I never used to be happy in my own skin. I always wanted to be thinner, prettier, have longer hair. Like so many people, I struggled with my weight. But I was confident with my intelligence, with my writing and advocacy skills as a litigator.
After the brain injury, I put on a lot of weight because I was so sedentary. Yes, I wanted to lose that extra weight, but more than anything, I longed to feel smart again. I wanted to feel confident in my brain. I also wished to be physically active and exercise, not for weight loss, but because I now recognized how precious my body was, how lucky was to be alive.
Despite my balance problems after the brain injury, I took up running and I strength training. I have run a couple of half marathons and several races. I have scars from the seizures I have had during my runs, but I keep running. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have slowed me done a bit, but if I am physically able to, I plan on running the NYC marathon this November. I didn’t let my fear of failure or hurting myself stop me from pursuing something that brings me pleasure and pride.
Another goal of mine was to return to school and challenge my brain. I found a program that sounded interesting and recently graduated with an MS in narrative medicine from Columbia University. Returning to school terrified me, but I was honest with myself about my brain’s limitations. I planned my schedule around when my brain was most functional. I loved being a student again and fulfilling that challenge with high honors. My husband and daughter, Isabella, attended my graduation. It felt good to be a role model for Isabella.
I am following my dreams and not letting my health, the fact that I’m a mother, or whatever other excuse I can think of, stop me from doing what I want to do. My advice–don’t use excuses! You can accomplish your dreams, just choose to pursue them, have a positive mindset, start by make small changes, and believe in yourself.