Change, Confidence, Learning

Redefinition Revisited: #sorrynotsorry

Someone very close to me asked, in retort of a public apology, why I felt the need for said apology.

I said something about, not being able to give my all relationships, and that I felt it wasn’t fair to other people, which, in turn, made me “feel bad” (i.e. sorry and guilty).

She, then, asked, “Isn’t that for those ‘other people’ to decide?”

That got me thinking . . .

Recently, I realized, . . . she’s totally right. It’s presumptuous for me to assume potential friends, lovers, what have you, would NOT “be able to handle” change in me.

I typed, only a few months ago, “Getting to know me takes effort because I’m never satisfied and always evolving.” (, An Apology . . . , October 26th, 2015.

It’s not that “I’m never satisfied.” It’s that I’ll always strive for MORE. I’ll  “always evolv[e]” because I’ll always be looking for ways to improve myself. It’s, by no means, not because I’m “not good enough,” but because I thrive with change and get excited at new prospects.

However, I’ve always feared change. I’m afraid of a lot of things.

My “apology” was selfish. I was trying to protect MYSELF. That’s what’s not fair.

I think it took me, actually, failing hard at something to realize that (in a word: school).

One day, I was having a conversation about “perfection.” I WAS a self-proclaimed perfectionist (still working on that but that’s another story).

Anyway, the person I was conversing with asked, “How many mistakes have you made?”

I replied, “Actually, not many.”

Then, he listed off the many, huge mistakes he’s made to get to where he is. Behind success, lurk past failures.

There’s no shame in making mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. “Shame” is, only, a FEELING bred from doubt of the self.

“Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has flaws.” (, Understanding Is Reached Only after Confrontation, January 19th, 2015.) They are part of what it means to be human.

Again, mistakes are an inevitable part of the process of adaptation.

Once I get over that initial sense of impending doom and that need for “perfection,” I am in love with that change. It becomes natural.

Therefore, I need not be afraid or filled with self-doubt.

People are drawn to me so one of the other things that I’ve thought about is, “What makes me a ‘good friend?’ What am I physically, emotionally, or spiritually able to do now to show people that I care?” (, Redefinition, June 3rd, 2015.)

Punishing myself by making MYSELF feel guilty never proved to ANYONE how much “I care.” The only thing that does is make me unnecessarily feel like shit.

I don’t have to explain myself to anyone and nobody owes me an explanation either. And I don’t have to take what people do choose to share with me as gospel.

At the same time, I need to be honest with MYSELF about what I feel. Trust in others begins with trust within myself.

Now, I know that being a good listener, with integrity, honesty, loyalty, conviction, tact (most of the time), and respect, is GOOD ENOUGH.

I am trustworthy.

I can say what I mean, and mean what I say, but that doesn’t mean, who I’m saying it to, will truly understand, much less, believe it’s the truth. And it’s not that I’m not trustworthy. Again, I am trustworthy.

In fact, it has little to do with me. When you’ve been through the ringer, it’s hard to know who’s on the level. I’m just as skeptical as the next person. However, I know how to suss out red flags and warning signs pretty skillfully. I can become less skeptical, sooner.

My point is: these things take time. How much time, depends on the individual situation. Patience is key. Relationships don’t blossom overnight.

I am a good friend.

I need to stop comparing myself to others, including my-past-self. Each individual is different no matter how similar they seem. Comparison leads to madness. Live and let live, and do the best you can.

“The best you can, is good enough.” ~ Radiohead

Adapt, Balance, Change


I’ve become, quite recently, truly (in the plainest of terms) grateful for my stroke.

The reason being, it’s given me a real chance to redefine myself, and what I think is pivotal to my well-being. I have the time to actually become the person I want to be.

That is a gift. No more coveting. The world is my oyster. The sky’s the limit. Yes, because of my new-found, so-called “handicaps,” I’m supposedly limited to what I “can do.” But, not really. I have the mental capacity and resources to navigate around obstacles. It takes longer, but what are we in a hurry for anyway? Think about it.

When I had that significant change at the blink of an eye, I spent the following year, working my ass off, trying to regain what I’d “lost;” hoping everything would be as it were. I wanted my life back.

Once that year went by in my stroke recovery, I was devastated. I thought I’d be so much further than I was. I went through the stages of grief, mourning my past-self. I was in a very dark place, feeling very disheartened. After months of debilitating depression, I finally came terms with how different my life had become and will always be. I tried and am trying, to find what will makes me content in the moment, while continuing moving forward, especially in recovery. I’m trying to find self-worth.

