Sunday, September 15, 2013

Recipes, Sailing, and Circumnavigation

Please check out my new blog recipe Sally in the Galley .  It is about cooking on a boat, sailing, and circumnavigation.  I'm trying to spread the word as much as possible so please like us on Facebook and let other people know.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Thanks!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Tipping Point

The Selene Yacht pulled up anchor at 11:45. I was more than glad to be getting out of Phukett, Thailand. The town was overrun with prostitution, seedy bars, and old white men trolling for lady boys and teenage Thai girls. No, Phuket was definitely not my kind of town.

Anna, the other crew member, and I stood watch watching the autopilot steering a steady course and watching out for boats while the captain slept. Sitting on the upper deck we marveled at the breathtaking cliffs with sheets of greenery cascading down them.

By the time we dropped anchor at Koh Yeo, I could feel exhaustion setting in. Travel weary didn't begin to cover it. "Can I take a nap?" I asked? Actually what I really needed was to sleep for about 24-hours, but a nap would do in a pinch.

But we had just gotten to Koh Yeo, Thailand. There was a whole new corner of tropical paradise to explore. The captain wanted to get the dinghy down and set out on an expedition immediately.

"Just 15 minutes?" I implored.

The captain just gave me a look. I had to help get the dinghy down. If I didn't want to go it was up to me. Of course, that would mean I wasn't participating my first day on the boat. No, I needed to overcome the fatigue and go on the dinghy ride.

Soon I was lost in the beauty of impossibly high cliffs, limestone caves, and overgrown jungle beaches. I could easily understand why they had filmed scenes from the Man With the Golden Gun on the nearby James Bond Island. Marveling at the hanging ferns, the stalactite knives stabbing down, and hidden caves that only appeared at low tide all exhaustion was forgotten. Forgotten until I was back on the boat.
The moment I sat down on the boat I knew something was wrong. The 90 degree humidity was suddenly cold. I quickly excused myself and curled up in my bunk under some sheets. Soon I fell into a fitful sleep. The next 24-hours were a roller coaster of chills and fever.

For three days after that it was all I could do to stay awake for an hour. I had pushed myself too far, hadn't taken care of myself and the terrible truth was that there was nothing I could do now. My body had told me I needed a nap, I didn't listen, and I paid the price. It was almost as if my immune system gave the little bit of energy it had been using to power me for the dinghy ride and everything collapsed when I got back to the boat.

When you have a brain injury it is imperative you listen to what your body tells you. Especiallywhen you are traveling. There are so many extra stresses on your body when you're on the road that if you don't listen to it something will give, and you won't enjoy life when that happens.

When you feel exhaustion creeping up on you, you will reach a tipping point where the most important thing is to sleep. If you push yourself past that, and it is certainly possible, there can and often will be dire consequences, whether it is a blowup or just your body gets sick. 99 times out of 100 whatever you are doing is not as important as taking care of yourself. There's always that 1%, but if what you are doing can wait or is less important than losing a week of your life, the put it down and take a nap. In a car, in a park, on a bus - there are always places you can find a few minutes to get a life-saving power nap in. Remember, it's not selfish to put yourself first, in this case, it's necessary. After all, you can't help anyone after exhaustion has taken the reins.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Look Shiny Complex

My best intentions of keeping this blog updated fell woefully by the wayside. Of course there were reasons, there always are. But the fact is that I have a short attention span and short-term memory loss. This leads to something I like to refer to as the Look Shiny Complex.

However focused, driven, and devoted I may be to a project, once I get distracted, more often than not, it falls by the wayside. It is not because the project ceases to be important to me, it is more that I forget it, that it no longer registers in my mind. I am sure this is not singular to brain injury, but I also have no doubt that it is a contributing factor.

It is reasons like this that make it imperative to have a good support group who knows you, your struggles, and remind you to stay focused. Unfortunately when you are on the road this is a bit more difficult.

But it was not only this that hampered my blogging. I did actually mean to update the blog more than a year ago only to realize I had forgotten my password. It was only recently that I discovered the elusive password.

Reasons like this and many others make my traveling addiction a bit difficult for someone with a brain injury. However, it also makes for interesting stories. I'm not promising anything, but I will do my best to fight the Look Shiny Complex and stay on top of this blog. If you haven't heard from me in a while, the please by all means send me a message.

If you'd like a glimpse into what I have been doing in past year and a half here is a link to another blog I've been working on:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the Road Again

So I am on the road again, headed south for whale watching, researching delfinotherapia, concentrating on writing, learning Spanish, and most importantly learning and teaching about brain injury. Finally having identified and overcome my residual post-robbery fear of writing in public I have begun filling a notebook with new blog entries which I will post as soon as possible.

