AlamogordoTownNews.com: Book launches, Authors Showcased and a New Magazine Launch all from Alamogordo’s New York Avenue…

New York Avenue’s Cultural Arts and History District via New York Avenue Art and Music Studio and Roadrunner Emporium, Otero Artspace. and other unique business interests, are helping to foster the growth of artisans, artists’, and entrepreneurs. Another important mission of this district’s success in building a bridge of culture to commerce, is the support to local authors via book launches, author showcases, author workshops and assistance in marketing and showcasing of local authors.

Over the last several months a plethora of authors have been featured and/or conducted “meet the author events” and have scheduled book signings. Others have conducted readings at the venues of New York Avenue and at Otero Arts on Indiana Avenue, and yet another new publication of grand quality to rival New Mexico Magazine has launched, off of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine.”

Alamogordo has a variety of stories to tell from a variety of sources and viewpoints. Recently showcased authors offered a spectrum of pros from factual history to children’s books, faith based, fictional snippets and short stores and self-help to a magazine that celebrates culture and diversity.

Local authors of recent include…

Josette Herrell

Local Historian and Tularosa Basin Museum Board Member Josette Herrell is a newly published author of children’s stories. Her first work to appear on New York Avenue is titled “Timmy’s Big Adventure.” The illustrations to this wonderfully fun children’s book were completed by local artist Diana Sill who is known locally for her “Create the Great Masterpiece” Classes she conducts monthly at Roadrunner Emporium and other locations within the region. Ms. Josette Herrell has lived in Southern New Mexico since 1948. When a relative sent her an old box of family photos, she started putting pictures and stories together. Knowing those stories could be lost to future generations, she decided to write a book about family. Her first “family” book was published in 2019. Although Timmy’s Big Adventure is a children’s bool based on a family event. At the age of 81, Ms. Herrell continues to enjoy writing family books and supporting the history of Alamogordo. Ms. Herrell’s passion for history is on display daily when visiting New York Avenue as much of the preservation of its history and stories is thanks to her commitment to the Alamogordo community.

BJ Oquist

Barbara J Oquist grew up on 120 acres of farmland in Missouri. This acreage she explains was truly a “family farm” meaning it was complete with a garden, pets, farm animals and more. As an adult she worked for the state of Minnesota for 26 years. After her and her husband’s retirement they relocated to New Mexico to enjoy the sunshine and natural wonders of the southwest. Between her and her husband they have 5 children and eleven grandchildren. She was inspired to write a children’s book after attending a writing group at Christ Community Church. Her locally marketed book is titled, “Farmer Jon’s Very Special Team.” Her first array into the world of children’s books is a charming fictional children’s book in which two horses fall in love and is based upon a team of horses that Oquist’s father owned when she was a child. She told the Alamogordo New in an interview, “he got them when they were young, and it talks a little bit about their training process and some of the things he learned along the way while he was training them.” Mrs. Oquist’s book was also illustrated by Alamogordo artist Diana Sill.

Dennis Swift

Locals in Alamogordo may remember Dennis Swift for when he was a student at Alamogordo High. During Dennis’s tenure at Alamogordo High, he won multiple Cross Country and Track and Field medals over the years and received multiple academic awards including recognition in the National Honor Society. Today, Dennis Swift is the pastor of the Church of All Nations in Portland Oregon He regularly guides group tours of South American archaeological sites. Dennis received multiple degrees including his B.A. and M. Div. from Point Loma Nazarene University and his Th.D. from the University of South Africa. He pursued Indian studies at the University of New Mexico and Western New Mexico University. Dennis has pursued archaeological work in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Cambodia, Turkmenistan, Israel, and the American Southwest. He has traveled to Peru over a dozen times. Dennis gained national notoriety for his book, “Secrets of the Ica Stones and Nazca Lines” available online and locally on New York Avenue at the Roadrunner Emporium.

The thesis of the book is Proof that Dinosaurs and Man Lived Together. It is a fascinating collection of information obtained from ancient Peruvian cultural artifacts which offers a theory that men and dinosaurs lived together in South American within the last 2,000 years. The author, Dennis Swift, first came upon the Ica Stones more than thirty years ago; he was tempted to dismiss the stones because he had been taught that men and dinosaurs had missed each other by about 65 million years. However, their presence in Peruvian museums intrigued him. The stones in the museums show carvings of men and various animals, including extinct fish and llamas, and dinosaurs. Although the carvings are supposed to be hundreds or thousands of years old, the detailed positions and features of the dinosaurs were not known to modern science until recently. Dennis with his theory has been featured in many media outlets including Coast to Coast AM and with William Shatner on the Discovery Channel & National Geographic’s, Weird or What!

