Living in the left brain sucks!

One of the better known books about dealing with stroke was written by a brain scientist who survived a stroke.  She described her post stroke reality in almost mystical terms…  She felt one with the universe; could feel time flow around her; she was on vacation from her detail-oriented life.

She experienced a “left brain” stroke that caused her brain to rely more heavily on the unaffected right side of her brain.  My experience was less mystical…

I had a “right brain” stroke causing my brain to use more of my unaffected left side.  In addition to the functions lost as the areas that handled them were fried, I also found that my subconscious way of looking at stuff changed from “big Picture”, “intuitive” to “step by step”, “detailed”.  Instead of seeing everything as a whole that connected everything, I saw everything as a bunch of parts which may be connected, although the connections was not as important as each of the separate parts.

It’s impossible to realize how thoroughly it affects how you look at the world, view yourself and relate to others.  I don’t like this new reality and really wish I could go back to my old reality.  I now have to separate myself from the way my brain works.  Kathy often hears me apologize “Sorry, that’s the way my wiring works now.”  She doesn’t always buy it but it helps me remember my values and how what I am isn’t defined by how my brain works.  I just need to remember to consciously think and act the way that I want to.

I suppose that we could think of this like changing all my habits at the same time…  When you’re changing a habit, you have to consciously think about what you want to do instead of automatically following the habit.  Eventually, the new habit will replace the old habit and you won’t have to consciously think on what you want to do.  I can  only hope that this is applicable, at least somewhat, to my situation.

If you have any comments on this, right brain vs left brain or how this compares to habit changing, I’d love to see your comments…

Happy New Years 2015!

I pray that everyone will have an excellent 2015.  May you have wonderful stuff happen for you and unhappy events pass you by.

Last Sunday, the discussion in Sunday School turned to New Years being the beginning of a new cycle and that it’s natural to anticipate how it will unfold, what will be new or different.  As part of that anticipation, we think about what we will do differently. and this is why New Years resolutions have become a tradition.  If we think more about the doing different for the cycle, the year,and less about how it’s a resolution we just made, it’s more likely that we will follow through on our resolutions and less likely to abandon them.

I shared a resolution with the class that I’ve made for 2015.  It’s similar to other resolutions I’ve made in the past that never took hold so I’m more than a little nervous about this one:  I resolve to post on my blog every weekday in 2015.

There- I’ve published it for everyone to see. We can all watch to see how long I can keep my resolution.  If you have any thoughts on my resolution or New Years resolutions of your own to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments section.

Praying For a New Life

I’ve decided that I’m going to pray for what I need and want in life.  I’m going to pray for everything and everyone.  I’m going to pray so much that God is going to get tired of my continual supplication.  And by praying, I want to bring about these things and focus myself on creating them or making them happen.

I joined the lds church last June and most members are enthusiastic pray-ers.  They will pray about just about anything and for just about everyone.  They believe that Heavenly Father (God) hears all prayers and answers them and that He knows each of us “by name”, “individually” and “personally”.  That may very well be true but my problem is when they anthropomorphise God, it gets in the way of understanding what prayer is about.  (Maybe that isn’t really too far off if we’re all children of God or part of the “great consciousness”.   Maybe Jesus was trying to teach how we can all be creators just like him and Heavenly Father.)  prayer is not just another conversation like you have with your next door neighbor over the fence while pruning the roses.

A prayer is your focused effort to make something by conscious will.  It’s like a formal method of working the law of attraction.  Of course, now I’ve annoyed all those pray-ers by equating their faith with new age hokum…  But at some level, both the pray-ers and the law of attraction folks are saying to do the same thing – think about what you want to happen so that God or whatever powers the universe can make it come about.

The Fear of Wanting Something So Much That You’d Pray For It

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like my life to be if I could change it.  My life isn’t very satisfying right now.  It’s not that I don’t have people who love and care for me, I do.  It’s not that I’m financially strapped, my wife makes a good living.

It’s actually very scary to think about what I truly want.  I worry whether it will be as good as I visualize it.  I worry whether I’ll end up alone or, even worse, living with someone that I don’t care for (enough.)

But I’m not who I want to be and I’m not doing what I want to be doing.  A lot of my current situation is due to the stroke.  But not all of it.  And in some ways, the stroke has clarified how the current direction of my life is deviating from what I sense is my true direction.

It’s not like I made some huge decision at some point and my path veered dramatically off-course.  It’s more like it’s a result of many small decisions and non-decisions that over time changed my life.  Unfortunately, now I have to deal with the cumulative effect of those decisions and struggle to get my course headed in the right direction again.

Many of those places (and people) will take time to reach and I don’t know if it’s already too late to try for them.  I don’t know what it will be like if I ever arrive and how the natives will react.

One of the lessons from Richard Bach’s Bridge Across Forever” is that you can’t search for a soulmate; you have to do what you love and they’ll be attracted to that.  One of my problems is that right now I can’t do what I love to do so I don’t know how I’ll attract anyone compatible, much less my soulmate.  That’s frustrating for me and my need for instant gratification.

Happy New Year 2012?

The last couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing what 2012 portends for us and how incredible 2011 was for me.

With significant life changes looming for me in 2012 and alll of the good things that happened in 2011, I am a little apprehensive about what’s in store this year.  I don’t know how it could top last year and I certainly don’t want to think about how disastrous any of those life changes could be for me.

So, how do you embrace the new year and wish everyone a happy new year when you don’t know how any year could be better than the last year?

TED (ted.com)

TED (ted.com) is utube for the public broadcasting set. It’s amazing the breadth and depth of the presentations available on ted.com.  Originally, you needed to attend a TED conference to listen to these incredible speakers, but now you can just point your browser at ted.com and search for a topic, a speaker or specific presentation on hundreds of topics.

