Gray Matters Coaching

August 25, 2011

What Survivors are looking for in a Support Group

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:48 PM

Poem from Gray Matters:

What Survivors are looking for in a Support Group
(This consists of quotes of survivors in our support group… Their answers I arranged into poetry)

People that can relate
To what I’ve been through,
Social support,
I am always looking to help others out…
A place I can feel safe,
To feel secure enough
With others
That we can feed off
Each other’s hope & strength.
Not being judged,
My growth is recognized,
To gather with people
Who know I’m perfect (!),
To develop new friends
(As “friends” rapidly diminished after my accident),
To find out how everyone else
Deals with their problems.
We all get stuck in our own lives.
We feel we’re alone and isolated -
But we’re not!
To feel everyone else’s difficulties,
Sure makes me grateful for what I’ve got!
I want to be around others
Who understand what I’m going through,
We see one another as we are.
We’re not looking to take anything
From each other.
I get overwhelmed easily -
I get a lot out of it.
Feel like I’m part of something,

If life gives you lemons,

I am better off
With a supportive group of people,
To be free of criticism,
Acceptance, Appreciation, & Affection,
I’m always sitting off in the corner,
Holding back to myself,
I want to receive
Some of the support I need,
I’m just starting
To ask for help.
My spouse and friends have deserted me -
I’m looking to build self-esteem back.
~ Like a butterfly ~
You get your wings,Like a colony of bees…
Pollinate, Protect & Provide.
If one goes astray,
The group sends out signals,
To locate the bee in turmoil.
To have some fun
Bounce stuff off of each other.
To be part of a think tank,
Brain injured  brainstorming,
(Watch out!)

We communicate
For optimal survival.
The bees tell each other
Where the flowers are!
Grow into friends.

It’s better to light a candle,
Than to curse the darkness!”

That’s what we’re all looking for.

August 24, 2011

Gray Matters gives a sense what it’s like in a suvivor’s moccasins

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 2:05 AM
Colored  squaw

This is  me saying to you that I want you to walk in my moccasins – A’ho.    Read Gray Matters and you will get a feel of what it is like to walk in the shoes of a brain injury survivor.  Poetic articulation helps you to sense the personal challenges of a brain injury survivor.  Humor and uplifting stories , creative voice; graphics enliven the text text; inspiration, confidence, accomplishments, little baby steps.

If you haven’t yet read the book, Gray Matters, see the home page where there is a leaf link to where the book can be purchased.  Don’t be scared to care.  Melt those stones in there.  Because empathy heals!

Pick up my book, listen to my rhyme, I’ll have you captivated in no time!    My words speak love and concern for all brain injury survivors, everywhere!  Philosophize, empathize, try a new attitude on for size!

Heidi Lerner

(Author of Gray Matters, Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective)   Gray Matters for you!

It’s a Good Life – Poem of salutation to survivors worldwide

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 1:52 AM

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!

Gray Matters for you!

August 17, 2011

Why attend a brain injury support group?

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 9:33 PM

Why attend a brain injury support group?

*   Emotional healing comes through interpersonal contact

*   Sharing of similar experiences helps members feel less isolated and more empowered to deal with daily challenges

*   Encouragement comes from learning about the achievements of others who have overcome similar difficulties

*   In contributing, members feel useful and the experience gives meaning to their lives

*   Education results from the exchange of information and personal experiences

*   Enhances interpersonal skills

* Socializing establishes and teaches the importance of maintaining important connections with people

* Self-expression – as emotions are experienced and released, creates a greater understanding of oneself and one’s capabilities can be better accessed

* Involves confidence building

* A supportive and non-judgmental environment allows for honest self-expression and better interpersonal communication

*   A sense of growth occurs

*   Long-term members see new participants and reminisce about where they began and how far they have come in their personal journey.

Are you your own worst critic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 8:56 PM

I have been asked to follow up and comment on this post.  I would love to do that, because I feel strongly about what I said here.  Other words for what I’m talking about here is “taking care of yourself”.  Please read and I will finish commenting when you are through.


My regards to all of you.  I am sorry, I have been so involved with myself, that I haven’t given time to communicating.  I am persuing work in the field of  helping people with disabilities at Access to Independence.

For me, my functionality is best accessed if I see to it that I am feeling good.  So, for example, I Swing dance and if I see to it that that aspect of myself is taken care of, I am that much more able to do what I need to do in the world (i.e. care for others).  Doesn’t that make sense?

I am looking to take my services to a higher level than before (that will take more focus).  I am not saying that I need to swamp myself with pleasures, so that I can help others… It does take a balance of caring some for yourself, though.  I am going through a churning wheel of self-worth.  It is not to be distinguished by outcome, but my own internal judge.  Lord help me to not get excessively critical or lavish.

I am trying to unfreeze my telephone line to the outside world.  I don’t like to just babble.  THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE DOING THAT ALREADY!!!  The world would be a more peaceful place if so many would just shut up!  I want to feel that I atleast have something to say, to occupy your time and energy in reading.  I will pull it out of me to share a poet’s glimpses of the world.

May peace surround you and contentment encompass you.

Ruminate on that!


It is one of the 10 commandments to love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Do you love yourself?  Are you your worst critic?  Do you know what makes you feel good?  Do you allow yourself that?  Give yourselves a break.  Treat yourself to that which you love, that what makes you feel good.  When you take care of yourself, you are that much more ready to love your neighbor.

When I was being raised and as an adult too, my family did not always listen to me.  Over time, my response has been that if I sense I am not being paid attention to, I just shut up.  I don’t want to waste my energy speaking to ears or minds that have deafened themselves to me, I’ve got better things to do!!!  I really don’t like to just babble.  THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE DOING THAT ALREADY!!!  This and that blog, chatroom…  The world would be a more peaceful place if so many would just shut up!  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think negative of myself, I know that I am blessed with great wisdom.   When I write, I want to feel that I at least have something worthy to present to you.  For example, my poetry says something I feel is worthy to be read.  It is a unique reading experience, with many blessings for the reader   You can click here and find out more about my book.  Have you read my poetry on this site?  Check it out and see what I mean.    Gray Matters for you!

Let me repeat myself, because some things are worth repeating…   May peace surround you and contentment encompass you.

Ruminate on that!

Master Organ – Gray Matters – section on The Brain

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 12:44 AM

Master Organ

Infinite mind,
Intelligible cortex,
Neural networking,
All parts of the brain
Meshed into the whole,
Yet simple system,

Encased in a bony skull,
Protected and covered
by three membranes,
Outside  in
The wrapping of a heavy plastic sheet,
Cob-webbing amidst the wrinkles and folds,
Tender molding in the crevices,
Gelatinous mind.

Internal landscape,
Delicate nerve tissue,
Nurtured by vessels,
Flowing from the heart,
Circulating into the subconscious.

A good portion is hollowed out.
Fluid circulates,
Reservoirs of plenty,
Cerebro-spinal current,
Pulsing at it’s own rhythm,
Flowing down the vertebral falls,

Wrinkles & crevices,
Distinguished into hemispheres,
In a dichotomized world,
Corpus Callosum
Bridges the differences.

The right side of the machine -
Neurologically connects
to the left side of the body.
- Left to right,
Impulses neurotransmit,
Leaping the gaps.

Lobes fenced off,
Accomplishing distinct functions,
Frontal, Temporal, Parietal, Occipital,
(for more info, see Appendix E in the book),
Working together to get it all done.

In today’s rush,
Cerebellum triggers movement,
Stem rooted into the chord of the spine.
Bundles of nerves,
Wiring together all our different parts,
Conducting the symphony of ourselves,

Intellectual, Emotional, Functional,
Physical, Psychological, Social,

Sensory, Intuitive,
Holistic, Multimodal,


It’s all in our head.

August 12, 2011

Guest Speaker – Organizational Strategies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 10:27 AM

The next Support Group at the Del Mar Library, is August 18th, from 5:30-7:30. We will have a guest speaker, Sharon Gough – Organization and helpful strategies to help us better organize ourselves. Previous to her own injury, Sharon was helping people get organized, now she has in depth knowledge about individualizing organizational techniques for people with cognitive issues.

