Who am I, now that the person I used to be has gone away?
Everyone, at some time, learns how life can change in a moment: with the crossing of the center line on a highway or the reading of a blood test; the telephone's knell in the still of night or a spouse's hesitation before the unspeakable is spoken. Occasionally, out of the turmoil emerges a work of exceptional wisdom and beauty. Gifts from the Broken Jar is one such work.
PJ Long's life-altering moment came when the bolt of a terrified horse left her brain-injured. She became a stranger to herself, unable to drive a car, prepare a meal, or carry on a conversation. But when PJ began to write, pen and ink acted as needle and thread, mending her torn mind and stitching together a new life. Lessons she had gleaned over years of helping others returned to guide her. And as PJ wrote, she gained profound insight into the resilience of the spirit and the unexpected joys of everyday life.
"Remember when Anne Morrow Lindbergh went to her island and brought back her Gift from the Sea?
PJ Long's island is a different one: it is an island of the mind where she has walked each day, gathering words that
might prompt her own healing. But what she gathered has the potential to heal more than her own life.
By her experience of looking at her world in a new way, PJ gives each of us a new perspective as well.
What stories she tells! What wisdom she now brings back from the island of her mind to share with us all."
(from the Foreword by Christin Lore Weber)
Read more comments from readers of Gifts from the Broken Jar.
Read excerpts from Gifts from the Broken Jar.
The paperback second edition of Gifts from the Broken Jar may be purchased directly from PJ at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by good old snailmail at:
PO Box 54
Hyde Park, VT 05655
PJ's second book focuses on practical down-to-earth strategies . . .
Brain on a String—and Ways to Stay Organized when your Mind Isn't
(Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition) (Paperback: 104 pages) Publisher: EquiLibrium Press (July 15, 2006) $14.95
Brain injury, memory problems, stress, anxiety, attention deficits, chemo-brain, menopause, depression—all these can make it hard to carry out daily tasks. There are lots of good books on personal organizing, but most are too complex for people with cognitive impairments to grasp. If you or someone in your life is having trouble staying on top of everyday chores, this booklet is for you! Topics include:
Read comments from readers of Brain on a String.
Contact PJ to order: email@example.com
What Readers Have Said of Gifts from the Broken Jar
"Extraordinary and beautifully written.
PJ Long shows us that the cracks in our physical
being are often the places where the light comes through."
~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., author,
Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings
"Gifts from the Broken Jar moved me to tears as few books have ever done before. This is an extraordinarily educational and inspirational document. In my opinion, it should be read by professionals (even the most 'seasoned' ones) and by those brain-injured individuals who are capable, members of their families, and friends. If I had my druthers, I would make it compulsory reading for graduate students who wish to become counselors or psychotherapists."
~ Yehuda Ben-Yishay, Ph.D., Director,
Brain Injury Day Treatment Program, New York University Medical Center
"[A] lovely piece of contemplative writing, rich in imagery and insight."
~ Cheri Register, author, The Chronic Illness Experience:
Embracing the Imperfect Life
"This deceptively simple book holds you in its words as if in a best friend's arms. It invites you into an unfolding conversation with the friend you’ve always wanted. This book is a very good thing that will happen to all who read it."
~ Dawna Markova, Ph.D, author, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life;
co-editor, Random Acts of Kindness and Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness
"I read the first thirty pages without even sitting down. PJ Long truly has a gift for writing."
~ Mary Marlow, The Book Mouse Bookshop, Atkinson, NH
"Awesome. PJ has succeeded wonderfully in her goal to have written a book to help or inspire those who are navigating their own darkness."
~ Sherry Strafford Rediger, Ph.D.,
Marriage and Family Therapist
"A rare and surpassing work of art. I was swept away by the sheer beauty of her poetic prose, her profound insights, her lessons, her courage, her goodness, leaping from every page. Sublime Gifts from the Broken Jar await the reader, among them a heightened appreciation for those we love, and for the splendor of the moment."
~ Mary Norton, freelance writer
"PJ Long’s journal is certainly a record of a resilient spirit struggling back to self-reliance, but it is also an homage to the power of the word. . . . Gifts from the Broken Jar is courageous and joyful and a pleasure to read."
~ Sandra Scofield, author, Occasions of Sin: A Memoir
"Some of the most beautiful prose I have ever had the privilege of reading. I will be the first in line to buy copies."
~ Anne McManus, former Executive Director,
HOPE Adoptions and Family Services International
"I found myself carrying Gifts from the Broken Jar with me wherever I went. We learn how to be a close friend, spouse, mother . . . we learn how to fill ourselves with patience, grace, humor, and love . . . we learn how to be."
~ Jackie Waldman, author, The Courage to Give series
"PJ's story is very personal, yet universal, as are the healing and the mending and the self-realizations. It's a beautiful, beautiful book."
