HP 17: Thriver Thinking


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Thriver Thinking ….. From Survivor to Thriver:

Are you a thriver in life or are you a survivor in life?  I had a severe brain injury as a result of falling off a boogie – board in shallow water in the surf at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia in December 1995 …. as simple as that. That was over twenty years ago as of December 2015. I have written my story:

The Recycled Man as at October 2020 (Just click on the story and it will come up to screen size).

This story outlines how to be a victor through the worst situations in life. The Recycled-Man … can be downloaded as a PDF download.  I attribute my ongoing recovery primarily to my Christian Spirituality which has brought healing, restoration, and transformation of life purpose. A Christian spirituality comes as a consequence of having a Christian worldview. It isn’t another Spirituality in the Post Modern Culture of many spiritualities which are all seen to be equal. It is a unique Spirituality which integrates the whole of life ….. of the Inner, Middle and Outer Persons { Spirit, Soul ( = mind, will and emotions) and the Body} It means being a disciple of the Person of Jesus Christ, not a follower of a Church as a Corporation.  Christian Spirituality could also be termed a Spirituality from Jesus Christ.

The heart of a Christian spirituality is having a new identity through Jesus Christ. When you have an identity, you then have a purpose for being here. The link between an identity and purpose is the structural axis for restoration from a brain injury or maintaining a healthy direction in life for anyone. Late in 2005, I was talking to my friend, Wayne Spyve. He mentioned this really wonderful concept to which something within me immediately responded. He said I should move from seeing myself as being a Brain Injury Survivor, and think of myself and others who had been through similar challenges, to seeing myself as a Brain Injury Thriver. This radically changed the way I saw myself, my relationships, and my ability to influence others. My spirit kept calling out “You are a Thriver, not just a Survivor”.

See more details on the Sustainable Life here. See the files:


The Context Of My Brain-injury: I ran a small Landscape Design and Construction Company called ‘New Earth Systems P/L’ for 20 years doing very creative, individual designer gardens for wealthy residential clients around Brisbane. I was an artistic sort of person, a lateral thinker ….. more artist than businessman. I thought of landscape it as a three-dimensional piece of space that people walked through. This space changed with time as it grew with the time of day: shadows vs. sun patterns, boulders, colour, plants, trees, earth-forms, solid structures, and water. These were the ingredients in a subtle flow of landscape design and construction. Rather an intangible product to sell and run a business with!!

From this I built a structure for my life:

  • My marriage with Harriet

  • Business and the house plus we had a family

See the house and garden:

 OUR HOUSE …. An Overview
• OUR HOUSE …The Actual Garden

Two specific posts of my past gardens are these:

Greenmount Beach Resort … 28 years on from when I did the garden in 1980

Sheehan’s Garden in October 2007 …. House and Garden in West End, Brisbane … 23 years on from when I did the garden in 1984

I thought of a landscape as a three-dimensional piece of space that people walked through. This space changed with time as it grew and changed with the time of day: shadows vs. sun patterns, boulders, colour, plants, trees, earth-forms, solid structures and water. These were the ingredients in a subtle flow of landscape design and construction. Rather an intangible product to sell and run a business with!! Out of this stage, I built a structure for my life: my marriage with Harriet, our business and the house plus we had a family of two children. I was more an artist than a businessman which caused STRESS.

I wanted to be successful in making money but the creative side and the financial success of the business were in constant tension. With the landscape business I was in, there was an enormous amount of work in spring and summertime however In wintertime there always had a severe downturn with little $$$ coming in. My creativity in my business couldn’t be standardised. Each project was unique and depended on whether I had costed it properly.

I was more an ideas, administrative, and marketing sort of person, good at the design side but not so good at the practical implementation side of the business. Because of the fluid nature of a garden, it was very difficult to be involved in just design, without having to get fully involved in the production side. My severe brain injury was over twenty years ago in December 2015.  ago. I am now in a new season of life.

I went through a real transformation of life whereby I went from being:

      • Outer Physical Gardener (Outer Sustainability) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>  Inner Life Gardener (Inner Sustainability) Inner Sustainability:In an ongoing personal sense of core value from within. Sustainability I have come to see has to be a wholistic view on the life of Inner, Middle, and Outer Persons. Problems come because things do not change from the Outside to Inside but from the Inside to the Outside. This side of the accident, I have come to see all people as made in the image or likeness of God. Even though people may be broken people, we can all be restored through Jesus Christ back into that image of God again.

