Pride in Oneself

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I have always considered pride and vanity to be the same. I think that this largely stems from the fact that I was not allowed to share my thoughts and feelings I had and it be treated with acceptance. Rather, I was taught that my own thoughts and feelings were disrespectful. With such an upbringing, it is very difficult to even consider letting myself have pride. Recently, I was talking with someone who said that we all should have pride in ourselives, because when we are getting ready to die, we do not need to spend the last moments of our lives full of regret and woes. I have been pondering this lately, and I do understand his stance more.

I love giving to others. I aim to do so, not for accolades but to make a difference. If I was doing this with effort, then there would be little or no satisfaction in it. However, being I do this from my heart, it is quite therapeutic. I take pride in this being a part of who I am. If I were to do this for others’ approval, etc, that would be full of vanity. However, I am happy never having a popular name. We are all people, and helping souls one by one is wonderful. Sure, if I had the ability, I would love to help the masses. However, each one of us is merely a grain of sand. But one grain of sand changes the ocean floor depth, etc.t o

I am on a journey to having  a healthy pride in myself. I hope my children grow by leaps and bounds ahead of where I am.

 

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Eyes Front, Chin Up!

I was groomed to not share opinions and feelings, as that is considered disrespectful to my parents. Then, I am a domestic violence survivor, as my first husband was an unkind man, to word it “nicely.” Due to this, my self-esteem  never has developed. In fact, that is a new goal, as I am no worse than anyone else out there, yet I have not given myself that grace.

 

Two days ago, I needed a screw for my spectacles. Furthermore, I was not taught how to use these transitional lens. I learned on my own while waiting for my husband to stop using his frames and have lens placed in his older frames. I noticed that if my head was raised I could lower my eyes and read a book far better. This new realization caused two thoughts. The first was hearing Mary Poppins telling the two children, “Chin up!” Then, I have a memory from my time in the military with a command “Eyes Front!” This command came after a command for us to look right or left. Between the two mixed with the understanding of good dancing skills, one’s head is raised, and the chin is not angling to the ground.

 

I have begun walking even before this experience with transitional lens and reading, and I have begun to learn how body language can help one’s own being. For instance, many of you have heard that if you smile, then it will happen inside of you. You will find a true smile. The same is true with having a more confident stance. If you practice it, it will happen. I am not happy to have a body that is declining in its abilities; however, I am pleased to be finding my way with living a healthier emotional life… believe it or not, largely due to my TBI.

Appreciation for One’s Age

Every day my husband works, I take a walk to the store and visit a friend who is working as a security guard. I am open to meeting new people in those moments, to sit and talk with them and hear what they have to say. Monday, I was leaving the store and saw a man of color with a “Vietnam Veteran” cap. I passed him and thanked him for his service. From athere, I wound up sitting beside him and talking with him. He is seventy-six years of age and talked very quietly, but he offered so much. One thing that impressed me was him stating that he asks for help from those younger in age when the person seems down. He needs help but tries to pick the person to help him to not only aid him but to help give that person a lighter heart that seems heavy. I thought this was noteworthy.

After we talked about how he helps the young help him, he then spoke of how he asks younger generations for knowledge about things that he does not know. For instance, he will ask for knowledge from middle-aged individuals or younger as we know more about such compared to many geriatrics. I then commented how I am the perfect age… able to rely on those younger than I regarding new technology and knowledge yet rely on older, wiser people to teach me more about life. Following that, it dawned on me that I will always be the “perfect age”. The reason I say this is that I love learning: about life, science, history, people, etc. We all have things to offer and teach others, and if we are willing, we can always learn something new, if we desire. That has always been a desire of mine for as long as I can remember.

It is a moot point to wish to be older and know more, for when we are older, there is newer science and knowledge. Furthermore, when we are older, our bodies also grow older and more decreppit. It is a vain point to also wish to be younger. People younger do not have the experiences that older individuals have and are still developing wisdom. I am happy with my age, and I believe I always will be, for I am mindful of what I have my own self and how I can glean both from younger and older people than I.

