Second Chance to Live

Sharing Hope in the Face of Adversity — One Piece at a Time

Back Ground Information for Keynote Presentation Craig Phillips Founder and Creator Second Chance to Live Southwest Conference on Disability 2013

Posted by Second Chance to Live on October 5, 2013

I share the below information for those attending the conference, because I will not have enough time to cover all of the material during my 25 minutes of time with you. I share from my experience to encourage you to not give up  in the face of adversity. More will be revealed to us in time. The pieces of the puzzle will come together at the right time and in the right order. Trust the process, a loving God and yourself.

Keynote Presentation: Craig Phillips Founder and Creator Second Chance to Live

October 9, 2013

Southwest Conference on Disability 2013

Introduction to my Keynote Presentation

  • Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the 2013 Southwest Conference on Disability Dr. Cahill. I am honored to be here and I look forward to learning.

  • Thank you all for coming to my presentation. I have been looking forward to our being together for some time. Thank you for being here.

  • Living life can be a mystery. Once we experience a brain injury our lives can turn into disarray. What may have made sense to us before our brain injuries now appear to be scattered pieces.

  • In my experience, for many years answering the questions: What is my Destiny? and When will I find my Destiny? seemed to be out of reach to me.

  • During our brief time together, I would like to share some of what I have discovered on my way that has helped me to answering these two questions.

  • In my experience, I have come to understand that life is made up of many pieces. I would like to share some of the pieces of my life with you.

My Growing Up Pieces

  • I grew up feeling as though I did not just make mistakes, but that I was a mistake.

  • At the age of 10 – August 1967 – I was in a motor vehicle accident with my family. Per my injuries I fractured my left femur on my Dad’s bucket seat on the way to the windshield where I sustained an open skull fracture.

  • I sustained right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I remained in a coma for 3 weeks and in traction to set my left femur for 6 – 7 weeks. I was then placed in a Spica (full body cast) for 5-6 months.

  • In,1967 there was not much in the way of neurological rehabilitation. I taught myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences with hard work, determination, tenacity encouragement from family and most of all grace of God.

  • My parents had me undergo two EEG’s and battery of cognitive and psycho social testing in 1968. The results were shared with my Mom and Dad, but not with me.

  • I was tutored at home through my 5th grade and was then mainstreamed back in to elementary school in the 6th grade in September1969.

  • Once my external wounds healed the impact from my traumatic brain injury was never again factored into experiences that I encountered in life. This lack of awareness and acceptance continued for the next 39 years.

Education Pieces

  • Graduated on time with my High School Class in 1975

  • Applied to the University of Arizona – Accepted – Geology, 2nd Year Physical Education.

  • Transferred to a community college 1977– took class in Physical Education.

  • Applied to the Licensed Practical Nursing Program. Took prerequisites. Obtained my Nursing Assistant Certification and my EMT certification after taking the course over for the second time.

  • Accepted into the Licensed Practical Nursing Program – 8 weeks before I was scheduled to graduate from the program, I was asked to withdraw from the program for my inability to follow instructions. Left the community college in 1980.

  • Transferred to Oral Roberts University – 1982-1985 –theology / physical education. Parents were asked to meet with the Department Chair. Graduated in1985.

Took 10 years to obtain my undergraduate degree

  • Applied to Asbury theological seminary and was accepted on probation. August 1985. During the 1st year during the J-term I worked at a hospital as a student chaplain. Things did not go well for me. I received a poor evaluation.

  • Was asked to meet with the Department chair, who had me start to see a counselor the second semester.

  • At the end of my 2nd semester I was told that the I would be contacted at the end of the summer – after the seminary counsel met to discuss among other things, whether to allow me to start my second year at the seminary.

  • I received a call at the end of the summer from the seminary telling me that I would have to go through a year of counseling before being considered to start back at the seminary.

  • Worked for a year and a half and then applied to the graduate program in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Kentucky Started graduate school in August 1987.

