After all, time is all we have.

So many of us avoid thinking or even talking about it, but it is always there. It is the only real thing that we are certainly guaranteed of in this life – Death. Along with facing my own death (again) at the start of 2017, death appeared for me again just before Christmas of the same year, this time was different though – It wasn’t my death…It was my mothers. The woman who bore me life and taught me an extraordinary amount about the world, was gone. Just like that, her flame was extinguished, plunging me into a deep space of grieving. I surrendered to the waves of grief, feeling into each surge fully. I wasn’t interested in changing my experience, but simply being with it exactly how it showed up, before gently letting go when I was ready. Facing my own mortality and then the death of someone close to my heart, really reaffirmed my belief that whilst we don’t get to choose what happens to us (to a large degree), we certainly get to choose how we respond. I remember so vividly, going down to sit by the ocean 20 minutes after I learnt of her passing, the light of a super-moon illuminating the waves as they danced across the shore. My whole body ached with equal amounts of heartbreak and gratitude. As I sat there, I kept saying ‘thank you!’, over and over again. The gratitude that I felt for my mother in this moment was so raw and powerful. A moment that changed everything… It has been a few short months since she has passed, and whilst that grief is still there, it has largely transformed into a powerful burning question – ‘What am I doing with the time that I have left here?’ I look around, … More

Dealing with plateau’s

Recovery can be a hard slog. It can have many twists and turns, ebbs and flows, highs and lows. There will be times when it feels like the improvements are really noticeable and consistent, and then there will be periods where it feels like nothing is improving or perhaps you feel like you have gone backwards. These times, for many (myself included), are the most frustrating! Well, I’m right here now, so I thought I would share with you my tips for getting through the ‘plateau’ stage. Firstly, experiencing a plateau is completely normal and expected. Here’s why. Immediately after injury, the brain goes into a “heightened state of plasticity”. What this means is that when the damage first occurs, the brain reacts by temporarily making it easier for itself to reorganise (called spontaneous recovery). It just happens. So, you may have or are, experiencing rapid improvement and then after a time (generally after 3 months), the brain reverts back to a less pliable, but still plastic state (see neuroplasticity or brain plasticity). This can be frustrating to say the least, but it doesn’t mean that further improvement is not possible. There is also something that is called “diminishing returns”, which all of us experience in life, and brain injury recovery is no different. Take for example, learning to paint – you go to your first class and you will leave knowing 10 times more things about painting than when you first arrived. Now, fast forward to a year of painting classes – the difference in ability between your 90th and 95th painting is going to be much smaller than the first 5 painting you did. This is because when we first learn something, there will be a stage of rapid improvement (called rapid spontaneous progress) as we learn new skills and … More

Dealing with disappointment.

Disappointment is just the action of your brain re-adjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were. ~ Brad Warner Everything can change in a split second, changing the course of life as you once knew it. I get it. It can be shattering and incredibly disappointing!The reality is – You are here and nothing is going to change what has happened. It is done, and it cannot be undone. While this might be very hard to swallow and accept, it is your reality. So why not deal with things as they are right here, right now? Dealing with disappointment is often complex, as it comes with a mirage of emotions such as anger, sadness, frustration and impatience just to name a few. Learning to deal with disappointment has been a pivotal turning point in my recoveries, and I want to share with the key things that have been fundamental in healing from my three major brain injuries, as well as other life trauma’s. Let it all out. What you have been through is HUGE! It is natural to grieve after experiencing any form of trauma that alters the course of your life. We often spend so much time trying to run from anything that causes us pain or upset, and in doing so, we deny ourselves the first stage of our healing process. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling without any agenda or attempt to speeding up the process. Whatever you are feeling is okay. Take some time to just sit with your emotions and experience it without moving to fix or change it. If you need to have a good cry, or express the rawness of how you are feeling (as long as you don’t lash out at others or cause harm to yourself). Do it! … More

No Matter What, I’ve Got This!

