Imagine a place where nightmares fade and worries melt like lemon drops…

night imagine world

Imagine a place where nightmares didn’t haunt you, demons were kept at bay, and calm healing energy wrapped you in a warm safe blanket. Now, what if this place existed in your community? What would it look like? Do you see flowers, warm cheery colors painted on the walls, comfy chairs to read a good book in? Are there therapy dogs waiting to shower you with unconditional love? Is it the first safe, judgement free zone you’ve experienced?

For a moment imagine you’ve survived something unthinkable. A moment, one single, quick moment, that changed you, forever. Imagine that deep down, in your gut, you know you’ll never be the same. You are now the After You, the you that survived an unthinkable moment. On the outside you look fine. After all, everyone says so. Naturally, you must be. How could you be a different person? How could one moment change YOU? Better yet, if it did change you, why can’t people see it?

Now imagine you begin to live a new life where you are seen, yet, unseen. You, all of you, is invisible to family, friends, coworkers, and society. No one. Not a single soul sees all of you, except for those that carry the same fate, surviving the unthinkable.

Let’s continue imagining…

You have now spent 6 years in this new invisible life. Walking the line between seen and unseen. At times you feel an impostor. Is this really your life? Will I wake up from this horrible dream? How will I make it? Thousands of questions race through your mind with zero answers to be found because, here’s the fun part, a cure for becoming invisible doesn’t exist, and science, well, science doesn’t know enough to answer your questions. Now take a minute to imagine the inner turmoil. The fear that begins to take root. The realization that your future, your very existence, is a…

question-1243504_1280

For the sake of imagining…

Funny things begin to happen all around you. In a series of fateful or maybe not fateful events, we’ll let you imagine which, you meet an entire invisible community. Now each one of you is unique. Your unthinkable moment is not the same as the person typing worlds away, yet, all of you, have common ground, surviving an unthinkable moment. Through those interactions you learn that invisible survivors need a lot more support than what is available…slim to none.

And so…

Armed with ideas, creativity, and sheer determination, you set out on a quest, a Hero’s Journey if you like, to build such a place. A place where nightmares fade and worries melt like lemon drops.

Have you figured out the morale of the story?

Hint: Trauma is trauma. It changes you, forever. It changes you so much you find yourself unable to do the things that once made you, YOU. The things people take for granted. Simple. Everyday. Ordinary things. Laundry. Driving. Holding down a job. Talking on the phone. Walking down the street. These things. And you, as well as, thousands, no millions of people just like you, are Invisible and suffering silently because a space where you can blossom and thrive doesn’t exist.

Reality: It is time to build that place. Starting in my community, Lansing. And I happen to have such a place in mind. Fittingly it once served the blind. Now it may serve the Invisible. It will take magic, hard work, friends – so many friends, to make it happen.

Will you heed the Hero’s Call and join my quest?

hiker-1149898_1920

Advertisements

Let Me Tell You A Story About A Girl

girl-independent-brave

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who took shit from no one. A girl who held a secret dream. A dream she never shared with anyone.

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl whose body curved. Shaped like an hour glass, boobs and booting bursting. And just because her body swayed in all the right places, boys thought they could own her.

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who took shit from no one, shaped like an hour glass…boys thought they could own her. Jeering. Shouting. They aimed to rape her. Not physically. Nah. They didn’t have the stones for that. Little cowards. Rape her soul. Steal her confidence. Teach her..her body was not her’s, nothing more than property.

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who yelled, “FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU FOR THINKING MY BODY IS OPEN FOR CONVERSATION! FUCK YOU FOR DISRESPECTING ME! FUCK YOU FOR DEGRADING ME!

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who screamed, “FUCK YOU!”, in defense of her body. Marching up the stairs. Victory was hers.

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl whose father yelled. Punishing her for screaming, ‘FUCK’, in defense of her body.

Let me tell you a story about a girl. A girl who calmly replied, “Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck.” And continued marching.

Why do I host COLOR Parties?

woman light darkness Why do I host COLOR Parties? To answer this question you must first understand where my story begins.