August 9, 2011

___________________Post Traumatic Stress________

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 8:55 PM

Riding down the road,

Windows cracked open,

Music’s playing,

Drifting off…

I catch myself,

Jam on the brakes!

- Too late!

Immediate shock of adrenaline!

≈≈ Terror ≈≈

Out of control…

My world turns,

Rough tumbling,



Through the windshield,



Into another world,


Through space,


Lost in time,

Long suffering.

Post injury -

Years later,

Doing everyday errands,

Driving around town,

Memories flash,

I get a feeling…

Embroidered deep,

Subconsciously instilled,

Out from the darkness they creep.

Impressions awaken,

I get a taste of recall,

Subliminal messages become overwhelming,

Personal horror,

A shot out of the dark!

I lose myself in time,

Am I then or now?

It gets confusing, somehow,

Emotional scars,


Over and over again.

The insides go into replay,

Real life suspended in animation,

Only it’s not funny!


Wake up!

And the wheel turns…

Post Traumatic Stress

July 21, 2011

Upcoming San Diego Area Support Groups

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:09 PM

San Diego Support Group

Access to Independence – Conference Room

8885 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 131

San Diego CA, 92108

(619) 293-3500

Tuesday, August 2nd, 6-8 PM

Tuesday, September 6th, 6-8 PM

Tuesday, October 4th, 6-8 PM

North County Support Group

Del Mar Library – Community Room

1309 Camino del Mar

Del Mar, CA 92014

760 579 3895

Thursday, July 21rst, 6-7:30 PM

Thursday, August 18th,  6–7:30 PM

Thursday, September 15, 6-7:30 PM

July 15, 2011

4 letter word

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 12:48 PM

One of the blog subscribers said

“Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.”

Just had to let you guys hear that!


July 5, 2011

The Balance of the Poet

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 10:25 PM

Semantic adventurer,

Warrioress of thought,

Pulling from the parts,

Yet envisioning the whole,

Stanzas of planned format,

Leap out of the page at you

In spontaneous meaning,

Linguistic artist,

Imprints her mind on the page,

Imagine that…

She uses her brush of thought,

To paint her feelings,

Her words give her color,

Shaded by grammatics,

She paints an abstract mural,

For her readers

To enjoy and comprehend,

Simultaneous designs,

Approaching their minds,

Subconscious infiltration,

She plays educational twister,

With a plan to be spontaneous,

Words are her allies,

Her thoughts are the pieces of the puzzle,

And she is the Master puzzle maker.

July 4, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:12 PM

I want to wish you all a Happy Independence Day!

I woke up this morning and my mind flurried through my past, present and possible futures. I examine the predicament we are in, me, myself, survivors of misfortunes of the mind and those of our greater whole – who on this day of Independence, I refer to as we. We are all in this together. Oh, the travails that strip ourselves bare, down to our very soul – horrendous, yet such an experience gets us to touch a part of ourselves that seems to be virgin territory; through the downpour of tears, you can feel that quivering essence. You can feel your heart beat. we can tap into our fetal essence.

In this space, our outer connections are of no mind. Here we are of our essence, we are independent. Oh, but such a word carries its harsh underpinnings, for when we truly examine our “independence”, there is the force that causes our very hearts to beat. And we are gifted with minds that think. Though not everyone touches this space, everyone has access – in our very core we have a regenerating sense of who we are and who we can become. When holding to our core-vision, we throw off others’ doubts, negativities and uncertainties.

We are what we we allow ourselves to be. Let us have the courage to reach out and BE INDEPENDENT!!!

June 26, 2011

Occupational training & Vocational assessment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 2:10 PM

Occupational training

The aim of this category of training is to develop the student’s occupational awareness and to get him/her situated in an appropriate occupation. From that point forward, a continual stream of growth and progress in the student’s career is encouraged. A list of occupational skills are: knowing and exploring occupational possibilities, selecting and planning occupational choices, performing appropriate work habits and behaviors, exhibiting sufficient manual skills, gaining a specific occupational skill and seeking, securing and maintaining employment (Clark, G.M. & Kolstoe,O.P., 1995).

Vocational assessment

This process of vocational assessment enables the transition program to ordain the students’ strengths and interests. There are many different types of assessment; because traditional psychometric tests can shade the disabled students’ talents and be a negative influence on their self-esteem, use of intelligence tests should be kept minimal. Tending toward more uplifting forms of assessment seems only natural.
Two types of performance-based assessments are situational assessment and work sampling. In these on-the job and simulated on-the job settings, an employer can get a more realistic view of how a person performs rather than his/her capacities are. This type of assessment presents more useable information. These would be arranged and supported by the transition specialist.

Interest inventories and personality tests serve in ascertaining the scope and strength of the students’ interests and qualifying the students’ attitudes, opinions and adjustment capacities. In being compared to the tests of ability or achievement, these tests place no importance on a high score. They are used to determine who the student is, not what the student can be. The aim is to accurately describe behavior, concerns or feelings (Clark, G.M. & Kolstoe,O.P., 1995). In this way a vocational evaluator serves in matching a student with an occupation that he or she is interested in and may perform best in.

Portfolios are an alternative assessment, which are constructed by the teacher and the student; parents can offer additional guidance. This allows the student to select samples of work, which he or she is proud of. A portfolio shows a student’s development through time and can be a builder of self-esteem. The act of making a portfolio causes a student to take note of his/her strengths and what skills are in need of development, thus serving as a career-planning tool. The portfolio can then be shown to colleges or employers in order to develop prospects for the future.

Work options

While in school, the student may chose from various work options that may be supplied by the transition specialist. He or she may chose learning occupational skills through job shadowing, work-based learning (in which the employer serves as a trainer and does not benefit from the student’s employment), or supported employment.

School and work partnership

The occupational planning procedures are enmeshed with the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and the ITP (Individualized Transition Plan). The ITP serves in facilitating goals and a smooth transition into the work world and adult services. When occupational objectives are incorporated into the IEP, school-based learning becomes directed toward occupational development. Examples of school-based learning are learning occupational vocabulary and about professional roles. In building a working vocabulary, a student can be cognizant of and able to communicate about what is happening in his/her work environment. The educational process regarding occupational roles involves teaching what roles entail and what they don’t. School-based and work-based learning in conjunction with connecting activities (i.e. projects that relate academic studies to work performance) serve in facilitating the transition from school to work. Over time, the student works in school as well as at work to develop the appropriate skills in order to progress in his/her field.

Social skills training

Interpersonal or social skills training are an important part of the transition plan for disabled students. A general list of social skills which are to be developed in the transition program are: achieving self-awareness, self-confidence, independence and socially responsible behavior, maintaining good interpersonal skills, achieving problem solving skills and communicating adequately with others (Clark, G.M. & Kolstoe,O.P., 1995).

Students’ awareness and self-knowledge regarding values, attitudes and habits is fostered. The students are encouraged to know what they believe and why, how their actions spring from their beliefs, and what may be the consequences of their actions. Two crucial issues are to teach students with disabilities are those characteristics that affect their acceptance or rejection on the job site and the simple basics of being cordial and courteous. Social skills training is offered to students with disabilities as part of their curriculum, yet for the purpose of integration, one must wonder if these topics should not be formally and educationally addressed by “normal” students!

Daily living skills

Transition students will be trained to develop skills of daily living that are pertinent for exceptional job performance. Daily living skills which are of noted importance are: managing family finances, managing and maintaining a home, caring for personal needs, raising children and living as a family, buying and preparing food, buying and caring for clothes, engaging in civic activities, utilizing recreation and leisure and getting around the community (Clark, G.M. & Kolstoe, O.P., 1995).


In a school to work transition setting, skills, vocabulary, social appropriateness and daily living skills are taught to prepare a person with a disability for the work environment. For example, learning the vocabulary that is used on the job is essential for everyday occurrences; if an individual is not aware of the meaning of an important word at work, other workers may secure a reason to criticize their disabled coworker. Occupational vocabulary is taught in school; this shows how the school and work partnership serves to develop an integrated sense of self. Additionally, a student’s becoming more adept at self-management (i.e. daily living skills) will serve in generating self-confidence. Self-confidence is a significant stepping-stone in developing occupational skills. Learning these skills makes a student more able to navigate through rough waters, when such chaos presents itself.

