Designing A 2012 Service Dog Calendar – My Brain Therapy Project

28 11 2011

As a person with disabilities, I’ve spent years where someone else is caring for me.  Now, I have a project where I am able to be the one reaching out to care.  I’m so excited to share this brain therapy project, a service dog calendar, I spent 6 months designing that will be able to help others.  It gives me great joy to raise funds for Paw Pals Assistance Dogs so I can help others via the use of this calendar project.  We’d love it if you could help us in our way of caring via ordering a calendar, but we also love all the prayers and words of encouragement sent our way for your words help me to press on so I can care more for myself and for others as I improve.

Gift donations of $20 or $25 receive a service dog calendar. 

To see more of the calendar up close and personal and to hear my sharing of how I created the calendar, enjoy the video.  To order a calendar, see the directions below the video:

1.  Click on the link for Paw Pals.
2.  On the right side of the “Home” page is a “DONATE” button in black and orange.
3.  Click on DONATE & follow the directions to give a gift donation of $20 or $25 via Credit Card or PayPal.
4.  Please write “WINDSOR CALENDAR” in the comments section of your donation when paying so that Paw Pals knows where to direct the funds.
5.  Then I will be notified by Paw Pals and mail out your calendar.  The mailing process is another good brain therapy project for me.

They make great gifts for teachers, family members, friends, travel agents, doctors’ offices – including the veterinarian!  😀  Happy scheduling in 2012!


Scarecrow Windsor Helps Me Interact in Public

31 10 2011

Scarecrow Windsor shows his costume - the patches, the straw, the hat, & the fun of it! He was a great model!

I continue to work on different brain projects. For the past two months I’ve worked on creating a “Scarecrow Windsor B.” costume. It’s amazing for me to see the effect sewing has on stimulating more of my brain with creativity, problem solving, and more. Enjoy the video and see what we did!

Picturing “What I Can Do” Moments

26 09 2011

Wow!  It has been QUITE some time since I have updated my blog.  It is a peculiar thing about brain injuries that what you can learn how to do or remember how to do one day, you may not be able to do the next day, or the next week, or for months again.  Such is the case with writing on my blog.  Although I’ve done other writing, I forgot how to work here and have not been able to think the “words,” so I just have to relax and not push it until my brain remembers – even if it takes months.  I want to share though that I’ve been doing VERY WELL and have been enjoying “Brain Projects” or  “NEW BUSIES!”  Brain projects are therapy to me and help to recall or retrigger parts of my brain and body into functioning.

This is the first service dog vest I made for Windsor. It has a bag on each side with pockets in order to carry necessary items when in public. It took months to think it through, some time to make a pattern and cut it out, and six days to sew it.

One big new brain project is sewing!  I have been growing in learning this skill!  Sewing is proving to be another activity that is encouraging alot of brain-work.  This therapy is making me use math skills to measure and figure, work small hand coordination to cut/pin/sew, exercise my eye muscle movements, solve problems I encounter, and more.  There are times I concentrate for an extended period of time sewing and other times, my concentration is short lived. 

The feeling of accomplishment is incredibly nurturing for my inner soul.  These projects help me to remember what I CAN DO during the moments I’m struggling with what I cannot do.  Next month, I hope to show you A DIFFERENT BRAIN PROJECT and a costume I’m making Windsor for the festivities in October.  As always, thank you for reading and supporting me in my endeavors to keep striving through the effects of having a traumatic brain injury. 

I did not make the cream, fluffy pillow on the left. That is God's handiwork! I made the pillow that is front and center. It was quite the challenge for me to measure and configure so the main attraction flower would be centered.

I made two more. The stuffing in the pillows is bamboo and/or cotton. Due to my special needs, I do not use polyester filling. All material and thread is cotton.

I made a royal blue harness bag.

In the left pocket is medicine. In the right pocket is my emergency medical information and service dog information. In the main pocket, we carry baby wipes, a tug Windsor uses in public (Ex: to pull out grocery carts), and bags to pick up "Windsor's business" in public.

This is another vest I made. It's smaller and lighter in material for when we exercise together. Around the "DO NOT PET" patches (letters were embroidered by someone else), I used a serger machine, something I am learning to use. The patch in the center is my BRAIN INJURY patch and says, "PLEASE STOP ~ QUESTIONS STRESS PERSON."