Living in the Present and Watching the Present Pass Exercises

I took a walk today and reminisced about my time admitted at West Florida Rehabilitation Center on the 2nd floor. I remembered some of the patients with whom I was closeby eating a meal and how some of them seemingly did not know I was next to them. I was puzzled as to why this was, but today it dawned on me that they could have been overcoming TBIs as well. Due to this, I called the receptionist and asked if the second floor was where brain injury patients and other patients with brain conditions stayed. She basically agreed this to be true. Upon the end of the phone call, I caught myself nearly in tears.. I didn’t know there were others like myself, and to be honest, I did not understand at that point how traumatic my accident was.

So here I was walking down the road and nearly crying. Then, I remembered the idea of “living in the now” and not the past along with mindfulness exercises. So then, I began focusing on my walk, the breeze, the trees and the cars passing by me.

I, then, pursued an exercise focusing on the cars, watching them pass by me and then not looking behind me to see them. The idea was to help me live in the present and to train myself that the past cannot be changed, and it does not live in the present. From that point, I began to note the present traffic passing by me and how seeing it was only momentary and then became part of the past. There were times I thought of turning my head, but I did not. I recalled the story of Abraham, Lot, and Lot’s wife. They were told to move away from Sodom and Gomorrah and not look back. Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. As I mulled this idea, I realized how unfruitful it is to look back on the past and not be focused on the present.. that I, myself, am as productive as a pillar of salt when I do this. Here we are focusing on the past and future which do not exist and do not focus enough on the present. I believe I am going to continue exercising in this fashion on my walks to help train my thought process to be in the present and mindful of each moment as it happens versus causing wear and tear on my mind and body through depression and anxiety over the past and future.

Isolation, Self-Isolation Vs. Compensation Therapy

This portion was written March 27, 2016.

It has been 19 months and 2 days since my 20 foot fall onAugust 24, 2014. October 3,2014, I learned that I can no longer smell. My first reaction was shock. I learned when I whiffed my husband’schest to smell his cologne while we were watching a movie. I learned that it was not there. When we returned home, I picked up every bottle that had a scent: dishwashing detergent, bleach,shampoo,etc. Nothing..It was all gone. A short time later, I told my neurosurgeon about this find, and he replied that if it did not return six months from my accident that it was permanent. There was no warning of danger. There was no emphasis to keep eating and to find a way to enjoy it. Maybe he did not say anything because there is nothing he can do to fix a dead olfactory nerve.

As time passed, I learned I cannot “taste” flavor anymore. I learn that all I have is what my taste buds allow me to have and that flavors are stimulated from smell. This caused me to not want to eat. I would rather other people enjoy food than me “steal” it from them. After all, the enjoyment was and still is gone. Every time smell is mentioned, it has caused me to feel isolated. My response was to cut myself off even more, thinking that would reduce the pain. However, it only causes more pain to be isolated from the world and then to cut myself off from it even more.

My husband, Dan, loves fragrant flowers. He bought some for our new yard last spring. Every time the wind would blow and he could smell their fragrances, he would mention it. It is sad, I will not lie. Then, my granddaughter made remarks, so instead of letting it bring me down, I took her around our yard to smell every blooming bush we had. I did this for her, and I did it for me to help me to raise my head higher and at least for the moment not feel such loss.

This year we had mandevillas die over the winter. I decided to buy jasmine for my husband to give him what he loves: fragrant flowers. Was it difficult to open the store’s door? Yes. It was even more difficult to talk to the representative about my loss and my goal.. and how I cannot begin to sense what might be the most fragrant. I brought the dormant vine back, and we have planted it.

My whole reasoning behind buying this vine is to help me face what I will never gain. Furthermore, it is to give permission to my loved ones to enjoy what they have not lost. I do not have the end of this story yet; however, this seems much healthier than giving in to the natural isolation followed by me causing more isolation. I am the cause of this jasmine being in our yard, and I am the one giving pleasure to my husband. No, I cannot enjoy it as he can. Yet, giving to him beyond what I can personally experience does offer fulfillment. After all, I love him and my children so much that I do not want to keep them from pleasure.