In concordance with the school program, parents are also participants in the student’s transition. Parents teach their children daily living and social skills, encourage their self-determination, independence and setting of goals. They motivate their children to want to work and learn, and reinforce their appropriate work behaviors at home. Parents also inspire and help their children to develop personal and social values, self-confidence and self-esteem (Clark, G.M. & Kolstoe,O.P., 1995). Sometimes family support may seem as if it calms rough waters; it at least acts as a dependable life jacket.

In a sense, a person with a disability is paddling upstream. Though life’s river charges through all of our lives, some people get so caught up in themselves, their job, or making money that they aren’t even aware of life’s great river. Those that are faced with personal challenges have usually needed to slow down and adapt themselves to their environment, thus they have learned to ride the current instead of depending on a self-propelled speed-boat. This just may be one of the unrecognized strengths of a person with a disability.

Riding a kayak can be hard to master when there are many variables to contend with and control (i.e. winds, whitewater, and kayaking abilities /occupational, social, daily living skills and one’s own self-image). Of course, quality instruction in kayaking (i.e. self care) is the most essential ingredient. One must avidly learn the necessary skills, because once s/he is out on that rough water, s/he becomes dependent on those skills in order to survive. With the right transitional services, a student can persevere with confidence. One thing is guaranteed, when that individual comes in off the river, a person with more coordinated (i.e. integrated) abilities, confidence and self-determination will step out of the boat.


Clark, G. M. & Kolstoe, O.P. (1995). Career development and transition education for adolescents with disabilities. (2nd edition). Boston : Allyn and Bacon.

June 24, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:37 AM

Moving from school to work is as if a student is floating along a smooth current and the water immediately empties into the ocean. Transitional services can play the role of preparing the student for the changes significantly ahead of time and educating him or her about getting by on more turbulent waters. Preparing the student with a disability for the work field includes training in:

1. Occupational development (involving a vocational specialist)
2. Social skills
3. Daily living skills

The objectives are to provide occupational guidance and preparation, as well as training in the development of personal relations and daily living skills. The latter two are included because these skills are an integral part of an individual’s functioning in the workplace and developing these skills serves to enhance the student’s performance at work.

June 23, 2011

Navigation through Transitions!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:49 PM

Transition flows just as a river. It swerves through the regional landscape taking swift turns around the rocky terrain. It may shift from a smooth current to turbulent waters and then back again; it can be a difficult ride. The river of life challenges us all; at certain places along the way, things may even get to be just a little too rugged. Transitional services serve to facilitate moves that may be too hard to handle in a one-man kayak. For a person with a brain injury (or other disability) these passages may be from a hospital into the community, a rehabilitation center to the home, to a school or work setting, or simply from school to work. (will be continued…)

June 20, 2011

Please note:

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:21 PM

The composer and manager of this blog must confess to her technical inefficiencies. Due to her only getting it together now, she has been unable to sustain the email contacts from those of you that have written on the blog in the past. She is sorry… and if you would like to stay in communication, please write something again and you will be properly put on our email contact list.


June 13, 2011

Dare to …

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 3:41 PM

“Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 9, 2011

Take proactive baby steps!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 6:32 PM

Someone just wrote this post –
“Moreover, psychological problems like Stress, Depression, Anxiety and other related issues are also some of the commonly known factors resulting in this disease. Aging and lifestyle factors like engaging in the habit of Alcoholism, smoking or tobacco abuse tend to increase the risk of developing this disease.”

I reply -
Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Psychological, NeurologicaL, Social and Behavioral issues are all influenced by brain injury. It is quite a comprehensive disability. You are right, ALCOHOL AND SMOKING ACT TO WORSEN THE CONDITION OF BRAIN INJURY.

Please let me correct you regarding one point, brain injury is not a disease (unless it is degenerative). We can take proactive measures and improve our condition! We are responsible for our own condition! We can educate, accommodate, make changes or adaptations so we can get things accomplished. I encourage you (the reader) not to fall into the pit where you feel that you can’t get out. Take baby steps,make little changes. MIRACLES ARE WAITNG… MOUNTAINS CAN BE MOVED SIMPLY PERHAPS, BY SIMPLY CHANGING AN ATTITUDE!

May 5, 2011

Quote from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 5:17 PM

‎”The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (courtesy Edward Rholl)

April 26, 2011

Pegasus Rising – Partnering Horses and Humans for Healing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:26 PM

Pegasus Rising

Partnering Horses and Humans for Healing

Gray Matters is working with Pegasus Rising.  We  have been asked to offer Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT Program)
to the people that attend our support group, on a monthly or bimonthly.  Heidi Lerner has been through the EAT program and is now a volunteer for Pegasus Rising. Cressa is now in the Equine Assisted Therapy, 4 week session.  Lynn has visited Pegasus twice for two of our group’s sessions.
Contact Heidi if you are interested.

San Diego Support Group for Parents and Caregivers of Children with Traumatic Brain Injury

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:37 PM

This blog provides information about upcoming support groups and resources for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Why attend a brain injury support group?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:16 PM

* Emotional healing comes through interpersonal contact

* Sharing of similar experiences helps members feel less isolated and more empowered to deal with daily challenges

* Encouragement comes from learning about the achievements of others who have overcome similar difficulties

* In contributing, members feel useful and the experience gives meaning to their lives

* Education results from the exchange of information and personal experiences

* Enhances interpersonal skills

* Socializing establishes and teaches the importance of maintaining important connections with people

* Self-expression – as emotions are experienced and released, creates a greater understanding of oneself and one’s capabilities can be better accessed

* Involves confidence building

* A supportive and non-judgmental environment allows for honest self-expression and better interpersonal communication

* Growth occurs

* Long-term members see new participants and reminisce about where they began and how far they have come in their personal journey.

March 27, 2011

Gray Matters starts new brain injury support group in San Diego

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:01 AM

We will be meeting the first Tuesday of each month, from 6-7:30 PM, in the smaller Community Room at Serra or Kerny Mesa Library. The first meeting will be on April 5th. The address is 9005 Aero Drive, San Diego, CA.

We are signed up for:

Tuesday, April 5th – 6-7:30 PM
Tuesday, May 3rd, 6 – 7:30 PM

After that, we will need to wait and see if the budget cuts are going to change the availability of the room. We may need to make a schedule change. I will let you know.

March 12, 2011

Gray Matters Survivor Outreach – Facebook page

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:47 PM

March 8, 2011

Children and Brain Injury

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 10:17 PM

For kids, the Silent Epidemic continues on…

Children who sustain a TBI early in childhood often grow into their injury; their problems sometimes don’t surface until they are in elementary school.

March 4, 2011

Nutritional Supplements for Brain Injury Survivors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:20 PM

First, my disclaimer – I am no nutritionist, but I am a health nut and fitness regular.  I have been on the path of finding what is best for me personally, after a brain injury for 21 years.  I have found some things that have REALLY worked for me and I would like to share some of them with you.  Perhaps you can benefit from what I have played around with for quite a few years.  I am talking about preventative medicine

Attention problems -   Omega 3′s

Depression -   Aerobic exercise –   (3-4 times a week – ideally)     It’s been researched and I confirm that yes, it does help!  If women don’t take enough Iron, they could become anemic, which leads to depression.   If low in B-12, this can lead  to depression.

Vitamin B’s have a lot to do with the nerves.  They are an important nutritional resource for Brain Injury Survivors!

Energy level     -  B-12 (Sublingual – the most digestible and easy to assimilate)

Mood Swings   – B-3

Health & Well Being –   Look into a good easily digestible multivitamin

Water -   Brain tissue is 85% water!   The brain is only 1/50th of the total body weight and it uses 1/20th of the blood supply.     Hmmm… logically, that tells me for optimum brain function, we need water!         The International Sports Medicine Institute, has a formula for daily water intake: 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight if you’re not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses if you weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you’re athletic (13 to 14 glasses a day, at the same weight).

