A Better Strategy for the Home Stretch

The thing about being conscious about figuring out a “plan for success” for getting through this final stage of my setback is that I can revise my first thoughts on a plan once I start working on my plan.

This is true any time that one is conscious about figuring out strategy.

The first thoughts are often not the ones that are the best!

That seems obvious now that I write it.

However, it was not obvious to me when I wrote my last post.

It took some reflection on my part this week for me to get to the place that it is obvious.

In the last blog post I wrote about what I imagine my strategy for the home stretch of this setback ought to be.   As I wrote the post, I remembered that my strategy had to include “holding back my inner over achiever” because I have come to learn that pushing hard to the finish line doesn’t work for me after my brain injury.

This week I reflected on what the rest of my strategy ought to be.

As I thought about what I had written in my post, it struck me that I was still trying to do things like the old me did things.

It struck me that just imaging the race as a horse race was my old me.

And, I laughed and laughed gently with myself when I realized that my imagination was from a place in my old me.

I am not my old me!

They say that old habit die hard.

Certainly this old habit of imaging strategies as if I were the old me, is still with me.

How funny.   After 17 years of recovery from my concussion, no less!

And then I reminded myself that the new me is the turtle in the race with the hare from the Aesop fables.   In the fable, the hare challenges the turtle to the race and the turtle wins.

“Slow and steady wins the race” is the motto for the turtle in that race.

I have learned that the new me does better trying to emulate the turtle (and not the hare).

That means that I am already holding back “my inner over-achiever” during the race and the home stretch should be no different.

So what are other components for a better strategy for the Home Stretch.

(#1 Remember, I am a turtle in the race.

Keep holding back my inner over achiever because I cannot push throw this)

#2 Build my support network for the last stretch (if its not already built).

A friend called yesterday and at the end of the call, she said, add me to the list of people to call on for help.

#3 Prioritize safety first.

Don’t do things that if they don’t go as expected, may make things worse.  Right now I am having some changes in my depth perception.  So I am not driving until it is safe for me to drive.   This means finding other drivers and changing some of my sons commitments.  Its not easy to change this routine, but if I am an unsafe driver right now, then I need to prioritize safety first for me and my family.

#4  Be gentle with myself.

#5  Slow down (further to incorporate the whole strategy)!

Since I am not processing information well and making more mistakes than usual, in addition to imaging being the turtle in the race, I need to go at a turtle pace with my support network in place and prioritizes safety and is gentle for me and is slow enough that each step is the best step I can take be it forward or sometimes backward to go forward.

What are strategies that you use to build your support network around a setback?

How do they work for you?

How do you manage slowing down and finding the right pace for you?

What is the hardest thing about slowing down and holding back your inner over achiever?


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What Mother’s Day 2014 Means to Me

This week, I attended the Kindergarten Roundup with my 5 year old son.   Kindergarten Roundup is a way for 5 year old’s to visit their future kindergarten school and begin to get ready for next year.

At my son’s new school here in Austin, Kindergarten Roundup includes a Dinosaur play performed by the current kindergartners for the incoming kindergartners.

My son picked a seat in the front row.  He invited neighborhood 5 year old friend and her mom to sit with us.

During the play, my son spotted three of his other neighborhood friends who were in the play and pointed them out to me with huge excitement.

My son loves Dinosaurs and to watch his friends sing about what they have learned about dinosaurs sent my son, and me, over the moon.

To prepare him for the event and to make kindergarten more welcoming for him, I had reminded him which friends would be in the play, so he knew whom to look for.

I was pleased that my son took the next step and spotted them and pointed them out to me, one at a time.   Other than telling him the names of his friends, I also told him the only other clue I had about whom to look for which was that one of his close friends was a “Rock Star” in the Dinosaur play.

He located all of his friends on stage and off stage by himself and told me each time he found one.

As my son and I sat on the front row watching the Dinosaur Play, I realized how special it was, and how amazing it was in my life to be sitting in this room at this time with him.    It flashed in front of me how many barriers I had to overcome to be this moment to be happening.

What were the barriers I overcame:

–I had to learn how to take care of myself again after my concussion.

–I had to find appropriate rehabilitation after my concussion with my cognitive issues standing squarely in the way of my ability to tell my doctors what was wrong and advocate for myself.

–I had to practice my own self-care over and over until I got it into my routine.  (This is called relearning executive functioning skills)

–Once I learned how to take care of myself as part of my rehabilitation, I had to practice and practice taking care of myself over and over again, until I could do it well.

–I had to practice taking care of other children so that I could take care of my own.

–I had to learn new cognitive strategies to make sure my child would be well taken care of and safe and to make sure I could be a good mother to him, to work around some lingering cognitive issues that I still had.

–My husband supported me through all of the practice I did, and got some practice himself!   Some practice was unintentional in that part of our adoption journey was practicing for two years during an adoption that ultimately was not successful.

–My husband and I navigated together two adoption processes.   The second one was successful.

I did all of that!   All of that had to happen for this moment to be happening.  Here I was sitting on the front row with my son watching the Kindergarten play with my neighbors!

And all the practice that I have had and all the knowledge of development that I have learned from the inside out with all my recovery, has helped me to be a much better mom than I would ever have been before my injury.   I have been able to give my son many gifts of understanding and compassion.   Rehabilitation and self-care have also given me the ability to break things down into smaller steps–baby steps– that are only understandable to me because of my insights from my recovery and the teachings that I have learned.

Pinch me!  How meaningful it is to have my family and celebrate how far we have come together this Sunday.

And thank you to all those who have supported this journey, including my many doctors and health professionals, my case management services at Brain Injury Services at Northern Virginia, my adoption support group in Virginia and the one we are building here, many other moms who have taught me lots of tips, my husband who I have mentioned before (but who I cannot mention often enough) and to my old friends and new ones.

I also want to thank Renee Trudeau who wrote a blog post about self care for moms and asked the question what self care meant to me.   I was introduced to her by a lovely friend and life coach in Virginia, Alison Horner Cardy. I met and got to know Alison before I moved to Austin because she was the nanny for my son’s friends at that time.

I love Renee Trudeau’s book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal because it normalizes some of the difficulties that I face as a mom and provides suggestions.   I want to thank Renee Trudeau for the inspiration to write this blog post.    For me, it was thinking through the question she posed about what does self-care mean to me that I came up with this blog post on my walk.

In thinking through her question about self-care,  I thought about all the work I have had to do with self-care following my injury. With my injury, self-care is mandatory, not optional.  Without it, my functioning goes way down and my life becomes intolerable.  Self-care is mandatory for my life to work.

And ultimately, self-care has meant that I can take care of my son!!!  Hence the post that I wrote.

If you want to read more about my journey with my son:



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