Greetings Everyone! I would like to first introduce myself, and then tell you a bit about how Square By Square Puzzles became what it is.
My name is Aai'sha Shakir-Wright, I am the proud Owner / CEO of Square By Square Puzzles, a division of Purple Pen Publishing LLC. I am a dedicated mother, sister, daughter, friend and proud U.S. Army Veteran, having served multiple tours of duty stateside and overseas.
After suffering a severe TBI (traumatic brain injury) while serving, aside from the debilitating migraines, I began to take notice that I was having severe memory loss; to the point where I grabbed my cell phone one day to call my mother, and couldn't remember her phone number. A number she had held for the last 10+ years, and it was lost on me. I could be driving home from work and completely forget where I was, where I was going, and nothing around me looked familiar. I would go to work and not recognize my co-workers, whom I had worked with for the last 15+ months.
When I explained the memory loss, along with the blurred vision, delayed and sometimes nonexistent speech, on top of the migraines to my doctors, they would simply explain to me that these were the effects of a brain injury, and that I would be dealing with this for the rest of my life. Now I can recall it vividly, where I was handed a sheet of paper explaining the effects of my injury, and sent on my way. That was in 2008.
I was devastated.
As a child I excelled academically with ease, and had begun taking college classes at 15 yrs old. The thought of not being able to form a complete sentence from my mouth or to comprehend what I've just read or what someone may have just said to me was unfathomable.
I went through a period of time where I sort of became semi mute, because every time I spoke, it was like my brain told my mouth to say something completely unrelated to what I needed to say, and it was very embarrassing. It was the pure definition of, "Not knowing what your talking about!"
I struggled with everyday life for months, until one day I decided that I wasn't going to accept this as my reality, and if my doctors wouldn't help me, I would do everything I could on my own to "fix my brain".
I began to literally teach myself how to speak clearly by reading, which was something I've always loved to do, but intentionally reading out loud. I made flash cards with vocabulary words that I would study every night, and I starting talking again, regardless of how crazy I sounded, because it was the only way I could see if my efforts were working.
When I got tired of losing my flashcards at work, I went to the store to buy more, and as I was walking down the isle stationary isle I glanced across some puzzle books. I loved puzzle books as a kid! So I grabbed an entire stack, and added them to my list of "fix my brain items".
I noticed how although I still struggled, speaking, reading and hearing became easier. It was like the puzzles were brain exercises, and if I found myself being too overwhelmed with a work assignment, I would literally take a break and do a puzzle, and it somehow "cleared my mind".
The entire experience taught me so much while redefining my love for the intricacies of the human mind, and I said to myself that if I was able to recover, I would share this with the entire world. And I'm a woman of my word.
Square By Square Puzzles was officially born in 2016, as a division of Purple Pen Publishing LLC. We launched with our All Around The World series, which was curated based on my travels in the military and learning about different cultures and places. The idea of our puzzle company is that learning should be fun. If it's a fun pastime for you, I want you to learn new things. If you're in school, I want you to rock out on your spelling test with your vocabulary words. If you're studying for the SAT, we want to help you in a fun way. Or whether you're like me trying to put your brain back together, I want you to learn new and exciting things while you do it, one square at a time!