Windsor’s Birthday & Play

30 06 2011

This week Windsor had a birthday!  He’s now officially an adult dog.  I’m still often asked, “Does Windsor ever get to just ‘be a dog’ and play?”  This video shows a slice of us celebrating this week’s birthday of turning two as we play with him.  It was such a joy to celebrate his turning two and to thank God once again for all the gifts He has brought to me because of this special dog, Sir Windsor, who is so gifted.  Thank you to all who supported me with prayer, finances, cheery notes of encouragement, etc. in the “waiting” for Windsor and for so many who continue to do so since Windsor and I have been together as a service dog team.

Family Visits! It’s a Lively Zoo!

22 06 2011

My nephew and Windsor absolutely loved each other!

The past five days have been marvelous!  One of my brothers and my oldest nephew came for a visit.  I last saw my nephew three years ago.  I was house bound then and just beginning to speak words a few minutes each day.  This year, I was NOT house bound.  I surpised them at the airport, we went to the beach, we ate at a small pizza cafe, we went for a long exercise time, we went to the zoo, and my nephew taught me how to use a SUPER-SOAKER!  So, YOU better watch out!  I have good aim!  (smirking smile)

Two years ago, I last saw my brother.  By then, I was able to walk and jog a few times a week.  We worked out together one time that visit.  That was a precious moment to share as brother and sister, something we’d not done for many years.  On that walk/jog we talked about our needs, our ways to pray for each other.  I shared with him how I felt God was calling me to begin the process of finding a service dog.  Since the brain injury, I’ve learned alot about having faith and putting my trust in God when He leads me through what may feel impossible at times.  As my brother and I talked, I shared that I had no money for a service dog, I didn’t have the answers as to how to acquire a service dog, I had no idea how God would lead, but I knew He was pushing me strongly into another area to build my faith and trust.  What a grand time that on this visit, two years later, my brother met that service dog that he and I prayed for.  Here we are walking on the beach together (another sign of progress for sand is difficult), all three of us, brother, sister, and the newest family member, Windsor B.

Here is a video of my parents, my brother, my nephew, Windsor, and me going to the zoo.  I’ve dreamed of visiting this small, local zoo for years for it would mean another AMAZING moment of progress.  I’ve wanted to go for the past year, but continued to face obstacles in this brain recovery journey. I’ve loved zoos for years, but it’s a whole new experience going with a service animal!  If you’ve never been to the zoo with a service animal, come along and join us!

Shopping, Talking, Laughing ~ What Could Be Better?

30 05 2011

This week, I moved forward, literally, in a car on the freeway.   Riding in a car is stressful not only due to the car’s electrical issues, but also because of visual impairments from the brain injury such as, the speed at which visual images ~ vehicles, buildings, people, anything ~ fly past my eyes.  I’ve been physically unable to ride on a freeway for months.  We visited a favorite health food store, one where we shop periodically.  It stimulated me and nourished my sense of “I’m coming back.  I’m healing.  I’ll get back to where I was before my January setback.”

The video below demonstrates some of how shopping is a unique experience for me, but made physically easier with Windsor’s extraordinary help.  Each video I make is a brain project, a brain therapy for me, releasing my abilities to teach, to use my music, to connect with people, to see the partnership Windsor and I have as a service dog team, to see how I’m growing and healing.  In this video, I see my growth, amazing growth in so many areas of my difficulties.

I speak in this video ~ alot.  For those who knew me pre-brain injury, you may watch this with sadness in your heart, remembering my voice – whether through singing or speaking – sounding differently.  For some, you may

  • watch and hear my high pitched voice typical of brain injuries as the brain heals,
  • observe my facial muscles working past paralysis to shape the word production,
  • realize and see the effort it takes to get past certain words. 

For me, I see SUCCESS and so much PROGRESS!  I remember the Tuesday morning I awakened, almost 2 years to the day after the car accident, to the loss of my fluid speech.   EVERY single word or other word was stuttered, exhaustingly stuttered.  It was impossible for me to speak, to carry on any sense of conversation.  Within a few short months, I lost the ability completely.  I was digressing in so many ways and speech was one of the ways my brain declared it could do no more.