Like this girl staring into the candles, I too was wondering how can such things exist like light, beauty, and happiness, lifetimes outside of your grasp. You see them right there in front of you. Dancing as smokey wisps, taunting you to reach for them, but when you do, Poof!, they vanish into thin air. All you’re left with is another reminder that trauma has forever changed your life.

Before my first COLOR Party in April, I went to a yoga class at Just B taught by the lovely Lacey. This class focused on being in a state of transition. If there is one thing I have learned about life after brain injury and now PTSD it is the joy of constant transition. When I saw a Facebook event for this class my intuition screamed, “GO TO THIS CLASS! THIS CLASS IS MEANT FOR YOU!”. With the help of a friend nudging me to go I bravely got in her car, leaving the safety of my home, traveling 1.9 miles…worried, terrified, and on high alert they entire way there. Going to this class helped me a lot. I started thinking about where I was at in my recovery. What did I need from myself? What did I need from my community? What did I need to go from merely surviving to thriving? Towards the end of the class Lacey asked us to write a letter to ourselves which she would mail to us at a later date. By the time I got the letter in the mail I had forgotten all about it. It was a delightful surprise!

I never expected to share this letter with anyone. To understand my story, to get a glimpse into life after brain injury and PTSD, this letter needs to be shared.

Dear Me,

I am so proud of you. You didn’t always want to stay alive. You have lost so much at such a young age, yet you continue to fight, to find creative solutions and more importantly you are still here.

You are still here. You choose to keep living. To breathe. To get out of bed. To find the strength to crawl through the dark days when you can’t walk. I am so proud of you.

I love and respect you. You are different. Yes, this is true. You will never ever be the same. But you know what? That is okay.

Compassion is what you need from your community and yourself as you continue on this journey of transition.

And don’t be afraid to call people out on discrimination. Use your voice. Never ever stop using your voice.

Silent no more, my friend.

Love you,

Me

Writing this letter is what made me decide to host COLOR Parties. It is what gave me the courage to say I can try this. And if I fail, if it doesn’t work because my brain hasn’t healed enough yet, then that’s okay. My period of transition has not ended. I am still in the thick of it. People like to ask, “How can I help? or What can I do?”. The answer is, I have no idea. I have no idea because I am still trying to figure out who this New Me is. Transition. There’s that word again. Time, it takes so much time, to heal from trauma. Then it takes even more time to figure out how to live again after trauma. I am still doing both.

sparkler-839831_1920

Why do I host COLOR Parties?

Because…

Because…

This is me right before the May COLOR Party @americanfifth was about to jump off. I was both terrified and excited. Twenty people! Twenty whole people were about to show up for cocktails and coloring and for the first time in over a year I was running the show. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, except now I have a flared brain injury and PTSD. The PTSD part of me was screaming at me to RUN! Run for the hills. Run and never stop, keep running until no people, or sight of civilization can be found. I had to fight that urge with every ounce of strength and courage my well dressed self could muster. See that's the thing about invisible injuries, illnesses, and disabilities, no one can see the battle waging within. No one, not a single soul can see how hard someone like me is working just to appear "normal." This is also WHY I am hosting coloring parties. To raise awareness for us Invisibles as I fondly like to call my fellow survivors. It will take a lot of repeating, people are funny that way, we require hearing the same message multiple times if it is something we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands. But that's ok because in my former life I educated people about environmental pollution that you couldn't see or touch, so I figure if anyone is going to tackle this issue, I'm just the woman for the job because I have gobs of practice. 💪🏻 Save the Date for our next COLOR Party: June 22, 7-9pm @americanfifth 🎨 P.S. It's officially my Birthday Month! Going to be a good one. Happy Birthday to all the June Babies! 🎈

A post shared by Rachael Loucks (@daringrachael) on

 

Because…

 

Because…

Because… 

Trauma changed my life forever. BUT it also gave my life purpose. I am dedicating my life to raising awareness for brain health (a.k.a. mental health) and making the world a brighter place for trauma survivors. This is deeply personal for me. I am pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into this. Every minute of every day I think about the thousands of people out there, like me, who are screaming for acceptance, access to resources, and compassion. I am making plans. Brainstorming. Noting connections to be made. I can and will do this. My normal may not look like everyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have something to contribute to the world. It doesn’t mean I still can’t be a social entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean I can’t create organizations that drive social change.

