Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here

Willingness, Desire and Determination Led Me Here: Dr. Lisa

This is the final part of a 4-part story of one very brave and dedicated TBI survivor. While this story concludes here, I can assure you Lisa is not done.  She has more ambition than I have ever seen in a person. She is your comeback kid in spite of so many obstacles placed in front of her over the years.  These stories only scratch at the surface as to the challenges she has faced and endured throughout her life.

She still struggles with executive functions but has a wealth of knowledge and resources to help her navigate them to be successful. She is now Dr. Lisa who can help others with a wide range of mental health issues that are keeping them stuck from living to their fullest potential.  She works with others now using her wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to have profound effects on many lives.

Overcoming, One Day at a Time

I went back to school with the focus of studying how mental health can impact the quality of life for mild to moderate TBI survivors. I listened to fellow TBI survivors discuss their struggles with low self-esteem, depression, and shame as these variables were reported to be the most common among the survivors. Negative encounters with people have turned me into an introvert, my desire to understand what other survivors and I experience has turned me into a researcher.

When I walked on-stage for my doctoral hooding ceremony, as a graduate with high distinction, I thought about all the obstacles, steps, motivation, and my desire to serve other people. School enabled me to mature in ways I could not believe. School was my rehabilitation process. The car accident changed my life no doubt, but school provided me with opportunities to learn.

When people said, “I can’t help you”, school taught me how to look for other resources to try to help myself.

Do not misunderstand, we all need someone, and at times, we need a professional to talk to. I need to give credit to my vocational-rehabilitation counselor because she has put up with a lot from me over the years.  She met me when I slurred my words, could not form sentences easily, and I forgot so many things (even the counselor’s name at times), but the counselor also nudged me even when I wanted to be left alone.

Over the years, she has put me in touch with some great resources such as Michelle who have helped me learn in a face-to-face manner how to deal with things which I struggled and still struggle with. I do not mind sharing that Michelle has been of great help to me when I have needed to process overstimulation and processing issues.

Having someone who understands my challenges and who wants to help instead of belittling, is such a blessing.  One thing among many, which I have learned is, my mind can tell me there is no one who seems to be willing and able to help me, that is just in my head.

Wonderful professionals aside, there must be a willingness, determination, and a desire to change. Some of the greatest help to change comes from within, and through faith in a power greater than myself.  For me, that is God, through the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

I chose to share my story because so many people are stigmatized by circumstances beyond their control and in the end, each of us has a choice on how we deal with the cards life has dealt us.

In my case, when I hit an obstacle, it knocked me down and I had to muster the motivation to get back up and try again. Sometimes, it is people who have endured hardship in life who work the hardest to make meaningful changes in their lives. Did I prove the doubters wrong? I have no idea, and frankly, it does not matter because the biggest doubter was myself. If you would have asked me eleven years ago if I would be where I am today, I would have laughed until my ribs hurt.

Someone was watching out for me, carrying me when there was only one set of footprints, and believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

My life is not a bed of roses and I do struggle, but through all the trials, obstacles, and joys, yes joys, there has been one constant in my life and that is faith. Without faith, I would have died at my kitchen table ten years ago. Without faith, I would not have had the courage to move forward when I kept hitting negativity by others and roadblocks within my own denial. Though there have been many challenges in my life, I count my blessings and realize I would not be where I am today without the love of God and His faith in me, when I had no faith in myself.

Life is still a struggle and though I have initials after my name, I am still disrespected by those who cannot see past the blinders in front of their eyes and only choose to see me as “different”, “awkward”, or “odd”. The shunning, rejection, being passed-over for jobs I am more than qualified for, and the sense of not being good enough to fit in society, some would say it is all in my head, but when the same thing keeps happening and only the location has changed, it gives one pause. The other day, I was talking with a member of law enforcement, having a casual conversation and when he found out I have a doctorate degree, I thought he was going to fall flat to the ground. The look of shock on his face was somewhat funny, but at the same time, it was insulting.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about inequality with most reference to race. Discrimination and presupposition are equal opportunity social bias and injustice perpetrators. People do not ask to be born a certain way, nor do people ask to be injured and disabled.