Fiber    – Got to make sure everything is flowing, right?  We do have to give back to the earth!  ;D

Vitamin C & Calcium -  are important too (to me-because of family history and coffee intake) .  For anything of importance to you, I recommend seeing how much I’m getting in the multivitamin to see how much more I may need through food  supplements.

Immune strengthener -  The thing about immune strengthening, you want to be sure not to be taking Goldenseal or Echinacea on a regular basis.  If you do, then when you need it, it won’t work.  I use Astragalus Root tincture.

This is what I have for now, if anything else comes to mind, I’ll add it in.  Remember, I am no authority, just my own personal health “freak”.  I have found that some accommodations for my brain injury have come from the health food store!!!


We like your feedback, do you like?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 1:18 PM


Consider reading my book, it has been said that is not only beneficial for brain injury survivors, but also for those without complications – it promotes attitude adjustments that help to get by in life!  To order a book, go to the home page and click on the leaf on the flower.  It will take you to my publisher, where a book can be purchased.

March 2, 2011

Intimate Knowledge of Brain Injury

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 7:18 PM

This Sunday we did our first Mentor Training!  We have four men who are very interested and enthused about being mentors for other brain injury survivors! This web site will go through a transformation when we get started…

I have worked for more than 10 years in Brain injury peer support.  When two people that “know” brain injury get together, an understanding transpires; an acceptance is kindled; possibilities are ignited; hopes can be shaped.   When I use the quote to “know” brain injury, I refer to the biblical understanding of the word – intimate knowledge , as Adam knew Eve.   I am not referring to book-knowledge about brain injury.  People with book-knowledge about brain injury interact with survivors in a different mode than two that have experienced an injury to the brain.

more later…

February 8, 2011

Please forgive me…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:11 AM

I have not been holding up to my administrative responsibilities in my blog.  Admittedly, it is due to my ignorance.  I have not responded to you nice folks that have taken an interest to the Gray Matters blog.  Please don’t take it personally, in the future, I will add many of your relevant comments to the blog and perhaps respond to you personally.  I so much appreciate when you make comments about what I have to say!

Those of you who have posted a relevant comment, I thank you.  I am trying to become a better coordinator of the Gray Matters blog.  Thank you for your tolerance!

Da dant da!  Please forgive me!  Da dant da da da!

February 2, 2011

Please communicate!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:40 AM

If anyone has any questions or anything they’d like for me to write about, please transmit your ideas to me. Pass it on, relate it to me, present it; disclose your concerns – I won’t leave you naked & exposed!  Maybe someone else is going through the same or similar things!

Be in touch, interact, talk to me, converse; lets powwow!

It takes more than telepathy; how about some human interaction(!); talk to me, child!



Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 10:50 AM

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”

~Audrey Hepburn

January 26, 2011

For Representative Giffords, Fitness Level Bodes Well for Recovery

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 8:45 PM


Perhaps no greater motivation is needed for getting in shape and watching your diet than listening to health experts talk about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from a bullet wound to her brain.

Being fit — and Giffords has long been a fitness buff — vastly improves the chances of recovering from illness or injury, neurosurgeon Gail Rosseau says. “It’s an adage of all surgical specialties: The healthier you are going into the surgery, the better you will be coming out,” says Rosseau, chief of surgery at the Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago.

Rosseau says the emergency care and medical teams have played the leading roles in Giffords’ progress so far, but Giffords’ strength will be key during her rehab at the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston. She was transferred there Friday after she was shot Jan. 8 in Tucson.

“I’m sure her overall conditioning will help her,” says Rosseau, who is not involved in Giffords’ care. “That’s why we make sure the whole health of a patient is under good control. You want to get someone in mental and physical shape before they have surgery.”

What discourages health experts when working with patients?

“Obesity, being a smoker, having a sedentary lifestyle” make recovery more difficult, Rosseau says. “She clearly lives a healthy lifestyle.

Giffords, 40, hikes when she gets home to Tucson and also loves biking, in-line skating and yoga, says Mark Kimble, a spokesman in her Tucson office. “She also likes swimming in the members’ pool in the Rayburn House Office Building,” he says, and he adds that her diet is loaded with fruits and vegetables. “Very little junk food.”

Cardiovascular fitness is key to a healthy heart and mind, experts say. Her schedule as a congresswoman is so demanding, Kimble says, that “she doesn’t get to work out as often as she’d like to. Nonetheless, she’s in phenomenal shape.”

And that could lead to a phenomenal rehab, says physical therapist Karen McCulloch.

“There’s still so much we don’t know about her brain injuries,” says McCulloch, director of physical therapy education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is not involved in Giffords’ care but says she is watching every step of the congresswoman’s progress from afar. “The fact that she is a motivated, driven, bright, active person could be assets. If she has really good endurance, that can be helpful.”

McCulloch says time will tell.

“There are some brain injuries that are so catastrophic, you might not be able to recover from them. The brain can learn to compensate, though.”

Giffords is in the early stages of physical therapy. Fluid in her brain has delayed her move from intensive care to rehab. But she can stand when assisted, and her Tucson physicians told the Associated Press she mouthed words and will continue to progress in what has been a “miraculous recovery.” The Houston hospital says her condition improves daily.

Rosseau’s advice: Follow Giffords’ lead and make healthy choices “as a way of giving yourself an extra insurance policy, an insurance policy that can help you move a step toward a better outcome.”

January 6, 2011

We are now a Nonprofit!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:09 AM

This is a note of celebration!!!


Gray Matters has now been transformed into Gray Matters Survivor Outreach;  we are a nonprofit organization.
We are a fiscally sponsored project of Help is Here, a 501(C)3 public benefit organization”.

We are  survivors looking out for other survivors.



Thank you for celebrating with us.

Are you in the San Diego area?  Would you like to be a part of our work in reaching out to other survivors?
We will be starting a Brain Injury Mentoring Program.  We are looking for people (brain injury survivors) who want to be a support to others (to be a trained Mentor) and people (brain injury survivors) who need support (people to be Mentees)in the Gray Matters Mentoring Program in San Diego.

Here is a little blib about the program (more to come in the future):

Gray Matters Survivor Outreach will be starting a mentoring program in which Heidi Lerner will be the Program Director. Heidi will recruit & train Mentors (people who have been down the road with a brain injury), match them with Mentees (people who have newly sustained an injury & may be transitioning from a rehab). Initially, together with the matched pair, Heidi will design a Mentoring Plan. The Mentor uses this as a map of what to do with the Mentee. It will involve personal rehab goals that the Mentee needs help with. Throughout the course of the Mentorship, as the Program Director, Heidi will monitor relationships between the mentors and mentees; help keep the matches positive and stay on track; She will make sure that they are making headway with the goals and keep records of the progress.

If you’d like to be part of this program, please contact us at

November 26, 2010

When adversity hits, how do you react?

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 5:57 PM

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and
how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to
make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose..

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with
water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the
first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last
she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without
saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished
the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and
placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning
to her daughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.
She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the
daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she
observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The
daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked,
‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the
same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went
from strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the
boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile.
Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after
sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The
ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling
water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks
on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong,
but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes
with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup,
a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and
stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and
tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot
water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.. When the water gets
hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.  If you are like the bean,
when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation
around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest,
do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials
to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to  make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of
everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their
way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you
can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was

Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and
everyone around you is crying.

May we all be COFFEE

If the Lord brings you to it, He will bring you through it

November 23, 2010

New research – Lactate Shuttle May Fuel the Injured Brain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 7:07 PM

November 4, 2010

Author of Gray Matters will speak at IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:16 PM

Author of Gray Matters will speak at IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies)

On December 4th, 2010, Heidi Lerner will be speaking to IANDS (The International Association for Near Death Studies) in San Diego.  The meeting will be in the San Diego County Health Services Center, in the Harbor Room.  The address is 3851 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92110.  The meeting runs from 1:30 to 4:00.  Heidi will be talking about brain injury and reciting from her book, Gray Matters.  She will also touch on self-advocacy and independent living attitudes for people with brain injuries and the up and coming Gray Matters Mentoring Program.

