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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blueberry Cove 1/2 Marathon!

Last March I was invited by a family friend, to participate in a half-marathon on the Maine coast near my hometown. Never one to turn down a challenge or opportunity, I talked my Dad into doing it with me, as he did the Beach to Beacon 10k with me last year. I was really pleased to find company who understood my challenges, although, I do seem to overlook the fact that we can be so fundamentally different in terms of approaching the same challenge. I genuinely prefer not to consider the plethora of happenstances, which could go wrong. Life is a journey, which just seems too precious to waste any time considering the negative possibilities. Don't get me. Wrong, awareness of your limitations is key, however, dwelling on them is a mistake of indescribable magnitude, in my opinion anyways. My dad just feels a need to make sure I'm never in danger, thus making me feel like I'm always in the wrong, and as if I'm simply not capable of making my own determination of safe and comfortable. I can, and will push myself until I collapse. Because I do this, I know my limits. Very well. I've made, what is probably a mistake, in always training alone. I know how slow I am, and asking friends to walk with me, while I snap at them, if they try to direct me, just seems out of the question. Although, this said, the race director of the Maine Marathon, offered us slots in the Maine half marathon, in October. Of course, I jumped at the chance to run in a high profile Maine race. And, I was so relieved to learn that the roads would be closed during!

Blueberry Cove is actually a 4H camp for kids, though, it being near the end of summer, camp is over for the season. The event began Saturday evening with a delicious local Maine home style dinner in the mess hall, featuring, Clam chowdah, potato salad, and blueberry pie! Hands down, we have the best blueberries anywhere, in the state of Maine. They grow on the ground here, never realized they grew on bushes also, until I moved away, that is.
I wanted to this race largely because I'd (foolishly) assumed it would be fairly flat, being on the coast. Wrong! This was a very beautiful, however, very hilly course. For someone who does the majority of their training on a track,I was thoroughly spent after the 10th or 11th mile. However, as we neared mile 8 some extremely unusual noises began filling air behind us. My honest description of what I heard would be farm animals that had messed with opiates somehow. My first thought was that I must be delirious, although my dad heard them as well. We paled another hill and the sounds disappeared. I forgot about the noises, and tried to clear my head, and find a decent mindset to finish the race. I spent the majority of those 6 hours arguing, defending myself, and explains deficits which aren't all that obvious to my Dad as our 6 hour war over where, exactly I should be on the road progressed. My father has genuinely been with me every step of the way, and I am so thankful for all of the support he provides, but, if anyone can provoke the absolute ugliest reflection of anger and defensiveness from me, he can. He seems to be someone who understands the responsibilities, of being in authority, as that is what his role as captain of various ships in different cavities has called on him for. As a little kid, I was afraid of him, because I rarely saw him, and when I did, it was a different environment than I was used to. Therefore, scary. Now, it's my belief, that a disability (in general) forces you to learn to be on fairs all the time, because I live in an environment where CLOSE-friends are few, and far between, I feel like I've developed a defensive edge, which isn't always the easiest to drop. Nor, is a particularly attractive asset in new situations. Just have to keep pushing forward, and remember to recognize the amazing help that I have, and have had. I am just so pleased to have these opportunities to continue to push myself, and show others what's possible.

The pictures show my dad, myself, Brianna, Chelsea, and Abe. My Dad was my support person, and did the whole race with me. Val, Abe, Bri, and Chelsea popped in at different times to boost morale, so amazing! It was so much fun to a race with such a hometown feel! The other photo is Blueberry Cove at sunset. A heartfelt thank you to the many incredible who helped make this race possible for myself, as well as the other runners!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Birds of a feather

Ever think you put too much on your plate? This is my double-edged sword, in that I take on too many commitments, and lead myself into failure because I can't see there isn't enough time in the day/week/month.

You can ask me to do something, and if I'm able, I'll say yes. This gets me into trouble with my rehab team all the time. For example, my job developer, who is one the biggest assets to my team, incredible drive, and follows through (OMG), which is an example I need, at least in terms of follow through. I be always been motivated to follow through on things I'm passionate about. Though, oddly, I'm not passionate about participating in the menial, pain in the ass, details in rehab. life I stink at. No one accepts pointed criticism gracefully, at least no one I know, myself included. I've come a long way, in the sense that I've learned to accept constructive criticism as a tool for potential improvement, not as a critical allegation towards my lifestyle. If I believe I'm being judged, in this situation, I generally withdraw my effort. This is not effective for me, or my team, do the real challenge for me is learning to accept assistance, in any regard. This isn't just a brain-injury manifestation, but rather, a standing part of my psyche. What I've been unable to realize, up until recently, is how these actions affect others. The intent isn't to focus on others perceptions, accolades, or criticism, but to consider these concepts in regards to making better choices. Yikes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wings of change

