Trying to find the positive

The past few weeks were tough, mentally and emotionally.  I try to keep a positive attitude and not focus on the negative.  It’s not easy.  I know I’m sliding down the depression hole again.  However, I think there are things I can do to prevent going totally to the bottom- again.  Thus, trying to be positive.

Currently I have two real issues that are pushing the depression.  I’m still grieving losses from the brain injury.  It’s ongoing.  There are things that improved but so many that haven’t- and probably won’t.  This may be what I have going forward.  So, as I learned in the Marines, “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.”  How do I adjust for and accept the changes?  There’s a difference between acceptance and giving up.  I still hope for improvement.  I work towards it.  But, I want to fully accept that this is where I am now.  There may not be changes.  The other problem is fear for the future.  I put in my medical retirement paperwork.  Work is one of the things that needs to change.  At least for now, working is not a healthy activity.  I am worried about what will happen with the retirement and after.


Mindfulness: focused awareness of the present moment.  Staying in the now rather than worrying about the past or future.  They can’t be controlled.  We can only take action in the present moment.  The awareness allows us to experience life in the fullness- the feeling of sun on our faces, the smell of the campfire, the bite of autumn coolness in the morning, colors of the leaves, and other.  It’s a stance of acceptance of the moment.

Be where I am; be still in the moment.


Please Understand

We live in a fast- moving world.  We eat on the go, text, rush everywhere. People often get angry or frustrated with people who slow us down for whatever reason.  Today, I met a true asshole.

I went to WalMart today to buy a couple of things I needed.  I hate WalMart and places like it.  The high ceilings amplify sound, there are florescent lights, random beeping back up alerts, screaming children, and other sensory input.  Still, sometimes I have to go there.

The asshole of the year stood behind me in the check out line.  I only had 5 things to purchase and chose the express lane.  I have problems with focus and attention in busy places, such as stores.  Multitasking is hard for me in the best settings.  It becomes nearly impossible in stores.  The cashier talks, you have to process and respond- often when trying to pay for the purchases.  Needless to say, I need extra processing time and move slowly in lines.  Of course, today I had to forget my PIN and needed to enter it more than once.

I heard the guy behind me making comments.  At first, they were mild things like “I don’t have all day” and “hurry up.”  I didn’t get angry.  This could apply to the cashier as well.  Then he said, “Retards like you shouldn’t use this lane if you’re so slow.”  That went over well.  I have quite the four letter vocabulary when angry.  That comment was all it took.  My first response was actually fairly mild, “Shut the F up.” Now, I was really distracted and frustrated.


I wore an Army backpack to have room to carry home purchases.  My speech and language processing also slow when I’m stressed or overstimulated.  He made a comment about me being too stupid to have served in the military. I am proud of my military service and miss it.   Here we go.  Unfortunately, he managed to pile enough insults on me that I started to cry out of sheer anger and frustration.  He “won” the argument.

judge judy

The manager stepped in to stop the situation.  The guy was told to leave and escorted by security outside the store.  I was so upset that I wasn’t able to understand the pay process anymore.  The manager slowly walked me through it.

This happened two hours ago.  I am shaking as I write this and trying to hold back tears.  I really want to hurt that guy.

Please, if you see someone struggling in line or anywhere in public, be patient and understand: not all disabilities are visible.  Treat the person with respect.  Or at least keep your mouth shut.

I came home to them:

Kaliyah love



Things will be better.  Cuddle time with Brigid and play time with the ferrets (Bobby and Kaliyah) is therapy enough.

Tread and Dread

Three firefighters died while fighting wildfires in Washington State. A total of 22 died throughout Oregon, California,  and Washington.  Several thousand  people lost their homes or were evacuated due to safety.  The fires set a record in acres consumed.  At this point, National Guard, Army Active Duty, and fire teams from other countries are involved.  The air quality throughout the state is horrible. May the firefighters stay safe and the fires controlled.  Blessings for the family and friends of those killed.

All I have to worry about with the fires is running inside on a treadmill because of air quality.  It’s a small concern overall.  This blog is about how a runner stays entertained while running on a treadmill because of air quality.   It is not meant to put down what is happening with the fires.



A bane of most runners’ workouts is the dreaded treadmill, or dreadmill.  Today was my turn to experience the boredom.

One must have a plan to complete a dreadmill workout.  You are truly on a road to nowhere; it’s the same scenery.  It gets worse as run time and mileage are longer.  Many runners zone out listening to music on iPods.  Since I no longer tolerate sounds well, I have to amuse myself in other ways.