I believe this is a concept that can be used by many, not just anosmics. We all have disabilities or deficiencies. We should not deprive others from what they still have. Furthermore, when we give to them in the ways we cannot appreciate firsthanded shows and gives loves beyond comfort; however, it helps us accept our faults ALONG WITH opens to door to forgiving ourselves of the shortcomings we have in our lives.


This part was written June 4. 2016.

I have given more thought into compensation therapy. I bought a jasmine plant for my husband for his pleasure and the hopes that I could slowly accept my olfactory nerve being dead for life. The thing is there are so many other people who have suffered loss or never functioned with all the senses and body parts as the average healthy human was born having. Writing about smell loss is not enough. Furthermore, this concept has not had enough articulation. Below is a list of losses and ways for each of them to be accepted and even vicarious appreciation that others have what we do not. I will be adding emotional issues onto this. As aforementioned, the array is vast and will take time for me to explore and articulate any conditions and challenges that come to mind to help us all to accept and forgive ourselves for things we cannot help. Furthermore, I will be posting ideas to help social issues, as they are correlated to many brain conditions, not to mention this may be how any one reading might already function without any biological / physiological reason known.

 

“The New Me” vs. “A Changed Me”

Since my return home in October 2014, I’ve been fighting the idea of “the new me.” It wasn’t until reading the Oliver Sacks’ preface to “An Anthropologist on Mars ” did I learn a new perspective. The concept is that there is “a changed me,” with my body and mind compensating for the changes in me that I have obtained.

The idea of change is more forgiving and accepting than fighting for the old me, whom I will never have again due to mind and body changes.  Mr. Sacks articulated how the mind and body are wondrous, compensating with and even underneath awareness. It’s s losing battle to fight for what cannot return.  I am invigorated to find a substantial view with acceptance instead of pursuing insanity filled with an impossible dream .

Appealing Foods to People with Anosmia

For all of you readers who do not know what anosmia is,it is the condition of not being able to smell.If one cannot smell, we cannot sense danger that everyone else can, and 95% of taste is gone, as smelling is a valuable facet to tasting. I have more posts to educate those who have anosmia as well as those who know people like us along with help the culinary arts field, as texture is underrated; however for anosmics it is largely the highlight of any dish along with sensations (cool mint, hot salsa…)

 

Sandwiches with Coleslaw or Potato Chips. Coleslaw adds crispiness and crunch, while potato chips offer crispiness.

Croissants with Melted Chocolate or sliced almonds in an almond paste- Flaky croissants with gooey melted chocolate. Sliced almonds offer a crunch along with creaminess of almond paste.

Pineapple Uside Down Cake – The pinapple glaze offers silky moisture while the cake is moist.

Boston Creme Cake/Pie – Chocolate ganache, pudding between both cake layers. Three textures: crunchy (or gooey depending on the temperature of the cake), creamy, and spongy.

Buffalo Loaded Fries – Blue cheese offers a bitter flavor, and the buffalo sauce gives heat.

Habanero Jelly – Sweet with heat.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (like Nutella)

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream – Note: Ben Cohen and his partner began their partnership after Mr. Cohen obtained anosmia. They partnered to compensate for Mr. Cohen’s loss. Their original business was an ice cream parlor. Now we have their goods, AND MR. BEN COHEN approves each recipe. If you read the descriptions and ingredients, there is a high emphasis on texture!

This post was started on July 25, 2015; however, there have been updates as my venture continues for all anosmics.

Apathy and Risky Behavior after a TBI

When I returned home after the TBI, I had a list of “Thou Shalt Not’s.” Being I am a mother of eight children whom I homeschooled and have been a stay-at-home mom while holding a career in a studio close to my residence being told what I could not do was quite a hurdle. Not hold more than eight pounds? Not bend my back… sounds easy; however, I have always been very independent to the point of delivering my last two children at home on purpose.

