Sleep experiment – next day – 7 hours

Luck… or practice?

So, I’ve gone from 5-1/2 hours to 6-1/2 hours to 7 hours, last night, and I’m starting to feel better. I’m also feeling better about the job business, because I’ve been spending time brushing up on my skills and working with techniques that are in demand, these days. I’ve also been doing my market research to find out what people are looking for, and what they’re paying for.

Things at work have been difficult. There is a lot of tension in the workplace, and I have been so swamped with extra work that people have snuck in as a “favor”, that the framework I had for getting things done has pretty much fallen apart. People are jockeying for position and they are pretty frightened of losing their jobs and/or being yelled at by management, so the tension is high and the atmosphere is tough.

I’m working from home today – my spouse had a doctor’s appointment originally planned for today, then yesterday it got changed. I’m still working from home today – it will give me two more hours to get work done, than I would have, if I drove into the office.

I’m also collecting contact names and companies for my job search. In September, I will start contacting people about work, so I can start interviewing. I have almost three weeks of vacation time left this year, so I plan to take two weeks off in September/early October, and have some time to talk to people, interview, and brush up on my skills.

At this point, the biggest challenge for me is not getting distracted — by drama at work, by problems with coworkers, by indiscriminate, indeterminate fears that I will not be able to accomplish this, that, or the other thing. I am in the process of moving on, and I need to keep my eyes on the prize… not let people get inside my head and try to stop me. I don’t want to end up like an Olympic athlete who gets so caught up in the criticisms of bystanding reporters and drama-driven news cycles that it affects their performance. The static at work has been cutting into my focus, and I can’t let that happen. I need to stop it, stay steady, not let it keep me up at night, and just keep moving on.

I have great things to accomplish. I have to keep that in mind. I’m getting clearer and clearer all the time about where I want to go and what I want to do with myself, and I have to stay true to that, not get waylaid.

One thing that I’ve found surprisingly helpful is prayer. Yes, prayer. It sounds strange to hear myself saying this out loud, because my “prayer life” as my church used to call it, has been pretty much non-existent for the past 10 years or so. Especially since I fell in 2004, I haven’t had much religious inclination at all. It’s just kind of evaporated. And to tell the truth, I don’t actually believe in the same God that I was raised to believe in. “God” for me is less concrete, and less definite, too. In fact, what we refer to as “God” (or whatever other name you choose) I think of in more quantum physics terms — the personal God that my family believes in doesn’t exist for me. And yet, there is a spirit, a presence, that I recognize — and that presence in my life has always made itself known to me in many, many ways.

My life has been a series of miracles, no doubt about that, and the existence of “God” seems as rational an explanation for those amazing “accidents” as anything else.

Now, I was raised very religious. My parents both came from religious families, I have plenty of pastors and deacons and missionaries in my family history. Holiness was a top priority with everyone, and my grandparents used to go to a “holiness camp” each summer where they would go to revival meetings and worship services and live their entire lives around their faith.

That faith had no tolerance for my ways of thinking and living, however, so I broke with that tradition and I have lived a secular but “plugged in” life, for the past 30 years. When I fell in 2004, that schism was widened even more by a rapid loss of any religious or spiritual inclination. I just wasn’t interested anymore in that way of being in the world.

I’m still leery of that way. It just doesn’t seem helpful to me, and I have grown increasingly literal in how I  think about my life. I don’t know if it was the injury that did it, or if it’s been my life experiences since. I know that some people completely lose their faith after war or a terrible trauma. I think it might be both. I do believe that religion has a neurological component. Many neurological conditions are accompanied by “spiritual” experiences, like visions and revelations. And I suspect that having a neurological upset can switch those experiences off as much as they can switch them on.

I suspect that’s what happened to me. Or it could be that I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, and my brain has been so busy trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B to Point C without getting detoured through Points X, L, and T, that I just haven’t had the energy for religious experience.

Whatever the reason, a few nights back, I was lying in bed — awake — getting more and more freaked out that I could not sleep. I was all caught up in anger over things that were happening at work, I was bent out of shape over things that I was doing wrong, that others were doing wrong, and I was really upset about having to leave my current job. (For the record, staying is NOT an option — there’s just no point to it.) I was harboring major grudges against people who had slighted or worked against me, and I was really burned up about a lot of things — some of which go back two years, to when I started in this job.

I was pissed off at lots of people, including myself, and I couldn’t get my head off it.

Then these sentence came to me, from out of my religious past: “Love your enemies… Pray for them that persecute you.

