Gray Matters Coaching

February 16, 2012

Silent Epidemic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:29 AM

Silent Epidemic

Traumas perpetually occur.

Every 21 seconds,

One person in the US

Sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury.

These are the statistics,

This is what continually happens,

Of this we can be assured,

We are just now coming to know,

What we have already incurred.

Brain injury isn’t new,

Cave woman club man over head,

Back then,

You think it turned into something else instead?


Moving like a slug through time,

Brain injury then,

Brain injury now,


Silently carrying on the infection somehow.

Do you think ADD did not exist 20 years ago?

Before the research…

It just wasn’t explored,

Now, it is quite prevalent,

Yet it is not new,

It’s a silent reality,

Until it affects you!

Why is brain injury soundless?

Car crashes are not quiet,

Yet the injury is reported to be silent,

Quieter than a whisper,




Mystery lays in the unknown -

Thoughts make noise,

Ignorance is quiet,

People aren’t aware -

Silence isn’t the epidemic,

The hush covers -

Allows for infectious growth,

It spreads in a cloud of mystery…

Brain injury can even be invisible,

Folks can’t see it,

Haven’t heard about it,

Unblemished minds think…

What would it be without me?

What exactly is brain injury?

I’m calling to all around the nation,

Let us sing in chorus,

Break the silence,

Let’s raise a ruckus,

Hip, hip hoorah,

Hip, hip hooray,


We’ll draw a close

To the silent dismay.

This is a call to awareness -

I’m making a shout,

So the bacterial stain

We can clean out.

Pick up my book,

Listen to my rhyme,

I’ll have you captivated in no time!

Pass on the word of what you hear,

We are breaking the silence,

Thanks to your receptive ear.

We’re paving the way for knowledge,

We are the pioneers…

Gray Matters!

Heidi Lerner

Gray Matters for you!


Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:25 AM


I am writing this just for you,

Because I intend to give you a clue,

My poetry comes from my own inner construct,

I give you markings so you can at least draw dot to dot,

I want to personally disclose this to you,

Because I want you to better understand what I speak to,

I’ve been through some life experiences that do awaken,

Well, I’ve had my nagen shaken,

That is a Traumatic Brain Injury,

And I want you to discern what it does to me,

Cerebral bruising, tearing, bleeding & swelling,

Not just mental impairments, there’s much more to be telling,

I’ll translate this into real life,

So you can understand my neurological strife.

I want you to better see,

So you can more competently talk with someone like me,

Perhaps, for me it is quite healing,

For others to have more of this feeling,

I’m not going to be playing the cosmic trickster,

I want to point you to the holistic picture,

I’m going to communicate what I can,

So people with brain injuries you can better understand -

I talk straight from the heart in my chatter,

I say this to you, because…


February 11, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:59 AM

Although few will ever admit it, a lot of people relish the victim mindset.  It’s a way of life in our society – like an illness that’s so common it’s become accepted as normal. Although some get it worse than others, very few can walk through this world without having a bout of it now and then.

It does have its rewards, and they’re quite tempting. But like too much cake, those pleasures come with a heavy price tag. It can be so comforting to blame others for our problems, making them the baddies and ourselves the goodies. This means that none of what we experienced in any of our lives was ever our fault.

It’s always so obvious how the baddies need to change – but no major changes are needed by the goodies. This is so much the norm that whole groups of self-righteous people often band together to play the blame game on other sectors of society. I’m sure you can think of at least one example.

The price tag for this is not liberation, but even more disempowerment. Victims give the reins of their life over to others. People can sense this, and many will take advantage.  Then forgetting that they originally gave others that power, the put-upon ‘innocent’ gets angry over how they’re treated. This naturally deepens the pit of victimhood that they first dug for themselves, perhaps lifetimes ago.

So how to get out of that pit? Here’s a handy step ladder you can use.


o   Make lists of your good qualities; your achievements; your triumphs; & every time you proactively changed your life for the better.

o   Count your blessings every day.
o   Look on the bright side of everything.
o   Read uplifting books and articles.
o   Say affirmations and repeat positive thoughts.
o   See the higher purpose behind all the experiences that come your way.
o   Simply decide to be happy.


We all have four major powers at our disposal. They are like magic wands. When we know how to use them they can transform our lives.

1.  Your Intention: Set the firm and clear intention that from now on only you, your positive values and your belief in yourself (& G-d, if you so believe) will drive your destiny. The reins of your life are in your own hands now.

2.  Your Imagination: Visualise a cleansing rain washing through your body.  See all the victimhood, disempowerment, fear and anger from many lifetimes as mud that’s now being washed clean out of you. Then see beautiful coloured light filling your body instead.

3.  Your Intellect: Figure out which area of your life is worst affected. What negative belief does it reveal? Write out a positive comment that declares the opposite. If the disempowering belief is that you don’t deserve better, affirm that you have as much right to your place in the sun as the rest of creation. Put your new belief  somewhere where you’ll see it every day.

Taking these steps and using these powers will get anyone out of the victim pit, however deep or shallow it may be. As more and more people emerge from their personal pits, victimhood will start losing its grip on the mass psyche – and self-empowerment will spread like sunshine through our world.