I have never been disappointed in a presentation.  Some topics may not have kept my interest, but the speakers and presentations have always been worth watching.  Whether you’re just looking for a quick brain break, to learn more about a topic or just to be inspired, you can find it on TED.com.

ted.com has been around for quite a while and I’ve been a fan for a long time.  Since the stroke, I’ve visited ted.com many times when I felt down and needed inspiration.  My favorite speaker is Aimee Mullins, who, despite having no shins, became a collegiate caliber sprinter and competed at the paralympics against able-legged competitors.  Since then, she has worked as a model and inspirational speaker.

Aimee has two presentations on TED, the first focuses on her experiences running and the prosthetics that she uses.  The other presentation discusses how society treats people with disabilities and how that treatment can cause the disabled to essentially give up, accept society’s expectation and not even try to accomplish anything.

So whether you need inspiration, entertainment or education, you can find it on TED.

November Fitness Update

This is just a quick update on where I am at with my fitness program.  I don’t feel like I am fully underway with it.  There are signs that I need to more seriously pursue a fitness program and a few that I’m starting to make progress.

Under the heading of “Signs that I Need to Get Serious About Fitness”, Joe and others have observed that I’ve gained weight.  Kathy is not overly concerned – I think that she shares my memory of losing all that weight in the hospital.  Dr Smith, my eye doctor, at my annual checkup was worried about my blood pressure and suggested that it would be good to lose some weight.  I was going to replace my snacking on m&m’s with chex mix and pringles but she suggested that I cut down on salt.  🙁

More importantly, my experience at the reunion and haircut last Saturday demonstrate that I need to improve my walking endurance.  I was so wiped out at the end of the reunion that I almost stumbled down the stairs leaving and was still tired the next day.  Tiring out returning from Domenico’s indicates that walking to and from the bus stop might still be beyond me and I need to train more before attempting to use the regular bus.  On the positive side, I had a good session walking intervals around the court Tuesday.  If I can do 3 sessions of intervals each week, I should be ready to try the regular bus for my next haircut.

On a less important note:  I need to get a picture showing my November fitness.  I wanted to take it today but I was distracted and also forgot that Julia was at her cousin’s house until bed-time.  Hopefully Thursday…

5 Signs You Are Going to the Reunion for the Wrong Reason

  • You print new business cards just for the reunion so that other attendees will notice that you have a fancy job title.
  • You spent your rent money to buy a smoking hot dress to attract the attention of your old boyfriend, crush – or the whole football team.
  • You spent your mortgage payment on a new watch or other bling to demonstrate how much “disposable” income you have to throw away on trinkets.
  • You didn’t invite your spouse along because you didn’t want anyone to get the idea that you weren’t available.

It’s normal to want to make a good impression but when that desire becomes so important that you lose your perspective and damage your finances or your family, you need to get a grip and return to reality.

Reunions are tinderboxes for your emotions – It’s where a bunch of people who you shared aa significant experience with are gathered together all in one place.  So you have strong ties to these people.  They also represent “where” you came from so that also evokes strong feelings.  On top of that, time has softened your memories so they appear much better than the people you’re faced with today.

I went to my recent reunion to show people that I wasn’t dead.  I had a stroke 3 years ago and if I didn’t show up at the reunion, the rumor mill would’ve leaped to the conclusion that  I was dead or dying.  I get enough pity because of the stroke, I don’t need people consoling my family after my supposed tragic end.

I don’t know if going to a reunion to show you’re not dead is a good reason or bad.  But it did get my butt in gear and got me to the reunion.  And once there, I had a good time, heard some interesting personal stories, saw some people who face much more difficult physical challenges than what I have to put up, honored some worthy teachers, reconnected with old friends and proved to myself that I can handle these sorts of social events (barely.)

Self-Reliance Versus Accepting Help

Ever since I was eight, I was self-reliant.  My mother was a single mother and an alcoholic, which pretty much ensured that was how I would turn out… I realized recently that one of the reasons that I have trouble asking for and accepting help is that I learned at an early age that the only person that I could rely on was myself.  And ever since then, I was always there when I needed me.

One of the lessons from the stroke was that I needed to learn how to ask for help, and how to accept it when offered.  I’m not sure that I’ve fully learned that lesson yet but at my reunion tonight, I let Flora help me fill my dinner plate at the buffet and didn’t object when Tom helped get my coat off and get me arranged in my chair at the table.

It doesn’t sound like much but it seemed much more natural tonight than before.  Maybe I am learning my lesson.  🙂

I apologise for not posting for 11 days

It’s ironic that while I’m working on an article on setting a schedule for posting to your blog that I should utterly fail at doing so.

At this point, I don’t know for sure why I stopped for so long but I do recognize some patterns in my behavior that leads me to think that there may be something in how my brain was rewired by the stroke that makes it difficult to (re-)start something that I stopped working on.  I’ve seen this happen in the middle of tasks that I’m working on, like washing the laundry, and during my day as well as things that I’m working on over days or weeks.

It makes it really difficult for me to be successful because one of the necessary skills is being able to handle the unexpected and compensate or adapt.  It’s also difficult for me to maintain relationships where I don’t have a regular schedule or external trigger that reminds me to reconnect with the other person.  Before I know it, it’s days, weeks or months later and nothing’s happened in all that time.

There are strategies that I can employ to help me deal with my wiring… For the blog, I will make the schedule a requirement for me.  I will work on articles with their publication date in mind and if I can’t get an article done in time to make a publication date, I’ll juggle articles and find one that can be published then.  And if I miss a schedule date completely, I will sit down the next day and post an acknowledgement that I missed a schedule date and when the next article will be posted.  (Today, I expect my next article to be posted on Friday, in two days.  And I expect to continue posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from then on.)

Once again, my apologies.

Craig