  • Did not complete the 1st practicum. Had difficulties writing IWRP’s. Asked to meet with the graduate program chair, because the practicum supervisor would not allow me to complete the practicum.

  • Was told I would be given a second practicum, but if I did not pass that practicum would be asked to leave the graduate program. Passed the 2nd practicum.

  • Had difficulties in my internship. Received a poor evaluation. As a result the dept. chair told me that he may not allow me to graduate. Would let me know at the coffee an hour before graduation ceremonies. Was told at the coffee by the program chair that I would be allowed to graduate. Graduated December 1990.

  • Sat for and passed the national credential exam: Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. 

Took 31/2 years to obtain my graduate degree.

Work Life Pieces

  • Fired from many jobs during the course of 25 + years. The all to familiar question, “Can I see you in my office?” became words of dread.

  • Fired from Intracorp, from an outpatient clinic, from the Florida Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, from Gulf Coast Community Care and from Crawford and Company.

  • Fired from Winn Dixie –a supermarket – where I worked in the seafood dept. and as a bagger.

  • Applied for SSDI with the Social Security Administration 2 times 1994 and 1995 in Florida – denied both times due to making too much money – more than $500 per month.

My Brain Injury Awareness

  • After being told that I would be allowed to graduate at the coffee by the dept. chair, I called my Mom. She told me the results from the testing – EEG’s and cognitive / psychosocial — done in 1968. The results showed that I was not expected to succeed beyond high school academically.

  • After being fired from Intracorp in Lexington, Kentucky I moved to Florida. I got a job with the Department of Vocational  Rehabilitation. Toward the end of my probationary period, I was having difficulties on the job. During a conversation with my supervisor, I shared that I had experienced a traumatic brain injury in 1967 when I was 10 years old.  

  • She in turn shared the information with the DVR Manager and he in turn shared the information with the District Supervisor. The decision was made to make me a client of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, while I was still a counselor with the Department.  

  • As a client, I underwent an EEG and a neuropsyche exam. The results from the neuropsyche exam showed that I was succeeding far above all reasonable expectations and that working at a master’s level was unrealistic. Dr. stated that I had succeeded beyond all reasonable expectations through sheer persistence and motivation. 

  • I shared the news with my family. My Dad said that the Dr. Did not know what he was talking about. I tended to agree with my Dad, with the thinking that how could some one who sustained a traumatic brain injury at 10 years of age obtain a master’s degree.

  • I realized that some thing was affecting my life, but did not want to be identified as a traumatic brain injury survivor. I remained angry and confused.

  • The outcome of my vocational rehab experience did not result in a job placement.

  • After a series of unsuccessful jobs, I applied to and was recruited to North Carolina to begin a job as a CRC in Worker’s Compensation. Four months after being hired I was fired, being told that my services were no longer needed.

  • After an unsuccessful job search I reapplied to the DVR in NC and applied for SSDI with the SSA for the 3rd time in late 1997.

  • Following my evaluation and testing process with the DVR in North Carolina, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation deemed me to be unemployable.

  • Shortly there after I was approved to begin receiving SSDI in late 1998, I continued to stay confused and angry, but was reaching a point in my life where I could no longer deny my reality. Denying my reality, was becoming more painful, than my need to deny my reality.

For more information, please see my About Page by clicking on this link: About Page

Some lessons that I have Learned through my Experience Pieces

In my experience, I had to break free from the denial systems that sought to keep me stuck in believing that there was nothing wrong with me. That what was wrong with me – as my Dad said –was all up in my head. That if I just kept my mouth shut and worked harder, I could over come my traumatic brain injury and not be affected by my traumatic brain injury. This was the message that I received from my Dad and other people – implied or otherwise. I internalized this message.

