Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

The New Year is upon us; with the New Year comes the ability to reflect upon where we have been in the last year and who or what made an impact on us. There is the ability to glance back; there is the ability to use what you have learned within the last year as a stepping stool as you attempt to reach higher in the New Year ahead.

In the year ahead I am pleased that I will remain in contact with several groups of Brain Injury survivors that are near and dear to my heart. I am beyond hopeful that in the New Year all will be able to see this year as a new beginning. I try and encourage every patient that I have contact with to not lose sight of how fortunate they are to be alive. I try to look at the year ahead as a fresh and new palate. I thank you for reading and I wish you all nothing but the best in the New Year.

~Noelle

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Alive and Well.....

Driving to work this morning; I caught a glorious ray of sunshine in my eye as a song by Kenny Chesney began to play.  A true belief of mine is that sometimes things happen for a reason. As I listened to the words of this song, I really reflected upon the differing viewpoints that a few of my closest friends have. While I wake every morning to glance at the early morning sky and breathe the fresh and beautiful coastal air; I am sure that there are others who are putting their nose to the grindstone to ensure that they are making a salary that allows them to live in the way that they see as most important. It is easy to fall into the trap of always wanting more; it is tempting to constantly compare yourself to who you envision as having a “happy and easy life”. Kenny Chesney states in the first verse of his song; “(It’s) So damn easy to say that life's so hard. Everybody's got their share of battle scars. As for me, I'd like to thank my lucky stars that I'm alive and well,” I instantaneously fell in love with this song.

Daily, I try to not lose sight of where I came from and how every day is a gift. Obviously, I emphasize the word “try;” I am human and certainly I have moments of weakness and depressed days. I try to never go to bed angry. In all reality you never know if, when or who is going to wake up. I am positive that had I never endured my injury; I would likely not reflect upon life in the way that I do.  For this reason I feel there is a disconnect between my numerical age and the numerical value that would coincide with my view point toward life. My new view towards life has taught me an incredible amount. Prior to my accident I was rather intolerant. I wanted what I wanted without much regard for the feelings of those affected by my choices. Basically, I was young,. I was selfish and immature but in all actuality I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. All that I have done in my life (some admirable and some not) have lead me to this exact point in my life. I would love to read any feedback that any of you have to my post. As always I thank you in advance for reading my post!

~Noelle

Monday, October 14, 2013

Could it Be....

I have shared many times that I do not believe that I will ever be pleased or grateful that this injury occurred, yet I am not sure that I would have ever found a career as fulfilling as the one I am in. I always think of songs; specifically “This” by Darius Rucker and “Could It Be” by Charlie Worsham. While Charlie Worsham’s song is regarding a relationship that has developed, I often consider the title when considering my state of mind in relation to this career. I often find myself thinking, “Could it be that this injury that nearly ended my life, has now provided me with an avenue on which I have built incredible ambitions and enthusiasm towards a career that can have a huge impact on peoples’ lives as they are going through the hardship and devastation that can accompany a brain injury. The moral of my story thus far; is “never give up”. There were many times throughout this recovery where I sunk very low and allowed myself to become overwhelmed at the imposing task of developing a life for myself post injury. Thankfully my family was by my side and provided me with access to therapists when I was not able to arrange my schedule or appointments myself. Noteworthy as well, were a pair of friends that I have, who do not know each other. One, I grew up with and actually rode horses with when I was younger. She has been by my side and has taken me out since I have been able. My other friend, (a fellow member of the equestrian team at James Madison) used to drive up from over an hour away and come to see me and take me to dinner. I can distinctly remember the joy that came over me when the medical transport would pull up to my house to drop me off from rehab and I saw her car sitting in front of my house. For me, these are two of the most fabulous friends that anyone could ever have. They stood by my side when I spoke unclearly and didn’t walk well. I feel I truly lived the notion of “fair weather friends”. I saw what it was to have more “friends” than I could count when all was sunny; when those dark clouds rolled in they scattered (with the exception of my best and true friends and my family). Thank you so much for reading and I look forward to your responses, ~Noelle

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eight Year Anniversary Of My Accident

I just recently had my eight year anniversary of my accident. It was a very highly emotional day. So much has evolved in me in the way that I view people and likewise the way that I view myself. I have sort of stopped trying to fight against my differences. I am attempting to embrace my differences and learn how to progress forward towards tomorrow. I found a quote written by William Allen White which beautifully encompasses my thoughts on this event; “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and love today.”

