Saturday, February 16, 2019

WHAT EVER HAPPENED...? "Recommended Books, III"

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Though I have not finished reading this book, what I've read so far is excellent! Here are some of the quotes I've highlighted.
·       “You cannot be who you really want to be unless your brain works right. How your brain works determines how happy you are, how effective you feel, and how well you interact with others.”
·       “…the temporal lobes, underneath the temples and behind the eyes, are involved with memory, understanding language, facial recognition, and temper control.” [Boy – do I have to work hard on that last one!]
·       “My research and the research of others had implicated the left temporal lobe in aggression.”
·       “My colleagues and I have observed that left-side brain problems often correspond with a tendency toward significant irritability, even violence.”
·       “…top middle portion of his frontal lobes…. This part of the brain allows you to shift your attention from one thing to another. When it is overactive, people may end up getting 'stuck' on certain thoughts and behaviors.”
·       “Willie found that the 'minor concussion' was wreaking havoc with his life. Normally a friendly person, he found himself suddenly losing his temper at the smallest things. His whole attitude and demeanor began to change. Where he had once been patient, he now had a short fuse. Where he had once been amiable and calm, and he was now always angry. His irritability and constant flares of temper began to alienate his friends and family.” [Remember – even mild concussions can produce brain-injury-like behaviors!]
·       “Unfortunately, there are many professionals who lack sophisticated information on how the brain actually works.” [How true! I have been asked to speak at a hospital to help change this.]

Dr. Amen's research has been broadcast on the PBS channel. It's an excellent way to learn from him!

The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workbook: Your Program for Regaining Cognitive Function & Overcoming Emotional Pain, by Douglas J. Mason, Psy.D.               
    This self-help workbook was wonderful for me to use even though my brain injury was medically labeled non-traumatic. The exercises and activities helped me grow emotionally and cognitively after my surgery. Below I list some quotes and observations that helped me:
·       “The exercises have been tested by more than a hundred patients with different levels of brain injury….”
·       Excellent warning signs related to brain injury from concussions and other traumas are listed thoroughly.
·       Excellent descriptions of all parts of the brain to help better understand behavior changes and much more (for example – damage to the frontal lobes can cause a lack of emotional control).
·       Thorough lists of physical aspects of brain injuries such as: headaches, poor balance, fatigue, anxiety, attention deficit (for example: “Things like… simple math problems may seem much more difficult.”)

      To sum up, this workbook helped me understand and realize a ton about why I do what I do. The best part of the book is the story of “The Meaning of Life” that the author put in his closing. I reread this example repeatedly when I'm having a bad day. Thank you, Dr. Mason, for putting this workbook together for those of us who have suffered a brain injury. You are a present from God!

Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most, by Timothy Shriver.
    This is an excellent book about one of my favorite topics – Special Olympics. Though I attend some games now and then, the coaching and volunteering time has dwindled completely since I no longer teach and therefore, spend my “free time” trying to improve my social skills – a daily struggle. Here are some great quotes:
·       “…you can see another view of the world if you turn your lens around. Keep your eyes open, and you will see both what is close and what may seem far away.”
·       “I needed to be able to use my mind to see the real stuff in the physical world but also to quiet all the distractions of my mind to see the equally real stuff of the heart that lay beneath them.”
·       “But with a strong relationship, learning is the endlessly exciting process of pursuing the questions and dreams that animate teacher and student alike.” [My brain tumor got in the way of my once-animated teaching style. Those students that I taught at the very end of my career really lost out!]

Special Olympics Oath: Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, M.D.
This was a helpful book and so I read it two times – once in February 2011 and then again in June of 2015. Here are some of the key points for me:
·       “There are many kinds of worriers and many types of anxiety…. But among the people who suffer most are those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, who are terrified that some harm will come, or has come, to them or to those they love.”
·       “Obsessive-compulsives, so often filled with doubt, may become terrified of making a mistake and start compulsively correcting themselves and others.” [See my Ms. Corrector chapter, for example.]
·       “It would seem that the most frightening thing about brain disease is that it might erase certain mental functions. But just as devastating is a brain disease that leads us to express parts of ourselves we wish didn't exist. Much of the brain is inhibitory, and when we lose that inhibition, unwanted drives and instincts emerge full force, shaming us and devastating our relationships and families.” [So true for my life!]
·       “Regression…can be problematic, as when infantile aggressive pathways are unmasked and an adult has a temper tantrum.” [I've had too many tantrums to count since my surgery, but luckily, they have decreased substantially.]
·       “Sometimes regression is quite unanticipated, and otherwise mature adults become shocked at how 'infantile' their behavior can become.”

