Riding the Wave

cognitive overload; mental fatigue, cognitive overload; overstimulation, Uncategorized

I love being in the water. Michael and I are planning a trip to the beach in the fall when the hotel rates are cheaper and we can bring Sparky.  When I was in rehab for my brain injury in 1996, the recreation therapist took a couple of us to the Y to swim.  Michael sometimes observed my therapies so he was there.  The therapist said to him, “Wow!  She swims like a fish!”  It was true but at that time I was using a cane; In the water I felt free.

The story of Jesus calming the sea is found in three of the gospels: Mathew 8:22- 27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25. Today I can relate to the Mark passage best.

 “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat just as he was.  Other boats were with him.  A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?  He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  He said to them, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who the is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This text says, the “waves beat into the boat” while Mark reads, “the boat was swamped.” Luke reports the boat was filling with water and the disciples were in danger. Since finding out about winning a Louisville Institute grant in December, I’ve been “riding the wave” as this surfer is.

Following the Wall

Photo Credit: Bill Rhodes: see more on  Facebook and Instagram


After receiving it back in December, I was excited and raring to go and like this surfer, willing to take on anything. However, as the weeks went by my brain shut off and no ideas came at all. Week after week I could not write or could write only a little  I thought Joyce was frustrated with me but she said she wasn’t frustrated, just sad she couldn’t help me.  I wasn’t riding the wave anymore but rather had fallen off a cliff!

I’ve learned how to catch myself when I feel the darkness coming on. I read, swim or do something mindless.  I’ve always struggled with depression but it is much worse since my brain injury. The waves beat me down more quickly since  many of the neurons in my brain died in the accident and those remaining overload quickly.

So I’m “riding the wave” again now. What happened?  I don’t really know.  I think I pushed myself to write and gave up doing anything else.  I just don’t have the cognitive energy to do this.  Joyce told me most writers only can write for a few hours before they must take a break.  This goes double for me and I’ve learned my lesson. Hopefully I’ll continue to surf as life goes on.  I don’t plan to try to write tomorrow but rather read and visit with a friend in the afternoon. I’ll write again on Thursday. I know where my limits are: I simply must respect  them.



A Theology of Brain Injury


I last wrote in this blog way back in September of 2015. It took me forever to learn how to use this site so I suspect it’s going to take me a while to learn to use it again.   On top of that, the site has changed so I have more to learn.   This business of having difficulty learning new information is a real nuisance.

I have had few imaginative thoughts these past several months. I was awarded a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Project Grant in February so I could pay Joyce Hollyday to be my coach, consultant and editor as I write a book about the intersection of theology and brain injury based on my story  .  It’s tentatively called Forgetting the Former Things: A Theology of Brain Injury. I’m using Isaiah 43:1-2; 18-19 along with a couple of other theologians including Nancy Eisland who wrote the groundbreaking 1994 book, The Disabled God  and Julia Watts Belser who is a professor at Georgetown University.

Eisland’s book introduced me to the idea of a theology of disability back in the 90’s  when I first read her book.  I met  Watts Belser when she spoke at the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in 2015. Eisland died several years ago at a young age but scholars are building on her work.

manuscript1bWriting theologically draws on the  frontal lobe of the brain known as the executive function which was injured in my accident.   The executive function is known as the “boss” of the brain. Put simply  this includes judgment, problem-solving, decision making, emotional control, motivation and other skills a boss needs.  I wish I could easily put thoughts together in my mind now but I can’t.

This is where Joyce comes in for she is helping me put these ideas together.  Pictured on this post is the first of 48 pages. It still has a ways to go but I’ve been feeling rather discouraged and depressed about it so Joyce encouraged me to have a couple of folks read it and ask them.  I thought it might be boring but according to my readers, it isn’t.   I’m still not sure what’s going to happen with this but I’m trying to trust the process.