Years later, after about 7 months on the Brain Protocol, I began to make extended amounts of sounds, horrid sounds I must say, but sounds nonetheless.  After 9-10 months, I spoke words repetitiously, practicing and practicing without always stuttering. I still often repeat the same word, phrase, or sentence sounding as if I’m a broken record.   You will hear repetition issues in this video.  I know the work it’s taken to breakthrough the facial and tongue paralysis issues.  I know the stuttering struggle where the word won’t sound, but we laugh at “MY THESAURUS.”  “MY THESAURUS” appears when I stutter a word.  My mind is searching for a way out, finding a word or words that have the same meaning, but that is a doable, speakable word for me. When it happens, those around me can’t help but giggle at the surprise word(s) change(s).

So travel with Windsor and me as we shop, talk, and laugh!  Yes, Windsor shops!  Yes, Windsor talks quite strongly sometimes!  And yes, Windsor has a most definite sense of humor!

First You Learn to Walk, Then You Have to Jog!

9 05 2011

The past few days have been FULL OF PROGRESS!  Many know I’ve been working to walk again since my January setback.  On Friday, the video below was taken.  A section shows Windsor and me at the club where WE were able to remain on a treadmill (yes, that’s electrical) for 11 minutes.  The day after, on Saturday, I awakened RARING to go for a LONG walk!  Yet shortly into my walk, Windsor stopped me from crossing a busy intersection, alerting me to an oncoming episode.   I collapsed on the curb for quite some time as the episode lasted around 10 minutes.  Many people and dogs passed by as I sat with my head/body shaking, breathing awkwardly, and more.  Thank you to the kind couple who stopped and waited to see if they could help me.  I always appreciate those who are willing to try and help a disabled person.  (I carry an emergency medical card explaining what to do.) 

Once the episode passed and Windsor gave me approval to get up and move, we continued our walk.  As I began to undaze after the episode, my legs suddenly began to pick up speed.  I HAD TO jog, and jog, and JOG!  That’s how I respond to the Brain Protocol.  A body/brain signal connects and you HAVE to go with it…follow what the body is craving or needing.  I couldn’t stop!  The wind was beneath my wings.  Oh, the feeling was incredible!

At one point during this jog, I heard my name being called and saw a woman crossing the street to approach me.  She was unrecognizable to me, but I saw tears streaming from her eyes as she told me she subscribed to this, my blog.  (Hi Monica!)  Somehow, because this is difficult for brain injuries, I was able to stop my task of jogging and communicate with her for a few short minutes.  It was a very precious moment for us to meet and hug.  She’s been praying for me and saw a significant moment of my progress in the last few months.  She’d just witnessed first hand watching Windsor and me jog up a hill!

I was a bit disoriented after meeting her because of the change in my “rehearsed” course.  I struggle a great deal with this right now, but it’s not uncommon for brain injuries to disorient when an unexpected change occurs in an activity.  I was lost trying to recall where I was and how to get home, but I felt peace as I asked Windsor to “Find Home.”  Off we went as I followed his lead on the leash and we continued to jog on! 

Jogging is something I love.  I treasure every time it happens and it signals I’m continuing to respond to the Brain Protocol.  Having the ability to jog is not something I can expect daily, weekly, or even monthly, but when it happens as I continue to heal – OH, IT’S FANTASTIC!

“The Royal” Graciously Invites “The Commoners”

28 04 2011

“The Royal” Sir Windsor B. Derby would like all of his favorite “Commoners” to join in the “Royal Windsor Wedding” tomorrow, bright and early!

“The Queen” asked me, Sir Windsor B. Derby, to carry the soon-to-be Princess Kate’s train.  Other members of the Royal Family believed I’d be a fantastic ring-bearer.  But, being a true British gentleman, I was concerned my dignified demeanor might steal a moment of Kate’s glory…so I politely declined, but will be attending with the other “Royal Windsors.”

Today was a beautiful day for tea to prepare for the excitement of the coming nuptuals of my fellow Windsor family member and countryman, Prince William, and his soon-to-be bride, Princess Kate.

“Hip ~ Hip ~ Hurray! Cheerio I say!”

Anyone can enjoy “High Tea,” so I invited a commoner to share in the experience of strawberries, cream, English biscuits, and of course, delightful tea.