Well alright then. Interestingly, I haven’t really thought of my colleagues as “enemies” but technically they are. Someone who deliberately undermines you and works against you and sabotages your work on purpse, pretty much fits the profile of a sort of enemy. And I don’t like to think that others are persecuting me, but if that’s not what middle-management is doing, I’m not sure what they are doing.

So yeah, they’re acting like my enemies, and they’re persecuting me. Enough giving them the benefit of the doubt — let’s call it what it is.

And since I was completely out of practice with prayer, but I was also completely out of ideas for how to spend my time lying there in bed, trying to get back to sleep, I figured I’d at least give it a try. If nothing else, it would direct my thoughts away from my own pain and frustrations. I wasn’t very good at it, at first. I felt like I had to apologize to God for my “absence”, but then I thought about it and realized that no matter how distracted or otherwise occupied I’ve been, there have still been evidences of miracles and great coincidences in my life, so it’s not like that part of my life was completely gone — I just wasn’t actively involved in directly participating in it. Anyway, the whole religious experience thing is something I understand very differently from before… we all change with time. The important thing is not always doing the same thing, year after year, but doing the kinds of things that help… that work… in the ways we find most useful.

Long story short, I started to ask for help, and I asked that I be given the answers I need and the strength to do what I need to do. I asked to have the burdens of cares and worries lifted off me, and for my mind and spirit to be set free from all the terrible weight of it all. And a little while after I started to pray, I was able to fall asleep. I’m not sure I even got through a whole “prayer” before I was down.

A few nights later, I had the same kind of troubles getting to sleep. Problems with work, problems about work, worries and dread about what people were/were not doing to/for/about my work… After lying awake for an hour or so, the thought came to me again to pray, and I did. I asked that the people who were giving me so much trouble be reassured and supported in their work, that they receive divine guidance, and that their worries be eased by divine intervention. I didn’t think about myself so much as I thought about them. And like before, I fell asleep.

Last night, I got to bed an hour later than I planned. The Olympics were on, and for some reason, I had to watch platform diving. I got to bed feeling a bit pressured and rushed, and I was starting to spin with all my worries and concerns about work. So rather than get caught up in that, I started to pray for the people who have pissed me off the most in the past six months. There were a number of them — most of them on my immediate team. And before too long, not only was I feeling better about them, but I was also able to relax and get to sleep.

And I slept seven hours, which is the most I’ve slept in about a week.

Now, I don’t want to get all hyper-religious on you, and I’m not sure I’m even praying to the same deity everyone else is… but this “prayer” business seems to work in a couple of different ways.

  1. It gets my mind off myself. It forces me to think in bigger terms, beyond my own immediate cares and worries.
  2. It humanizes the people who seem hell-bent on making my life impossible. It makes them actually seem human and deserving of respect, dignity, and compassion.
  3. It gives me the sense that I can tap into a source of power that is much greater than myself and any of the cares and worries I have.
  4. It helps me feel not so alone anymore.

Each of these things alone would be enough to make my life better, but all together, they really really help. At least, they have for the past week. Now, I’m not going to go down the road of saying that religion and prayer are the cure-all for the ills of my world — or anyone else’s, for that matter. For me, this is a deeply personal thing, and it’s not even something I can describe and explain exactly the way I want to. I’m really uncomfortable with the “personal God” concept, and I do not like to imagine a human-like God, or even a god-like God.

All the same, the simple act of praying for those who persecute me, really takes the pressure off and lets me get on with my life — or my night’s sleep. I’ve even started doing this while I’m awake — when I start to obsess about what someone has done to me, I ask that they be given the love and support that they need, and that they get the answers and reassurance they’re looking for. If nothing else, the goodwill goes a long way towards easing the animosity that flares up and floods my head — and my behavior — and my entire life… Somehow, prayer has a way of chilling that out, of cutting it off at the pass and letting me focus on what’s truly important.

And God knows, I can always use that.


Recovering from myself

Burned Christmas Tree
I'm feeling a little burned out

Just got up from my mid-day nap. I went for a walk first thing this morning to welcome the New Year. I started going an early-morning 1/1 walk to start the year off right, back when I was in high school, and the habit has stayed with me since. I spend a lot of time on the walk thinking about the past — way back in the past — thinking about how people have been celebrating New Year’s Day for a long, long time… and thinking about the great continuity of all life and all lives.