I grew up feeling like a mistake, not that I just made mistakes. I attempted to strive and overcompensate to prove that I was not a mistake. that I was not affected by a traumatic brain injury. Nevertheless, I continued to internalize the difficulties that I experienced through out my lifetime as there being some thing inherently wrong with me. I continued to experience these feelings of shame – that I was a mistake, not that I just made mistakes – until I could no longer deny my reality. See these article for more insight:  Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, and Don’t Feel, The Three Rules Revisited–Consequences, Whose Shame are You Carrying? Displaced Sadness

In my experience, I had to reach a point in my life that denying my reality was more painful than my need to deny my reality in an attempt to prove that there was nothing wrong with me. In my experience, I found that I had to grieve my reality through the process of moving through the 5 stages of grieving – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. I needed to grieve my reality so that I could begin to to accept my reality:

  • So that I could recognize when I was being bullied.

  • So that I could break free from the denial system that kept me feeling like a mistake – because I was unable to not be affected by the residual deficits and limitations from the injury to my brain injury.

  • So that I could stop fighting against myself, while defending the denial system that kept me believing that I was bad and defective because of the residual deficits and limitations from the injury to my brain injury.

  • So that I could begin to love, accept and celebrate who I am as an individual who is living with residual deficits and limitations from the injury to my brain.

  • So that I could live and explore outside of the box that societal stigmatization sought to keep me in through minimization and marginalization.

  • So that I could accept my inability to do some things because of my deficits and limitations and stop berating myself for my inability to do those things.

  • So I could find ways to use what I could do through my gifts, talents and abilities in ways that would work for me for people who would want what I had to give.

  • So that I could see that disappointments and disillusionment that I experienced for many years as an important parts in my process — to move me from one piece of the puzzle to another and in the direction of my destiny.

  • So that I could see that I am not my traumatic brain injury or my invisible disability.

  • So that I could see that my circumstances are a way to build me up, not to keep me down.

  • So that I could begin to trust the process, a loving God and myself.

  • So that I could do the footwork and let go of the outcomes of my footwork.

  • So that I could pursue excellence, instead of being driven by perfectionism.

  • So that I could accept the things I can not change, change the things I can, have the wisdom to know the difference and then be at peace with that difference.

In addition to the awareness that I received through my grieving process, I discovered the following other lessons. I speak to these lessons through out Second Chance to Live in my articles and video presentations. I have created 2 different Site Maps. One for my articles and one for my video presentations that are uploaded to You Tube. Here are links to my 2 Site Maps: Site Map for My Articles and Site Map for my You Tube Video Presentations

In my experience, I discovered that I needed to be healed in my Mind, Body and Spirit apart from the impact of the traumatic brain injury that I experienced when I was 10 years old. I discovered that there were various ways that could help me to heal in my Mind, Body and Spirit apart from the impact of the traumatic brain injury that I experienced when I was 10 years old. I share what I have discovered that has and is helping me to heal in my Mind, Body and Spirit through articles and the video presentations. 

Currently, I have 1165 articles in my Site Map for my Articles and 182 video presentations in my Site Map for my You Tube Video presentations.

Below are a few of the lessons that I share with in my articles and video presentations.  

  • Life is a process, a journey not a destination.

  • My job is to learn how to from various ingredients and then combine them to bake various cakes.

  • There is no such thing as failure, only an opportunity to learn.

  • Harness your Adversity

  • With all learning there is a learning curve.

  • I don’t have to have to have the big picture.

  • The pieces of the puzzle will come together at the right time in the right order.

  • Switches on the railroad of life – to help point us in the direction of our destinies.

  • Set-ups, not set backs.

  • The process is more important than the destination.

  • Not When, but Now.

  • Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up.

  • Caterpillars and Butterflies

  • Elephants riddle

  • Home runs, strike outs and light bulbs

  • Ingredients and baking cakes

  • tapestries

  • cracked pots

  • The Power of Identification

  • traumatic brain injury and suicide

  • What is important is that we are learning from what happens to us,.

  • We are not victims 

  • Living beyond the box that societal stigmatization seeks to place us in through minimization and marginalization.