As I am “Sir Windsor B. Derby,” I am of pure “Royal” British Cream Golden Retriever lineage.

“The Commoner’s” heritage is different though. She descends from a mixed lineage ~ Dutch, Scottish, English, Irish, and German.

Obviously, this commoner is quite impressed to have tea with a member of the “Royal Windsor Family.”


Please remember the “Royal Wedding” is a formal affair, so black ties, cravats, and of course, the “Windsor Knot” is quite acceptable by the English gentry.

Of course all the Windsors have formal invitations to attend the ceremony, but I welcome ALL to join our celebration by watching it via television or other media.

I look forward to seeing all the other members of the “Royal Windsors” in just a few hours!  Cheerio now!

Keepin’ At It

25 04 2011

One of the results from my brain injury setback in January, is that my mobility struggles more frequently.  I must “keep at it,” working to help my brain reconnect those signals.  

In this video, I am working to progress with walking.  Windsor does have a mobility harness which helps me to balance and walk more easily, but in this clip, he’s wearing his vest and yet can still help with my balance.  Windsor helps me to walk with more stability, to cross the street safely, and he performs a medical alert.  My talking is limited from my brain injury, and is even more reduced from the setback.  I do not verbally communicate to Windsor much because it takes great concentration for me to focus on my steps.  Notice how Windsor still knows what to do even with my limitation(s).

Sometimes service dogs’ work is a “game” to them and their tail wags alot.  Here, you’ll witness no tail wagging, as Windsor is concentrating on the seriousness of his work, something he does with great pride.  Before we cross the street, you’ll see Windsor blocking me and studying something coming towards us.  He is not distracted.  The camera was unable to show that he is watching a bicycle approach and pass us.  You will see the bicycle pass us safely, and then of his own initiating, Windsor moves into the “Heel” position on my left and determines when it is safe for us to cross the street.  This is amazing for any animal to determine, even more so by the fact that Windsor has received no formal training as to do this.  His instincts, his protection, and his care astounds me daily. 

The hooded sweatshirt I’m wearing is made with special fabric and helps to protect me from EMFs, something I greatly struggle with daily.  It is from

Windsor & I Play “Peter Pan” ~ I Get Better!

11 04 2011

As you are aware I have a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  At the end of January (2011) I experienced a life-threatening setback due to a satellite dish installation at our neighbors’ house that went awry, causing a high amount of EMFs (electro-magnetic fields) into our house that retraumatized my body/brain.  Hence, I was unable to update my blog with the “Amazing Busies” that happened prior to the setback.  My brain/body is still traumatized from the setback, but I am making progress, ESPECIALLY this week!  (When I’m able to in another post, one day I will write about the cause of it and hope to “educate” people in regards to EMFs and electro-sensitivity.  For now, I’m still too traumatized by all the events to express them.)

One of the results from the trauma to my brain in January is that I struggle with where I am and who people are, even though they typically are part of my normal routine/patterns in life.  For example, somedays I know who my brothers are, somedays I don’t.  Somedays I’m not sure who my parents are, but they’re here to help me get through it.  I’ll ask, “What’s this?”  Someone responds, “It’s a dog.  It’s Windsor.  He helps you.”  I’m lost.  I’m disoriented.   It’s very frightening to me.  I’ve cried and cried at times over this being so frightened not knowing where I am.   I may be in my bedroom and not know it, not know where I am.  I may be paralyzed in the shower, not knowing where I am.  This is new for me, not something I’ve experienced amidst all the other life-changes since my TBI from 2003.

This new trauma to my brain caused my mobility to digress.  Once again, I’ve been working to drag my legs a few steps, trying to balance, striving to place one foot in front of the other with help from a person and my service dog, Windsor.  That progress is coming along nicely now after 2 months, not stable, but showing constant improvement.   I’ve once again been working to speak whether struggling through stuttering, slurring, or working to make sounds.  Reading, processing the words, grasping sentences, recalling the information has been on my daily therapy list.  In the past week, I’ve remembered how to spell and my fingers are clicking into writing here!  JOY!  I’ve forgotten many of my daily routines, so I’m back to working the basics, not knowing some days how to brush my hair, how to brush MY teeth (but I did remember Windsor’s one day), how to pick out and change clothes, how to cook (I do well making breakfast, but that’s it), working to remember ALL my meds, and more.  Don’t ask me to write my name with a pen.  It won’t happen.  I don’t know how.  So, I’m working to progress once again in many areas.