Because I can! 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading another part of my story. There are still many more parts to tell. I made a promise to myself this year to bravely tell me truth. Not an easy thing to do. With each little nugget I become braver and sitting down to tell my truth doesn’t seem quite so scary.

I dedicate this to all the survivors out there. May you come to a place where you thrive. You deserve it! 

P.S. Do come to my next COLOR Party! if you live in Lansing.

It’s tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22nd at American Fifth from 7-9 p.m. Grab a Ticket!

Coloring and Cocktails facebook cover 6_22_16 party

 

Dear Flint: We Hear You, Your Lives Matter

Clean Water Flint

The Flint Water Crisis is constantly on my mind. Water has forever been my passion. As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Water is our most precious resource, without it, life cannot exist. Because of my disability I may not be able to march in the streets chanting in protest, and trust, I would do that in a heartbeat, but I can create art. I can use my creative voice to say, Flint Lives Matter and Clean Water Is A Right! Before I lost my job due to my disability I worked with communities to raise awareness for water pollution and to protect our water resources. So I’ll be damned, disability or not, if I just sit around doing nothing while Flint residents, actual living breathing people, elderly, children, single moms, single dads, families, disabled, people of color, immigrants, and the list goes on, deal with the fear of unsafe drinking water and toxic contamination. And I’m going to come out and say it, We all damn well know if this was a suburban, majority white community, this problem would have been fixed at the drop of a hat. This is environmental racism.

People helping people is a beautiful thing. Be the change.

On April 28th I attended the From Flint Documentary: Voices From a Poisoned City. After the Documentary there was a Q&A. A woman from Flint attended the screening, when asked what can we do to help residents of Flint, she said, “Send us baby wipes.” You might be wondering why baby wipes? Good question. Not all residents of Flint can safely shower due to lead contamination. Especially vulnerable populations like children and infants. Flint residents use baby wipes for hygiene. Imagine not being able to shower because your skin breaks out in blisters and rashes. Imagine this happening to your children, your newly born baby. Having to use baby wipes daily, all the time, for something as simple as hygiene becomes costly. So I listened, I heard her ask for help and I’m responding with a Diaper Wipe Drive. 

1

I challenge you to participate. More about this later. Next I want to share a beautiful piece of writing shared on the Film’s Facebook page. 


‘The Flows and Flock of Flint’

as seraphs pull the strings of sunrise to baptize the city of Flint illuminating the laments of those plagued by low ceilings seeking healing from the cement drying around their feet in torment from the contents of the faucets and the losses it could not prevent for ten thousand cent eddy down the sink into the sewer with the slices of souls on a skewer from this event as the tail of tomorrow paint silhouettes in pale with it’s extent will critiques be tempered will it even be remembered when criticizing the characterization how acid rained on this generation of tents recalling the erosions and indents wrought upon Flint during these years of tears and it’s salty scent or will they forget by sunset…

By: Dean Diada 

I am a Ohio resident greatly moved by the crisis in Flint…I however do not have monetary means to donate, I did pen a poem regarding my sentiments that I am sending, I hope you are able to use it to raise more awareness and/or donations…

Poem posted with his permission. Thank you Dean for letting me share your writing on my blog.


It is a sad day for the “Pure Michigan” state when one of our communities doesn’t have safe drinking water and is forced to use baby wipes to keep their children and infants clean. All hope is not lost because, We The People have the Power to Create Change. And it begins with something as simple as sending baby wipes to Flint. The only question is, How many baby wipes will you send?

 

Rub-A-Dub Dub

So, back to those baby wipes. During the month of May, I ran a Diaper Wipe drive. Little sad to say…didn’t collect as many wipes as I hoped for. Life is crazy busy, I get it. Good news is I am not giving up!