November 3, 2010

UCSD/ VA TBI Research

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:45 PM

This is for local San Diego residents only!
The UCSD/ VA are looking for volunteers diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury to participate in a research study of brain activation with MEG and MRI. (UCSD IRB #10049)
In order to participate, you must:
-be within the ages of 18 – 45
-be DIAGNOSED WITH MILD or MODERATE TBI from a motor vehicle accident or sports injury that occurred WITHIN THE PAST 3 YEARS
-experience PERSISTENT SYMPTOMS such as headaches, memory loss, attention problems, language problems, etc., for more than 4 weeks
-have NO METAL IN HEAD, unless removable
-have NO EXTENSIVE DENTAL WORK, such as permanent retainers, metal crowns, and braces (some fillings ok)

*Other criteria apply.

Subjects can make up to $100 for participating in 3 separate sessions:
-Session 1: Neuropsych testing, 3-4 hours, $40. These assessments measure changes in ability, such as in memory, concentration, and problem solving skills.
-Session 2: MEG testing, 2-3 hours, $30. Subjects will sit under the MEG system and perform simple tasks while the MEG measures brain responses.
-Session 3: MRI testing, 1-1.5 hours, $30. Subjects will lay in the MRI scanner while MRI images are collected.
Breaks are included in all sessions.

Please contact: Annemarie at 858-822-2352 or or Ashley at 858-822-6874 or for more information.

November 2, 2010

Learn the mysterious psychosocial issues of head trauma

Filed under: Health,Poetry — Heidi @ 1:45 AM


It’s really hard to understand,

How a person is affected psychosocially.

“Psychosocial” refers to -

Emotional, social, behavioral and psychological

Distresses caused by injury.

The following is a seemingly endless list.

These symptoms are less obvious to the average eye,

They are more enduring and harder to pacify.

Here is an inventory

Of survivors’ ongoing obstacles:

· Increased emotionality

· Poor self-awareness

· Being socially inappropriate

· Frequent mood changes

· Being unmotivated or seeming to be of no use

· Reacting with alcohol and drugs

· Social disinhibition

· Depression

· Self-esteem disintegrates

· Loneliness

· Egocentricity/self-importance

· Anxiousness

· Impulsivity

· Decreased sense of discernment or judgment

· Poor anger management

· Insensitivity to others

· Unawareness of how actions impact others

· Lessened ability to interpret emotions & read situations

· Lowered tolerance for frustration

This is a somewhat complete list,

But no doubt,

There’s some that I missed,

Some advice -

About what to give the survivor,

How to supportively console:

Encourage strengths (e.g. sports, music or crafts),

So s/he won’t over-identify with the “sick role”.


After the continuous self-correction of rehab,

Please don’t underestimate the power of your love,

And positive feedback!

October 24, 2010

This too shall pass…

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 11:26 AM

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

~Harriet Beecher Stowe

September 30, 2010

Gray Matters Survivor Outreach – Social Networking contacts

Filed under: Gray Matters Survivor Outreach,Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:37 PM

Facebook page



September 16, 2010

I challenge you to threaten the beast with goodness!

Filed under: Health — Heidi @ 1:58 PM

Today, I’d like to talk with you about something I would say I have an authority on, DEPRESSION.  I’m not saying that I know your depression, I’m saying that I am pretty familiar with mine.  Certainly depression can be as sorted, just as the many colors of the rainbow and their are then many tones to each color and many shades of tones (i.e. in varying depths of darkness).

I have found the necessity in figuring out what it is that makes me feel good and then make the effort to do it.  It is tricky, because one of the symptoms of depression is not to do what you enjoy doing.  It’s like a snake with it’s tail in it’s mouth.  It can’t get out of it, unless it spits out what it tries to digest!

What I suggest is to make a list of at least three things that you really enjoy doing.  I don’t want you to be one of those people that says, “Oh yeah, I love to do X, Y or Z, but I haven’t done that since 19…”  NO!!!  Don’t be swallowed by the beast!  Take control of yourself, dare yourself to explore some possible good times.  Take friends OR DO IT YOURSELF!

Dare to threaten the beast.  Go have some good times!  This topic will be further addressed in upcoming mailings.  Please feel free to respond.

This is Heidi signing off as your personal cheerleader.

August 30, 2010

Pegasus Rising

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:37 PM

I am so excited, this morning I started volunteering at a ranch that houses therapy horses.  Their focus is in working with soldiers with PTSD and TBI.  Since I am just getting started, I will be working from the ground up and with horses, you know what that means!!!  It’s OK, I am really happy about going to shovel *#@&.  These are very special horses.  These horses have been rescued from a life of neglect, so they know and can sense pain.

These are 2 interviews with participants from Pegasus Rising therapy sessions that include some actual session footage:

August 24, 2010

Reduce risks that lead to depression

Filed under: Health — Heidi @ 2:33 PM

Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Depression – Mental Attitude:

1. Exercise: Try a half-hour of moderate exercise, walking or swimming, 5 days a week. Exercise produces chemicals in the body that boost your mood and stimulate hormones and neurotransmitters, including endorphins, that can help reduce stress.

2. Strong, supportive relationships: Isolation is a risk factor for depression. Belonging to a community buffers people from the effects of adversity.

Please note that negative, critical relationships are also harmful!  Sometimes you may need to know when to slip out of a relationship that is destructive.

3. Gentle Pilates, stretching, meditation, prayer, counseling, mentoring, psychotherapy. Studies show these practices can reduce stress.

4. Reduce alcohol consumption or recreational drug use. People who feel stressed may drink too much; alcohol is a known mood suppressor.  Both drug use and alcohol may seem like you are relieving the problem; perhaps you may be immediately avoiding the problem, but in the long term you are worsening your condition.

July 20, 2010

Are you your own ally?

Filed under: Health — Heidi @ 10:40 AM
Believe in yourself.jpeg

You deserve personal joy and blessings!

I want you to do me a favor and look into your internal mirror and see how you responded to my opening, stating what you’re entitled to.  Did you hurry on to read what came next?  Did you think to yourself,? – whatever!  Did you feel an emptiness inside?  Were you critical of yourself in some way (like saying “Yeah, right!” and roll your eyes)?

This is for all, if you have a brain injury or not.  Are you your own ally or foe?  My point is, how do we treat ourselves?  This is so important, because we have to deal with ourselves 24-7!!!  We can be our worst foe.  I write this to you because this I know (Had to throw a rhyme in there ;) ).  Look in the mirror and see your greater potential.  You are that lion!  Go ahead, no one will hear you, GGGGrrrrrr!


I’m just trying to aim you toward some peace inside yourself, in this crazy world.

July 12, 2010

Where are the organizations giving support to brain injury survivors?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 6:01 PM

Am looking for a non-profit that could be a Fiscal Sponsor for Gray Matters Mentoring.  This will be a client first program.  We were going to go through a local organization, but it turns out that their mission is not to give services for brain injury survivors.  My question is who is giving services to brain injury survivors?????

I can either team up with an organization who is already a nonprofit or become a nonprofit organization myself.  I’d prefer to coast on someone else’s back.   I am a survivor myself!  —>>>  OK, I NO LONGER USE THAT AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT GET THINGS DONE, THOUGH!!!!!!!

If anyone knows of a nonprofit, local or not, that’s mission is rehabilitation of brain injury survivors, please let me know!  Thank you.  I can be reached here, through the blog or

June 8, 2010

Gray Matters Approaches Oprah!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 10:04 PM

I want to let you know something really exciting. I connected with this lady that lives down the street from me and I gave her a copy of my book to read.   She suffers from Parkinsons and she was really impressed.  Well, turns out she used to be one of the producers on the Oprah show!!!

Her and I went out to dinner and she told me that she would see to it that the current producers of the show would get a copy of my book, with her recommendation.   She says she can’t guarantee me anything, but for sure they will get my book!  It’s been exciting just thinking about it and I wanted to share this news with you.