After I got back from my walk, I had a snack of fruit and crackers and tea and just checked in with myself while it was quiet. My spouse went off to church with friends, which is their way of welcoming the New Year, and I had the house to myself for the morning. There’s something about the silence… the ticking of the clocks, the sound of distant activity, the quiet all around, that goes so well with the first day of the year. Maybe all my neighbors were up late last night and were sleeping in. Maybe they were away. For whatever reason, the neighborhood was quiet, and so was I.

I was also very tired. And feeling sick. So, I took a hot shower and went back to bed. I got about an hour’s rest, which I needed. Now I’m up again and feeling better. Centered. More calm. Feeling the good effects of sitting and breathing regularly. I did a “long cycle” this morning of 100 counted breaths. 100 breaths is a long time to hold your attention on one thing, and while my thoughts did tend to wander, I did not lose the count, as I’ve done many times in the past. This is pretty significant for me, because attentional issues are at the root of so many of my problems. Distractability is my own particular bugaboo that has caused me more trouble than I care to think about. But this morning I managed to breathe steadily and count to 100 in one sitting.

Bravo for me, if I say so myself. This is a sign of real progress.

Anyway, after I got up, I thought for a while about my visits with my family, and I thought about how rough it can be, dealing with them. Most of them have very different political and religious and social values than myself, so we end up in some sort of conflict. Even if there is no overt conflict, I usually end up feeling like I’ve been “beaten up” by their ideologies, which tend to be pretty intense and fiercely guarded. I tend to be pretty agnostic about some things. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong — who am I to say? I’ve been wrong about so many things in my life, that it doesn’t make sense for me to get attached to one world view. And when I do get attached to a world view, it invariably changes, so any chance at fundamentalism is lost on me.

In any case, I have no problem with people believing what they believe — the idea of faith that falls within a certain category, be it a religious denomination or a political party, is appealing to me, although I find myself unable to muster much of it, myself. The idea that others can be devotedly faithful to a creed or a political stance, and stand by that no matter what, seems like a good and worthy thing. I have things that I stand by, through thick or thin, but they tend to be broader principles and fundamental values, rather than specific individual political or religious beliefs. I’m as passionate about my own “meta” beliefs as the next person, but when it comes to party lines and denominations, I’m not much help in that department.

Anyway, the long and short of my ideological differences is that by the end of holiday visits with family, I come away feeling pretty beaten up. All the arguing, the debate, even the awareness that others differ intensely with me, wears on me, and I end up worn down — and eating way too much sugar. I also tend to get sick, as my relatives usually have people in the house who are (or have been) sick with something, and I have no immunity to what they have/had. So, on top of being worn down and eating too much sugar, I catch a cold. Or the flu. And I have to spend the week after, recovering from the experience.

Well, today after I got up from my mid-day nap, it occurred to me that what I’m really recovering from, is myself. I mean, think about it — the relatives with whom I differ really respect me as a person and they treat me with love and kindness when I’m around them. And when we do have our heated discussions, they always back off at the end and we agree to disagree.

In my head, however, there’s a thought process that is still hard at work, telling me that in this tense situation of disagreement, someone is wrong — and that person is usually me. Or maybe it’s them. Bottom line is, though, someone is wrong, and I can’t seem to square that in my head. Or in my heart. If there is conflict, it must mean there’s something amiss, and it must mean that someone is at fault.

And you know, when I think about it, I realize just how tiring this mindset is. The rigid thinking that takes over me, especially when I’m fatigued or feeling overwhelmed (which is most of the time, when I’m visiting family), locks me into a pretty hard-headed place that doesn’t “breathe” or expand to include other possibilities in life. And I get stuck in my head trying to “defend” a position that frankly doesn’t need defending. Under family circumstances in the holidays, when all the “old stuf” is flying around, I’m dealing with people I haven’t seen in months, maybe years, and I’m handling all sorts of non-scheduled surprises and activities that I cannot manage myself but must adapt to, I get physically tired and overwhelmed with sensory input, and my sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. Then my head locks itself down, getting all fight-flight-freeze, and I lose the ability to think with my whole brain, and to experience my whole life.

That’s when the Christmas morning meltdowns happen. That’s when the arguments about stupid sh*t at 11:30 p.m. happen. That’s when I start inhaling cookies and pecan pie, and I stop drinking the water I need to not only keep my brain properly hydrated but also flush all the gunk out of my system. And I get sick.

Like now.

Then I have to spend the next few days in bed, under the weather, wishing I had done a better job of handling the holidays, wishing I’d done a better job of defending myself from all the onslaughts that came at me.