Tomorrow. Nope, scratch that, it is 12:41 AM, TODAY (Saturday 6/4), you can find me at AA Creative Corridor in Reo Town, Lansing. And guess what? You can drop off Baby Wipes!

Gettin' my Brave on! facebook cover

Come hang with me later today, soak up some flower magic, design your own bouquet, and color. Anyone who drops off Diaper Wipes during the event will get a free coloring page as a way of saying, Thanks for being a Rock Star!. Special prize for the person who drops off the MOST diaper wipes.

Bring Wipes (1)

EXTREME CHALLENGE – Not For The Faint of Heart

I challenge your place of work, church, nonprofit, family, and any organization you are involved with to help the families of Flint by collecting baby wipes. Please email, daring2pursue@gmail.com, if you plan to host a large collection. I will gladly find a way to arrange pick-up!***

***applies for those in Lansing area only.

Who will you send love to?

Send Love

We are beyond ecstatic to share a superbly awesome project in the works. Very soon you will be able to Send Love.

Here at Zen Brain we know what it is like to live with an invisible injury and disability. We know how lonely it can be. The toll it takes on your body and spirit. This is why we have made it our mission to let fellow survivors know they are not alone. The struggle is real. No doubt about it. There is also a loving wonderful community of people who wish to see you succeed and feel loved just the way you are.

What is Send Love? You can either send a digital e-card or a good ole fashioned postcard in the mail to a survivor. You choose the design: funny, inspiring, empowering, and more. You can include a unique message if you so desire and we take care of sending it to the survivor in your life. It gets better! You can also choose how often to Send Love. Daily. Once per week. Once per month. One time only.

Stay tuned!

heart-762564_1920

What would I say to my younger self?

glacier-1190254_1920

Today I woke up feeling magical. Yes, magical. That is the perfect word to describe how I feel. The days are rare and far between that I wake up feeling like myself, the me I know I am capable of being, the me I see myself becoming when I clear my mind and meditate. This version of myself is creative, powerful in my own right, free, and peaceful. This is my magic. We all have magic. Not the kind of magic of potions and spells, wizards and dragons. No, the stuff of ordinary people, learning to tap into their own power that lies within, waiting for you to recognize. Today is a damn good brain day. I am smiling as I type these words.

I also know today is a day to cherish. For my life and recovery is still incredibly unpredictable. Good days come and go. Bad days follow. There is no certainty how long the good or bad days will last. It is as if my entire life is a game of Russian Roulette. A dangerous act I know.

On this day I am deeply struck by the need to reflect. To look at the past 31 years of my life. Remembering the head strong sassy young girl I was, and the fearful young woman I became, as life dealt a number of interesting twists, and turns I wasn’t expecting. A hard pill to swallow. Sure I could blame it on other people. But the truth of the matter is I made certain choices. Choices that have defined my life and led me to where I am today. I do not regret them, but, man oh man, I sure did learn from them. There lies the beauty of life, learning.

What would I say to my younger self?

What pieces of advice would I offer?

What wisdom do I hope to impart in future young woman?

tci kids beauty

Like all good planners and thinkers I made a list:

  1. Above all else trust your gut. If the little voice inside you is telling you something isn’t right, it’s really quite simple, It ain’t right. This may require running the other direction, having to voice an opinion that will rock the boat,but by all means rock that boat, girl. Stand up for what you believe and never ever compromise that.
  2. Getting married does not grant you an automatic fairy tale happily ever after. That notion is complete bullshit. I’ll say it again, complete bullshit. If your spouse to be shows signs of disrespect like comparing you to other woman or making fun of you in front of other people, do not under any circumstances marry him. Hell drop his ass. He isn’t even worthy of being your boyfriend. There is a name for it, emotional abuse. It starts small and then grows immensely over time. If you stay in a relationship like that and enter into a marriage with a man like that soon you will wake up and cease to recognize yourself. You deserve better my dear. And trust me, better is out there.
  3. People will always tell you who you should and shouldn’t be. What you can and cannot do. To hell with them. At the end of the day it’s your choice to become who you want to be. You do not have to conform to anyone’s idea of what a woman is supposed to look or act like. For the record, woman can swear, they can be aggressive, and speak their minds. For heaven’s sake it is 2016. The problem isn’t with you, it’s with other people and their own insecurities, let them be and move on.
  4. Be kind to yourself. You will expect a lot, have high standards, and a strong drive for success. These are all good things. BUT they will cause you to doubt and speak harshly about yourself. Self Love is your best friend, don’t ever forget that.
  5. Don’t waste time on people who are takers. They will just take and take, without any thought of ever giving back. And you are a giver. You will give endlessly because you believe in living a life of compassion and kindness.This is also your strength and beauty.
  6. Do call people out on their bullshit. If they are going to bring the bullshit, they should be corrected. Think of it like training dogs.
  7. Choose brave over practical every time. This is how you will become the woman you envisioned when you hung all those National Geographic pictures on your bedroom wall in high school.
  8. Everyone was put on this earth to do something. Write. All the time. Never stop. This is your super power. You were born to write.
  9. Embrace your creativity. So what if you have a million different ideas rolling around in your head. Try them all. Some may fail. Some may be sheer genius. You’ll never know until you try. And you’ll never rest until you try.
  10. Bad things happen to good people. Use the bad things that happened to you to help others. Tell those stories because people need to know that they happened. Do not bury the bad. Let the light shine in.

writer-605764_1920

Over time, I am sure this list will grow. Today is a cause for celebration because once again the words are flowing. Writing is my passion. I know this now more than ever. When my brain is strong enough to allow me to write, how can I not believe in magic?

Are the feelings mutual?

frog_love-903178_1920

Oh, how I’ve missed thee!

How many months has it been? Too many, I suppose. No matter. I am here now to reclaim my love for you.

Before I ask that all important question, I must tell you a tale. Get comfy this may be awhile or it could be very short. It all depends on the words. Those mysterious buggers.

Upon seeing you for the last time I found myself on the brink of a dark journey. A journey only I could take. If only you could have came, I very much wanted you to be there. The Universe had a different plan in-store for us.

There is no easy way to say this. The Great Cloak of Despair found me. It wrapped me up, like a dead body in a carpet roll, final and no escape. Darkness swallowed me whole. I had no idea how deep the pit went or if light still existed. And there I sat, for what I can only guess, as many many months. Dark. Lonely. Those are the words that describe my existence in that dank nasty pit. The walls were slick with stagnant water oozing through every crack and crevice. Bringing with it a sulfurous fungus that began to consume the entirety of the pit.

Nausea. Dizziness. Fatigue. A sickness like I’ve never felt, came over me in no time at all. When would I ever escape? Am I doomed for all eternity in this blasted place?

I know people have often called me stubborn. But in that pit I began to realize that I am not stubborn at all. No. I am fueled by a determination that burns within. Ignited by a challenge. Refusing to give up until the impossible is made possible. That is who I am. Determined, not stubborn, is the word that describes me.

And so for months I used every ounce of energy left to picture Hope. What does Hope look like to me? Now I know the answer to that question.

Hope began to take the shape of wildflowers. Surrounded by a lovely canvas of pinks, whites, purples, greens, blues, reds, and yellows. Heaven!

floral-199099_1920

Then I saw the faces of people like me, stuck in that nasty pit, longing to get out. Somehow. Someway. It must be possible.

people-1099783_1280

And I promised myself right then and there, no matter how much Darkness tried to torture and damage my soul, I would fight back. I wound fight back with vengeance.

portrait-girl-streetart-woman

So you see, my love, I fought for you. I clawed my way out. Nails bleeding. Bones tired and aching. I managed to fight. And I keep on fighting because Darkness is never far away. You and I are one in the same. I learned that in the pit. If I don’t fight for you, if I don’t choose to keep breathing, to keep trying, neither of us can exist. Mind and Body. We’re not so different. We need each other.

I am leaping off the cliff. Yelling, “Banzai!”, hoping you will catch me. We have things to do. Creative ideas to explore. Lives to change. Kindness to spread. And let’s not forget the most important, Badassery. You and I, Mind and Body, we still have a purpose.

