With winter sports coming into play this time of year, check out Kevin Pearce’s story. The champion snowboarder, TBI survivor and now TBI activist, is the subject of a recent documentary.
A fabric self-portrait of Karen Sheppard
Betsey Johnson, American fashion designer
Karen Sheppard would probably be inclined to agree with American fashion designer and icon Betsey Johnson. If Sheppard could, she’d create at the sewing machine for hours. For her, sewing is more than a just a hobby. It’s a living and breathing lifelong forever kind of passion that she positively loves like no other. Ask Sheppard what she thinks about sewing and crafting and you will get the most direct and truly heartfelt answer:
“I love it.”
And it’s not just the words, either. It’s the body language, the tone. When she talks about sewing, even if it’s just three simple little words, watching her smile from ear to ear and her face light up with excitement and energy is simply breathtaking to witness. For Sheppard, this is the kind of spirit that has been with her for many years.
“I started sewing at 10 years old,” says Sheppard. “I had a little sewing machine and I made Barbie dresses. When I got older, I got to use my mother’s machine. I learned to sew on both of these.”
She still has both of the machines in her home; they are her treasures. While her sewing and crafting skills have been refined and developed over the years, the excitement and joy has always remained steadfast.
“It’s fun and exciting!” says Sheppard. “I can go and do that and forget about everything else.”
Ask her about her favorite thing to create and she just simply laughs.
“I love to make EVERYTHING! I just get a kick out of it. Even if I cut something too small, I still make something out of it. I have a “no-waste” policy!”
Sheppard has also been able to channel her passion with employment. She’s worked part-time at the local JoAnn’s Fabrics store for eight years. The work was personally satisfying for her—she loved interacting with the customers and giving them advice on their various projects. She describes the experience as “neat.”
However, Sheppard has plans. In fact, her plans and her current life circumstances may possibly rival her love of sewing. It’s that good.
Sheppard’s last day at JoAnn’s is December 24th; her new path is right here at the Brain Energy Support Team. Sheppard will serve as the Stitching It Up Coordinator. She is just thrilled be able to help teach and mentor to the group’s eager crafters and have lots of fun at the same time.
And speaking of fun, there’s another part of Sheppard’s life that she is simply over the moon about. It’s really big news.
Sheppard has just moved into her very own home. She’s been there for nearly a couple of months now and the excitement has hardly waned.
“I love it!” she exclaims. “I like the keys. I really like the keys to that house. I hold those keys like a treasure!”
Indeed. In the past, she’s either always lived with a family member or in someone else’s home. Having a space of her very own (along with her beloved dog, Charley and cat, Isabel, as roommates) and her own independence is something Sheppard savors.
“It’s my house. I get the say. I like the independence. I don’t have to do things I don’t want to do.”
“This house means the whole world to me.”
And just like Sheppard’s sewing and crafting projects, boy, does she have plans. In time, there will be fresh paint and perhaps a garage. However, it’s the garden planning that has Sheppard really excited. Besides growing her own vegetables and lots of pretty flowers, there’s an element in the future garden that holds a special place in Sheppard’s heart: a maple tree.
“I want to plant a maple tree as a memorial to my dad,” says Sheppard quietly. “I have some of my dad’s ashes that I want to plant with the tree and then put a special plaque there for him. I also want to have two other plaques on each side of the tree to pay tribute to my grandparents, too. I also want to have a bench there by the tree, so that I can sit there and think about them.”
Sheppard’s father, like her, was a quiet person, but someone who really understood her. His death was hard.
“My dad didn’t talk much; he just said a little bit. We went on lots of walks together. We just understood each other.”
“My dad would be so proud that I have this house.”
Sheppard does have a lot to be proud of: she’s the proud mom of two, she’s fulfilling her passion and she’s teaching others. It’s a lot of accomplishments; being a part of BEST helps.
Sheppard has been coping with TBI since surgery in the mid-1970’s. She’s been involved in support groups for over a decade and has been a part of BEST for three years; she’s been with the Stitching It Up group for two years and also attends the Puyallup Support Group.
“At the support group, I go to listen; sometimes to say something. My friends there (and at BEST) mean a lot. I can have something going wrong and here I can talk about things others just wouldn’t understand.”
The support is important. While Sheppard has good days, some days are harder. Speech has been the hardest thing for Sheppard. She works with online tools and a speech therapist. Sometimes, walking isn’t easy, or as Sheppard puts it, “…my legs aren’t doing what they are supposed to do.” Having the house has motivated Sheppard to keep active. Her dog Charley also keeps her moving, too. He loves frequent walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes Sheppard isn’t always in the mood for those walks, but she knows it’s important for her health and goes anyway.
“I think I have a bright future,” smiles Sheppard.
We think so, too.
Have a story to share? Contact Kim T. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out this holiday classic performed by enchanting and jazzy singer-songwriter and TBI survivor, Melody Gardot! Happy Friday one and all!
Education matters for everyone.
Through educational experiences, we grow personally and professionally, are better able to connect with ourselves and our communities and we gain the tools and the skills we need to help us live our lives to the fullest potential.
Education also can take us places on life’s journey through learning new and developed skill sets. As we refine our skills and develop new ones, the classroom setting helps us achieve goals through encouragement, looking at possibilities, gaining support and comfort, creating a sense of empowerment and so much more.
That’s why education is one of the most critical parts of our mission and vision at the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST). We are passionate and excited about providing a robust series of classes aimed to support, energize and inspire individuals with brain injury and their families.
Beginning January 2014, our BEST Learning Center located in University Place, Washington, is ready to help BEST participants kick off the New Year with a wide variety of classroom programming. Led by experienced and supportive instructors, here’s a taste of just some of the educational experiences that we have available:
- Action planning for the future.
- Life after brain injury.
- Brain injury and work accommodations.
- Brain injury and substance abuse.
- Listening and communication skills.
And that’s not all. Take advantage of the BEST Cyber Sale and save big! Register for classes beginning now and up until December 24, 2013 and receive 50% off all class registrations! Register between December 25, 2013 and January 5, 2014, and receive an early registration discount of 20% off for classes that are scheduled for or begin in January or February.
Now is the perfect time to take advantage of to giving the gift of education for yourself or a loved one.
Registration is a breeze through our handy online registration system right here on this website. To learn more, see full class descriptions, dates, times and prices, click HERE. Do you have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you with your educational needs and look forward to meeting you at our beautiful new learning facility.
Here’s to the New Year!
Happy Cyber Monday, friends and supporters of BEST! We are pleased to announce that our Stitching It up online store is up and running! Handcrafted quilts, totes and survivor bracelets are lovingly made by our BEST crafters. Perfect for gifts for family, friends (or yourself!), all proceeds from the sales of these items benefit the programs and services at BEST. Make your holiday shopping a breeze while supporting a great cause. Check out the site right HERE! Happy shopping!