January 2019 Community Meeting: Vision Boards with Celia Missios

BY: JULIA RENAUD

I’ve been getting lots of good feedback about the Quick Facts section, so this month I am condensing the recap in hopes of better tailoring the article to the entire brain injury community. For this post, there is no need to scroll to the bottom of the article, just find the headings you like and read on! Also, don’t forget to let us know what you think!

Celia Missios
Our inspiring speaker and leader of the evening, Celia Missios.

Rolling into a new year or season is exciting and can usher in endless possibilities. For BIST’s January Community Meeting, we got our creative juices flowing to make Vision Boards. Celia Missios, ABI survivor, BIST board member, and founder of  the self care website Reslientista, stopped by to teach us what vision boards are all about. 

Discovering the power of manifestation – Celia’s Story:

While recovering from her ABI, Celia was looking for something to do to bring meaning to her life. She discovered scrapbooking and decided to create a scrapbook of her own about where she wanted her life to go and what she wanted it to look like. A couple of years later, while looking through her scrapbook, to Celia’s surprise, she realized that the things she had included in her books were coming to fruition!

A Vision Board
One of the many vision boards of the evening.

What’s a vision board? 

A collage of images, phrases, and quotes specifically made to help you manifest your life’s desires. They act as a reminder to envision your goals and take steps toward achieving them.

Why use one:

If you have dreams, goals, enjoy creative activities, or are interested in trying something new. If you like scrapbooking and/or motivational mind mapping, making a vision board is likely right up your alley.

Materials:

  • A canvas or thick paper backing (even cereal box cardboard will do!)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • A few magazines or pictures

Materials for Vision Boards

Steps for making your own:

  1. Assemble all of your materials.
  2. Decide on the type of vision board you’d like to make:
  • Themed: Can help you hone in on a specific area of your life for a more focused manifestation. Examples: Nature, Career, Family, Travel, Design, etc.
  • Life: A smattering of everything and anything that resonates with you!
  1. Flip through magazines or browse the internet to find pictures, words, or quotes that you are drawn to.
  2. Get cutting and gluing, arranging your chosen clippings in a way that is pleasing to you.
  3. Make sure to leave a blank space somewhere on your board. Here you will write, ‘This or something better’
  4. Once complete, look, appreciate, and become inspired!

A person places a large cut of of a picture of an eye on her vision board

One of the BIST members how to arrange their board.

Work together:

Making vision boards as a group activity is quite fun! Not only can it help save time, but if you are working on a themed board, you can make your theme known to the group so they can send found pictures, words, or quotes your way.

Three Steps to using your vision board:

Step 1:  LOOK! 

Hang or prop up your vision board someplace you will see it every day (think bedside table, beside your television or computer, or, if you’re anything like me, near your fridge!)

Step 2:  IMAGINE!

Spend a few moments every day looking at your vision board and imagineyourself experiencing all of the wonderful things on your board.

For example, if I have a picture of a person crossing the finish line of a race, I would envision running (or walking, or rolling – whichever suits you) toward the finish, and paying attention to how I feel while doing so.

Step 3: ACT!

Do something to align yourself with your vision.

Using the race example, I would go for a walk as a way of working toward my goal in hopes of manifesting the act of crossing the finish line.

Not feeling crafty? You could try this instead:

  • Make a Vision Board on Pinterest!
  • Prefer words to pictures? Make a word-only vision board by displaying words that resonate with you. Alternatively, write a vision journal where you describe what you would like more of in your life.

BIST members hold up their completed vision boards

The BIST Social Learning Attendees holding up their (mostly) completed vision boards. Great work everyone!

My Experience:

I have been looking at my vision board every day since I have made it. It was really fun to make and I find it beautiful, inspiring to look at. While I’m still working on manifesting my dreams and desires, I’m definitely enjoying the process!


