November brings back many memories. 

Thanksgiving meals when I was a child. Mama laughing. People talking, all at the same time. Cold days in Georgia. Watching football games with family. Shivering hands, thick coats, big smiles, delicious deserts. 

Thanksgiving gatherings when our sons were young, then when they began having children of their own. Times at home. Trips on the road or in the air. Food and more food. Ball games and more ball games. Laughter and more laughter, wishing Mama had lived longer so our sons and their families could join in her laugh. 

November is also Epilepsy Awareness Month, reminding me and my family of how suddenly so much can change. Reminding me to be thankful today, refusing to ignore the good around us. 

These are difficult times. 

Being thankful isn’t denying the pain. 

Choosing to give thanks is refusing to be controlled by the negative. It’s finding hope during the hurting. It’s knowing that healing comes even when we’re crying. 

Our lives changed drastically years ago. As I wrote in Underwater: When Encephalitis, Brain Injury and Epilepsy Change Everything.

Tell me your name. I’ll try to remember it. But I won’t. I’ll forget it. Quickly. I know all the memory tricks. I’ve tried them. They worked for me before March 1996. Since then, the tricks do not work. Much of my brain doesn’t work. I forget. I strategically plan a variety of techniques to remember. I remember for a moment, a brief moment. Soon I forget again. The rhyme, the image, the melody, the association: scar tissue in my left temporal lobe doesn’t follow the rules of those games. I hear leaders talk about how forgetting someone’s name reveals poor leadership. I hope they do not learn the way I learned about forgetting, about brain damage, about epilepsy. But what I do remember is like a storm that permanently damaged the world of my mind, my emotions, my life. Come for a few moments and visit the storm with me.

Those storms do come. We can’t control them. But we can learn from them. We can also choose to be thankful on days like today and during Novembers like this one. 

It helps to
-find the positive 

-refuse to be controlled by the past 

-love people with whom we disagree 



-walk outside in the cold 

-pray regularly 

-fall in love with God 


-remember that chocolate comes from a fruit which means it must be good for us. 

Those are just a few ideas. Add, and apply, your own. 

Though things can change quickly, let’s all do our part to bring positive change.

We can’t control everything. But we can choose to bring positive memories to this November.