Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mrs. Happy Face

Charlotte and I recently returned from our yearly week-long vacation on her Grandma's farm in Ontario. The week we spend there is always fun filled and relaxing, but this time was different, it was different because I was determined to get all of the juice out of my days, to pour myself into every delightful moment spent with my rapidly growing child.

We had a wonderful time, we did farm chores, watering horses, cows and feeding the barn cat, Sophie, we went on wildflower hunts, discovered wild garlic, rode around the expansive farm on Grandma's Gator played everyday with Charlotte's new bestie, her cousin Alexa, everyday.

Then the best  and most anticipated event of the trip happened:

Charlotte's first sleepover! When we were planning the trip I mentioned to Charlotte's grandma, Marcia that she would really love to have a sleepover with Alexa, so we started plotting, then the day finally came, Charlotte and I woke up ecstatic that morning, me, because I was excited to experience this with Charlotte, Charlotte because, well, it was exciting, the girls swam in the pool with me and Aunt Amanda, watched Chicken Run and the two three- yearolds even ate some of their dinner. After dinner, Charlotte's Grandpa Robin went outside and got a campfire going, I may have suggested that Charlotte would love that too, and we went outside to sit around the fire, roasting marshmallows and making smores, Charlotte managed to get smore all over herself, right after her bath, mind you, I may have eaten more smores than a grown woman should, the night was perfect, it was warm, the farm was peaceful, the sun setting, I was with my favorite people, eating smores, then Amanda snapped this photo of me, and posted it on Facebook, afterwards theere was an outcry of jot from all of my digi friends, it was so good to see me happy! These comments made me step back for a moment, I took stock of the last three years and, yes thus is probably the first picture of me since the stroke where I am experiencing blissful joy, before and after, before the stroke, I wa on the samr quest everyone else seems to be on, the search for ultimate happiness;

Now, let me be clear, I am not a spiritual or happiness guru, but here's what I think about happiness: the search for this slippery emotiuon is really hard, because we think we will find happiness in possessions, people and how attractive we are, I think happiness lies in living and loving your life, regardless of the circumstances. Sure, I ealk kind sloww and trip over my words sometimes, and, yes I have an arm that has decided to go on a permanent vacation, but I'm here and as long as there is breath in my body I am going to live the shit out of this life, so when I'm at the end of it, I die with a smile on my face.

Stop chasing happiness, people, it's right in front of you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Unexpected Therapist

As soon as a brain injury occurs, be it a closed head injury, concussion, stroke, etc..., the survivor is immediately inundated with therapists, physical, occupational, recreational and speech, these therapists are there to help the survivor learn how to live their live post injury.

For the month I was at the rehabilitation unit at Borgess hospital, I got very accustomed to what these therapists did, they helped me re-learn to speak, eat, dress myself and bathe.

When I was told I was being released from rehab, I was ecstatic, I thought that returning home would make everything seem normal again, after all, home is where routine lives, home is comfortable and normal, but what I discovered upon returning home was that life was anything but normal, returning home was when my real rehab began, it was when I had to start learning how to live in my new body, with my new mind in earnest. The only thing on my mind at the time was getting back to work at the Co-op, I started working again in May of 2012, I was working two hours a week, greeting customers, answering phones and occasionally ringing customers up, a job that been created to suit my needs and abilities at the time. After being elbow deep in practically every aspect of the co-op right before the stroke, doing this job was a hit to my pride, I was embarrassed to be standing there by the door, greeting customers, doing minimal work, now I understand, it was what I was capable of, but at the time, I felt like my life was crumbling apart in front of me, I was determined to find a place for myself at the co-op again.

Then the planets and universe shifted again. The Front End Manager(FEM) who had taken over for me when I had to step down decided to move out of state, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to reapply for the job when the posting went up , but I knew better, and I had my sights set on s different job that I was not ready for, I was nervous, wondering who would get the job, knowing whoever got the job would be instrumental in helping me get back into the swing of things, the universe always knows what it's doing and it swung in my favor this time because the new FEM was the former's Lead Cashier, Simon. I lept with joy when I found out, Simon was one of the last cashiers I  hired before the stoke, he showed great leadership and knowledge in his role as Lead Cashier, I knew my future at the co-op would be secure in his hands. Simon and I began sitting down and talking about my goals almost immediately after her took over as FEM, my goal, as always, I wanted to work more and become more comfortable cashiering. Soon, my hours started increasing and I started working more cashier shifts, mainly on the weekends, so I had to start relearning out Point of Sale System, soon Simon was working with me, re-training me on the POS, teaching me how to count down my drawers at the end of my shifts, a task that was not easy for me and my addled mind to accomplish calmly. As this process progressed, I was embarrassed every time he had to sit down with me and explain how to count down my drawer, after all, I had trained him to do the same thing he was teaching me to do in the not so distant past, it was an awkward position for us to be in, but Simon treated me with kindness, understanding and patience and he never made me feel stupid, which was how I felt, or like a special needs staff member, he treated me the way he would treat any new hire, with respect.

Now I work multiple times a week, this week I'm working a 20 hour week, Simon's loyalty, patience and faith in my abilities has pushed me in positive ways, just like any good therapist, he doesn't ask me to do anything he doesn't think I can do, I have re- found my niche at the co-op and I am pleased as punch to be a cashier there, any day you see me behind the register at the co-op is the best day of my life, because I am doing it, with the help of my most important therapist.