March 3, 2010

Gray Matters Brain Injury Mentoring Program

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 4:44 PM

Mentoring provides very effective, personalized healing work for survivors of brain injury.  I am proud that we are putting  this program into action!!! The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation is interested in having this program be a part of their organization.

I have been developing a mentoring program for survivors of brain injury.  In the program, we will match up survivors who have walked the path of having sustained a brain injury for some time (mentors) with people who have more newly acquired a brain injury (mentees).

As a team, the mentor, mentee and program director will develop goals and objectives (Individualized Mentoring Plan) that the mentee wants to pursue in his or her personal rehab.  The mentor will use this plan as a map to work with the mentee.  They will reposrt in on their progress at least once a month.  In this way, we will measure our progress.

I will report back when we have more details on our progress.  Please be in touch with Heidi at if you are interested in participating either as a mentee or a mentor.  We’d love to have you on board!

Gray Matters to be presented at Walk for Thought

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:51 PM

The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation presents the 3rd Annual Walk for Thought on Saturday, March 20th.  Heidi will be presenting and selling her book at this event.

December 1, 2009

Brain Injury – Surviving Jail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:21 AM

Being arrested and held in custody can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone; it can be dangerous for a survivor of a brain injury. In this article, Albert Finklestein will be used as an example. He was recently mistakenly arrested, was fired up and had much to say regarding the topic at the Gray Matters Brain Injury Support Group.

Finkelstein says “You are arrested and are being punished as you are guilty. You are confined in an uncomfortable setting (i.e. no food or water, uncomfortable temperature in the room). They take away medications (this is a scary risk factor and can even be life-threatening!). There is no communication and you are perceived as dangerous. Interactions can lead to confrontation, even violence. This can lead to further mistaken incarceration, even further strokes!” Risks for any person brought in custody become magnified for a person with a brain injury; it is disorienting for anyone, it is extremely disorienting for a brain injury survivor.

“Brain injury survivors are more sensitized to perceived threats to themselves. This can affect their behavior and then police see their behavior and see them as a threat. This can somersault and create more and more chaos. This is due to a lack of understanding in the police department about a brain injury survivor’s experience. They have no reference points in order to understand a person with brain injury’s personal experience.

There are said to be psychological resources within the police department or in the jails. Though according to Albert, they are lacking and not available when the need arises. Because the psychological resources are not available, police officers should have a minimal level of understanding of brain injury survivors sensitivities and needs. They should recognize the dynamics of a person’s situation in jail, for a person with brain injury. There should be a sensitivity training or additional psychological resources available.

Albert said that he didn’t see any accommodations in the jail for people with disabilities. He thinks that there is a need for jail settings to be inspected to assure they are keeping up with ADA standards.
A bare minimal raising of awareness needs to occur, so procedures can be modified. People with brain injuries and all people with disabilities need a standard of care. Under the present conditions, a person can die. We are trying to avoid that.

October 23, 2009

Brain injury survivors and the police

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 6:35 PM

At the October Gray Matters Support Group, we had a very interesting meeting that touched on some hot topics. One of our members (who shall remain nameless) had a terrible experience as he was wrongly arrested. He told his story and it led a lively conversation regarding some very important topics.

Some of these issues are:

* The need for an ID for Brain Injury Survivors (many are mistakenly interpreted as DUI – off gait, slurred speech, memory problems…).

* Congressmen should be asked to make a law for police officers to consider the impact of a person’s disability, before assuming them drunk.

* Police take pharmaceutical drugs away from people placed in jail. Nurses should discern if the drugs are needed.  This can be a potential disaster!
* Officers were noted by several people at the meeting to treat people horrendously (& they are paid by our tax dollars).

* There is a need to educate the local police about brain injury.

* We need for an attorney that acts as a brain injury advocate.

I encourage feedback on this.

September 10, 2009

The Unpaved Road

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 11:52 AM

It’s been quite some time
I’ve been traveling on this route,
No one ever told me
What it was all about,
I’ve been probed to my core,
Sometimes I wonder
What it’s all for,

I’m affected on the inside
Morning, noon and night,
My friends and family
Say it will be all right.
But what do they know?
They’ve never been down this road,
All they know
Are the impressions that I’ve showed.

Oh Lord,
Help me.
No one ever told me
How complex all of these difficulties would be.
There are no signs pointing the way,
How can people say it’ll be Ok?

They may know of my problems with memory,
But they couldn’t possibly know
How widespread it affects me!
What about my sense of disorientation
And the disappearance of my dreams?
How come no one ever told me about these things?

There are potholes along the road,
My abilities have seemed to corrode,
No one ever paved this road for me,
I trip over obstacles I can’t even see,

I feel the doctors are only guessing,
I think
Some may need
More knowledge and skill
To be assessing!

I don’t want the doctor
To paint the picture
What my outcome will be…
He may be having a bad day,
I believe much more in me!

I may be making it up as I go,
But I best accommodate for myself,
This I know.
I trust in my instincts,
Get a little help along the way,

Trauma to the brain,
Neurological traffic,
…Blocks do let up
Along the unpaved road.

Symptoms abounding:
Sense of self,

Untying knots,
Braiding myself back together,

Therapy -
Knowledge rebounds in the aftermath,
Recognizing new parts of myself,
Healing is in flow,
I’m traveling down that road.

September 7, 2009

Where is man’s priorities?

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 11:08 AM

A little known fact….

The first testicular guard “Cup” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.

It took 100 years for men to realize that the brain is also important.

September 6, 2009

Gray Matters Support Group

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 11:11 AM

Gray Matters

Brain Injury

Support Group

* Circle with other brain injury survivors

* Come to better understand & manage the affects of brain injury

* Topics will cover interesting, fun & relevant modalities

* A place where your needs are understood

* Communicate

* Learn better strategies & better attitudes

* See that you are not in on this alone

* Get to know each other

* Socialize

* Even have some fun!

North County

Third Thursday of each month, 5:30 – 7 PM
Del Mar Library – Community Room
1309 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014

San Diego:

Mission Valley

First Tuesday of each month, 5:30-7:30 pm

Access to Independence – Conference Room

8885 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 131

San Diego CA, 92108

(619) 293-3500

Kearney Mesa

*** New ***   Sharp Support Group

Sharp Rehab Hospital – Conference Room

2999 Health Center Dr,

San Diego, CA 92123

Get directions

Any questions, please contact Heidi Lerner

Look forward to seeing you there!

Article: Gray Matters – Brain Injury, The Inside Perspective

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 10:37 AM

Gray Matters – Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective
Heidi Lerner

Purple small cover.jpg
Imagine this: the sun’s shining and you’re crossing at the light. Out of nowhere, a car comes racing through the red light and…WHACK! You go flying through the air and land on the sidewalk. Your head hits the concrete. Immediately, you go into a comatose state… When you come to, what are things like? What are YOU like? Have you ever thought of such things?

Silent Epidemic

What would it be like to have a brain injury? It is a dilemma for brain injury survivors that others simply don’t have a clue what they are going through. People don’t comprehend the devastation or how comprehensive the affects are in a survivor’s every day world. This lack of awareness is often a strong factor that drives survivors further and further into isolation. This hovering vacancy of knowledge is the “silence” in which brain injury spreads, hence the “Silent Epidemic”.

Gray Matters remedies the Silent Epidemic

Heidi Lerner introduces an intriguing book of poetry, Gray Matters, Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective, in which she offers an introspective, resourceful and sometimes humorous view of what it is like to suffer a near-fatal blow to the head and live with its complications. Ms. Lerner was in a car wreck twenty years ago, where she sustained a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. Ten years after her injury, she earned her Masters degree in Special Education specifically for survivors of brain injury. Gray Matters gives its readers a non-clinical, but professionally based sense of what a brain injury entails. Readers walk away with a personal sense of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a brain injury survivor.

The author brings a smile to her readers’ faces; she touches on serious issues, but not in a distressing tone. She believes that laughter can be “emotional medicine”. The aim is to help survivors see objectively the problems they’re going through and glimpse the lighter side of these otherwise troublesome issues. Such insight and humor can cause attitudes to adjust, leading to acceptance and a better coping with problems brought about by brain injury.