My day started off as usual for a Tuesday, I did my normal morning stuff, and then the government funded transportation service I use came. I felt extremely fortunate when I saw that that I had a driver, whom I actually like, and respect. He and his wife are from Bosnia, both hard working, honest, kind hearted souls. It's just nice when the first person I see, after leaving the house, is someone I already know, and think well of, as I have had some frustrating experiences with some others with this service. The ride brought me to the psychology office my program mandates I attend, or so I thought. I spent last week complaining about my experiences, and learned I had options. Yes! Yesterday, I composed an email denoting my difficulties/ distaste with this individuals methods, sent it, and today followed up on that message in person. Not an easy thing to psyche yourself up to do, I will say being that it's unprofessional not to follow up, when you've already made the commitment, I felt like I needed to physically speak my peace.
Arriving, and waiting for someone to arrive to open the building, I was quite nervous, as I didn't want to display animosity, or become emotional, period. Not always the easiest trick in the book, but once I was inside, I handled myself better than expected, as did the therapist. Such a relief, I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from me, by leaving that office forever!
I was also extremely fortunate to have enlisted the assistance of my step-dad, Marty, who has always been one, of many supportive resources for me. It was such a relief stepping out of the office to someone I know is willing to take my thoughts and feelings about a situation into consideration, before bombarding me with their judgements and connotations. He was very supportive, and happy for me, which was such a relief upon walking away from a situation you've dealt with for so long, but never actually thought you benefitted from.

I get that expressing yourself is an important part of everyone's life. That's one of my key motivating factors for writing. But, for me, sitting in a room with someone whose been recommended for your case, and being expected to act as if I'm an open book, is not within my psychological abilities. Therefore, or for many reasons I'm finished expecting results, or even a conversation where I learn,!or grow. Such a relief to have made, what I feel is a. Plosive change to my support team!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Where the rubber meets the road...

Today, (or this evening rather) was a fantastic distraction from angst and confusion ridden caveats of my day to day life. This past Tuesday I had an infuriating 'therapy' session. This is a man whom I've never seen eye to eye with, but, in the interest of dodging proper topics, with actual substance, I've admittedly not been particularly open, preferring to placate my way through the conversation topics. Discussing personal issues face to face with most people has never been a skilled area of mine. It's not because I don't care, but more because my head thinks of multiple responses, which can be quite rude, depending on the situation. In the interest of not being a jerk, I'll keep my moth shut. Though, in the great ole US of A, if it's government funded systems have taught me anything in the last four years of robbing me of whatever self-respect I owned, it's that I don't fit in this idiotically designed system. I really do think our health care system is designed by well intentioned folks. The world is just so big, and variable now, that in trying to create system that fits EVERY-one, we've actually created a confusing black-hole. We live under a system that was designed for a uniform environment. The last time I checked, this country has never embodied uniformity. Certain groups try to, until other groups wear them down. Thesedays I'm pretty sure the message is to accept everyone for our differences. Doesn't always come across that way, but I'll just say its all part of our personal evolution.

In terms of my personal evolution, the more aware I become of my surroundings, the more difficult I find it to press on each day. What other people thought simply didn't affect me, which is probably why it's been so easy for me to march to my own drum this far. Why the change now? I know it's because my brain is reforming connections. However, this is a pretty frustrating time for me to be realizing the magnitude of my insecurities. Not cool. I can put them away, but now, they come back out and BITE. Extremely inconvenient timing as I'm just getting back into paid employment, and have to start at the bottom all over again.In theory, it's not a bad job, because I get paid to do something I have to do anyways, ride the bus. At first, I thought this would be a great little way to earn a few dollars. However, the moment I realized this meant I needed to be vigilant of my surroundings aboard the bus, I began to abhor the position, and the bus altogether. Apparently, I'm not the all-accepting type I thought I was, but to be stuck in an enclosed space with the conversations I listen to, hurts my soul. I just can't understand why there is such a cleft in our society, but it's also hard because I no longer belong to a side. And this environment really made me aware of that, therefore, I hate it. I literally get home, curl up, and sob, until I can collect myself and workout. Is this job worth the mental anguish it seems to illicit for me? Nope, but that's my opinion, which is, apparently disregarded. Yep, life is awesome right now, I can't wait to go home. At least I don't feel like scum of the Earth there.