Learning to accept the difference between who they once were and who they are now is a huge challenge in and of itself. Being discriminated against because someone is different, that’s not only social unjust, it shows a lack of self-respect for the individual(s) who cannot accept difference from their own perspective.

My name is Lisa. I have many flaws and many talents. I am, different. I am, a TBI survivor. I am, TBI Survivor Strong.

Lisa Marie Ansell, EdD, LPC, NCC, CBIS
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Certified Brain Injury Specialist
Adjunct Professor at a Private University

If you missed the previous parts of this story you can find them here:  part 1part 2, part 3.

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration and post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.

 

Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and True Grit

Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and True Grit

A Damaged Spirit, Cognitive Struggles and The Determination To Overcome

A 4-part story of adversity, courage, hope and success for one TBI survivor

 

Lisa, with a damaged spirit and facing many cognitive struggles, embraces her disabilities in the midst of healing with the will and determination to overcome her challenges.

This is part two of a four-part series of how one traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor overcame obstacles to improve her quality of life when appropriate resources seemed out of reach.  We learned how Lisa’s life changed after a terrible accident in Part I:  Overcome Obstacles Instead of Being Overcome by Them.   These obstacles and challenges associated with TBI survivors include many skills associated with execution functions of the brain.  These skilled functions can be thought of as the command center of the brain that controls the cognitive processes such as decision-making, impulse control, attention, emotional regulation, and working memory.

Here is part two of her story. 

Change Takes Time

Have you ever heard the term, “doing a geographical”?  Many times, geographicals do not work but in my case, it saved my life; literally. Somehow, I was able to get a good job in another county. I got good references from people in the other community, I think mostly so I would leave. If people think they fooled me, they did not but I needed to go somewhere else to pick up the pieces before my pieces were so broken, they could not be repaired. The job did not work out even though I told the employer about the head injury and how it may take longer for me to get the information into my long-term memory, but once I got the information into my long-term memory, I was good.

  • The trainer grew so impatient with me, she snapped pencils in frustration.

  • I knew my time was done then.

  • So began my employment woes.

Headaches after the accident were brutal and constant. One day, after moving to the new community, I had the worst headache, my speech was worse than it had been since the accident (four years prior), and I thought I was having a stroke.  To the Emergency Room I headed only to be diagnosed with a migraine and sent on my way. The clinic connected me with a kind patient navigator who turned out to understand my circumstances better than most, being a TBI survivor as well. This kind soul connected me with resources that assisted with getting services and referrals to people who deal with TBI.

 I felt like the thunderstorms were heading east and finally, sunny weather was in my forecast. 

The new community had their own ideas about my “strange” behavior and I again faced judgement and incorrect opinions. Employment opportunity labeled me “a liability” and spread the word through the county of my ineptness, which spread like a wildfire. There is nothing better in the world than being judged, tried, and convicted of being an indecent person by people who have no willingness to understand someone who is different, and in their opinions, insignificant. What if it had been them in the accident, how would they feel?

During my recovery, I have seen the kind side of people for the first encounter, then the (not so) subtle body language telling me to stay away from them.  Talk about a self-esteem killer! It has been my experience that people push away what they do not understand, and rebuke what is different than their interpretation of normal.  So, is their version of normal the norm for the rest of us?  Why are they so special?

Just saying. Is anyone relating to any of this?

Aside from doctors and becoming a subject within a sample population for a research study to receive free treatment for my TBI in exchange for data for the researchers, I found another form of rehabilitation. Having been dealt more rejection after the accident than I had previously experienced in life, I found acceptance, in school.

Remember the words from the Junior Associate lawyer who pretty much told me I would not amount to much in life? If you do not, I did. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I applied to a university expecting to be laughed at (behind my back of course) but instead, I got accepted.  Let me repeat the word, accepted.

Between the words of the Junior Associate lawyer and reading the word, accepted, I was motivated to prove all the doubters wrong.

School was tough. I did not retain the information within the reading assignments the first time, the second time, or even the fifth time. I had to reread the material repeatedly to comprehend enough to answer one question. I do not believe any of my professors knew how hard I had to work, they just commented on my being a good student.

