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Welcome Back

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November 10, 2013

15 comments

Blog

After what has been an admittedly very long hiatus, I am rekindling my blogging and sharing my thoughts with you. Why has it been so long? Well, over the past two years, I have focused my time and attention to finishing my PhD (mission accomplished in 2012) and the work, teaching, and writing that followed it. I know that, through this experience, I’ve grown intellectually, but what I think is much more important is that, over this past year, I’ve changed so much personally and emotionally, in ways that I never really expected or even envisioned before. I’m so much more honest with myself and open about my life that it’s a source of empowerment, a manifestation of confidence.

I don’t think there’s any one reason for what precipitated this change in outlook and inner strength. Maybe it’s that I have come to terms with different types of heartache in my life, because, after all, I don’t know of a single person who hasn’t grappled with heartache. Or, maybe it’s that, as I’ve  gotten older, I’ve come to care far less about what people think and much more about what is right and noble. Or, maybe it’s that I’ve come to be inspired by people who made me realize that my role in their lives is something valuable and meaningful. Or, maybe it was the intersection of all of these, happening at just the right time. But, whatever the reason, I feel privileged, I feel honored, and I feel like I have a lot of talking to do.

At this point in my life, it’s hard for me to be anything other than honest and no holds barred. What’s the point of doing otherwise? By virtue of my physical situation (circumstances, disability, accident, paralysis, whatever title you want to give it), I have nothing to hide nor feel ashamed about. But, that’s just me, that’s everyone. The level of self-censorship, self-loathing, and self-shaming that so many of us place on ourselves is no antidote to the already very real social censorship, loathing, and shaming that we all feel on a daily basis and which prevents us from learning or becoming stronger people. I see this every single day through the people with whom I come in contact and the students I teach. That’s pretty terrible and pretty frightening. I think we falsely protect ourselves from accusations of weirdness by gravitating to the mean or one narrowly-measured standard deviation on either side. I think we tend to conform our vocabulary and storytelling to meet the norm because the extremes are messy and hard to handle. But, that does exactly nothing in the way of good, and that’s just not the way it is. Life is unrelenting, and this is a bullshit-free zone.

 

15 Comments

  1. Brooke, I just finished watching the movie about your incredible journey on LMN and had to know more about you so I Googled you. What an amazing woman you are! Wishing you continued success and good health. Blessings.

  2. Gwen McAlister says:

    Dr. Ellison,

    I am in total awe of your accomplishments. As a mother, I am so humbled by the love and dedication that your mother has showered on you. I am inspired by the love and strength of your family. Thanks for being such a positive force to the entire human race ,and best of luck on your future and journey in stem cell research!

  3. You’ve inspired me, in so many ways, with your courage, intelligence & tenacity. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m now going to do some searching regarding stem cell research. I remember that Christopher Reeves was very involved with this, also. Is research moving forward? I know that some religious people have fought it’s use, but as a Jew, I can’t fathom why anyone, of any religious belief would deny helping their fellow man or woman!

    All the best of good health & good life to you,

    Valerie

  4. Rob DeHarpport says:

    Brooke,
    I just finished watching the movie about you and followed up with a brief google search. I am a 54 year old with a 17 year old son who will soon graduate from high school. I had a uncle who was paralyzed in Vietnam in 1969. He lived a happy life and actually found a woman who married him, they lived a great life together until his passing in 2008. She was a heartbroken recluse for about three years following his passing. She is once again happy and active and in love. I know you inspire many through your efforts, determination and accomplishments. May you be inspired by my uncles story as others are of yours. I wish you happiness and success.

  5. BarbaraZabadu says:

    Hi Brooke,
    You are right that we all play victims to ourselves.

    My life, while nowhere near as challenging as yours, is not as I intended. Mine changed for the opposite reason as yours – my father became ill. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles and doing well. I moved back home, and took care of my father until he passed. My 63 year-old brother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2009, and I currently direct his care (and the dreaded Social Security system!). My mother is 86 years old, and can no longer get around without me.

    In other words, I’m stuck here.

    Job opportunities here are limited, so I am not doing the things I can. In fact, yesterday I was not offered a position because of the credit damage my caregiving has caused. People don’t care about reasons, they want perfection. I used to be perfection. I never wasn’t offered a position once they met me, but now they do, and it’s because of what I have to do here at home.