This working to progress includes my parents and some caregivers walking and walking and walking the neighborhood with me.  I spent a number of weeks stepping just a FEW feet outside the house and then not knowing where I was, where to turn, how to go anywhere.  Last week, my father walked a good part of the lake here with me, working to help me establish “old patterns.”  I’ve walked this lake THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of times over a 20+ year span.

Two mornings ago, Windsor and I attempted (and I can say HE succeeded!!!) to walk the lake BY OURSELVES (while I wore my new hooded sweatshirt from that helps protect me from EMFs, had LOTS of brain meds in me, and carried emergency numbers/medical info, etc.).  My mom knew I would be on the lake.  I knew she would be praying for me as I worked at this accomplishment.  If I was too long, she would come find me.  I’ve mentally practiced walking the lake for weeks now.  I’ve verbalized how to get around most of the lake.  I was ready!  I needed to do this!

I did REALLY well getting down the first, long major street.  I can visualize Windsor then helping me to turn left and cross the street.  I went up a slight incline….and from there….I was lost.  That is a very scary feeling.  I took a deep breath and while doing so, Windsor began to gently, thru a controlled pull, lead me as if he was a guide dog.  How did he know I was lost?  I followed where he took me and prayed to God to help us be safe. 

 I sang….a version of the Peter Pan song.

“I’m following the leader, the leader, the leader

I’m following the leader, wherever he may go.

I WILL be home this morning, this morning, this morning

I WILL be home this morning, because God tells me so!” 

Right God?  In the Bible there is a verse that says, “God is our refuge and strength, a PRESENT help in trouble.”  (I do not know where it is located.  Due to brain injury issues I’m unable to read my Bible and rely on verses I memorized pre-accident in 2003.)  I know God gave me strength and BOTH Windsor and me help.  I have NO IDEA where Windsor took me.  NOTHING looked familiar for quite some time, but I’ve learned over the past weeks of this setback to trust Windsor.  He’s one smart cookie and I truly believe God has some angels helping him know what to do even when I can’t express to Windsor what I need.

After quite some time of playing “Peter Pan,” I suddenly recognized a palm tree!!!  I was close to the zoo!  That’s what I call the fish pond!  I told my mom we were going to walk around the lake, go to the “zoo,” then around the stores to get home.  My question is, “How in the world did Windsor know to go to the zoo?”  Angels watch over Windsor B. AND me! 

Over these weeks when I’ve been lost, I tell Windsor, “FIND HOME.”  But, I hadn’t said this to him yet.  When we made it to the zoo and watched the colorful and gorgeously created fish, I “reoriented.”   I was then able to mostly find the way to the store.  But, while standing outside the store I got lost again.  “Oh dear Lord, where to?  I don’t recognize anything.  Where am I?  Oh Lord, please help us.”  “Windsor, ‘Find Home.'”

It takes great faith for me to trust a dog to lead me when I can’t lead him, direct him by signaling verbal commands such as, “Left, Right, Back Up, Cars, Safe~Cross Street” nor by signaling non-verbal commands because of my own physical inability.  I still don’t know how Windsor got us home.  The store is a 1/2 mile away.  I thought we were supposed to pass a school on the way home.  I looked for that one “familiar” landmark, listening for children, looking for school projects in windows, but we never passed a school.  I’m not sure how he got me home.  I just followed Windsor, my miracle mobility, medical alert dog.  He’s not a guide dog.  I’ve trained him in some basic guide techniques, but this miraculous ability of his goes beyond what I taught him prior to this setback.  I’m SO THANKFUL for this ability of his right now.  I TRUST HIM!

We believe that as I continue to be faithful with my brain meds, the Brain Protocol, and all the directions I follow since this setback, that this disorientation will decrease and perhaps disappear.  For now, it gives me great compassion and understanding as to what some of my other disabled friends experience with this disassociation and a way to pray not only for myself, but for them also.

To God be the glory!

“Peter Pan” Christy and Miracle Boy, Sir Windsor B. Derby