But you know, come to think of it, I actually did do a pretty good job of handling it all. And you know what? All those “onslaughts” that felt so intense and aggressive, probably weren’t meant as attacks at all. It was just people being people. It was just life being life. It was just people who are passionate about what they believe, sharing it with me, without necessarily any need for me to believe along with them — just acknowledge their politics and faith. I did that as best I could, so all in all, I did okay. I’m wiped out by the whole experience, and I probably made it harder for myself than it needed to be, but I did it. And I managed to come away from the whole experience on good terms with my relatives — which is a whole lot better than I’ve done in the past.

When it comes to recovering from the holidays, it helps if I can cut myself a break. And remember that I don’t need to take things so personally — or so seriously. I can — and did — allow people to believe whatever they believe, and I managed to have a number of conversations with people which were a lot harder for me to hear individually inside my own head, than they were to talk about out loud.

All in all, if I look back on the past week, I can feel pretty good about my trip and I can realize that it’s normal to feel how I felt at the time, and it’s perfectly normal for me to be exhausted from all the driving (over 1500 miles round-trip) and all the eating and all the visiting (spanning four generations from five different states). I can know that I did well by myself and everyone around me, and even the more challenging times managed to come and go, like so many dark clouds on a windy day.

I may feel sick now, and I may be under the weather and I may be a bit laid low by all I’ve been through, but I can feel good — and strong — about having made it through in one piece, arriving home safely to a warm home that is mine.

This old habit of making things out to be worse than they necessarily are/were… that’s one thing I can safely let go of this year.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Happy New Year.

So… work. So what?

My current therapist tells me I should not work so hard. So do other people who care about me. I’m sure they mean well, but they cannot see how much work it really takes to make me as functional as I am.

I work my ass off. Regularly. As a matter of course. My body is dotted with little bruises from too much contact with my everyday life. And my head is spinning with the details I have to keep in order, and reminders to use the tools I’ve developed for myself to manage it all.

My head is a playground for efficacy and my body is a scarred-up old warhorse that has seen plenty of battles. The net result: tremendous success, by any measure. But plenty of pain and anxiety and suffering in the meantime.

I go out of my way to obscure the “clatter” of my start-stop-faltering-resuming life from the ones I love, because I don’t want to hurt them, and I know from experience that they feel pain when they see me going through things that cause them pain. So, I just don’t bring it up. And I work-work-work away-away-away, to get myself through life. I just want to get from Point A to Point B to Point C and so on, without the hindrance of other people’s discomfort. I sincerely don’t want to harm anyone who cares for me. And I keep the laborious nature of my adventures to myself.

It works for me — pun intended. Or is that a double-meaning?

Anyway, I’m feeling strong this afternoon. I work-work-worked this morning on some really important tasks. And I work-work-worked on tracking my progress, which I have not done in about a week. I’m thinking it would make sense for me to do my regular check-ins on weekends (preferably Sundays), so I can focus on them fully. The rest of the week, I’m too busy working, to spend a lot of time recapping and assessing and checking in.

Then, I lay down and took a nap, while listening to Belleruth Naparstek’s CD on “Stress Hardiness Optimization” for helping first responders and people in high-stress situations manage their stress level. My whole life is a first-responder situation — I’m the first on the scene at all my catastrophes, and I’m the one who has to pull my ass out of the fire or back from the brink, time and time again, before anyone has a clue that I’m as close to disaster as I am.

It’s one of the hazards of keeping your difficulties to yourself — you’re on the hook for fishing yourself out of the drink, if you go overboard in rough seas. You’ve got to make sure your life jacket is always strapped on tight, that you can swim properly, and that you haven’t eaten anything in the last 20 minutes that might give you the bends.

That takes work. A lot of work.

So what?

It’s not like it’s not worth it. It’s not like I have a choice. Oh, certainly, I could sit around and feel sorry for myself — Poor me! — and sit on that pity pot all the live-long day. Sure, I could rail at life for setting me up for failure. I could moan and bitch and complain at my crappy fate. I could resist with all my might, and refuse to do the Work that Life requires.

But where would that get me?


And who would care?

No one.

All anyone would know — or see — is that I can’t manage to do a damn’ thing with my life, that I just keep screwing up, and what the hell is wrong with me, anyway, for having so much potential, yet doing so little with it?

I have a theory — everyone has great gifts, and everyone has great potential. It’s the people that have to work the hardest to bring it out, who experience the greatest payoff.