As always I am energized and inspired by the thrill of discovery, learning, meeting new people, and new experiences. I look forward to sharing all of my travels and experiences and being better-able to help through them.

I will do my best to keep up the blog through this next month of travels, but wanted to keep you updated as to why I am straying from the connection series. Never fear, I will return to that in the near future....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Easy Breezy (Meeting People is Easy III)

It isn’t just about meeting people. Meeting people is easy. It’s about building lasting relationships.

We’ve been through the easy formulaic ways of starting conversations:

- Pay a compliment

- Make a comment

- Ask questions

- Keep it light

After you have established first contact things can get a little harder. It is often harder for survivors to pick up on signals and cues, it definitely is for me, but it is important to try. Don’t push too hard, suggest meeting up, or doing something. See if a few people in the group want to go out. If they can make it then fantastic, if they can’t, then no worries.

There is unquestionably such a thing as instant connections, but building lasting, sustainable relationships takes time. Brain injury often makes it harder to think on your feet and come up with off the cuff topics. Often survivors are focused on recovery and their entire lives have started to revolve around recovery. To keep things easy breezy the first few meetings and start building a relationship make a list of topics to talk about to give yourself ideas. The weather, TV shows, books, movies, animals, sports, or that sort of thing; just think about it a little before you meet up with your potential new friends. Just try not to let the conversation get too heavy or soul-searching. I have made the mistake of jumping into things too fast too many times. Let me tell you, deep life-and-death conversations are interesting, but don’t necessarily make for the best starter topics.

Easy breezy – you want to be able to relax and have fun with your new friends. Just let things flow naturally. The more people you talk to, the more practice you’ll have, and the easier it will become. Before you know it you’ll be a pro at initiating conversations and building relationships.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

First Contact (Meeting People is Easy part II)

The ins and outs of starting a conversation, establishing a report, and basic human interaction is an art that is quickly fading into oblivion.  Thankfully the ideas are ingrained in us all – we just need a few reminders.  While survivors are relearning social skills is a perfect time to brush up on this as well.  Survivors do however, face several additional challenges in this area as well. 


In my experience, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for moving past the initial meeting and developing friendships is that of concrete thinking.  It limits the brain’s ability to think “outside the box” Where to meet people, new things to do, places to go, the list is endless.  I hope that previous entries have helped give a few ideas for places to meet people such as therapy or support groups. 


Volunteering is another wonderful place to meet people with similar interests and outlooks, and the same can be said for any number of organized groups.  Really you can meet people anywhere:  at concerts or other events, I have even made fast friends on a train.

Still, it is best to start slow with groups you frequent, and branch out once you’ve found your networking “feet,” so to speak.  The “where” is the easy part.  The “how,” on the other hand, now that may take a little more guidance.  How to start conversations, what to say when you do….


Approaching group members or people in therapy after class is a good time to do it.  If something someone else said made an impression, compliment him or her on his or her insight or let him or her know what you thought about it.  Another good way is to make a comment about class, "Wow, I had so much trouble understanding X, what did you think of it?"  

Compliments are another great way to start a conversation. There’s no reason to approach people you don’t find interesting in some way.  Don’t give empty compliments, but mention what it was that piqued your interest and if you can follow it up with a question.  It can be as simple as, “those are great shoes, where did you get them?"  People respond to flattery, especially when it is sincere.  However you start it is always a good idea to ask their opinion, or some sort of question.  Questions really get the conversation going.


While you are getting started, especially with your first few tries it may be good to take things slow.  Plant the seeds  - keep first contact quick and light.  Talk to a few people after class, maybe exchange emails and suggest maybe getting a group together to grab coffee or lunch next time.  You’re just putting feelers out, first contact.  No rush, no worries….

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Everybody is Lonely (Meeting People is Easy Part 1)

Facebook, myspace, twitter, dating sites are a multi-million dollar industry; it seems people are constantly reaching out. We live in a culture of networking.  All it takes is a quick search and you can be in instant in contact with 100 people who have similar hopes, dreams, goals, or interests.  However this easy access does not ease loneliness; instead it seems to increase the isolation. Cyber-relationships and social networking sites are making us lazy and depriving us of human contact. Basic interaction is rapidly becoming a lost art.


Brain injury often destroys long-standing relationships and networks.  Not only has the survivor lost social skills, and friendships, but also even those without brain injury have problems forming relationships.   It seems hopeless – everybody is lonely.


This pervasive lack of human contact in society is indeed tragic.  However, this gaping hole in our culture works to your advantage. There is already a need.  It is up to you to fill it.  


Though there are countless negatives about brain injury it can help you approach life in new ways.  It does take initiative, practice, and a little effort but meeting people really is easy.  You just need to follow a few simple guidelines and you will find friends in no time!