Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.


Many years ago when I was young I was very ill and went through about 5 years of multiple surgeries and hospitalizations. It really sucked. My 20’s and early 30’s I was “sickly” and I lived with a great deal of uncertainly and fear. Meanwhile I was a young mother, quite poor at times and trying to manage multiple things. After each surgery I would withdraw inward from the pain, rarely looking at anyone, talking or moving. I had no practices during most of this time to rely upon, only my youth, stubbornness, my love for my children and refusal to accept the label SICKLY. When I would make it home from the hospital my mom would take care of me and the next day we would walk to the mailbox. The next day I would walk to the next driveway. Then the third day I could usually make it all the way down the street. After that, things would generally fall back into place and life would resume…until the illness began again.

The way of recovery was to DO something physical in order to become stronger. The way out was to BELIEVE that I could do it. The way out was to PERSEVERE despite the pain. I went through this cycle so many times until my last surgery which was about 14 years ago. I was in the step-down ICU for 5 months and left the hospital with a walker. 2 months later I went backpacking (I was 38 after all), that is how quickly I recovered partially because by then I DID have practices. 

I can’t tell you how different this brain injury thing. The way out is to do NOTHING. Well actually there is one thing to do; try to track a Popsicle stick right to left, up and down and then try to turn my head one direction while moving the Popsicle stick the other. Seriously, I do this three times a day. I have worked hard to be able to adapt to teaching yoga as that is my job and my purpose and my livelihood and my calling. I’m so fortunate to have such amazing students and a supportive community that has driven me around, brought me food, send me messages and cards. I am so grateful.

Outside of home and the studio where I have set up careful precautions, the slightest unexpected stimulation can trigger a migraine and vertigo. Grocery shopping…that’s a no. Restaurants. hell no. Community meeting, not on your life. And then I will have a few good weeks. And I think YES I AM BETTER. Plans are made, things get done and then, I’m NOT BETTER. No one is sure why exactly. My life is now working in my office a few hours, watching Outlander. tracking Popsicle sticks and walking Leo to the lake if I can and hopefully getting two good hours a day so I can teach. Isolation and fear have been intense. Anger has been intense at times. Despair has been intense at times. And Joy has been intense at times. Quiet moments and LESS DOING is quite joyful at times. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is around Boundaries. Setting boundaries for myself and for others which has cost me a friend or two. I wish them peace.

And then I began to reflect on the things that got me through the illness and surgery before. DO, BELIEVE. PERSEVERE. It took about 8 years to let go of the fear from those illness years and begin to live my own life, become my own I WONT BE DEFINED BY ILLNESS person. Hmm. Insert time of reflections here.


I WILL BE DEFINED by BRAIN INJURY when I MUST. And I WONT “MUST” FOREVER. And in the moments when I am amble I will walk to the mailbox. And then to the neighbors driveway. And then I might walk into a grocery store. And the entire time I will EXHALE FEAR and INHALE LOVE. Because both are true, a life of purpose is worth fighting for and worth letting go.

~ Jai Susan 🙏

This blog is repost from

Photo by Daisa TJ