I am a die hard football fan. I have been since I have been able to throw a football. Of course the Pittsburgh Steeler‘s are my favorite team. I grew up 80 miles north of Pittsburgh (having six rings is just a bragging right.) I can remember back in the late 70’s as a little fella watching the steel curtain just shred the opposing teams offense. Jack Lambert was of course the baddest of the bad on defense. Years and years later I actually got to meet him by accident. I was coaching a girls softball All-Star team and we had to go on the road to play our next game. When we arrived at the field I was told by a local that Mr. Lambert actually took care of the fields and worked in the concession stand. Of course being the curios man that I am I immediately was hungry for a hot dog. I went to the concession stand and sure enough there was Jack Lambert standing in front of me ready to take my order. I didn’t want to seem like the crazy fan so I reached out my hand said Mr. Lambert my name is Mike and I am the coach for the Franklin team. Nice to meet you. Then I went about my business. We unfortunately lost the game but it was pretty neat to hear one of your childhood heroes announce your players at the game. OK, back to the point
Being a super mega football fan I love this time of year. I also cringe a little when the fall begins to come around and football gets into full throttle. With my history of having a brain injury and the research that I have done since then, I know that it is inevitable that thousands of athletes around the country will have some some sort of head or brain injury. Roughly 3000 children from age 5-15 die from these injuries annually and another 400,000 are taken to hospitals. This number does not include professional athletes, soldiers and all others such as car accidents. The numbers are very scary!! I recently just made a phone call to our local high school to see if the brain injury ribbon could be added to the helmets of all grade levels in the football program. I have not received an answer yet, but I dont see a reason for any resistance. I have a mother of an injured child to thank for this because she gave me the idea. I hope that it make s more people aware of traumatic brain injuries.
This brings me to another neat little idea I had while doing nothing and staring into space. The title of this post comes from that idea. Recently we have seen the cold water challenge and the ice bucket challenge. Well I have an idea for brain injury awareness. I am calling it the brain freeze challenge!!! Here is how its gonna work. The person who is challenged is going to have to assemble a team of them self and five others. This team of six will take a half gallon of ice cream and divide it into six individual cups. The team will then have to eat their cup of ice cream within 30 seconds to complete the challenge. Each team member will then challenge one person to accept this “Brain Freeze.” In a very short time thousands of people can spread the awareness of brain injuries. 6 turns to 36, 36 turns 216, 216 turns 1296 and so one. The outreach can be tremendous. My question to each of you is “who is with me and willing to help lead the way in the brain freeze challenge?” Leave me a comment and when I am ready to start this I will be sure to send you the challenge. Who knows, I may be able to get an Ice Cream sponsor as well.!!!! I don’t now about you, but I am ready to freeze my brain!!!!
There is an actual medical term for a “brain freeze” you guessed it… sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia
When I look at the words strength and strong, I see two words that are basically the same but have completely different meanings. I used to look at these two words and see them basically meaning the same thing but then I dove a little deeper and this is what I learned. Anyone can define the word strong and it usually comes down to a physical trait that we all have. It can also mean that we are mentally strong such as our beliefs and our morals. We all can see our strong points and our weak points when it comes to our everyday life. We have the ability to change some of them quickly and some of them may take time.
Strength on the other hand is something that we think we can see but do we really. Strength is usually defined as physical more than it is when it comes to our mind. Our mind is strong but can we see our emotional strength. What do I mean by emotional strength? When I say emotional strength I mean can we really see what our strengths are and use them to the best of our ability? I am sure that many of us can, but I also think that many of us don’t. I believe that our strengths are en-grained in us by the time that we become adults. I believe that we learn these strengths based on things that we did as we were growing up. One of my examples for myself is “I am strong because I was able to bounce back both physically and emotionally from a near fatal TBI.” One of my biggest strengths is that I can always see the positive side (silver lining if you will) in any situation. There is always one out there. If you become accustomed to not looking for them then you can become weak. If you allow that to happen to you then shame on you. Can you define your strengths. I bet you can, but I bet there are more than meets the eye. They are standing right in front of you, you just have to be willing to see them
I have set myself very specific goals once I started my road to recovery. I have reached a lot of those goals and some are still out there waiting for me to catch them. As always I am not going to slow down to reach those goals and now more than ever I have been given more motivation. One of my biggest goals and possibly one of the hardest ones to reach was to write a book telling my story about life after a Traumatic Brain Injury. Well guess what? I just got a call from my editor. She wants to meet with me because the editing IS DONE!!! This has kept the goosebumps on my arms since I got off the phone. I always knew that if I kept driving forward that good things could and would happen. There have been so many good things happen and I am not down playing them at all, but when you finally reach a major goal in your life and you can look in the mirror and say “I am going to be a published author” it is a feeling that really really feels good. My wife is going to be very happy. She knows I wanted this. If I did not have the support from my friends and family that I have had since day one, I may not have accomplished this.