Julia Renaud is a very talkative ABI survivor with a passion for learning new things, trying new activities, and meeting new people – all of which have led her to writing this column. When not chatting someone’s ear off, Julia can be found outside walking her dog while occasionally talking to him, of course!   

 

 

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5 Tips for Putting the Merry Back in Christmas

BY: CELIA M

Over the past ten years I have struggled with enjoying my favourite holiday season, Christmas, so I know the struggle is real.

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This year as I sat down to think about how best to get through this time of the year without feeling overwhelmed I had an ‘aha’ moment. What I realized is many of the stresses were also there before my ABI. You know, decorating just right, cooking the best turkey dinner, picking out the right gift, squeezing in all the holiday festivities, and let’s not forget scoring the right outfit and heels for each party.

What makes it feel more stressful is my energy reserves, or better said the lack of. So this year, I’m taking Christmas back to basics and I have to tell you, I’m feeling a lot merrier.

Here are my 5 Tips to Help you put Merry Back in Christmas:

Decorating – Keep it Simple:

If you enjoy having a Christmas tree, but become overwhelmed and exhausted just thinking about decorating it and the thought of having to take it down in just a few short weeks, try a small table top tree.

You can find real table top trees at most grocery stores, Christmas tree lots or pick up an artificial one that often is already decorated, which can be dusted off year after year. You get your Christmas tree and no there is no struggling with big strings of lights, that I swear spring to life in storage doing the Tango and become tangled beyond hope.

I also keep décor throughout the house pretty simple, adding a poinsettia here and there and I also love Christmas cactus which adds a touch of colour during the holidays. And at the end of the holiday season take down is even more simplified.

The Signature Gift

Over the years Christmas has become so commercialized that you feel extreme pressure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list (and take out a small mortgage in the process). Take a step back  and remember that the original “Christmas is a time for giving” was about being practical, giving to those less fortunate, it was about the thought and not the cost of an item. I’ve started to think that our grandmothers had the right idea – with socks, pjs, and things of the like – practical. I have a friend who every Christmas gifts me a bag of my fav coffee beans, some cookies, tea, chocolates and a small gift that made her think of me (one year it was a t-shirt), each time I enjoy part of the gift, I think of her and smile.

A signature gift is something that you become known for giving, such as a book, pjs, home baked goodies, bubble bath, sweater, etc. Once you decide on what your signature gift will be, you adjust it to each recipient’s interest. For example if it’s a book, you choose one on the recipient’s particular interest. One of my signature gifts to give to friends is a journal. Yes, you can have more than one signature gift, for one friend I always gift her something for the kitchen, she loves to cook with her family.

I have saved myself countless hours of stress and anxiety and physical and emotional energy since adopting a signature gift method of giving.

There can be a lot of pressure to gift EVERYONE you know, what I have come to realize is that you don’t have to buy a gift for everyone you know.  A good ole fashion Christmas cards is a great way to wish someone a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday Season.

Budget – Make a List and Check it Twice

PHOTO:
PHOTO: THEBALANCE.COM

Whether it comes to gifts, entertaining, celebrating on the town with friends or decorating your home, it is important to know what your budget comfort is. Once you have determined your budget, allocate a portion to each area and track your spending and most important stick to your budget.

Having a budget does not mean you have to miss out it just means you need to prioritize and be a little creative. If you have more people on your gift list than budget, consider reducing the amount per person. Are there people on your gift list that really are more like acquaintances and should be moved to the card list?

If things are tight but you really were looking forward to hosting Christmas dinner go pot luck, the people you would be sharing a meal with are coming to spend time together and will understand and be more than happy to bring a dish or wine, if asked. A lean budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on going out with friends, instead of joining everyone for dinner, opt to join them later for dessert.

Christmas Entertaining

PHOTO:
PHOTO: THEDINNINGTABLE.SG

Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, so enlist the help of your guests  by asking them to bring something for the meal. If budget allows, you can purchase a prepped or fully cooked meal from places such as your local market, hotels, or restaurant. I used a prepped meal that was all ready to go into oven from Whole Foods, one Thanksgiving, and it was really good.