While the rest of the world (it seemed) thought this “different, awkward, and strange” woman would not amount to much, I trusted God’s plan for my life, whatever that was, and each time I got a good grade, I felt accepted and more than my brain injury, I was learning how to process information, formulate sentences, and re-learn critical thinking skills.

 I began to have belief in myself again.

Someone within the community who knew I was living out of my pick-up truck or a motel when I had money, told me about a job possibility they knew I had experience with. I was upfront and honest with the potential employer regarding my injury and after going through some hoops, I was offered a job and have been with the employer for nearly eight years.

The job schedule worked with my academic studies and eventually, I was able to move into my own apartment after seven months of living in my truck or in a motel.   I still get people who judge me and think they have the right to draw erroneous conclusions as to why I am the way I am, but I really don’t care anymore as I trust my abilities and know my job.  If I cannot do my job due to having a tough day with overstimulation, I have an agreement with my boss that I will call and take the day off.

There have not been many days I have had to call off work for overstimulation reasons. But the words of people who have tarnished my reputation have created a disrespect of me within the employment that no matter how much I recover, to them, I am just the pain in the butt who shows up for work and does her job.

Gossip kills not only a reputation, but it also does damage to a spirit.

As I sign-off for this post, I am going to share with you that this “awkward” and “different” TBI survivor graduated with honors and received a bachelor’s degree five years after the accident without using accommodations.

My determination wanted to do the work without crutches; I needed to prove to myself that I could do it.

Walking across the stage to shake the hand of the university’s president with one hand and grasp my diploma holder with the other hand did so much for my self-esteem and belief of becoming more than my brain injury.

To the doubters, it almost felt like I was giving them the bird, though I knew there may be nothing I can do to prove them wrong in their own minds.  But to myself, I found a part of me that I did not know existed before the accident. Maybe there was a blessing in disguise within a terrible experience.

Until next time.
Lisa Marie Ansell, Guest Blogger

If you have anything to share please feel free to reach out to me at www.razcoaching.com  or www. coachingacademics.com. [email protected] Or follow my www.Instagram.com/razcoaching. I do daily mini blogs with tips of inspiration and post almost every day.  There’s something in there for you that can help you with your focus for the day.

 

Presence:  Best Gift to Give!

Presence: Best Gift to Give!

Give the gift of presence this holiday.  It is what makes for lasting memories as the gift that truly keeps giving!

Practicing “Mindfulness” as the Key to a Peaceful Holiday Season

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.
When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
— Thich Nhat Hahn

This holiday season is a great reminder of what truly makes memories that will last a lifetime. It isn’t the number of gifts we receive but rather the time we spend with our loved ones. In short, it’s the act of being present.

A person struggling with ADHD or other executive functions may need direction this time of year on how to become connected to the true gifts of the holiday season of love joy and compassion. The term “mindfulness” is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives.

As Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist teacher would remind the world to do — Be present, be in the moment and Enjoy life.

Here is a list of some ways you can help create a peaceful holiday: being mindful can bring you joy in every moment.
  1. Be connected to your breath.
    Conduct a simple breathing exercise of inhaling and saying to yourself, “I am here” Then, breath out and feel the air leave your body for a few seconds. This can bring you back into the moment and leave you feeling connected with yourself, again.

2.  Pick a healthy way to take care of yourself. Take a walk.
Walking mindfully and slowly while paying attention to the sensations on the bottom of your feet offer other personal experiences. Notice how the body moves as you walk with awareness. Take one step at a time.

  1. Prioritize your time.
    Start each day with a few minutes of quiet time. Reflect on the day ahead to help you prioritize your tasks and stay in tune with your emotional state. Recognize important things that need to be done. Identify any stressors and decide how you plan to address them. This process can help you follow through successfully each day.
  2. Actively listen to one another.
    As students get excited for the holidays and receive an academic break from school, it can be a stressful time in the household. Elementary students are exploding with boundless energy while anticipating once-per-year events. High school and college students are studying frantically for their final exams. Parents are preoccupied with navigating their holiday to-do lists.