I want my payoff.

I have an evening’s worth of achievements waiting for me. Back to work…

Does blogging make me brilliant?

It’s quite possible…

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what can be done to help myself not end up like football players described in Malcom Gladwell’s New Yorker piece on Football, Dog Fighting and Brain Damage. I must admit, it wasn’t the best idea to read that story before going to bed last night. It kept me up, actually, which wasn’t good.

Anyway, it’s Saturday, so I can always sleep later to make up the time. And there’s something about drifting in that in-between place, that gets my mind turning in different directions for the answers it craves.

A few years ago, I heard about The Nun Study (by the Universities of Minnesota and Kentucky) which followed an order of nuns in Mankato, MN, who lived longer — and better — than was typical of the average population. They found some interesting things in their study — including the fact that some of the sisters’ brains (after they had passed on and their brains were donated and studied) were chock full of signs of Alzheimers. Yet, they had exhibited none of the symptoms we associate with the degenerative disorder.

In The Magnificent Minnesota Nun Brains Ken Korczak writes:

Most of the Sisters of Notre Dame stay vital and active well into their 90s. There are almost no symptoms that are typical of age-related brain disorders, such as senile dementia, strokes and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Amazingly, some of the nuns maintained clear healthy minds even though their brains showed the scars and deterioration characteristic of severe brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and strokes.

In the case of the brain of one Sister Mary, who died well into her 100s, scientists were astounded to find large-scale deterioration of brain tissue, and even lesions associated with strokes and progressive Alzheimer’s Disease — yet she remained clear-headed and lucid to the end of her life.

Sister Mary’s brain apparently defeated the effects of these brain diseases by countering them with an unusually rich growth of interconnection between her brain cells, or neurons. Her extra dendrites and axons were able to bypass damaged areas of her brain to keep her lucid and healthy.

. . .

After examining and dissecting dozens of brains, scientists have come to several conclusions. Interestingly, the secret to the long lives and clear minds of these nuns may be attributed to a couple of simple things.

After looking at dozens of different variables, researchers discovered that the Sisters of Nortre Dame all did one thing that the majority other people do not do — they kept a daily personal journal recording their deepest thoughts, emotions, impressions and ideas.

Also, the Sisters Of Nortre Dame condemn “mental idleness” as sin. They did not allow themselves the frills of mental down time. Most of the Sisters have college degrees and some graduate degrees. They also play a lot of brain teaser games, solve puzzles and engage in rigorous debates at weekly seminars.

Keeping a rigorous daily journal is also required by the Order, and is considered as important as daily prayer, work and devotion to their primary vocation, the education of children. The Sisters believe in thorough, critical self examination.

The journaling aspect of the nuns intrigued scientists so much, some went looking for independent confirmation that daily journaling or diary keeping may be the secret to defeating the brain diseases of old age, and longer life.

Well, they not only found confirmation, but some scientists determined that frequent journaling may be a sure way to raise the IQ of any person, and may even springboard some people to genius level.

. . . (more here)

… researchers pointed to many other facets of their lives which may have contributed to their longevity:

• They belonged to a religious order and prayed daily. Recent independent studies have suggested that people who go to church or belong to any kind of religion, tend to live longer and be happier than those who do not.

• They felt comfortable in the fact that they “belonged” to a supportive group of like-minded human beings. This longevity factor has also been noticed in independent studies on peoples in Japan, Pakistan and Crete.

• They stay physically active as well as mentally active, not slowing down when reaching ages 70s through 100s.

• They actively cultivated positive attitudes.

• They lead selfless lives, and devote themselves to caring and giving to others.

• They rarely worried or fretted over material things such as money, mortgages, taxes and the like.

• They accept death as being a part of life. Funerals for the nuns are said to be almost occasions for joy among the Sisters.

Most of the above, I can relate to. I tend to substitute “spirituality” for religion, but the concept of being part of an organized, regularly scheduled spiritual practice strikes me as being very beneficial. And different people have different definitions of religion and spirituality, so I would imagine that avid readers who are passionate and disciplined about their reading could substitute weekly book club meetings for church. I don’t mean to be sacreligious. Different people just relate spiritually to different things, so those of us who are not regular church-goers shouldn’t be condemned to dementia by association.