This is another PBS program based on this doctor's research.

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, by Norman Doidge, M.D.
Another “brain book” by the author I just quoted. Here's some more:
·       “The reader will find cases, many very detailed, that may be relevant to someone who has, or cares for someone who has experienced…traumatic brain injury, brain damage, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, attention deficit disorder… Down syndrome….” [All of these are part of my life story, in one way or another.]
·       “In many brain problems, we now know, neurons are firing at the wrong or unusual rates.…and brain injuries, among others: they create a noisy brain because so many of the signals are out of sync.”
·       “Sound – as is often the case for people with brain injuries – posed a special problem. She was hypersensitive to all sounds, which now seemed unbearably loud. Shopping malls with piped-in music…drove her crazy.” [Once, at a fundraiser walk for brain injury, I went right over to the DJ blaring music from the booth that was one of our sponsors and told (not asked) her to turn it down, because the people there are brain-injured, sound-sensitive, and it's too loud. This is just one more example of people, even those involved with the cause, who don't “get” brain injury.]
·       “Indoors, the flickering, pasty hues of ‘energy-conserving’ cool-white fluorescents illuminate us with a ghostly glow that is so unnatural that some sensitive patients feel ill when bathed by them.” [In some places, I have to wear sunglasses indoors because of this.]
·       “He had realized that brain-injured patients, like children with developmental disorders, have energy, sleep, attention, sensory, and cognitive problems.” [So, the patience I once had with my students I now must have with myself.]

Write Your Book with Me: Payoffs = Plan x Prepare x Publish x Promote, by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
This is another book by my editor, and here are the quotes that helped me the most:
·       “Authors are authorities. Memoirs mold memories. Completing the 'memoir marathon' doesn't quite make you rare, but certainly makes you stand out.” [And, it made me exhausted!]
·       “…to write a memoir, the story of part of your life, as you experienced it, it will not be the whole truth, but some of it, and none of it should be false, although nobody's memory is perfect.” [I did the best I could with my brain damage.]
·       “Nonfiction Books: The Truth, Approximately”
·       “Memoirs: Part of the Truth, How You Saw It…. It tells the truth, not necessarily all the truth.”
·       “ most books lose money.” [I have never been in this project to make money. If that happens, great. I'll share it with worthwhile organizations and charities. But, the reason I wrote this was pretty simple: brain injury is not understood by the majority of people, and it needs to be, so those of us who have one will be treated better by our caregivers, family, friends, and the world-at-large. That means – please try to: understand us better, rather than avoid or ignore us; not correct us about our mistakes (since we usually know what we've done wrong all by ourselves); don't point out what we once were able to do (we miss it way more than you realize); embrace us with love and warmth (that many of us are starving for since we're so different now)].
·       “Changing minds, thanking those who have helped you, criticizing those who have fallen short…all add to your sense of well-being.” [I hope I've changed minds, thanked as many people as I can remember, and I realize I've done quite a bit of criticizing here….]

No Stone Unturned: A Father’s Memoir of His Son’s Encounter with Traumatic Brain Injury, by Joel Goldstein [I know this author and not only is he an excellent writer, but he is one of the best advocates for brain injury because he speaks eloquently about his family’s story.]

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries: 101 Stories of Hope, Healing, and Hard Work, by Amy Newmark and Dr. Carolyn Roy-Bornstein [There are remarkable stories written by many survivors of brain injury.]

A Guide to Approaching Mild/Moderate Brain Injury: Fourth Edition, June 2017, A Survivor’s Guide, by Brent D. Feuz. [This is an excellent resource and notebook to help those of us who can navigate after a brain injury but who still need help figuring out how to deal with our “new normal.” I have met this author, and I love how directly honest and well-spoken he is. He “pulls no punches,” and he reminds me of me because he tells it like it is!]