February 10, 2012

Together it IS possible!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:58 AM

Never think a small group of thoughtful people can’t change the world.     Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

February 2, 2012

Foreward of Gray Matters, By Janis Ruoff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:05 PM


This inspiring book of poetry by Heidi Lerner offers readers an opportunity to experience the shattered and confusing world of recovery from a traumatic brain injury through the perspective of someone who has been there.  Research has shown that approximately 5.3 million people in our country live with the effects of an injury to their brain, and over 30,000 children and youth are disabled from brain injury each yeari – but these are only statistics.  It is the individual person’s unique experience and recovery from brain injury that we need to better understand.  Brain injury can happen to you, me, or anyone we know at a moment’s notice; life is forever changed for that person and those connected to him or her.

Aldous Huxley said, “experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you” (Texts and Pretexts, 1933).  In writing this book of profound and sensitive poetry, Ms. Lerner has used her own traumatic experience to help others.  She shows us the process that a survivor of brain injury goes through in using disoriented and confused thinking to figure out the world again.  She shows us the complexities of brain injury recovery through the language of poetry that helps us to feel brain injury rather than merely observe it or study it as a professionally interesting “subject”.

Cognitive disability resulting from a brain injury is often described as a hidden disability, because most people do not fully understand the vast scope of cognition.  All too often, we ignore what is right in front of us.  A little girl struggling to keep up in school; a lonely teenager who just can’t connect with his friends anymore; or an unemployed man or woman who has lost another job because no one explained how to do some things he used to know how to do (for neither s/he nor the boss recognized s/he had lost that knowledge or skill).  These are the day-to-day problems that people with brain injuries live with that so few people fully understand and have adequate training to help.

Ms. Lerner’s book will no doubt raise public awareness about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of someone with a brain injury, as well as the need for increased support and education regarding this disability.  Readers will enjoy a book of beautiful poetry that demonstrates that after a brain injury, a person is not only still able to function, but is able to live, reflect, write, and give meaning to the experience for others.

Janis Ruoff, PhD – Special Education Administration (now retired),  Director, Center for Education and Human Services in Acquired Brain Injury, George Washington University.

It’s a Good Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:54 AM

Dedication to my book, Gray Matters:

It’s a Good Life

Everything was fine,

Then one day,

My life buckled under.

Now I walk around,

And my scars are under cover.

I swam up and jumped aboard again.

Sure, there are some functional irregularities,

But I’m glad to have another time around the bend.

This is a “Cheers” to those that trauma has taken for a fall,

For we all agree that it is a good life, after all!

February 1, 2012

Aphasia – Words sometimes don’t work

Filed under: Health — Heidi @ 10:29 AM

A frustrating dilemma for many stroke and/or brain injury survivors is the inherent difficulty with word recognition (i.e. Aphasia). The following information is important to directly quote The National Aphasia Association’s website,…

“Aphasia is a communication impairment usually acquired as a result of a stroke or other brain injury. It affects both the ability to express oneself through speech, gesture, and writing, or  to understand the speech, gesture, and writing of others. Aphasia thus changes the way in which we communicate with those people most important to us: family, friends, and co-workers., The impact of aphasia on relationships may be profound, or only slight. No two people with aphasia are alike with respect to severity, former speech and language skills, or personality. But in all cases it is essential for the person to communicate as successfully as possible from the very beginning of the recovery process…”

“Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing…  Aphasia affects about one million Americans — or 1 in 250 people — and is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. More than 100,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year. However, most people have never heard of it.”Here are some suggestions to help communicate with a person with aphasia:

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before communicating.

  • During conversation, minimize or eliminate background noise (such as television, radio, other people) as much as possible.
  • Keep communication simple but adult. Simplify your own sentence structure and reduce your own rate of speech. You don’t need to speak louder than normal but do emphasize key words. Don’t talk down to the person with aphasia.
  • Encourage and use other modes of communication (writing, drawing, yes/no responses, choices, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions) in addition to speech.
  • Give them time to talk and let them have a reasonable amount of time to respond. Avoid speaking for the person with aphasia except when necessary and ask permission before doing so.
  • Praise all attempts to speak; make speaking a pleasant experience and provide stimulating conversation. Downplay errors and avoid frequent criticisms/corrections. Avoid insisting that each word be produced perfectly.
  • Augment speech with gesture and visual aids whenever possible. Repeat a statement when necessary.
  • Encourage them to be as independent as possible. Avoid being overprotective.
  • Whenever possible continue normal activities (such as dinner with family, company, going out). Do not shield people with aphasia from family or friends or ignore them in a group conversation. Rather, try to involve them in family decision-making as much as possible. Keep them informed of events but avoid burdening them with day to day details.

These guidelines are intended to enhance communication with persons who have aphasia. However, they cannot guarantee that communication will be immediate or on a par with former skills.”

Does Aphasia Affect a Person’s Intelligence?

NO. A person with aphasia may have difficulty retrieving words and names, but the person’s intelligence is basically intact. Aphasia is not like Alzheimer’s disease; for people with aphasia it is the ability to access ideas and thoughts through language – not the ideas and thoughts themselves- that is disrupted. But because people with aphasia have difficulty communicating, others often mistakenly assume they are mentally ill or have mental retardation.

Are All Cases of Aphasia Alike?

No. There are many types of aphasia. Some people have difficulty speaking while others may struggle to follow a conversation. In some people, aphasia is fairly mild and you might not notice it right away. In other cases, it can be very severe, affecting speaking, writing, reading, and listening. While specific symptoms can vary greatly, what all people with aphasia have in common are difficulties in communicating

The study was supported by National Science Foundation grants, and a National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders grant.
Contact: Karen Mallet – Georgetown University Medical Center
Source: Georgetown University Medical Center press release
Image Source: Neuroscience image adpated from an unrelated image shared at Wikimedia Commons by By Bkroeger via CC-BY-SA-3.0