Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Vortex Experience – “Of Spirit and Soul”

http://www.ofspiritandsoul.com/earth%20vortices/vortices.html

“Vortices are high energy spots on the Earth. Earth energy is due to its electromagnetic field. NASA research has proved that the human energy field is tuned in to certain ‘Earth Waves’. (See section Energies) The joining on the surface of the Earth are ‘hot spots’ of energy focus which we know as the vortices of the Earth, these are linked by ley lines. A Ley line is an energy line, some being of more importance than others.”
“Earth vortices are analogous to the chakras in the human body. There are 9 major chakras in the body, counting two above the head within the etheric field, which are not normally referred to. There are several minor chakras throughout the body. (See section Chakras) The arteries in the human body are analogous to the rivers and waterways of Planet Earth. Ley Lines are analogous to the nervous/energy system in the human body.”
You can feel it!  When Judy and I first entered West Yellowstone National Park last week, we were drawn to this one spot that reminds me of so many experiences on our trip best said by our dear friends, Les and Melanie Mathson, from Pray, Mt.

“The mountains, rivers & valley are food for my soul and God is on the other side!”

Yellowstone along with Sedona are examples of rare places in the world to experience the healing of “earth vortices.”  There is a profound spiritual feeling that completely surrounds your body and mind.  The connection is best represented in the above photo with the mushroom cloud reflection in the river.  We are overcome with peace of mind when visiting a vortex.  We can focus completely without distractions on each other as one with nature.  What really got my attention was the beauty of silence, taking it all in, without saying a word.  Just listening to the sounds of nature, watching bison graze, and the sweet music of birds is captivating  Only thoughts of love and peace are allowed in a vortex.  There are no laws, guidebooks, brochures, maps or signs.  Nature and God connected with us as one and we knew the feeling of being in Heaven together.  I often ask Judy if she can take me to Heaven with her, and she did on this day, and countless other times.


Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Military kids need support too! Post WWII life as a child in our family was lonely…

http://www.militarychild.org/blog/supporting-military-families-the-military-child-education-coalition

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/video-supporting-military-families-the-military-child-education-coalition/11353/

“The National Guard and Reserve Institute is a program of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), which was established in 1998 to help military-connected children with the challenges of frequent moves and transitions often experienced throughout childhood. In addition to professional development workshops, MCEC provides transition services for students, parent workshops and counseling resources to help military children and families.”

I am pleased to include a new resource on my website, referenced in the above links.  As a post WWII family we moved around constantly.  Sometimes the moves were from military to civilian housing, then back and forth.  I can’t remember how many times we moved, changed schools, and tried to make new friends, but it was often.  I really had no sense of my roots as a child.  We were always unsettled going from one place to the other, and frequently not having a clue about who we were or where we lived.  I often heard the statement “military brats” while growing up, as if it were some sort of badge of honor.  But it really meant we were different from other kids that formed lasting friendships and trust with others over a longer period of time.  We felt lonely and defensive, like outcasts.  As siblings we had each other, but fought like cats and dogs most of the time.  Going home after school was not a welcome thought, but hanging around with others kids was worse.  Our parents really didn’t take much time getting engaged with other parents or with the schools because of their own challenges.  I really don’t have too many fond memories of childhood.  I would say it was at least character building and provided many lessons of survival in a lonely world.  But the the feeling of closeness and belonging in the communities where we lived was always missing for the most part.

Thousands of military families now have resources i.e., http://www.militarychild.org/, a non-profit helping families with a variety of programs designed for parents and children to become more educated on adjustments and transitions in military life.  The Military Child Education Coalition is especially focused on children, the most needy.

Our Vision:
To serve as a model of positive leadership and advocacy for ensuring inclusive, quality educational opportunities for all military children.

Our Mission:

To ensure inclusive, quality educational experiences for all military children affected by mobility, family separation, and transition.

Our Goals:

The Military Child Education Coalition will:
1. Provide responsive and relevant support systems, resources, and products.

2. Expand the MCEC’s outreach through engagement, advocacy, and partnerships.

3. Execute a strategic communications plan.

4. Build a strong, sustainable, and financially sound organization.

In terms of my own family experience and childhood, we can’t go back.  I can, however; as a veterans advocate make every attempt to inform and remind military families of the excellent resources available helping kids become healthy and productive adults by mitigating the unique challenges of growing up in a military culture.  As military parents, don’t let your children become lonely, isolated, and disassociated from all the frequent changes resulting from new assignments, deployments, and all too frequent relocations.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Get up and get moving! Retreat and defeat is not an option!

http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2012/06/mental-illness-lets-stop-feeling-bad-for-ourselves/

Mental Illness: Let’s Stop Feeling Bad For Ourselves!