Life is such a challenge and a constant roller coaster. When something this positive happens it makes me look back and say “go to hell tough times, you can not stop me!!!” Brain injury or no brain injury I am AWESOME and I was just reminded of that again today!!! Life is amazing. There is nothing that is impossible when I strive for success
This post may seem a little offensive to some people that follow this blog but guess what? I am a big boy and I can handle it!!
I talk to or listen to or see posts from hundreds of TBI survivors and caregivers every week. I love it. I give my thoughts and opinions when asked and I am an open book when it comes to sharing my experiences. There is nothing that I hide. Some of these people are on FaceBook groups, some are in FaceBook and not in groups and some are by email. I have started to notice something that I realized before but it never sunk in like it has recently. I want to preface this by saying that a Brain injury sucks!! I t is a long winding road full of potholes and speed bumps. It can beat the hell out of you and kick you while you are down. That is the facts but there is so much more!! When I hear people constantly bitch and moan about how bad their brain injury is and will be forever I get a little frustrated. If you are able to type to me on the web then you have something going good for you. All of the energy that is used to pity yourself and look for reasons to stay that way is a waste of energy. Use that energy and find something that you can be thankful for instead of being pissed off about. Is it ok to be pissed off? Damn right it is It is also ok to find a silver lining in every situation that you face. When the bitching and moaning never end you are not only limiting yourself, but you are bringing others down with you. Do yourself a favor and find something good, anything!!! Every person on Earth has the ability to think positive even when the chips are down. When ever you feel kicked in the face dont say Aww poor me. Try adding a couple of letters to the word aww and turn it into AWESOME!!!!
I am always trying to come up with another way to share the positive things in life by pointing out the negative and how easy it is to overcome them if you really try. Today I am going to compare that to a Snowman. Every snowman that has ever been created started with a single flake of snow. Like snow flakes everyone is different. Sometimes the snow is too dry and powdery to make a snowman. I like to think of that as people who are able to bounce back from adversity easily. That little snowflake that gets in your mind is there, but not paid attention to because it does no good and can’t turn into a snowman. Some snow is really wet and heavy. That snow can definitely be rolled up into a great big ball similar to a problem that weighs heavily on your mind. It still can’t be made into a snowman. Then there is the snow that is kind of like the perfect size and density that can turn into a snowman in the blink of an eye. I see that as the problem that a person isn’t able to let go without a lot of hard work. If that snowman is allowed to build an the snow continues to fall that snowman will get bigger and bigger until the weight will cause it to crash to the ground.
The perfect snowflake if it is allowed to get momentum and roll down hill the results are unknown. That snowball will grow and grow until it has something that stops it, it could be the bottom of the hill, which is the worst case scenario, or it can be something that gets in the way that doesn’t allow it to reach bottom. We all have the ability to be that thing that gets in the way to stop that snowball from rolling. When we do eventually the sun will come out and that snowball will disappear.
When faced with a problem I like to change that snowflake to a type that can not build the snowman or turn my mind into the thing that gets in the way before it hits the bottom. I have many ways that I use to think positive, we all do. Once in awhile it seems that it would just be easier to let that snowman build, stick a carrot in it for a nose and call it a day. Eventually it will go away right. Most of the time it will. Keep in mind that being in that snowman can be a very cold and lonely place. Don’t be the snowman. Let the sun shine and keep that snow from building on you and Spring will be here before you know it.
Snowman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)