“Not everyone can be as positive and grateful after a brain injury as you”. I have heard this statement, or something to the same effect countless times over the years. But let me tell you, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. After my first brain injury in 1996, life was incredibly difficult. Nothing came easy! I was left with complete right side paralysis, a serious speech impediment, very poor coordination, epilepsy, and a dodgy memory just to name a few in a long list of issues. The icing on the cake came a few short months after – a  second brain haemorrhage.  All of that hard work unravelled faster than a Learjet darting across the sky. There I was again, stripped bare. I hit rock bottom! For years on end, I struggled through the gruelling hours spent in rehabilitation. My childhood a blur of appointments from one specialist to another, surgeries and hours upon hours spent working on all the issues every week. It was relentless and unforgiving to say the least. I struggled. I fell. I fought. I cried. I got angry. I got frustrated. I wished it was different. I wanted to give up….But I didn’t! I was not going to let my brain injury, or any other life struggle beat me. That, I was sure of. I had made up my mind! You see, as humans, we have this extraordinary ability to choose one thought over another. So, I chose to tell myself that ‘no matter what, I’ve got this!’ I said it over and over again, in a million different ways. The more I said it, the more I believed it. The more I believed it, the more my life transformed! No, it wasn’t a quick overnight ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ kind of fix. It took … More

A different kind of extraordinary.

Life as you have known it, can change in a split second. It will never be the same. And just like that, YOU have another chance of creating a different kind of extraordinary!!! While it may not feel like that right now. I can promise you, that all that is standing in the way of living a truly remarkable life – is you. Regardless of your brain injury, or any other challenge you face. I understand only to well, the seemingly impossible task of a massive recovery. One that feels like it will be a long uphill battle that drags on, and on, and on, with no end in sight. It is easy to get swept up in feeling defeated, lost, lonely, bitter, angry , frustrated –  the list goes on. And, for a time, its ok to go through these emotions. You are human. It is a part of your healing journey. Healing is just one aspect of a long road to recovery. Especially for people who have had moderate to severe trauma. It can change ones emotional and mental state, just as much (if not more) than the physical. It is known as the ‘hidden disability’ for many people, because it can affect ones behaviour, cognitive functions, their ability to communicate, emotional instability, impaired executive dysfunction, hormonal imbalances and memory – just to name a few! It it a monumental recovery process on so many levels. But just like anything, it is possible to achieve great things, regardless of how hopeless the situation might feel to you now. And it all starts with your mindset… ‘Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’    Napoleon Hill How does one create a strong mindset with the pieces of a very broken body and the now distant memories of a life that once was? … More

Some days you’ve just got to grieve!

Most days are filled with positivity, determination and a fierce ‘I’ve got this’ attitude. These days are great! But as the saying goes – what comes up, must come down. I spent so long trying my best to not have these ‘down’ days, because I felt that being a hugely positive person meant that I shouldn’t have these days…That I could somehow rise above the despair and the sadness.  Then I realised that this was in fact bullshit! And from that space, I felt like a I could authentically honour my feelings as they appeared. It was okay to go from positive and happy, to being engulfed by sadness and frustration. I didn’t have to tell people that I was great, when in reality, I felt like shit and I just want to put on some sad music and cry my eyes out for a day (or two). My third brain haemorrhage has definitely been the easiest. It’s kinda funny saying that, only because going through any major brain injury isn’t at all easy. But there is so much to be thankful for this time around – I wasn’t paralysed. I didn’t miss many crucial years of my childhood. I didn’t have a full-time job of intense therapy just to regain basic speech, motor skills and movement for years on end. And I do remember my life between age 9 and to age 30….winning!!! I still remember the awesome and adventure filled life I have led thus far. In saying that, I still grieve. I grieve for the days that I spent rock climbing, hiking, diving, mountain biking, snowboarding or any other physical pursuit I could get my hands on! I grieve the conversations that I was able to have, that didn’t require a ridiculous amount of concentration just to grasp … More