  • Seeing disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment as an opportunity

  • Progress, not perfection

  • Dreams and Destiny

  • Learning to trust my judgment

  • Making peace with my past, so that my past does not spoil my present.

  • My experiences teach me lessons that prepare me for opportunities, that provide experiences that teach me lessons, that prepare me for more opportunities. I believe that collectively, my lessons, experiences and opportunities are all pieces of my puzzle that are leading me in the direction of my destiny.

  • I can do the footwork and trust a loving God with the outcomes.

Martial Arts Pieces

  • In my experience, I discovered through my process that I had been wounded in various ways, for various reasons. In my experience, I discovered that I needed to be healed in my body, soul and spirit. Martial arts has been one of the ways that I have found healing in my mind, body and spirit.

  • I started training in the martial arts when I was a freshman in high school.

  • I trained briefly in different disciplines over the years, however during the past 15 or so years I have been more consistent in my training primarily in muay Thai kick boxing, western boxing, wing chun, jeet kune do, kali and in modern arnis.

  • My study, drilling and training in these disciplines have given me a way to train on both my dominant (right) and my non-dominant (left) side of my body. By doing so I have developed skills that I never dreamed possible.

  • By drilling skills a bazillion times I have developed muscle memory in my arms, legs, hands, feet, knees and elbows, that have given me the ability to use my dominant and non-dominant sides of my body beyond my training in the martial arts.

  • Through my training in the martial arts I have learned a life changing principle. The journey and the process is more important than what ranking or belt color belt one wears around their waist. Instead, the belt is merely some thing that holds up one’s pants.

  • Tenacity, persistence, perseverance, resilience, desire, focus, commitment and dedication have all played a role in my development as a martial artist and as an individual.

  • I would like to share a short presentation with you at this time.

Second Chance to Live Pieces

To read more about the Back Story and Development of Second Chance to Live please read my 2 part article by clicking on these links: Back Story of Second Chance to Live Part 1 and Back Story of Second Chance to Live Part 2

  • After being declared unemployable and disabled I entered a time of depression. I felt like some one all dressed up with no where to go, although I diligently attempted to apply what I had learned through my educational and vocational paths.

  • I spent 6 years advocating to have food stamp limits increased unsuccessfully, as I was only receiving $10 per month.

  • I started to write poems and articles to share what I had learned through my experience. After receiving some back pay, a friend helped me to purchase my 1st computer. I share more about my experience with this computer in my 2 part article, Back Story of Second Chance to Live.

  • I imputed my poems and articles on my computer. I then wrote an autobiography and a book – which I registered with the library of congress, but could not get published.

  • A year of so later a friend encouraged me to start a blog saying, “ Your material would be ripe for a blog”. I took the risk to start some thing I knew nothing about and on February 6, 2007 I created Second Chance to Live.

  • I had many people help me learn things about the blogosphere that I met through Second Chance to Live and through the community. I want to thank those people who were kind to me, Laura, Judith, Lorri and many others who helped me along that way as I was learning. Thank you for the time and kindness that you have shown  to me ladies.
  • I want to also thank the people who have left comments and words of encouragement. You have been a TREMENDOUS blessing to me. Thank you for your friendship and support. You are the best.Thank you for the happiness engineers who have been kind to me.
  • During the past 80 months I have written 1135 articles.

  • On July 29, 2011 at the encouragement of a friend I created a You Tube Channel and started creating and uploading video presentations to You Tube.

  • I create video presentations for individuals who learn through watching and listening. During the past 26 months I have created 172 video presentations of my articles and have uploaded these video presentations to You Tube.

  • I have 2 different Site Maps on Second Chance to Live. One for my articles and one for my Video Presentations that are uploaded to my You Tube channel. Each one of my articles and my video presentation can be accessed through their title in these Site Maps.

