19 Dec

Coping With Embarrassment

No one likes to be embarrassed. Isabella, my six-year-old daughter, tries to downplay any humiliating event she has. As adults, I don’t think we do that much better. I certainly hid while I was recovering from the brain injury because of all of the mistakes that I made, my drooling, facial drooping, aphasia (forgetting words or saying the wrong word). I would get dressed and forget to put on my pants or my shoes. I showered and would forget to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner (I would apply one on top of the other). I still get flustered when I can’t recall a word or someone’s name (a daily occurrence for me).

Feeling embarrassed is a normal part of life. I try to remind Isabella that everyone feels ashamed of something, but that those feelings pass. I used to be much better at handling my humiliating moments when I was younger. I remember my mother taking me to get my hair done on my 12th birthday. She offered to come in, but I insisted that I didn’t need her help. I went into the salon with 2 of my closest friends. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. When I was asked what I wanted done, I belted out in my typical loud voice, “a blow job.” The entire salon stopped, stared at me (at least that’s how it felt), and busted out laughing, including my 2 friends. I wanted to run out, I was so ashamed, but instead, I laughed along with everyone else and corrected my mistake, “brow dry, please.” Although Isabella is too young for me to share this example (she’ll want to know what a blow job is), I do reassure her that mami has had plenty of embarrassing moments in her life, even as a kid.

To help set an example for Isabella and to help me embrace my imperfections again, I have had to return to my childhood mentality of going with the flow when I embarrass myself. What I found most helps Isabella (and me) is to remind her that the embarrassing event is already in the past. I remind her of other humiliating moments and how we both survived them. We try to laugh at our mistakes. And I remind her that we can’t be perfect; all we can do is try our best and apologize when we’ve made a mistake.

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04 Dec

Gratitude

I was trying to decide what to cover in my blog, and what’s been on my mind for the last few weeks is the role of gratitude in my life. Admittedly I’ve been thinking about gratitude because it’s the time of year when we gather used clothes, books, and toys to donate. Of course, there’s also thanksgiving, the time of year when we count our blessings and give thanks.

For me gratitude isn’t a seasonal thing. Every morning when I awake, I say a prayer and mention all the things for which I’m thankful. During the day, when I’m not too busy, I give thanks to God again for my health (with all it’s ups and down), for the people in my life, for the opportunities S/He gives me, for allowing me to live another day, for permitting me to be a

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a mother, a wife, an independent minded womyn who can’t seem to keep her opinions to herself. And again at bedtime, I try to remember to give thanks for the present day, for my blessings, and I ask for another day.

I used to only be grateful for the good things in my life. When bad things happened, I wondered, “Why did this happen to me?” A couple of years after the injury, one of my college friends said to me, “You’ve got to change how you look at things. Think about it as, “Things happening for you, not to you. Take ownership of the outcome of the events, turn them into positive results.” This piece of advice has helped me tremendously. When I have a seizure, a medical setback, I don’t bemoan my circumstances. I remember to be grateful to be alive, to have the support I have in place, and I try to learn something from the event. I know it could be so much worse; it once was.

Being grateful has helped my outlook on life. It has helped me keep a smile on my face, and hope in my heart. The things that happen in my life, the difficult and arduous medical problems I have to confront, all happen for me. I am stronger, wiser, and more grateful when I survive the setbacks.

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