Facing all the rules of what I was not supposed to do decreased motivation and zeal. What’s the point? Why am I even here? After all, look at all the things I am told not to do! Due to all these new rules, apathy grew. I followed the rules mostly; however, I have had an adventurous rebel dare me to be imprudent. Why do I even matter?

My point of this post is to relay how apathy and risky behavior can be coincided, especially if the survivor is independent and not the type who asks for help. Furthermore, I am sure with many TBI survivors, Alzheimer’s patients and autistic individuals, awareness is lowered.Furthermore, disinhibition is often a side effect of brain injuries and other pathologies that affect cognition.

It has taken me about eighteen months TO BEGIN to be more aware of all of the changes within me and how adventurous I would love to be. Part of it is a lifelong enjoyment of testing physical boundaries, and there has been a growth of this daredevil inclination. Being I have a husband and eight children, I veer away from this side of me largely; however, in the background it still screams.

“The Wanderer” Changed to “The Whirlwind” Lyrics

I’m the kind of gal who whirls all around.
Wherever there is havoc, I surely can be found.
I kick and I scream. I don’t know any names.
I fuss and fight, and I put you ALL to blame.
Cuz I’m the Whirlwind, Yes I’m the Whirlwind.
I whirl around around around around.

 

Oh well, there’s a mess to the left
And a wreck on the right.
If you get near me, I’ll put you afright.
And if you come to me and tell me you’re blessed
I’m sure you’ll want me placed under an arrest

 

Oh well I roam from town to town
I go through life without a care
I’m always happy as a clown
With my wind tunnel, I’m always going everywhere.

 

I’m the kind of gal who whirls all around.
Wherever there is havoc, I surely can be found.
I kick and I scream. I don’t know any names.
I fuss and fight, and I put you ALL to blame.
Cuz I’m the Whirlwind, Yes I’m the Whirlwind.
I whirl around around around around.

 

Written on February 24, 2016

A New Perspective for Eating

It has been just shy of eighteen months since my accident, falling twenty feet and obtaining a traumatic brain injurty (TBI) along with anosmia. I hate to admit it, but life in general has become bland. It is ironic how my life was seemingly more flavorful when I could taste and sense flavor versus not being able to smell and having flavors removed from my eating.

 

I have been in and out of searching for answers for myself along with all my fellow anosmics. I feel their pain, whether anosmia is a result of an accident or whether it has been a part of life since birth.

 

Within my search, I have talked to friends, family, chefs, counselors, etc. I have learned smell is the sense linked to emotion and memory the most. To not have that is saddening and filled with much loss. So the question is what do we do about it regarding eating  with the loss of both smell and no flavors? My sister-in-law told me that if I am eating a certain food, remember what it was. Tie the memories and emotions into the food. After all, eating is both bland to the palate and to the emotions, whereas to most eating touches the heart and gives satisfaction to the tongue while filling the stomach.

 

I decided to do this. Before my accident, my husband and I would eat at various restaurants and we had come to order desserts on occasion that often were chocolate with amaretto drizzled on the dessert. Yesterday, I requested this be ordered with our Valentine dinner. Part of me was disappointed.. disappointed because I already knew it would not be the same. The other part kept telling myself to remember.. remember the dinner.. remember the romance.. remember how wonderful it was to eat this dessert together with my husband. The result is it was less bland than it would have been. If I had not tied this memory into what I was eating, it would have been full of grief, sadness, and loss. It would scream everything I had and how it is likely to never return.

 

I know not all anosmics are that way from accidents but from birth instead. However, all of us with cognitive skills and abilities have memories of love and bonds. Most of us have our sense of touch, sight, and hearing. Due to this, even for congenital anosmics, this is still a viable way to eat and make at least some foods more amiable and pleasant… to remember and rexperience the love and bonds we have with our family and friends while eating can help. It may not give our mouths flavor; however, it can minister to our hearts. Thank you, Linda, for your insight. I am glad you mentioned this idea, and I am proud to say it is better to eat this way even if on rare occasion than everything being a fight to eat.