If a pot luck Christmas meal still seems overwhelming but you still want to entertain, opt for alternatives, such as hosting a hot chocolate, cocktail, afternoon tea, brunch, or a board game Christmas gathering.

Remember the real meaning of Christmas

As the hustle and bustle of the season whirls around your head, remind yourself that being surrounded by people who truly care about you is what is important. And also remember friends are often extended family who we choose for ourselves. Don’t feel pressured to over spend both in money and your physical and emotional energy bank.

These are some ways I have put Merry back in my Christmas, I would love for you to share some of the ways you have found work for you.


Celia is an ABI survivor who is dedicated to helping others move forward in their journey and live the life they dream of. She is the founder of the internationally read blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Soulful Relationships part of the best-selling series Adventures in Manifesting; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau; Self-care advocate; Lifestyle writer/blogger.  In 2016 Celia launched the website Resilientista to inspire women to put themselves in their day, practice self-care on the daily and live their version of a High Heeled Life. Learn more about Celia and be inspired: visit http://www.HighHeeledLife.com or http://www.Resilientista.com

Planned structure: why it’s important post-ABI + 8 tips getting started

BY: CELIA M

One of the many things we lose during recovery from an ABI is structure in our day-to-day routines.

daily-routine-quote-john-c-maxwell
PHOTO: RESILIENTISTA.COM

While rehab and specialist appointments may maintain a facsimile of structure to your day or week, what are you doing with the rest of your time?  Have you fallen into a routine of sleeping the morning away, followed by an afternoon marathon of talk shows, soaps and game shows? Does your wardrobe consist of pajamas or sweat pants? By supper time do you start thinking about all the ‘things’ you should have done – only now you are beyond tired, and you remember you didn’t really eat anything (does a chocolate and left over pizza count?), and you’re now counting down the time until you move from your sofa to your bed – only to start the cycle again tomorrow? Unless of course there is a medical appointment you need to attend.

This type of day I call unplanned structurein the early days of recovery you went from bed to medical/rehab appointments and back to bed, because that’s all your body and brain could handle. Over time, this became unplanned structure, as it was easier to do nothing than to think and make a decision about how you were going to carry out an activity, which may take more planning now than before you acquired a brain injury.

Know, I’m not judging. I‘ve lived this, but I’m here to let you in on a little secret – planned structure is key to getting back to adding more fun and enjoyment into your day.

For many people the word structure can conjure up visons of rigidity, being controlled, or being stuck in a boring routine. But structure can be a very powerful tool to help you get back to functioning on a regular basis and enjoying life. When you have structure in your life you know ‘what’s next’, which enables you to get on with your day. As ABI-survivors we can use up valuable energy trying to figure out what to do next. We might not do anything because we can’t decide or figure out what to do.

In the early years of recovery from ABI, I too was against structure, just ask my rehab girl Catherine. My reasoning was that I couldn’t predict what my energy level was going to be on any given day, so why plan anything? This left me doing nothing most of the time.

I also wanted to feel like I had control over my own day. Boy, was I wrong! When I finally gave planning structure a try – with the caveat that it was OK to re-schedule an activity if I didn’t have the energy for it (without guilt, or feeling like a failure) – it was such a liberating feeling!

Planned structure became my ticket to freedom, independence and a sense of accomplishment. Knowing what came next in my day helped reduce my daily struggle with anxiety and stress. I made sure there was always built in rest time between activities, and the more I repeated an activity on a regular basis the more it became a habit. My brain started to automatically know ‘what’s next’, and before I knew it I was doing my morning grooming without having to stop and think about it.

I’m not going to sugar coat it – it takes time, and some things will continue to need to be written down (that is a post for another day) but, know that each small step (no matter how trivial and small it may seem) will get you to where you want to be, living life to its fullest no matter what your new abilities may be.