The result of my accident was such that I was:

      • In a coma for four weeks for six months. I felt like a three-year-old child in the first week after I woke up from the coma with no control over my actions

      • Had to learn to walk, talk, eat solid food all over again

      • I had to learn everything over again …. how to dress myself etc.

      • Get my brain back together from a very scrambled state I lost a lot of intuitive ability to feel what other people are saying ….. although that has come back now

The one major thing that has come out of this accident is that I am on a permanent life-long Income Protection Policy where I went from virtually no work in 1995 to where I didn’t have to ever work again. I talk more about this in my story ‘The Rose Water Story‘. That is real God-coincidence as to how I came to have that in place four months before the accident I didn’t know I was going to have. Now you cannot get these policies at all in Australia for business people. That is God.

Twenty years on, I wouldn’t be doing a fraction of what am doing now with the principle of being synergistically linked to others. This has occurred in the following ways:

      • Harriet my Wife:  First and foremost is my wife Harriet who would drive every day to see me ….. for six months even while I was in a four-week coma. Harriet drove from Chambers Flat from where we live, to Woolloongabba at the Princess Alexander Hospital. Finding a park outside the hospital and walking in made a journey of at least an hour. That was a journey of 30 kms. each way. After the visit, she had a long journey home again. This generous support which I received, was a very important part of my recovery. Many other patients are not so fortunate.

      • My Family: In 2015 (now twenty years on) it has become very close again like a little community in and of itself, all members working for the common good. This is because we all share in a common, sustainable life of structure, spirituality, and social network. I have two children …. Claire and Anthony …. they have been very supportive of me.

      • Support from Friends:  I not only had excellent support from my wife but many, many friends throughout my hospitalisation were nearly 100 ++ people who came to see me over six months. Some people I hadn’t seen for fifteen years. My mind was not very good then but some friends would sit and read for hours beside my bed

      • Money from Friends:  As soon as my injury occurred in December 1995, friends who I hadn’t from for years, phoned Harriet from down south even in other states to see how I was. People began to send notes of encouragement to her with sometimes gifts of money.


Inner and Outer Life:  Everyone of us has a private space in our lives that we carefully guard. I call it ‘The Garden of Life’. A garden is a personal space you can go out into and to enjoy the peace, the cool air, the shadows of trees, the sun shining with translucent light through tree leaves and palm fronds, the perfume of beautiful blossoms. No one else comes there except yourself and your family. Even friends do not just drop in. They are invited out there with you after you have let them into your house. Strangers who come are intruders and will be dwelt with by the police. It is the same with relationships.

You have enter someone’s inner life with their consent. You do this by valuing the person and listening intently to what they say. By listening intently (consciously in a rational way and unconsciously with your intuition), you are as it were gently knocking on the door of their inner house. If that person trusts you, they will then invite you into the garden of their life. Then you can talk gently back and forth, establishing a relationship with them. They will then open the door of their inner life at a later time if you knock. Keeping that process going is a Sustainable Relationship. If I act suspiciously or try and crash the door with a sledge hammer, I will not be let in. That is what I call an Unsustainable Relationship.


Transformation of life purpose:  I have developed a passion to build inner communities with many people around the world, especially by e-mail. As I am on a permanent life-long Income, I have time to spend with people in a way I could never do in my busy business. Even though I cannot drive at the moment after twelve years, I have learned to drive on the Internet and see hundreds of people at the same time. Since March 2001, I have started the following three e-mail broadcasts plus websites which have been designed free of cost for me:

      • ‘Brain Injury Community  (BIC) for Brain Injury People’: I help facilitate the Brain Injury Community  which is an international website through WordPress. I have brain injury survivors all over the world I am in contact with:

      • Australia

      • England

      • America

      • Singapore

      • Canada

      • Zimbabwe etc.