The Traumatized Brain: A Family Guide to Understanding Mood, Memory, and Behavior after Brain Injury, by Vani Rao, MBBS, M.D., and Sandeep Vaishnavi, M.D., Ph.D. [I’ve heard excellent comments about this book, and I cannot wait to read it and then share it with others in my life who HAVE TO understand me better!]

I (Douglas Winslow Cooper) have been excerpting, weekly, material from this almost-final version of the fine book by Janet Johnson Schliff, M.S. Ed., which she wrote over a three-year period with some coaching and editing help from me, through my business, Write Your Book with Me.

Her memoir is now available in paperback and ebook formats from Outskirts Press  and



More talks are being planned for the spring of 2019… she can be contacted at 845.336.7506 (home) or 845.399.1500 (cell).

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Oblong Books Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY, on Tuesday, February 6 at 6 p.m.

Janet was on WKNY Radio 1490 in Kingston, NY, on Thursday, March 1 at 9:10 a.m. 

Janet spoke at Barnes & Noble in Kingston, NY, on Saturday, March 3 at 1 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on March 6 
at 7 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, on March 17 at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

Janet spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, on April 3 at 4 p.m. [They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.]

Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on April 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Stone Ridge Library in Stone Ridge, NY, on April 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hurley Library in Hurley, NY, on May 4 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Kingston Library in Kingston, NY, on May 9 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Staatsburg Library in Staatsburg, NY, on May 14 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Clinton Community Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on May 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on June 9 at noon.

Janet spoke at the Gardiner Library in Gardiner, NY, on June 11 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Marbletown Community Center in Stone Ridge, NY, on June 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WTBQ-FM (93.5) on June 29 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Esopus Library in Port Ewen, NY, on July 13 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Pine Plains Library in Pine Plains, NY, on July 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Ulster Library in Kingston, NY, on July 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Northern Dutchess Bible Church in Red Hook, NY, on August 11 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz, NY, on September 6 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie, NY, on September 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WRIP-FM (97.9) on September 21 at 8 a.m.

Janet again spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on September 22 at noon.

Janet spoke at the Enchanted Cafe in Red Hook, NY, on September 28 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hyde Park Library in Hyde Park, NY, on October 4 at 7 p.m.

Janet participated in an Author Weekend at the Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie, NY, on October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Tivoli Library in Tivoli, NY, on October 22 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet’s interview for the TV program Wake Up with Marci on the You Too America Channel aired on Monday, November 5, and Friday, November 9. It can now be found on the Internet.

Janet spoke at the Germantown Library in Germantown, NY, on November 7 at 6:00 p.m.

Janet participated in the Red Hook Middle School's College and Career Cafe in Red Hook, NY,  on December 19 at 10:30 a.m.

Janet will speak at the Poughkeepsie Brain Injury Support Group at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall in Poughkeepsie, NY, on Saturday, February 23 at noon. 

Janet will speak at the Stanford Free Library in Stanfordville, NY, on Saturday, March 9 at 10:00 a.m.

Janet will speak at the Howland Library in Beacon, NY, on Wednesday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m.

Janet will speak at the West Hurley Library in West Hurley, NY, on Saturday, March 23 at 1:00 p.m.

Janet will speak at the Dover Plains Library in Wingdale, NY, on Friday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m.

Janet will participate in an Author Talk at the Saugerties Library in Saugerties, NY, on Saturday, April 13 at 1:00 p.m.

Janet will speak at St. Timothy's Church in Hyde Park, NY, on Sunday, May 5 at 11:00 a.m.

Janet will speak at the Moffat Library in Washingtonville, NY, on Saturday, May 11 at 1:00 p.m.

More signings will be coming up. A fine feature about Janet by John DeSantos [845 LIFE] appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Monday, March 12, as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month. An article about her book was just published in the May 2018 Living Rhinebeck Magazine. An article about her book appeared in the May 14 Daily Freeman of Kingston, NY. and another in the Family Life section of the Poughkeepsie Journal on June 8th. The Millerton News published an article on Thursday, August 2, about her talk at the Pine Plains Library. 

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