Posted on June 14, 2012 by

“I understand that sometimes we cannot just “wake up” but when we can, let’s just get on with life! Let’s remember that we are not just an illness. We belong in this world and this world is not completely black. We can paint it in different colors. And I, for one, am sick of focusing on my illness when I can be sitting in the sun without thinking about medication and appointments.”

I read the above blog posting with great empathy from my own life experience.  As far back as I can remember, waking up feeling anxious and afraid of the day ahead, was normal.  I was not aware of mental illness for most of my adult life and denial seemed to take hold for the most part.  In some ways, this helped me to get out of bed and get with the program each and every day.  Mental illness is a bummer!  Especially if you are not aware of your own condition, and must learn to cope on your own.  All of these challenging feelings of anxiety, fear of failure, and hyper vigilance will make a person feel like hiding somewhere rather than facing the day.  But the retreat and be defeated approach makes all the feelings even worse, exponentially worse.  And if you are not being treated by a mental health professional or taking appropriate medications, the best solution is to get up fast and get moving.  I used to start with a long run, 4-6 miles each morning very early.  Exercise has always been empowering to me.  My blood gets flowing and those endorphins are released big time.  For me, this regimen put me on a positive path for the day.  I was ready to make a difference for myself and for others during the work day.  My career in sales and marketing was fuel for the fire as well.  But at the end of the day, the pain started coming back during those idle times.  Alcohol used to help as a short term calming solution, but eventually made matters worse.  These days, much later in life, my level of awareness is very high.  My treatment program includes work with mental health professionals, excercise, a loving relationship, and a passion for helping others through my book, blog, non-profit work, and public speaking.  The feelings are now manageable to a great extent, but discipline is required to stay on track.  I take each day at a time, and try to enjoy life to the fullest extent.   Healing is a life long journey.  The earlier a person can become aware of a mental health issue and receive appropriate treatment, all the better.  Don’t wait until you are age 64 like me.  I can celebrate turning age 66 next week feeling damn good and excited about each day!

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

“The War at Home,” by Shawn Gourley. See the common threads with the experience of a post WWII family…

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2012/may/27/when-fighting-ptsd-strength-in-numbers/

“Justin Gourley and his wife, Shawn, have been dealing with the highs and lows brought on by his post-traumatic stress disorder for 10 years.  Shawn kept a journal from the time Justin returned home from his military deployment in the Middle East, writing down what was happening to her family and how she was dealing with it.  She had no idea when she started the Facebook group “Military With PTSD” that it would grow into a nationwide support group for more than 13,000 people.”

I am pleased to add a new book, The War at Home, by Shawn Gourley, to my website for ordering convenience.  The more important reason is the book and story clearly shows how PTSD and moral injury affects the family following a combat veteran’s return home and the challenges of readjustment.  Shawn Gourley and her family “served too.”  My own personal testimonial and book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, shows very similar patterns of readjustment to civilian life experienced in my post WWII family following my Dad’s return from 66 monhs of continuous combat.  My Dad, Vernon H. Sparks, US Navy BMC, was fighting in the South China Sea before WWII, survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor serving aboard the USS West Virginia, and finally came home following 7 bloody campaigns in the Asiatic Pacific Theater while serving aboard the USS Belle Grove.  The big difference is my family lived with PTSD for 70 years without really knowing anything about the mental health implications.  We were a very angry family for so many years and learned to cope in less than healthy ways.  It was when I started researching my own challenges in life and writing our family story that the realities of life after war began to surface.   The good news is that life after war and readjustment challenges along with appropriate treatments are well understood today.  But it doesn’t make living with PTSD and life after war any easier to be sure.  Being aware and well educated does make a huge difference, and has helped my family begin a long healing process.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation, A Son’s Story

“We are Amazing!” Celebrating Youth in Retirement…



Steve resting on the summit
View from 6800 ft
Judy, very ready for a rest
“Where are my skis?”

 http://skiwhitefish.com/trailmaps.php

When we reached the summit Judy said with her big beautiful blue eyes smile, “we are amazing.”  It was the same magnetic smile that I fell in love with 30 years ago on our first hike together to Beverly Lake in the Cascades near Steven’s Pass in Washington State.  “Her eyes would stop 10,000 soldiers.”

But this hike, following 100’s of trails (and trials) during our life together was different.  This day, June 24, 2012 was our way of celebrating freedom, love for life, and for each other.  Scaling the summit of Big Mountain was not planned far in advance.  Judy made the suggestion first thing this morning.  We knew how to prepare for a good hike up the mountain, but tried not to think about the challenge ahead.   We selected the trail head at the bottom that would take us on a path around the mountain and up to the summit.  We were warned about snow fields after about 2 miles.  It was at this point, I started thinking, “are we stupid or, what?”  Judy is turning 62 in August, and my 66th birthday is next week, and we can’t see the trail!   This was not a science project to be sure.  Lots of folks were hiking up and down, but not all the way up.  We discovered most turned around once reaching the snow field.  One middle aged dude was coming down and said, “this is too much for my knees.”  It was at this critical point that my motivation picked up, since testing my new “teenage” knees was an opportunity not to turn away from.  Why would we even think about turning around and going back down??!!