Several Quotes that Empower my Process

  • “History has demonstrated that the most notable winner usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” B.C. Forbes

  • “Regardless of your lot in life, you can build some thing beautiful on it.” Zig Ziglar

  • “Don’t judge your day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

  • “You don’t have to be a person of influence to be influential. In fact the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things that they’ve taught me.”Scott Adams – American Cartoonist

  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

  • “If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

  • “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add specifically your own.” Bruce Lee

  • “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” Abraham Lincoln

  • “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Zig Ziglar

  • “Insist on yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation, but of the adopted talent of another you only have an extemporaneous half-possession…Do that which is assigned to you and your can not hope to much or dare too much.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • “Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made, nothing happens.” Wilfred A. Peterson

  • “Our Circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but they are meant to build us up!” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA

As read this article and questions come to mind, please send those questions to me. All questions are good question. In the event that you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you. You may send your question (s) or a comment by clicking on this link: Contact Page.

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All material presented on Second Chance to Live is copyright and cannot be, copied, reproduced, or distributed in any way without the express, written consent of Craig J. Phillips, MRC, BA Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND

6 Responses to “Back Ground Information for Keynote Presentation Craig Phillips Founder and Creator Second Chance to Live Southwest Conference on Disability 2013”

  1. Ken Collins said


    What a story of accomplishment!

    Craig, you stared adversity right in the eye and said: “Get out of the way – I have something to do with my life!”

    Way to go!

    There needs to be more people in the world like you!


    • Thank you Ken. I am thankful that God has given me the grace to keep going over the years, when giving up would have been a viable option. More will be revealed with time and in time. Thank you for your words of encouragement Ken. You are and have been a tremendous blessing and support to me since we met through Second Chance to Live. Thank you Sir!!!

      Have a great day my friend.


  2. Anonymous said

    Hi Craig,
    You have come a long way in your walk of recovery and we both know it is the Grace Of God that has been your guiding force.
    Trust that God has a plan for you and it is unfolding right before our eyes.
    Enjoy the time in N.M. I know the message you carry to the people when you speak will be what God wants for you and the others.
    God Bless,

    • Hi Ron,
      Thank you Sir. I appreciate you. Thank you for being there for me along the road less traveled. You have and are a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you Ron.I completely agree with you. The Grace of God.

      I am looking forward to the time in N.M. and am trusting that God will be guiding me. I am inviting God to be a part of my experience when I am there in N.M. in the talk and the time I spend with people there Ron. All will be good!

      I will say so long for now.

      Have a great day my friend.


  3. Adrienne said

    Hi Craig, I’m enjoying learning more about you and your journey. I apologize that questions keep popping up for me and hope it’s okay to ask them as they arise, lest I’ll forget them. So here’s one: You wrote that you were twice denied SSDI because you were earning too much money. But SSDI refers to Social Security Disabilty Insurance and does not have income limits. Was it SSI, which is Supplemental Security Income, that you were denied because of your income? If so, so you now receive both SSI and SSDI? Also, I’m interested in reading more about your experiences in the workplace. Do you feel you were terminated so many times because of an inability to follow directions, or do you feel there was a behavioral component related to your Supervisors’ dissatisfaction with your employment? Thank you.

    • Hi Adrienne,
      Was SSDI. I never received supplemental insurance because I did not know the difference. When I applied the first 2 times I was making over $500 a month which disqualified me. I am not sure why you ask what led to my being fired from jobs. However, as to why I got fired, a combination. Difficulty following instructions and interpersonal issues due to not reading non verbal ques and nuances. I had no idea these difficulties were related to my deficits and limitations related to my traumatic brain injury. I compensated the best way I know how to at the time — not knowing how my life was being affected by the residuals of the tbi I sustained at the age of 10. Beyond that I am not sure why I was terminated. On all of my jobs I worked hard and was very responsible. It just was what it was Adrienne. I am aware now and accept my limitations. I have subsequently realized what I can and can not do and seek to excel at what I am able to accomplish. I am doing the footwork and trusting a loving God with the outcomes. More will be revealed with time.

      Have a pleasant evening. God bless you Adrienne.


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