With this recovery there are certainly ups and downs; I wish I could constantly remain feeling as inspired as I do right now, yet I feel that such a hope is rather unrealistic. I know that my position allows and encourages me to be honest about a life changing injury. I am very hopeful that people in all walks of life can see my blog and take away a bit of inspiration. Regardless of whatever trying time you have been through, take solace in knowing that everyone goes through them at one point or another. I believe that absolute honesty regarding this injury is the way I need to be. I know that I would have benefited greatly from a resource where I could have been aware of an interactive candid response with a survivor who had already navigated through on the path that I was venturing. Personal experience and success are incredible attributes for a person to posses when one is looking for encouragement.

I stress as always, that success for me now is far different than the way that I would have viewed success when I was younger. Perhaps this is truer form of success? I hesitate in saying that because I do not want to seem as though I am happy that this injury occurred. There is no question that I wish that life was still easy. I wish I could easily put my hair up or perform any action that requires the work of two arms. I have to consciously make an effort to keep my emotions in check and not allow them to get the best of me. Often times I utilize unorthodox methods of performing certain tasks. I know these methods may draw wide eyed stares from time to time; but if I am not in a place where I feel comfortable asking for assistance, I have learned that people will have to deal with my methods maybe looking strange to them. I would love to read any comments anybody has on my thoughts.

Thank you so much,
~Noelle

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Heroes Within Us

Many times it is easy to accredit hard times as being capable of creating heroes. I found a quote by Bob Riley which perfectly speaks to this, “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during these times that the hero within us is revealed” Bob Riley completely speaks to my way of thinking. I am not convinced that hard times change who a person is.

I completely conquer that difficult times shine the spotlight onto the hero within a person. Perhaps we all are capable of showing who we are and what we are about and value. I don’t believe in wishing things haven’t occurred; I choose to put every effort forth not to waste my time and energy on pointless dreams. I put every effort forth to create my own dreams in congruence with what has occurred. Sometimes people comment regarding what I have done in relation to my injury; I feel that I did what was in grained in me to do. I almost feel as though those traits were within me; they were in hibernation until they were awakened during a less than ideal situation occurred. There are times that I get a little surprised at the level of gratitude and appreciation that I receive.

There are two different schools of thought that I have encountered in my position.- there are those who see me as an excellent interpersonal and communication supplement, or those who feel they want no visitation from any person who is not directly involved in their care. No two individuals are ever the same and people handle misfortune in different ways. I would love to read any thoughts you have regarding this statement; as always I thank you in advance.

~Noelle

Monday, July 8, 2013

Allow Yourself to See New Strengths....

The largest thing that I have learned since my injury is to truly acknowledge what makes me unique. It was not something that occurred over night; it is something that I needed to blossom into. I think that no part of any recovery comes instantaneously. I just met with a woman who is familiar with my injury; she was very excited that I was available to shed hope to the families of traumatic brain injury victims. Imagine that; I have a draw to a hospital administrator because of what I have been through. I would love to hear who else has witnessed their strengths and appeals change based on an experience.  I think for myself, I had to let go of many of my thoughts as to who or what I imagined I was prior, to embrace the new. There is depth to my persona far beyond what I had ever dreamed of prior. I now embrace who I am and where I have come from.

My position is unusual because it celebrates and highlights who I am and what I am trying to accomplish. It has given me the ability to not be embarrassed regarding my disability. I now realize that my mission is to step forward confidently and without reservation on behalf of all of those who have suffered a brain injury. I am able to articulate and reason on behalf of the brain injured population. Maybe I can convince even a few people to consider the importance of the will involved in recovering from a brain injury. What I always try and convey to people is that my recovery was certainly a lot of hard work, determination and good fortune. I cannot allow myself to look into the past. The objective at hand is always from this point forward. At the conclusion of my speaking engagements, I always make sure to mention that “this exact moment is the first moment of the rest of your life”. I think that statement empowers and reminds individuals to realize that at any given moment one can decide to change their viewpoints as to how they are going to conduct their lives. I would love to read any feedback that you may have, as always I thank you in advance.

~Noelle

Monday, June 24, 2013

Step Away From Your Battles..


Everybody needs a night of escape. That method of escape is different for everyone. Maybe it is to choose a weekend to sleep in; or purchasing a new outfit. I love to be inspired and I love to be around people who feel the same way. Darius Rucker is an incredibly encouraging and inspirational song writer. I recently saw him in concert and I can honestly say that I gained much more enjoyment from the experience than I ever have from buying a new outfit. A friend and I were both listening to the incredible lyrics that were seemingly speaking directly to us. It was joyful. There is something awesome about an arena being filled with thousands of people who are all unified in their desire to listen to the joyful music of an inspirational artist. I truly feel music.

I believe that as I have gotten older, I am learning that there are songs that speak to almost every life event. I know I truly listen to music now. No longer is it just about the beats. I believe there is a difference between hearing and listening. I love listening to an inspirational artist and realizing that I am humming the music throughout the day. I would love to hear from who else has a favorite artist that helps them to feel inspired. In the car the other day, the song, “I Want to be Somebody” began playing seemingly at the perfect time. It was right when I needed a bit of further solidification regarding my purpose. I know that while there are many people who are in sales; my position is to support and to help others who are going through there own medical issues.

