Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Just Keep Moving

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise you will have the gift to affect other people.” - Jim Rohn

Communication is a wonderful tool that can make your life so much better. I had an experience over this past weekend where I truly felt what it was to have matured and to handle a situation with grace.

A friend of mine and I went into a bar to hear some music and I was approached right after entrance by the door bouncer who said to me, “You have already had enough to drink, I’m sorry but you have to go.”

I calmly showed him my disabled identification from my wallet and told him that I would gladly take a breathalyzer.  My friend was very upset when I told her what had happened.

I explained calmly that I understood that they were far more familiar with overly intoxicated people trying to enter a bar then people who had sustained brain trauma.

When my friend saw that I wasn’t overly upset by the occurrence we decided that we would leave the establishment and have a good night. I credit the way I live my life with giving me the ability to respond calmly and matter-of-factly in this occurrence.

The vast majority of people have no familiarity with a brain injury. It can present as so many other occurrences. Since I do not and cannot live my life embarrassed of this injury; I was able to go on and enjoy my night with my friend without my night being tainted. I do not fear returning to that establishment because I feel that I handled myself calmly and that now they may know better. We have to be our own advocates.

Calm and reasonable explanation goes much further than an emotion riddled hasty response. I am sure that there are countless numbers of brain injury survivors that deal with this type of occurrence on a regular basis. Now I know that perhaps a bar setting may not be the best, but I wanted to listen to some music. Sometimes we have to decide that we are going to perhaps endure some misunderstanding, yet decide that the evening with our friends is more important. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to be a hermit.

I like to get out and I advocate for others to go out and take part in activities. I attended a Rutgers basketball game this weekend also with my father. It is wonderful to get out and experience things. We have only this one life and we are responsible for making it worth living. I am going to include a picture from a get together that I attended at a friend’s meetup group. It is all about taking advantage of events that are scheduled and making a life worth living.

I touched base with another survivor who feels invisible as she is proceeding through life. I tried to encourage her and get her to realize that she is choosing to be invisible. We have to take responsibility for our own lives and get busy living!

I thank you so much for reading and welcome any thoughts that you may have!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Believe, and the world is yours

“New Year, new you.  The body achieves what the mind believes.  Believe in you and the possibilities are limitless.”

   - Noelle McNeil


A new year is among us and we have to believe that we are capable of great things. What are you going to accomplish this year? I am going to keep working on sharpening my memory. I feel enthusiastic about the things that I am now able to accomplish. Things get better with practice and everything becomes easier with every successful attempt.

You have to believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving. We have to know that we are special and we are capable of wonderful things. We are all capable of having confidence and interacting with many people. I feel that life gets better when you interact with others. We can push ourselves in the gym and encourage ourselves to stay with our fitness routine and our diets. We have to challenge ourselves to attempt and accomplish more. Daily we should witness our lives getting easier. Continue to reach out to others and share what makes life easier for you. We can come together to collaborate and share ideas. The more people sharing leads to a far greater collaborative pool of ideas for our population to draw from. New Years is a fantastic symbolic way for us to compare our goals with others. I get to share my goals with the patients and residents that I interact with. I love hearing feedback from others as far as how they believe that I am setting my goals. I am a huge fan of sharing my ideas with others and especially elders. These people have been on the planet for longer than I and they are more than willing to share their ideas and opinions with me. I learn from my interactions and they were absolutely correct when they were telling me that every new thing that I try will get easier the more times that I do it. I am preparing to fly myself again later this month and I recall how fearful I was the first time that I flew myself. It seems as though it is old hat now as I have done it several times. It is still not my favorite thing to do myself, but I have proven to myself that I can do it. I enjoy making conversation with those that are sitting around me and hopefully I will come upon somebody who enjoys social interaction as much as I do.

I am so thankful to all of you who have followed along with my weekly blogs. I hope and I pray that I am reaching others who are seeking a way to connect with others. Life after a significant life event is forever altered and I know that it is helpful to connect with others who are in the same boat. Perhaps you also have found that you connect better with someone who has also been through a significant life event his/herself.

~ Noelle

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Welcoming the New Year!

Another year has come to an end! Prepare to welcome the New Year! I am getting together with a few friends this year to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

I will try and let certain things go with the coming of the New Year. There are always new goals to be set as we begin our New Year. Celebrate the people that you care about with the coming of the New Year. Every opportunity that is presented to you is one that you should take advantage of. I have included a picture from my Christmas celebration!

