Yes, I have rules

Don’t we all?

Friends tell me I’m always overwhelmed like a cat running round in circles chasing its tail. They say I should stop feeling responsible for everything and let go of all the “shoulds” I live with. All except one, that is. I should spend more time just living my life.

Guilty as charged. They’re right—I am overwhelmed, I do feel a responsibility towards others, and I am compelled to go off in ten directions at once. But they’re wrong about the “shoulds” I live with. Those are my rules. They have become so familiar, help me stay cool when my emotions take over, and ground me when I’m feeling out of control. 

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I push back when family or friends tell me what I should be doing because I am doing what feels right. I’ve learned and practiced these strategies until I’m blue in the face. And when I get overwhelmed, I’m reassured knowing that I have the tools I need at hand. They are like scaffolding, giving me structure I don’t get elsewhere. What can I say? I like them. They live in the back of my mind, and remind me that I can help myself.

My Brain Injury Rules

  1. When in doubt, don’t
  2. Check my calendar and TO DO list; set alarms for appointments
  3. Do one thing at a time
  4. Don’t even look at the computer before I finish my morning routine:
    • Shower
    • Dress
    • Take meds
    • Eat Breakfast
  5. Build in a delay—think before I talk
  6. Everything should have a home. Don’t put things down, put them back
  7. Stay in the kitchen while cooking or set an alarm to check in
  8. Take breaks
  9. The “Rule of 4”: Don’t walk out the door without:
    • Wallet
    • Keys
    • MetroCard
    • Phone
    • addendum: check oven & stove are off!
  10. Focus. Focus. Focus

13 thoughts on “Yes, I have rules

  1. laurienyc February 17, 2019 / 3:22 pm

    Julia, I like your choices. Taking a break is probably the most important for me, too. But rules are easy to make and just as easy to break! Some have become second nature, but certainly not all. My list helps me remember–to aim for. After all, I’m a work in progress.

    Like

  2. Julia Maria Fernandez February 14, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    Dear Laurie,
    Thank you for your blog and your writing. It makes me feel supported and understood.
    I find all your rules very useful, but if I had to pick only three, they would be: Doing one thing at a time, taking break and staying in the kitchen while I cook ( ever since I had my brain injury I have had a few “kitchen incidents” that could have been dangerous had I not returned to the kitchen in time.
    Take care and Happy Valentine´s Day!
    Julia Maria

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elizabeth DIXON February 10, 2019 / 11:05 pm

    Laurie thanks its been a while. I miss our connection since leaving NY its been difficult finding a brain injury support group here in Winston Salem NC so I look fotward to reading your blog. Love& Miss U

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurienyc February 11, 2019 / 12:52 am

      Great to hear from you Liz! And I’m so glad you are reading my pieces and, especially, that it brings you a piece of your “old” home. You know we all think about you and miss you– with love

      Like

  4. Silvina Cassinelli February 1, 2019 / 6:58 pm

    I feel like I am reading exactly what and how I think EXCEPT the part where you feel right with following your rules. It’s very hard for me to push back and feel comfortable with my rules that help me feel grounded and able to function. I have incorporated your rules with some variation in my life, and I just don’t trust all of my decisions -especially when they are criticized by people, anybody- close to me or not. I don’t have enough trust in myself, on many levels, to a level where any criticism makes me doubt myself… Regaining trust in myself is really hard….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cheryle Sullivan February 1, 2019 / 4:30 pm

    Great, concise set of tips that are useful every day. I’ve made a copy to hand out to folks at our first local BI Support Group. I included your blog address.

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurienyc February 1, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      that’s fantastic, Cheryle. Thank you so much for your support, and for handing it out to your group… I hope folks do find it useful. And congratulations on your first local support group. For me, those groups have been invaluable – and the the closer to home the better. I hope word spreads about the group and wish you success.

      Like

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