While I am not a psychologist, I do bring first hand experience to the table. While most patients welcome me into their rooms once they have heard my story; there are always a few who are in pain and want nothing to do with the idea of somebody offering support. What I have to remind myself of is that people are different and sometimes the fact that they are not welcoming may have more to do with their state of mind than the job that I am doing. I would love to hear from any who are familiar with a business that relates to people. As always I thank you very much.

~Noelle

Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking Ownership.....


A brain injury is much like any life change in that a person is brought back to their basics, and thus forced to truly take ownership over his/her morals. Every injury is different and the ways that the injury manifests itself is different for every person. Recently while visiting with a family, I was informed that they… "would have never known.” Clearly I enjoyed hearing this. My position is incredibly unique because I was given a chance and an opportunity. Daily I am able to continue to grow in this position as I share comfort to others venturing on their rehabilitation process.

A main reason as to why I am able to morph into this position is because I have recognized how my core morals fit into this organization’s mission. In order to truly do so I have to truly re-examine my morals and values. It is easy to lose sight of these as one is consumed with their physical well being. Physical, intellectual and emotional well being are intertwined in the wellness model that I recall from my college days. I would love to hear who else has witnessed more than one aspect of well being coinciding with another? It is interesting how these aspects seem to improve jointly as they increase a person’s total health. As I have shared in the past health is invaluable. There is no price tag that can be assigned to it. Following my brain injury I had to keep the prospective that I indeed was extremely healthy. I get headaches from time to time as a result of the injury, but all things considered I am extremely healthy. I have to remind myself of this whenever I feel as though things are beginning to become a bit dismal for me. The beautiful thing about my position is that I get to preach what I practice. I am very involved with the brain injury community in New Jersey and I often hear amongst the dialogue that individuals who have sustained injuries are typically successful when their injuries are understood. There was a huge sigh of relief once I realized that I no longer needed to conceal my life altering injury. Now my recovery from this potentially horrendous injury now can function as an asset for me. I would love to read any and all comments that you may have. I thank you very much in advance.

~Noelle

Monday, April 1, 2013

Unusual Strengths....


As I have battled back from this injury, I have come to discover some true strengths and skills that I never thought to build on. It is really unbelievable how happy I am; without the things that I always thought were so important. Clearly, they weren’t that important after all; if they are still they are for a different purpose. I always was very concerned with my outward appearance to others. I always wanted my abdominals to be in fantastic looking shape.

Following my injury I truly needed my core to help me maintain my balance. Imagine that; what had started out as shallow became a very necessary attribute to help me return to the level of mobility that I so desperately longed for. I learned the true value of so many things. Never in my life had I realized that maybe there was a way for me to gain a career where my personality would be such an asset. I can’t believe that I am truly so happy in my life even though I sustained a devastating injury that I live with every day. It breaks my heart when I see survivors post that they are “completely healed” from their brain injuries.

In reality, perhaps an individual can get back to full independence despite his/her injury but unfortunately, I have never met somebody who feels they are identical to how they were pre-injury. I know that my injury resulted in a few very noticeable issues (such as my arm tremor and my headaches) but I believe that all survivors notice some changes in their attention level or their ability to think quickly and critically. I would love to hear who else shares my point of view.


~Noelle

Monday, January 21, 2013

Do Not Dwell in the Past....

Entirely too frequently people who have gone through hardships of any kind or a loss of any kind- dwell on what they have lost or their former lives (prior to the loss). Buddha reminds us of a great philosophy to live by; “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream in the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”. I have to silently recite that saying to myself daily. I think that after going through any life change, it is easy to allow yourself to slip into a “poor me” mentality. I think that it does not help to look at how things used to be.

My philosophy professor in college always reminded his students of that. He would always challenge us to try and catch ourselves in the past, or the future- neither of which you can which means that the only reasonable option is to do your best to live each day for the most as it comes. There are many difficulties that we will all go through; a brain injury is not a typical life experience- but it is a life experience none the less. I am positive that all survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries are incredibly resilient. I always try and remind every survivor of that.

Once you take ownership over the fact that you have recovered in some way to an injury where the option was there to just lay and not put in any effort to get better; the strength that each survivor has becomes evident. Finally at 7.5 years post injury, I feel that things are starting to become natural and easy again to me. Wow it certainly did take an extremely long time. This long and arduous road that I have traveled along lets me know that I indeed am strong. I no longer allow silly trivial things to get me as they once did. Life is short, and we should all strive to enjoy and live the most out of every day.

~Noelle