This job probably wouldn't bother me half as much, if I had anything intellectual to hang on to, but, I don't, and according to my rehab. people it's my ticket to a job I want, because it forces me to work on my weak areas, like self-control, and time management. I know that's true, but it surely doesn't help me get through it anymore easily...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breaking bad habits...

I'm not certain I have the strength to break one of mine, but, I've always thought that recognizing your problem is the first step. Although, I thought that's what I was doing today, when going over last weeks ruckus, I'd caused in my 'team' meeting. Apparently, the way I sstate my reasons for my problems, it ends conversations. I've recently started to become more aware of this annoying/fearsome trait I've been developing. I find it quite unpleant/awkward when I find myself talking to someone who does this. It struck me as passive/aggressive, and whiny. That's no fun. I've recognized this, in myself recently. Mostly, when I'm being questioned or, even attacked. I feel like I've come down with the small-minded excuse syndrome, that has turned me into a social leper. Or will, if it hasn't happened already. I've recognized myself doing, what i think is explaining my problem,and the conversation immediately dies, and I don't know why, in the moment. Knowing that I come across as a negative person from time to time, is a horrendous realization, for me, anyways. I talk to other people, who also do this, and I realize it's a conversation ender. It's not an intentional choice, but , nonetheless it occurs. This kind of statement just leaves no room for argument, or assistance. I despise it when someone does that to me, so I want to be able to recognize when I'm about to do it to someone else. I don't even know how this happened, but yuck! Yep, it's a bad day, when you realize you are your own worst enemy, and there I go again..

Realizing who I am today, has never been the easiest trick in the book for me, I'd prefer to live life oblivious, and un-assuming. I just realized those are cards I no longer hold, and probably never will again. This whole re-learning who I, and others are, period, in my 27 years, makes me feel very juvenile. It's not like I'm expecting to ever figure it out completely, but. I'd at least like to be comfortable with who I am. Yet, the first step is to ditch the whiny explanations, and figure out what I can do, instead of why I can't do something. Yep, no problem, that's an easy one, right?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Land of the?

In this life, right now, I understand that I need to work with what I'm given, as they're the only cards I have left to play, where I'm able to foresee any kind of outcome. Although, at this point, I feel as though I'm losing hope. I no longer feel like I can get back on my feet, with the tools I'm given. In this environment, the system doesn't really allow for that, nor doesn't sustain any sense of personal accomplishment. All I need to do, is correspond and manage the thoughts of 5 people to make one decision. Once in a great while, we pull off something, that really improves my life. Then, we get touted as a shining example. But really, most of the time I feel like I have 5 people helping me tread water. At some point everyday, I just want to tell them to pull the rug out from under my feet, and be gone. Then, on the other hand, I've developed connections with some of these individuals, and I have to realize that my success is in their hands right now. Quite frankly, I sucks at letting other people hold the reins.
I am interested in making use of the government programs which behoove my interests. But, when someone tosses 16 different options into a basket, and expects me (or anyone) to make a decision, I can really only hold on to 2 different options at a time. So I'm likely to choose the option with the most detailed discussion, or the last one. If these programs want you to be independent, then they need to do a more comprehensive job giving people the tools to get there. Every time I turn around, there's a different shiny and new option. At this point, as appealing as the advertisement may be, it's really just enabling me to sign on for more time living off of government funds. Can you blame me, if one of these days I immigrate to a new country ? I have to say, we have great intentions, but we've diversified our options so greatly were no longer capable of making decisions. We are so well intentioned here, but, each group has different interests to pursue. I now fully understand why' The Great American Melting Pot' will always be an idealistic dream, we can always go after, but never actually encapsulate. Helping everyone is a beautiful goal, but, it's just not that simple, as we all have different interests and ideals. I love living in a diverse country, but I do not love living in an economically diverse country. It means that 95 percent of the US population feels as though life is unfair, because the other 5 percent is so ridiculously wealthy they can control whatever strikes their fancy. So much for living in the land of the free.
Part of acceptance in this country is that we need to realize we all, can never fit in the same neat, little box. I appreciate speaking up for myself, just like the next person, but chances are we'll each have enormously differing views regarding the state of the economy, social issues, as well as political leaders. Does this mean either one of us should be more correct than the other? Nope. Of course, human nature prefers that you fight about it, and the victor prevails. It's like, why do people listen to Mitt Romney, oh maybe, because he's an active media figure who made a lot of money in big business, and people think, 'well, if we have leader like him, maybe we'll come into good fortune to help fix problems, or just enjoy the finer bushings in life, like I know? I wish life was that simple. I'm not even going to pretend I know what other party thinks in any situation, because, if I've learned anything in the past 5 years. It's to have no expectations. I, of course have expectations of myself, but I was trained a few years back, that no one (in the state program) actually expects anything of me. Its not designed for People to succeed with, but, for them to survive with. I know better, because I lived in the real world, and it's not as scary as I'm made to believe it is. Life is full of hard knocks for everyone. It doesn't matter who you you get painted as, we're all going to fall at some point, and then, hopefully, get back up, and try a new way. At least that's what I need to do...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Surprise visit!!