Robert M. Pollack

Locally some know Robert M. Pollack for his musical CD’s of gospel songs, others for his evangelism and others for his writings. Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue and a host of other area businesses offer the works of Mr. Pollack. Mr. Pollack was born on November 1st, 1944, in Oakland California to Manuel and Julietta Pollack, and he was raised in Albuquerque New Mexico. Robert was number 13 of a family of 15. He graduated from Albuquerque High school in 1963 and joined the Air Force that same year. He spent time in Viet Nam, all over Southeast Asia, Europe, and Egypt, as well as numerous places in the United States. Robert retired from the Air Force in 1983. He received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in 1980 and was baptized with The Holy Spirit while on tour in Egypt. He speaks and also writes in tongues. He’s turned his spiritual writings into an art form. He loves the written word. Robert writes and sings his own songs where ever the Lord leads him. He has written around 750 songs. Robert has eight children, six Grand Children and 17 Great Grand Children, and still counting. He is married to Concepcion Pollack.

Mr. Pollack’s book available at Roadrunner Emporium is titled, The Sixth- and Seventh-Day Man, A Trilogy.”

This trilogy of 3 books in one begins Book One: The Time of Adam and Eve…

In chapter 1 of the book of Genesis, God the Father creates a male and a female and blesses them and tells them to go out and replenish the world. He gives them everything His hands have created. These people of the Father God almost destroy themselves and create a weapon that, when discharged, covers the earth with a thick cloud and pigments their skin white. God the Father rests on the seventh day. In chapter 2 of the book of Genesis, the Lord God forms a man on the seventh day, places him in a garden, and forbids him from eating of the tree of life. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden, they come face-to-face with the Sixth Day Man. The Seventh-Day Man Adam and his wife Eve, their children, and their decedents are dark skinned and clash with the white race of the Sixth Day people. Adam and Eve, who were formed on the Seventh Day by the Lord God, live on the Land of Adam where gopher wood grows. The Sixth-Day Man lives in the city of Eden, which is ruled by Emperor Rama Dan Doo. They worship the god Ramah. Adam and Eve worship the Lord God.

Book Two: The Time of Enoch

This book continues the battles that the descendants of Adam and Eve must endure because of the color of their skin and their love for the Lord God. They are enslaved and treated horribly by the white-skinned people of the world. The city of Eden and the great city of Enoch are built on the backs of the children of Adam and Eve.

Book Three: The Time of Noah

The days of Noah mirrors our time in brutality and crime. The book is set into the future with anti-gravitational vehicles called click-clacks and carts. Noah and his wife, who is his sister, along with his father and grandfather, return to the Land of Adam, and God tells him to build an ark. When Noah tells the world what God has planned, he and his family are laughed at, but Noah continues to build with help. He has encounters with Satan, who tries to discourage him. This book may be a bit intense for the younger readers. The scriptural verses in The Sixth- and Seventh-Day Man are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Rochelle Willams

Rochelle Williams is an accomplished published writer of short stories and snippets that have been printed on a variety of forums. In partnership with Otero Arts and the New York Avenue business of Roadrunner Emporium Ms. Willams’ first complete book a collection of snippets is about to come to life. The book entitled, “Acts of Love and Ruin” will be publicly released on April 30th. “Rochelle Williams is a writer with remarkable talent. She weaves the emotional lives of her characters with a palette of words that results in a true literary art form. Her stories range over life in the way a painter would range over a canvas–brilliant and colorful with striking designs. Here is an author everyone should read. A fine collection of stories.” Mark Conking -Author of Prairie Dog Blues and Killer Whale Blues

Rochelle Williams lives in southern New Mexico. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in, Chokecherries, Desert Exposure, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection, Menacing Hedge, The MacGuffin, Packingtown Review, and other journals. Her fiction has won two Southwest Writers Workshop competitions, Recursos de Santa Fe’s Discovery Reading Series, and Women on Writing’s Spring 2020 Flash Fiction contest. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is working on a novel about the French early modernist painter, Pierre Bonnard. In addition to writing Ms. Williams is a photographer. Rochelle Williams’ photograph titled “Winter, Half-Moon Bay” was featured along with multiple other artists works, recently at the Otero ArtSpace Winter Showcase of regional artists.

Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda

Authors, Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda have created a partnership of written works around the athletic programs of Alamogordo High School. The central character to their book series is Coach Bob Sepulveda and his success as the winningest coach in Alamogordo History. However, the book series digs into the years prior to Sepulveda’s arrival to include the formation of interscholastic sports in Alamogordo in 1912 to present day. In addition to the history of Alamogordo sports this team of authors has crafted books around the world of positivity as a self-help series titled, “90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle”, the team also have crafted several books around self-publishing, a public policy book on government overreach in licensing and is finalizing a book on social media marketing.

Meike Schwarz and Cedric Fisher, editor, and publisher of Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine

Meike Schwarz, editor, has been a real estate professional for over 23 years, 10 years as owner/broker of Welcome Home Realty on New York Avenue, Alamogordo. In 2021, Meike embarked on a new venture combining her love for people and storytelling: becoming editor of Southeastern New Mexico’s INFLUENCE Magazine. Meike hopes to highlight the best and brightest community leaders, business icons, and diversity figures both inside and beyond Alamogordo.

Cedric D. Fisher, publisher, is a 40-year career publishing executive, a leading publishing authority, author, and instructor having lead publishing operations in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio. Cedric’s a professional speaker, and he and his team also conduct online writing and publishing workshops. He is the CEO and founder of Cedric D Fisher & Company Publishers.

Launched from New York Avenue, Alamogordo, Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine mission is to elevate the influential forces in Southeastern New Mexico arenas to promote diverse agendas with multimedia features on family, business development, culture, economic development and environmental awareness, fashion, music, religion, inspiration, and educational, artistic, and technological achievements, supplier/workforce diversity and business development. The inaugural issue was launched in January. The April/May issue is soon to be released with a planned community release party scheduled for St Patrick’s Day, March 17th at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue. This release party will showcase the wonders of the newest edition, live music and green libations will be served and more.

Each of the books and magazine showcased above are available at Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue.

New York Avenue is fast becoming the rededicated crossroads to cultural arts, history and commerce. Come on down and support the hundreds of local small business entrepreneurs, artisans and AUTHORS represented in the variety of shops on Alamogordo’s Main Street New York Avenue. Alamogordo’s New York Avenue is Alamogordo Main Street.  

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: Spotlight on Author Rochelle Williams’ New Release of “Acts of Love & Ruin” Jan 21st at Otero Artspace

AlamogordoTownNews.com Author Spotlight Rochelle Williams

Rochelle Williams is a familiar face to those in the arts community of Alamogordo, as she sits on the board of Otero Arts and has been involved in arts and other activities in the area since arriving to Alamogordo almost 2 decades ago.

Some folks have seen her photography at various venues such as the recent online showing at Otero Arts Winter show. Other’s have read a few of her short stories and snippets that have been published in various periodicals dating back to 1995 such as the story, Intaglio which won second place in Southwest Writers Workshop literary short story contest in 1995. The judge was Elizabeth Gaffney of Paris Review. It was subsequently published in The Eldorado Sun fiction issue.

The following short stories by Rochelle Williams were published or accepted for publication in 2020 – 2022:

  • · Phoenix in Menacing Hedge
  • Trouble with the Painters in The MacGuffin
  • That Day in WOW Women on Writing
    and won first place for flash fiction
  • Shoeboxes is forthcoming in April 2022 in Mom Egg Review

But now, Rochelle Williams has taken the next step in her literary journey, with the release of her first published works in a book format that being Acts of Love & Ruin, a collection of short stories and snippets by the author as her first paperback and hardback book release.

The book launch is scheduled for the initial book signing at Otero Artspace – “The Historic Women’s Building” – on Indiana Avenue, January 21st at 6 pm.

She will follow that launch event with a Champagne and Book Signing event January 29th 4 pm to 6 pm at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo. 

Her book will then also be available the next several months at Roadrunner Emporium and online via Amazon thereafter.