The TBI affected my intelligence and attention span.  For example, my math skills are now at a 5th grade level.  I completed a class in calculus at one point.  Big change.  I practiced the multiplication table to pass time.  It went ok for a few numbers.  Then I got to 6.  The finger counting began.  Six times seven… Let’s see… Six times six is 36. So: 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42.  It’s 42.  Mind you, I counted on fingers or I lost my place.  Then, the sevens.  Seven times six is… So: 7×5 is 35.  And so goes the finger counting 421 that’s it.  I couldn’t reverse the numbers although I understand they are equal.  I last until the nines table.  My head was toast.  The thought.. “I’m not smarter than a 5th grader.”  Cute show.

Next game: watch traffic and come up with stories about the people.  One was about a man going to see his girlfriend.  He stopped at McDonald’s and choked on a McNugget.  Another: Her ferret stole the last apple, dragged it under the couch, and ate all of it. (note: ferrets are carnivores.  They shouldn’t eat apples.  And a full apple would be a huge meal for a ferret).  The horse trailer that stopped on the road in front of the gym so the guys could get coffee was interesting.  It was huge.  And had some nice looking horses at least their butts which was all I could see.  I rapidly got bored.

Next: Name animals in alphabetical order.
A: Anteater
B. Badger This is where it went horribly wrong. The song “Badger badger Mushroom” popped into my head immediately. For those not familiar with it, the song’s words are: “Badger, Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger; Mushroom. Mushroom. ” This repeats several times, then “It’s a snake… a snake… oh, it’s a snake.” Now, back to badger. So much fun to have stuck in your head.
For those of you who are curious just how bad it can be, here’s the link. Listen at your own risk. Badger Badger
To get that charming little ditty out of my head I resorted to singing Marine and Army cadences in my head. It worked. (looking at the readout: crap, 15 more minutes)

I continued my alphabet game with C,D, and E. Of course, F was FERRET! Such cute little critters. I need to clean their cage…

As I went through the remaining letters, there were some I couldn’t think of an animal. Others, I named food first. For example, “H= Hamburger… no, no. It’s a food. Hawk. That’s it.” I was getting hungry… mmmm… food. I wonder if I can get a friend to drive me for a Blizzard?

Eventually, the run ends. Just in time. R was for “Restroom.”


What It’s Like

I wish I could send this post and article to my HR and coworkers.  

I fought as hard as I could in the years following the injury. I’m stuck. What I have now is what I have although I might improve slightly.

It was never easy. Even when I was doing hard things, they were an attempt to rehab.  
There are days I feel more energetic and can do more. I notice there is a pattern. If I do more one day, I’ll be more fatigued the next.  
That’s one of the major issues at work. Every day it’s a fight against overstimulation and fatigue. Every day is harder. I slept 12-13 hours a day so I could work part time. And I was always exhausted, stressed, and anxious. I never was “who I was before.” Most days, I hid it fairly well. My office is a cave. You’re right. I needed quiet, dim, non stimulating environment. Remember all the tears? And me walking away from meetings? Or getting so frustrated in meetings because I couldn’t keep up or express myself? Think it was easy to work? I couldn’t process the information. It was too much, too fast. Sometimes, I just zoned out. I needed to survive, I wasn’t trying to be rude or unprofessional.   

Too many coworkers either didn’t notice or excused it. I know some people were trying to help and didn’t know exactly what I needed. I didn’t know either. And if I’m emotionally, mentally, or physically flooded or exhausted, I won’t be able to tell you. I’ll walk away or break down. If I get there, take me somewhere quiet. And know if I’m emotionally melting down, “processing” won’t work. It’s more emotional stimulation. Just sit with me quietly or leave me alone. I figured that out with the help of my cognitive therapist. I won’t be able to ask at that point. You have to recognize it and help.

When I worked part time, I slept 12-13 hours a day. Think about it. What was my life? I never had the energy to cook. I lived off oatmeal, maltomeal, cereal, delivery, sandwiches, salads, or whatever microwaveable meals I had. I never had the brain energy to cook, either. It was too hard to manage anything involving multiple steps. I barely kept my house clean enough to be sanitary. My day: work, sleep, warm up dinner, take care of animals- let ferrets play, sleep. Repeat. Some days, I made myself get some exercise. Short runs, that people critize me taking. After all, if I can do that, I can work. It can’t be that bad. Running was sanity. Weekends, I slept and usually shopped and tried to do chores. Usually I got back enough energy to at least show up to work the following week.
Now add in seizures and migraines. And no longer being able to drive. Still think it’s easy? Still think I’m faking?  
Walk a week in my shoes.  Or even a day.  Deal with the sensory stimulation of normal life being like living in a rock concert 24/7.  Earplugs, sunglasses, hats can only do so much. Know why I cringe at a sudden noise or loud voice?  It physically hurts!  It confuses me!    