When our food, exercise and sleep patterns are consistent our body and brain function better. This makes it possible to enjoy not only the tasks we need to do but to enjoy activities we like and try new activities too.

small-changes-in-daily-routine-quote-sharif-nor
PHOTO:  QUOTE BY SHARIFAH NOR

Benefits of structure

  • You know ‘what’s next’ and don’t waste energy thinking about what to do next
  • You habituate a new task or behavior
  • Automates activities in your day
  • You feel more in control being able to enjoy  your day and your life

Eight tips that helped me add planned structure into my day that included activities to make my day and life more enjoyable

  • A regular wake up time
  • Morning rituals to prepare for the day ahead (showering, dressing, breakfast etc.)
  • Fitness activities (walking, stretching, gym, yoga etc.)
  • Meal times
  • Leisure time (hobbies, ‘you’ time, a nap, etc.)
  • Time with family and friends
  • Evening rituals to prepare your mind and body for rest (unplug from computers, television 1-2 hours before your bedtime;  read a book, have a bath, meditate/pray, etc.)
  • A regular bedtime

NOTE: there will be times where you will need to add your daily structured planned activities around your medical / rehab needs, and there will be times that you will be able to add your medical rehab appointments around the things you enjoy in life. With patience and time you will find balance between the two – this is when the magic of planned structure happens.

excellence-is-not-an-act-but-a-habit-quote-aristotle
PHOTO: RESILIENTISTA.COM

Bonus Tips

  • Allow for flexibility, especially on days you find your energy supply low
  • Its ok to add/remove activities as your likes change
  • Seek the help of a rehab team member, friend/family member, or psychologist in creating your daily structured plan if you are not sure how to get started.

Today, I have more enjoyment in my days and life in general because; I have created a daily structured plan that works for me.  I encourage you to give adding structure to your day a chance. And let’s not tell Catherine that she was right about structure, that will be our little secret. ☺

Celia is an ABI survivor who is dedicated to helping others move forward in their journey and live the life they dream of. She is the founder of the internationally read blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Soulful Relationships part of the best-selling series Adventures in Manifesting; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau; Self-care advocate; Lifestyle writer/blogger.  In 2016 Celia launched the website Resilientista to inspire women to put themselves in their day, practice self-care on the daily and live their version of a High Heeled Life. Learn more about Celia and be inspired: visit http://www.HighHeeledLife.com or http://www.Resilientista.com

We love Celia! You can catch her at our next Community  Meeting on October 24th, where she’ll help us put inspiration into action at an Inspiration Board workshop

6 things you should never, ever say to a brain injury survivor

BY: CELIA M

The challenges which affect persons with acquired brain injury (ABI) are not always visible. We may look exactly like you – we are stylish, and on really good days in quiet environments we can manage to stay focused.

ABI is the result of either a traumatic injury due to an accident or non-traumatic injury due to a stroke, brain tumour or substance use. Often when people hear “brain injury” the first thing that comes to their mind is intellectual disability. The truth is most people with ABI retain their intellectual abilities, but the brain injury may affect thought processing, making it difficult for a person to express themselves. The extra energy required for simple daily functions can leave our body and brain fatigued. No one day is ever the same.

http://cdn.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/MjAxMy0yOWQ1NTdmNjk4NzcxZDhi.png
Photo credit: someecards.com

While the effects of ABI and the challenges each person faces are unique, one thing we all seem to have in common is the (stupid) things people often say to us. From the perspective of someone who lives with ABI, here are six things you should never say to someone living with a brain injury:

You are lucky to be alive-3

Yes, the person may very well be “lucky” to have survived their accident, but when faced with all the challenges of the aftermath they may not see it that way. Or they themselves may be quite aware of how blessed they are to have survived and are doing their best to move forward. Some days may be easier than others. On the not-so-easy days or when someone is struggling with how blessed they are to be alive instead of saying “how lucky they are to be alive” tell them how much you admire their strength and persistence to overcome their current situation.

