2010: Rethinking It All & Thanking My Readers

By and large 2009 has been a rewarding year for me.  It’s had it’s blows but all years do, nothing new there. The readership of this blog has more than doubled from last year. At times more than 2,000 viewed these pages in a given month. While a large majority of the readers are from my country, there have been readers from around the world: Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France, Slovenia, India, Korea, Ireland, Columbia, Romania, Brazil, Australia, Morocco, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa, Thailand, Taiwan, Luxemburg, Croatia, Spain and so on.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to those of you who visit here, whether you are stopping buy one time or, like more than I ever imagined, you stop by regularly. You can be sure this blog will keep going. In fact, this is the 228th piece I’ve written for it this year alone.

This year has had some fine realities:

  • I am still sober and without my sobriety, none of what is wonderful in life would be available to me.
  • A workshop I began in early 2008 for survivors of brain injuries and others continues to flourish and will celebrate its second anniversary in early 2010.
  • My friendship with Michael continues to show us both we are brothers, and my love for my nephews: Vincent and Philip, and now Jay, is as powerful as can be. My love for Frieda, Michael’s wife of the heart, runs so deep she is, without question, family to me too.
  • I saw Tischa Toon,  my childhood friend, who I love very much, for the first time in years, met her husband, David, a beautiful human being, and saw pictures of their sons.
  • I have a group of wonderful male and female friends and am forever grateful.
  • The survivors of brain injury, their loved ones, and all others who come to my workshops and those I have met throughout this state are people I genuinely care about and, in many cases, genuinely love. Whatever good I may bring to their lives pales in comparison to the good they bring to mine.
  • My advocacy has done some good this year, I hope, and for those who know that streak in me, you can be sure it is as alive and well and as tenacious as ever.
  • I met Christine Mansfield in Cape Cod and fell completely and utterly in love with her. And just in case that wasn’t enough, I met her daughters, Emily and Anna, extraordinary young women in their own right, and love them both.
  • I am on the New York State Council on Independent Living and I can tell you that is one spectacular group of people.
  • Although on disability, life is wealthier than ever.

This year, like any year, has had its not so fine realities as well:

  • My friend Jimmy died too soon at age 57. There is a little less light in the world with him gone.
  • I met some who offered lip-service friendships with love and loyalty firmly tied to the foundation of hot-air.
  • While there are some positive signs and things may be looking up in my state for people like me who live with brain injuries, we are not out of the woods, and I and those connected with me around the state are paying close attention.

On the horizon:

  • There are some new steps on the advocacy to be taken this year, one is already underway, the formation of a statewide coalition of brain injury survivors so that we too will have a unified voice.
  • I will devote more of this year to writing than ever before and may cut back in other areas to do this.
  • I am quietly adding things to my bucket list and will be acting on them.
  • I will begin writing a piece this year revolving around my experience of my state’s relationship with those of us who live with brain injuries
  • And more….

In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and each other. Don’t forget to say I love you to those you love. They deserve to hear it and you deserve to say it.

And, remember to live. Thank you again for reading this blog.

Warmth and respect to you all,

Peter

Finding Tischa

We were about nine years old when we met and were fast friends right from the beginning. Tischa was a wonderful ballet dancer at an early age, was rapier sharp and thus demolished any and all myths that blondes are dumb. Yes, she was and is a blonde, for all you brunette and redhead readers in need of an explanation.

There are old friends and then there are old friends who are family members in our hearts. At least this is my truth. To this day the friends I grew up with on Buchanan Street in Pearl River New York are family in my heart: Patty and Barbara are, then now and always, sisters in my heart a soul. Billy and Brian and Mark and Richie are now and always brothers in my heart.

I fell in love with the ballet at age five and began taking classes at age eight. In my first year of dancing I met Thea, a remarkable girl my age. She didn’t love dance to the extent I did, but we became fast friends and Thea is now and always a sister in my heart.

Recently I reconnected with Tischa and I am overjoyed. She is happily married to a wonderful man and they have two sons. Tischa is a social worker and all that I’ve known and know of her tells me she is a great one. Like all those mentioned in this missive, Tischa new my father and mother. They knew her and both loved her.

Tischa’s mother was a wonderful woman named Lee. She was one of my dance teachers. Her father was (in my mind) named Colonel. He headed the New York Military Academy in Cornwall on Hudson in New York. My grandfather, Prescott Beach, attended the academy, then under the leadership of Sebastian C. Jones, many years earlier before he went into the Army and fought in World War I.

This September I will see Tischa again for the first time in more than 30 years. We talked on the phone recently and it was as if we hadn’t missed a beat. I guess that’s the way it is with sisters some times, especially the ones you love and love you back.