The combination of feeling overwhelmed, being excited with the seasonal events and the reality of academic stress can severely affect family relationships.

Now is the time to encourage one another to identify the feeling.

What emotion are you experiencing? Are you sad, stressed, angry, anxious, joyful, disappointed, excited or embarrassed? Accept the authenticity of your feelings and express the emotions verbally.

By expressing your feelings it can release negative emotions. Also, by being an active listener, you can demonstrate that you are present and validate the needs of others.

When you practice mindfulness, you are in a state of concentration. Because you are aware, and can sustain that awareness, it is said that you are concentrated. By being fully concentrated, you have an opportunity to make a breakthrough – and to achieve insight.

This practice of cultivating stillness in your life, loving speech and deep listening will bring joy and happiness to others and yourself. This holiday, achieve the true gift of happiness and joy by being in the moment and being present for others. It may be the most joyous season yet when all feel that their needs are being heard and therefore met.

Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, PTSD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog or purchase my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.  It is packed full of exercises and strategies you can put to use immediately.

 

Addiction, Recovery and Life Coaching

Addiction, Recovery and Life Coaching

Find Your Special with a Life Coach after Addiction

It is not true that everyone is special. It is true that everyone was once special and still possesses the ability to recover it.

-Chris Jami, Killosophy

We put our children in schools so that they get educated and enlightened. Then when they get bad grades we immediately force them into studying and ground them so that their grades improve. Similarly when someone falls sick, we rush them to a hospital and get them treated. Society is slowly accepting addiction as a situation where both mind and body are suffering tremendously. To date many people believe that an addict must first have the “will” to cure themselves before anyone else helps them and in essence the desire for a solution must be present but it is still quite unrealistic to expect an addict to have the required discipline and will to fight their drug addiction. They need external resources.

Addiction Recovery

More often than not addicts end up in the worst possible situations before someone takes notice and sends them to rehabs and therapy centers. It’s a sad fact how this problem could have been averted easily, at a much earlier stage. What’s more is that rehabilitation centers are not an empirical cure for addiction, yes, they do cut off the problem but, weeding it out? That requires a lot more management than most people are led to believe. It is HARD work. Relatives and spouses are often too close to the addict to offer adequate support and management, often sensing something is wrong but not acting on it while the addict is struggling.

Life Coaches

According to National Institute of Drug Administration (NIDA) an annual loss of $700 billion is reported related to crime, lost work productivity and health care, owing to alcoholism, smoking and drug administration. About 2% of 12th graders related to daily consumption of alcohol and 23.6% to monthly drug administration. And majority of drug users fell under the ages of 25 to 39. These are hard facts and in most cases all any recovering or suffering addict needs is support.

Addiction Life Coaching is also regarded as a form of “Recovery Coaching”. These coaches specialize in
a) Support around recovery efforts
b) Constant positive reinforcement
c) Decision making guidance
d) Life Style management

Studies show that recovery is aided with the presence of a coach; a third person element that is neither too close to the addict nor a judgmental figure. Addicts easily fall into the trap of bad decision making, coaches help patients relearn and refocus the decision making part of their personality and spend less time struggling. The treatment program of the addict is not done alone, the presence of a coach is also for the healing and support to benefit family members.

While addiction remains a problem of millions it is barely identified by a small percentage and according to the Model of Health, addiction is still not accepted as a disease by many countries. It is well understood now that addiction results from ingestion of reinforcing substances that stimulate the pleasure and reward center of the human brain and alter its functioning. Addiction is not just physical or related to drug abuse, Addiction Life Coaches deal with the mental impact it has of the whole person.

Here are a few types of addictions that are common for life coaches
a) Alcoholics
b) Drug Abuse
c) Sex addicts
d) Gamblers

Often drug abuse and other kinds of addiction lands the abuser in jail however, the process of life style changes and recovery doesn’t have to stop. Life coaches help people right out of confinement in readjusting to the world and provide support for them from falling back into their old patterns.

Addiction remains majorly a social problem and support from peers, family and society members is vital for remission. Quite often biases from time of addiction can be held against clean users and pose as major stressors for rehabilitation.