The chapters of the book consist of Brain Injury, Sequelae, Rehabilitation and The Brain. Sequelae (i.e. meaning symptoms) is a particularly educational chapter where poems masterfully articulate many of the symptoms of brain injury. The last chapters are Academia, Nature’s Touch and Circle of Support. Academia is regarding Cognitive Rehab through schooling, Nature’s Touch is about how the ocean serves in recreational therapy. Lastly, Circle of Support illustrates the therapy of support groups.

Audience of Gray Matters

The target audience is multi-faceted. The primary aim is to educate those personally affected by injury to the brain. This includes survivors, their friends and family members as well as caregivers and other therapeutic professionals. The aim is to be an intellectual, psychological and emotional support. The secondary purpose is to educate the general community about what it’s like to have an insult and compromise to our master organ, for those who have been spared the drama of brain injury.

Ms. Lerner has been most distressed to see how professionals in the field of rehab have such an un-personalized, book-knowledge of brain injury. They should know that they are not treating information, they are treating people!!! In a review in the Journal of Neurosciences Nursing, Marie Lasater states “Gray Matters will give survivors of TBI hope and reassurance that they are not alone in their rehabilitation process. It will help family members understand the thought process of the brain injured patient. It will also guide the health care provider in giving optimal rehabilitative care.”

In the sickness of silence, we are called to a new frontier of awareness regarding brain injury:

In the field of rehabilitation,
Brain injury is often termed the “Silent Epidemic”
Silence hovers around the lack of awareness,
Allows for infectious growth.

But for a brain injury survivor,
The epidemic is far from quiet.
Life gets off skew,
Organic dysfunction,
24-7… dealing!
Rehabilitation is a full time job.

Lets break the curse of silence!
You need to know on the inside
What it’s like to walk in my shoes.
Pick up my book,
Listen to my rhyme,
I’ll have you captivated in no time!

This is a call to awareness…
Pass on the word of what you hear,
We are breaking the silence
Thanks to your receptive ear.

We’re opening the gates,
Enter and you can feel.
Because empathy heals!
Melt those stones in there,
Love rebounds,
When it’s found.

We’re paving the way for knowledge,
We are the pioneers…

Gray Matters!

Contact info:

Heidi Lerner
Brain Injury Advocate, Peer Support Specialist, Published Author

May 29, 2009


Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 4:38 PM

I want you to picture this – One summer day, the sun is shining.  You’re walking  along the road and you come to a traffic light.  It flashes walk and you cross the road.  A car comes speeding through the red light and sends you flying onto the sidewalk.  Your head hits the concrete and you immediately go into a comatose state, where you remain for days, even weeks…  What will it be like when when you open your eyes?  What will you be like?  …Have you ever thought about these things?

Yes, there is truth to that we don’t realize what we’ve got until it’s gone, but I aim at giving my readers a sense of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a brain injury survivor.   Have you ever felt your brain was all tied up in knots?  We all have rocks in the road that we stumble upon.  My point is to come to use those challenges to make us strong!  Gray Matters is not a heavy book, it is provocative, light hearted, inspirational, and even fun.

You can purchase my book by pressing on the leaf on my home page.  Pass a link to me onto someone who has  been through more trying experiences or knows somebody that has. For some, it may be a saving grace.

Paved Paradise

I guess Joni Mitchell
was pretty right on,
When she said
that we’ll never know
what we’ve got
until it’s gone.

Does that mean
we don’t usually appreciate our A, B or C
until they’re taken from us?
I ask – does this have to be true?
Can you possibly imagine
that this has happened to you…?

In the flash of a moment,
the picture perfect sky
cracks into millions of tiny pixels.
The sun boils, blisters,
Pops and oozes dry.

The sedatory crash of the ocean waves
Turns to high-pitched wails.
Shock sets in,
Melody siphons into monotone,
Life’s intimacies are dulled,
Processing slows,
Everything changes

In a blink of circumstance.
Pains cringe out of unknown places,
Emotions turn up their volume,
How you are now is not the same
as how you once were.
Now deal with it!

Smoke comes out of the tractor’s exhaust…
Your paradise has been paved
and they’re installing a parking lot.

In time,
You’ll be looking for a parking space,
and you’ll never know
what was once there in that place.
Worse yet and what’s a scare,
You will not know what could have been there!

At first,
You probably don’t realize
what you cannot do.
Just try to not let it get to you!

Brain injury flattens out our many capabilities,
Even ones that beforehand, we were not aware.
I guess some of us must learn these things the hard way -
The question remains…
Must we go through loss
To appreciate what was once there?

I’m calling to attention -
In you, I’m trying to cause a rustle,
So that you can exercise your empathy muscle!

To the unimpaired,
This is aimed,
So ignorance of this loss
will cease.
Knowledge births tolerance,
For survivors deserve
To be granted their peace.

A clear portrait is being painted
of what we’ve got…
So don’t belittle others,
Because what you can do,
they cannot.
Don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot!
(Joni Mitchell, 1970)

Treasure hunt goes on…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 4:22 PM

I continue on my journey of the treasure hunt.  Seeking the jewel in the response to my cover letter and resume.  I’m joining in with the others on their treasure hunts.  It’s getting crowded on this path!

Some good news…  I sent my resume to the man in charge of the grant with the Department of Defense, Dr. Murray Stein.  They are researching interventions for soldiers with mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Though there are no paying positions for someone “with my skill set”, he did refer me to be a member of the Consumer Advisory Board.  What I would have to offer them is a sensitivity and understanding to what a brain injury survivor goes through.  I will be applying to the board to see if they want me to be a member.  I will report what happens when it happens.
Meanwhile, I will stay positive and optimistic.  All does work together for good, for those that love G-d.

March 14, 2009

Treading water…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 6:20 PM

I am in a job search now and have been stressed about it. I have decided to take care of myself as my top regard. I am trying to remedy a back problem and it is important to my well-being to participate in certain sports and another game I play. I Swing and Zydeco dance, surf-kayak and I play a Chinese tile game called Mah Jonng.

Searching for work is a very stressful. The work I do is so beneficial for brain injury survivors. Why is it that adminisrations that do the hiring for health organizations don’t really have any sense of the individuals’ benefits from individualized healing work?

March 13, 2009

More alive now!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 4:15 PM

I have had stressers, job loss, a car wreck, an injured back…

Today is a good day, though. My back has reached a point where I can get back to what makes me feel good, kayak surfing! :D

Still-etto I.jpg

I get to Swamis early in the morning to meet the guys I go out on the water with (all on waveskis). I’m saying to myself “Am I crazy? It’s freezing !!! (i.e. that is San Diego cold ;) Because I had hurt my back in previous months, the gentlemen I surf with offered to carry my boat down and up the 140 steps to get out to the Swamis and Boneyards breaks. All I had to do was gear up and go down to the water and jump in my boat and paddle out to the surf. I was treated like a Princess of the Ocean!

After being out on the water for about 45 minutes, the exhillaration masked the stiffening of my fingers and hands. Then the sun broke out and the fun was accompanied by comfort.

So the previous weeks I have been wondering to myself if I’d be able to do an Eskimo Roll to save myself. So I get out to Swamis and in a calm break, I try a practice roll. In case you don’t know what an Eskimo roll, I supply you with visuals…

Eskimo Roll.MPG

I came up from my roll… Like riding a bike… My confidence was reassured… I see a set coming in and turn and start paddling. I caught my first wave (in almost a half of a year).

Amberwave in flight.jpg

I dropped right into a 360… AND HEIDI’S BACK!!!!!!!

San Onofre and Swamis, surfing USA!

More tomorrow at San Onofre!!!

February 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 12:24 PM



I’m coming up for air. Sorry I have been under water for so long, I’ve been all caught up in the affairs of the world… Dealing with brain injury survivors at work. G-d love them!
Unfortunately, I lost my position the end of last year. The grant funding got used up and not replaced. I have some time to put into this now.  I still carry on with the Gray Matters Brain Injury Support Group. I actually just came from the group tonight. We met in La Jolla tonight.

Gray Matters…

of the people,

by the people,

and for the people.

All, survivors of brain injury!