Doctors may throw around the word Disability, but it doesn’t mean we still can’t contribute to society. It doesn’t mean we have to the let the word Disability scare us. It simply means the world needs to adjust to us. And that is quite all right. It’s high time the world valued all of its people.

We may feel invisible, but I promise you, we’re not alone. There were many others I met down in the pit. They too are looking for ways out.

people-1099782_1280

You and I, we move slower these days, and that’s o.k. Together, Mind and Body, we can accomplish our goals this year. I am sure of that.

happy new year 2016We will have to learn how to do things differently. To love each other as we are, perfectly imperfect. To accept a slower pace. We may love the thrill of sprinting fiercely and quickly to the finish line, but we’ll have to gain respect for the slow grueling pace of cross country endurance. We can do this! It’s time to suit up.

wonder-woman-533667_1920

Keep on eye out for the design and creation of our hopes and dreams…telling the story of surviving the invisible. We will need your help. Surely we cannot accomplish such a feat all alone. The true sign of strength is those who ask for help.

Zen Brain Creative Studio and Petals + Tea are about to jump off! Be on the look out.

P.S. Today is a good brain today. I hope for many more. Time for the next chapter, Daring 2 Pursue. 

From Me to You

Dear Wonderful Reader,

The seasons have changed since last we spoke. No longer is my house boiling hot with my sarong tied around me, clinging to my body with rivulets of sweat running down. And yes, real clothes (outfits if you will) were forsaken long ago as my ability to leave my house dwindled to a tiny flame and was eventually snuffed out. More about that later. Now a cool sunny fall awaits us with promises of caramel apple cider and squash roasting in our ovens.

So many times I have wanted to write. To hit that delightful publish button sending my words out into the Universe. The words swirl about sometimes taking form and meaning, other times they flit about teasing and tempting me.

August 9, 2015.

The day that will live in infamy. Sigh…

A slight exaggeration on my part. Isn’t that such a lovely word? Infamy. Rolls of the tongue quite nicely.

August 9th is otherwise known as the last day I hit publish.

So many twists and turns in my story. Where do I even begin? With what words do I bring you up to speed?

untold story quote

For now we will stick with the simple version. I have been walking a rocky road. Treachery. Trauma. Old Wounds. New Wounds. Fatigue. Healing. All mark the path I continue to walk.

What I have learned thus far is this, it is my path and my path alone to walk. Yes, there are those who love and support me along the way. Try as they might, they can never fully understand. I see the pain and confusion in their eyes. The independent side of me often feels a burden, a task they are given to handle. Words of love and encouragement flow towards me, wrapping themselves around my soul like a warm heavy blanket on a cold winter’s night. Feeling their love and knowing that I am not truly alone, yet caught in this in between space of loneliness, I find the strength to grieve. To grieve for the life I thought was within grasp, only to discover, it slipping away despite how hard I fought.

Me, myself, and I are the only ones who can truly walk in my shoes. Who can feel what I feel. It is at times lonely. There are days where I find myself lost in my own head, struggling to free myself once again. The words of a very wise and strong woman echo in my head, “Embrace your intuitive self.”

peace in your heart

That, Dear Wonderful Reader, is what I intend to do. I grow tired of being shushed by others. My intuitive self says, “To hell with them. This is your truth. Your story to tell. Tell it, however, you damn well please.”

I was once a girl who did this. Somehow I grew into a woman who stopped listening to her intuitive self. Whether it was because I was scared, influenced or controlled to stay silent, whatever the reason, along the way I forgot. I failed to embrace my intuitive self. That is my mistake to own and own it I shall. By taking the smallest steps, my intuitive self is beginning to shine forth. A strength I forgot about now grows within me. Like the woman in, Awakeningthe power I denied myself for so long is beginning to crackle and roar, burning brighter each day.

There are tons of things I want to write and blog about it. Life and my brain have other ideas at the moment. I hope to share many stories in the time to come. First I must learn to heal and embrace my intuitive self.

