Garrison inspires Corridor Nine BFF members with humor, grace


By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

C9 BFF  12.20
Julia Fox Garrison (l) with her mother, Ruth Ann Fox
Photo/Bonnie Adams

Marlborough ?Just days after celebrating her son's third birthday in 1997, Julia Fox Garrison suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. In just moments, her life as a mother and computer industry executive changed completely.

In spite of very dire diagnoses from several on her medical team, Garrison did recover, although with some disabilities, specifically on her left-hand side. She now travels the country sharing her story of how the power of positive thinking, humor and personal fortitude helped her recover.

On Dec. 10, Garrison was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce networking group, Business Forward Females (BFF), held at the Courtyard by Marriott.

In spite of the fact that she was left with disabilities, Garrison is quite sanguine about her life post-stroke. She does not deny that it has changed, but rather savors each moment of what she calls now a “charmed life.”

“If you handicap your mind, your body will follow,” she told the audience. “You can sabotage or empower.”

She acknowledged that it was healthy, however, to “attend a pity party now and then.”

“But you have to know when to leave,” she added. “We'se humans, we need to cry, but you need to have an exit plan.”

Humor was critically important to her recovery right after the stroke, Garrison said.

“No one was allowed in my hospital room unless they had a joke,” she added.

That sense of humor still sustains her, she noted, especially when her left hand sometimes seems to have a mind of its own and pull her shirt up at inopportune occasions.

“Now I make sure I wear layers!” she laughed.

Trusting your intuition is also important, she noted.

“Don's listen to percentages [regarding recovery statistics]. There are no parameters to the human spirit. It's boundless.”

Instead, one should “synchronize the science of statistics with the power of the human spirit,” she added.

Accepting one's changed circumstances does not necessarily mean acquiescence, she said, but rather learning to adapt to a new reality.

“Hope is the motivator,” she said. “But it does not always mean a cure, but for the best possible circumstances. It's not always static but dynamic and always changing.”

Garrison is the author of “Don’t Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You’ll Be Sorry.” For more on her story, visit

The next BFF meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Courtyard by Marriott, 75 Felton St., starting at 12 p.m. The guest speakers will be Keri Naegler, sous chef, and Kerry Laboski, pharmacist, both from Wegmans, who will discuss “Healthy Eating on a Busy Schedule.”

For more information visit