Do you remember Brian’s Story? His was the first story published on the website! Well, since then it’s received a lot of attention! He says:
‘Thank you again for publishing my article. This article may get me into the local newspaper or on a local news station. The article got me a speaking gig at a local school at the end of June! Thanks again for helping to spread the word about head trauma, brain injuries, and survivors!’
Well, on the 29th of June he did a speech at his local school/college!
Here he writes about what quotes inspire him, how his speech went, his future plans and some of the questions he was asked. A great one to think about, especially if you haven’t had a brain injury is “What would happen if something unexpected fell into your life?”
“Life happens while making plans” A quote from John Lennon.
I was asked by a friend named Terri if I would like to speak to her class about the challenges and difficulties of living with a brain injury. “Would I? I think I said, I would love to!” Thus, I awoke on Wednesday morning, ate some breakfast, got cleaned up, and dressed in my Sunday’s best to deliver a speech on head trauma. Not to focus on statics but what it is like to walk in my shoes, every day.
Terri picked me up and off we went to her school. The class did not begin until around eight and so I had time to prepare.
I have given this speech around a hundred times as I go over the main points in my head. As a trauma survivor, I tend to get off point and just ramble. But that is the reality of living with this injury.
Thankfully, I have been a member of Toastmasters International for around ten years. That organization has helped developed my listening and speaking skills to deliver the message home. I was not really nervous, I don’t get nervous. I feel that this is a performance. I used to play music in high school and college, so getting up in front of a group of people does not bother me. Besides, this was an intimate group.
I usually begin my speech with a quote from Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. The first line in that book is, “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times”
Then I get into talking about my college days at the University of Kentucky and how my school would become champions it seemed about every two years or so. This time I told of my upbringing and then got into the college life that I once lived. Since my injury happened so close to after I graduated, Terri wanted to drive that point home.
“What would happen if something unexpected fell into your life?” she asked her college seniors. What do you do? What would anybody do? I compared my head trauma to the Great Recession where people lost jobs and couldn’t find suitable employment. My recession has been going on for eighteen years! Yet, I don’t let that aspect get me down. I smiled during my presentation and the students can feel my enthusiasm.
Terri kept me on track when I would sometimes stumble or feel like I was ranting, by asking me questions and bring my focus back to my speech.
Then, the floor was open to questions from the audience. “How are you able to stay so positive? I mean you had a lot of misgivings so soon after college, what keeps you motivated? What gets you up in the morning” I replied, “Fitness, my boss can be a champ or a chump, but 200 pounds is still 200 pounds.” I got a laugh from that Henry Rollins quote.
Then I was asked by Terri, “How many jobs have you had since you moved to Des Moines?” “Five.” I said. “That work doesn’t satisfy you? Most of the jobs have been at call centers, correct?” I replied sheepishly, “Yes. But there is no shame in my game! I have to work if I want to survive and even though I am overqualified for some of the jobs that I have done, those positions have led me to my true passion. Wanting to help our Veterans with T.B.I. and P.T.S.D.”
I then spoke of my volunteer work at the VA hospital and how much joy I receive from just being there. I spoke for forty five minutes with the questions being about ten to fifteen. I end all my speeches with the same phrase. Stay strong, don’t quit, and never, ever, give up. Thank you.