Yesterday, while up to no good, looking for jobs, face booking, and cleaning, the phone rang, and I was surprised to see a friend from home was calling. Eager to catch up, I answered, and got the "Guess where I am?" response. I understand that typically when someone does that it usually means they're nearby. And, they were!

I knew she couldn't understand me very well, but we made a plan to meet at 9, when I'd wanted to go to yoga. But, close friends come so rarely, I had to see them. Apparently they'd been to a wedding, on the camppus of Matt's friends college, St. Micheals. I guess if you meet in college that's a great to the place to tie the knot, as it probably has the same amount of meaning. Though, it still seemed like an odd wedding venue.
They stopped by at 9, so we could go to breakfast. I thought it'd be fun to go to the Skinny Pancake, so we could appreciate the lake. I didn't realize they were off to Oak Ledge Park after. Basically, they ended up backtracking.
As fast as they appeared they were gone, and I found myself taking my standard Sunday stroll around the Winnooski Farmers Market. I found myself annoyed with the woman at the money table, as she couldn't figure out how to get funds from my food stamp card. Not a big deal, but I explained the differences, and which side was valid. She seemed to understand what I told her, but kept repeating the same mistake, which left some question. I only had $5, which doesn't get you very far, although I did surprisingly well, enjoying a smoothie, getting a chocolate croissant from the baker, cucumbers and zucchini from a farm I didn't recognize, and carrots from Roxanne. Last year, I bought a sunflower from her almost every week. She sells such a variety of good, but I always just wanted a sunflower. Weird, probably, but I really appreciate how the brilliant yellow brightened up my living space a bit. Also, whenever I talk with her, she is really honest if she doesn't understand something, which I really appreciate.
I walked back to my building, and made myself was and cut the veggies while I was still thinking about it. If I don't the just rot in my fridge I've learned.
After making a giant mess of the kitchen, I took the jogger out for an evening jaunt. The difference in how people respond to seeing me with the jogger is huge from last year. Almost everyone I pass initiates a hello, as they pass. Last year, it made my day, if one person did that.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Devil in the details...

Today will go on record for me, as the day I lost my marbles. Not really even positive, what that euphemism emulates, aside from craziness. It's not even that I had a crazy day, or even went crazy, but, I did lose my cool, and/or my ability to contain myself in any manner resembling dignification. And, not once, but twice. I've been able to realize where my tipping point is, in the past couple months or so. That is, realizing it nearby, and edging away from it. In my world, I honestly cannot conceive a more self-imposed vulnerability, then showing my emotions, or, more specifically, allowing my anger, torment and frustration to take hold of a situation. The idea of that, couldn't be more terrifying, and I've pretty effectively meandered through life, with out ever needing to face that fear. That is , until today.

It gets impossible to hold in, or try to ration my grief, heart-wrenching anger, and humiliation inside, after enough time passes. I don't really know that I've been able to process emotions like others seem to. Most of the time I think I recognize them, but they're not always strong enough for me to act on them. This year, I've realized, I may have earned myself a reputation as someone who rejects a lot of ideas, and has to map their own road.

Today, I felt provoked into unleashing my 'shit-show' of feelings on the team of people who came to be more or less responsible for my little space in the world. I surely understand why their
positions are so difficult to maintain, as state and federal funding is so limited, and the workload is easily double a manageable size. Not to mention, their clients are so annoyed and frustrated, their work is rarely appreciated.