I have not forgotten about you. Whether you read every post or not, I cherish all of you who have hopped aboard this crazy wild ride that is anything but perfect. This blog was born so I could heal after my divorce. To place all the confused conflicting thoughts in a space other than my head. The purpose of healing still exists, although for a slightly different reason. Every time I am able to conjure clear thoughts, weaving them into a written tapestry, my soul sings with purpose. Writing is my art. What I create with words comes from deep within. Crafted by the magical link between mind and soul.

For now I will share this part of my story.

Food stamps. Medicaid. Never in my life did I think I would pray to qualify. Seriously, I should be homeless right now. Without the support of loving, kind, compassionate people in my life that is exactly where I would be. This is my truth. 

I share my thoughts and struggles because we all have them. It is what makes us human. My hope is that by sharing them, others will not feel so alone. Although, we may not share the same struggle, hope is found in knowing someone beside you is struggling as well, and willing to talk about it. This is my why.

Strength and Love,

Daring Rachael

P.S. Thank you for helping me write my story.

Write Her Own Story

Gifts of the Mighty Titans

 

IMG_20150520_104047Today I watched the clouds swirl and move across the sky as mighty titans.

Horses raced to the top of the hill seeking the fortress of trees. Ready to brace the storm together with backs against the wind forming a mighty shield. Those in paddocks alone, not part of the herd, tossed their heads and raced about, knowing hell was about to unleash before the humans knew what was coming.

You can always tell the horses sound of mind apart from the crazy ones by how they react to fear and potential horse eating monsters prowling for their next victim.

IMG_20150521_084131A few remained calm, basking in the cool breeze, gifted to them by the clouds. “Mother Nature’s air conditioning,” I hear in my mother’s voice. She is there with me watching the spectacle, yet this wasn’t spoken aloud. I heard it resonate within my soul. For one brief moment I was a child again. My mother was explaining to me on a warm breezy summer day why we didn’t have air conditioning. “Why pay for air conditioning when Mother Nature can cool us just the same?”, she says. Just like that, the moment is gone, and there I am in the present, cooled by Mother Nature’s air conditioning.

One horse in particular, a black giant, dripping with sweat from the stifling heat, lookedargo eye at me with thankful eyes. Feeling his first respite from the discomfort of baking in the sun and being eaten alive by blood sucking flies.

Together, the black giant and I, felt the cool breeze wash over us and rain spit upon our faces. The mighty titans gained momentum above us, rolling past, amassing like an infantry setting up ranks, readying for battle. They didn’t clap commands with their deafening thunder or strike upon their enemy with lightning. No, their foe was further away. We were simply passersby witnessing the force assembling. Watching in awe and disbelief at the spectacle above me, thinking once again, we as humans, are just one part of the unfathomable whole.

As the titans marched past I saw incredible varying shades of grey. Shades of grey I never knew existed. In that moment I understood the simple elegant beauty of the color grey. I appreciated its depth and ability to exude feelings of alarm, strength, and peace upon the atmosphere all at once.

Within a matter of minutes the titans had moved on. In their wake the sweltering heat was subdued into a damp coolness. All the horses breathed a little easier, relaxing from the weight of fear and discomfort lifted only by the passing of the titans.

Three whole weeks since my last post.  They say you’re supposed to post regularly when you have a blog. Pssh…timelines…routines…who needs em? Couldn’t meet a deadline if I tried anyways. Ha! This is the first day in months that I haven’t wept or felt the tightening of my chest as vehicles and sirens rolled by. I will take this day and hold onto it. I will remember the sensation I felt when the mighty titans rolled past, for I am sure, tomorrow will be an entirely new day with zero predictability. 

Appointments, Questions, and Drugs

WARNING

Trails and trails of doctors. Prescription after prescription. Shit I could start a black market pharmacy. Oh wait, that’s illegal and I am not going to prison like those Orange Is The New Black bitches. No fucking way! Sunshine, fresh air, and the freedom to binge on Netflicks and social media is waaayyy too good to give up for a tiny cell, and crazy roommates who might shank me with a jolly rancher shiv.

“Do you smoke marijuana?” he said while looking at my chart.