Statistics for brain injury in QLD: There are apparently 11,000 people a year in Queensland (one of seven states in Australia) who finish up with a brain injury from various causes. Of those who survive, 4000 of these people will be permanently disabled in some way with reduced brain function capabilities. Less than two hundred of these can expect to receive the quality of care and further rehabilitation they need let alone deserve. Of those with a permanent brain injury, up to fifty percent of marriages and relationships will fold up. 

It is a big silent epidemic in our community. You can see someone in a wheelchair but you cannot see all the invisible changes that have gone on with a brain-injury:

      • My personal experiences website: www.kenaitken.net. This website is used to personally stay in touch with hundreds of friends and associates around the world. I frequently send out our personal experiences photos and then links to the website posts …. as of 2013.

      • ‘New Earth Community’ e-mail broadcast: A website on a new community around the world called ‘New Earth Community’ …. A community linked by the Internet in Cyberspace. This community is meant to bring a new sense of belonging with a real discovery or affirmation of identity through the Sustainable Life. The basis of this life is one that has the ability to be continually renewed and maintained. This life has three elements to it:

      • o Structure gives order, direction, aims, and overall purpose

      • o Spirituality gives ultimate significance. It is the inner room of your life which answers such questions as: Who are we as people? What is the meaning of life? Are we significant?, What values should I live by? what gives identity and destiny

      • o Social Network … The people around us. giving a feeling of belonging… multiplication and complementary effect of effort: Family & friends, Clubs and Organisations, Associations, Churches, General Community a multiplication effect of thousands of others being affected.

This Community is one of new inner being and friendship …… based on a Christian Worldview. This Cyberspace Community has a Vision of Wholeness with Sustainable Solutions for life which will continue to work in the years to come ….. it is a life motivation and encouragement.


An International Perspective: With the freedom of life we have and having no mortgage on our five acres of land (see the post OUR HOUSE ….. an Overview in 1981 for minimal money), Harriet and I have been travelling overseas every two years to see the world. In between, we have been seeing parts of Australia which is a very large country. We are also a member of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and because they are linked with Interval International, we have available free accommodation in 3-star apartments around the world. These are largely free of cost.

I believe there are three kinds of people in the world. I compare these people to how they would look at trees in a forest. They are:

1.There are those who see and count the physical trees in the forest …. all they see in the world is the physical things of life.

2.There are who those who see, observe, and work with the spaces in between the physical trees in the forest …. all they see in the world is the spiritual and abstract things of life.

3.There are who those who count the physical trees in the forest but they also see, observe and work with the spaces in between the physical trees in the forest …. they see that you cannot have the spaces in between the physical trees without the actual trees …. they endeavour to live whole lives.

Harriet and I are of the third kind of people. When we go travelling, we see and value the physical realities that we are seeing but also the culture behind what we are seeing. We have a great love of history eg. when we were in France in May 2007, we spent a week in Paris, we hired a car and drove throughout Brittany for a week then we drove down through the Loire Valley for another week. See two of the places we saw: MONT-SAINT-MICHEL and its Bay + Photos and Perros Guirec.

With the freedom of life we have and having no mortgage on our five acres of land plus a house we built from recycled materials in 1981, Harriet and I have been travelling overseas every two years to see the world. In between, we have been seeing parts of Australia which is a very large country.

The freedom of life enabled us to go on four week holidays to England in 2003, Italy in 2005, and France in 2007 and Canada in 2008. See the Travel page for the different photographic posts and words.

See a sample of out travels on our England holiday ….. just click on the hyperlink and  up will come the  post:

1. 2003 England Week 1a: London to Croyde Bay in Devon   (non – operational at the moment …. with the hacking)

2. 2003 England Week 1b: Devon Generally

3. 2003 England Week 1c: Devon >>> Cornwall and back

4. 2003 England Week 2a: Ross on Wye

5. 2003 England Week 2b: Ken In the Ancient Roman City of Bath

6.  2003 England Week 3a: Lancaster

7. 2003 England Week 3b: York area

8. 2003 England Week 4a: London

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Below is a picture of Harriet and I in 2005 at Pompeii when we had one day to explore this ancient Roman town. Pompeii was totally buried by volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. and wasn’t discovered again until the 1700’s.

See our blog post at: http://www.kenaitken.net/travel/2005-the-italy-trip/2005-week-1-pompeii/


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