It is crazy to imagine that another year has come to a close. I am glad that I have friends to welcome the New Year in with. We all need to celebrate the good things that we have in our lives Every year we are able to take part in wonderful celebrations throughout the year. We need to remember how fortunate we are to live free. I will take a moment to celebrate my health. It is freezing outside but I have kept up my activity level and I am glad to say that I have kept up with my New Year’s resolution from last year. I have continued to take part in activities even though the weather has gotten very cold. I will celebrate another year of freedom. This New Year’s I will celebrate that I have successfully lived through another year. I am getting to watch my niece and nephew grow up.

We are all blessed. We are blessed to wake up free and pursue our dreams. The healthcare here is second to none; practice being joyful over the positives in your situation. Practice being joyful about who you are and where you are going. Everybody is different and everybody brings different strengths and attributes to the table. I am getting together with several friends to celebrate the new year. We will all get together to welcome the new year. I would be interested in hearing what any of you are doing to bring in the New Year. Notice the traditions that you are developing. Basketball season is upon us and I will continue going to college basketball games with my father. I will be sure to capture a photo from my New Year’s celebration and include it with my next week blog. As the years go by my injury becomes less and less of a daily focal point for me. It has provided me with a depth of character that is far beyond my numerical years. I would be so interested in hearing what you feel that your injury has taught you? Everyone has their story and everyone has a character. We can all learn things from one another. We each have to know and love who we are.

Enjoy the moments to celebrate that are among us. I encourage everyone to take this New Year’s as a chance to celebrate another year of life. I am so thankful to you for reading and I am so interested in reading any responses that you may have. ~ Noelle

Friday, December 22, 2017

Promote Peace and Gratitude this Holiday

“Celebrate the festive holidays and allow yourself to celebrate another year coming to an end. Try and promote peace.”

It is the end of the year. The weather has gotten cold and the holiday season is in full swing. This time of year is fun with the hot chocolate and the singing. The days are now getting longer which is a great celebration for me. I am not a fan of having to turn on your lights at four thirty in the afternoon. My brother’s children as well as the other children of the family will anxiously be awaiting their presents. I snapped a picture of my brother’s black lab in a Santa hat as part of the festivities. This weekend I will start to celebrate as I am going to numerous celebrations for friends families. I will have to plan out my meals as I have to take part in the celebratory dinners. It is difficult to have an invisible voice on your shoulder whispering as to what you shouldn’t eat. Thanksgiving and Christmas are both challenging for me with the vast spreads of food. I have to try and prepare myself by learning the menu at the different houses.


The holidays are about joy and happiness. I will do my best to step away from any of my internal dilemmas and truly get into the moment. I am going to try and enjoy each celebration that I am invited to. I am preparing for the days and nights to come. It is a special time of year; no matter what your faith everyone will celebrate something. The boys and girls anxiously await their gifts and the adults look forward to gathering around the table and sharing what is new in each one’s life. Not a whole lot has changed this year from last. I am still working towards my goal of becoming as independent as I can. My family is fantastic and they always support me in everything that I do. I am going to try and bring joy to every gathering that I am invited to. I will try to allow myself to feel the happiness that the children do. I am going to try and smile and laugh as much as I can and understand that people want to be around other happy people. I often think to myself how fortunate I am to be able to nit-pick regarding my appearance when there are so many that are stuck in the hospital and are unable to stand and see themselves in a mirror. I am going to try and remind myself of this whenever I start to feel myself having a difficult time deciding what to eat at a gathering. I would love to hear from anyone else who feels some sort of guilt in regards to food. I thank you very much for reading and I wish you all a lovely holiday season. ~ Noelle

Monday, December 18, 2017

To Be Alive is the Greatest Gift of All

“Life is made up of special moments which make it worth living. Remember to slow down and remember how precious it is to be alive and love.”



A friend of mine from childhood passed away this weekend. It was especially tragic because it did not have to happen. He was about my age and my heart breaks as now we will not be able to have him in our presence ever again. I was so glad that I had gone for a Santa hayride with my niece and nephew the day before my friend’s passing.  As hard as life can seem for us, we will wake up in the morning and be able to conquer another day. We can never allow ourselves to forget how fortunate to wake up another free day. 

Throughout life there are so many moments that are meant for us to enjoy. I try and cherish every moment. This weekend I went for a Santa hayride with my family. I will include a picture so you can see how the weekend started off fantastic and joyous and then one phone call changed everything. My heart breaks because his family will not have him around for anymore holiday seasons. I know that while death is heartbreaking, I have to try and appreciate those around me that much more. We only get one life and it is so important to cherish those around you.  We are not guaranteed any period of life on this earth. Please try and cherish every moment that you have. Cherish the traditions that you have developed over the years. Realize that they are special gifts and we should all cherish them for as long as we are healthy and can. Every day that we have is a gift. I hope and pray that no one takes his/her life for granted.