With being labeled as disabled, I believed for a time, that I no longer had anything to offer anyone. Pre-stroke, I used my trade (tattooing) to show people I cared, to make money, and to travel. I gave newlyweds, birthday girls/guys, etc., tattoos as gifts. I made trades for things I wanted/needed. I could afford to visit peers/friends or offer rides places because I was always working.

Since the stroke, I’ve had to rethink my Love Languages (see, Support and Forgiveness, January 23rd, 2015.). What makes me a “good friend?” What am I physically, emotionally, or spiritually able to do now to show people that I care?

I have no money. I can’t, legitimately, drive. I can’t tattoo.

What CAN I do?!

I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received. Without it, I couldn’t have survived the first year of recovery. Not only did people visit me, but there were numerous benefits on my behalf. There was a place, online, where people could donate. All this started happening before I could even begin to fathom what was going on. No joke, in October 2013, I was out-of-it for nearly 3 weeks, but, without knowing it, I was being taken care of. Words cannot describe how much that means to me. With that support I was able to get through that first year financially and emotionally. I had a roof over my head, rides wherever I needed to go, kind words and encouragement, etc.

My mother helped get services in place: Medicaid, Disability, the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver, etc. She gave me what I needed to be able to figure out what I want. In one word: my mama gave me “SECURITY.”

Medicaid helps me maintain my health and keep my doctors and therapists in cahoots. We’re a team. I love it.

Social Security Disability Insurance gives me money every month, which I use to pay bills.

The TBI Waiver provides me with, basically, loopholes with insurance, and services through an agency of my initial choosing. That said organization, first and foremost, hooked me up with a service coordinator (SC) and a councilor. My councilor has been with me since the beginning. I got lucky with her. Unfortunately, I had to go through 4 or so service coordinators in a year, and threaten to go through another agency, in order to reach the SC I have now. But, such is life, and we’re sure making up for lost time now!

Through the TBI Waiver, my service coordinator was able to get me funding with TBI Housing. Now that I have my own apartment, I have food stamps as well. They definitely lesson the financial burden. I’m, also, going through ACCES-VR (formerly Vesid) to make myself more “employable.” Namely, they’re helping me with driving lessons and going back to school; stuff like that. I figure, even if or when I start tattooing again, I could adjust my schedule accordingly. I’m not worried about it in the least.

So, on paper, things are going quite well.

There are some hiccups in regard to my health but I’m working on those too. I have to remember that I’m NOT a typical young woman anymore. The best I can to do is to take care of myself. Believe it or not . . . the alternative . . . THAT would be selfish. When I slip up on the things I need (or need NOT) to do, not only do I suffer, but the people who care about me suffer, as well (maybe even more-so).

That mentality has changed a lot of things for me. I used to think that giving all my energy toward other people mattered. I set myself lowest on the totem pole. I put other people’s needs and happiness before my own, because I thought that if the people around me were happy, I’d be happy too. I didn’t want to make waves. I wanted everyone to “like me.” I kept silent and sweet. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” right? Not necessarily. I now realize, you can be pleasant without sacrificing your self-respect.

Throughout my stroke recovery, I’ve been working hard at, not only my abilities and health, but my character too. Like I typed, previously, “I have the time to actually become the person I want to be.” How cool is that?!

So, I ask myself:

1.) What DO I THINK makes a solid human being?

Integrity. “Word is bond” (Wu Tang Clan, c.1993.). I like that phrase. It embodies everything I want to accomplish. I look at it as encompassing honesty, loyalty, following a certain moral code, strength in the face of adversity, etc.

2.) What qualities do I find in people I respect and admire?

I don’t believe in accepting hand-outs. I believe in working for what you’re given. I have to keep in mind, the services I use now, are in place because I NEED them. You’re not taking advantage if you’re in need. 

I respect conviction. Even if I don’t agree, I admire people who sick to their guns but allow room for discussion; debate, even. 

I lost a lot with my stroke but it’s okay because, in turn, I grew a backbone. I learned to say, “No.” Now and again, I try to keep up with the Joneses, but more often than not, if I need to sit a round or two out, I do. I’m still working on that. 

3.) What qualities do I find in the people I truly love unconditionally?

I appreciate when people are honest, while treating me as a peer. “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” (Judge Judy, 1997.) And, patronization or babying does’t do anyone, any good.

I would do anything in my power for the people I care about. That’s not a lot right now. Still, the people I love, don’t expect much but still make me feel special and held in high regard. 

4.) Would I date me?

Nah, brah. However, I’m starting to like myself and exhibiting more self-respect than ever. I’m getting there.

