Angela's February 2019 Letter
We are in the middle of the month of February and boy is it ever cold outside! This sounds funny as I grew up in Pennsylvania where we walked to school in the snow, up a steep hill with potatoes in our pockets to keep our hands warm! This weekend we dropped into the 50’s and even though it is not close to being freezing, I turned the heat on and pulled out my woolly socks.
Although it was cold outside, it was heating up on Tuesday night for Friends of Brain Injury. We focused on love. Loving ourselves first before loving someone else. I think it is important to remember that we have to accept and love ourselves with faults before we expect someone to love us. However, our Heavenly Father loved us first and asked us to love one another. We embrace with love those that are hurting from a stroke, brain tumor, anoxic event and traumatic brain injuries. We show them by example that they are here for a reason and that we will walk beside them to guide them. I read a quote on a blog called A Shepherds Heart, “encouragement is like oxygen to the soul”. Wow. We need oxygen and we need people. If we can get our fill from those around us we can be satisfied. But many times this encouragement could be in terms of straight talk; honest conversation about the reality of life. Receiving this kind of encouragement is sometimes hard to hear but when it is said with a loving heart, it should be accepted easier. I once had a parent tell me that I was perfect for the job of working with their son who had autism. She liked my personality, my office and my honesty. I told the parent that I was not right for her son as this was not my specialty area and that I would be doing a disservice to him and the family. The mother did not like that I was turning her son away and that I encouraged her to seek therapy with someone who wanted to work with children with autism. I had to remind her that I was being honest and that in order to be ethical and true to my profession, I had to refer her to someone else.
Conversations like this are hard to have and hard to hear. We want to please people and let them know that things can be fixed, that therapy can improve functional communication and that everyone will return to their normal pre stroke self. We are not providing them with encouragement but truth. At B.R.A.I.N. we encounter folks that expect us to provide them with avenues to public speaking, book deals and guest lectures. We have to be honest that not everyone can surpass their goals but lives can be enhanced with the therapy that they do for themselves as well as what we can guide them in. There are no quick fixes in life. There is however a shot in the arm every Tuesday night called Friends of Brain Injury.
This shot lasts for a few days in me as the facilitator. I return home some nights high with joy from hearing the success stories such as Patty’s weight loss, Christian’s surgery, Art speaking a 5-word phrase and lots more each week. I am encouraged to prepare a weekly lesson that may hit a home run with some and first base for others. Either way, the encouragement that is given to each person for their baby steps is utter beauty. That to me is love.
Join me on a Tuesday night, you can even sit up front and smile alongside of me. You will find that smiling is contagious.
Angela Mandas, MA SLP CCC