    I have many, many days that I feel a victim. I didn’t choose this life – I didn’t choose for my family to need me so much – I didn’t choose to have a brother that refuses to help. My life is on hold at 52. Some days I just want to give up and run away.

    But then I see you – an others – and it helps me move on another day. I am trying to understand the changes in my life and accept them, but it’s hard. Stories of others make it easier. You are so right – who in their life hasn’t faced heartache of one kind or another. Life IS unrelenting. How do you get through it, when it’s not your own?

    Thank you for what you do. It helps more than you know.

    With great respect,
    Barbara

  6. Ms. Ellison,
    You have accomplished so much and have proven anything is possible.
    Thank you for being the courageous and persistent person you are. You are truly a inspiration.

  7. Jørgen Thorball says:

    I think my post got lost or? I try to rewrite:

    I agree with the other postings and particular enjoy your sentence: “I’m so much more honest with myself and open about my life that it’s a source of empowerment, a manifestation of confidence” which I try to live my life after.
    I happened to pass by your site while trying to get going also during x-mas with my work on the world first (true) directly reprogrammed autologous neuro stem cells [drNSC] (not embryo, iPS, MSC etc.) . I expect to be in clinical trial next year 2014 for spinal cord injured patients – I believe we will start with paraplegics as the treatment can be rather demanding with all the tests we want to do in a clinical trial.
    I notice that you write quite a lot about embryonic stem cells – these types of cells are not relevant – I am sure they have been interesting to study – but they are of no practical use in routine treatment – simply because they are not from you, but from someone else thus the immune system takes them out. Our technology is to take our own cells and reprogram them to what cells we need – and not the uncontrollable pluripotent cells but to linage committed multi potent cells. I think it is important for the stem cell field that this message comes out: we do not need or want to use embryonic stem cells as there are ethical issues and they really do not work at all in treatments, so now that there is so much better technology available, so why not only use that?

  8. Jørgen Thorball says:

    I think my post got lost or? I try to rewrite:

    I agree with the other postings and particular enjoy your sentence: “I’m so much more honest with myself and open about my life that it’s a source of empowerment, a manifestation of confidence” which I try to live my life after.
    I happened to pass by your site while trying to get going also during x-mas with my work on the world first (true) directly reprogrammed autologous neuro stem cells [drNSC] (not embryo, iPS, MSC etc.) . I expect to be in clinical trial next year 2014 for spinal cord injured patients – I believe we will start with paraplegics as the treatment can be rather demanding with all the tests we want to do in a clinical trial.
    I notice that you write quite a lot about embryonic stem cells – these types of cells are not relevant – I am sure they have been interesting to study – but they are of no practical use in routine treatment – simply because they are not from you, but from someone else thus the immune system takes them out. Our technology is to take our own cells and reprogram them to what cells we need – and not the uncontrollable pluripotent cells but to linage committed multi potent cells. I think it is important for the stem cell field that this message comes out: we do not need or want to use embryonic stem cells as there are ethical issues and they really do not work at all in treatments, so now that there is so much better technology available, so why not only use that?

  9. Canadian beaver says:

    In Canada we have cured Paralysis as stem cell research is legal here and additionally we have free healthcare. What a shame you Americans are so far behind the times, does your government not allow scientific innovation?

  10. Canadian beaver says:

    In Canada we have cured Paralysis as stem cell research is legal here and additionally we have free healthcare. What a shame you Americans are so far behind the times, does your government not allow scientific innovation?

  11. Just finished watching the movie “The Brooke Ellison story”. You, your family and everyone you came in contact with, who saw beyond the hurdels just in front of them. All worked from what works and what are the possibilities. A true inspiration. Stay positive. Keep up the good work.

  12. executeorder66 says:

    Mosquitoes have human rights too…..

  13. utrfutrfutrf says:

    Have you ever been fed upon by a WRAITH????

    It is a delightful experience…It can take years off your life…

  14. DARTH_NIHILUS_666 says:

    YOU KNOW BROOKE ELLISON, IF THAT IS WHAT ITS NAME IS? THE ONLY BULLSHIT HERE IS:

    YOU

  15. sean dineen says:

    Admire your directness. Past abuse has made that a struggle for me