5.) After all is said and done, what do I think’s most important?

Integrity. Honesty. Loyalty. Strength in the face of adversity. Hard work. Conviction. Respect.

All these things matter to me, but NOT at my personal expense. Some overlap. Some contradict. But, it’s all about finding a balance. Allowing some vulnerability without victimization, pride without conceit. Finding self-love without selfishness. Knowing when to fight and when to walk away. Exhibiting discipline without obsession. Etc. Etc. Etc.

. . . : Make way for “Mariah 2.0” : . . .

Ask yourself versions of these questions and see where you end up.

Fine-tune yourself.

Above Photo by James Via

Art, Change, Learning

BREAK the Cypher

I spent my New Year’s Eve, going through my artwork from high school up through college; some after too. The idea was to refresh my memory as to what influenced me at different stages in life; what motivated and moved me. I wanted to ramble about art and not leave anything out. I still plan on doing that but I came across something I forgot about. Something along similar lines but not what I was looking for.

I forgot I used to use writing as an outlet. I remember, I took a creative writing class but I didn’t know I ever wrote anything relevant or that I attempted to share.

In my hoarding, I found three issues of “Galerie,” a yearly student-run publication, put out by my high school. I was on the staff for two years. I had, at least, one visual piece, as well as one piece of writing, in each issue I found.

I’d like to share a piece I passed off as “fiction” in my senior year. Bare with my eighteen-year-old self, as I’ve had 12 years to fine-tune my “voice,” grammar, vocabulary, etc.

“She looks into the mirror stares into the face of a person longing for change. She is a girl of eighteen with dark hair and blue eyes. She has a pale complexion and her lips are rosy pink. As she looks into her own eyes, she is distracted by the leaves outside the window, rustling as the wind whistles through them. They remind her of how restless she is. She has been a part of a twelve-year routine that she has wanted to end for so long. The end is so near but so far away. She covets a new beginning. She can’t wait to start over. She wants to cut ties with all those surrounding her. They are all so boring because they are all the same. She wants to be with people have goals. She wants to be with people who are like her. She’s different. She likes being different but she’s so lonely. She’ll be glad to go. She won’t cry when she does. She’ll smile. She will be sad to leave some people because even the important ones in her life right now might not feel that she is important enough to stay in touch with. She knows, however, that the people who care about her most will always be there.

“She hopes that some of those people will support her when she begins a new life for herself. She is so afraid of what the future has in store for her but she welcomes it with open arms. She will rise to any challenge that faces her and conquer it so that she may do what she wants to do and become what she wants to become. She’s not sure what she wants to do or become, but she’ll know when the time is right. What she does know is that she wants to succeed. She know that she is capable of accomplishing anything that her heart desires. She is intelligent and interested in so many things.

“Some people might not believe this, though. When she tries to speak about what she is feeling, she sounds stupid and ditzy (for lack of better words). She knows what she wants to say but struggles to get it out. Her cheeks become flushed and she stutters. When she finds the perfect words to say, she often forgets them before they escape her mouth. She fidgets and slumps. She has horrible posture. She’s not confident in herself and in order to counter her nervousness around people, she talks and talks. Actually, she babbles. She realizes she does it but she needs to feel less nervous somehow. The only way she can truly express herself, though, is on paper. The only way she can say what she wants to say without interruption is on paper. She wishes she had more time for her paper, whether it be lined or Strathmore. She wishes she had more time but she’s tired. When she thinks she can finally rest, there is something else to be done. She relishes the thought of a world where money is no object and time is on her side. If she could, she would spend all of her time utilizing that paper. She is sick of work and school and anything else that gets in the way of her and herself. She wants everything to be finished. She wants to be settled in a house with the perfect job. She wants to be in love. She wants to have time.

“In the middle of her thought she blinks and realizes that she has been staring into those blues eyes for quite some time now. She has been caught in her own gaze for what seemed like an eternity. She rubs her face with her hands and sighs. She looks her own face over a few timed and asks herself those age-old questions, “Who am I? What is going to become of me?” We’ll see.”

Again, I wrote that when I was a senior in high school. Sure, I want to pick it apart and edit it but the nature of the content would be similar. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to man-up, because the character I was describing was, clearly, 110% ME. I was trying to express myself while attempting to be, somewhat, cryptic. Some of my favorite authors (namely Chuck Palahniuk and Tom Robbins) “taught” me to use my sense of humor and not be constrained to the “rules” in writing. I cling to them because I’ve found that, like my influences in art and music, I respond and relate the creative people who aren’t afraid to let their personalities shine through in their work.

