Ep 135 - Your Pet Brain


"Your Pet Brain" is a big adorable, plush brain with giant eyes for those of us who could use a spare one. And my girlfriend wanted one. We could both use some extra neurons. As her birthday approached I decided to order one.

Brain shipped in his box (yes, I'm already anthropomorphizing and gendering him). Cathy went downstairs to take care of something and the saw the distinctive box. She felt a wave of mild envy, and thought, "Aww, someone else got a brain."

 Then she took a closer look at the box and saw my name on it. She scooped it up, brought it up stairs and giddily shuffled through our apartment to show me. She was thrilled! I briefly toyed with the idea of making her wait another day until her birthday, but that seemed unfair since the box made it clear what it was.  And I think brain appreciated it too, because the box wasn't super comfortable.

A gray plush brain with big eyes sits on the box he sipped in. The box has an illustration of him.

This week's conversation is wide ranging. While it all starts with how a delightful, big, plush brain can help and empower folks with physical brain damage or psychological it conditions It goes deeper than that. We talk about the importance of play, emotional education, the nature of the brain, the mind and soul, and outsourced manufacturing strategies. Ultimately, it's about how to human.

Anyway, our pet brain is now named Brian and I'm delighted by that combination of wordplay and mundanaity. He's sitting on the couch next to my desk as I type this thinking brainy thoughts and snacking on smart food.


Aydika James, a woman with long, black hair looks at the camera.

Artist, adventurer, neuro-hobbyist and Humanity’s #1 fan, Engagement Art Producer Aydika James creates things that make the world a better place. (She also makes a killer cocktail.) With global projects ranging from The Kodiak Queen to YourPetBrain.com, to wacky ride-able “art cars”, to private legacy sculptures that tell the story of someone’s life, Aydika is fascinated by how art, play and “edu-tainment” can be used to unite crowds around a shared experience that stimulates widespread change.

A firm believer that any vision can be achieved when we keep asking the question, “How do you paint with people?”... Her wish is to see a world where each person is supported in seeing, being and celebrating their own unique gifts, so we may astound ourselves with how profoundly beautiful we can make this planet, and our experience on it together.

Aydika James snuggles a large plush brain

Miles the Traveling Penguin

Years ago, I had a job that involved travelling 80-12 nights a year across the US. I did really enjoy it. My most frequent travelling companions was Miles, the traveling penguin. He maintained a blog of his travel photos for many years. He was beginning to switch to Instagram just before COVID-19 closed everything.

You can see his old adventures here.

A small, stuffed penguin in a red scarf sits next to a delicate flower petal

Fluffy Photo Shoot

I mentioned the JoCo Cruise while talking with Aydika. This is the fluffy friends group photo from March 2020.

It's all in my Head

One of the themes I come back to time and again is the idea that there is nothing wrong with my arm, and there is nothing wrong with my leg, It's literally all in my head.

And it is. Because that's where my injury happened. That's where the damage is  -- right near the middle cerebral artery on the right side.

When most folks say, "It's all in your head!" they're saying it derisively. They're saying there's nothing wrong and that you're just thinking wrong. They're saying it's not real.

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”

Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The things that happen in our head are our reality. They're the only reality we have. The real world is just light waves/particles, sound waves disturbing the air, and pressure on our skin that sends signals to our brain.

Our brain is where that raw data gets turned into our reality. It's where those raw impulses become our experience of the world. It's where we assign meaning to the waves, particles, and impulses.

As stroke survivors, we know this better than most folks.

Mental health, physical health, and spiritual health have fuzzy lines between them, at best. In reality, they are much closer to being the same thing than many folks realize.

How we move in the world is all dependent on how our brains process all that incoming data and compares it to the meaning it assigned to previous rounds of incoming data.

It is a simultaneously scary and empowering thought.

Hack of the Week

Find something funny everyday.

That doesn't mean you have to tell jokes or be funny. Look around you in your home, in your work, in your social media, in your hospital room, wherever you are, Just try to find one thing that can make you smile, chuckle, or laugh every day,

Because when you can laugh, you can learn. Our world can seem absurd at times because it is. Acknowledge that. If you can find one funny thing a day, that can help tremendously.


Where do we go from here?

A gray plush brain with big eyes sits on a couch and appears to eat a bag of chipsBrian the brain relaxes with a snack

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