I WISH I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO TO WORK

 

Whenever I hear this, I shake my head and think, “Seriously you just said that!” It is often said as if I made the choice to not work. Being able to work provides one with a sense of pride and ability to provide stability and independence for the future. This privilege is often taken away from someone who is living with a brain injury. When someone is forced to stay home due to pain and exhaustion it is no holiday. So, when you feel like you need a break from your job, don’t envy the person who is forced to stay home because of their ABI. Anyone who has lost control of their income potential will tell you they would gladly give up their forced non-working status to go back to work.

 

YOU DON'T LOOK SICK

I have a brain injury, which is a hidden disability. It is not a cold or a flu. I am not going to be coughing, running a fever, have watery eyes, throwing up or blowing my nose constantly. Just getting dressed and daily personal hygiene tasks can deplete me of energy on some days, making it a challenge to do much more beyond “not looking sick”.

photo credit: Neecy Grace
photo credit: Neecy Grace

let's go do-2
Depression, fatigue, chronic pain and apathy are very common symptoms of brain injury. These feelings affect one’s mood and ability to process information, deal with pressure and handle stress. They make it harder to do everyday tasks, much less handle extra activities.

Brain injury survivors require significantly more rest than the average person, which is often mistaken for laziness. This couldn’t be further from the truth, since our drive to exceed our energy threshold results in over-stimulation, which can leave us completely depleted, leading to setbacks and sometimes manifest as physical illness.

Sometimes in the middle of a conversation (for me, especially emotionally filled ones) I need to take time out. So if someone with a brain injury tells you they need to stop while talking to you, know that they NEED TO STOP NOW! It’s not that they are trying to avoid the subject, they simply need to take a break from “all the thinking” to process the conversation. Pushing the person to continue will only result in their complete exhaustion and a possible melt-down, which may set them back from being able to continue with any further discussion on the subject (or anything else) for days or longer.

Finally, brain injury survivors often have a really hard time with a change of plans. There is a lot of thought which goes into planning a day with non-routine or extra activities. The energy it takes to mentally process a last minute change of plans can zap one’s energy, which is often mistaken for not being flexible.

let me do that fo ryou

Unless what a person is about to do is going to pose risk to themselves or others, allow them time to complete a task. Tasks that once took seconds may take minutes or longer to do. Remember we are retraining our brain, and it takes time. Jumping in and taking over the task will trigger a sense of inadequacy, reinforce loss of independence, and may be viewed as being controlled. Patience is extremely important.

 

let's go do

 

Limiting exposure to situations or environments which consist of loud areas, multiple people conversing, and excessive background noise is a coping strategy many people with ABI use to help prevent brain overload. We are not trying to be difficult or anti-social, we are just trying to avoid triggers that will over stimulate our minds and result in exhaustion. This is a survival mechanism, not a behavioural one. Stop making us feel guilty because we don’t want to attend the rock concert and come up with social activities that will not cause sensory overload.

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Photo credit: Juliawillbefine.wordpress.com

Now that you are aware of how your words can impact someone with ABI, I hope you will choose them more carefully. And know that supportive words of encouragement go a long way in any situation.


 

Celia Missios
Celia M.

Celia is an ABI survivor who is dedicated to helping others move forward in their journey and live the life they dream of. She is the founder of the internationally read blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Soulful Relationships part of the best-selling series Adventures in Manifesting; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau; certified Life Coach, certified Law of Attraction Practitioner and currently working on her Mind Calm Meditation certification. Learn more about Celia and be inspired: visit www.HighHeeledLife.com or www.CeliaMLifeCoach.com

This Valentine’s Day – fall in love with YOURSELF

BY: CELIA MISSIOS 

After you’ve gone through a life changing event such as a brain injury, the person looking back at you in the mirror can be a stranger. The reflection may still look like you, but the mannerisms, the thinking and the constant feeling of ‘there’s something missing’ can be overwhelming. This disconnect can affect not only the relationship you have with yourself – how you take care of yourself, set boundaries and your self-confidence – but also the relationships you have with others.