I’m going to address each of my relevant fears and points, and turn this depressing, albeit optimistic, piece, into a lesson.

When I first wrote that passage, I was a naive, gullible virgin, who had never ventured outside of Rochester, NY with anyone except her immediate family. I’d never been in love and was completely lost and lonely.

I’ve been through a lot in my life. Some of it was my own doing. Other times, I didn’t know any better. Sometimes, it was just a matter of timing and/or placement. Whatever happened (or happens), I’ve always try to learn and grow from it; evolve.

I’m neurotic and methodical, which can be blessings or curses. I think EVERYTHING through. When I say, “I don’t care.” It’s not because I’m indecisive. It’s because I, genuinely, don’t care because the outcome won’t have that much bearing on the bigger picture.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much I want to share about my past but I will say, my stroke is the single-most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with in my entire life. However, I’m doing just fine a year later because of all I’ve experienced up to this point.

A cliche I use once in awhile is, “If I knew then what I know now . . .” Listen, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s kind of a joke to me. It’s one of those *wink wink, nudge nudge* types of things.

I tattooed over my knees, “No regrets. No worries.” I do worry a-lot-a-bit but I’m forever trying not to. Life is a lot of trail and error. Sometimes, you get second chances. Sometimes, it’s one and done. Sometimes, people hurt you. Sometimes, you hurt others. I’m sincerely sorry for the people I’ve hurt. But, at the same time, I don’t regret getting hurt because it’s made me who I am. You have to think about each situation individually because, even if you’re experiencing deja vu, no one is exactly the same. If you don’t think things through, when you can, you’ll never grow and the results will send you around that same vicious cycle.

That’s why I’m analyzing my priorities from 12 years ago; because I want to see how I’ve grown and see what’s no longer important and what I still need to work on.

Here it goes!

I’ve always been restless. I’ve realized that I’ll always be restless. I can’t sit still for too long. I love, love, love traveling. Just a change of scenery for even a day satiates my nomadic tendencies, if only for a little while. I’ve found, if I don’t change things up a little bit, every once in awhile, I get stir-crazy.

A friend shared a quote by Robert Holden. It states, “Beware of Destination Addiction . . . a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.” I understand where Holden is coming but part of the reason I’m forever restless, is because I’ll never be satisfied. Another friend and I were talking the struggle with being an artist. You’re your own worst critic and mortal enemy. For artist like us, nothing we create is ever “good enough.” If we created THE perfect piece, we’d implode and there wouldn’t be anything left for us to achieve; nothing to work toward. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Yes, I need to choose goals that are reachable but I’ll never stop trying to do better; to BE better. That mindset has gotten me through my recovery so far. I’m not striving for absolute happiness. I’m trying to be content, moment to moment. Like MOST HUMANS ON THIS PLANET, I have good days and bad days. You just need to seize the days you can. If you have a bad one, dust yourself off, and try again.

“You pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick friends’ nose.” Well, I “pick[ed] . . . friends” who would let me “pick [their] nose[s],” as it were. But, seriously, I have so much love surrounding me . . . I’m so grateful. It’s been hard to let people go who hurt me and there’s a lot of disappointment involved in that but the feeling passes, eventually, and the love and support of those ones who stick around, fill up those voids. I still get lonely from time to time but I think it’s another part of the human condition.

I’m not afraid of the future anymore. I still maintain, “[I] will rise to any challenge that faces [me] and conquer it . . . [I want] to succeed. [I] know that [I’m] capable of accomplishing anything that [my] heart desires. [I am] intelligent and interested in so many things.” And I, once again, have so much support that it doesn’t matter if I talk slow or stammer. People wait to hear what I have to say. Also, I’m just as forgetful as I ever was, if not more-so. I’m working on using my resources and tools to make things easier, memory-wise (See “Memory Lost, Memory Found, Repeat.”

I still get nervous but I’m working on that too but my “babbling” and “fidgeting” has become part of my awkward charm. People who don’t appreciate it . . . well, ya know.

I’m still working on time-management. I’ll probably never get it right but I’ll always keep trying.

I’ve changed my mind about “settling in a house.” I don’t EVER want to be tied down. There’s no such thing as the perfect job, although tattooing comes wicked close, for me.

As far as love goes, there are no rules and it’s painful. With romantic love, comes stress, sex, insecurity, tests of trust, etc. I’ll probably never figure out that whole mess but what I do know is that I can’t worry about that right now anyway. I have too much on my plate. I feel that in order to truly be with someone, you BOTH have to be content with yourselves.

