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March for Women, Compassion, Unity, Equality

Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Brain Injuries, Disability, Health Care, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, The Human Condition | 2 comments

This past Saturday, at least fifteen thousand people marched through downtown Montpelier, Vermont, in the name of women’s rights, human rights, compassion, unity, and equality. I was among the thousands who sloshed through mud puddles and climbed over snow banks, each one of us determined to stamp out hatred and bigotry. I’m not one for crowds, especially large crowds; if you have an anxiety disorder, like PTSD, you know what I mean. But I packed my Xanax – just in case – and drove the 40 miles with my step-daughter (thank you Rachel for...

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“Surviving and Thriving”

Posted by on October 29, 2016 in Brain Health, Brain Injuries, The Human Condition | 2 comments

A few weeks ago, I stood on a stage in front of hundreds of people, shaking like a mother@#$%!&, and shared my story of “Surviving and Thriving” at the annual brain injury conference held by the Brain Injury of Association of Vermont. I also listened to others, including mental health providers and rehab specialists – share their experiences with TBIs. As the theme of the conference, “Surviving and “Thriving, came up over and over again, I began to think about what that phrase really means for TBI survivors, and...

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Long-Term Care Costs

Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Health Care, Musings on Aging | 2 comments

I like to believe that I’m too young to think about who will take care of me when I’m old and frail and can no longer prepare my own meals, bathe myself, or even tie my own shoes. But my father’s personal narrative has taught me to plan ahead: I now have an advance directive, and hope to have enough money set aside for long-term care costs, like an assisted living, or, do I dare say it? Nursing home. A place that most of us hope to avoid. We remind our loved ones, over and over, “Never, ever put me in a nursing home.” My father spoke those...

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Writing Prompts

Posted by on July 6, 2016 in Creativity, Writing | 0 comments

I recently attended a memoir writing retreat at La Finca in Vieques, Puerto Rico, where eleven of us gathered in the Caribbean breeze each morning to discuss work submitted by two separate participants. But before we plunged into the nitty-gritty of structure, voice, character development, and so on, we warmed up our brains each morning by spending fifteen minutes responding to a writing prompt provided by Elizabeth Cohen, award winning writer, poet, memoirist, journalist, steadfast writing mentor, and Assistant Professor of English at SUNY...

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Writing Dialogue

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

Do you fret over writing dialogue? Do you use dialogue as a filler because you’re not sure where to go next on the page? Well, I’m here to offer some suggestions, that is, on behalf of Rita Zoe Chin, the author of Let the Tornado Come, a brilliantly rendered memoir about her adult onset panic disorder and how she galloped through the storm with unwavering resilience. I met Rita during her writing craft session, “Essentials of Dialogue,” at this year’s Muse and Marketplace in Boston. Since most of us shiver when we hear “rules,”...

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Are You Resilient?

Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, The Human Condition | 0 comments

Are you resilient? Do you sink or swim when faced with obstacles or stressful events? Say you grew up poor, I mean really poor, and all you had to eat for lunch each day at school were saltine cracker and butter sandwiches. Because you didn’t want your more well to do schoolmates to feel sorry for you, each time you crunched down on your cracker sandwich and licked the butter from the salted edges, you smiled. Despite your chronic adverse circumstances – low socioeconomic status – you worked hard in school. In fact you excelled, and you...

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Meet Nathalie Kelly: Daring Dreamers Radio

Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Brain Injuries, Identity, Interviews | 0 comments

What is it like to live with a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Maybe you feel as if you know longer know who you are. You might say that your identity has been “stripped” away, that your independence has been ripped from you. You feel utterly lost. In an interview with marketing consultant Angela Treat Lyon on Daring Dreamers Radio, this is exactly how Nathalie Kelly, a TBI survivor, describes how she felt in the days, months, and years after her sailboat toppled over during a storm on Lake Champlain in Vermont and smacked her in the head,...

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Blueberries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by on April 13, 2016 in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | 0 comments

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? I had yogurt with blueberries, lots of blueberries. Akin to gulping down a mug of coffee, these plump babes are part of my morning routine. The sweet burst on my tongue makes me smile and, let’s admit, smiles are more attractive than frowns. If I miss a day munching on an overflowing cup of blueberries, my mojo is all messed up. Thank goodness for blueberries. Why? Not only are they packed with anti-inflammatory, heart-protective, brain-healing extracts (see earlier blog post), they are the...

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Compassion Fatigue

Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Brain Injuries, Health Care, Nursing, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, The Human Condition | 5 comments

You’ve heard of “burnout,” right? Your work environment is making you miserable, so miserable that you feel unfulfilled, depleted of energy, stripped of all motivation to effect change in the workplace. If you’re a healthcare professional, undoubtedly, you know all too well about burnout. But then there’s “compassion fatigue.” While individuals working in any kind of job setting can experience burnout, compassion fatigue is unique to those exposed to trauma while working in a helping profession: nurses, firefighters, police. Because you’re in...

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Under the Gum Tree: Interview with Author Melissa Cronin

Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Interviews, Writing | 0 comments

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my personal essay, “Right Foot, Left Foot,” in issue 17 of Under the Gum Tree, below is an excerpt of my interview with the publisher, discussing the essay, and all its nuances. Q. Throughout your piece, you allude to the accident that rendered you handicapped. A man named George Russel Weller drove his car into a crowd of people in Santa Monica, allegedly mistaking the gas pedal for the brake. Could you describe the accident in terms of how it affected you? How did it change the...

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