A life coach is there to bring all the pieces together, make them work collectively for the benefit of the patient.
Benefits of a Life Coach
• Boosting their inspiration to succeed
• Managing day to day life stressors
• Managing life style changes
• Holding the addict accountable to the recovery plan

A life coach sets the pattern for recovery and provides support along the way.

Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.

Unleash Your Hidden Talents Through Negative Feedback

Unleash Your Hidden Talents Through Negative Feedback

Discover Hidden Strengths In Negative Feedback

I have been told that I am bossy and controlling!  Boy did I want to just quit pushing for my goals and hide out after hearing that a few times.  Thankfully, I didn’t or I would not be coaching clients today! Instead, I have embraced my leadership qualities and help people chart their personal course to their success.

Negative feedback often leaves your self-esteem wounded; it makes you feel like your inadequacies have been put on the spotlight.  When this happens, you naturally get defensive either by beating yourself down mentally, or you resort to attacking the source of the negative criticism.

Unleash your talents

Feedback from others is one fundamental way of finding out your capabilities and what you are missing.

To succeed in what you do, you cannot only rely on doing and improving on what comes easily to you (that is, your strengths); you will also need to need to acknowledge your weaknesses and learn how to manage your weaknesses to uncover the hidden strengths within them. The ability to do this can help you to realize your potential and boost your confidence enabling you to operate at a higher level necessary for unearthing the strengths from the weaknesses.

What Are Hidden Strengths?

Hidden strengths refer to those talents, skills, and abilities that are not seen at first as perceived weaknesses mask them. They remain hidden because they are generally unrealized, underdeveloped, and underutilized.

What was once a weaknesses is now a strength!

The process of discovering your hidden strengths often begin with adjusting your self-perception, as the belief you have about your strengths and weaknesses most times “puts you in a box,” limiting your belief system. A shift in self-perception is necessary to create a boost in your confidence about your ability to improve on those weaknesses you have to unleash your hidden strengths.

Here are 3 weaknesses shifted to show the hidden strengths:

Perfectionism: Being a perfectionist does not necessarily make you a weak person; it only means that you move through or do your work differently than others. The perfectionist’s ability to focus on small details is an asset to you, as you can spot little critical information other people may have missed. A perfectionist is always the one to identify anything that seems off as well as connect the dots on issues.

The strength of perfectionists is evident in their “insistence” at being thorough about work and other life processes. A perfectionist is never satisfied until every detail about a project or event has been sorted out and every eventuality prepared for adequately – This in itself is a demonstration of an invaluable strength.

Sensitivity: Sensitive people often make exceptional team members as they tend to take into account the feelings of other people. They do not talk down to other team members; instead, they promote the contribution of opinions and views by every team member. A sensitive person can even go as far as taking the blame for the group when things go wrong. This supportive strength of sensitive individuals is crucial for maintaining harmony in the workplace when appropriately harnessed.

Domineering: Dominant people display self-confidence that often comes off as arrogant or bossy; their style of communication is direct and blunt, and they tend always to take the lead in situations. They monopolize discussions and are often quick to reach decisions without seeking the inputs of others.

Nevertheless, as cynical as the stance of dominant individuals may seem, they possess some substantial strengths. Domineering people often make good leaders, especially in crises situations, as they are excellent at handling stressful situations. They are never afraid to take risks; instead, they stay enthusiastic, even in the face of new challenges. The determination trait which dominant people have is expressed in their level of energy and ability to encourage other team members to stay focused on performing their tasks and responsibilities until the set goal is achieved.

No doubt, negative feedback, whether from others or you through the perceptions you have about yourself can leave you feeling deflated and unmotivated, but what you do with that information is crucial to how far you can go and how much you can achieve.

Adjust your self-perception about your capabilities and inadequacies.

Develop a realistic approach to doing those things you believe you can do with optimism.

Go ahead unleash your hidden strengths and soar.

Raz Coaching specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD, PTSD, Stress, TBI’s and ASD find careers they will love and land them. Read more at www.razcoaching.com/about Or sign up for the weekly blog and learn about my new book Happiness+Passion+Purpose.