore what it may have been like for the prince instead.  So, imagine that you are a prince…

You wake up ready to start the day.  You hop into the sunshine and see a glorious mosquito- whap- breakfast is served.  It’s a simple life, being a frog.  Hunting, croaking, hopping,swimming, and sunbathing.  And there’s all the lady frogs vying for your affections.  You are one handsome and vital frog indeed.  Life is good.  

 One day, a pair of hands snatch you from the water and lifts you up.  You see a huge mouth and just know you’re about to die but something else happens. You feel searing pain as your body stretches and muscles extend and contorts back to human form.   The next thing you know you are standing calf deep in the pond, staring into the eyes of a lovely princess.  And all the memories of being a cursed prince flood back.   Your life underwent two major unexpected changes: prince, frog, prince.  From a simple life, you’re thruster into the world of humans and eventual responsibility of a kingdom.  You had no control over your destiny.

Or perhaps you knew that you were a cursed prince.   You remembered being a handsome, intelligent, important man.  A prince.  You wore the finest clothing, slept in satin sheets, had servants performing the menial tasks. You partied with other nobles and courtiers.  Much was made of you.   You drank the finest wine.  And the food!  Glorious food!  Delicious, fresh, and plentiful.   Then  you sleep in mud and muck. You eat bugs and drink pond water.  And all those damn female frogs chasing  you around.   You doubt you will ever be a prince again and are filled with bitterness, hopelessness, and depression. Still, you try.  You know the terms of the curse.  You need to be kissed by a princess to be restored but there aren’t any around here and it’s unlikely there will ever be.  Finally, you resign yourself to being a frog.  One day, your princess finds you.  And you stand calf deep in the pond looking into her glorious eyes.

Which frog would you rather be?  Both face the traumatic events of being a cursed prince.  One had the additional challenge of remembering what was before- with all the despondency the situation brings.  The other had to adjust from being a frog with no knowledge to being flooded with physical change and (re) discovering his true identity. Both faced life altering change over which they had no control.

Are we all naught but frogs?

The ending of both scenarios are the same.  You marry the princess that you only met once.  Of course, the story of your meeting is unforgettable, even if you want to.  You have to breed up an heir and a spare.  Then you settle down to rule.  Your “happily ever after?”  Not until after you’ve had therapy… lots and lots of therapy.

The Red Badge Project

I attended a Red Badge Project class today.  They are writing “classes” for women veterans.  The focus is on self-expression.  I was anxious but chose to stretch my limits and go anyway.  It was a new environment.  Fortunately two friends were there also.  That helped me feel more comfortable.  I was also concerned about critique.  Although I share my blog, my writing is for me.  I don’t worry about impressing anyone or being perfect.  No criticism. The other attendess gave feedback about how the writing touched them and what they enjoyed.  Yet, we could still touch on sensitive topics if we wanted.

One of the exercises that we did was to write one continuous sentence.  One gigantic run on sentence.  I found it diffult not to use ending punctuation.  We were allowed to use commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes.  I want to share my long run one sentence.   The topic is my paretner.  The one who doesn’t exist.  My writing turned into free thought, tangetical exploration of relationships and independence.  

Romance is overrated; pressure to marry and have children- Mom really wants grandkids, talk to my brother and sister,  they’re married: no one had children, deal with granddogs, grandcats, and grandferrets- no one should be pressured into having kids: relationships are risky and confining- there is freedom in being alone- I can do things I wouldn’t be able to: I have my own destiny but I am not selfish- I help others, I honor obligations, I treat others with respect and am supportive but still, maybe I should have gotten married- religion and society demands it- why can’t I feel free from who I am supposed to be and what I should do; so I rescue those who were thrown away and are misunderstood by people but ferrets are intelligent and hilarious and they are crazy wild but yet domesticated, I understand: they depend on me -and I wonder who rescues who- Brighid was a young kitten, another castaway; I’m adrift too and she chose me and I chose her- two lost souls and I wonder who needs a partner when the ferrets and cat provide the unlimited, non-judgmental, simple love and trust that people never do but still, I have to wonder why there is so much judgment on different because everyone is- yet, here we are, all grouped together, marching toward something but nothing; society’s expectations: hide being different – because different is dangerous-  yet  I still can’t change who I am; I can’t lie to myself anymore but still I hide the truth from others behind a mask of normal to just be another lemming jumping off the cliff into insanity.