August 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 10:47 PM

July 27, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 5:10 PM

Sorry I haven’t posted in some time, I got the job I was waiting for!  So I have been getting acquainted with my new position and it is a day full.  That’s why they call it full-time!

I am now the Peer Support Specialist at Access to Independence in San Diego.  I am primarily working with people who have sustained brain and spinal chord injuries.

I am starting a mentoring program which is cross-disability.  So I match people up that have the same or similar disabilities; one has been down the road with the disability with someone who has more newly acquired the injury or disability.  Mentors use their disabling experience to help guide another person who is walking a similar path.

April 15, 2008

It’s all good!

Filed under: Poetry — Heidi @ 10:15 AM

I am waiting
to hear
if I get
a position
Access to Independence
Peer Support Specialist.
I feel as if I am floating in the air,
but not knowing.

Helping others to their lilipads
after traumatic injuries
I am grounded
in self-confidence
Want to put my skills into action
If not,
I’ll become a professional surfer ;)
I dance
to save myself
from boredom!
Synchronicity of mission,
care for others
and personal healing.
Emotional well-being,
Do the clients service,
I get mitzvot
under my belt
in helping others…
It’s all good!

February 21, 2008

Frozen communication

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 3:09 PM

My regards to all of you.  I am sorry, I have been so involved with myself, that I haven’t given time to communicating.  I am persuing work in the field of  helping people with disabilities access independence.

For me, my functionality is best accessed if I see to it that I am feeling good.  So, for example, I Swing dance and if I see to it that that aspect of myself is taken care of, I am that much more able to do what I need to do in the world (i.e. care for others).  Doesn’t that make sense?

I am looking to take my services to a higher level than before (that will take more focus).  I am not saying that I need to swamp myself with pleasures, so that I can help others… It does take a balance of caring some for yourself, though.  I am going through a churning wheel of self-worth.  It is not to be distinguished by outcome, but my own internal judge.  Lord help me to not get excessively critical or lavish.

I am trying to unfreeze my telephone line to the outside world.  I don’t like to just babble.  THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE DOING THAT, ALREADY!!!  The world would be a more peaceful place if so many would just shut up!  I want to feel that I at least have something to say, to occupy your time and energy in reading.  I will pull it out of me to share a poet’s glimpses of the world.

May peace surround you and contentment encompass you.

Ruminate on that!

January 4, 2008

Happy New Year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 5:37 PM

To those of you with:

  • Cognitive problems
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Behavioral incidents
  • Neurological consequences
  • Stress
  • Uncontrollable urges
  • Obsessive-compulsive ways
  • Psychological battles
  • Domineering egos
  • Unlimited love to share
  • Humor abounding
  • Incessant smiles
  • Calm dispositions
  • Contagious good moods

Let us all come to interact in 2008 and share our strengths, learn from each other and may our self-instilled walls become penetrateable.  Healing is all around; we just need to allow it in.  Can we allow ourselves to slip out of habits of mind?  We don’t have to hold onto being “disabled”, but I think we do need to leave some things behind! Certainly before we can “step into the light”, we need to rid ourselves of how we pull the darkness in.

Lets approach 2008 with a fresh mindset and carry forward a new sense of hope and dreams (i.e. goals) into the new year!

December 3, 2007


Filed under: Poetry,Uncategorized — Heidi @ 7:57 PM

Happy holidays and an exciting, happy and healthy New Year to all!


It’s Mom’s birthday,
A day to rejoice in her arrival,
It’s a day for living to celebrate,
Also a day to give praise for my survival,

It’s been fifteen years,
It seems there’s no more gloom to clear,
No, not this year,
No urgency,
No tears,
Less need to reflect,
No hidden pains to dissect,

I’m building a new life,
Less dependency,
Less strife.
It gets cold
And alone,
In pulling away,
From habits I’ve known.

The day’s meaning I actually forgot,
Mom called and reminded me,
How she’s grateful,
That me she’s got,
And that I’m here,
To celebrate another year…

The toils & strife that I’ve endured,
I’ve earned the right to be heard..
I smile knowingly and sweetly,
Feeling ready to approach new frontiers,
Because I’ve survived
Eighteen years.

I know that holiday season approaching, the word celebration’s meaning just may be up for discussion! Loneliness at this time of year can be rough.

That said, I do want to announce Gray Matters Support Group is going to have a holiday celebration/ guest speaker on Friday night, December 14. We will be meeting at Ko Ko Beach Restaurant in Carlsbad, CA. Penelope Andrade will be speaking on using emotions as medicine. For more info on the meeting, e-mail me at

The following is Penelope’s synopsis of her presentation.

Emotional Medicine: Key to Recovery

1 hour presentation for Brain Injury Support Group December 14, 2007

Recovering from physical, emotional or mental trauma requires emotion!

Sad, Mad, Scared, Glad emotions are medicine…when you know how to use them!

1–3 minutes of emotional flow is essential to: 1. help restore clarity to your brain; 2. shift your moods from bad to glad; 3. Strengthen your immune system, nervous system, glandular system and facilitate healing communication between body and mind.

Most of us do not know how to use the good medicine our emotions provide to heal ourselves and our lives. This presentation will focus on the simple steps anyone can take to unlock the door to their own inner pharmacy of emotional medicine:

* How to tell the difference between an emotion and a ‘story’ or dysfunctional thought.

* How to use body sensations to decipher your body’s messages about what emotional medicine is needed.

* How to move through numbness and come back to life.

* How three minutes of emotional flow makes the difference between gloom and glory.

* How to restore calmness and confidence in just 9 minutes no mater what is happening.

In this exciting, inspiring one hour presentation, participants will have an opportunity to release old belief systems about emotions being bad and toxic. They will learn how old thought patterns prevent them from enjoying the benefits of brief, embodied, emotional flow. Emotions will be revealed to be the elegant gifts of self regulation, self medication, and self realization that they were designed to be.

Penelope Young Andrade, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist, founder of the San Diego Center for Bio-Psychosynthesis, News Columnist and web host of Transformational Talk Radio. She has had more than 35 years of experience integrating the best of traditional and alternative bodymind therapies for individuals, couples and families. Check out her website email Or call 858-481.5752 for more information.

October 30, 2007

A time memory holds eternally

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 6:15 PM


I would like others to know that the day of a traumatic, close to death experience is not something that can be wiped off of a person’s memory bank – ever! Does a person ever forget their birthday? …At this very time 18 years ago, I was captivated in a comatose state. My injury happened on my mom’s birthday and every year she reminds me of how she’s happy I’m still here. :) For me, this time brings me back to my very core, the life force that keeps us alive. Year by year, my memories get to be a bit less morose. This significant anniversary time that causes me to reassess and organize my priorities.

My “trauma” has been such a transition for me, that it’s still putting meaning in my life. Everyone has wishes and hopes for me, but what do I want? What’s going to make me happy? What’s going to keep me feeling I’m fulfilling a mission of purpose? What’s basically going to get me beyond the drudgeries and boring times in life? What’s going to keep me bouncing along with a smile? Aren’t these important considerations for all of us (even those of us who are just surviving everyday life with no traumatic memories)?

October 25, 2007

Welcome all to the Gray Matters blog!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Heidi @ 5:18 PM
Colored  squaw

This is the inner voice for brain injury survivors. It is a window for others to look through in order to help the survivor to be better understood. I welcome all to participate. Ideally, we want communication between those looking through the window and those being looked at through the window. Only through better communication can a reality be obtained! Survivors and nonsurvivors; questions and comments; funny and uplifting stories (we’ll try to stay away from the gory); creative and noncreative voices; submit graphic or text; adventures or accomplishments of survivors… On the other side, assumptions, expectations, are they reality based?

Also, please, make comments about the book, Gray Matters! If you haven’t yet red the book, see the home page where there is a link where the book can be purchased.

I welcome all to be apart; nevertheless, if I don’t hear from anyone, I will speak to you blindly. It’s more fun to get responses, though!

My words speak love and concern for all brain injury survivors, everywhere!

Heidi Lerner

(Author of Gray Matters, Brain Injury: The Inside Perspective)

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