We found foot prints in the snow and navigated our way through the trees and onto the larger snow field.  After 3 hours of strenuous hiking up the steep trail and over the snow fields, we made it to the top.   It is hard to describe the feeling of just doing it.  The best part is being able to hike up Big Mountain on this day with my best friend and soul mate, Judy.  This is just a warm up for many more hikes and new adventures to come.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Happy Place…

Meet my new cousin, Kylan Gunter!  This is a smile that will make your day…  It is also a reminder of  a very very happy place at the beginning of a new life.  We must do everything we can to keep it a “happy place” for all the new little ones that come into our life…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Hanging out with Les & Melanie Mathson in Pray, Mt.

http://www.chicohotsprings.com/

While Judy and I travel in the coming weeks, you can check in on what we are doing at some cool spots in Montana.  We entered Yellowstone West http://www.npca.org/parks/yellowstone-national-park.html?adwords=1&category=park&gclid=CPzW4K3B37ACFUQaQgodJDtm2Q yesterday and drove through the park.  It was absolutely beautiful!  Planning to upload a few photos along the way as well.  We are in Chico Hot Springs right now near Livingston, Mt.  Our dear friends Les and Melanie met us here last night and we talked for hours catching up, then spent some time in the hot springs pool and slept like babies in the cool dry air of the mountains of Montana.  After we get in a good hike on the mountain trails nearby, we’ll head over to the Mathson’s home in Pray, Mt.  We are most excited about catching up with our dear friends of 30 years.  Les was my boss in 1983 when joining Northern Telecom, now Nortel in Seattle, Wa.  It has been awhile and although we stay in touch, we can’t stop talking, smiling, and laughing.  Les and I often say, “WOW, we are still here to talk about it.”  Stay tuned…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Celebrating Fathers’ Day with Forgiveness, Pride, and Honor…

Dear family and friends,

 My 66th birthday arrives soon, July 6th.  I celebrated Fathers Day without anger for the first time last year following the publication of my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Researching and writing my family story gave me an insight to life after war that never existed prior to age 64.  Living with anger toward my Dad, Vernon, so much of my life was painful.  It was even more painful after leaving home at 17, becoming an adult with my own challenges, and living in denial about our toxic home life as a family.  Once denial sets in the anger persists, but it never leaves your soul.  For so many years I asked myself, why does anger persist along with anxiety even when completely separated from the toxic childhood culture at home?  Now I know!  Knowing is healing!  But healing from traumatic experiences is a lifetime challenge. 

On this Fathers Day, I can honor my Dad with love and forgiveness.  I can also honor with pride Dad’s WWII service to his country.  You see Dad didn’t know why he was angry either for most of his life following the end of WWII in the summer of 1945.  During that time thousands of veterans returned  home from the battle field, and thousands never returned.  Those that did return were told, “get lots of rest, go home to your family, and forget about it.”  As it turned out, forgetting was not possible, but denial was.  With denial the soul baggage from months and years in combat during WWII seeing your buddies die or injured, and observing the horror of extended and continuous combat during the entire time of WWII, stays for good unless it is revealed and accepted.  Unlike today with all the awareness and attention surrounding PTSD, WWII veterans and their loved ones had none of it.  That’s right, no awareness whatsoever!  It was a homecoming without “soul feeding.”  It was life after war suffering from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury, and not even knowing why.  “Not knowing” is very painful.  The medication of choice, and the only medication for our heroes from WWII was alcohol for the most part.  We all know without any review that alcohol provides short term relief of pain, but has dangerous side effects and consequences to the individuals seeking relief, including family members, loved ones, and friends.  The legacy of all wars lingers on today, and will until there are no more wars to fight.  But we can mitigate the challenges of life after war and the effects of moral injury by becoming highly aware as citizens and caregivers of veterans returning home to serious challenges of readjustment and reintegration back in civilian life.  All of us play an important role in helping our heroes live a healthy, happy, and productive life after war.

I feel blessed to celebrate Fathers Day for the second year in a row without anger toward my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks.   I can freely honor Dad’s US Navy WWII service protecting the freedoms of all Americans with pride.   More importantly, I am proud to share our family story with countless others through my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Researching and writing the book was an amazing journey of healing and forgiveness.  And so far, those who read my book and this blog seem to gain the same insight to the challenges of combat veterans in life after war.  Healing begins with awareness.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

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