With that, I suggest making a list of what makes you content and if you’re not one thing . . . start.

My List:

My own space


Working out

Doing research




Decompression time

Being creative

Feeling healthy

Being around people I love, who love me back

Mariah Rose’s Ramblings:

E-mail me if you want to comment on my “ramblings” but aren’t comfortable doing it publicly. I’d ask you not to abuse this gesture. I WILL NOT respond to inappropriate inquiries and I WILL NOT give out my phone number.

This e-mail address is meant to help people, survivors and caregivers, alike.

I’m not a medical provider. I’m not a therapist of any kind. I’m just a survivor whose willing to share.

Change, Emotional, Stroke

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

It was Saturday morning, October 5, 2013 to be exact. I wasn’t feeling well emotionally. I remember feeling like I needed a change.

You know those days when you put extra effort into getting ready because you need the added boost in confidence? Well, it was one of those.

I put a little black dress on with my jean vest. I was proud of my vest because I had sewn patches on that were meaningful to me and I was going with a primary color scheme with white stitching. The little white exes were tedious to stitch but it was comforting at the same time and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I was finished with each patch.

Then, I put on my make-up. I went with red to match my vest which happens to also be my favorite color. I was going for the Blade Runner look for the application. Sometimes, I refer to it as my “war paint.’’

Sometime between getting dressed and putting on my boots that make feel like pirate with all their buckled glory, I messaged an ex-boyfriend and called my mom.

As I said previously, that morning I feeling not well, emotionally. This particular ex was someone I wasn’t fair to. I thought if I was honest there wasn’t a reason for him to get upset with me. Hindsight is 20/20 and was I ever wrong. That’s a discussion for another day but let me just say that those were darker times in my life and it takes a lot more than honesty to be a good person. So, I just wanted to check in with him and make sure he was alright. I’m lucky to even have gotten a response. In fact, grateful and he’s doing okay without me.

I called my mom and asked if I could meet up with her after I got my hair done before work. I started crying but I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. Like I said, I had this overwhelming sense that I needed to change something. Maybe, it was that I had no end in sight at work. I had been working seven days a week for I don’t know how long and I was booked for the rest of the year. It was exciting but overwhelming at the same time.

With working 7 days most weeks, I wasn’t sleeping because I was making sure I had time to play as well. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I was burning the candle at both ends. I thought, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” But, at the same time, I was happy because I liked to be kept busy. Something was stirring inside me and it made me feel off. That’s the only way I can describe it; just off.

So, anyway, I was ready to, finally, start my day. I had a hair appointment, meeting with my mom, two appointments to do new tattoos, two touch-up appointments, a consultation, and whatever decided to do later. I always worked late, whether it be a half hour or two but I didn’t care.

Fusion Salon was less than a mile from my apartment. I made sure I had everything for the day that lay ahead and once I was satisfied and I started driving down the street. I felt a little out of it but I didn’t think anything of it. Then, I got this feeling like my right side was falling asleep. I felt dizzy like my blood-sugar was low or something. I got to the salon and managed to park my car and tried to get my wits about me so I could go inside. I heard my phone go off and it was my hairdresser, Nico, wondering what I was doing. I thought about responding but ¾ of me was thinking I’d be in momentarily and other quarter was thinking I was too out of it or too weak. Then, I got out of my car and my weight collapsed out from underneath me. I tried to get up but I couldn’t. Then, I tried calling for help but the words weren’t coming out. A woman came out of the salon. She saw me laying there and drove off. Then, Nico came out and tried to come to my rescue. He propped me up in my car and kept asking me what was wrong. I think we both thought I was too hysterical to answer. He saw blood on my knee and I think it made him panic a little bit. He took my boot off and made sure that he saw no visible injuries. I knew it was just a skinned knee from when I fell but I couldn’t articulate it to him. Then, the owner of the salon, Jes, came out and told Nico that they needed to call the paramedics.

The police were the first respondents. The officer asked me if I was on anything. In my head I said, “No! In fact, I went to bed early last night after only having a glass of wine with dinner!” But the words would NOT come out! He was training a girl or something and he made her sit with me while he questioned the others. She looked like a deer in headlights. Finally (although I’m sure it was mere moments), the EMTs arrived. Somewhere between being heaved onto a gurney and loaded into the ambulance I realized my mom had shown up and amidst all the chaos I felt relief. I don’t remember them taking my vest off but I do remember them cutting up the back of my dress. The ambulance took off as I was throwing up and, then, . . . I woke up in a hospital bed.