Take advantage of every activity that you have available to you. Life is meant to be lived. I try to live my life but I am extra careful to not take unnecessary risks. Life is fragile and it should never be taken for granted. I try and create memories with my family. My niece and nephew will only be young once and it is important for me to try and take part in as much of their holiday as possible. I would love to hear what holiday traditions you take part in and who does them with you. It is hard to believe that another year is ending. All we can do is keep trying one day at a time. To this day when my emotions are really strong, my balance and coordination go out the window. Hopefully I will be able to keep it together for my friend’s funeral tomorrow. I am already a bit nervous about finding the church where the services are. I will try to keep my emotions calm and truly focus on where I am going. I know that there are others who share the same issues with walking and balance during emotionally charged moments. I thank you very much for reading and I welcome any thoughts that you may have.

~ Noelle

Friday, December 15, 2017

Practice Awareness

"You're the only kind of knowledge they don't teach at any college. You're an education in yourself."    - Harry Warren

We have to know that we need to truly get to know ourselves. It is far more important when unforeseen circumstances play out. After an injury we have to do some soul searching to know who we are. We have a lifelong venture to get to know who we are. I love philosophy and I feel that everyone can make efforts to get to know who they are. Going through trying circumstances allow our true being to become visible. We have a lifetime to get to know who we are. Every action that we take has a direct effect on who we are. We each come into contact with other different people and nobody knows how many people’s lives they can effect. This holiday season take notice to how many people you interact with. Try and improve the day of at least one person every day. You yourself will feel better. The holidays are a special time to get together with loved ones from near and far. We have to try and know ourselves so that we can learn what makes us happy. Each one of us has so many aspects to what makes us tick. Life is about finding ways to make ourselves happy in the wake of the hustle and bustle that surrounds us.

We have to remember to take a moment for ourselves and maybe engage in yoga or meditation to get in touch with our inner being. Reflect upon what makes us happy and how we can share that with others. This is a special time of year and it is a time to celebrate with the people that bring us joy. Never forget to be joyful that you get to celebrate holidays and that you are living. The gift of life is one that we have to always remember. It comes before anything. Try to be joyful to have life this holiday season. Remember to take time for yourself. Nobody is as important as you are. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can bring joy to others. I just made my flight arrangements to fly down to Florida in January. I will take another winter trip with my family. I will fly down myself and I am very proud of myself that I have proven to myself that I am capable of flying alone. I was extremely apprehensive at first but now that I have done it I know that I will be fine. What yearly traditions do you have planned for this winter? We have had our first snowfalls and I am not exactly a fan as my balance combined with snow and ice makes it difficult for sure. I would love to hear any thoughts that you may have and I thank you very much for reading.

~Noelle

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Own Your Dreams

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than your comfort zone.” 
- Billy Cox

I recently snapped a picture of my dog truly living in his comfort zone. We have to want more for our lives then a lazy dog.

There is a time and a place to let yourself relax, but there is also a time to be motivated and to go forward with your life. 

After enduring a life altering injury you have to want. Every one of us has a great desire that we must tap into. I feel that I rest so much more peacefully when I have gone forward with my life and am proud of where I am going. My dog seems to not have a care in the world. We need to know that we are not dogs and we must always be pushing towards the next best thing. We are all capable of extraordinary things and we must never doubt ourselves. I try to never allow myself to go with the motions.

This is our life and we have to keep working towards making it enjoyable. Dogs are the best but we have to realize that their life is all about peace and relaxation. I think that I achieve the most peace when I feel that I am living in a productive manner. My largest dream post brain injury is to live as a productive and meaningful member of society. After sustaining a devastating injury I think that we all seek true peace. Injuries can be physical, emotional or spiritual they all leave us searching for what our purpose is. The holidays are coming and I am going to continue searching for meaning in all that I do. I would love to hear how you have found meaning in your lives.

I am searching for peace, a peace that will allow us to proceed forward while feeling okay. I hope that my pursuit of my dreams will allow me to find peace. I know that this will be a lifelong pursuit. Peace and family love are two very special aspects of the holidays. I hope that we all are surrounded by love and care. We have to desire more for ourselves then our comfort zone. We cannot allow ourselves to be lax and to abandon our desire for more.

We all have to want more for ourselves. I love interacting with every person that I meet and learning about what makes him or her unique. Every one of us is unique and we all have our own special gifts that we can share with the world. I think that each one of us should share our story and take pride in how far we have come. Every person has his or her own story about what makes them up.

There is a special bond amongst the brain injury community and I feel that each one of us is capable of incredible things. I would love to hear any thoughts that you may have.

~Noelle