Are You Ready?

by Keith Taylor

Are you ready to make a positive change in your life?

Everyone will answer a resounding “YES”! However, are you really ready?

Shortly after my stroke, I would say “I am ready to move forward and make the necessary changes” in order to see some positive results in life, but then, I wouldn’t do anything about it.


One of the biggest issues is that we set huge goals, instead of making realistic, day to day progress and having checkpoints to keep us on track.

Due to the size of it, we are overwhelmed and decide not to do anything. Instead of doing a little bit each day to get better, we try some big feat and quickly get discouraged. On goes the cycle!

This is going to take time, and the “Little Wins” will help you move forward. No matter where you are at in your stroke journey. 

Another issue; It is easy for us to play the “Woe is me” card after having a stroke.

I couldn’t get the words out that I wanted and I felt weird because of the change in looks, walking differently, being upset about almost everything…on and on.

But remember, ALL PEOPLE go through tough times in life, and most everyone is focused on the most important person they know…THEMSELVES! This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just the way of the world.

Acknowledge this (albeit internally), it will help you understand where others’ are coming from and get over the feeling that you are the only one going through challenges.

Once you make a decision to move forward, you will be tested. I don’t know why this is, but it is true.

You are not the only one this is happening to. You can find many examples showing people being challenged once they make a decision. Our brains like the status quo, and you are going to make it perform better.

Be prepared and welcome it!

It is going to take work, but the changes will be positive. You will look back in a few years, and not even recognize the difference.

You will be more confident.

Talking to others and not questioning everything you say is huge.

Your abilities will increase.

People will recognize how self-assured you are.

Your knowledge will grow.

It will be exciting to continue to learn.

Don’t worry about being perfect. Just get started!

The truth is that it takes dedicated perseverance to obtain results after having a stroke. You must ask yourself if you are willing to put in the hard work, time, and actions needed to change.

Set some realistic goals. Track them. Get some positive results. Then move on!


A New Record…


I know what you are thinking…what is this?  This was one of my goals this year!

It means that I went 171 DAYS of 10,000 steps…or more. For someone like me, I would just sit all day. But when I set this goal, it got me out there everyday until I achieved it.  Last year, me goal was 170 day…and I hit that!

With the rain coming, I decided to put a home gym in my living room…where I can workout even when it is raining.

So be prepared for me setting BIGGER goals next year!

Note: My blogs have been infrequent this last month; I tell you WHY next week.


A New Record…


I know what you are thinking…what is this?  This was one of my goals this year!

It means that I went 171 DAYS of 10,000 steps…or more. For someone like me, I would just sit all day. But when I set this goal, it got me out there everyday until I achieved it.  Last year, me goal was 170 day…and I hit that!

With the rain coming, I decided to put a home gym in my living room…where I can workout even when it is raining.

So be prepared for me setting BIGGER goals next year!

Note: My blogs have been infrequent this last month; I tell you WHY next week.


Recovery IS a TEAM sport….

I don’t know why that statement is in my head…but it is!  My wife ALWAYS says that to people who are aiding others who are recovering from a stroke. She doesn’t mince words and she tells it like it is…with total honesty.   I like that.  She involved my family in lot of the things I did during my initial recovery.

Would YOU like to participate in YOUR long term goal setting?  Would YOU like to monitor YOUR progress? Would YOU have great satisfaction from that experience?

Following is another post from my wife:

A Great Response

I always say Recovery is a Team Sport.  Every sport requires scheduled practices, specific drills, and a goal.  Successful recovery takes the same discipline.  I suppose the first question is does she want to be on the team? Does she want to recover? Is she willing to work to make it happen?

For me and my husband (11 years post stroke), we first agreed on the goals. I made the practice schedule and the therapists gave us the drills.  I scheduled our exercise time and put it on the calendar. We did not deviate from the schedule. Depending on the day, we had an hour or two to devote to therapy then we always did something fun. Luckily for us, walking was always our main source of fun and connection so post-stroke we always walked (I pushed him in the wheelchair in the beginning).  Walking had a huge effect on his recovery–happy, oxygen to the brain, increased bloodflow, strength.

We were wildly aggressive in our goals and we did not hit a single one BUT we recovered far more than anyone thought we would.  What did this mean? We became much closer as a couple. We were in agreement about what we wanted to accomplish and we were in it together.  Win win win.

If you can’t be there for all the exercises, is there someone who can join the team? Is there someone who can commit to certain days and helping with certain exercises at a certain time?  Can your little boy be involved with some of the work? LIke, can he sit on her foot when she is working on leg raises? Silly things like that?

The great thing is that recovery is always possible–as long as you are willing to put in the work. Our brains are amazing and our bodies are resilient. Working on recovery can be slow but so what? Make it fun, include friends, family, music, anything to keep the momentum.  Good luck.

S T E L L A…..

OK, I was doing my Marlon Brando impression. (If you put the recording at 1:18, you will hear the famous  Stella call.) Too bad you couldn’t hear it my impression; it was pretty good! If you would like,  I will do it next time I talk to you or see you.