I've become quite adept at not saying what I feel, though have always held back, but I also have specific reasons regarding my injury. I realize that no one understands me, when I speak, especially if I'm upset, so it comes across as more of an embarrassment to me, than a a hard-hitting delivery of my feelings toward a situation. I generally choose not to show my emotion, if I'm able, as it makes me all the more difficult to understand. Though, I get that I need to release it periodically, so I don't explode in a fury of emotion. Even though, that's exactly what I did. I unintelligibly yelled, cried, scoffed and screamed at the 5 people who hold all of my cards. In that moment I felt it was justified, but I forget that I am difficult to understand vocally. So, I was more or less, the ballistic young woman screaming noisily. Not exactly the gratifying release of thoughts. That is why I write, but, it will never replace the gratification of verbally communicating my thoughts in the correct setting, when they come to mind. Just saying...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The late, great daughter of Mother Earth"

That title is a line from a song from 'Rent' that's currently playing.
I don't really know why I'm writing, except because I just went through an envelope marked 2006 taxes, and found it filled with paper details of my 2007 life. Stuff like concert tickets, insurance claims from minor medical traumas, business cards, pacing lists for backpacking trips, a receipt for the renewal of my drivers license, job postings, I'd applied for, and a stack of photos. One of the things that really struck me, was a photo of Sean, that he'd probably taken himself. It was a random stack of 24 pics I'd pulled out, and I was loving all of the beautiful colors from my Honduras, and Guatemalan adventures. I got to the last 2 photos, and they are of Sean and I from 08, I assume. One is of Sean, it looks like he took it, and I'm next to him, more like clinging to him. But, what struck me, was the lack of expression on my face. I have the same dull, expressionless face in every photo from those days, unless, someone told me to smile. To me, thats a true indicator of how blind I was. The other one is us on Pat's snowmobile. When I look at my face in both of them, I can tell I had no idea there was a camera nearby. It's interesting for me to look back on those days, and tangibly realize the progress that has been made since then. It's just made me realize, what a long, difficult journey it's been, and how long it's taken me to appreciate all what I've learned and accomplished since then.

Were all the same, in the regard that everyday, is a new day. What makes us different, is how we decide what to do with our day. That's where the differences lay.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fun in the sun!

You know on certain days , you wake up entirely optimistic about your day, lust because the sun is shining ? That was today for me. It was a beautiful 80• summer day today. I knew I didn't want to run because of the heat and humidity, but , I did want to be active, and play outdoors. After Thursday morning yoga, with Hillary, we went to our usual Thursday post gym breakfast spot. Appropriately named, "Chubby Muffin." As we left I checked my messages , to discover that my OT had canceled , leaving us the entire day to fill.
I was set on being outside, so we hatched an obvious plan. Paddling! We headed to the sailing center, with Hillary's brother in tow. No kayaks till 4 at the sailing center. Boo! We all walked down the bike path to North Beach, to try our luck there. Success! Hillary and I got a tandem, and Matt got his own boat. I was psyched to sit in the back and steer the boat, also realizing that it's a much better seat for me, in regards to having a conversation. I was psyched Hillary was as adventurous as I was feeling, as I headed the boat between a sheer rock cliff, and a massive granite pillar protruding from the water. It was getting slightly choppy, as we turned past a cove, but all went smoothly, aside from me striking the paddle in front of me, all went so smoothly. We all got too much sun, despite sunblock.

We had the boats out for 2 hrs, and then traipsed back down the bike path, where I learned more than I ever cared to know, about the game of lacrosse. I've never had much of an interest in team sports, but, apparently when you do activities with the Bak siblings, that is a subject they seem to generally agree on. Also, Matt is a history major, so he was able to quiz and lecture us on the different war eras. I was thinking, oh yeah, I learned that once upon a time, but I obviously never bothered to remember it . I guess we all have our strengths, but the Civil War Era, is definitely not mine.
We parted ways at Burlington Bay, so I could eat. Hillary returned in a bit, and we walked over to April Cornell, a local clothes designer . I was pleased with myself when I found a skirt I really liked, that is until I tried it on. Pretty unimpressive, on me, anyways.
Next up was yoga, again The instructor , James was very chatty, and spent the first 15 minutes individually greeting us, and asking for areas of focus. I understand the thought behind this, but when I go to a fitness class, I expect to be working the entire time, not listening to the person behind me, discuss their aches and pains, and so forth. What I really love about yoga, is that anyone is welcome, to practice at their own ability level. My balance , flexility, and mobility have more than easily doubled since I began doing yoga regularly. Every day will always be different, in terms of my mobility, but I am just so grateful I've had the opportunities I've been given to help me improve to where I am today!