AlamogordoTownNews.com met up with Rochelle Williams to discuss her upcoming book launch and to better get to know this local author and what motivated her to go to print…

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: What inspired your interest into writing short stories and snippets?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“I’ve been writing since I was about eighteen. I started with fragments, which still appeal to me as a form, and eventually moved to short stories. In the 1990s, I began a novel, “Bodies of Water.” As happens with a lot of writers, life got in the way, and I did not finish it. I’ve reshaped some of the material of the novel into short stories, and now some flash fiction pieces. But much of it remains in the form of fragments and scenes. I call those fragmentary pieces snippets.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Your short stories and snippets feel very personal when reading the pain, views, or feelings of your characters, are your characters inspired by personal events or individuals you’ve encountered in your past?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“Yes, many of my characters and the situations they find themselves in are drawn from my life and what I observe around me. That is not quite the same as being autobiographical. For example, the protagonist in my second novel-in-progress, “The Eye of Desire: Letters to a Dead Painter,” studies painters and painting and is especially taken with Pierre Bonnard, a painter I love madly. But the character, Patience, is a painter herself, and I’ve never picked up a paintbrush. My characters are drawn in a general way from my experiences, but the role of imagination in creating a character or a story always adds its own mystery to the process.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Do you feel a connection to your characters and what is your path to character development?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “Yes, I feel strongly connected to my characters. I sometimes laugh out loud, or cry while I’m writing. They really get under my skin! I don’t work from outlines or have a plan when I start writing. A story or scene usually begins with a line I hear going through my head, or something I see. Characters often do unexpected things. I just kind of follow them around and take notes.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Rumor is you are also a prolific photographer, what subject matter do you like to photograph most and why?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “I love to photograph the most ordinary things—the streets of Tularosa where I walk in the mornings, the beautiful sky, clouds, the changing light on trees, buildings. I used to use an old Nikon and shoot black and white film that I developed and printed myself. I miss having a darkroom and that process of watching an image come up in the developing tray. But now I shoot everything with the camera in my iphone. I find photography so relaxing and pleasurable, whereas writing is mostly hard work!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Tell us about your connection to Otero Arts Inc, what inspired you to join, and what is your role and the organizations path forward in 2022?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “Otero Arts, Inc., is the realization of a long-held dream. A group of artists got together way back around 2003 and launched the Otero Arts Council. It didn’t really get off the ground, but we never stopped thinking about the potential for an arts organization to serve Otero County. Being able to lease the Woman’s Club building to house Otero Arts is also a dream come true—because of this we are a facility-based organization and that creates a wonderful foundation for developing the organization. I joined the board when I retired last year, and I’ve been working on getting our literary arts reading series organized. We’ve already had two wonderful readers, and have booked JJ Amaworo Wilson, writer in residence at Western NM University in Silver City and organizer of the biannual Southwest Word Fiesta, to read in April. We want to tap into the rich literary resources in Southern New Mexico and bring many kinds of writers here to share their work with us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: What is the one thing that you would like people to know about you?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“I’m very interested in people. My son calls me nosy, but I am just kind of insatiably curious about other people’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I guess it’s the writer in me. I want to know everyone’s story.”

A component to Ms. Williams’ story that is even more interesting and inspirational to us, is that Rochelle Williams is a survivor of a brain injury. So, it is with great admiration we see her so active in Otero Arts, doing photography, writing, and bringing her first book to life as a published work of art.

For many individuals it is often difficult to express what one may have experienced, witnessed, heard, or sensed in a verbal dialog. To many writers the true expression of oneself is through their writing and through her writing we witness character development by New Mexico’s Rochelle Williams that makes us take notice.

At AlamogordoTownNews.com we believe that to be the case of Mrs. Williams she is very expressive via her writing yet shy in person. Through Rochelle Williams writing, we experience the characters joy and pain felt from the authors expansive imagery in words. We can clearly visualize the characters through the prose she presents to us, the reader.

Mark Conking, Author of Prairie Dog Blues and Killer Whale Blues says of Rochelle Williams; and of her newly released book, Acts of Love & Ruin, “Rochelle Williams is a writer with remarkable talent. She weaves the emotional lives of her characters with a palette of words that results in a true literary art form. Her stories range over life in the way a painter would range over a canvas–brilliant and colorful with striking designs. Here is an author everyone should read. A fine collection of stories.”

We indeed agree with Mr. Conking’s assessment of Rochelle Williams prose and as such encourage the public to meet the author at two local book signing events. The first will be her official book launch reading and signing at the Otero Artspace at the historic 1936 Women’s Building on Indiana Avenue, January 21st at 6 pm. The 2nd event is a book signing and champagne at the Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo on January 29th at 4 pm. The public is urged to come out and support this talented local author at these two artistic venues.

Ms. Williams’ followed up our interview, by providing us a short story that she wrote from 2013 that she has titled Accidental Gifts.

While we can’t speak to the question, of if this is her story or a fictionalized version of the events that did transpire around her accident; what we do know, is we felt this character’s experience, as we did in every short story and snippet in her newly released book.