~ Jerri Andersen, mother and widow, New York City
“The terrible isolation caused by brain injury and the mental chaos it brings is a metaphor for each of us who struggles through the multiple losses of illness; to recollect our selves, to preserve and recreate our sense of being in the world, and to, at once, hang onto and refashion our relationships with those we love.”
~ The Reverend Maggie Rebmann,
The Unitarian Church of Montpelier, Vermont
"Inspiring and unique. A must-read message for professionals, individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families to instill acceptance, but most importantly, hope."
~ Lorraine Wargo, TBI Program Coordinator,
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, State of Vermont
"You have put into words exactly what I'm feeling but can't explain. I feel that I've found a soulmate in the pages of the book."
~ A brain cancer patient
"Whenever our lives break we have to discover how to fit the pieces back together again. PJ Long reminds us that we can carefully collect the broken shards and turn them into a thing of beauty, a mosaic for all to behold."
~ Naomi Levy, author, To Begin Again: The Journey Toward Comfort,
Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times
"I LOVE this book! It's filled with so much beauty and wisdom, inspiration and hope. Your insights are such a gift! When the book is published, I expect I will be purchasing quite a few copies."
~ M.J.B., homeschooling mother of three
"PJ Long has done a real service by writing this book. I enthusiastically recommend it."
~ Jim Vyhnak, Executive Director, Brain Injury Association of Vermont
"As a parent of a 25-year post-TBI young man, I admire and affirm PJ Long's philosophy of life. Her wisdom & ability to tell her story gives us each a positive way to embellish life with our own 'cracks' and find healing. Way to go, PJ!"
~ Emma Burke, CEO of HIS (Head Injury/Stroke) Independence Project, Inc.
and Lenny Burke's Farm, Inc.
"Her reflections upon life, as she works to repair the breakage in her own mind, come through with unparalleled power and honesty. Gifts from the Broken Jar is a testimony of strength, of finding joy in life and adapting to change. Highly recommended." ~ Midwest Book Review
~ Midwest Book Review
"This is a book to read, cherish, and give to others. I already have a list of recipients - not just those who are ill or recovering but friends who are facing a change in life - and who isn't, since all life is change."
~ Evelyn Wermer Frey, The Stowe (VT) Reporter
"For anyone confronted with such a profound life change, this book suggests that literally from the broken pieces another evolving reconstruction can be started and completed. . . Few of us readers could put this book down without some misty eye wiping."
~ Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association
"Long has provided many powerful messages in her book. . . I would recommend this book to people who plan to work in the rehabilitation field, especially those who plan to work with individuals with an acquired brain injury. This book is also highly recommended for survivors and their families."
~ International Journal of Disability
What Readers Have Said of Brain on a String
"An excellent resource for people with cognitive impairment. It does not
have any complicated, snappy ideas, just basic needs simply explained."
~ National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization
"This precious little book responds to a real need. It is lucid, clever, practical and empathetic. No doubt, many who would use it will be inspired by it as well."
~ Yehuda Ben-Yishay, Ph.D., Director,
Brain Injury Day Treatment Program, NYU Medical Center
"Terrific for anyone who's had to deal with cognitive dysfunction associated with chemotherapy or hormonal treatment. In fact, any individual or household would benefit from Long's strategies for uncluttering our homes and brains!"
~ Barbara Shane, RN, OCN
"A true gift to those who have trouble focusing for whatever reason—even those of us who are just very busy. The author's organizing solutions are creative and simple, written with a good dose of humor, approachability, and wit. I highly recommend it."
~ Liz Farrell, professional organizer
"With this book, Long has proven herself to be the Martha Stewart of organizing strategies."
~ News and Citizen, Morrisville, VT
"Most of my clients have challenges similar to those PJ Long has shared with us. Her gift of putting words around her experience in meeting these challenges is invaluable . . . I have begun recommending this book to my colleagues as 'required reading.'"
~ Lynne Johnson, Certified Professional Organizer
in Chronic Disorganization, Quincy MA
"I found it really encouraging to know I'm not the only person having difficulties. It gave me hope that I can get organized, even if I'm still working at it."
~ Penny Fuller, Gresham, OR
"Helps with small, overlooked problems related to memory loss or cognitive difficulty, giving patients ways to get back some sense of control, organization, and independence."
~ Julie King, RN, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital
"This book is useful not only for those with early signs of dementia or mild brain impairment, but also for the busy mom or executive. A quick read and easy to follow."
~ Brenda Avadian, M.A., Caregiver Spokes-person and Author,
"I recommend Brain on a String and its helpful strategies to many of the members I work with who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke."
~ Janice Sawtell, RN CCM, Specialty Nurse Case Manager,
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont
"It was so good to experience the art of a fellow TBI survivor. Her marvelous recovery is inspiring and confirming. PJ totally rocks!"
~ Kelly Cruser, DDS, MS, Ashland, OR
"Hope is at hand. . . . This slim paperback is a guide to bringing Chaos and Disorganization to heel and making 'peace out of pandemonium' in one's household."
~ Stowe Reporter, Stowe, VT
Contact PJ by email here