Since I’ve been off work, my diet has improved. Im still as disorganized as ever but my house is cleaner. I sleep only 10 hours a day. Maybe 11 if I was really busy. I can actually do the cognitive improvement exercises every day when before I might have managed them 2 days a week. Things are better.
I love working with veterans.  I wish I could do my job like before.  Or at least in some meaningful way that contributes.  I tried.  


Brain Injury Need to Know

Still More Simple Gifts.

In the last blog, I spoke about the song Simple Gifts and the complex of simplicity.  There are two more alternate verses.

This alternate is my favorite of all versions.  It is lyric and hopeful.  It also acknowledges the earth as our home and how our actions will impact other people.

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof. Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above. Salvation is here, where we laugh and we cry.  Where we seek and love, where we live and die. 

When true Liberty is found, by fear and by hate we will no longer be bound.  In love and light we will find our new birth and in peace and in freedom redeem the earth.    

 The earth is our home in this lifetime.  We do have responsibility to care for it and what lives here.  Often,  religions seem to be more about dogma and judgement than a spiritual connection to each other and Deity.  There are people who reflect the positive values of the spiritual side of organized religion.  I chose a path of spirituality and acknowledgement of Deity, personal and spiritual growth, and respect.  I fall short of this at times.  For me, salvation is paths of spiritual growth, not an event.  We all are involved in salvation in some way, as we’re learning by experiencing this life.

The final version is an attitude towards thankfulness and being able to choose our own paths.  Although religious freedom is supposed to be a protected right, there is a strong movement to legislate religious values.  As a country, America needs to focus on how to respect individual freedom to choose our own paths.  

‘Tis the gift of be simple, ‘Tis the gift to be fair.  ‘Tis the gift to wake and breathe the morning air. And each day we walk in the path that we choose, ‘Tis a gift we pray we will never lose. 

Simple Gifts

The Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts” (Joseph Brackett) is deceptively simple.  The melody and harmony lines are uncomplicated.  The verses are sweet but speak to deeper meanings.  The original and additional verses speak to my life over various times, especially post accident. 

The original version was written as a dancing song.  

‘Tis the gift to be simple, Tis the gift to be free.  ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.  And when we find ourselves in thr place just right,               ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed. To turn, turn, will be out delight. Until by turning, turning we come ’round right. 

After the accident, I gained confusion and fear not simplicity.  Life was complicated and I lost all sense of peace and freedom.  I was locked in a mind and body that just didn’t work right anymore.  In a job that didn’t fit and fighting to try to gain my life back.  I fought to hard to be the place I was before.  I missed the place “I ought to be.”  My life changed.  I needed to change with it.  As I find the simple gift of being free of trying to be who I am no longer, the gift to let go of fear, to be, I gain a larger gift of peace, love, and delight.  Such as the full moon, the stars, the winds, friends, family, running…just being who I am.  There is no shame in who I am now.  To lose much of my mental intelligence was humbling.  Being intelligent and talented was important before. I have to accept the changes and realize with humility, I am different, with different things I can do.  I have  To keep turning away from negativity and fear until I come ’round right.  Humility is something often seen as weakness.  It is truly seeing who you are, strengths and weaknesses and loving yourself anyway.  And being willing to change and grow.

We all have the moments of needing to be humble and turn our lives in a different direction.  Sometimes, it takes a thump on the head to get our attention.  I hope  you listen better than I did.

Simple Gifts on You Tube

One alternate version speaks of love and relationships.

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return.  ‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn. And when we expect from others what we try to live each day, then we’ll all live together and all learn to say:

‘Tis the gift to have friends and true friend to be. ‘Tis the gift to think of others and not only think of “me.” And when we hear from others what they really think and really feel, then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.

Things we should have learned in grade school that would make the world and our lives much better: Learn, teach, listen, respect, honesty, putting others in front of yourself.  Friendship is a balance between give and receive.  Friends love and support each other.  One does not take more that you give back.  Balance.  Community and relationships are work.  We have to hear from others bravely, and they must speak truely and with respect.  Then, you can build on the foundation.

  Simplicity is hard, as challenging in some ways as our daily complicated, “meaningful” lives.

Love is found in simplicity.  There are two additional verses I’ll talk about later.