Below AlamogordoTownNews.com is proud to present the short story titled:

                                                        Accidental Gift – Author, Rochelle Williams

“The moment my life split irrevocably into “before” and “after” came on a calm, almost unbearably beautiful winter morning. The sun was out bright and strong, turning the previous night’s blizzard into a wonderland of iced houses and trees, knee-deep snow, shimmering ultramarine sea. I had pulled on my boots and set off for a walk in the brisk air, feeling so alive, drinking in the brilliant light, the gorgeous contrast of sea and snow.

I had arrived the night before, just ahead of the big storm, at my sister-in-law’s house perched on a tiny spit of land on the coast of Maine. It was two days after Christmas. I was stopping in for a visit on my way from New Mexico, where I live, to Vermont, where I was enrolled in a low-residency graduate program. Embarking on my third semester, I couldn’t have been more excited. It seemed to me those great vistas of possibility were opening up before me, and this walk in the sun and snow was a celebration of impending change. The change that was actually in store for me, I never could have imagined, nor voluntarily welcomed into my life.

The road hadn’t been cleared, but some intrepid souls had already been out on it; there were wheel tracks in the snow and that was where I walked, heading downhill toward the tall pines on the next curve of land jutting out into the sea. I remember looking up, marveling at the lovely robin’s-egg blue of the sky, and then, without understanding how, I was flat on the icy pavement. My feet had gone out from under me and the back of my head had slammed the pavement so hard I couldn’t comprehend at first what had happened. Time turned sticky; everything slowed down. I lay there, unable to move. I had no thoughts. There was only a sort of slow-motion sensing of being flat on my back on the ground, seeing the tree branches overhead, smelling the snow. Then very slowly, as if my mind was moving through something thick, it began to roam around my body: Am I bleeding? Is anything broken? Can I move my legs? These were not thoughts, but a kind of primitive awareness scanning my body. Finally, there was a thought, accompanied by a deep sense of foreboding, and it went something like this: You have really hurt yourself. And indeed, I had.

In the instant after that thought formed, a black curtain started to descend over my eyes. I knew I had to get up, that I needed help, and fast. Looking back, it seems as if some force outside of me lifted me up and propelled me back up the hill, the hundred yards or so to my sister-in-law Susan’s door. As soon as I was upright, a battle began against intense, burning nausea and an equally intense desire to simply lie down right where I was and go to sleep. I had spent much of my working life as a nurse; the symptoms of closed head injury were familiar to me. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had of being split in two—one part of my brain trying to control the symptoms that another part of my brain was cataloguing with increasing panic. I stepped through Susan’s door and said something like: I fell and hit my head. I need help. She queried me, saw that I was in trouble and dialed 911. Bile burned hot in my throat and I was taking short, fast sips of air to keep it down. The paramedics arrived quickly and began to “talk me down”—something I also knew from my experience as a nurse—head injury patients can be combative and wildly irrational. I was trying to cooperate but was seized by intense panic at the thought of lying down flat on the backboard they had pushed into the cramped living room. I knew with unshakeable certainty that I would die if they put me on that backboard. One of them moved in beside me, spoke in a soothing voice, assured me repeatedly that they would let me sit up if I needed to. I knew he was lying, and that he had to; his job was to get me safely onto the backboard. I knew that once I surrendered and let them enclose me in what turned out to be full-body immobilization, there was no getting out. Fear blazed on top of the burning panic. I remember asking what they would do if I started vomiting; he said they would turn me on my side, suction my airway and make sure I was breathing; they would take good care of me—he must have said it a dozen times while they gently pried my fingers from the arms of the chair where I sat rigid and unable to move, placed the brace around my neck and maneuvered me onto the backboard, strapping me in place. His voice was kind, but nothing could soothe the panic that made me resist everything they were trying to do for me. In the ambulance, a woman put an oxygen cannula in my nose and started an IV. I remember squeezing her hand so hard, the thought that I might be injuring her flashed through my mind, but I could not loosen my grip. She leaned close and talked to me all the way to the hospital, telling me we were going to go around a curve now, it would be this many more minutes, I was doing fine, remember to breathe. I thought, I have fallen among angels. And still the panic roared in me every second, leaped and gnawed and burned like flame at the base of my skull, in my throat and chest, and I felt trapped in a cage that might never open.