Also the journaling aspect of things really caught my attention. Over the course of my life, I’ve kept journals regularly, even when they were full of gibberish and meant nothing to me later on. The simple fact of writing — in longhand — my thoughts and impressions and hopes and dreams and fears and frustrations, may have helped me overcome at least eight distinct head injuries, to the point where my life is unmarked by those injuries to the eyes of the outside world (my inside world is another story). Ultimately, for the sake of my own survival, what the outside world thinks is waaaay important. I can always address my internal issues on my own time and in my own way. But I do need to keep a job.

It’s interesting that I’m coming across this today. A few days back one of my neuropsychs was telling me that keeping voluminous journals is not the best use of time. They would like me to spend my time more fruitfully, making my  mark in the world. Well, sure, I would too, but it’s a good thing to read that keeping a lot of journals is not actually a waste of time.

Now I need to arrive at their office with this article in hand, and hopefully they will revise their opinion. If not, it’s of no consequence to me. I’ll keep writing, regardless.

Interesting — since my fall in 2004 (I’m coming up on my 5-year anniversary of the mild TBI from hell), I have not written much in longhand. It’s like, I just stopped. I told myself I didn’t have any use for my journals, anymore, but the fact was, I was having a hard time writing. I had suddenly become a bit dyslexic, after nearly 40 years of never having that problem. And I was having trouble focusing and concentrating long enough to get words on paper.

Now, it seems, I need to get back to that. Not only because it’s good for my brain, but also because I need to discipline and I need to exercise those parts of myself that are helped by writing in longhand:

  • discipline (the ability to put words together in a meaningful way, as well as keeping myself on topic)
  • impulse control (the ability to slow down and gather myself when I need to)
  • eye-hand coordination (keeping my writing on the lines — or practicing writing on blank paper and keeping my writing in straight lines)
  • focus (keeping my mind on the page in front of me)
  • checking in with myself in a deliberate, measured way

Yes, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes for me to do this. Not so much for the old reasons — before, I thought I was helping myself realize truths about myself, when I was really wandering around in a fog, much of the time — as for the new ones I’ve listed above.

Also, my writing needs to change. It  needs a new focus. Not this old rambling, wandering, free-association stream of thoughts all the time (though sometimes that may be good to do), but a more focused, more deliberate kind of writing that doesn’t take me away from my life, but brings me into the midst of it.

And all the while, I am continuing to blog. Continuing to share what I’m finding. Continuing to reach out and relate what I’ve found to be useful — or not helpful — in this path of recovery, which is as much about just living my life, already, as it is about specifically addressing TBI-related weaknesses and problems. There’s a whole wide world out there, and there’s lots to talk about. Blogging gives me a chance to do it in a way that isn’t as insular and as esoteric as my own private journaling, and with any luck, it does others some good, too.

And if I do it often enough and with enough focus and discipline, it can help me think better and write better, which in turns helps me feel better about myself, focus on solutions rather than the endless stream of problems that follow me around like so many crying, swooping, begging seagulls following a fishing boat. I’m at the wheel of my own fishing boat, and I’m the one at the helm of my life. I can choose to pay attention to the gaggle of hangers-on and let them distract me from my activities, or I can pay attention to my boat and my nets, and haul in whatever catch I can get.

My choice.

Bottom line is, this writing activity of mine is actually a good use of time, and I need to value it. Even though it’s seemed like an exercise in futility (to myself and others), that belief has been based on incomplete information, and those beliefs can change. Beliefs can change, and so can behavior. I can “bump up” the activities I’ve followed “just for fun” — and practice them as regular parts of my active recovery from mild traumatic brain injury. I can use them as opportunities not only to heal from my recent damage, but also to ensure my long-term cognitive health and happiness.

Fact: I have sustained at least 8 (possibly more) mild (and some possibly moderate) traumatic brain injuries throughout the course of my adventurous life.

Fact: Plenty of people get hit on the head or sustain some other sort of brain damage or degeneration, and some of them live long and happy lives, devoid of any signs or symptoms of their hidden issues.

Fact: Some of those asymptomatic survivors do specific things that appear to help them. Studies have shown correlations between certain behaviors and choices and long-term cognitive health.

Fact: Those activities are things I can do, myself. They are not mysterious or beyond my reach. They include activities like faithfully keeping a daily journal, cultivating a positive attitude, and maintaining a disciplined way of life that is devoted to service to others. I can do them, too. In fact, I have been doing many of them for many years, and this may account for my tremendous success as a long-term multiple head injury survivor.

If the simple act of blogging about my own life doesn’t make me brilliant, alone, certainly learning from the blogs of others — and blogging in turn about it for others to read — can’t hurt.

Onward, upward. And outward. The world is waiting…

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