Punctuation makes a difference.  Still, the style of free writing offers a different way to communicate thoughts.  It requires patience on the part of readers.  I think it also provides more opportunities for each person to find a meaning unique to them. 

I think this style also illustrates the inner jangle of thoughts that just never shut up.  Almost everyone experiences this.  Often they are fears, self- criticism, and lists of “I need to..” or “I should…”

Really, life is a run on sentence.

Why to Learn CPR

My dad choked at dinner tonight.  He is fine now.  There are no lasting effects.

All of you know I have some…issues…with anxiety. Yeah. “Issues” sort of like the ocean has water. lolMy parents are visiting this week. It’s been hectic so my anxiety level has been overall higher. My cherished routine is changed.  Tonight we went to dinner. I was my normal, jittery self. I don’t sit still much. Part anxiety, part brain injury sensory overload.  

Long story short: my dad started choking. It was surreal. “Are you choking? Talk to me. Get up”At this point, I was helping to pull him out of the booth and up on his feet from behind him. Cleared his airway. I was calm. Like nothing was going on that was alarming. Just after his airway cleared, I stood with him, assessing airway and pulse until his coughing stopped and he was taking normally.  Even with anxiety and brain injury, I was able to perform the technique.  The training works.

After that, I sat down and went right back to being my normal, jittery self. Surreal.
If I hadn’t been trained in CPR, which includes what to do when someone is choking, the outcome may have been much different.  Dad could have ended up in the ER.  Or possibly dead.  

This may be the only time I use it.  But it most likely saved the life of a family member.

Here is a link to American Red Cross.  They provided first aid and CPR training.  There are online and in person training options.

American Red Cross CPR Training
Do it.  It can save a life.

Real Strength 

  It’s not feeling confident, calm, or hopeful in the face of adversity.  You can feel like quitting.  You can feel overwhelmed.  You may even walk away for a while or give up.  That’s life.

Real strength is continuing or returning.  You face what you fear.  Get back up when you fall.  Admit when you’re wrong.  Make amends. 

With brain injury and/or mental health issues, strength is facing every day with determination and hope it will be a good day-while recognizing it may be a day you don’t function well.  Then getting up the next day.  Strength is acknowledging you need help and getting it.   It’s taking time for self care.  It’s accepting there are days that you won’t function as well and do the best you can.  

Real Strength is recognizing your weakness and embracing it. In accepting yourself where you are, you have the chance to grow. 
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Three Goals

I went to the creative writing course at the VA today.  It’s not exactly a journaling. We have a topic we write about.  Some are more therapeutic topics than others.  Today’s topic was “three goals.”

Goals 

I have no goals; none at all

Look inside to find the call.

When there is no focused life

Heart and soul are filled with strife

Finding hope in darkness lost 

Breaking free from chains’ high cost;

Maybe I will a path find

From fear’s chasm to faith sublime.

To grow my goal is to try

To revive what inside died

To hold to the future fast

To leave behind what has passed.

———————————————————–

Goals come in all forms.  Mine are getting prepared to identity and strive after goals.  It’s funny: my goal is to have a goal.  

Brain Injury Awareness Month

On April 2, 2011, I completed a marathon, winning age group and placing 20 overall. On the 25th, my life changed forever in a roll over car accident resulting in a  TBI.  
It’s been a journey of recovery and challenge. I have reduced perioception in my feet, issues with visual depth perception and reduced peripheral vision. I had to relearn how to walk and balance. I had intense speech therapy to address aphasia and recover writing skills. The recovery therapists helped develop strategies to reduce problems with sensory overload.
Diagnosing brain injury and the residual issues was an exercise in frustration. I underwent countless tests: MRIs, CT scans, neuropsychological exam, EEG. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder secondary to the TBI. The neurologists eventually diagnosed Diffuse Axonal Injury. 
Like many survivors, I suffer from anxiety, depression, and mood instability. My treatment team (clinical social worker, neurologist, psychatirst) and I have a solid regime to improve my life and function. Things are much better.  
Eight months after the accident, I ran again. Well, shuffled was more like it. Running became my release and hope. I constantly saw improvement in endurance and speed.  I celebrated milestones such as achieving my longest run and my first road races.  Running is now my stress relief and source of peace and mindfulness.
This is Brain Injury Awareness Month. I am a brain injury survivor. This month I celebrate being a survivor and what I have overcome. April 1, 2017, I meet a new milestone: my first marathon post brain injury.