In the emergency room I was given a powerful anti-nausea drug, wheeled from X-ray to CT. The lights above me blared like interrogation instruments. There was no escaping them, or the noise—the crash and clang of equipment, the scrape of chairs on the floor, the voices around me—all seemed amplified beyond endurance. The backboard dug into my flesh. Tears ran down the sides of my face, into my ears. I remember bellowing, “My head hurts!” A nurse spoke to me in that gentle, reasonable way they all had, told me they needed to make sure there was no bleeding in my brain before they could give me anything for pain. Susan sat by me, her face tense with worry.

After many hours, many tests, all the information was assembled. No bones were broken. No blood was seeping. There was no visible swelling in my brain. Prescriptions were written for pain and nausea medications; instructions were given about returning for worsening symptoms. And with that I was released from the imprisonment of the backboard and brace, into a life that was simply unimaginable to me hours before.

Traumatic brain injury is a malady that confounds medicine. The day before the accident, I was running my own company, managing a million-dollar annual budget and sixteen employees; the day after the accident, I could not walk or talk normally, I stuttered badly, slurred words, my right foot dragged. I could not take care of basic tasks of daily life independently, could not stay awake for more than a few hours. How could something you couldn’t see on an X-ray or CT scan cause so much damage? On a deep, almost inexpressible level, I felt unsouled, as if my soul had left my body and what was left was an empty shell, an automaton. I felt emptied of anything I recognized as self. Who are we when we are not “ourselves”? What creates that sense of “I”, of recognition? These are questions I had ample opportunity to ponder in the weeks and months that followed.

Medicine, I discovered, has little to offer for the physical symptoms of brain injury: hypersensitivity to light and sound, debilitating fatigue and weakness, persistent headache, problems with attention, memory and language processing, and, often, severe posttraumatic stress symptoms. There are painkillers and antidepressants, but they all have risks and side-effects, and they only marginally reduce the suffering these symptoms bring. And Western medicine has virtually nothing in its toolbox to address the profound shifts in self-concept that can accompany such an injury—the loss of a sense of self, the damage to the delicate mechanism that knits together memory, experience and imagination to create meaning and identity. I found myself turning more and more to alternative medicine, and ultimately to depth psychology and to a deepening spiritual practice in my search for healing.

For many months, I was unable to drive, shop for groceries, read, or work. I spent most of my time in a dark room, with a towel wrapped tightly around my head. Pressure seemed to quiet the constant ringing and buzzing in my brain and lessen the pain. The flood of adrenalin that had allowed me to stay conscious and get help, turned out to be my worst enemy in recovery. Like a stuck throttle, it wouldn’t shut off. Panic erupted randomly, and also as a fatigue marker—a signal I had done too much, stayed up too long; but it never failed to accompany the act of lying down, especially on my back; my heart would race and pound like it was going to leap out of my chest.

The previous spring, I had learned a simple meditation technique to help me deal with the stresses of my business and graduate program: sit quietly and follow the breath. It was useful, but I didn’t settle into a regular practice. After the accident, I found myself clinging to it the way a drowning person clings to a life-preserver. It was the only way I could calm the heart-racing, the pounding pressure in my head, the panic and pain that had, in an instant, become my world.

This simple technique not only calmed me; over time it began to work a subtle change in me. I found myself slowly letting go of the idea that my worth was based on what I accomplished in the world. I suddenly couldn’t do anything. Did that mean I was worthless? Or worth less than I had been in my former condition? I began working with a Jungian therapist who helped me explore these questions and to dismantle what was revealed in our work to be a harshly self-critical belief system and build a more loving and compassionate one.

Almost two years have passed since the great divide. I’m not entirely well yet. I still stutter and slur when I’m tired. My right foot still drags. I long to hike, ride a bicycle, do many things I used to take for granted. For a long time, I kept wondering when I would “get back to normal.” I don’t remember exactly when I realized that would never happen. The person I was before the accident is gone, unrecoverable. In her place is someone I don’t know very well yet.

I no longer manage my company. It took some time, but that’s okay with me now. The part of my brain that generates ideas is alive and well, and I’ve found new ways to contribute to the business. I look forward to one day returning to school. Understanding speech, formulating and articulating a response—ordinary conversation, in other words—is taxing, but written language has become fluent, even joyful. A loss, and a gift in its place. There are other gifts, poking up like flowers among the ruins as I inhabit this unexpected life. Calm acceptance of the past. Freedom from fear of the future. But the sweetest one is the gift of the timeless present moment, which I used to hurry right past, and now choose to live in as much as I can.“

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