To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”- Robert Morely

Don't forget to fall in love with yourself - Carrie Bradshaw
One of the hardest challenges I faced during my recovery was learning to love myself, after the accident. As I wrote in Change Your Shoes; Change Your Life  for the Soulful Relationships – Adventures in Manifesting series:

As weeks turned to months and months turned to years, the pain and torment at the loss of me pre-accident did not lessen. At times, it seemed even more painful than the physical pain I dealt with every day. Everyone tried to assure me things would get better, but each time I looked in the mirror I saw a stranger in the reflection that looked back at me.”

BIST - Love Yourself FirstI’m not going to sugar coat things. Friends, learning to love yourself can be difficult, especially after a traumatic, life changing experience. Self-love is about total acceptance. It’s about deeply caring for yourself and your happiness. It’s about loving yourself at this very moment and every moment, unconditionally. With small steps you will move forward and start loving that fabulous person looking back at you in the mirror!

Here are 3 small steps to get you started:

Change Your Thoughts – Our thoughts are important, they create our reality. Start focusing on things that you can do, things that you want to happen in your life. The more positive energy you put out there the more positive things will start to materialize. When the doctors told me I would never wear high heels again, I kept telling myself I will wear heels. I visualized myself wearing heels and now,  over time, I am wearing heels. Maybe not for the length of time I once used to, but I am wearing heels!!!

think positive and positive things will happenStart a regular practice – meditation, yoga and gratitude journaling are three tools that I use. Not only do they provide “me time”, but these practices allow you to connect more deeply with yourself. The more you are able to connect with yourself the more self-healing continues to happen.

Treat yourself – take yourself out for a nice dinner, a day/afternoon at the spa, an afternoon cup of tea or do something that you really enjoy. The important thing is making time in your day to do something special for yourself and to focus on not feeling remotely guilty about putting your iPhone on silent and spending time on YOU.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, whether you have a sweetheart to share it with or are spending it solo, do something for yourself that encourages you to get to know yourself better, to take care of yourself and to fall in love with yourself again. After all, your happiness starts with the best LOVE AFFAIR you will have, the one with yourself.
self love jar
Make a self-love jar  
A self-love jar is a great project you can make for yourself to remind you of how wonderful you are, especially on days when you’re feeling  down. Fill it with positive self-love affirmations, positive things that people have said about you, things that you like about yourself or self-love quotes you have come across. What is important is that the words are positive, motivational and inspirational.

You will need

  • 5 recipe card size pieces of coloured paper
  • paper cutter (or scissors)
  • jar with lid
  • ribbon or decorative Elastic Bands
  • pen or marker

How to Make Self-Love Jar

How to make it

  • using paper cutter (or scissors) slice each recipe card into 5 strips (about ½” in thick)
  • write a positive message (quote, affirmation, something about you)
  • fold pieces of paper (you will have 25 pieces) with writing on the inside and place in jar
  • place either ribbon or decorative elastic band around jar and replace lid

 

Various Self-Love Jars

How to use it 

When you are feeling down pull out a piece of paper and read the message. It will remind you of something that is positive and/or amazing about you!!!  Place message back in jar for another time.


 

Celia Missios
Celia Missios

Celia Missios is a brain injury survivor who has embraced her new found strengths and created a life that fits who she is today. She shares her journey in hopes that it will help others who are experiencing depression, anxiety, stress and facing transition in their life successfully move away from fear, pain, and deflated attitude about life – step into the life they want. Celia is the founder of the blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Adventures in Manifesting – Soulful Relationships; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau. To learn more about Celia and be inspired visit www.HighHeeledLife.com or www.CeliaMLifeCoach.com