Sitting in yet another doctor’s office hoping to get answers is where I found myself this afternoon. Mind you I’m running on two hours of sleep. Why do you ask? Because the really fun part about having a traumatic brain injury and PTSD is bouts of joyous insomnia. Sweet sweet mind numbing insomnia. Enough to make a person with an operational brain drive 100 miles an hour to crazy town. For me it means that I can’t follow conversations, block out noise, and a whole host of other super fun symptoms that can only be explained by, WARNING: No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Don’t try this at home. So when I heard, “Do you smoke marijuana?”, come out of New Brain Doctor’s mouth, the filter that most people usually have in public situations went on the fritz like a scrambled static screen followed by the high pitch BEEEP for severe weather. As the static scrambled and the BEEEP ensued my brain battled between:

“No, but it sure as hell sounds good.”

“Does trying it count as smoking?”

Laughing hysterically because I’ve joked about getting a card on account of all the PTSD.

“Wow just like that.”

“Why? Do you have some?”

system overload

The static and beeping cleared finally settling on a simple “No.”

Now one would think you’d move on to the next question like: ‘Do you consume alcohol?’ or ‘What medication do you currently take?’. Strangely this wasn’t the case. What pray tell was New Brain Doctor’s next question,”Really?” he said with eyebrows raised, questioning inflection in his voice. Yes ladies and gentlemen he went with, ‘Really?’. This caused a slight pause in my already fatigued brain. With scrambling static faintly erupting in the background I debated between, “Should I be?” and “Yep.” Deciding on the simple answer I replied with, “Yep.” At that moment I begged myself to remember this conversation so I could recall it later and deduce probable causes. That is precisely where I find myself this afternoon as I lay in bed failing at napping because my mind is racing (another lovely symptom).

Why exactly would New Brain Doctor assume I smoke marijuana? As I’ve already determined that is a correct assumption.

1. My tattoos. It is summer and I have a lot of them. Majority of which show when wearing summer appropriate clothes.

2. I was rocking the earthy hippie vibe. Handmade wood earrings. Again my tattoos (all very tasteful artsy pieces inspired by nature). And my clothes, mossy green tank top, with a flow and design to it that screams this girl is bohemian chic, paired with skinny jeans and strappy brown sandals.

Now the only way I will know for sure if my deductions are correct is to ask New Brain Doctor at my next appointment. Although given the amount of patients he sees I highly doubt he will remember the conversation as I do. In no way was I offended by him second guessing my initial response. On the contrary I found it all rather amusing. People have a tendency to say all kinds of amusing and interesting things to me on account of my image. Random strangers will ask me about my tattoos, make assumptions about who I am because of them, and they will go so far as to boldly move articles of my clothing, without asking, so they can get a better look. Given that all of my tattoos tell a story about who I am, it is difficult to explain what they mean without talking about my life, even the bruised still healing parts. It is especially hard to not share the real raw version of my story because I am a survivor of a traumatic brain injury. Having injured my frontal lobe it does things like impair judgement and take away filters you would normally have. That aside I have always been a very straightforward upfront person. Ask me a question and I’ll tell you the truth so you better make sure you actually want to hear the truth. Factor that on top of a frontal lobe traumatic brain injury and you’re one step away from the kind of honesty that Temple Grandin has. Trust me, I’ve heard her speak in person. She is beautifully honest, gets right to the point, no bones about it.

Now go back to the feeling I described earlier, brain going on the fritz like a scrambled static screen followed by the high pitch BEEEP for severe weather while battling over which thought to pull out and say. It is extraordinary that my answer was a simple ‘No.’ Extraordinary. That one simple task of pulling out the word ‘No’ took every ounce of energy I could muster. That is just one of the differences between having a “normal” brain and a brain forever changed by traumatic injury like mine.

In case you’re wondering after all of this, yes, you really can make a jolly rancher shiv. Here’s how.

It is day 4 of the New Orleans Writing Marathon. I would especially like to thank my brain for allowing me to write one more piece this week. This is the most I have been able to write since June 12th which also happens to be my birthday. This has been a big week for me in so many ways. Still learning who this new me is, After Me, as I like to call it. The me that survived trauma and is learning to reinvent herself as a result.