Speaking of Stella, isn’t she the cutest thing?  I took this picture on her 2nd Birthday on Monday, Oct 29.

When I started my blog 6.5 years ago (can you believe I have been doing this for 6.5 years), I thought I would be taking about what I was doing and the struggles I was still incurring.  Then, Stella was born…and I have a new purpose in life.

Do you understand what I am saying?  I didn’t, until Stella was born.  Previous, it was all about work; I needed that status fix. Then after Stella was born, life had a brand new meaning.  It was all about HER. No problem; you probably won’t understand until it happens to you.

I have come to the realization, that I can not do what I used to do and that my day to day tasks are limited..and I am OK with that.  I work with Jill daily and I really feel blessed with everyday that I have…especially when we go to pick up Stella.

So I wanted to celebrate her birthday …two days ago…with a few quick photos. Again, it’s not what I wanted to write about…but I can’t help it!








Another moving response from Jill…

A response to a person new to caregiving, trying to figure out what to do while at the same time, grieving what has been lost.


I have been the caregiver to my husband for 10 years.In those early years, I regularly reminded myself who he had been before the stroke–vibrant, sharp, fun, funny, successful–all things that the stroke took away from him.It was important for me to remember those things and treat him like that person, not as a victim or an invalid.Even though he was terribly disabled, our interaction was always about working toward a new normal that valued a good man.

One thing that really helped us was setting goals together.Setting goals allowed us to look forward and move forward.Yes, I took care of his needs, but working together on recovery and a useful life was essential. We got excited each day to see what he could do.We did not focus on what we lost.We focused on the new life we were creating.It wasn’t easy.We also had kids at home who needed mom and dad.I like to think one day they will reflect on those years and know what love and commitment really look like.

My husband deserved the best I had to give.In return, he gives his best.I hope you, the team, and your friend can rally and help him create a meaningful life.It isn’t easy but it is worth doing.Good luck.

2 DIFFERENT things I did!


Through Gordon’s stroke recovery, one particular thing continues to remind me of the loss his brain sustained:  I will see him watching or observing something, appearing to be fully engaged.  I ask him what’s going on and he says “I don’t know.”

How can that be?  He is watching and listening attentively.  To look at him, he appears engrossed in the scenario.  Yet it turns out he isn’t making sense of the scene or understanding context.  He isn’t able to tell me anything of what just happened.  It is just happening in front of him.  That’s it.

So Gordon asked me to write about something that happened last weekend.  You will think it is nothing… so read closely!

We went to Target and Gordon noticed they had replaced a couple check-out stations with self check-out stations.  Then, when we were leaving the parking lot, he reminded me that we were going to Trader Joes next.

No big deal, right?  These are a big deal to us.  Little occurrences like these tell me 2 things:  1) Gordon still works very hard to make sense of the world around him, and 2) even 8 years later, improvement is still happening.

Jill Viggiano

How did I Do?

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If you believe the feedback forms, l did GREAT!

I re-did some of the content based on feedback from another source, and I THINK it is going in the right direction.  There are some things needing change (I working on it) and the feedback I received was my strongest:

Regarding how they wound rank the usefulness of the presentation, I received a eight, nine or 10 by 100% of the audience!  During my last presentation, it was quite a bit lower.  The client gave me some tips to make it stronger and it WORKED!

Then I asked what 3 things apply to you and your challenges?

  • Priorities
  • Goals, action, reflection
  • Finding weak points to develop a plan of action
  • Repetition (too often we learn but never implement)
  • Overwhelming setbacks (understanding failure or the perception of failure)
  • Discipline (not a fan of follow-through)
  • Gordon’s “never quit” mentality is totally inspiring
  • Don’t give up
  • Discipline and planning
  • Execute
  • Planning
  • Being more determined
  • Value of discipline
  • Setting goals in writing
  • GIRD
  • Remember who helped my along the way
  • Personal achievement
  • Setting goals
  • Plan for the unexpected
  • Work/life balance
  • Importance of staying focused.
  • Commitment
  • Support from others
  • Discipline
  • Focus on a plan that could be repeated
  • Power of attitude to overcome obstacles
  • Write down goals
  • Repetition and consistency
  • Accountability is a group effort
  • Importance of actively setting goals

Based on the exercises I gave them, a 100% said they would use them.  That is impressive!!

Am I starting to make traction? YES!   I am hoping this will be my turning point.

Focusing on the Bright Side

After Gordon and I speak to various audiences, I am always struck by the stories told to us privately by a few audience members.  People confide in us with their own difficult journeys, whether it be from illness or injury or whatever might have happened.

With each story, I am reminded to be grateful that Gordon has the opportunity to get better.  Not everyone has that chance.  Some must endure the long, slow decline of affliction, facing each day without the hope of improvement.  These people and the people who love them live with that reality.

Gordon and I have hope for a better tomorrow.  Rather than endure a long, slow decline, we persevere through a long, slow recovery, always optimistic that improvement is around the corner.  We remind each other how far Gordon has come in his recovery and talk about our goals for continued improvement.  We don’t want to squander this chance we have–a chance that many people don’t have.  We will focus on the bright side of our difficult journey.

Jill Viggiano